I recently finished the second book in Denise Hunter’s Bluebell Inn Romance Series, Carolina Breeze. I loved the first one, Lake Season, despite one major frustration with the main character, Molly. This one was a little the same. I loved it, but I ended up giving it four stars instead of five for a few parts that bugged me. It may just be my own pet peeves, though. I’ll go over them and let you draw your own conclusions. Overall, however, I highly recommend this entire series, and I am looking forward to reading the final book, Autumn Skies.
The premise of the entire series is that three siblings decide to fulfill their parents’ dream of opening an inn after their death in a car accident. Levi, Molly, and Grace are the three siblings, and even though they are all very young, they finish renovating the Bluebell Inn and run it themselves. The inn is - obviously - in the North Carolina mountains. Levi is in his mid to late twenties, Molly is in her early twenties and left college to help at the inn full time, and Grace is just graduating from high school in Carolina Breeze. Book one was about Molly, this book was about Levi, and the final book is about Grace.
In Carolina Breeze, movie actress Mia shows up alone at the Bluebell Inn for her honeymoon. Now, immediately, I had to willfully suspend my disbelief. In the first book, a famous bestselling author stays at the inn, and now a famous actress stays there? How are these famous people hearing about this barely surviving inn run by a trio of - well, practically kids? Apparently, Mia and her ex-fiance wanted to be off the grid, but it still seemed a little far-fetched. Oh, and both famous people have old family connections to the Bluebell Inn. How convenient.
Anyways, famous actress Mia shows up, and the Bennett siblings go out of their way to keep it a secret. Levi especially goes above and beyond for Mia, whom he is obviously falling for. Just like in the first book, our main couple discovers a mystery at the inn. This one involves a diamond necklace that could be hidden somewhere in the inn. This diamond is so valuable, it could help save the Bennett siblings from the crushing debt they have incurred trying to get the inn off the ground. This book didn’t get into the mystery part of the story as much as the first one did, however, and there weren’t any flashbacks.
One of the things I liked best about the book was Levi. He was not only a wonderful hero for Mia to fall for, but I could relate to the pressure he felt as an eldest sibling. Though I groaned and shook my head at the way he meddled in his sibling’s lives, I could also understand why he was doing it. It came from a loving place, though it causes a few major conflicts in the story.
I also loved the continuation of Molly and Adam’s story from the first book. They were so adorable, and the two of them in this book made me squeal with happiness. I won’t give you any spoilers, though ;)
As for Mia, the entire time I was picturing Alexa Panavega. I think it’s because Mia grew up in Hollywood but became a Christian later in life. Her physical description sounded like Panavega, too. Since Hallmark likes to make Hunter’s books into movies, maybe Alexa can play Mia one day :)
I liked Mia, and I understood her motivation, but I did wonder how she came to faith in Christ, especially considering her upbringing. Mia was raised by a self-centered, attention hungry B-list actress. It mentions an older lady who worked for Mia’s mom and was like a second mother to her, but the character wasn’t really in the book much. It sort of implies that this woman and her daughter influenced Mia. The only thing I could gather is that they led her to Christ or took her to church or something? It’s never really clear, however.
Despite all that, Mia’s relationship with her mother, who recently passed away, and the wounds from the father who left her are the most moving sections of the book. The most emotional part that literally had me sobbing involved revelations about Mia’s past. I don’t want to give anything away, but let me just warn you: when Mia starts going through her mother’s things, get your tissues ready!
Overall, none of the issues I had wIth this book prevent me from highly recommending it. I never mind far-fetched premises. They’re sort of standard with romances, after all, and if they bothered me that much, I wouldn’t watch Hallmark movies! I say give me a celebrity going on her honeymoon alone so she can fall for the sexy innkeeper any day over a depressing book. You should all know that about me by now! So check out this four star Denise Hunter romance and escape to the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Especially since they are all on sale right now! (See affiliate links below)
We all know what the expression “never judge a book by its cover” means. We should look at who people are on the inside, not just what they look like on the outside. However, practically speaking, it simply isn’t true. How else can you judge a book before you read it? Even I, a voracious reader, have been taken in by a pretty cover only to be disappointed by its actual contents. There have been other times a book has sat on my shelf for a very long time because I judged it incorrectly based on its cover.
For instance, my first copy of the legendary masterpiece Redeeming Love, given to me as a Christmas gift by my mom, had this cover:
Yes, I’m dating myself here. Needless to say, it sat untouched on my bookshelf for far too long. Little did I know the amazing story it contained! When this cover was released, I almost wept at how pretty it was. Why couldn’t this have been my first vision of the tortured main character, Angel? (And it fits the story much better than that old lavender cover.)
Speaking of that fantastic red dress, I realized when choosing my favorite book covers to share with you how much I love dresses on the cover of a book. Check all of these out:
Gorgeous, right? And every single one of them is just as good on the inside, trust me! I’m not sharing any books in this post that don’t live up to the cover’s expectations.
Have I ever picked up a book solely because the cover lured me in? Yep. I had never heard of Denise Hunter in my life, but when I saw this beauty on display at my local library, I checked it out as fast as I could:
The almost kiss, the cozy sweaters, the Christmas feel, and the snow falling all around combine to make a cover that I think is my favorite on this list. Denise Hunter has come to be one of my all-time favorite writers, and her covers are consistently gorgeous. I had a hard time narrowing it down, but here’s my second favorite cover of hers:
I know, I know, it’s yet another dress! But there’s also something tongue in cheek about the bride crossing her fingers behind her back, isn’t there? The title juxtaposed with this image left me expecting a hilarious rom-com circa 1998, and that’s what it was for sure. (Much better than the Hallmark movie, if you’ve seen it.) I laughed out loud reading this book.
Melanie Dickerson’s books also have consistently gorgeous covers that I had a difficult time narrowing down. This one is my favorite, though:
The colors are just so crisp and perfect for a retelling of Snow White, aren’t they? Then there’s this one:
Something about the lighting on this one draws me in. The messy braid over one shoulder and the arrows peeking behind her back lets us know she’s not a damsel in distress. Speaking of fairy tale books, I’m in love with this Jody Hedlund cover:
The castle in the background, the green dress, the red hair, and that sword she’s clutching all combine to make an intriguing cover that immediately pulls me into the setting.
This next cover is absolutely beautiful and represents a trend I’ve noticed lately in book covers: the main heroine with her back to the audience. I have to admit that any book about CS Lewis has me hooked from the get-go, but Joy Davidson’s red dress suit and jaunty hat really pop, don’t they? And the background immediately transports me to the grounds of Oxford.
I highly recommend all of the books above, and not just for their stunning covers. However, there is one more cover I want to share. This one is different in that I haven’t read it yet. As a matter of fact, Toni Shiloh is an author I only recently discovered. I signed up for her newsletter, and when she revealed this cover, my jaw dropped:
I told you I had a thing for dresses, didn’t I? If you want to check out any of these books, just click on the images above (except for that lavender 80s monstrosity,lol), and there are affiliate links embedded.
Happy reading! (And looking!)
I am a former English teacher turned homeschool mom of three who writes Christian romance novels on the side. You know, in my huge amount of spare time.