The Gate To Everything – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

TheGateToEverything

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Synopsis

Quarterback Jordan Dean thought he had everything until his long-time girlfriend broke up with him. His football rock star life had become too burdensome to her. Plus there was another teensy, weensy reason. Chef Grace Kincaid had gotten tired of waiting for him to propose. Ouch.

When Jordan wins the Super Bowl, he tells himself it’s enough. But he can’t get Grace out of his mind. When she calls, insisting they meet, he eagerly agrees.
Only to discover he’s going to be a father…

Grace had always wanted a happily ever after—her yellow house, the picket fence, and children—with Jordan. She’s not willing to settle for a shotgun wedding. But hope makes her agree to live next door to him in the dream house he’d secretly had built for her. The fire of their attraction and deep waters of their love reemerge as they become parents for the first time.

The gate between their houses becomes the key—to everything.
And check out Ava’s bestselling family series with a touch of magic, mystery, and romance…

Illustration of a garden gate with hollyhocks, daisies, roses, and spiky blue flowers with a bluebird sitting on top and a grapevine wreath near the gate handle
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Review

“The Gate to Everything” is the first book in a new series by Ava Miles. The “Once Upon a Dare” series is a spin-off from the “Dare Valley” series dealing with Blake Cunningham’s football brothers. This first installment in the new series was fantastic!

This book focuses on quarterback Jordan Dean and his childhood sweetheart, Grace Kincaid. Jordan and Grace have always been the “golden couple”. They’ve been together through thick and thin with Jordan’s career in football and Grace’s career as a chef. As Jordan’s gotten more and more famous, Grace is having a harder time dealing with the by-product of that fame, the paparazzi and tabloid journalism. Eventually, it becomes too much for Grace, she breaks it off with Jordan, and flees to Italy. Months go by and when Grace returns from Italy, she meets with Jordan to tell him that she’s pregnant. This is when the story really takes off as it has both of them dealing with still being in love with each other, but her still having a hard time with his popularity. Him wanting to keep her and their baby safe but stymied on how to do it.  It’s a fabulous story line that moves along at a decent pace, neither too slow or too fast.

While both characters are richly complex and well-rounded, I definitely connected more with Grace at the beginning, probably because I’m introverted and not comfortable in the spotlight either. I wasn’t so sure about Jordan at first, but as the book went on, I grew to love him even more than Grace. He cares so deeply and yet, like many men, he’s so afraid of being vulnerable in front of Grace. Yet, it’s only by being vulnerable that he and Grace connect at a deeper level.

It’s a great romance on top of being a wonderful insider’s look at what fame and the spotlight must feel like to some spouses of sports stars, male or female. I loved the ending and I’m looking forward to the next one in this series! Pick it up and read it. It’s a great feel-good story!

[I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review. My review was not influenced by this, nor was I compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own.]

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The Bridge to a Better Life – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

The Bridge to a Better Life Book Cover, background of trees and a bright red shrub, wooden bridge in foreground

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Synopsis

Sports hero and newly retired NFL quarterback Blake Cunningham wants a second chance at love…with his ex-wife. He’s bought the house next door to her in Dare Valley and has built a bridge connecting their properties. It’s his bridge to a better life, the one he lost when Natalie Hale left him after a family tragedy destroyed their marriage.

Natalie has just started a new job as the head caterer at the small town’s historic hotel. When she discovers Blake has become the boy next door-literally-she secretly has to admit he still fires up all her engines and tugs at her heart. But the ghosts from their past seem too monumental to conquer.

Blake vows to help Natalie remember the power of their love and friendship. With the intense sparks of attraction flying between them, Natalie begins to put her heart out there again. How can she resist Blake when he makes her laugh and swoon by even acting out her secret Outlander fantasy? As they both give love a second chance, they are forced to face their most disturbing memories, not only the tragedy that ripped their lives apart, but also the secret parts they were afraid to share…

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Review

The Bridge to a Better Life by Ava Miles is the eighth in her Dare Valley series and is currently my favorite in the series.

Wow. You know a book is powerful when it brings up enough of your own similar issues that you have to stop reading for a day or two until you can get your reaction under control.  This book did that for me. Natalie reminds me so much of myself. Her struggles with grief and loss have been my struggles with grief and loss. It was so inspiring to watch her grow and change throughout the book; to come to terms with at least some of her grief and to allow herself to open herself up to Blake’s love once again.

Dear Blake. How can you not love a hero who gives up as much as he gave up in order to win Natalie back again? How can you not love a man who is that patient and loving and tender. That’s not to say that Blake doesn’t have his own issues or is perfect. He’s not, but wow, what a wonderful testament to the power of love.  Blake does his own growing and changing throughout the book too, tho’ his is not quite as dramatic as Natalie’s.

As with all of Ms. Miles’s “Dare Valley” novels, the surrounding community and the families and friends of the hero and heroine provide the much-needed support that anyone needs when dealing with grief and loss.  The characters are well-rounded, the story line believable and the writing is crisp, clean and well done.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in the mood for a contemporary romance with a great set of characters.

(I received a free ARC from Ava Miles in exchange for my honest review. My review was not influenced by this and all conclusions and opinions are my own)