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Tari Faris’s You Belong With Me

You Belong with Me (Restoring Heritage Book #1) by [Faris, Tari]

Realtor Hannah Thornton has many talents. Unfortunately, selling houses in the town where her family name is practically poison isn’t one of them. When a business tycoon determines to raze historic homes in the small town of Heritage, Michigan, and replace them with a strip mall, Hannah resolves to stop him. She sets about helping Heritage win a restoration grant that will put the town back on the map–and hopefully finally repay the financial debt Hannah’s mother caused the town. But at first no one supports her efforts–not even her best friend, Luke.

Luke Johnson may have grown up in Heritage, but as a foster kid he never truly felt as if he belonged. Now he has a chance to score a job as assistant fire chief and earn his place in the town. But when the interview process and Hannah’s restoration project start unearthing things from his past, Luke must decide if belonging is worth the pain of being honest about who he is–and who he was.


I’m always very hesitant to try new authors but the combination of contemporary romance and possible “best friend romance” made the decision for me. My thoughts:

What I liked

Two romances. Usually when I read a romance and learn that there is actually a second one, I am disappointed. Typically, one romance is more interesting than the other and I’m always irritated the second one is there. However, I found that to not be the case here. The dynamics between both couples was fascinating. Also, both of the romances already had a foundation before the book started. Sometimes that can be a bit off-putting because I like to see the characters fall in love on the page, but that worked really well here. To a degree they were falling in love almost a second time. I found the main romance and the secondary romance to be well thought out and well written and that leads me to the….

Characters. The characters made this book. This book is not complex, the plot is not a page-turner, so it relied heavily on having interesting characters. Luke and Hannah and even the secondary characters are all very well-developed. They have flaws and they have strengths. They have interests and they have dislikes. I’ll be honest, there was one character who was rather irritating and yet so well explained that I understood why they were the way they were and why they made the decisions they did. Because of that, I could not dislike them. Further, at least in regards to the secondary characters, they were so well-crafted that it felt like the author had created an abundance of potential stories in this small town. I found pretty much every character fascinating.

Mystery. So it’s not really a mystery, but there is a lot of suspense regarding Luke and his past and the truth turned out to be something very surprising. I enjoyed the twist that took.

 Spiritually, there is a theme of when you have nothing, that’s an opportunity for God to step in and do something and to just trust Him with the ugly times in life.

What I didn’t like

It is a universal truth that in a contemporary novel, there must be a deception. I was not a fan of all the secrets. All these people are supposed to be such good friends and yet they don’t trust each other at all. But I will say that it didn’t sink the book because, for the most part, each person in the couple kept the same kind of secret from each other. There wasn’t the perfect guy and the deceptive girl. They were both deceptive and that actually worked because I could be angry at both of them equally. At any rate, the fallout was handled well.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was exactly what I thought it would be: a very cute romance.

**I received a copy from Revell. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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Mary Jane Hathaway’s Murder at the Mayan Temple

Murder at the Mayan Temple (A Christian Cozy Mystery) (Starling and Swift Book 1) by [Hathaway, Mary Jane]

Kitty Swift travels around the sunny Yucatan peninsula assisting luxury cruise ship groups as an interpreter for the deaf. After a disastrous broken engagement, she’s perfectly content to spend her days with her service dog, Chica, and a motley crew of wealthy vacationers. Her life revolves around playing Bingo, enjoying the chocolate fountain, and passing along the occasional complaint about the quality of the bed sheets. On a cruise ship the food is good, the music is lively, and everyone is friendly.

Life is quiet, just as it should be… until murder arrives in the night.

At the top of a Mayan pyramid in the humid jungle, one of her tour group is found sacrificed to the gods. A clue left at the scene makes it clear this is a deeply personal act of revenge― and the killer may have another victim in his sights.

As the entire tour group is brought in for questioning, Kitty and Chica find themselves in a race against time. A hurricane is bearing down on the city, the cruise ship is set to depart, and they’re sequestered in an embassy house with a vicious murderer.

The only person standing in her way is an enigmatic attaché to the American embassy who doesn’t take kindly to all her questions― especially about himself.

Should Kitty be on guard against the mysterious detective, or are they birds of a feather in search of a killer?


I’ve enjoyed several of Mary Jane Hathaway’s novels before so I decided to pick up the first book in her Starling and Swift series. My thoughts:

What I Liked

Diversity. I love that the main character works as an interpreter for the deaf. In fact, most of the characters in this book are deaf. Without being told, you learn a lot about the purpose and value of service dogs, the deaf community, and different causes that lead to deafness. It was just very nice to be introduced to a different world for a different group of people. It also adds an interesting twist to a mystery novel.

Mystery. The book is advertised as a cozy mystery and it is exactly that. The mystery isn’t complicated, it’s not over the top. It’s a basic who-done-it and there’s a lot of fun trying to solve it.

Kitty Swift and Chica. I will say, that I am not an animal person (sad, but true) and I was not initially interested in a book that had a dog on the cover (I know, I know). I figured if the dog is on the cover, it’s going to have a main role and while the dog did have a main role, it totally worked for the narrative that was being told. So, if you’re like me, never fear, the dog has a purpose here. Also, I really liked Kitty Swift. She’s kind and giving, and yet she has a past and secrets that I think will be slowly unraveled over time.

Romance. This is one of those series (and I haven’t finished it) that appears to introduce the couple in the first book and take them slowly through the rest of the series. So, the best kind of romance because it’s one based on friendship and shared interests.

Spiritually, the main character prays and seeks God.

What I Didn’t Like

The mystery. Honestly, the only thing that made me roll my eyes was how the bad guy/gal was revealed. They straight up confessed in spite of the fact that Kitty really didn’t have any evidence. It made the novel feel a bit less serious.

Romantic scale: 6

Overall, a very nice, cozy mystery to read.