Review: A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck
Royal Wedding, Book 4 (Novella)
Zondervan, 2016

From the moment Avery and Colin met in Once Upon A Prince, I wanted more of their story. A couple of years later, and I was delighted to learn we would finally be getting it. Add in the Christmas season, and you get a delightful novella filled with Brighton tradition and renewed love.

Avery and Colin broke up five years ago. They were too young and lived too far apart to make things work. But five years later, neither of them has truly moved on, and who’s to say they were supposed to? This is a love story of second chances and risking your heart… again.

The story revolves around the Harvest Celebration tradition in Brighton, where a man rings the chapel bell at midnight, thereby declaring his love for the woman he intends to marry- on Christmas Day. And let’s just say, I LIKED IT. There is more to the tradition, but suffice it to say, it’s swoon-worthy.

A favorite scene in the novella was when Avery threw a cupcake at Colin (for charity, of course). Inevitably, a crowd formed, and everyone got in line for the chance to throw a cupcake at him. And that’s how you end up with a frosting-covered prince.

Anyone who loved the series will enjoy revisiting Brighton and these characters in this new addition to The Royal Wedding Series from Rachel Hauck. I felt like I had stepped back into a familiar setting, which perfectly blends down-to-earth goodness with a twist of the magical.

Who doesn’t like a story that ends in happily ever after?

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Interested in the series? Check out my reviews for all three books:

Once Upon a Prince | Princess Ever After | How to Catch a Prince

Monthly Favorites: November

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! I used to do a wrap up of things happening on the blog, but this time I want to share my favorite things from around the web, including author news and favorite blog posts from my friends! This may vary between a few items some months and several things that deserve highlighting other months, depending on what’s caught my eye. Enjoy!

# books read: 3
# books acquired: 6
# books added to TBR: 2

From My Blogger Friends:

Rissi’s review of The Portrait of Emily Price & Courtney’s review, too!

Author News makes me happy:

Katherine Reay’s next book has a title!

Courtney Walsh has a new book coming next summer! And not only did she give a cover reveal, but here is the synopsis. (I loved Change of Heart, so I am so ready for another Courtney Walsh book!)

All my other favorites:

This Is Us. This show is the best thing on TV right now. I know episodes have been showing for a while now, but I just adore it more and more with every new episode. I hope this lasts for several seasons. I love the emotional depth of the show and how real and honest it feels. I highly recommend it!

Leslie Odom Jr. I’m sure everyone knows who he is by now, but I just can’t get over his voice.

Has everyone seen the Beauty and the Beast movie trailer? Because I am really excited to watch this when it comes to theaters!

Share your November highlights below!


Review: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

“Ben raised my fists and kissed the back of one hand, then the other, keeping his eyes trained on mine. ‘I will always come for you.’”

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
Thomas Nelson, 2016

Life and beauty burst off the pages of A Portrait of Emily Price. I felt like I stepped into another world while I read. The characters, the places they visited, and the struggles they face all held authenticity and breathed life. Katherine Reay is a master storyteller.

Some sentences would be so beautiful or thought-provoking that I would read them again a second or third time just to soak it all in. This is one of those books I wanted to read fast because I loved it and needed to know what happened, but at the same time, I wanted to read it slowly so I could savor all the things I loved about it.

I am growing to love stories told in the first-person point of view. It gives you a deeper insight into the main character’s mind and makes the impact of their character growth that much stronger. I was thrilled this book was told from Emily’s POV exclusively. And the short chapters made it so easy for me to read a ‘little bit more’ before my lunch break ended or I went to bed each night. The Italian dialogue sprinkled throughout the novel added an extra layer to the story, both making it more beautiful and realistic, while also spotlighting Emily’s struggle to belong in her new family.

Let’s talk about plot for a moment so you get a snapshot of what this book is about. Emily Price is an art restorer on a short work trip to make repairs to the art that was ruined in a house fire. While in Atlanta, she meets an Italian chef who is visiting from Italy. They have a whirlwind romance, and she follows him home, only to realize that life is complicated and not everything can be so easily fixed; some things must be endured before the beauty can be found.

