Review (and a Giveaway!): Mars….With Venus Rising by Hope Toler Dougherty

Posted May 4, 2016 by meezcarrie in Christian, contemporary, giveaway, Hope Toler Dougherty, romance / 0 Comments


Travel to the small town of Mars, where you’ll find a meddling horse, paper bag floors, and a flying saucer on the town square—in Hope Toler Dougherty’s book, Mars . . . with Venus Rising. Penn Davenport dreams of passing the CPA exam and moving away from the two aunts who reared her after her parents died in a plane crash. When John Townsend—full of life and the joy of living—moves to town, he rattles Penn’s view of herself, her life, and her dreams . . . which isn’t such a bad thing until she falls for him and discovers he’s a pilot.

mars with venus rising book review

my thoughts

Mars…With Venus Rising is a cute and quirky contemporary romance that feels in many ways like a cozy mystery – without the mystery 🙂 The small town, the adorably eccentric aunts, even the loaded-with-personality pet.  All it’s really missing to achieve “cozy mystery” status is for the Apple Festival coordinator to be found murdered on a parade float or some such tragedy. Although, there was the buried equipment crime….

John is probably my favorite character in Dougherty’s novel, his easy laughter & affection & thoughts about Penn from early in the novel through the end. The aunts come in a very close collective second place with their eccentricities, their well-meaning but painfully obvious matchmaking attempts, their penchant for baking, their affection for each other & Penn & John & even some romantic interests of their own.  They reminded me often of my own beloved grandmothers and I found myself smiling whenever they were on the page.

The romance in Mars…with Venus Rising is sometimes toe-curling and sometimes frustrating,  but the toe-curling kisses make up for the frustrating moments quite nicely.  I have such a one-track-mind, don’t I? 😉 To be honest, at the beginning of this novel I was sure I was going to stay perpetually irritated with John.  I felt like he would be the cute but clueless one.  As the story progressed, however, John proved himself to be solid and steady… and yeah, cute. 🙂 Penn actually turned out to be the one with whom I stayed perpetually irritated.

While Penn’s actions did keep me irritated for her and at her especially in regards to her relationship with John, I enjoyed how her hangups and long-held fears played into the spiritual aspect of this novel. Some wise words are spoken by her friend Abby, by the aunts, by John, and although I don’t usually like a lot of prayers being written out in fiction I’m reading (it interrupts the flow of the story for me), I appreciated how natural these prayers felt and how organic to the characters and the situation they each were.

Bottom Line: Despite a few minor editing-related distractions (some plot points that seem to be abandoned, spelling & grammar errors, sudden perspective shifts, etc), Mars…With Venus Rising is a delicious contemporary romance with quirky characters, bits of humor, and solid spiritual truth. “Delicious” in more ways than just the breathlessly lovely kisses too – Penn’s aunts love to bake and Hope Toler Dougherty has included several recipes in the back in case you get an urgent craving for snacks while you’re reading.  (You will.)  Delightfully cozy and grin-inducing, this is also a book that will touch your heart.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it!

KissingBooks Level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion

Purchase a copy:

See what others are saying: Litfuse

about the author

hope toler dougherty

Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. A member of ACFW, RWA and SinC, she writes for Almost an Author. Before writing novels, she published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with children to writing apprehension. She cheers for the Pittsburgh Steelers, ACC basketball, and Army West Point Football. Hope and her husband, Kevin, live in North Carolina and chat with their two daughters and twin sons through ooVoo.

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Celebrate Hope’s Mars . . . with Venus Rising blog tour with a Kindle Fire Prize Pack giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of Mars . . . with Venus Rising
  • A $25 Amazon gift card
  • A Kindle Fire

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on May 18th. The winner will be announced May 19th on Hope’s blog.


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