Book Talk Tuesday: Lover’s Leap

I’m sooooo close to finishing this book. So close. I will go ahead and review it because I’m confident that I’ll recommend it.

 Lover’s Leap was recommended to my by my local writing teacher/mentor. She read it because a family member recommended it and because Susan Wiggs, one of her most favorite writers, had an endorsement on the cover. She passed it on to me.

I enjoyed it. More than I expected to. That sounds like faint praise but I liked it. I’d pick up another in the Eternity Springs series.

Sarah Reese and her daughter Lori take a trip to Australia and instead of scuba diving and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, they turn around and run for home when they accidentally run into Lori’s father. Cameron Murphy, the town bad boy who ran away when Sarah got pregnant.

I had some concerns about that plot. I could see that there would be misunderstanding about why Cameron left town so abruptly (I was right). There would be family interference to keep the young lovers apart and it would probably have to do with undelivered mail or phone messages (also right). I expected to sigh with frustration, knowing that if Sarah and Cam would just sit and talk it out, everything would be solved. But the laugh was on me.

They did talk. They did resolve a lot of their past issues. I like that Ms. March had them deal with their problems like grownups, not cardboard archetypes of the romance hero and heroine.

There is some sensuality in the book, but nothing graphic. If you like clean romance with fun, I recommend picking up an Eternity Springs book. Lover’s Leap is number four in the series. I don’t know if they have to be read in sequence. I felt a bit out of the loop with a few of the secondary characters, but nothing insurmountable.

Eternity Springs is a small town in the Colorado Rockies with a special blessing of helping its residents find true and lasting happiness. There are “coincidences” and characters that could be angelic and heavenly in nature.

As I said above, I’m not quite finished, but I’m sure March will give me the happily ever after I like.


Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat


The Bandbox Hat


Previously: Amanda got a bloody nose from Cassie’s poorly aimed volleyball serve while on a group date at the beach. Sarah Jane and Linda, Austin’s mother, chat in the water, away from the cameras. Linda asked Sarah Jane if she was close to her parents.

Chapter Twenty-Eight

I should have seen the question coming. Why I didn’t is a mystery. My eyes filled with tears at the reminder that I didn’t have parents anymore. At least my face was still wet from Austin and Linda’s splash fest, so I didn’t bother to dash them away and draw attention to my emotions. After a deep breath, I trusted myself to answer.

“My parents have both passed away,” I said.

“Oh, dear.” Linda grasped my arm. “I’m so sorry. I’m so thoughtless to have asked.”

I kicked a toe through the water and watched the cascading arc of drops. “It’s a perfectly normal question. Especially since we’re on a reality show where the whole point is to talk about families and if they’re compatible. It just caught me by surprise.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Linda’s voice held equal parts compassion and comfort.

I shook my head. “Not really, but that is why we’re here. Should we go back in camera range?”

Linda glanced at the water line before us. Her camera man waved and motioned her closer. She sighed. “I suppose. But I don’t want to sit in the middle of everyone else and let those other girls think it’s okay to interrupt us. Let’s walk down the beach.”

We walked back to where the camera and sound guys waited and headed away from the shelter and the squeals and calls for Austin’s attention.

The camera man snaked around us and then walked backwards, the camera perched on one shoulder.

“How do you do that?” I asked him.

“I’m a professional.” He said it with no emotion, but I saw a smile behind the lens.

“How long ago did you lose your parents, Sarah Jane?” Linda asked.

“Mom has been gone several years. My dad died just a few months ago.”

We strolled, which, given the backwards walk the camera and sound men had to perform, was a good plan.

I peered around the pair in front of us. Brown cliffs jutted into the sea way ahead. Nothing else but scattered groups of colorful beach towels and umbrellas could be seen.

“Were you close?” Linda asked.

“Not especially,” I said. “To Dad, I mean. He had four boys to help him on the farm. He left me and my sister to Mom.”

She asked a few more questions, generic things like where I was from and what did we grow on the farm. Then the big one: “Why are you on this show, Sarah Jane?”

“Should we head back?” I asked. “We’re pretty far from the group.”

“I suppose,” Linda said.

We turned, then waited for Camera Guy and Sound Guy to do their bob and weave around us. Once we were back in focus, Linda repeated her question.

“I wish I knew,” I confessed. “I met Liam at a coffee shop. He talked me into it. I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t even watch these shows. But Liam can be very persuasive. School’s out so I’m not working.”

“Those are the external reasons,” Linda said. “Why are you really here?”

I inhaled and held it, counted to six, then slowly blew out the breath. “Liam caught me on a bad day,” I said.

Linda didn’t say anything.

“I moved away from the farm right after Dad’s funeral. I suddenly wanted to do something completely unexpected and out of character. I think I was still having some of those feelings when Liam told me how great this would be. I admit, it sounded fun. Travel a bit, meet some people. I forgot about the ‘finding true love’ bit. Liam also neglected to mention the constant twenty-four/seven cameras and people.”

“I see.” Linda rubbed the nape of her neck. “I’m feeling warm. We should get sunscreen.”

