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Now & Forever: A Collection of Romantic Short Stories

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Now & Forever, Isabella Norse, Carole McKee, Debbie White, Madge H. Gressley, Brandi Gillilan, On My Kindle Book Reviews

Source: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Authors: Isabella Norse, Carole McKee, Debbie White, Madge Gressley, Brandi Gillilan
Genre: Romance, Short Stories
Format: eBook, Print
Publication Date: April 10, 2016

Since Now & Forever is a collection of short stories written by different authors, I am going to change up how the review is formatted: I will share my thoughts about the individual stories, provide you with a bio for each author, and then discuss the book as a whole.

Saved by the Belle by Isabella Norse

Dot Habersham spent the first half of her life traveling the world, meeting new people, and trying to make a difference. Now middle-aged, she has settled in Kudzu Korners, a small town filled with Southern charm. The arrival of Russell Phillips, widower, father, and the spitting image of Dot’s favorite actor, stirs emotions that she hasn’t felt in many years. Can two people from diverse backgrounds find love together or will the memories of those they have lost keep them tied to the past?

Review

Dot Habersham reminded me of the characters in Steel Magnolias; she seems like an adventurous and outgoing lady with a big heart and mannerisms that are stereotypically Southern. In fact, Norse manages to imbue all of the characters with a ton of personality without leaving readers feeling like the story is incomplete.

Saved by the Belle is a charming story that is a clean and easy read. If this story represents Isabella Norse's writing style, I am definitely willing to read other books written by her.

About Isabella Norse

Isabella Norse, Now & Forever, On My Kindle Book Reviews
Isabella Norse, author.
Courtesy of Goodreads
I grew up in a predominantly female family, then married and gave birth to two sons. Talk about a culture shock… However, raising boys was an absolute blast! I scored major “cool mom” points by playing the same video games as my sons and their friends.

In my favorite virtual worlds I slay demons and destroy machines bent on galactic extermination while simultaneously wooing cocky assassins and sexy aliens. These vibrant worlds and the rich characters that inhabit them inspired me to write my own tales of romance and adventure!

Still a gamer – and still cool – I live in Georgia with my husband and a herd of rescue cats.
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Be My Valentine? by Carole McKee

Trish Tripper is sad and frustrated. How can she get through another Valentine’s Day without Alan? Her best friend and business partner, Krista, is really into the hearts and flowers; but for Trish, it’s just a reminder of her loss.

Cooper Trask is unhappy. The New York City playboy has been assigned, by his father, to start up a new branch of their company in the little town of Cora Mills, located in the ‘middle of nowhere,’ according to Cooper.. But it doesn’t take him long to discover the benefits of small town life, especially after meeting Trish Tripper. Trish, is hopeful that her small interior design company will get a big contract out of Trask Linens. At the first meeting, Cooper unwittingly offends Trish, causing her to storm out of his office. Cooper needs to apologize for his mistake, but his interest in her goes beyond just an apology. He thinks she is one of the most beautiful women he has ever seen.

But Trish is still in love with her dead husband. What can Cooper do to attract her interest? But first, he must apologize.

Review

I thought that the first time Trish and Cooper met was funny, even though it was disastrous. The story is your typical "playboy meets small town gal and falls in love" plot; however, McKee makes in interesting by including witty dialogue and humor. Some of the transitions between events end abruptly; for instance, Trish is getting ready to go out on a date with Cooper and then she is suddenly on the date with Cooper in the next sentence. The first couple of times this happened, I thought I had missed something; however, once I figured out what was going on, it did not affect the continuity of the plot.

I enjoyed the plot overall; it was clean. I thought that the plot ended comfortably without the epilogue, but it was a nice touch that helped to wrap up the story. If this story is a true representation of McKee's writing style, readers who are looking for a clean romance should find her other books equally enjoyable.

About Carole McKee

Carole McKee, Now & Forever, On My Kindle Book Reviews
Carole McKee, author. Courtesy of Facebook
Carole McKee is originally from Pittsburgh, but has resided in Florida since 2002. Most of her books take place in the Western Pennsylvania area, the place she will always call home.

Carole is a passionate writer, making readers feel the emotions of her characters. One reader exclaimed, "Carole McKee's books help cleanse the tear ducts!" Her first novel, "Perfect" brought out so much emotion that she got phone calls from people who were in tears when they finished the book. Another reader says that she laughs and then she cries with every one of McKee's books.

Carole's writing career actually began in 1995 when she wrote a tribute to her beloved black Labrador Retriever when he passed away. The tribute was published in a veterinary magazine a few months after it was written. Although the stories were in her head, she didn't begin writing seriously until 2006 when she began writing "Perfect." It was published in 2007. She entered "Perfect" in a contest and it won an 'honorable mention' which was just the encouragement she needed to seriously pursue a career as a writer.

The first of the "Choices" series was published in 2008. Readers didn't want that series to end, so because of many readers asking for more of those same characters, she wrote "Consequences," the fourth and last of the series. It was published in the Spring of 2013. It was time to end the series. "Choices" lead to "Consequences," eventually. In addition to these books, available in paperback and eBook formats,Carole also publishes eBooks.

Carole's days are spent taking care of her two cats, walking along the beach, answering emails, writing on her blogs, and writing more books. Much of her time is focused on writing.

