Grace Like Rain by Julie Lessman
Blake “The Rake” McClare has avoided the altar for all of his 28 years. Enjoying his playboy existence, Blake has never wanted for female company. Patience Grace Peabody has successfully avoided being taken in by Blake’s charms. As secretary for the law firm that Blake is a part of she knows Blake’s reputation and is determined to not be part of the women that fall at Blake’s feet. When Blake sets his sights on Patience he becomes a changed man. Determined to walk the straight and narrow in order to win her affections, Blake puts away his wandering ways and sets out to prove that a rake can change his ways and become a man wholly devoted to one woman when the right one comes along.
As always Julie Lessman doesn’t disappoint in the steam-factor or in the drama factor. Even though this is a short story, Julie still packs in her signature “Passion with Purpose” and enough drama to cause the reader to have heart palpitations and doubt that we will get our Happily Ever After ending that we so desire. As always there is a spiritual thread that runs through the story. I always love that the characters in Julie’s books ultimately bend their knees to the Maker of heaven and earth. If you haven’t read any of Julie’s books before, I say it is time to start!
His Beloved Bride by Ruth Logan Herne
Grace is in desperate need of help. With a fever raging in her body she cannot take care of her newborn baby. Grace cries out to God and it seems like her prayers are answered.
Phillip has spent his time buying land and developing his property. Now it is time for his Grandmother’s estate to be settled and in order for him to receive his inheritance he must be married and have a child. When Phillip hears about recently widowed Grace he heads out to her homestead with a proposition for her. When he arrives he finds her passed out from the fever and her newborn baby crying in hunger. Moved to care for these two pitiful souls he takes them to his home and gets the local midwife to check on the two.
Grace agrees to Phillips suggestion of a marriage of convenience with the agreement for both of them that they would dissolve their union once the requirements for the inheritance have been met. Grace would be taken care of and Phillip would receive his inheritance. Phillip finds though that he likes having Grace and the baby around. Grace finds that not all men are cruel and that Phillip is a man to be trusted.
Prairie life is hard though, and when tragedy strikes Phillip and Grace both wonder if their love can survive.
I thought that His Beloved Bride was a sweet romance. I thought Grace and Phillip were perfect for each other and loved the way Phillip came in and rescued Grace and her baby and how he was so gentle with her. This is the first time I have read this author and it will probably not be the last.
Meeting In The Middle by Pam Hillman
Curt Parker is a widower with two daughters to take care of. His mule has just died and his fields are in need of plowing and planting. His neighbor Alaina Garland has a mule, but is in need of help getting her fields planted. The two strike up a deal to help each other out. Alaina would like to work alongside Curt while he is plowing. Insisting that his girls will always been within sight and they can keep a watch on them while they work. Curt insists that he can do all of the work and Alaina must stay at his home and take care of his daughters during the day. At an impasse Alaina agrees for a time and shows up every morning to take care of Curt’s daughters. She quickly falls in love with the girls and it isn’t long before Curt also captures her heart. Alaina is still insistent that she can help him and keep track of the girls, she is frustrated at Curt’s stubbornness. Is there some middle ground that these two can meet at to get the work finished?
I enjoyed this story. Curt’s fears of leaving his girls unattended are very understandable. Once he learns to give that fear to the Lord things go a bit smoother between he and Alaina. Since this collection of short stories is called “With This Kiss” I have to mention that the kisses in this story are pretty smoldering! Once again I haven’t read this author before, but now I’ll have to look her up and try her books.
The Innkeeper’s Promise by Cara Lynn James
Lydia Barlow and Dane Paxton share ownership of The Mountain View Inn. Dane has been an absentee owner for the past several years. Now he is in need of some money to fund some other ventures he is working on. He wants Lydia to buy out his share. Unfortunately Lydia and her mother have not been very good stewards in keeping the books of the Inn. There is no money for Lydia to buy out Dane and in fact the Inn is at risk of being foreclosed on. A neighbor is very insistent about buying the Inn from Lydia and Dane and has given them a very good offer. Dane wishes to take the offer but Lydia has a promise to keep to her uncle who gave her and Dane the Inn. She definitely doesn’t want to sell to her neighbor and she is determined to try and save the Inn. Having had a crush on Dane for most of her growing up years Lydia is fighting her feelings for Dane and Dane is just now seeing Lydia in a romantic fashion. Will the two of them be able to come up with a plan to save the Inn?
I thought the romance in this one was a little quick, but being a short story, things needed to be moved along and also some background had to be left out. We do find that Lydia has always harbored a desire for Dane to move back and help her with the Inn, but I still found that the path to romance was a bit quick. I did enjoy the setting of the story though. Love the idea of families spending lazy summer days at an Inn on a lake.
Closer Than Brothers by Mary Connealy
This is the story of 5 young men in a Confederate Prison camp during the Civil War. In the midst of sickness and danger they become fast friends who have each others backs. This is also a prequel to the author’s books The Kincaid Brides series and The Trouble in Texas series. I haven’t read any of the books in either one of these series. I have to actually say that when I read this was a story set in the Civil War I almost decided not to read it. While I loved the classic Gone with the Wind I’m just generally not a fan of stories set in this era of history. But it was the last book in this set of short stories and I wanted to be thorough in finishing what I started and being able to review all 5 of the stories. I definitely would love to pick up these series and read them after finishing the prequel. I would especially like to read Vince (The Invincible)’s story. And also see which one contains the rest of Callie’s story as we are kind of left hanging at the end of Closer Than Brothers.
My Overall Impression of the Series:
After finishing all of the stories in this collection I would have to say that I definitely would like to check out more from these authors. I have read all that Julie Lessman has written so I’m good to go there, but the rest of the authors are pretty new to me and so I will definitely have to look them up and purchase their full length novels. If you like short stories, and an abundance of romance then definitely check out this collection. I wrote the reviews in the order that I read the books. You can see that Julie Lessman was my priority(smiley face).