We cut a diagonal path to the production tent and grabbed some SPF 30 from the basket on the ground, then made our way to where Linda’s chair and tote bag still sat in the middle of her beach blanket. I’d dropped my things a few feet away but didn’t see them now. Just a sandy mound where my sandals and towels had been.

Suspicion nipped at back of my mind. I toed the mound. It wasn’t just sand. Something solid was in there. I pushed with more force and wiggled my foot, sending sand scattering. Sure enough, a blue and green striped towel appeared first, followed by my brown flip-flops.

“Sarah Jane!”

I turned toward the sound of Linda’s voice.

“Come sit here with me.” She was in her chair, patting the towel beside her.

Glares from the dozen or so other girls in the area seared my face.

“I’d love to,” I said, making my way to her side. I dropped my flip-flops in front of the blanket, then settled myself near Linda. “Tell me a story about Austin as a little boy.”


Book Talk Tuesday: Sweet Caroline


I needed something light to read one evening and I remembered I had Sweet Caroline on my Kindle.

I’ve read several other Rachel Hauck books and enjoyed them, although I didn’t love them. I’ve reviewed at least one here before. It just about kills me that I don’t love them. I should. They have everything I love in other books.

  • A spunky heroine.
  • Wit and humor.
  • Good stories.
  • Unique settings.

Caroline has been the unofficial life preserver for friends and family ever since she was a child. Her most recent rescue is a local diner where she’s been waiting tables to help out the owner.

The owner dies and leaves the whole place to Caroline, just when she’s finally about to fly the coop. She’s accepted a job in Spain and can’t wait to finally start living her own life.

But if she leaves, the diner will be closed and people she cares about will lose their jobs.

Caroline postpones Spain and throws herself into making over the diner. She finds a buyer who promises to keep the employees and not to change a thing. Of course, we know that isn’t going to happen. But for some reason Caroline believes the promises.

Her first and only real love comes back to town. But Caroline insists they can be friends now, that she’s over him. Of course, we know that isn’t going to happen.

I liked the premise and I liked that even though I could see the ending coming, I enjoyed the ride Hauck took me on to get there.

I can’t put a finger on why, maybe 10% of the book, for me, is just okay.

I take that back. I do know what it is. And it’s strangely revealing about my own writing voice.

The heroine is too spunky. More of a “wise guy” trying to be funny, than truly using humor to make the best of a bad situation.

It’s a criticism I’ve heard myself. More than once. My local writing teacher/mentor is continually telling me, “Sometimes more is just more. With the smart alecky tone, less is definitely more.”

It’s a lesson I’ve worked hard to learn. I still have a ways to go, but at least I can recognize and diagnose it in others.

Now to turn the pointing finger back to myself.

What about you? Anything that turns an otherwise great book to just okay for you?


Fiction Friday: The return of The Bandbox Hat


Thanks for your patience while I wrapped up some other projects. I’m back to Sarah Jane this week.

The Bandbox Hat

Previously: Sarah Jane, her new friend Cassie and three other girls are invited to a beach date with Austin and his mom. Cassie and Sarah Jane were playing volleyball against Austin and Amanda. Cassie served the ball and Amanda screamed.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

By the time the show’s medic’s stopped Amanda’s nosebleed, gave her an icepack, and escorted her to the beach chairs away from the volleyball court, she had slowed down swearing and yelling at Cassie. Mostly.

“I know you did that on purpose, you—” she screamed over her shoulder. Thankfully, the medic she leaned on stumbled in the sand and she turned her fury on him so we didn’t get to hear what she was about to call Cassie.

Austin caught my eye. “Guess volleyball doesn’t bring out the best in her.”

Cassie chuckled. “I wish I could say I did it on purpose, just so she’d show her true nature, but it really was an accident.”

I scrunched my toes in the warm sand. “I think I’m done with volleyball. Do you mind if I quit and go it the water for a bit?”

Before I finished my sentence, three other girls swarmed onto the court.

“I’ll take her place,” Hayley said to Austin. “Your mom and I had a lovely visit.”

“No, I will.” A tall redhead elbowed the blonde aside. “Ready to match me, Austin?” Her eyebrows waggled at him.

I turned and made my way to the water’s edge. The last few strides hurt the bottoms of my feet. The sun had warmed the sand to blistering.

“Ahhh,” I said, as the cool water welcomed my smoking toes.

“Ouch.” A familiar voice sounded behind me.

I turned to see Linda wading in.

“Is Amanda okay?” I asked, nodding at the shelter where Linda had sat.

“I think her pride is more hurt than her nose.” Linda’s sunglasses kept her eyes hidden. “And if I were you and Cassie, I wouldn’t turn my back in a dark alley. If you know what I mean.” She spoke softly.

I nodded, though I wasn’t sure I really did know what she meant. Oh, I knew Amanda was petty and small. She looked at Austin like he was bacon and she was a vegan. But this was a reality dating show. No one found true love while cameras recorded their every move. Right?

“The water is nice,” Linda said. “No cameras out here.”

I looked over my shoulder. She was right. A man with a bulky camera on his shoulder and another man with a boom mike stood a few feet above the wet sand mark.

