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Book Review: Rosemary’s Cottage by Colleen Coble

Posted by Julie on July 18, 2013 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Amy came to Rosemary Cottage to grieve, to heal, maybe even find love. But there’s a deadly undertow of secrets around Hope Island . . .

The charming Rosemary Cottage on the beach offers Amy Lange respite she needs to mourn her brother, Ben. She’s even thinking of moving her midwife practice to the Outer Banks community. It’s always been a refuge for her and her family. She also wants to investigate Ben’s disappearance at sea. Everyone blames a surfing accident, but Amy has reason to wonder.

Coast Guard officer Curtis Ireland has lost a sibling too. His sister, Gina, was run down by a boat, leaving him to raise her infant daughter. If anyone knew who little Raine’s father was, Curtis could lose his beloved niece. Yet he can’t help being drawn to Hope Beach’s new midwife, Amy. He even agrees to help her investigate what happened to both Ben and Gina.

Can two grieving people with secrets find healing on beautiful Hope Island? Or will their quest for truth set them at odds with each other…and with those who will go to any length to keep hidden things hidden?

“Coble provides plenty of excitement for readers who enjoy her unique combination of cozy setting and action-packed mystery.” —Publishers Weekly

Rosemary-Cottage-FeaturedRosemary’s Cottage is the second book in the Hope Beach series. Last year I reviewed Tidewater Inn. I think you could read Rosemary’s Cottage as a stand-alone, but I recommend Tidewater Inn first. The series gives a beautiful glimpse of life in the Outer Banks.

Like Tidewater Inn, Rosemary’s Cottage has a good mystery and lots of suspense. There are also grieving characters in Amy and Ben that could bring them together, but also drive them apart. A huge secret is revealed in the last third, and I know I wasn’t expecting it.

This is a suspenseful page-turner that once again shows off a part of America I love, the Outer Banks. My heart broke a little at the mystery, but I think that’s a compliment to Colleen Coble, because I didn’t see it coming. I also enjoyed re visiting characters from Tidewater Inn.

I think Rosemary’s Cottage is just the pick for a vacation read. It has everything you’re looking for–suspense, mystery, romance, and take away lessons to think on long after. In fact, Colleen shares that this is the book that was inspired in part by her own brother’s death years ago. I pray God blessed Colleen with healing as she wrote as much as her writing blesses her readers.

To purchase Rosemary’s Cottage, click here.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter

Posted by Julie on January 26, 2013 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

When it comes to romance, there are a lot of sub-genres. Historical, contemporary, suspense, inspirational, and chick-lit to name a few. Secretly Smitten enters a sub-genre I don’t think I’ve heard–cozy romance.

This book, written by real life best friends Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter, is a sequel, but you wouldn’t know. Each story is a stand alone and doesn’t confuse readers with information from the previous book. Although mystery is part of Secretly Smitten, romance takes center stage and deserves a standing ovation.


Each author wrote a story and they are all quick reads. They flow so well together, it’s obvious these are authors who know each other well enough to finish each other’s sentences. Afterall, that’s what BFF’s do, right?  Aside from reading enough from the authors to know their own quirks (who knits, for example) I would not have been able to tell this was written by more than one author. The transition between stories was seemless.

Each story is held together by the past. One of the characters, Tess, finds a pair of dog tags in her grandmother’s attic belonging to David Hutchins. Turns out he was her grandmother’s first love, and she believed him to be dead. Tess and her sisters work to unravel how David was thought to be dead when he really wasn’t, and was he still alive?

While they investigate the past, the Thomas’ women discover love on their own. Each woman has her own struggles, and I love that the women had to overcome. Each character was strong in her own right, but there was a challenge in each story. Their men were also each different, with their own backgrounds and conflicts that threatened the romance.

Mystery and romance would be enough to satisfy, but the authors create an added layer for the reader to work through, family. As the David Hutchins mystery unravels, two sisters endure hurt and unforgiveness. I thought this backstory was exceptionally well done and relatable. There truly is something for everyone in Secretly Smitten.

From Amazon:

Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!

There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?

The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?

Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.

Secretly Smitten was as comfortable as a pair of slippers, a favorite blanket, and a roaring fire. Which I think you should gather as you read this equally cozy book.