A note from Carole McKee: "I love to write and I will continue to write until my fingers fall off--God forbid."
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Perfect Pitch by Debbie White

There was only one thing Cierra enjoyed more than coming up with the next bestseller, and that was watching her beloved baseball team, the Giants. When Cierra’s sister, Courtney, suggests Cierra interview Colton Diaz a fan favorite for an upcoming book idea, Cierra hesitantly agrees it would be a great plot for her new book. When an interview is organized, Cierra discovers the two already have something in common. Will Cierra be able to finish her book, or will Colton Diaz muddle up the ending?

Review

I am a big fan of plots that involve an author's life paralleling what s/he is writing about and Perfect Pitch is no exception! I can relate to Cierra's plight when it comes to working from home and feeling awkward in social or romantic situations. I am pretty sure that I would be having the same problems in finding romance if I was not already married.

A bit spicier than its predecessors, Perfect Pitch is still an enjoyable and clean romance. The story is interesting and fun with an unexpected love triangle. It was a page-turner and, while I was not disappointed with the ending, I do wish that it was a full novel because I enjoyed it so much.

About Debbie White

Debbie White, Now & Forever, On My Kindle Book Reviews
Debbie White, author. Courtesy of Twitter
Debbie is an Amazon bestselling author for her book Passport to Happiness in the category of fiction/sagas. She currently resides in beautiful Sonoma County, California, where the jagged Pacific coastline meets the rolling hills cascading with vineyards. She writes romance novellas that feature strong, independent women, who when faced with adversity, or tragedy, find strength to overcome the perils that stand in their way.

She’s an avid supporter of animal rescue, and happily donates a portion of sales from her books to rescue organizations. She has two adult children, and two granddaughters. In her spare time, she loves to garden, travel, enjoy family, and her beloved rescue dogs, Dash and Briar. Her real passion of course is writing, and she uses her 20+ years as a military wife as inspiration for her stories.
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

A Design for Love by Madge Gressley

Throwing caution to the wind, Maddy Whitcomb ignores her domineering father’s plans for her life and sets out to fulfill her dream of becoming a world-class architect, but can she survive in the male dominated arena of the architectural firm that hired her?

Review

If you have been reading my reviews for a while, then you know that I am a huge fan of strong female protagonists who go against gender norms. Maddy achieves this by not only entering a male dominated architectural firm, but she goes against the stereotypical "ball busting" woman that society expects to see. However, she is nobody's doormat either.

Some corporate intrigue, a bit of a love triangle, and a dash of spice make A Design for Love an enthralling light read that is a good representation of Gressley's writing style.

About Madge Gressley

Madge H. Gressley, Now & Forever, On My Kindle Book Reviews
Madge Gressley, author.
Courtesy of mhgressley.com
Madge Gressley lives in Missouri with her granddaughter and two dogs. She started her writing career in 2013 when she traded her brushes, paints, and canvases for pen and paper but, in this case--computer and keyboard. She works from home and squeezes writing in between jobs for her graphic design business and letting the dogs in and out--a full-time job in itself.
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Bound by Marriage: Looking Through Your Eyes by Brandi Gillilan

The three sisters that run Taking the Plunge, a wedding planning business, and the three brothers that run Eternal Love, a matchmaking company are contracted by their families to marry as a merger. And the wedding deadline? February 14th! Melodie, the head of Cakes and Desserts, and Roy, VP of Advertisement, are matched together. Slowly they try to make it work and come to care for each other....and maybe even love? But an attack may jeopardize it all! Can they make it?

Review

The writing was good and I got a hint of the protagonists' personalities. From the beginning of the book, I felt that the plot and personalities would be better suited to a standalone novel or series; an impression that was justified when the story ended abruptly and readers were invited to read the next book. The plot also bothered me a because the protagonists are being manipulated into marrying each other.

The story was a bit more risque than the others in this collection. Even though the story was well-written, I could not get past the premise or the abrupt ending. It really is not my cup of tea, but other romance readers who enjoy a lot of sexual innuendos in romance novels might enjoy it.

About Brandi Gillilan

Brandi Gillilan, Now & Forever, On My Kindle Book Reviews
Brandi Gillilan, author. Courtesy of Goodreads
Brandi has wanted to write since she was a kid. She went from fairytales to romance. When she isn’t writing she is caring for her nephews, gaming or drawing. Brandi has an obsession with music and constantly has some sort playing. If she’s writing she is known to have tea or soda and candy or chips by her and music blasting in the background.

Overall Review

I enjoy reading novels with outspoken, strong female protagonists and I was not disappointed as every story in this book has bold and vivacious characters. While most of the stories follow a "standard romance" trope, they are infused with each authors' voice which makes them all unique and easy to read.

Even though I was not a fan of the last story because of its premise and ending, I felt that it was well-written and will help make the book appealing to a wider range of romance readers.

Now & Forever offers romance readers a variety of short stories ranging from clean romances to something a little more risque. Each well-written story is representative of the authors' writing styles and is perfect for romance readers who are interested in finding some new authors to follow, without the commitment of a full novel. 

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Have you read Now & Forever or any full-length novels by these authors? If so, share your thoughts with me in the comments.

Enjoy!