My Boyfriends’ Dogs by Dandi Daley Mackall

Bailey Daley, a sophomore in high school, is desperate for a boyfriend. She also loves dogs. The dogs seem to find her—boyfriends have alluded her so far.

Her best friend, Amber, doesn’t have a boyfriend either and her single mom is too busy stopping at every garage sale to look for a husband.

Bailey’s desperation blinds her to red flags in her dating relationships yet each one brings a new dog into her life. She figures that a guy with a dog must be the right boyfriend for her.

Wrong. A series of relationships each leave her with a new dog. When will she find Mr. Right?

This YA novel is engaging with lovable characters. The main character makes bad choices at times as the reader spots the red flags long before she does. An entertaining read with a surprise ending.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Between Us Girls by Sally John

Book 1 of Family of the Heart Series

There are a lot of characters in this book. The story is told in the viewpoint of several of them, making it initially difficult to bond with them or understand how they all fit together.

A tornado destroys Jasmyn Allbright’s Illinois home and everything she owns. She makes some big decisions too soon that turn folks in her home town against her.

She takes a vacation in sunny California where her rental car is stolen with everything she owns inside the car.

Little does she know how fortunate she is to have her possessions stolen outside the Casa de Vida Cottages. The owner, Liv McAlister, gives her a temporary home and takes her under her wing.

As Jasmyn’s heart becomes entangled with the residents, Illinois still keeps calling her back. Should she stay or should she go?

Once my interest was snagged, I couldn’t put the book down for long. So many of the characters tugged at my heart that I had to know what happened next.

So happy to learn that this book is a series! I want to see what happens next. Well-written book by a new-to-me author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Poverty, Puberty, & Patriotism by Ruth Kibler Peck

The author became a teenager during the difficult years of World War II. She gives a candid picture of life for a poor Ohio family who do their best to support their country at war.

From the shock of the Pearl Harbor bombing to the horror of the German concentration camps, the reader will see how the news affected one small family and their neighbors.

The military needed rubber so children collected old tires, boots, and garden hoses that they toted in wagons to collection points. Next the children went door-to-door asking for unneeded metal items that were dragged to the curb for pickup.

The author navigates readers through rationing. A ration book was provided to every family for foods such as butter, eggs, meat, sugar, and canned goods.

Great book and an easy read for anyone interested in life in America during the 1940s!

-Sandra Merville Hart


His Small-Town Family by Lorraine Beatty

Home to Dover Series, Book 1

Circumstances drive Nicki Latimer back home to Dover, Mississippi, where she has to raise her infant daughter and save her father’s failing business while he recuperates. Out of desperation the widow hires Ethan Stone, a stranger to town.

Ethan is fighting his way through PTSD. He’s able to push through it with the help of a support group most of the time. That and a childhood living in foster homes leave him feeling inadequate for fatherhood.

Nicki has her own secrets as she’s never revealed the true nature of her relationship with her dead husband. Yet it has left deep scars.

The characters drew me into their struggles early in the story. Both had known heartache and loneliness. An easy read that kept my interest.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Primary Suspect by Laura Scott

Wrongfully accused and on the run for a crime he didn’t commit, Firefighter Mitch Callahan hates that Dana Petrie is on the run with him. The widow’s only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They flee from the hospital when a man attacks Mitch. The reason for the attack is a mystery to both of them. Mitch feels guilt enough that he couldn’t save her husband from a fire they both battled. All his efforts failed that day three years ago, leaving Dana a widow. Now he’s managed to drag her into his nightmare.

Danger escalates at every turn and now Dana is also a target.

Escalating tension and growing romance make this novel a suspenseful page turner! Twists and turns in the story kept my interest until the end. This is the first time I’ve read a suspense novel by this author and I will look for more.

-Sandra Merville Hart


A Family-Style Christmas by Carolyne Aarsen

Caitlin Severn had just ended a three-year relationship when she met Simon Steele immediately after his motorcycle accident. Not only did she witness the car striking the motorcycle, she was the first on the scene. As a nurse, she cared for him and then went to the hospital with him. That time created a bond between them.

