Saturday, February 6, 2016

reviews || FIREFLIES books 1+2 by Lisa Ricard Claro

Black Opal Books | June 20, 2015 | Contemporary Romance
Fireflies, book 1


LOVE BUILT TO LAST is a contemporary romance featuring two people who have suffered the pain of devastating loss, and must learn to love and trust again. Based on the award-winning short story, Fireflies, this novel is the first book in the Fireflies series.

She can’t let go of her dead husband . . .

Maddie Kinkaid believes her late husband, Jack, gives her advice on everything from ordering a pizza to hiring a carpenter, so when she finds Caleb Walker’s business card on Jack’s desk, she’s convinced that he’s the guy to remodel her kitchen.

He can’t decide if she’s worth the risk . . .

Caleb is a single father, and protecting his young son means avoiding romantic entanglements. But there’s heat in every kitchen, and sparks ignite between Caleb and Maddie—until disaster strikes.

As Jack goes silent and Maddie’s guilt consumes her, it looks like Caleb and Maddie will never find their happily-ever-after—at least, not without a little help from Jack . . .


Black Opal Books | January 30, 2016 | Contemporary Romance
Fireflies, book 2


A woman in a man’s world… 

CPA Rebecca Walker wields a hammer and saw with skill, but it’s like fighting tooth and nail to prove to her chauvinistic father that she’s capable of managing the family construction business. Romance is a luxury Rebecca can’t afford. 

A man with secrets… 

Thanks to his past, romance isn’t in Sean Kinkaid’s future, so when Rebecca proposes ‘friends with benefits,’ Sean agrees. It’s the perfect scenario until love sneaks in—and Sean’s secrets tear them apart.


But Rebecca has a secret too, one she fears Sean will never accept. It will take intervention from an unlikely source to convince these two lovers they have the one thing neither of them ever expected to find…a love to believe.

{ about lisa ricard claro } .

Lisa Ricard Claro is an editor, award-winning author, and Pushcart Prize nominee with published articles and stories spanning multiple media. She resides in Georgia with her husband of more than three decades and counting, is mother to three (a ruggedly handsome son and two stunningly beautiful daughters—​Lisa might be a little biased), and dreams of one day living at the beach. Seriously dreams of it. As in, she’s already decorating her dream beach house. In addition to an array of sand dollars and seashells, she keeps a framed sign hanging in her office: Sandy Toes and Salty Kisses Welcome Here.

Lisa is also a lover of dogs and cats, and has a heart for rescues. This is why you will find a rescued pet companion in every one of her books. Sometimes they are part of the story line (Pirate the dog, in Love Built to Last), and sometimes they’re already ensconced in their forever home with one of Lisa’s characters (Pavarotti the cat, in Love to Win). As you read Lisa’s books, watch for the rescues!

While Lisa is a fan of storytelling in all genres, Romance is her favorite because she believes everyone deserves love and a happily-ever-after. But she adores a little mystery now and then, too, so keep an eye out for Lisa’s authorship of a whodunit one of these days soon.

{ reviews } .

Love Built to Last
When Lisa contacted me to read these two titles, I was excited. I absolutely love working with authors directly. Are there books I receive that don't quite jive with what I'm looking for, and therefore leave me upset because I can't leave an entirely favorable review? Most definitely. However, I'm glad to say that wasn't the case with these first two Fireflies titles. While I don't tend to pick up many Susan Wiggs or Debbie Macomber titles any longer, I feel that Ms. Claro's writing style is one that fans of those authors, as well as fans of Jill Shalvis and Susan Mallery, will enjoy. The storytelling and characters have a feel of a mix of those four authors.

In this first book in Ms. Claro's Fireflies series, we meet Maddie and Caleb, two individuals who lost their other half entirely too early. Caleb has a son and therefore a reason to push through, but Maddie keeps holding on to things of Jack's -- namely his office.

But it's in his office where she feels him, and where he guides her.

You may or may not believe in the powers of those who have left us. If you don't, this is simply a sweet story. But if you've experienced the eerily coincidental occurences, this is a story that you will definitely connect with. When Maddie has questions, she sits at Jack's untouched desk, closes her eyes, and moves her hands among his disorganized things. When it feels right, she takes hold of whatever item she pauses over -- and twice, she's paused over Caleb's business card, thus beginning the journey these two embark upon.

This was a very cute story. I loved watching Maddie allow herself to move on, but equally, loved the understanding Caleb had for her. Caleb and T.J. were great to watch together; I really enjoyed the moments these two have, especially when Maddie comes into the mix. And moreover, I truly loved that the Kinkaids kept Maddie in their circle of family, rooting for her to move on from Jack (because it would be what he wanted) but still welcoming her 'home'.

Definitely a cute story and I was so glad to get the chance to read it. The epilogue was cute and fun in it's elementary ways (gosh, that T.J.).

Love to Believe
The only reason why Love Built to Last received 4.5 of 5 stars was because I fell in love with this title, Love to Believe, just a little bit more. I enjoyed every moment of Rebecca and Sean's love story -- from their comical moments (they truly have a solid friendship, regardless of how long they've known one another), to their scared and disbelief moments. Rebecca and Sean's was a bit of a rocky journey at times...

One of our characters' first conversations actually is about Maddie, from Love Built to Last. With that conversation, the reader gets even more clarity of how much Maddie means to the Kinkaid clan. Sean and Rebecca know one another because of their families -- Sean is Maddie's brother-in-law, and Rebecca is Caleb's sister. When Rebecca runs late for the engagement party of Maddie and Caleb, it's Sean who picks her up -- and right away, as a reader you get a sense of what a fun coupling they are going to be.

They're joking with one another (such as Caleb 'confusing' Rebecca's boyfriend's name as Tate even when just seconds before she corrected him and said 'Nate') and have a 'point' system (such as, ooh, burn, point goes to...). I absolutely loved these two -- especially because they think they can have a 'friends with benefits' relationship and not have it fail on them...

Both have heard the 'Jack' stories from Maddie and Caleb, and while they don't necessarily believe it fully, they know that Maddie and Caleb believe it's true, so Rebecca and Sean find solace in that. However, when little 'coincidences' start happening in their own lives (with emotional ups and downs and relationship backs and forths), perhaps Jack is playing a hand in their story, too.

Definitely adorable and fun, with just enough emotional grief to keep the story feeling real. Rebecca and Sean's story has many ups and downs, and the way this one ends... Well, it makes my heart extremely happy.

Next up is Brenna Kinkaid, another sibling Jack left behind... along with her so-called nemesis, Dante, and let me tell you, their interactions have been so fun thus far! I can't wait to watch these two butt heads and decide that maybe there's a little something more...

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