Friday, November 21, 2014

Review - My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough. Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.
When I saw the opportunity to read My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White I couldn't pass it up.

I was gifted the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice by my brother (probably the best gift he's ever given me) for a birthday back in... 2006 I believe. I'd just been dumped by a guy I thought was all that and a bag of potato chips, though, so it took me months to decide I was ok enough to watch a romantic movie.

When I watched it, the guy who dumped me didn't even matter anymore. What I needed in my life was Mr. Darcy. More importantly, Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. No one else would do. It became my favorite movie (the book became a favorite of mine as well (yes I read the book AFTER I watched the movie)). Forget that he was arrogant and rude at the beginning, he was wonderful by the end. And I was hooked.

So I could totally identify with everything that Lizzie was feeling in this story. To a point. Luckily, I never became as obsessed as she did. Lizzie was so intent on finding Mr. Darcy and only Mr. Darcy that NO ONE ELSE WOULD DO. No one. Not even Mr. Wonderful, Chad. Chad was sweet and attentive and kind and REALLY liked Lizzie. And she was so stubborn that she had to be forced in to even giving him a second shot.

I had high hopes for her until Matt Dawson walked in to the bank. Then it was "Chad who?" I mean, Matt fit the mold. He was aloof, uppity, stand-offish... but then warmed to Lizzie the same way that Mr. Darcy had warmed to his own Lizzie. Forget that he was also often rude and completely ignorant of Lizzie's feelings. Or dismissed them altogether as childish and unimportant. He wasn't supportive of her and he was genuinely embarrassed to even mention Lizzie to his parents. Which, as it turns out, probably had worked out in Lizzie's favor. As they were the HUGEST snobs I've ever seen.

Despite her walking away from a relationship with Chad, he still kept coming back. He helped her when she needed help. He was kind to her when he didn't have to be. He even helped her get a foot in the door as an interior designer. Matt belittled the clothing she wore, got irritated and grumpy every time she mentioned Chad even though HE was constantly around MEG, an ex-almost-fiance who had followed him to Portland and now worked in the bookstore that he owned, and totally discounted her talent as a designer despite the fact that it was what she'd trained and gone to school for.

I mean seriously... at that point, who cares if he is her perfect Mr. Darcy. GET RID OF HIM.

I can only support the fantasy to a point.

I understand it. Completely. But seriously... move on.

That being said, it was a great book. Because really... who has watched the movie (in any form) or read the book and not wished, even if just for a second, that they could be Lizzie Bennett. Or that they could find someone like Mr. Darcy. Who has seen Mr. Darcy dance with Lizzie at the Netherfield Ball and watched him profess his love to her and not wanted to be in her place?

My Own Mr. Darcy captured that fantasy perfectly. And then took it to the next level. It was kind of a wake up call to the ones who are so focused on a certain type of guy that they refuse to look at anyone else. They are so set in their dating requirements that they refuse to see that there may be someone else who is perfect for them. Even if they don't match all of the qualifications.

I wanted to yell at Lizzie throughout almost this entire book. Her friends and family were much too patient with her. Although I suppose if they hadn't been it would have been a much shorter story. If you like Pride and Prejudice, the book or the movie, I think you should give this book a read. If you've ever wished that Mr. Darcy would walk across the meadow in the early hours of the morning and re-affirm his affection for you then you should definitely read this book.

Personally, I'm glad I didn't stick too strictly to the Mr. Darcy fantasy. The man I married is admittedly nothing like him. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Sometimes men like Mr. Darcy should only be in books and movies.

But still, read the book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review & Giveaway - Emma Blooms at Last by Naomi King

Romance is in the air during the fall wedding season in the Amish community of Cedar Creek. But while one loving couple prepares to tie the knot, Amanda and Wyman Brubaker’s large family faces a threat from outside their happy circle...and must learn to pull together.

Recently wed Amanda and Wyman Brubaker are thrilled that their children from previous marriages have blended together to form a strong family. But when the construction of Wyman’s new grain elevator is delayed, making the project more expensive than anticipated, Amanda’s determination to rally the kids into taking on work to improve the family’s finances comes into conflict with Wyman’s sense of responsibility as head of the household....

Meanwhile, as James Graber and Abby Lambright prepare for their long-awaited nuptials, folks gather from far and wide. Amanda’s nephew Jerome has long been smitten with James’s sister Emma and wants to seize this chance to woo her. But Emma’s been burned once and is twice shy of trusting the fun-loving, never-serious Jerome. As Emma and Jerome struggle to understand each other, and find the courage to make a leap of faith, the Brubakers face a bigger challenge than they first anticipated and begin to discover just what it means to fight...the Amish way.
Emma Blooms at Last by Naomi King, book 2 in the One Big Happy Family series, is such a lovely book. And lovely is not a word I generally use. But there's not many better ones to pick from.
I love these novels. Reading about Emma and Abby and Wyman and James and Jerome and Amanda and ALL of the Cedar Creek gang... it always makes me wish I was a part of it.

We get to visit Amanda and Wyman again, a little bit of time after they've been married now. They're settled in and pretty well adjusted to their new lives together. Except... Wyman is having trouble with the contractor he's hired to build his new grain elevator. This new contractor does NOT have the work ethic (or the morals and values) of his predecessors, and it's costing Wyman more than expected to get the job done. The more money Wyman pays, though, the less his family has to make it through the winter.

Love is definitely in the air. Abby and James are getting married and couldn't possibly be more caught up in each other. Marrying James, however, means that Abby has to quit work. And without Abby, Sam is finding the Christmas season a bit hard to handle at the store.

Emma is busy lamenting the loss of the man she thought she was made for (he married Rosemary Yutzy from Rosemary Opens Her Heart). Too busy at first to really be interested in the extremely obvious eyeballs that Jerome keeps making at her. But he is not easily deterred. And soon, Emma can't remember why she tried so hard to ignore him.

As always, I read these books and they make me want to be a better version of myself. I'm not sure how to explain that so it makes sense, so I won't try.

I love how, even though these books could work as stand-alones and it's technically a separate series from Home at Cedar Creek, all the characters are familiar. They're like friends and family come home again after a short time away. It's like the stories suck you in and sit you down in the living room of one of these families with a nice warm, hand quilted blanket and make you comfortable.

They give you a peek in to the Amish community and lifestyle in a way thats light and inviting and the romance isn't overbearing like it is in a lot of novels. Although there were some parts where I wanted to shake Emma and just yell at her to stop being so stubborn.

You really get to see how much everyone cares about everyone else. And how willing they are to change their entire lives around to accommodate and to help. They make it a point to find what someone is good at and then they help them to accomplish all that they can in that particular field or with that particular craft.

As a matter of fact, after reading this book I picked my crochet hook back up and gave crocheting hats another go. I generally stick to loom knitting, but you can only do so much with that. I'm excited about making my hats and scarves and everything again. Because there's so many new ways to do it that I NEVER would have ever tried had it not been for reading this story.

I can not say enough wonderful things about this series and all of the others by Naomi King. PLEASE do yourself a favor and read Emma Blooms at Last. I promise you won't be sorry that you did.


Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Naomi King (a.k.a. Charlotte Hubbard) writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Like her heroine, Miriam Lantz, Charlotte considers it her personal mission to feed people—to share hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.

Publisher: NAL (Penguin Group)
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Genre: Inspirational Romance/Amish Romance
Length: 315 Pages
ISBN: 978-0451417886

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