Secretly Smittenby Colleen Coble
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/strong>… See more details below
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.
Read an Excerpt
Secretly SmittenLove Changes Everything
By Colleen Coble Kristin Billerbeck Diann Hunt Denise Hunter
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Kristin Billerbeck, Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWrapping paper lay strewn around the floor in a happy crumple of color. Tess Thomas handed her cousin one last gift and suppressed a smile. Nat would blush when she saw the filmy negligee Tess had bought. But Tess knew if anyone would look great in the gown, it was her cousin. It was something Tess would never purchase for herself. But then, what need would she have for a honeymoon gown anyway?
While Natalie began to rip paper with abandon, Tess glanced around the packed parlor of their grandmother's old house. Their friends had all shown up for the bridal shower, and there wasn't space for another chair. A few women even sat on the floor with their backs propped against the wall. That was what Tess loved about the small town of Smitten, Vermont. Neighbors were like family. And they'd all pulled together in amazing ways this past year as they worked to put Smitten on the map as a town based on tourism—a romantic destination, in fact. There were so many new businesses, including a big hotel that had taken over the old lumber mill.
Their great-aunt Violet bustled in with a tray of cookies and tea. "Tess, dear," she whispered. "I'm not sure these gluten-free things are worth eating."
The cookies were as lopsided as Violet's red lipstick. The color of that lipstick had never changed over the years—it was the same orangey red that clashed pitifully with Violet's dyed red hair.
Tess took the crumbliest cookie and took a bite. "They're good, Aunt Violet. And Natalie will appreciate that you went to the trouble."
Her aunt's smile brightened. "I'm so glad, honey. You always were my favorite niece!" She winked dramatically.
Tess's sister Clare took the tray. "Let me help you with that, Aunt Violet." She circled the room with the tray in hand, and to their credit, most guests took a cookie.
Natalie took a break from the gifts to nibble on a cookie and glanced around. "Where's Mia?"
"In the attic," Grandma Rose said. "You girls always loved to play up there, remember?"
This three-story Victorian was special. Tess, her sisters, and their cousins had loved exploring the attic when they came to visit their grandmother and great-aunts. The grand old home's welcome enveloped visitors the moment they stepped onto the polished walnut floors.
Tess turned toward the hall. "You stay here with your guests. I'll check on her, Natalie."
When Tess reached the bottom of the stairs, Natalie's adopted daughter, Mia, was descending. The six-year-old had a purple boa around her neck and wore a red velvet dress, the hem trailing on the hardwood. She'd found some lipstick from somewhere—probably Violet's, judging by the color—and her small white teeth gleamed behind the smear of orange.
Mia reached the bottom of the staircase and twirled. "Look at me, Tess!"
A wave of love swept over Tess. If only she could have a daughter like Mia someday. "Smashing," she said in genuine admiration. "That's an unusual necklace." She leaned down to examine the tarnished metal and realized it held a pair of dog tags. "Where did you get it?"
Mia looked down at her feet and shuffled. "In the attic."
"Was it in the trunk you were allowed to be in?"
"No." Mia peeked up at her. She held up her arm to show a bracelet. "My bracelet fell off and went down a hole. I put my hand in to get it and found the necklace too." Red stained Mia's cheeks. "Should I put it back?"
Tess put her hand on Mia's soft hair. "No, it's fine, honey. I just wondered where you found it. I've never seen it before."
Natalie appeared in the doorway from the parlor. "Is something wrong?" She glanced at her daughter.
"Not really. I was looking at something Mia found in the attic."
A frown crouched between Natalie's eyes. "Are those dog tags? What on earth ... There haven't been any soldiers in our family, have there, Tess?" She held out her hand. "Let me see them, Mia."
Mia's lower lip quivered, but she took off the dog tags and handed them over. "I didn't hurt them."
"It's okay, sweetie. I'm sure you didn't." Natalie reached out a reassuring hand to embrace the girl. Lifting the tag to the light, she studied it. "David Hutchins."
Tess's grandmother spoke from behind them. "David Hutchins? Where did you hear that name?"
Tess turned to see the color leave her grandmother's face. "On these dog tags Mia found upstairs in the attic." Beyond Grandma Rose, she saw Aunt Violet turn pale and reach out to steady herself on the wall.
Grandma Rose grabbed the door frame. "With David's name?"
For a moment Tess thought her grandmother might faint. She rushed to her side. "Grandma, are you all right?"
Her grandmother wetted her lips. "I'm fine. I'm just trying to understand this. David died in the Korean conflict. As far as I know, his dog tags were never recovered. Neither was his body."
