"The Hope Series" by E.C Jackson - Book Tour & Review

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

A Gateway to Hope
(Hope Series #1)
By E. C. Jackson
Christian Contemporary Romance
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 297 Pages
May 20, 2015

Twenty-one-year-old Neka is a bit of an introvert, she also happens to be stunningly beautiful.

When she discovers her friend James is about to be dumped, she sees the perfect opportunity to escape from her quiet life. Can she summon the courage to leave it all behind?

James Copley comes from a ruthless family. It's rubbed off.

Years ago, he disengaged from his brothers smear campaign, but now his father has offered him an ultimatum, get married or lose your seat at the table.

Plotting to stamp his design on the family business, he proposes to a woman, even though he doesn't love her.

But his carefully laid plans start to unravel when she leaves him on the day she's due to meet his family.

Could years of planning his comeback vanish with her departure?

A possible solution comes in an unexpected form: Neka. She's not only a friend, but the daughter of his benefactor. And she's right there, offering to support him.

But will her support stretch to marriage?

He attempts to win her over to his plan but collides with her powerful father who wants to leverage the situation for his own gain.

In their fight for survival and love, they are forced to face some uncomfortable truths.

Can they overcome thwarted dreams and missed chances to find true love, or does forcing destiny's hand only lead to misery?

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A Living Hope
(Hope Series #2)
By E. C. Jackson
Christian Contemporary Romance
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 287 Pages
July 31, 2016

It was a match made in heaven. Or so everyone thought. Sadie Mae Cummings is all set to marry her childhood sweetheart, Kyle, when she is assigned to tutor Lincoln, the new college football running back. This sophomore phenomenon has all the girls on campus knocking on his door. But Sadie isn't interested in his advances.

Lincoln's overblown ego doesn't take well to being shunned, and he resolves to make Sadie his own. He pursues her relentlessly, until finally Kyle finds himself shut out of Sadie's life, with their shared future crumbling around him.

After two years, Sadie's relationship with Lincoln ends, and she is left having to put the pieces of her life back together. She desires nothing more than to recapture her relationship with Kyle. He has stayed true to the dreams they had planned together, living the vision even without Sadie by his side.

When she moves back to her hometown, she labors to rekindle their love. But things have changed, and Kyle has moved on. Sadie quickly discovers how hard it is to rebuild burned bridges.

Follow Sadie's story as she fights for a chance to restore broken dreams. Will love endure?

This inspirational romance by E. C. Jackson is book two of the Hope series and is a standalone book.

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The Certain Hope
(Hope Series #3)
By E. C. Jackson
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 318 Pages
December 5th 2018

Love at first sight. It's every girl's dream. But Tara Simpkins is finding out it's not as easy as it seems. Is this truly the man God sent to be her husband, or is she just desperate to escape her loneliness? The recent loss of both parents has left her reeling, and close friends don't think she's in any position to make major life decisions. She and her new-found love are convinced they can live happily ever after in the home of their dreams. His family thinks he's moving way too fast and might disappoint the kind-hearted woman he's fallen head over heels for. And then there's Leah. Leah is supposed to be part of his past, but what if she decides she's his future? Tara's match made in Heaven may be over before it truly begins.

(Affiliate links included.)

The Confident Hope
(Hope Series #4)
By E. C. Jackson
Christian Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 338 Pages
September 28, 2020

Is there hope for this love between friends?

Pamela Hayes is a smart, successful business owner with a supportive family and a thriving bakery. She should be the happiest girl in the world. But she can't shake the melancholy that accompanies every conversation she has with her best friend, Mark. Pamela doesn't know how much longer she can hide her true feelings.

Why can't Mark see how perfect they would be together? She would make a much better girlfriend than the one he currently has. Pamela prays he'll come to his senses soon and realize he's with the wrong girl. But when her dream comes true, it isn't the fantasy she had envisioned.

There is trouble in paradise from the start, and all the red flags she's been ignoring are starting to threaten her confidence and her relationship with Mark. She'll have to rely on family and her faith in God to help her secure the hope she so desperately needs.

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Author


E. C. Jackson began her writing career with the full-length play Pajama Party. Thirty-one years later, she adapted the play into Pajama Party: The Story, a companion book to the second book in the five-book standalone Hope series.

Jackson's favorite pastime is reading fiction. She enjoys taking the journey along with the characters in the books. That also led to her unorthodox approach to story writing. Her vision for each book she writes is to immerse readers into the storyline so they become connected with each character.

The Write Way: A Real Slice of Life is the slogan on her website and Facebook author page. She feels that if every person reading her books feels connected to the characters, her job is done.


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My Reviews


Thank you in advance to the author, E.C Jackson, for providing complimentary copies of the books for review. A positive review was not required, all words and thoughts are my own.


