A small town girl that can't wait to leave for the big city and the boy who could win her heart that doesn't want to leave. From the minute I heard the pitch of this book I was hooked. What reader doesn't have a little bit of both characters in their heart? And how does that get reconciled when the whole plot of the book is centered smack dab in the middle of the romance genre?
"Here to Stay" is charming. Witty. A pure pleasure to read. And characters that will live on the screen of your mind, jumping off the page to invite you into their world. That is what I felt like: I had been invited into Autumn's inn while Blake pounded away at whatever needed fixing. I felt like I was a friend experiencing their lives with themâ€”that alone makes this book one for the keeper shelf!
I could relate to both characters in this book. Blake's pull to stay in his hometown and Autumn's desire to feel some different dirt between her toesâ€”particularly the kind on French shores. But one thing after another after another keeps happening to this poor girl's inn. Almost to the point of comedic. I appreciate that Autumn could see the humor in the moment.
From great kisses to snappy dialogue to characters that become friends, I give this book a thumbs up!
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my copy to review.
Last year I did a review on Melissa's first book, Made to Last, and I made the comment I would love to read about Blake "Blaze" Hunziker's continuing story. Melissa must have heard me (and others) because her second novel stars him back in his hometown just a month or so after the ending of Made to Last.
**NOTE: If you haven't read her first book you can dive right into this one but there are some events, people that will make more sense if you read these in order.
Blake has been traveling the world, trying to forget past mistakes and running from his brother's death. After the events of Made to Last, he decides to return to Whisper Shore and face whatever the small town gossips have for him.
Autumn Kingsley has dreamed of leaving Whisper Shore for years but is tied down to her family's inn, a job she never wanted but feels obligated to keep going. With the inn close to financial ruin, Autumn finally gets a break when a potential investor comes for a visit and she's offered her dream job in Paris.
Blake and Autumn are opposites in what they want--he's ready for the small town life and she can't wait to get out--but they share a painful past, one that's kept their families and the town bitter. When the only chance for both of them to achieve their dreams is to work together for a month, they both enter the agreement with reservations. But as the past comes out and the present unfolds in surprising ways, neither of them is prepared for what they find.
I made a lot of these same comments about Made to Last but it's so true about Here to Stay also. Melissa is quickly becoming my favorite contemporary romance author. Her dialogue and scenes are so genuine, I feel like I'm watching it on the big screen. And unlike a lot of romance movies, the characters are very well and deeply developed. Behind the cute story, real issues are addressed. One of my favorite things about this author is she gives every character, even minor ones, their own voice and way of talking. You can hear each one in a different way that's so unique to her writing. And unlike some authors, the circumstances and ending are realistic; it doesn't feel so much like random fiction but a story that might plausibly happen to someone.
By the end of this book, I was completely satisfied with how things went. I can't think of any loose ends that weren't tied up and I closed the book thinking, "What a great story. When's Melissa's next book out?"
**I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. The thoughts, opinions, and comments are my own and were not influenced in any way by an outside source.
What a great book! Even though I didn't connect with the story right away, I was eager to know how things worked out for Blake and he really surprised me in a good way. He totally was my hero in Here To Stay and I simply loved his heart. He's done being a nomad/wanderer.This is the kind of guy with strength, grace, and a true gentleman who just needs the chance to start over (I also loved the way he spoke, dude).
Autumn Kingsley is doing everything she can to repair and maintain the inn that was passed down to her as a gift she never wanted. However, it seems the harder she works, the more things go wrong. She's also waiting for a job offer that has been her dream since she was a kid, working in Paris! When she gets the letter, she refuses to open it until the next day when she's hanging out with her best friend, Ellie (everyone needs a best friend like her).
I simply loved the characters in this book! Autumn really loves her staff and wants to make sure they're all have secure jobs with the inn before she moves on. I didn't enjoy seeing how stressed she was over certain dilemmas, but wow did she go above and beyond to make things right with those she cared for. I really enjoyed Harrison in this book, reminded me of Harrison Ford in name only as "Red" kept calling him, Harry. I didn't get tired of that debate :)
One of my favorite parts of the book is the beginning when Blake first comes home. Just LOOOOVED the reception he received from his family, it was nothing like he anticipated and I believe that was the beginning of the healing process for him. It was utterly sweet how supportive his parents had become of him and letting the past go. Autumn's mom and sister are not so supportive at first, but that changes in beautiful ways.