I was pulled into this novel almost immediately with the Italian family restaurant and the cute tables, and everyone speaking in Italian. From the moment you meet Ben, you will love him. He is adorable and charming. As Emily would say, “This guy had no clue how handsome he was. You could tell by his eyes. Eyes never hide and never lie. His danced with laughter and no awareness at all that I was melting right before him.” And with that, I knew I was going to love his character and this story; and this is only page three.  Ben is all heart, and his love for his family is clearly seen through his actions, which are a natural outpouring of who he is.

My Italian grandma with APOEP.

Italy. I absolutely love that this novel took us to Italy. The place, the atmosphere, the food, and the family all felt uniquely Italian. Emily arrives and is hit with the reality of her new home where everything is foreign and different. As she tries to find her place in Ben’s family, life becomes increasingly complicated and difficult. She tries to fit in, but she always seems to bump into someone. Her struggle with belonging is an aspect of this novel I was really interested in, watching her face all this newness and trying to learn and change with her new reality.

“It was everywhere and it was everything I had imagined and I hadn’t even touched down yet.” – Emily when they were arriving by plane to Italy

Ben’s family is the Italian family experience I’ve always wanted to read about. You meet the loving one, the opinionated one, the untraditional one, the favorite, and the black sheep. Add on an abundance of extended family and friends, and welcome to Ben’s world. They are loud and overwhelming. The family dynamics are vibrant and hectic, sometimes confusing, especially as Emily navigates their world. Tension is always present, but you don’t understand why, but at the core of the family is a love that runs deep and binds them together.

It was, in a word, delightful.

For fear of this review becoming too long, let me briefly mention a few things I wish I could talk about: Joseph, art, more of Italy, and the sunflowers.

I leave you with one last, somewhat obscure quote. And while you can’t understand the weight of this sentence and all it means for this novel, or the impact it had on me in my personal reading experience, I couldn’t leave it out. For this, I will always love how Katherine wrote the character this quote is speaking of.

“He left yesterday, to go for you.”

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions I expressed in this review are my own.*

Before you leave!! I got to read A Portrait of Emily Price with some blogger friends on Twitter. I’ve added a few of my favorites below, but you can search #PofEPral to see our conversation.

Monthly Favorites: October

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! I used to do a wrap up of things happening on the blog, but this time I want to share my favorite things from around the web, including author news and favorite blog posts from my friends! This may vary between a few items some months and several things that deserve highlighting other months, depending on what’s caught my eye. Enjoy!

# books read this month: 3
favorite book of the month: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
# books acquired: 3
# books added to TBR: 9

My blogger friends had some great posts this month:

Courtney of The Green Mockingbird wrote a beautiful review of The Lady and the Lionheart.

Jamie of Books and Beverages wrote about the important subject of diversity in Christian fiction.

On Silver Petticoat Review, Rissi wrote about 10 memorable meet-cutes in film. I especially agree with The Age of Adaline and Something Borrowed. I adore those meet-cutes!

I love cover reveals, and Rel always puts together the best posts about new and upcoming fiction. Here’s the Bethany House cover reveals for mid-2017.

Author news is always exciting to hear:

Hillary Manton Lodge’s next book, Jane of Austin, is officially on Goodreads with a summary! And according to Hillary, the hero is going to be super swoon-worthy!

The cover for Becky Wade’s next book, True to You, has been 
revealed! So very excited for this one. I’ve only shared the peek at the cover, so click through to see the full cover and admire this new beauty.

Becky Wade and Katie Ganshert are starting up the next round of Pinterest War. They always do the cutest crafts and have a very lively competition. It’s all about who gets to wear that tiara in the end!

In other news around the web:

In Gilmore Girls news, Netflix released the first official picture of Jess. I’m so ready to watch this!

And the trailer for Gilmore Girls has arrived!! I may have watched this too many times and it is delightful. I CAN NOT WAIT FOR NOVEMBER 25!!

13 Going on 30 (or as I like to call it, a modern classic) is being adapted for the stage. I would be so excited to see this movie as a musical!!

Some non-internet favorites:

I splurged on the new Urban Decay Naked Ultimate Basics palette and it is the best eyeshadow palette I’ve ever had.

Have you heard of bullet journaling? I never was very interested in it before, but I think it finally clicked for me this month. I don’t follow the guidelines exactly, but it’s really about making the system work for you, so I like it!

