by Donna Kauffman
Series: Blue Hollow Falls #1
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
From her free-spirited mother, Sunny Goodwin learned the value of peace, love, and Jerry Garcia. The inheritance from the father she never knew? That’s a little more complicated...
Sunny never expected to find herself owning a centuries old silk mill in the shadow of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains . . . or becoming a half-sister to a ten-year-old named Bailey. Once the shock subsides, she plans to cash in and head back home. But the overgrown greenhouse she finds on the property calls out to the gardener in her, and she senses Bailey’s need for nurturing too...
And someone else is making it hard for Sunny to leave: Sawyer Hartwell, an Iraq War hero who wants to make the old mill a creative hub for the artisans of Blue Hollow Falls . . . and wants Sunny to share his vision, and his life. But sexy as this ex-soldier may be, she’s not sure she’s ready to give love a chance...
I’d read a novella set in this series as part of The Season to Celebrate anthology, and I enjoyed it so much that I had to pick up the rest of the series. I don’t read a ton of small-town romances, but I found this series quite charming.
This first book stars Sunny, who finds out, in one fell swoop, that the father she never met is dead, and that he’s left her with a step-mother, half-sister, and part ownership of an abandoned silk mill in a small town in the middle of, well, nowhere. Unaware of the terms of the will, her step-mother’s adopted son, Sawyer, has already begun renovating the mill to turn it into a showpiece for the artisans who live in Blue Hollow Falls.
I loved Sunny and Sawyer. After taking care of her ill mother for most of her life, Sunny is finally free and able to do, well, whatever she wants, which, for the moment, is continuing her work at the Botanical Gardens with endangered plants. Though they feel a deep connection to each other, Sawyer is inextricably linked to Blue Hollow Falls and Sunny cannot see a way of moving three hours away from her job. Luckily, there’s a precocious plot moppet and a dilapidated greenhouse. I thought this got tied up a bit too nicely (quickly getting grant money to renovate the greenhouse? Very convenient timing!) but I enjoyed the setting and the quirky cast of characters.
The Inn at Blue Hollow Falls
by Donna Kauffman
Series: Blue Hollow Falls #1.5
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Stevie Franklin is ready to go all-out Grinch on Christmas this year, but a snowy trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains could provide some unexpected gifts...
Stevie is thrilled to help her best friend Sunny launch her new greenhouse business in Blue Hollow Falls. Not only does it give her a chance to visit the quaint location, but it’s a welcome distraction from Stevie’s recent bad luck with men. Just one catch: since Sunny’s home is under renovation, Stevie must stay at the local inn, whose amenities feature hunky innkeeper, Noah Tyler.
Noah may be as tempting as her grandmother’s famous sweet potato pie, but city-girl Stevie isn’t sticking around—and she doesn’t do flings. Yet when Noah’s chef gets stranded in a Christmas Eve snowstorm, Stevie can’t resist pitching in and serving up some of her family’s favorite recipes. The magic of a Blue Ridge Christmas is already rekindling Stevie’s holiday spirit and making her wonder what else she might be missing out on. Now can Noah restore Stevie’s belief in love?
“Chances come along, and you have two choices. You can take the risk and accept that it is one.”
“You can think about all those bad possible outcomes and run scared.”
Cute holiday novella, probably more of a 3.5 for me. I love Ms. Kauffman’s characters, but Stevie felt a bit too similar to Sunny to me. While the insta-love was strong with this one, I enjoyed reading about running the inn during a snowstorm, with all the comical mishaps and cute holiday touches (though I haven’t decided if a morning after snowman is a weird or inspired touch).
Bluestone & Vine
by Donna Kauffman
Series: Blue Hollow Falls #2
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Pippa MacMillan is a legend on the Irish folk music scene. But when her voice requires a time-out, she’s left wondering how—and where—to find happiness in the silence . . .
Seeking answers, Pippa leaves Ireland in favor of a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Turns out lovely Blue Hollow Falls in the perfect place to heal—and solitary Seth Brogan is the surprisingly perfect host. After all, Seth is beginning again too: turning his renovated stone barn and beautiful hillside into a vineyard is the start of a whole new life for the former Special Forces soldier. Only Mother Nature keeps thwarting both their plans, leaving Pippa snowbound with unsettling thoughts about how life can take unexpected turns . . .
To Pippa’s surprise, she might actually fall for small-town living. She might even fall for Seth, whose quiet strength is a balm for her world-weary soul. But when the music starts once more, will she follow her fortune back to Ireland, or surrender to the call of her heart?
“Falling in love is one of the best things we do,” he told her plainly, blue eyes alight as he did. “You can do a lot in life, but none so great as that.” Now he nudged her and gave her another wink. “I’m here to tell you, it’s even better if they fall right back.”
This was fun and a bit more angsty than I was expecting for Sawyer’s flirty best friend. Seth’s little sister sets up a house swap with a famous Irish folk singer – only the house she agrees to swap is Seth’s vineyard in Blue Hollow Falls. Recovering from a possibly career ending injury, Pippa is relieved to hide out in the small town and try to recover her musical spark. Of course, that might just be helped along by a certain hot winemaker. I found Mabry a bit over-the-top – I prefer to see my characters discover their truths themselves, rather than having them bestowed upon them by a cranky-but-lovable old coot, but Pippa, and the whole book honestly, is just so sweet that I just rolled my eyes and kept reading. I did find the conflict to be a rehash of the previous book – different worlds! career and family a long plane ride away! – but I found the resolution more realistic than the last book, though I do wonder where the heck these people are getting loans for such large projects. But, it’s cute, Seth and Pippa are an adorable couple, and we get more plot moppet manipulation.
I reviewed the second Christmas novella, “Christmas in Blue Hollow Falls,” as part of The Season to Celebrate anthology, and I’ll have a review for the third book in the series up on the blog this week! While it’s much more angsty and heart wrenching than the previous books, I’m happy to say that it still has that small town something that keeps me reading these books!