"See for yourself," Natalie said, joining them, hand outstretched.
Grandma Rose clutched the dog tags, then held them to the light. "Mia, where did you find these?"
"In the attic." Mia's voice wobbled. "I'm sorry."
Tess embraced her. "You're not in trouble, honey. Grandma is just surprised they were there." She stared at her grandmother, who was as pale as the white blouse she wore. "Who was David Hutchins?"
Her grandmother was staring at the dog tags. She blinked rapidly. "My fiancé."
Natalie frowned. "I'm confused. What about Grandpa Martin?"
Grandma Rose bit her lip. "I loved him, of course, but he wasn't my first love." She hesitated. "First love is special." Her face took on a dreamy expression. "He used to call me his Betty Boop."
Though it hurt even to imagine her grandmother loving another man before her own grandfather, Tess loved a good mystery, and this smelled like the best kind. "If he died in the war, then how did these dog tags get in your attic?"
"I don't know. It makes no sense."
"Could the military have sent them back to you?" Natalie asked.
"They didn't. I would have kept them close. They wouldn't be in the attic."
"You're sure he died?" Tess asked.
"Of course. The army notified his parents. I was there when they told us of his death." She looked down. "It was the darkest day of my life."
Darker than the day Grandpa died? Tess studied her grandmother's face but didn't ask the question.
"Did he live here in Smitten?" Natalie asked.
Grandma Rose nodded. "Over on Green Valley Road. In that big house where Ryan Stevenson lives now."
Tess's pulse kicked at Ryan Stevenson's name. The handsome widower was a Saturday morning patron at her bookstore. Not that he'd ever noticed her.
"David's family moved away after his death." Her grandmother's voice broke, then she recovered her composure and managed a smile. "We'd better get back to our guests."
Tess followed her to the parlor, but her brain was whirling. What did it all mean?
* * *
The last guests had left and Tess and her sisters were picking up bits of confetti and wrapping paper from the floor. The older women had gone out to practice for Saturday night's concert in the town square. Tess lifted the dog tags from the table and rattled them in her hands. "We have to get to the bottom of this," she said.
Her mother, Anna, shook her head. At fifty, she was still trim and her skin was smooth and pink. Most people thought she was much younger. "It's none of our concern, Tess. We shouldn't be poking our nose into Mother's business."
"Something happened, and even Grandma has no idea what it was. Aren't you the least bit curious?"
Her youngest sister, Zoe, dropped a dustpan full of confetti into a wastebasket. "I think Grandma deserves to know the truth. How could those tags have gotten there?"
Clare stopped sweeping. "Let's think about this." As the middle child, she was the reflective one, with her feet firmly planted on the ground. "It's very strange."
"Maybe he didn't die in the war," Tess suggested. "Maybe he came to town. What if Grandpa answered the door when he got here and didn't let him see Grandma?"
"Now, Tess, I'm sure it was nothing so unpleasant," Anna said. "I'm sure my mother isn't interested anymore."
"Of course she is! You saw how white she went. She must have loved him very much. And what if he's still alive?" Tess could see it now. A handsome gentleman with white hair stepping out of a restored Roadster. Her grandmother's face bright with happiness. "We could get them together again."
"He's probably married by now, even if he did survive the war," Clare pointed out. "But you're jumping to conclusions. It's more likely that his parents left the tags here or something. Maybe Aunt Violet or Aunt Petunia tucked them away so she wouldn't be upset."
"If that's the case, then there's no real mystery at all," their mother said.
Tess was sure it wasn't something that simple.
Clare's thoughtful frown was back. "We'll need to handle this very carefully. If he's married, we back off without even talking to him, agreed?"
"He should know the truth," Zoe said. "He should know Grandma thinks he died."
"The truth isn't always the best thing," their mother said. "Not if it hurts someone."
Zoe rolled her eyes but said nothing. Clare cut her gaze to the carpet.
Tess picked up more paper from the floor. "I'll do an Internet search. It can't hurt just to poke around a little." Ryan's face flashed into mind. "Maybe Ryan would let me explore his attic, see if there's any information there."
"I'm sure you'd like that," Clare said, her voice teasing. "The most eligible bachelor in town."
Heat flooded Tess's cheeks. "I'm the last person he'd be interested in." She grabbed a cookie from the plate. She'd mooned over Ryan since high school, not that she would admit it to anyone. He had a way of making you feel like he was really listening, really paying attention to you. With two younger sisters, she sometimes felt her needs were forgotten.