Looking Ahead: November Releases

These books are what I’m most excited about this coming month! I’m currently finishing Katherine Reay’s novel, and it will definitely be on the best of 2016 list.

How was you October? What did you read?


Review: Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson

Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson
Prince Edward Island Dreams, Book 2
Revell, 2016

“There was only one thing better than the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning. The taste of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning.”

And with that scrumptious opening line, I was hooked on this novel.

The setting is so unique in this series. Prince Edward Island conjures up memories of watching the Anne of Green Gables movies, so I have an instant connection with this place and a smile on my lips when I open the pages of this book. PEI is a character all on its own and I was quickly transported into the story.

All the food and pastries in this novel made me hungry all the time! I wanted the treats Caden made so badly that I could almost taste them. I even made a batch of brownies to curb my sweet tooth while reading this book.

Speaking of the food, the kitchen scenes are where my favorite parts of the story happen. Caden and Adam meet every morning over coffee and cinnamon buns, where their initially flimsy relationship begins to deepen and develop as they share their stories little by little.

My favorite part of this novel was Caden. If ever there was a fictional character I would get along with, this girl would be her.  I could identify so much with her character, from her love of food (I love to bake sweets), to her Broadway music always blaring in the kitchen, down to her insecurities about belonging and being wanted. I found her character both insecure and brave, which sounds contradicting, but really, aren’t we all made up of insecurities and bravery? How many of us struggle with one aspect of our lives and yet in others, we feel confident? Caden knows what she’s doing in the kitchen, but other areas of life are more difficult for her to face, which makes her feel like a real person.

All in all, I enjoyed this book so very much, and I am now anticipating the third book of the series. I am very curious where the next book will take us and what PEI and the Red Door Inn has in store for readers.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

Review: A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M White

A Lady Unrivaled is the third and final installment in the Ladies of the Manor series, written by Roseanna M. White. I have enjoyed this series, and had intended to link my reviews of the previous books here for you, but I was surprised to find I never wrote reviews of them! So, first I will share a tidbit of my thoughts on the first books in the series.

In The Lost Heiress, we meet Brook and her best friend, Justin. She goes through a rough journey, from thinking she was one person, and discovering she had a family she was unaware of. I adored her fiery spirit and the passion she had for her family and friends. [5 stars]

The Reluctant Duchess has the prettiest cover in the bunch. This one follows Rowena and Brice, who are trapped into a shotgun wedding thanks to a scheming father. Brice was a great leading man, but the middle portion of this novel had me frustrated when these two just wouldn’t communicate! But, again, Brice was perfect. [3.5 stars]

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White
Ladies of the Manor, Book 3
Bethany House, 2016

I really enjoyed this book. Ella and Cayton take us on the final leg of this journey of the Fire Eyes and the trouble they have caused in the lives of everyone involved with them.

About the Fire Eyes and the curse surrounding them: This series follows the lives of the people who are in possession of the Fire Eyes and those who want to be in possession of them, no matter the cost. And I don’t think it was a curse per se. To me, it was more a look at greed and power, and how those things can overtake your life and cause pain and grief. Greed will never be satisfied, and destruction is left in its path. This plays out in the series, and I appreciated how this aspect of the series was resolved.

Back to this book in particular, Ella’s bright and happy personality were in juxtaposition to the gloomy and guarded exterior Cayton projected when he was around her. But I always enjoyed their interactions and how Ella brought a light into Cayton’s life. And I liked how Cayton loved his daughter and how much his life was about being a good father to her. And how he painted. LOVED THAT. I like when characters have a creative outlet, it just makes them more interesting.

In closing, I really appreciated the Author’s Note at the end of the book and wanted to share a few of her words here. To quote Roseanna, “I hope and pray that you, too, will see that whatever path you’re on in life, God means it to enrich your heart and soul. And that no matter how many mistakes we make, in our actions or our judgment, we can always trust His voice to lead us…so long as we know how to hear Him.”

Monthly Favorites: September

mll blog

Welcome to my monthly wrap up! I used to do a wrap up of things happening on the blog, but this time I want to share my favorite things from around the web, including author news and favorite blog posts from my friends! This may vary between a few items some months and several things that deserve highlighting other months, depending on what’s caught my eye. Enjoy!

