Review: The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown

Posted November 12, 2019 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 22 Comments

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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown
The Family Journal

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Montlake Romance
Released on November 12, 2019
Pages: 296
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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The Delight

Wow!  One hundred books released and dare I hope for many more to come?  Carolyn Brown’s The Family Journal was a fitting book for hitting her century mark with its unique look back at the distant past through the maternal family journal, to the present where things are at a low for the heroine before she takes her life by the horns, and into a future if she can trust that all men aren’t like her cheating, manipulative ex.  Carolyn Brown’s country charming style full of family, friendship, wry humor and no-nonsense romance is a feel-good moment that I’m ever eager to experience.


The Family Journal starts with appalled and stressed out Lily Anderson getting a wake-up call.  She caught her fourteen year old daughter smoking a joint in the library restroom and her twelve year old son has been sneaking off for beer and cigs with his friends.  Time to get out of the city and head home to those simple country roots that she was so eager to escape when she finished high school.  Back to the old stone family home with its shared bathroom and lack of wifi, her best buds, small town gossip, and a man who has the same loneliness and broken-hearted past in his eyes just like she.

I love this author’s books and this one was no exception even with the challenge of misbehaving teenagers included.  It was an interesting story of family heritage when Lily found the journal that went back six generations of women to connect her to others who had to deal with hardships and came through them and also connected her with her daughter, Holly, who needed to get in touch with her family roots.  Mac and Lily’s romance is one of friendship to love, building trust that this person won’t hurt them as they were hurt before.  Lily’s domineering husband cheated and left her while Mack’s two ex fiancees left him for his handsome, suave twin brother because anything Mac has Adam tries to take.

Through a montage of daily life scenes and events, The Family Journal shows people healing and coming together.  It was sweet and a little sassy with its gentle pacing.  It was a crossover between women’s fiction and romance the way it focused on several feminine relationships in the story:  Lily with her daughter, Lily coming to peace with her deceased mother, the connection to the women in the journal, Lily and her friends, Holly attempting to make friends, and Holly with Granny Hayes.

But, that romance was just the thing to weave through the women’s story.  Mac is stalwart, quiet and very humble after growing up the twin of a flashy brother who dominated their high school scene and was the seeming golden boy so that not one, but two of Mac’s loves fell for his tinsel charm.  He fears that Lily will do the same until she shows him that she knows the difference between the player and the real thing.  He’s no fancy bank president wearing thousand dollar suits and driving a sports car.  He’s an agricultural teacher and runs the 4-H club, he raises goats, wears beat up boots and drives an old truck.  But, he is just the guy to fill in the wounds that Lily and her kids have after Wyatt does his number on them for years.  I envy Lily her Mac.

All in all, it was another golden story for me and I can recommend it to those who enjoy contemporary western romance or small town women’s fiction.

I rec’d this book through Net Galley to be read in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met

New Release #155
Books N Tunes #46 Pistol Annie’s Hush Hush

About Carolyn Brown

Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.

I got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list. In 1997 Kensington bought two books for their Precious Gems line. Two years and six books later the line died with only four of those books seeing publication. But by then Avalon had bought a book and another, and another. Ten years later the list has grown to thirty nine. Last year Sourcebooks bought the Lucky Series which is in the bookstores now. They’ve also bought The Honky Tonk Series which will debut with I LOVE THIS BAR in June and will be followed by HELL, YEAH, MY GIVE A DAMN’S BUSTED, and HONKY TONK CHRISTMAS.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

I have a wonderful agent, Erin Niumata, who continues to work magic and sell my work. I’m very lucky to have her and my editors who continue to believe in me.

Happy reading!

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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2 years ago

that’s great that it was another great one for you!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Melliane

I feel like anything she writes will pull me in. 🙂

Jenea's Book Obsession

I can see why you enjoyed it, it sounds really good!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

I get all sorts of warm fuzzies from her books, Jenea. 🙂

Lover of Romance
2 years ago

Great review darling. I just love this author, and especially the way she portrays the life of a small town. Give me a man who raises goats!!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Mac is fab! 🙂

Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books

100 books is an amazing accomplishment! I have several of her books sitting on my shelf that I really need to get busy reading. I am so glad you enjoyed this one.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Yeah, that floored me when I saw that in the book announcement. I have read several, but I still have a ton on my TBR. 🙂

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

I’m currently reading this and loving it! Mack is such a sweet-heart! His brother is a slime ball, right? It’s hard to go wrong with Carolyn Brown! 🙂

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Oh man, Mac is all that Adam isn’t. I laughed when Adam got his comeuppance by Lily. 🙂

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

Wow, what an accomplishment! I like books like this with multiple characters and happens.

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Yeah a whole century worth of books. 🙂

I liked that about her books, too.

Anne - Books of My Heart

I haven’t read as much of this author as you but a key to her stories always seem to be family. Fantastic review!

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

Yes, very true, Anne! I like that aspect so much. 🙂

2 years ago

This sounds wonderful. I have been meaning to read her books, but of course it has yet to happen. 🙂

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Nadene

It was heartwarming and fun.

LOL, I have a list of those books, too, Nadene. 🙂

Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

This sounds like a very touching story. I love how the main character. takes her struggling teenagers back to her roots. The journal and all of the female relationships and romance sound like they made for a very entertaining story! Lovely Review Sophia 🙂

Sophia Rose
2 years ago

It was a sweetheart and had so many extra elements to add appeal. Thanks, Lindy!

2 years ago

Another great review, and it’s wonderful to see how Carolyn Brown’s stories continue to evolve. Adding this one to my list. Hugs, RO

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  RO P

I agree! I see the progress of her writing just in the last few years and she does great with these crossover genre books. Have a great day, Radiant Ro!

Carole Rae
2 years ago

Woah! One hundred books released? Crazy! Love her. Must read more

Sophia Rose
2 years ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

Isn’t that something? I’m hoping to read more of her backlist, too. 🙂