"Now, honey, you put yourself down too much," Anna scolded. "You look fine just the way you are." Even as her mother said the words, she stared at the cookie in Tess's hands. "That probably has two hundred calories in it, sweetie."
Tess put the cookie back on the plate. She avoided Clare's sympathetic glance and unbuttoned her too-tight jacket. She'd bought it for the shower with the intention of losing those fifteen pounds. What was it they said about good intentions?
"You're beautiful, Tess. You just don't see it," Zoe said in a matter-of-fact tone. "And Ryan likes you. I can tell."
If only Tess could believe it. "His wife was Miss Vermont. I'm hardly in that league." She resisted reaching for the cookie again. "I'm just thinking that one time at the bookstore, Ryan mentioned that he needed to clean the attic. Evidently the Hutchins family left a ton of boxes up there. Maybe he'd like some help cleaning it out."
"Perfect. It might just take you awhile to go through them," Clare said, grinning.
"Don't go getting any ideas. This is strictly research. I'm not interested in Ryan."
"Whatever you say." Clare stood up straight and stretched. "Looks like we've finished up here. And I need coffee. Anyone want to go with me?"
Zoe got up. "Not me. I spend enough of my life in the coffee shop. I want to go to Ryan's ice cream store."
"I'll go with you, Zoe," Tess said. When her mother lifted a brow, she added, "If Ryan is there, I can ask him about looking through the attic."
She followed her sisters out of the house and told herself their grandmother would thank them in the end.
Chapter TwoCrème brûlée sundae coming up." Ryan Stevenson smiled at Julia Bourne, who stood waiting with her fiancé, Zak Grant. Zak already had his banana split, complete with coconut and chocolate syrup. The late spring day was unseasonably warm and had brought in a lot of customers.
The bell over the door of the Wind Chill Creamery jingled, and Ryan straightened when he saw Tess Thomas coming in. Her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and her blue eyes crinkled in a smile when he greeted her.
"The usual?" he asked, starting for the Almond Avalanche.
"With coconut topping," she said. "But a small one. Zoe wants to try it too." Her sister moved off to talk to Julia.
Tess moved closer to the display freezer and studied the flavors. "What are you doing working the counter today? I thought you'd be back in the office crunching numbers or over at the creamery supervising the cheese making. Isn't today the big production day?"
"One of the employees here didn't show up today. The cheese was nearly ready to ship to stores, and I needed a break." He opened the freezer lid and began to scoop out the dark-chocolate ice cream loaded with almonds. "How about you? You're usually at the bookstore on Saturdays." Too late he realized he was revealing the fact that he knew her habits. She'd think he was a stalker.
"Natalie's bridal shower was today," she said, showing no sign of catching his slip.
"Oh yes, that's right. Sophia went with my mother-in-law."
"Right, she was playing with my cousin's daughter, Mia." Tess took the cone he handed her. "Um, listen, I have a favor to ask. Are those boxes that were there when you bought your house still in the attic?"
He began to scoop the ice cream for Zoe. "Yeah. I've been meaning to go through them, but it's a mammoth job and I've been putting it off." He grinned. "Are you needing donations for a garage sale?" He might even face that mountain of work if it would make Tess think more highly of him.
"No." She took a lick of her cone and closed her eyes with a sigh. "This is the best ice cream in the world." She opened her eyes and looked at him again. "This is probably an odd request, but I'd like to find out more about the Hutchins family. Especially David. I wondered if you'd mind letting me go through the attic. I'd even organize things for you and let you know what could be hauled to the dump and what could be donated."
He handed the cone to Zoe and hoped his expression didn't reveal his eagerness. "That sounds like an offer too good to refuse. I'll be glad to help too." When she blushed, he tempered his eagerness. "I mean, if you could use the help."
"I don't want to bother you."
"No bother," he assured her. "What's with the interest in the Hutchins family?"
She glanced around to make sure no one was listening. Zoe had taken her cone and gone to an outside table with Zak and Julia, so the creamery was empty. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't say anything about this to anyone."
He made a zipping motion along his mouth. "My lips are sealed."
"David Hutchins was engaged to my grandmother. She says he died in Korea and his body was never found. But here's the funny thing. Mia just found his dog tags down a hole in the attic."
"That is odd. How did the dog tags get in the Garners' attic?"
"That's what we don't know. I'd like to find a clue about where his family went. You bought the house from them?"
He shook his head. "It was bank owned and had been for ten years. The place was a mess when I moved in. Someone else had owned it for thirty years. I'm not even sure if all the junk up there belonged to them or the Hutchins family."