# of books read this month: 4
favorite book of the month: To Have and to Hold by Betsy St. Amant, Katie Ganshert, and Becky Wade
my favorite post of the month: 7 Unforgettable Marriage Proposals
# books acquired: 6
# books added to my TBR: 6

I don’t have much to highlight this month, but here are a couple things that stood out to me!

Rachael @ Rachel’s Reads is a blogger I recently discovered. She has the most hilarious post that combines Jen Turano and Phantom of the Opera. It got a pretty good laugh out of me, and we all know how much I love POTO, right?!?!

Becky Wade is busy working on her next novel, True to You. Yay!

My Most Anticipated Releases in October:

What were your highlights in September?

7 Unforgettable Marriage Proposals


I must begin today’s post with a nod to Rissi from Finding Wonderland and her recent post on 14 Memorable and Swoon Worthy Proposals in Period Drama [check it out!].

Her post about period drama proposals inspired me with this idea to share some of my personal favorites. Proposals are some of my favorite scenes in a good novel. The progression of a couple’s relationship culminates in what should be a beautiful proposal scene. After which, their lives continue in eventual wedded bliss and their happily ever afters (obviously and hopefully).

Just so you know, research for this post consisted of rereading my favorite scenes from some of my favorite books. That’s my kind of research.

Without further ado, here are the most memorable proposals I’ve read during my blogging years.

*Spoilers are ahead, so consider yourself warned!!*

Top 7 Book Proposal Superlatives

1. Most Thoughtful Proposal: Once Upon A Prince By Rachel Hauck

“I wanted to get engaged under this tree. Soft white lights swinging from the branches. Maybe a string quartet playing over there. Something special, romantic.”

At the beginning of Once Upon A Prince, Susanna tells a stranger her dreams of a perfect proposal under the Lover’s Oak after the future she has imagined has disappeared. Little did she know that the stranger would change her life forever. And he would propose exactly the way she always imagined it.

2. Most Heart-Wrenching Proposal: In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin

“”Don’t offer you what? Love, marriage, a home? I am. I’m offering you all of that.”

After so much back and forth with Roger and Kay, Roger finally comes to his senses and realizes he loves Kay. And Kay doesn’t believe it and tries to run. What ensues is SO GOOD and it HURTS MY HEART but I painfully read all the way through because I needed to know if they would finally make it. They are one of my favorite couples and I was so happy at the end of this scene.

3. Most Premature Proposal: Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge

“Thank you, everyone, for coming and helping me celebrate this amazing woman.”

So there are two love interests in Together at the Table (although we all know who Juliette was meant to be with), and because of this I will stay somewhat vague about which guy this proposal involves.

He proposes in front of a gathering of friends and family, and that alone would make me uncomfortable. I wouldn’t want to be on display like that, and imagine the pressure to say yes when you’re surrounded by all those people. Don’t want to do anything disappointing or embarrassing, right? As much as I like this character, he just wasn’t right for Juliette, and I felt so bad for him. (Maybe he’ll get his own story someday? Fingers crossed.)

4. Most Spontaneous Proposal: Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge

“I’ve always wanted to get married on a weekday.”

Might as well put both proposals from this book back to back! This one is adorable and I just love everything about is. Juliette finally reunites with the love of her life and they are just the best. They decide they don’t want to part ways again, and then he proposes. Just like that. And she says yes. When you know, you know, right?

5. Most Persistent Proposal: A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

“I told myself the next time I saw you, whenever, wherever that was, I was going to tell you.”

The word persistent almost feels like it has a negative connotation to it, but I definitely mean this in a positive way. Marcus has this unwavering love for Eleanor and understands her fears. The first time he asked, I personally would have said yes, but Eleanor refused. He proposed a total of four times before getting his bride, and that my friends, is a steadfast man who knew what he wanted and was willing to go the distance.

6. Most Cringe-Worthy Proposal: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

“I thought up a million reasons to stay away, but I love you.”

This proposal scene is probably the most painful to read. These characters are ones I really, really love, and I would even say this is my favorite book. And this scene is so sad because of all the misunderstandings and secrets that have yet to be revealed. This scene crushes their relationship and it is burned into my brain as one of the most memorable proposals I’ve read to date. Add in the infamous words of Elizabeth Bennet, and this is a scene that will be seared into your memory forever.