These books were my first introduction to the author – then again, they are also the first novels by the author. They have a strong Christian theme; which are, at times, central to the plot of the story. They feature themes such as forgiveness (even in the worst of scenarios), second chances, and redemption. There are bible quotes, sermons, as well as even biblical life rules (ie: abstinence until marriage). There is no foul language or any intimate on-page scenes in any of the books. There are some references to pre-marital intimacy; these are usually prior to the beginning of the books.


The covers usually depict the couple featured in the books. And, the covers are beautiful for a self-published series. These could easily be movie-of-the-week “poster” quality covers. They’re definitely reminiscent of Lifetime movie ads and/or Harlequin stories.


These are all written with short chapters in each book with vivid details in third person POV.


While these are a “series”, they are definitely standalone books and are not connected in any way by characters or cities. They are merely a themed series.

Fans of the genre, diverse romance (books #1 & #2), and more serious romances will more than likely enjoy these books.


 

Book #1 – “A Gateway to Hope”


This is the author’s DEBUT fictional novel, and from the writing – it is difficult to even tell that it is a debut novel, especially a self-published one. The writing is engaging, relaxed, realistic.


The characters are written realistically, with realistic drama and dialogue that could easily play out like a Lifetime movie.


This is the only book that lists the cast of characters in the story.


This book also has a heavy emphasis on “sexual purity” and addresses the “sin” of intimacy before marriage.


Neka shows up to the airport to help James who has an interesting problem – he needs to get married to claim his rightful place at the family business. The only issue is his fiancรฉe, Teri, has decided to walk away right before heading to meet James’ family.


Having been friends with Neka, James is certain he can pass her off as his fiancรฉe, and she is willing to help him. And, Neka has her reasons to help him.


Neka is old fashioned and believes that even marriages of convenience can lead to falling in love. But, it also helps that the two do love each other. Though, there were times, especially halfway where it wasn’t going where I thought it would.


Jackson tackles tough issues with James referring to hypocrites and views of hot issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and intimacy before marriage. Though this is a brief section/comment and isn’t central to the story.


This was such an engaging and beautifully written story that it was hard to believe it was the author’s first novel.


I did have a problem with all the business talk, so I did skip those parts. It can be an exciting glimpse into how businesses work. The family business aspect was also explored though I felt it was a bit more filler.


I also wanted to know what the purpose of Teri’s visit an accusations against James was. What was her end game?


Neka was delightful, though young; James was definitely an interesting character to read as well. The support characters were realistic, even if I had questions about their motives.


The story has a beautiful and happy ending. I was hooked right after chapter one (1) and definitely didn’t want to put it down by chapter nine (9). It wasn’t a page-turner by any means, but it definitely held my interest.


There were a few beautiful lessons the reader will take away, at least, I did – not now doesn’t mean not ever; along with God has a plan for his children.


 

RATING:


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Goodreads


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Bookbub


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Personal Rating (see rating explanation in this blog: https://readingexcursions.blogspot.com/2020/01/rating-system-2020-changes.html)

 


Book #2 – “A Living Hope”


Jackson’s second novel was a complete departure from the first one. This one has a few “trigger” warnings, some are essential to the plot. These include a slight reference to domestic abuse, pre-story police shooting of an unarmed man, and a sexual assault (prior to the story).


Right off I despised Lincoln and his treatment of Sadie. And, it made me question why him over Kyle, her former boyfriend who is now a youth pastor. After getting into it the book, it was easy to see why Sadie made the choices she did, though still gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.


And, even when Sadie moves back home and wants to be with Kyle, he had reservations. It was easy to see his point as to why he had reservations about Sadie. And, it isn’t just Kyle – her friends also didn’t seem to want to rekindle friendships either.


But, it is on her welcome home that the truth comes out. And, Sadie finally tells what happened with Lincoln. She is encouraged to file a report, though as we all realistically know – there is hardly any chance of justice there. Jackson keeps that heartbreakingly realistic.


Kyle hires Sadie to work with him – like they had originally planned to do while in college. She also has an idea for a book that comes under scrutiny from Kyle – and for good reason. Though he does give her an alternative way to make it work. This is to tie-in with the author’s “Pajama Party” book/play.

Sadie realistically suffers through growth and doubts, and Kyle does slightly flirt with her.   But, Sadie’s desperation is sad to see as Kyle should’ve understood the psychological trauma she went through as well as traumatic stress since he is a pastor.


Complicating Sadie’s wish to pick things up with Kyle is someone he once dated – Leanne who shows up about half (½) of the way into the story. She is there to marry Kyle, who has no interest in her.

At one point, there is a sermon that is so realistic; it felt as if I were right there in that church with the characters.


