Hello, dear readers! I hope all of you had a marvelous Christmas and that you found many wonderful books beneath your trees. I have always loved Christmas, but this one was even sweeter because it was my nephew’s first. I spent most of the weekend like this:
So, basically on cloud 9 🙂
A couple of weeks ago, I brought you a new list each day of the best books I read in 2015. This week will be similar except I will be talking about the books I’m most anticipating for the first half of 2016.
Let’s kick off the week with the contemporary genre!
On Lone Star Trail by Amanda Cabot
If there’s one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it’s a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow’s End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her.
When TJ Benjamin’s wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He’s spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God’s sense of humor.
Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?
The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.
It’s taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He’s thrown himself into his family’s farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy’s back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he’ll lose her all over again.
More Than A Promise by Ruth Logan Herne
Widower Matt Wilmot is an excavator by trade, but with his three rambunctious young sons making trouble all over town, he may not have what it takes to dig them out on his own.
The boys’ antics have earned them a riotous reputation in their small town of Cedar Mills. When Matt’s former mother-in-law, a powerful lawyer and judge, threatens to sue for custody, Matt’s sure she means it.
Enter Matt’s new neighbor, Elle Drake. She’s made a successful career for herself as an artist and potter, but after a disastrously public break-up with her NFL-player ex-husband, she’s back in Cedar Mills to lick her wounds and set her roughed-up self-image to rights.
After Matt’s oldest son causes damage in Elle’s yard, her common-sense approach forces the boy to take responsibility for his actions—and gives Matt the wake-up call he desperately needs.
Initially adversarial, attraction grows between Matt and Elle as they get to know one another. Matt appreciates Elle’s effect on his sons, and when he gets cornered into having a Sunday breakfast with Elle and the boys, he has fun for the first time in…well, he can’t remember when.
Everything changes when Elle hears the boys’ grandmother berating Matt in public and threatening to take the boys. She defuses the situation by pretending to be Matt’s fiancée and the boys’ future stepmother. When Matt decides it’s a brilliant plan and kisses her to seal the deal, Elle knows he’s crazy. But he’s also sweet, funny, engaging, sexy and strong, which isn’t exactly a bad thing!
The newest Christian romance by Ruth Logan Hearne combines heart and humor with a dose of small-town reality.
A Twist of Faith by Pepper D. Basham
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Maybe the language of love doesn’t have an accent, but with any other type of accent, Dr. Adelina Roseland feels confident she can correct it. Accent reduction is her specialty and she’s worked ten years in research with it to attain her dream job: Professor at the University of Virginia. But all rookies must pass through the fire, so Adelina is sent to a tiny town in a crevice of Appalachia called Wise, Virginia, to begin a new program for their satellite university there. Determined to prove herself, Adelina makes a daring wager with her arrogant supervisor, Dr. Alexander Murdock. If she can pass Appalachian cow farmer, Reece Mitchell, off as a Harvard grad and help him with a job interview for a corporation in Chicago, then she can present her research at the National Convention in front of her newfound colleagues and hundreds of other professionals, launching her career to further heights and moving her as far away from Appalachia as possible.
But Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of single-dad Reece Mitchell or his chaotic family. Drawn into a culture she’d been trying to forget for the past fifteen years, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away at the deep wounds of her past. But when Reece discovers that he’s been a mere pawn in her step up the corporate ladder, will he be able to forgive her deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives.
Will some good old-fashion Appalachian grit from a meddling mother bring rescue this culturally-diverse couple before they lose their chance to build a future of their own?
***I am SUPER EXCITED to announce that my blog was selected to host the cover reveal for Pepper Basham’s upcoming contemporary release, A Twist of Faith. Make sure you come back on Dec 31st for all the fun and festivities!***
What We Find by Robyn Carr
Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.
Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship.
But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.
Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.
Close to You by Kara Isaac
A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.
Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.
Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.
When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?
Song of Silence by Cynthia Ruchti
Lucy and Charlie Tuttle agree on one thing: they’re committed to each other for life. Trouble is, neither of them expected life to look like this. While Charlie retired early, Lucy is devoted to a long-term career . . . until the day she has no choice.
