2021 Book #66 – You Were Always Mine by Nicole Baart

Title: You Were Always Mine
Author: Nicole Baart
Date finished: 8/9/21
Genre: Mystery, women’s fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages in book: 385
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Jessica Chamberlain, newly separated and living with her two sons in a small Iowa town, can’t believe that a tragedy in another state could have anything to do with her. But when her phone rings one quiet morning, her world is shattered. As she tries to pick up the pieces and make sense of what went wrong, Jess begins to realize that a tragic death is just the beginning. Soon she is caught in a web of lies and half-truths—and she’s horrified to learn that everything leads back to her seven-year-old adopted son, Gabriel.

Years ago, Gabe’s birth mother requested a closed adoption and Jessica was more than happy to comply. But when her house is broken into and she discovers a clue that suggests her estranged husband was in close contact with Gabe’s biological mother, she vows to uncover the truth at any cost. A harrowing story of tenacious love and heartbreaking betrayal, You Were Always Mine is about the wars we wage to keep the ones we love close, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I couldn’t put this one down! The plot of this book was so good – the twist ending was not at all what I expected. I loved the little pieces of information disclosed at the start of each chapter from Evan’s patient notes too. I was so intrigued to figure out what the short hand notes meant and how it connected to the story. The whole story was really interesting and thought provoking in terms of adoption, having babies while incarcerated, process of child protective services, etc. Jessica’s emotions leapt off the page and I really felt myself inserted into her heartache. I thought it was so sad that Evan died (**spoiler kind of – you find out pretty early**) before he could reconcile with Jessica though because they did honestly love each other. Overall though this was a great book and I really enjoyed it, I would definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #22 – It Happened in the Highlands by May McGoldrick

51omP6yEqrLTitle: It Happened in the Highlands
Author: May McGoldrick
Date finished: 3/22/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Pages in book: 239
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Pennington family series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

It Happened in the Highlands is the next book in the new historical highland series, The Penningtons, from USA Today bestseller May McGoldrick…

Lady Josephine Pennington was jilted by her fiancé once rumors spread about her questionable origins. Her adoptive parents have always provided her with the love and protection she’s needed to feel secure, and over the last sixteen years she’s molded herself to meet the expectations of others. When she receives a package containing sketches where the subject is eerily familiar, Jo believes she might have found a clue to the identity of her birth mother.

When Captain Wynne Melfort ended his engagement to Jo Pennington sixteen years ago, he never imagined he would see her again. But after he uncovers information that could reveal the truth about Jo’s parentage, Wynne feels bound by duty to right an old wrong and inform her of his find. He didn’t expect for feelings long thought dead to resurface, for in his mind a love departed was gone forever.

As they strive to unravel the mystery of her birth, Jo must learn how to trust the man who’d once rejected her and Wynne must reconcile his head with his heart. But as secrets of the past begin to surface, evil forces will stop at nothing to keep Jo from uncovering the truth and reclaiming her legacy. Together, Jo and Wynne must fight the deadly menace lurking deep in the Highland mists.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Readers are first introduced to Jo’s character in the first book in the Pennington family series, which is centered around her brother Hugh. I was drawn to Jo’s story line after reading about her in the first book, since she had to overcome such adversity in her life I immediately wanted to hear about her happy ending. And I thought the author did a great job in this book of reconnecting her with the old love of her life. This trope is one that has been used time and again, and while usually it makes me sad because of the many years of happiness the characters missed out on, in this book it felt like the hero and heroine both needed those years apart to grow emotionally and be better for the relationship they can have now. I thought it was just really well done and I ended up liking the plot a good amount. Overall it was a sweet love story and exactly what you’d want from a historical romance, I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #50 – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

517zceaBMWLTitle: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Date finished: 6/6/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