Sadie soon sees that trading one “captor” for another is not helping her and she learns she needs to stand on her own. I really wanted to root for Sadie and Kyle, but I definitely felt as some points that she deserved far better.


The timeline isn’t rushed as the book takes place over five (5) to six (6) months. It was a delight watching Sadie grow and flourish. But, it was clear, because of her actions; that Sadie needed counseling and I wanted to see the family encourage more of that.


Jackson neatly wrapped up the Lincoln storyline with a dramatic punch. However, she didn’t alter the character due to his “accident” – he remained the same despite his new and rather unfortunate circumstances. But, she also has a tense moment with a briefly reuniting of Sadie and Lincoln.


The end is as expected, and definitely shows how much we grow and care for those in our lives.


Jackson’s writing was vivid, realistic, emotional, dramatic, yet still engaging. She was definitely fearless in tackling the untold trauma and reach that a sexual assault has on not just the victim – but their friends and family, whether or not those people know.


The overall plot was stellar and I truly saw this as more of a Lifetime movie than a book. This was a bit rough around the edges as opposed to the first book. Yet, it was reflective, poignant, and thought-provoking. It truly showed how God can use bad situations for lessons.

 


RATING:


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Goodreads


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Bookbub


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Personal Rating (see rating explanation in this blog: https://readingexcursions.blogspot.com/2020/01/rating-system-2020-changes.html)

 

 


Book #3 – “The Certain Hope”


Not counting “Pajama Party” – this is the author’s third novel in the “Hope Series”.   


To start off; I felt a disconnect with this story and the characters. I didn’t know if it was because I was reading it during bad weather (we were having a serious winter storm) or because I was in the middle of the worse sinus and ear infection of my life.


I honestly had to push myself to finish this book despite how it grabbed me right off. Then my interest waned, and it isn’t because I read one right after the other. I did read another book in between this one. And, I have read some series from book one (#1) to book twelve (#12); which happened to be Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove Series; so it wasn’t “series burnout”. I kept struggling with this book. It seemed a bit muddled.


There are trigger warnings of grief, loss, suicide, or even Luke’s controlling nature. And, I don’t know if Luke’s personality was a turn-off or the whole story.


At first “Andy” (or as we come to learn – Luke) seemed like a dream come true. Tara fell in love with him and he in love with her. Seemed perfect. After all, the two had one thing in common – the loss of their parents. His from a very graphic car accident, Tara’s died from an illness contracted on a cruise. She’s also having to deal with the massive estate she’s been left.


Tara is asked to go on a blind date with this “Luke”, she’d rather think of “Andy”, and she learned – they’re the same guy.  It should work right off – yet, there is something there.


Yet, within the first three chapters, Luke has arranged a blind date with Tara and proposed. The wedding? In two (2) weeks. There is seemingly no explanation for this. And, I wasn’t even sure where this was going.


Thankfully Tara is a bit overwhelmed and wants more time and to “pray on it”. Luke wants an immediate answer.


Tara’s friends (all four) say “no”, and that would honestly have said something to me too.

Luke then begins to have thoughts of his ex-girlfriend, Leah. The relationship falling apart apparently is the reason he wants to immediately marry his “soul-mate” Tara. And, he is relentless about the two (2) week wedding date.


They are apparently perfectly matched – even their political and social views. There is a slight reference to politics, but only slight.  And, Luke even offers her a job at his family’s business.


Tara makes note of Luke’s control issues, and even thinks about bolting from the relationship. He wants to move into her place, but since it needs work, he wants her to move in with him.


Tara finally relents and agrees to marry Luke in two (2) weeks. And, despite their objections – her friends even start helping her plan the wedding.


One part I didn’t like was Luke wanting to divide and sell vast amounts of Tara’s estate – rental homes as well as classic cars. Her grandfather restored cars and as a result, there are quite a few. This becomes part of the plot a little later on in the story. I did wonder why she’d want to hang on to it all though.

Since they are getting married, and Tara attends church – her church requires at least ONE (1) counseling session for couples over 30. That was a bit confusing as I’d never heard of it. But, as I don’t attend services – I ignored it, still found it interesting.


But, as with any story – more conflict ensues. This is in the return of Leah, Luke’s ex-girlfriend. Yet, she doesn’t officially return until about 40 pages before the end of the story. But, Luke hasn’t told Tara about Leah though.


And, there is a reason he hasn’t – he was with her for ulterior motives. This is where a mention of pre-marital intimacy is mentioned, which was prior to the story.


Eventually, Tara learns what her parents had intended for the estate and with Luke’s eager help – things get dealt with.


Tara is stunned as to the nature of Luke and Leah’s relationship which had to do more with “revenge” than with a loving nature. This was a stunning part of the story and I didn’t even see it coming.