Tess's face fell. "I hadn't thought of that. But surely there's a clue somewhere up there."
"You and your mysteries," he said, smiling. When her brows rose, he pointed to the book poking out of her bag. "You're always reading one."
Her blush deepened. "While you tend to read biographies." She bit her lip. "I mean, I've called you a dozen times when a book you've ordered has come in."
His surge of elation deflated. Of course she would know his reading habits. It was her business to know what all her customers liked. "When do you want to start?"
"After church tomorrow?"
"Sounds good. I'll be happy to pick you up for church. Then we could go straight to my house."
"You'd have to take me home," she reminded him.
"I don't mind. I'll even spring for pizza."
Her dimple appeared. "I don't expect you to entertain me. It's enough that you're letting me do this. I'll just drive and follow you out to your house. I don't want to be a bother."
Easy. Don't rush her. "Whatever you like."
"I'll bring lunch as a thank-you for the access. Something easy like my spicy enchilada casserole."
He grinned. He hated Mexican food, but he wasn't about to tell her. He reminded himself to have lots of milk on hand so he could choke it down.
* * *
It was ridiculous to feel this nervous. It wasn't a date. Tess was going to rummage in his attic, then leave. The aroma of chicken enchiladas wafted up her nose as she stood on the porch of the big old house and pressed the doorbell. She knew better than to moon after someone like Ryan. He was way out of her league.
The door opened, and she caught a glimpse of pale yellow walls and gleaming wood floors. Ryan was dressed in jeans and a Red Sox sweatshirt. Little Sophia hung on to his leg but peeked up at Tess with a shy smile.
"Come in," Ryan said. He swung the door wide. "Here, let me take that." He lifted the bag from her hands. "Smells good."
Tess followed him into the expansive foyer. A flight of open stairs rose to the second floor. The ceilings were at least ten feet high. "Wow, your home is lovely."
"I can't claim any of the credit. Candace did it all." He pointed down the hall. "This way to the kitchen. We can eat there rather than the dining room."
Brown granite topped the cherry cabinets. The slate floors and polished fixtures proclaimed how much the kitchen remodel had cost. Tess eyed the big island. Making bread there would be a dream come true. She couldn't resist touching the smooth surface of the stone. And it was spotless. She'd expected a messy house since he was a single dad. He'd already stacked plates and tableware on the table at the other end of the kitchen. It was a homey wood one that didn't match the cabinets. She wanted to ask if he'd moved it in after Candace died, but the question didn't seem appropriate.
"I baked bread, but I didn't bring butter," she said. "I assumed you'd have some famous creamery butter here."
"You bet." He got it out of the refrigerator.
She scooped up a generous helping of the enchiladas for him. Her serving was half the size of his, but she'd nibbled on M&M's and nuts on the way over. She sliced the bread, then joined him and Sophia at the table. She wanted to believe his expression was anticipation as he eyed his plate, but it seemed more like dismay.
"Did I give you too much?" she asked.
His smile seemed forced. "I had a late breakfast, but I'm sure it will be delicious." He forked a bit into his mouth and chewed. His face reddened. He swallowed, then grabbed for his glass of milk. "Hot," he croaked.
"The peppers were a little spicy," she agreed. "The hotter the better, though, don't you think?"
"My dad hates hot stuff," Sophia said. "I like it, though." Her serving was already a third gone.
Excerpted from Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble Kristin Billerbeck Diann Hunt Denise Hunter Copyright © 2012 by Kristin Billerbeck, Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble has written several romantic suspense novels including Tidewater Inn, Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com Twitter: @colleencoble Facebook: colleencoblebooks
Kristin Billerbeck is the author of numerous Christian novels, hitting the CBA bestseller list and winning the coveted ACFW Book of the Year in 2004 for What a Girl Wants and again in 2006 for With this Ring, I’m Confused. She has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today, World Magazine, the Atlanta Journal Constitition and been seen on the "Today Show" for her pioneering role in Christian Chick Lit. She has a bachelor’s degree in advertising from San Jose State University.
Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys. You can learn more about Denise through her website DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her FaceBook page at facebook.com/authordenisehunter
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This is the second book in the Smitten series, but it can easily be read on it's own. There are four cute love stories in the book, three of them are sisters and the other one is their mother. They all fall in love with sweet, attractive men! :) All of the four authors worked together very well. Even though this is four different stories, the book as a whole flowed together really well. I greatly enjoyed this book, but did not think it was as good as the first Smitten book. Secretly Smitten was supposed to have a lot to do with a family mystery as well. However, we did not hear a whole lot about the mystery except in the first story and the last story. I wish that would have been woven throughout the whole book a little more. I loved all of the characters. They are all so full of life. I really enjoyed that they are all family, and we get to see how well they know each other. The girls always know when one of their sisters or their mom is attracted to the new guy in the picture. It was fun to read about. I received this book for free in return for an honest review.
Four fiction authors with four smitten romance novellas, share a setting, characters, and even overlapping plots with fun small town romance. The mystery of the dog tags that were found in Grandma Rose's attic continues throughout all the sections along with mini story lines of Tess, Clare, Zoe and Anna. We learn a lot about each woman's fears and dreams. Together they find the courage to face their fears and see their dream come true. One storyline, with four sections, by four different authors. I enjoyed reading each authors take on the same story. Each section focused on a different character and her love life. Four different protagonists from a single household, "Secretly Smitten" read like a single novel. LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES: Colleen Coble wins awards with murder mystery/romance. Not surprising this romance involves a dead man, but a twist of one potentially again alive. Love with suspense propensity. 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? MAKE ME A MATCH: Kristin Billerbeck has Smitten's matchmaker Zoe begin her Cupid's shop in an old building and William, new city manager, must enforce rules and codes. KNIT ONE, LOVE TWO: Diann Hunt places readers inside the Sit `n Knit shop owned by Anna (divorced mom of 3 single adult girls) where she turns a little unraveled when Michael enters for a shopping spree. A revealed secret causes tempers to fly. LOVE BLOOMS: Denise Hunter writes of nursery manager Clare waving a rake as a weapon against a tool shed-hiding hunk of a man, Ethan. All secrets, mystery, conflict, and Smitten romance is cozy-wrapped. I was ready to read something fun and it’s true each novella begins with a conflicting relationship that is predictably to end in romance. After all, it is a novella with great storytelling. I recommend this book for who needs a fun romance to read. It's good Christian fiction, folks, so expect wholesome lust. I received this eBook from Thomas Nelson in the BookSneeze blogger program for my review.
I've been looking forward to returning to Smitten, Vermont ever since I finished the first book in the series. Sometimes the second book's a disappointment but not when you have four talented writers who know their craft well. Once again I was transported to a town I'd jump at the chance to live in surrounded by characters I grew to love. Tess, Clare and Zoe as well as their extended family are people I know I'd like to know. The only drawback is the book comes to an end (a very satisfy one at that) ... but I believe there's more in the works. When the next Smitten book is available you can bet I'll be one of the first to get a copy. Thank you Colleen, Kristin, Diann and Denise for creating this continuing community of romance and faith.
Romance lovers, this one is for you! The town of Smitten, Vermont is 200 years old and has been made into a lovers' retreat. One by one people meet, and couples form -- some just cross paths, some use the new dating service. An old mystery is found and gradually chased down until a love-triumphs moment becomes more than a cliché, and at the same time, a story for the ages. If you like romance, I think this is a must-read!
Hott Synopsis: Love Between The Lines Tess has been secretly in love Ryan for most of her life but what would a man as rich and as handsome want with her – especially after having Ms. Perfect as his first wife. Review: This was really sweet. It’s a cute love story reminding us that we need to look on the inside to get the whole story. Author: Colleen Coble Grade: B+ Ages: 16+ Make Me A Match Zoe is so excited about her new matchmaking business that she can’t help but blow off the warnings from the new city manager. This is Smitten – he wouldn’t dare shut her down! Review: It was ok. I liked the story BUT didn’t like the ending so it kind of ruined it for me. Author: Kristen Billerbeck Grade: B Ages: 16+ Knit One, Love Two Anna’s been on her own for a long time. Now her daughters are grown and she’s trying not to be lonely. It helps that she’s got a neighbor in need of help since he broke his leg skiing. An amazing man. A man too much like the one that deserted her so many years ago. Review: This was a story! It was very realistic and fun. I really enjoyed Anna’s story though I didn’t like her much in the first story ;) Author: Diann Hunt Grade: A Ages: 16+ All Along The big 3-0 is looming and Clare is single once again. This time it’s because she’s “boring”, as if! When a drifter stops at her nursery she hires him on the spot – if only to prove she’s not as predictable as everyone believes. Review: Terrific! This on really hit home for me. Author: Denise Hunter Grade: A Ages: 16+ Hott Review: I really enjoyed this book! It’s a must buy! More… Source: Thomas Nelson via Netgalley Grade: A Steam: YA Setting: Smitten, Vermont Series: Smitten Novella Series #2
If you are looking for Christian romance with just a touch of romance mystery - this is the book for you!! If you want a good mystery, with a little romance I would advise you to look elsewhere.