This book tells the story of two women, separated by many decades but both affected by one same event in history. Avery Stafford is the daughter of a prominent politician, and she is being groom to take his place should the need arise due to his health. While at an event, Avery meats May Weathers, an elderly woman who just began her stay at a residential care facility. When Avery sees an old photograph of May’s with a woman who looks really similar to her grandmother, she can’t help but be curious. And when she asks her grandmother about it, her reaction is odd. Decades ago, when May Weathers was a young girl, something awful happened to her. At a dark time in Tennessee’s history, poor parents with young children had their families torn apart; their children kidnapped and sold off to the highest bidder like cattle. Organized by a woman who could only be described as truly evil, these “adoptions” were never overturned and these poor children were ripped from their families. Based on true events, this heart wrenching story is a fictionalized version of what most likely happened to many families in Tennessee’s history. And from Avery’s point of view the author depicts the ripple effect over the generations.

Overall I ended up really liking this book. Towards the middle it was starting to get hard to get through for me because the subject matter is just so overwhelmingly traumatic. Reading about how this young girl was ripped from a family, that while poor still loved her, to be placed in a home where she was abused and tormented and separated from her younger brothers and sisters was awful. I was starting to think that the book was going to be too emotionally traumatic for me. However I persevered and I am so glad that I did. While this was still an extremely difficult subject matter, I think it is definitely worth the read. Hearing about how May did everything she could do to protect her family, and the heartache and struggles that she went through in her young life was so inspiring. This is definitely a book that you should keep a box of Kleenex handy for because while May’s young life was overwhelmingly sad, her life didn’t end there. The author was able to turn the trauma into a hopeful and touching story that I just loved. And generations later as Avery finds out things she never knew about her family, the reader can see through both her struggles and May’s that there is still goodness in the world. Told between alternating chapters set in 1939 and the present day, this is a story that will truly reach in and twist you up inside, but you your heart real will feel full in the end. I would highly recommend reading this one.

The bottom line: This was a great book! It was so moving and while sad also somehow hopeful, I loved it. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #32 – Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt

51bRO8XaIOLTitle: Hannah’s Moon
Author: John A. Heldt
Date finished: 4/12/17
Genre: Fiction, Time travel
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 8, 2017
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: #5 in American Journey series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

After struggling for years to have a child, Claire Rasmussen, 34, turns to adoption, only to find new obstacles on the path to motherhood. Then she gets an unlikely phone call and soon learns that a distant uncle possesses the secrets of time travel. Within weeks, Claire, husband Ron, and brother David find themselves on a train to Tennessee and 1945, where adoptable infants are plentiful and red tape is short. For a time, they find what they seek. Then a beautiful stranger enters their lives, the Navy calls, and a simple, straightforward mission becomes a race for survival. Filled with suspense, romance, and heartbreak, HANNAH’S MOON, the epic conclusion of the American Journey series, follows the lives of four spirited adults as they confront danger, choices, and change in the tense final months of World War II.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Claire Rasmussen, who along with her husband, Ron, and brother, David, travel back in time to 1945 in order to adopt a baby. Claire and David’s uncle, Geoffrey Bell, guides them through the process and then, with his wife Jeanette, leaves them to their mission in 1945 while they go off to South America. Ron and Claire easily find a daughter available for adoption but they have to wait 3 months for the adoption to be final. During that time they befriend the woman living across the street, Margaret. David develops a particular attachment to her even though she is engaged to a Navy man. The plan is for Claire, Ron, their daughter Hannah, and David to head back through the portal as soon as the adoption goes through. But unfortunately fate is not that kind and there are not one but three major kinks thrown into their plans, all of which could keep them from returning at all.
Overall I liked this book. The plot line was really interesting for this one and had multiple things going on at once, which I liked. There were many points in this book that were moving and I thought the author did a great job of capturing the characters’ strength of emotions in those moments. Especially the pieces about Ron towards the end, there was a lot of tension and emotion in those moments that jumped out at me. The ending was interesting too because although it is the “finale” of the series I feel like it opens the door for a related series for future time travelers.

The bottom line: Overall I have enjoyed this series, and the time travel aspect in general is very interesting. There was some really good tension in this plot line, and there were some very emotionally touching parts as well. I would recommend, especially if you’ve enjoyed the other books in the series.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page