“Cool and private,” I said, turning back to gaze at the horizon. Blue-green water met a blue horizon dotted with white clouds.

“So tell me, Sarah Jane—”

I heard splashing and Linda and I turned at the same moment.

Austin ran through the water and scooped up his mother into a bear hug. “Having fun?”

She laughed. “Put me down.”

“Make me.” He swung her around but staggered. He wobbled.

I reached out to steady him but too late.

Austin and Linda fell and came up sputtering and batting water at each other.

“You big bully.” Linda stood, hair drooping.

Something brushed against my knee and I reached down to grab Linda’s sunglasses before they were swept away with the tide. “Here.” I held them out to her.

She took them and handed them to Austin. “Dry these off.”

He grinned but took them and splashed back to shore.

“That boy.” She chuckled.

“You’re very close,” I said. Good one, Sarah Jane. State the obvious.

She nodded. “Are you close to your parents?”


Woe! It’s Wednesday


Spring and summer always bring mixed blessings.

  • Longer days: Good
  • Hot weather: Bad
  • Beautiful flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables: Good
  • Increased bug activity in the house: Bad
  • Vacations to look forward to: Good
  • Laundry after the vacation: Bad

I could go on, but you get the idea.

I did a load of laundry yesterday morning, and was greeted by a drowned mouse as I moved wet clothes into the dryer.

Needless to say, laundry day was suspended indefinitely.

Often, what we think we want comes with an unexpected downside.

A day off means other things on the To Do list need to be checked off.

Christmas and other special days almost never live up to the expectations.

Clean clothes have mouse cooties.

Isn’t that just life though? God gives us just enough bad to help us appreciate the good. Sometimes it seems He’s given a bit too much bad, but I think in retrospect, He knows what He’s doing and He has it worked out just right.

What do you think? What’s some bad that comes along with some good in your life?


Book Talk Tuesday: The Goodbye Quilt

I’ve been a Susan Wiggs fan for about a year now and I’ve read six or seven of her books. I’ve even reviewed several of them here. I enjoy sewing and knitting and quilting so when I saw The Goodbye Quilt I knew I wanted to read it.

It’s very different from Susan’s other books.



The Goodbye Quilt is a gentle story about a mom and her daughter driving across the country to deliver the daughter to her prestigious college.

Linda is a quilter working on a memory quilt for Molly’s dorm room. Both mother and daughter use the journey to work out some issues. Molly is in love and leaving her boyfriend under protest.

Linda gave up a college education and is firm that Molly not lose her opportunity.

The ending is satisfactory with an epilogue far into the future so the reader can see the results of all the decisions made on the pages of the book.

This is the kind of story that is easy to imagine was sparked by a real event. It’s also the kind of story that a previously unpublished writer would find impossible to sell.

Susan Wiggs fans will enjoy it. I wouldn’t recommend it as your first Susan Wiggs book. Start with one or three of the Lakeshore Chronicles,  clip_image002 then pick up The Goodbye Quilt.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite author who’s written an atypical book?

Off the top of my head, I can think of John Grisham and his sports books instead of the legal thrillers. Also James Patterson – a friend told me recently that she loved Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas and she felt Patterson was better at writing romance than his usual stuff. Last week’s review mentioned Earlene Fowler and her quilting mysteries as well as her two stand alones.

Anyone else?


Fiction Friday

No, it’s not your imagination. Fiction Friday has been on hiatus while I’ve been busy with several other projects. Please don’t give up on Sarah Jane and check back next week.

Thank you!

harry on house

Harry’s waiting …

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Book Talk Tuesday


One of my favorite mystery series is Earlene Fowler’s Benni Harper. Each book is named for a quilt pattern.

I just finished the most recent.

If you’re unfamiliar with Earlene and Benni, allow me to introduce you.

Benni Harper Ortiz lives in a fictional San Luis Obispo, California called San Celina. If you know the central coast, you know the setting.

Benni is the curator for the local art museum.

In book one, she’s a still grieving widow who gets drawn into a mystery. Gabe Ortiz, the new police chief in town, doesn’t like her poking in her nose . At the end of book two, she marries him.

There are wonderful secondary characters such as Benni’s father, her grandmother Dove, and Dove’s husband. Benni has a best friend, Elvia, who’s married to Benni’s cousin.

In Spider Web a few years have gone by since the beginning of the series. Benni now goes by Benni Ortiz. A sniper is taking potshots at local policemen. Gabe’s PTSD is triggered by the shootings. A stranger is town is asking Benni a lot of personal questions about her life and her marriage.

It all adds up to another great Benni Harper Ortiz book.

Earlene has also written two stand alone books. The Saddlemaker’s Wife and Love Mercy.

A new Earlene Fowler book typically comes out each spring. Spider Web was 2011’s offering. I can’t see a release date for Earlene’s next book, but on Facebook she mentioned researching her next book, a sequel to The Saddlemaker’s Wife which was set in Bishop, California.

I enjoyed both the stand alones, but I really love Benni Harper Ortiz and her adventures.

If you’re new to Earlene’s books, the Benni Harper series is best read in order, starting with Fool’s Puzzle.