7. Most Unprepared Proposal: A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

“I’ve never come close to asking a woman to marry me before. I don’t know how to do it.”

I know how Liam bumbles over his proposal. He doesn’t know what to say but you can tell he has so many emotions bubbling up. This moment happens right before Liam and Kaja part ways, the unknown stretching before them. It is a desperate moment, but they have loved each other for a long time, which makes this scene beautiful and poignant.

And that’s a wrap! I’d love to hear about some of your favorites below!

What are your favorite proposals?

Review: To Have and To Hold | A Novella Collection

To Have and to Hold: Three Autumn Love Stories 
By Betsy St. Amant, Becky Wade, and Katie Ganshert
Zondervan, 2016

Overall Thoughts on the Collection:

This novella collection was fabulous. I enjoyed each story and am so glad I decided to pick this one up. I have grown to love Becky Wade’s writing, and I was also interested in Betsy St. Amant and Katie Ganshert’s work, so this was a no-brainer.

Love Take the Cake by Betsy St. Amant

This was a super cute novella. I loved that Charlotte owned a bakery, and that it was called The Dough Knot. I mean, how cute is that? And I’ve recently developed a interest in foodie novels (I blame Hillary Lodge Manton, who wrote the Two Blue Doors series), so I was definitely loving all the descriptions of cookies, pastries, and lots of wedding cake.

The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert

Amelia and Nate’s meet-cute was the best. It was, quite literally, an accident. Amelia is adorable and I really felt for her. They end up emailing back and forth for a good portion of the novella, and I absolutely loved it. They made me smile. I happen to adore novels that largely involve letters (epistolary novels). And these emails were perfect. I can easily say this novella is so good, I would put it in my top 3.

Love in the Details by Becky Wade

This one was about Josh and Holly, who broke up years ago and only re-enter each others lives because of a friend’s wedding. So the tension is very strong when they first run into each other. And Holly is a writer, which I really liked reading about. One aspect I really liked was how, even though they broke up years ago, they both had been following each others careers. This novella is also in my top 3 now. And if you’re wondering what the third is now that I’ve named two of these favorites, the third is Melissa Tagg’s Three Little Words.

What are some of your favorite novellas?

13 Bookish Quirks About Me

All readers have certain quirks of their own, don’t they? I like to think I’m not alone in all of these, but even if I am, these are some fun facts about my reading habits.

1. I resist reading my favorite authors’ books when they are newly released because I know I will have to wait another year before the next one. I’d rather wait a few months and then read the new book, because then I feel like I have less time to wait for the next book. But I obviously buy it right away.

2. I love the moment while reading when you find the book title in the story. It always makes me secretly smile to myself for having found it. I also always double check the cover to make sure it matches the title exactly.

3. I will use just about anything as a bookmark: scrap of paper, receipt, clothing tag, napkin. And all my actual bookmarks are in a box that I occasionally pull out to admire.

4. I can spend over an hour in a bookstore and leave empty-handed.

5. My bookshelves are organized first according to publisher, then alphabetically by author last name, and then in the order of publication date. Apparently, I like to be complicatedimg_18436. I like to clean out my shelves pretty regularly. I don’t like to keep the books I don’t like. I’d rather have a few shelves loaded with books I love than a room full of mediocre ones. The ones I don’t like get passed along to friends, in the hopes that they will enjoy what I did not.

7. I don’t like hardback books. Just no.

8. I love when books make me respond outwardly. I’m typically a quiet, keep-to-myself reader, so when a book can pull a laugh, a goofy smile, or tears out of me, that is a special book.

9. Sometimes, if I’m unsure if I’ll like a book, I will check it out of the library to avoid the commitment of buying it. If I end up loving it, I’ll buy my own copy.

10. Personal interactions with authors (via email) always make me love their books even more. Seeing their passion and inspiration makes me more excited about their work.

11. The Help and The Hunger Games are the only book-to-movie adaptations that are as good as their source material.

12. I’ve never listened to an audiobook. I just don’t know if they’re for me. What if the pace throws me off? What if I want to reread a passage I especially liked? Or what if my mind wanders and I miss scenes and need to go back?

13. I totally judge books by their covers, and most of the time, I get it right.

So tell me, what are your bookish quirks? Do you relate to any of mine?