And to my great delight, Miranda Woodruff from the first book, Made to Last, makes a guest appearance!! Tagg brilliantly incorporates this beloved character and she becomes instant friends with Autumn.
Autumn is a perfectly flawed character who is charming, clumsy, endearing, works hard, is determined to do the right thing even while pursuing her dream, genuine, feisty, and utterly lovable. She's also very passionate and stubborn, but I didn't consider those flaws. Her and Blake know how to bring out the fun from one another no matter how stressed their day might've been. Blake only walks away from her once because of a frustrating moment, but he makes it up to her later.
Also loved this scene with Autumn and her sister, Ava_.. "Autumn fingered the narrow silver plate, read the inscription out loud. â€˜Hope does not disappoint. Romans 5:5.'
She looked up. â€˜Mom sent this?'
â€˜Yeah and I think she was trying to send me a message. Wasn't really ready to hear it then, but I did look up the verses. I read them again recently, this time in The Message paraphrase. Talks about being alert for whatever God is going to do next.' She handed the bracelet to Autumn and pulled out her phone. â€˜Here, read it on my phone.'
â€˜In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contraryâ€”we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.'"
That scene spoke to me in a strong way. For anyone who is trying to decide what the next step in their journey is based on God's guidance, that scripture resonates and encourages at the same time. God won't let us miss out as we seek Him and He continues to generously pour upon us regardless of our situation.
All in all, Here To Stay, is such a great read!! Even though I didn't laugh while reading it, the story humored me and touched me more than once as "Blaze" and "Red" learn to get past hurts and division their families began. I didn't think it was cool how certain people in town judged Blake, but I so enjoyed his humbleness. He never lost his temper or ran away even though he was tempted to do both. I almost cried in a good way during three scenes, each time Blake gets closure he desperately needs and finally makes peace with himself. I'm grateful for authors like Tagg who write about forgiveness, compassion, and starting over when the unthinkable happens. She brought a small town to life with these great characters and even though I'm a city girl, she even made me have the desire to be Here To Stay with fullness and depth.
I want to thank the author and publisher for the review copy received. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.
Did you ever have a book that you just want to gush about? Well, this is one of those stories. Here to Stay has a gorgeous setting, a fantastic cast of characters, and a wonderful story.
I feel in love with Melissa's first book Made to Last. In her debut novel, we were introduced to Blake "Blaze" Hunziker. Oh, my goodness, what a fantastic secondary character he was. He offered the perfect comedy with his laid back, klutzy self. There was an undertone of something he was hiding though. Beneath that fun loving, easy going self, something hurt him.
In Here to Stay, we get to have Blake as the star of the story as he plays the prodigal son returning home. Blake shined in this story and was not a disappointment. As fun loving as he is, he is trying to get over past problems and hurts. He has things that haunted him and he wanted to prove himself.
Autumn Kingsley I connected with so well. This was a girl who had a dream and was so close to obtaining it when circumstances changed and she was forced to take over the operations of the family's hotel. It took Autumn years, but she believes her dream has resurfaced and things are falling into place, except for the income that her family's hotel needs. I understood where Autumn was coming from with her desires to pack up and go quickly. I couldn't help but root for her, but also hope that she got what she was truly meant for. It's amazing though when your dreams and God's plan don't match up though. The new dreams that come from it are much sweeter.
Melissa has a wonderful writing ability. She is able to sweep you up into this wonderful little lake side resort town and make you apart of the story. I want to visit Whisper Shore. It is the perfect little town. All of the characters worked together so well, and they felt so life like.
Thank you to Bethany House, I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
I've been looking forward to Blake's story ever since I finished Melissa's debut book Made to Last. I love how she's deepened his character as he comes home to face the demons of his past head on. Autumn is the perfect complementary character to play off him as she still needs to learn the one thing he did manage to learn in all his years away. The author's voice is fun and energetic, like her characters, and whisked me thoroughly into her story world into the wee hours of the morning. A great inspirational romance.