Purchase Secretly Smitten here.

I received Secretly Smitten from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Secretly Smitten Live Webcast February 5th

Posted by Julie on January 22, 2013 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, webinars, Writing |

The “gals” are celebrating the release of Secretly Smitten with a fun Live Webcast on February 5th. They’ll be debuting the *NEW* animated Smitten trailer, giving away tons of prizes, dishing on the book and their friendship. They’ll also be wrapping up the Secretly Smitten blog tour, answering audience questions and testing your trivia skills. Don’t miss the fun and bring your friends. Click here to RSVP and set up a reminder.

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Book Review: Lasso Me a Mom by Stephanie Jackson

Posted by Julie on December 4, 2012 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, surrender |

There’s nothing like the Christmas season to dive into a heartwarming story. Those winter months are where I’m looking for a sweet story that pulls on my emotions. Lasso Me a Mom by Stephanie Jackson is such a read.

Nikki Turner has it all: she is an honor student, has a popular boyfriend and is a star dancer. However; never is there a time that a smile crosses her face. With a constant frown and a sharp tongue, she doesn’t let anyone get a rise out of her, especially her teacher Cassie McGregor.

When it is revealed that Nikki is homeless and in the foster care system, Cassie, who is a certified foster mother, is chosen to be her temporary guardian, an agreement they both object from the start. As their animosity begins to deplete, Nikki and Cassie realize that what they’ve always wanted just might bring them closer.

Although on TV a similar theme is playing out on the TNT show “Major Crimes,” a lovable but rejected teen paired with an adult that appears an odd fit still isn’t one often explored, and I liked the way Nikki and Cassie interact. They have a not-so-great history, but their positive progression to a great fit is well done.

I would like to see the onion layers, so to speak, peeled back even more when it comes to character development and dialogue. This is a dialgoue-driven book, and I’d enjoy experiencing the character sensing things through dialogue beats instead of just tags. My sense is that in future works, these things will be as natural of a progression as Nikki and Cassie were. The author lists Denise Hunter and Colleen Coble as inspirations, and those are top-notch authors to observe.

Lasso Me a Mom is an uplifting read full of heart. Check it out!

Purchase here

I received a .pdf from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Image from tumblr

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Book Review: Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble

Posted by Julie on August 13, 2012 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.


Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.


But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.


Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

Tidewater Inn took the lead for my so-far favorite fiction read of the year. It’s also my favorite Colleen Coble book, and I don’t toss either term around lightly. It has everything a good summer read should have–a well researched destination called the Outer Banks. Family dysfunction and conflict. Mystery and suspense. Colleen Coble takes one of the hardest struggles for man to overcome–greed, and effortlessly weaves the theme and consequences throughout the book.

I’ve been to the Outer Banks and I’ve read OBX based books that didn’t make me feel like I was there. Tidewater Inn does, right down to incorporating severe weather, what tides can do, and shipwreck history. The ending mystery was a little far-fetched but again, it incorporated Outer Banks history so well, I didn’t care.

I loved Libby from the beginning, and Alec made me swoon. Every girl loves a waterman, right? I also enjoyed the complex relationship they both had with Zach, as well as the conflicted issues surrounding Brent and Vanessa.

Summer is fading fast, so my advice is find a beach and throw Tidewater Inn in your bag. It’s a great read.

To purchase, click here.

To see the other Tidewater Inn blog tour stops, click here.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Meet Colleen:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.


Visit her website at Twitter @colleencoble.


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Win a $500 Weekend Getaway Package from @ColleenCoble and Connect with Her at 8/23 Party

Posted by Julie on August 10, 2012 in Book Review, Julie Arduini |

Celebrate with Colleen by entering to win a $500 gift certificate to!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A $500 gift certificate to
  • A copy of Tidewater Inn.

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 22nd. Winner will be announced at Colleen’s “Tidewater Inn” Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/23. Colleen will be sharing the story behind the book, hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of fun giveaways – books, gift certificates and a Book Club Prize Pack! She’ll also be giving a sneak peak of her next book too!

So grab your copy of Tidewater Inn and join Colleen on the evening of the August 23rd  for a chance to connect with Colleen and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don’t miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER about Colleen’s giveaway and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

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