Forced to retire from her position as music educator in a small Midwestern K-8 school, Lucy can only watch helplessly as the program her father started years ago disintegrates before her eyes. As the music fades and a chasm separates her from the passion of her heart, Lucy wonders if her faith’s song has gone silent, too. The musical score of her life seems to be missing all the notes.
When a simple misstep threatens to silence Lucy forever, a young boy and his soundless mother change the way she sees—and hears—everything.
***I’m reading this now for endorsement and it’s so good, y’all!!! Technically I’m not anticipating for me because I already have it but I can’t wait for YOU to read it too!!***
Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg
Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered, but her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the paper is bought out by a chain that plans to incorporate it into a regional paper.
After his biggest campaign success yet, speechwriter Logan Walker is approached to work on a presidential campaign. But he already lost his wife three years ago, and saying yes to the job means he’ll see his young daughter even less. When Logan hears of a special election campaign in his hometown, helping out sounds like the perfect way to occupy himself while deciding what to do.
When Amelia hears Logan is back in town, she begs him to lend his previous experience in the newspaper world to help turn her paper’s numbers around in time. They may butt heads more than they expected, but a lead on a story that could help save the paper is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.
Her One and Only by Becky Wade
Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he’s indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him?
But Dru’s a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She’s also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray’s stalker. And she’s just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts–and their lives–to one another?
Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin
Julia Dare is trying to run her own business, raise her young son, Max, and help her widowed mother. Her biggest worry, though, is keeping Max’s father from being a bad influence while still allowing the boy to spend time with his dad. When an account from her event-planning business sends her to Caliente Springs resort, she’s shocked to encounter Zeke Monroe, her college sweetheart.
Zeke is determined to keep Caliente Springs running despite financial trouble. When Julia walks back into his life, he’s surprised at the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client’s wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. With Zeke and Julia both pushed to their limits, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?
Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon
After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who’s invaded the house with her motley crew.
As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?
Three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon takes readers back to Hope Harbor for a new season of charm, romance, and second chances.
Jilted by Varina Denman
David C. Cook Publishers
Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago. Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.
Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must—once and for all—leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.
Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano
David C. Cook Publishers
Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses solely on her children—to the exclusion of career, artistic pursuits, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to use her long-ignored business skills to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, she thinks it might be a chance for a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when the current hotel manager, Malcolm Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending … and incredibly attractive.
I know I’ve left out SO MANY!! What are the contemporary books you’re most looking forward to next year?
Thanks for adding to my list!!!! It’s exciting to plan out your reading year, isn’t it? I’m looking forward to Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh (March) and From Bags to Riches : A Jessie Stanton Novel by Sandra Bricker (March) and More Than a Promise by Ruth Logan Herne (March) and You’re the One That I Want by Susan May Warren (Feb) and Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton (Feb) and…..you shouldn’t have asked what I’m looking forward to reading in contemporary fiction.
argh!! HOW did I miss Ruthy’s book????
I’m just going to have to add Ruthy’s book now… thank you for pointing that oversight out to me 🙂
Thanks for the shout-out, Kav! And thank you Carrie for this list, we have very similar tastes! 🙂
I am determined to read Paper Hearts in January so that I’m all ready when Change of Heart comes out 🙂
I’m interested in Robyn Carr’s new one. I loved her Virgin River series, but her newest series lost me a couple of books ago. I’m hoping this will renew my love for her books.
What a fun post! I thoroughly enjoyed looking through this upcoming line-up of contemporary novels. It’s fun to see what’s coming around the bend. Thanks, Carrie!
Thanks, Becky! Excited to read for Her One and Only 🙂
These all look so good! My TBR pile has already surpassed mountain status and can be classified as it’s own island! haha Thanks for sharing!
Hahahaha!!! I think mine is starting to rival Australia 😉
I want to read Close to You. Okay, I’m a LOTR geek. There. I’ve said it. 😉
No shame in that 😉
Thank so much for mentioning, Close To You, Carrie. I’m thrilled to be in such great company!
I’m thrilled to read Close to You!
Oh dear! My TBR lost just got longer! Can we add more time too? LOL! Good problem to have, long list of great books to choose from!
I seriously do need more time to read all these great books!!