A while back my great-aunt passed away, and somehow my grandpa ended up with two boxes full of books. Almost all of them are ‘inspirational’ romances published by Harlequin as ‘Love Inspired’. At one point (not sure if you still can) you could subscribe and have a new book mailed to you every month. Aunt Darby did just that, and now I’m in possession of somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 or so of these ‘Love Inspired’ titles. Most of them are pretty cheesy but alright for a one-time fluff read. I’m sure that I’ll binge through some of them periodically. They’re perfect to grab out of the crate when I’m just looking for a quick, no-brainer book. However, most of them will probably end up exiting this house after that one-time read, because they just aren’t worth the shelf space to me. So if there’s one that sounds especially appealing to you… let me know, and I’ll be quite happy to mail you a gift! ;-)
Here is the next round of five for this project – a slightly better outing this time around!
A Time to Heal by Linda Goodnight
I actually enjoyed this story, where ER doctor Kat returns to her hometown, completely burned out from her work in a big-city hospital. She’s determined to give up her career and try something new. Of course, she runs into her old flame, Seth, and the inevitable sparks fly.
There was a bit more grit to this story than these books sometimes have, as Kat and Seth were pregnant back before Kat left. I think that this book would have read better if Kat had gotten an abortion back then instead of having a miscarriage, as her level of guilt didn’t really seem to fit something that wasn’t actually her fault, although I could still follow the “I really wished this baby was dead and then it was dead and now I feel horrible” logic to some extent. It also felt really obvious that Kat should continue being a doctor, she just shouldn’t be an ER doctor in the middle of a city, so I appreciated that the author addressed that early on by explaining that opening a small-town clinic was just too cost-prohibitive.
Overall, while the story had its weaknesses, I still found it to be a fairly enjoyable read, although not enjoyable enough to keep on my shelves for another time. :-D 3.5/5.
Safe in His Arms by Dana Corbit
Six months ago, Lindsay and her sister were in a terrible car accident. Lindsay’s sister died, and Lindsay is still recovering from her injuries. On top of all of that, Lindsay has also inherited her sister’s daughter, who is just a toddler. (Later we find out the sister was a widow, so the niece is now an orphan.) When our story begins, Lindsay is seeking out the state trooper who was first on the scene, Joe, to ask him for more details about the accident, as she can’t remember the event.
I actually liked this story, and liked both Joe and Lindsay. Joe is struggling with a lot of guilt because he was only able to save Lindsay and not both women – the car burst into flames before he could return for the sister. Parts of the story felt a little weak on logic, and Lindsay’s parents are just so obnoxious, but overall a decent 3/5 read.
The Cinderella List by Judy Baer
This book was actually a lot of fun. Marlo is a caterer, and at a big event, she meets Jake, who is super rich. But Jake also happens to fit a lot of Marlo’s husband requirements – a list that she and her sister started a long time ago. While Marlo isn’t sure that she can really fit into Jake’s life, she of course does.
I really liked how Marlo was an adult living with severe dyslexia – I feel like these types of problems are only found/discussed in children’s books and YA, but they aren’t things that you outgrow. It doesn’t define Marlo, but it’s a big part of her life that felt natural in this story. Another part of the book is Jake trying to set up a program on his horse farm to help children with physical and mental disabilities, which also tied in with Marlo’s nephew, who was oxygen-deprived at birth. There were just a lot of threads going on in this story, and they actually came together well and mostly made sense.
Things got a bit melodramatic, but were readable on the whole, and this was another 3.5/5.
Deadly Safari by Lisa Harris
As a bonus, some of the “Love Inspired” titles are actually “Love Inspired SUSPENSE,” although this is the first one I’ve come across in my little project. Meghan makes wildlife documentaries for a living, and is on assignment at a wildlife refuge in South Africa following the life of some young lion cubs. Her father is a diplomat, and has been receiving threats made to Meghan if he doesn’t do something-or-other. Meghan always blows this sort of thing off, so her dad hires Alex to come be her bodyguard without Meghan knowing it. Of course, there are tons of near-misses that bring the couple together.
A lot of this story was fun, but it was really short in the logic department, so I couldn’t fully enjoy it. (Like the whole point of the documentary is they are waiting for the big moment when the mother lioness introduces the cubs to the rest of the pride, and it could happen any minute, but they seem to spend an incredibly minimal amount of time actually watching the lions.) But Meghan and Alex were overall likable and the suspense part did add a spark of interest to the story overall. My actual notes say that this book was ridiculous but fun, and that’s a pretty good sum-up. 3.5/5.
Montana Hearts by Charlotte Carter
Sarah Barkley was the recent recipient of a heart transplant, necessary because her heart was so weakened by childhood cancer treatments. Of course, these are always anonymous, but Sarah has done some research and believes that she has found the family of her donor. She’s traveled from her home in Seattle to a small town in Montana, with a vague idea that she might be able to find some way to anonymously give back to the family who gave her another chance at life.
But a series of events means that she starts working as a housekeeper for Kurt and his two children, and guess what two people fall in love with each other?!?! Despite its predictability, I still enjoyed this story that actually dealt well with some difficult subjects. While some things were tidied up a little too easily in the end, it was still a pleasant, 3.5/5 read.