From The Start

It just occurred to me that I haven’t done a review post for any of Melissa Tagg’s books. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Because I love Melissa’s books.  In my mind, Maple Valley is a real place, folks. I want to go visit. You know how weird I am? I was sitting in a meeting the other day about flood control and there was a super cool product and my first thought was not about how I could use it on projects, but “Maple Valley could use this!” The struggle is real, people.

Next problem: which one to review first? I stared at my shelf for awhile…eeny, meeny, miny, moe…and decided to start with…From The Start. This was the first full length novel I read by Melissa. I initially fell in love with her stories and Maple Valley through the beginning novella Three Little Words (the [almost] kisses, guys!) and quickly wished I was part of the Walker clan just to have a chance to ask Case for wisdom and eat awesome breakfasts.

While this is the first in the series, I encourage you to read through the rest of them as well; Melissa develops as an author and wades into deeper topics while maintaining the quirky and fun backdrop of Maple Valley and the bonds that are deeper than blood.

About The Book

from the startKate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley. 

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them?

My Review

I basically already gushed, but time to get more specific about From The Start. At first I wasn’t sure what to think about Kate (other than she has a great name). I liked the twist on the premise of “those who can’t do, teach” with a romance writer who couldn’t find her own happily ever after. Confession: sometimes I wish I could live in the gushy-sappy-unrealistic Hallmark-happily-ever-after movie world. It was good to see Kate’s perspective and have a reminder about learning to be content whether or not my life is currently marketable in DVD form.

Kate has her struggles and Colt’s not perfect, they have baggage. But, isn’t that what real relationships are all about? How do you learn to love someone through their baggage? That’s a common theme in Melissa’s books, which is one I really appreciate, especially since she strikes a balance between dealing with the really hard stuff but at the same time does not drag the reader into a mud pit.

Without giving away an ending, Colt’s story is one that’s close to my heart: foster care kids. There are a lot of hurt, angry kids out there who need someone to believe in them, and those of us who are able can do that for them until they can believe in themselves, that they are worth it, that no matter what they do they have a Heavenly Father who will not walk away from them.

And don’t we all need that reminder as well?

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Loved but Will Never Re-Read

toptentuesday

Another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I want to reiterate that the topic is books I LOVED. So please, don’t think that because I won’t reread them doesn’t mean they weren’t awesome books. For me, this list is entirely made of books that are “off-genre,” so to speak, for me. I have a niche that I gobble up, I think we all do. I don’t often read outside of that, but when friends recommend books and I trust their taste, they know what I like, or I’m seeing everyone raving about it, I’ll give it a try. Expand my horizons, right?

Some of these all fall in a historical period I don’t normally read. All of them are total dramas, which can be hard for me because I like happy worlds; I’m cynical and depressing enough on my own. But I really enjoyed them all and maybe they’ll be just your cup of tea.

In no particular order:

What your your top ten? Don’t forget to join in on the fun on the other blogs.

To Love a Spy

series

I was excited for this novel to land in my inbox, but also sad because I thought this was the last in the series. But, I’m hoping that this isn’t the end as we’ve met a few other characters and there’s still supposedly a missing brother? Yeah? I hope it is not the end! Full disclosure—-I’m writing this review well after my bedtime, so if the ramblings don’t make sense, I’m sorry.

love a spy

Freed from the clutches of her cruel, traitorous mother and impostor husband, Lady Camden wants to rebuild her fractured life. But the years of terror and pain she endured at their hands continue to grip her heart in an iron vice. Refusing to stray from the refuge of her country estate, Kate tentatively agrees to an unusual alliance with the new Lord Camden, being mindful to keep her trust, and her heart, firmly safeguarded.

Adrien, the Earl of Camden, had lost everything he held dear while working undercover in France as an agent of the Crown, known only as Hawk. Now an earl, he wants only to repair his tattered, lonely life. His efforts are interrupted, however, when he is called to accept another assignment: Stop French spies from passing a bill in Parliament that will eliminate British aid in the war against Napoleon.

When Kate’s past pulls her into a web of treachery and deceit, a life she is wholly unprepared for, Adrien must use any means necessary to stop the French spies from succeeding in their evil designs and keep her safe. When the truth is finally revealed, will Lady Camden be strong enough to seize her own future and happiness, or will her heart be too shattered to ever love a spy?

My Thougts

While I think the first book is my favorite so far in this series, Laura crafts another solid story. This wraps up some lingering questions for the family’s past and present, and delves deeper into who is behind the plot to put the French as spies in Parliament. But, we end up with one escaping, so I’m thinking there has to be a fourth to bring the scalawag in.

I related to Kate and wanted to cheer her on, but at the same time, as is often the case in recovering from tragic events, when she swings the other way and starts assuming thing rather than just having a conversation with Adrien drives me nuts. I suppose it brings down the drama of the book if they just say down and talked it out, using good communication skills, how much smoother it would’ve been! Since hubs and I play this dance a couple times a week, it’s one I understand why, and EVERY TIME I’m like “we should just talk about it!” But then we don’t….circle….

Overall a fab read with our favorite spy Adrien. There is one moment where his very dangerous side comes out and it made me a bit squeamish, but it also told me so much about him as a character that the strong language wouldn’t have accomplished without the actions. (explaining without spoilers is hard!)

I was very happy that I moved it straight to the top of my TBR pile because it was totally worth it.

How long until we get another book, Laura?!!!!

I received a complementary copy of this story from this author. I am not required to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Author Laura Beers

Edited Author's PhotoLaura Beers spent most of her childhood with a nose stuck in a book, dreaming of becoming an author. She attended Brigham Young University, eventually earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management. Many years later, and with loving encouragement from her family, Laura decided to start writing again. Besides being a full-time homemaker to her three kids, she loves waterskiing, hiking, and drinking Dr. Pepper. Currently, Laura Beers resides in South Carolina.