I loved this book!! This is a compilation of 5 Novellas that combined create one whole story. It was fun for me to see how each author took over the story from the ending of the previous one and continued the story focusing on another character. I thought the characters were well developed and likeable throughout. It is clean and entertaining. The relationships have just enough tension but not so much to be ridiculous like many romances. They are sweet and uplifting. It shows individuals successes and relationships. Many of these authors are new to me and I will look for more of their works.
At first, I thought I might give this a four star rating. After all, it is a romance with a bit of sappiness, and everything works out just as it should in a typical romance novel. Nothing earth-shattering there. It's written by four authors, and the book is a nice, clean Christian romance. At first glance, the book is not a stand-out. I figured it would be four short stories since each author wrote a certain section. Here is what makes this book absolutely unique and makes it deserving of the rating I have given it. Don't let the fact that four authors write this book together cause you doubt how wonderful the book is. I believe the authors have accomplished something that very few authors (if any) could do. This book does not read as four separate stories written by four distinct individuals. Instead, it reads like a cohesive novel that was written by one person. Somehow these four women have made it work. I honestly could not tell the difference between writing styles of these authors, and the story made complete and perfect sense. I have to admit the only truly negative thing I would say would be that I wish each romance had developed a little slower. I realize the authors were working under a time constraint, but I think it could have been accomplished--or at least tried to do so. If you like romances, small towns, and a little inspiration, this is a quick, easy read for you! I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
I love the characters of Smitten, I didn't want it to end! Looking forward to another.
Secretly Smitten Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, & Denise Hunter Book Summary: 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. Book Review: Like all the stories very much. I think it would be hard to pick a favorite. Even the one that I was least interested in became very enjoyable to the point of wanting to know how it ended. I like the carryover ‘mystery’ involving Grandma it was a good link between the stories. I liked Denise Hunter’s story because it tied everything up very well. Not all series do that. Grandma’s mystery did not have a very exciting climax which was sad but with a limit to the length and content of the story something had to be decreased and left to one’s imagination. I am looking forward to reading Smitten now. I would like to thank Net Galley and Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.
This is the first anthology fiction book I've read. I know. Where have I been, right? I was pleasantly surprised. Four very different authors with very different voices came together and pulled off a terrific book. I thought it was thoroughly enjoyable how each author wrote about a specific character and how each had their own twist to the short story. My time is excruciatingly limited, and at first, I was a little concerned at how thick this book was. All that for nothing. Each story was well written and I found myself flying through the book. Each character was well-rounded and likable with her very own traits that endeared them to the reader, and each hero was a perfect match. No one fell in love too quickly, and there was just enough romantic angst to keep you reading. It was a gently told story that weaved in much truth ~ each person, no matter what family they were born into, is different ~ with their own personality and worth. It's a keeper and I will read it again. If I could, I'd give it 4.5 stars. ~ I received a complimentary copy of this book, thanks to Thomas Nelson, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. ~
Enjoyed reading the three different authors who carried the same theme in each book.
When I started reading this book, I didn't expect much, but I ended up feeling very pleasantly surprised! I dominated this book in a day, and I was a little sad when it ended! I hadn't read any books by these authors prior to this book, so this was a nice introduction into their writing styles and techniques!
Got to resut post whats wrong and ill help you the best i can.
It's hard when a well-written set of short stories feels formulaic and unfulfilling. I wanted to like "Secretly Smitten," and the first story ("Love Between the Lines" by Colleen Coble) gave me hope. However, the three that followed, while generally good, just fell into a standard girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy likes girl too, happily ever after. The commonalities among the four stories are that each centers on one particular member of a family: a mother, Anna, and her three daughters, Tess, Zoe, and Clare. Running through the four stories (besides the standard love story) is a mystery: After their cousin's daughter finds an old set of dog tags in their grandmother's attic - which apparently belonged to her fiancé who went off to war and never returned - the girls set off to find out how the dog tags got there and what really happened to the man who wore them. If you're a born romantic, you won't be disappointed with these stories. I just get frustrated when authors created characters and/or situations that are just too good to believe, and that's true of most in these stories. Note: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson.