Though Simon has no visitors, Caitlin knows all the warnings against a nurse becoming involved with her patient. Also, she’s a Christian and he isn’t. Yet she’s still drawn to him.

Simon longs for a family and his brother that he hasn’t seen in years. Caitlin has a loving family. What can they have in common?

Likeable characters drew me into their heartache and struggles. This story may resonate with those growing up in foster care.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Beyond the Cherokee Trail by Lisa Carter

Linden Birchfield stays at her grandmother’s home in Snowbird while organizing the Trail of Tears 180th commemoration. Not everyone in the community supports the celebration, including Walker Crowe, a descendent of the North Carolina Cherokee who hid out in the mountains to avoid deportation.

Linden is drawn to Walker despite the former army sniper’s prickly personality. Yet she has a good reason to avoid marriage so she shields her heart from loving him.

Then she finds a diary in her grandmother’s attic and begins reading about the horror of the tragic Trail of Tears.

This novel slips between the historic and contemporary stories of two women and the men they loved, escalating the tension as they intertwine with the telling.

Realistic characters. Courageous heroes to fall in love with. Heroines who experience tragedy. Add a gripping story and you have a page-turning novel, masterfully written.


-Sandra Merville Hart

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Blur by Steven James

Book 1 of the Blur Trilogy

 Beldon, Wisconsin, is a quiet town … until Emily Jackson drowns in Lake Algonquin. The high school freshman had been a new girl at school. Few of the students knew her, including sixteen-year-old Daniel Byers.

As the school’s quarterback, Daniel is one of the popular guys. Yet a vision of Emily speaking to him at the funeral starts to convince him that her death was no accident.

Was Emily murdered? Who did it? Searching for the truth blurs the lines between reality and madness.

Gripping. Suspenseful. I could not put the book down. It’s one of those books that will make you think.

The author is a masterful storyteller. Recommend!

-Sandra Merville Hart


A Simple Christmas Wish by Melody Carlson

Rachel Milligan is spending the week with her lovable niece, Holly, when tragedy strikes. An airplane crash takes the lives of Holly’s parents shortly before Christmas.

Now the only family they have left is each other. Rachel resolves to be the best parent she can be to her brother’s only child.

Yet the will reveals some surprises. What can they do to stop it?

Lovable characters (and one you may love to hate,) and an adorable little girl who tugged at my heart made this a page turner for me.

I love stories set during the Christmas season. This heartwarming story did not disappoint me. Recommend.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Western Christmas Wishes

Two novellas included in Western Christmas Wishes

 His Christmas Family by Brenda Minton

Laurel Adams didn’t really want to return to her childhood home in Hope, Oklahoma. Her grandmother was ill and needed help—that’s why she went home.

Cameron Hunt rented a guesthouse from Gladys and had reasons to prefer his own company. Yet with Gladys in the hospital, he figured he’d have to show Lauren the ropes and help her with Rose, the teenager who stayed with Gladys under foster care.

There are some surprises awaiting these two as Christmas approaches.

Not only did the struggles of the main characters tug at my heart, but also the secondary characters battled major obstacles.

An enjoyable holiday romance.

A Merry Wyoming Christmas by Jill Kemerer

Michael Carr, in between job assignments, returns to his family’s ranch for the Christmas holidays. A rift between him and his brother guarantees that he won’t linger too long after the holiday.

Leann Bowden looks forward to a new start in Wyoming with her two-year-old daughter, Sunni. Leann arrives at Sunrise Bend a few weeks before her new job starts to get them settled. It didn’t matter that Christmas was coming—there was nothing tying her to St. Louis.

There’s something about Michael that draws Leann to his quiet strength. Yet, if he doesn’t plan on staying, she can’t give into her feelings. She’s already been through one man leaving her and her daughter … she can’t go through it again.

Believable characters, an adorable little girl who tugged at my heart, and a sweet romance made this an enjoyable read!

-Sandra Merville Hart