The story did, to me, seem to have a rather open-end to it. I was also wondering the “why” of Leah’s return since it seemed SO close to the end and it wasn’t really resolved.


Unlike the first book, A Gateway to Hope, this doesn’t have a “cast of characters” in the beginning. There are a LOT of characters to keep up with, so it can be confusing.


As with the previous two novels, Jackson’s writing is vivid and descriptive, almost immersing the reader into the novel. At times this was heart-breaking and yet endearing.


 

RATING:


⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Goodreads


⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Bookbub


⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Personal Rating (see rating explanation in this blog: https://readingexcursions.blogspot.com/2020/01/rating-system-2020-changes.html)



 

Book #4 – “The Confident Hope”

 

Jackson’s fourth “Hope Series” novel is her most recent release. It is definitely different from the previous three with the tone as well as the story.


This was another one that immediately grabbed me, but then this disconnect developed and I couldn’t get the momentum back. I struggled to keep what momentum I had with it, going.


There are themes of divorce and infidelity in this round, though nothing like the subjects in the second (2nd) book – A Living Hope.


The back blurb grabbed me – in short, a woman loves her best friend who has no clue she does love him and she is trying to get him to realize it.


Most of the “blurb” happens in chapter one (1). Mark is at Pam’s house since his girlfriend Jessica rejected his ring, one that Pam liked, and married someone else. And, it was at the end of chapter one, I thought it would be interesting if Pam kept the ring as Mark instructed her since he didn’t want it. Which, she refuses to do.


That wonder didn’t last too long, and that was part of the disconnect right there. This could’ve built up the momentum to get where it was going. At least for a few chapters anyway. After that, the story kind of muddles along and a lot of what could have been is lost.


As of chapter two (2) – Mark and Pam are already married (with the rings he gave her in chapter one); and returning home from a honeymoon. It is then that she notices the woman who dumped him a year earlier is living next door with her husband (Jessica & Victor).


Despite rejecting him, narcissist Jessica wants Mark back, and she isn’t too shy about it. This is a running plot point which causes problems and a lack of connect between Mark and Pam. At one point, Jessica even suggests an extra-marital affair between the two. That is something Mark doesn’t even consider.


Mark is seemingly oblivious to Pam’s concerns when it comes to Jessica, or a bit inconsiderate. But, Pam is rather suspicious and jealous, almost to the point of being needy. If the author was going for dysfunctional characters – she definitely got these three very close. I did feel as though Mark and Pam were perhaps too young to really appreciate the sanctity of marriage. The how and why of their marriage wasn’t explained that well nor did the author go in depth with why they got married. That would’ve also made some interesting reading.


It was very telling that Mark and Pam had a 10-point agreement for their marriage to work and be successful. Though in some respects, it seemed like it was more of a contract. And, both tend to forget the agreement throughout the story.


The closeness Mark and Pam shared as friends is soon lost, and they spend most of the book trying to get it back. And, to be honest, I don’t see where they do get it back. They just become less suspicious and more accepting of their relationship.


It is clear that while he has appreciated her friendship, Mark knows next to nothing about Pam – not even about her business. As a result, he then throws his support in to help expand and promote it, sometimes to the point of being over bearing.


But, he also clashes with her “baker”, K.C who she dated for a short time. Mark’s jealousy of K.C and Pam’s issues with Jessica show the dysfunction of the marriage without it being as such. 

Mark eventually confronts K.C, and about halfway through the book, I was definitely over Mark’s attitude.


In addition they each have problems when it comes to their family and parents. Pam’s parents are divorced, and her father is remarried. At one point, her step-mother is being kind and trying to help yet Pam sees a friendship with her as being disloyal to her own mother. Mark has his own issues with his parents, almost to the point of being rude. He also has a problem with Pam spending time with her friends.


Throughout the book, Mark and Pam’s disconnect is never really resolved even as they attempt to build up Pam’s business which is becoming more and more successful. It is slightly complicated by Mark’s father having a severe health episode, and Mark also sees the true nature and dynamics of his parents’ marriage.


Pam’s pregnancy is a beautiful surprise, but Mark starts trying to map out the baby’s life as well – schools and everything.


The end is without much fanfare but does show the deep commitment Mark and Pam have to her business as well as trying to make it as a couple despite the odds.


A few things I didn’t feel were resolved that much – after Pam has an accident, it is never really concluded as to whether the baby is actually okay. In addition, the Jessica situation never really resolved.


I really wanted to enjoy this book. Going solely on the premise and drama – it is a 3-4 star read.  

 


RATING:


⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Goodreads


⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Bookbub 


⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Personal Rating (see rating explanation in this blog: https://readingexcursions.blogspot.com/2020/01/rating-system-2020-changes.html)

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