A very good light entertaining reading
Secretly Smitten ~ Four Stories in One! Smitten is the place for romance and new beginnings. Grandma Rose is unaware that her three granddaughters, Tess, Zoe, and Claire are secretly trying to dig up information about her first love. But the military told Rose and his parents he was missing in action/dead. The girls especially Tess want to learn more about the man her Grandmother lost to the war so many years ago. The girls mother, Anna thinks it needs to be left alone so as not to bring up the hurtful memories Rose had endured. The book follows Cupid's Arrow as it hits it's first target. Tess Thomas is always trying to solve a mystery. For some reason she thinks there is a mystery concerning her Grandmother's old beau. But she does not want to harm the memory of her grandfather. She wants her Grandma Rose to love again. In searching information about the soldier Tess finds out her best friend, Ryan from childhood has bought the old house that the soldier's parents had lived in. She wants to search the attic of the old house to see if there is anything there about the soldier. This will give her a chance to spend some time with Ryan. We are sure Tess is smitten now we need to find out if Ryan is smitten. Cupid's arrow hits it's second target! Zoe Thomas is know best for not being able to figure out what she wants to do with her life. The one thing she is sure of is she wants to do whatever it may be in Smitten. With the possibility of the town becoming a train stop she has decided to start a dating service of sort for the Smitten singles. But could it be she herself might be smitten before she even gets the doors of her new business open that is if the old building can pass a safety inspection. It is the responsibility of a newbie to Smitten to determine whether or not it will open. But will his decision be swayed by his attraction to Zoe? Could Cupid really be targeting Anna the girls' mother? Seems so, Cupid's arrow is aimed directly at Anna and her new neighbor, Michael Conners. His mother, Emma comes to her shop for group knitting and to buy supplies for her knitting projects. Anna can't deny he is a looker but she is not looking. Then she becomes the good Samaritan when Michael gets injured in a skiing accident and Emma asks if Anna can drop in on him to make sure he is okay or might possibly need something. She is sure she can handle his flirtations and get back to her own business. Oh no, is she smitten? Has Cupid ran out of arrows? Nope he has a quiver full! This next arrow is aimed at Claire. Surely Claire is to quick for Cupid's arrow! She has ran off every guy that has gotten too close. She is always busy working at potting plants or delivering mulch for the Smitten community. But things are just too hectic and her boss has told her to hire someone to help out with the deliveries. Her new employee is a drifter she stumbled across in the Nursery tool shed. At first she felt threatened by the drifter but for some reason she felt like he could be trusted and he was there looking for employment. He was very kind and worked hard at his job. She even saw him at her church. He seemed to have secrets but who doesn't. He had a close relationship with God and was not embarrassed to share his what he believed. He sounds more like an Angel sent from God. The author's worked these characters together like they were at a quilting bee adding their special pieces to create a mystery family quilt and then adding their fine stitches to top it off and rounding it off by starting and ending with Grandma Rose. All pieces are original. Making this book a keepsake for me and other readers. Please don't ask who was my favorite character or my favorite author. It's my secret! I have several daughters and granddaughters and will pass this book to them. I am sure it will warm their hearts as well. I found the mystery of this book to be LOVE. I highly recommend this book. I rated this book 5 out of 5. Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson/Litfuse Publicity Group for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. It is my honest opinion.
Secretly Smitten is a collection of four novellas that return to the authors' created town in Vermont. The town is still trying to find ways to stay alive. And four young women are on their way to discovering romance. These novellas tie together with those in Smitten, the other collection by these authors and friends. Have no fear, you can read this collection on its own. I love how real the characters are and the way I want to join them at Mountain Perks for a good conversation and update on their romantic adventures. I also enjoy the cameo appearances by characters in the earlier collection and the way the characters carry over from story to story. Because there are four novellas in this book, each can be read in a long sitting and it's the perfect book to take along on a spring break trip. Easy to put down when you need to do something else, but also engaging enough, you'll want to return often to this delightful town. Do keep in mind that this book contains four shorter works. While longer than a short story, they are not full length novels. Yet each story gives a full romance. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but the opinion is mine alone.
Welcome to Smitten, Vermont!!! Where romance is once again the air with many more couples bound to find love in surprising ways when they least expect it. Renown authors Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter each take a turn charming our romantic hearts once again in four very different stories that are interwoven into each other, in the novel, Secretly Smitten. In Love Between the Lines by Colleen Coble, she introduces us to the first of the Thomas family women, Tess who runs the towns charming bookstore. She believes that there is no way the handsome and now eligible single father, Ryan Stevenson would ever fall for a plain old girl. After losing his beautiful and rich wife earlier and is now raising his young daughter Sophie alone, he finds solace and peace in Tess' girl next door personality who isn't afraid to just be herself. Can Ryan find a special love interest with Tess? Make Me a Match is the second story by Kristin Bellerbeck, who takes on the love life of Zoe Thomas, the youngest of the Thomas daughters who dreams of opening a match making service in town when the new business falls under the scrutiny of the new City Manager, William Singer. Will sparks fly between them or her building with faulty wiring? Knit One, Love Two by Diann Hunt, introduces us to the matriarch of the Thomas daughters where we meet Anna Thomas, mother to Tess, Zoe and Clare, as well as the owner of Sit N Knit. She finally meets what could be the man of her dreams, Michael Conner. Little does she know he lives next door caring for his mother, Emma who has been diagnosed with cancer. Will love find them when they least expect it? Love Blooms by Denise Hunter wraps up the love interest for Clare Thomas who truly believes love will remain elusive for her and her predictable and often boring ways. Just when even finding prospects at her sister, Zoe's match making business seems to come up short, she thinks her own company will be in raising plants and flowers for the town. While putting away tools one evening she comes across a homeless man, Ethan Foster, who will show her that love will often show up in the unlikeliest of places. I received Secretly Smitten by these four talents authors compliments of Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson Publishers for my honest review. The common thread woven into all four of these romance stories is the mystery of what happened to the long lost love of their grandmother, Rose who learns that the man she believed was MIA is found thanks to the efforts of her granddaughters who believe that it's never too late for a lost love. A delightful series that takes readers into the little romantic town of Smitten and teaches us all that love can be found if we are willing to be open enough to let it find us. I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to see what else these four talented authors will come up with next. Little by little we are slowly meeting each of the town's residents through each of these delightful books. While this book is the sequel to Smitten, you can read this one as a stand alone book but trust me, you'll want to get lost in all the love that this small town seems to have in big doses.
This book was a bit outside of my normal genre that I usually pick up but the cover is so interesting that I chose to give it a chance. Secretly Smitten is a collection of four novellas written by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter. I was not familiar with any of these authors and honestly, I had no idea that this was considered book two. That doesn't seem to matter. I was able to read and follow the story without any trouble. I thought this book was okay. It didn't really jump off the page at me and pull me in but it wasn't awful. I think it was just outside of a genre I really enjoy. It was romance--JUST romance. No other theme. With it being Christian fiction I was actually a little let down that there wasn't more of a Christian theme. I never really saw the characters praying or the life lessons that I enjoy from Christian fiction. Overall though--not bad. I'm not sure I would read another part but it wasn't terrible. It simply wasn't my style, I think. About the Story: Love Between the Lines was the first story in this collection. It was written by Colleen Coble and follows the story of Tess Thomas as she tries to solve a mystery involving her Grandmother's first love who was supposed to have died during war time sixty years ago. Her questions lead her to the attic of a young widower named Ryan. As time is spent with Ryan and his young daughter, Tess begins to open herself up to the possibility of love. Then we move on to Make Me a Match by Kristin Billerbeck. The second story in this novella collection follows Zoe Thomas as she opens a matchmaking service for the Smitten community. She is determined to find love for everyone else while she is happy being single. That is--until William Singer makes his appearance in town. Zoe may find out that she is in need of love as well! Story number three is called Knit One. Love Two by Diann Hunt. In this story we meet Anna, the mother of the Thomas girls. Anna's husband up and left her for another woman and has nothing at all to do with his daughters. Of course, Anna's heart is still mending and she is not looking for love when she meets Michael Conners. With her faith and trust shaken--Anna must learn to open her heart if she wishes to find love again. Concluding this book is Love Blooms by Denise Hunter. I thought Clare Thomas' story was the most interesting. Her prospective love interest was by far the most interesting and appealing sounding. He had a back story and a bit of angst that appeals to me in a character. I also felt that the spiritual overtone was most prevalent in this last story and I actually enjoy that. Said prospect, Ethan is rugged and interesting. I actually looked forward to the conclusion of their story. We also have the added bonus of an additional side romance. Although, I will say that I find it rather a stretch to believe that six women from the same family would all find love so close together. Again, I don't think this was a bad book or that someone else wouldn't enjoy it. I think it just didn't click with me the way that I had hoped. I think if you're into romance and you would like a light happy-go-lucky story with very little drama or anguish then this is the type of book for you! I received this book free from the publisher through a fantastic program called Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts and opinions I have expressed are my own.