Excerpt: On a Quiet Street

Description:

The perfect neighborhood can be the perfect place to hide…

Who wouldn’t want to live in Brighton Hills? This exclusive community on the Oregon coast is the perfect mix of luxury and natural beauty. Stunning houses nestle beneath mighty Douglas firs, and lush backyards roll down to the lakefront. It’s the kind of place where neighbors look out for one another. Sometimes a little too closely…

Cora thinks her husband, Finn, is cheating—she just needs to catch him in the act. That’s where Paige comes in. Paige lost her son to a hit-and-run last year, and she’s drowning in the kind of grief that makes people do reckless things like spying on the locals, searching for proof that her son’s death was no accident…and agreeing to Cora’s plan to reveal what kind of man Finn really is. All the while, their reclusive new neighbor, Georgia, is acting more strangely every day. But what could such a lovely young mother possibly be hiding?

When you really start to look beyond the airy open floor plans and marble counters, Brighton Hills is filled with secrets. Some big, some little, some deadly. And one by one, they’re about to be revealed… “A writer to watch.” —Publishers Weekly


ONE

Paige

 

Paige stands, watering her marigolds in the front yard and marvels at how ugly they are. The sweet-potato-orange flowers remind her of a couch from the 1970s, and she suddenly hates them. She crouches down, ready to rip them from their roots, wondering why she ever planted such an ugly thing next to her pristine Russian sage, and then the memory steals her breath. The church Mother’s Day picnic when Caleb was in the sixth grade. Some moron had let the potato salad sit too long in the sun, and Caleb got food poisoning. All the kids got to pick a flower plant to give to their moms, and even though Caleb was puking mayonnaise, he insisted on going over to pick his flower to give her. He was so proud to hand it to her in its little plastic pot, and she said they’d plant it in the yard and they’d always have his special marigolds to look at. How could she have forgotten?

She feels tears rise in her throat but swallows them down. Her dachshund, Christopher, waddles over and noses her arm: he always senses when she’s going to cry, which is almost all the time since Caleb died. She kisses his head and looks at her now-beautiful marigolds. She’s interrupted by the kid who de-livers the newspaper as he rides his bike into the cul-de-sac and tosses a rolled-up paper, hitting little Christopher on his back.

“Are you a fucking psychopath?” Paige screams, jumping to her feet and hurling the paper back at the kid, which hits him in the head and knocks him off his bike.

“What the hell is wrong with you, lady?” he yells back, scrambling to gather himself and pick up his bike.

“What’s wrong with me? You tried to kill my dog. Why don’t you watch what the fuck you’re doing?”

His face contorts, and he tries to pedal away, but Paige grabs the garden hose and sprays him down until he’s out of reach. “Little monster!” she yells after him.

Thirty minutes later, the police ring her doorbell, but Paige doesn’t answer. She sits in the back garden, drinking coffee out of a lopsided clay mug with the word Mom carved into it by little fingers. She strokes Christopher’s head and examines the ivy climbing up the brick of the garage and wonders if it’s bad for the foundation. When she hears the ring again, she hollers at them.

“I’m not getting up for you people. If you need to talk to me, I’m back here.” She enjoys making them squeeze around the side of the house and hopes they rub up against the poi-son oak on their way.

“Morning, Mrs. Moretti,” one of the officers says. It’s the girl cop, Hernandez. Then the white guy chimes in. She hates him. Miller. Of course they sent Miller with his creepy mustache. He looks more like a child molester than a cop, she thinks. How does anyone take him seriously?

“We received a complaint,” he says.

“Oh, ya did, did ya? You guys actually looking into cases these days? Actually following up on shit?” Paige says, still petting the dog and not looking at them.

“You assaulted a fifteen-year-old? Come on.”

“Oh, I did no such thing,” she snaps.

Hernandez sits across from Paige. “You wanna tell us what d id happen, then?”

“Are you planning on arresting me if I don’t?” she asks, and the two officers give each other a silent look she can’t read.

“His parents don’t want to press charges so…”

Paige doesn’t say anything. They don’t have to tell her it’s because they pity her.

“But, Paige,” Miller says, “we can’t keep coming out here for this sort of thing.”

“Good,” Paige says firmly. “Maybe it will free you up to do your real job and find out who killed my son.” Hernandez stands.

“Again, you know we aren’t the detectives on the—” But before Hernandez can finish, Paige interrupts, not wanting to hear the excuses.

“And maybe go charge the idiot kid for trying to kill my dog. How about that?”

Paige stands and goes inside, not waiting for a response. She hears them mumble something to one another and make their way out. She can’t restrain herself or force herself to be kind. She used to be kind, but now, it’s as though her brain has been rewired. Defensiveness inhabits the place where empathy used to live. The uniforms of the cops trigger her, too; it reminds her of that night, the red, flashing lights a nightmarish strobe from a movie scene. A horror movie, not real life. It can’t be her real life. She still can’t accept that.

The uniforms spoke, saying condescending things, pulling her away, calling her ma’am, and asking stupid questions. Now, when she sees them, it brings up regrets. She doesn’t know why this happens, but the uniforms bring her back to that night, and it makes her long for the chance to do all the things she never did with Caleb and mourn over the times they did have. It forces fragments of memories to materialize, like when he was six, he wanted a My Little Pony named Star Prancer. It was pink with purple flowers in its mane, and she didn’t let him have it because she thought she was protecting him from being made fun of at school. Now, the memory fills her with self-reproach.

She tries not to think about the time she fell asleep on the couch watching Rugrats with him when he was just a toddler and woke up to his screaming because he’d fallen off the couch and hit his head on the coffee table. He was okay, but it could have been worse. He could have put his finger in an outlet, pushed on the window screen and fallen to his death from the second floor, drunk the bleach under the sink! When this memory comes, she has to quickly stand up and busy herself, push out a heavy breath, and shake off the shame it brings. He could have died from her negligence that afternoon. She never told Grant. She told Cora once, who said every parent has a moment like that, it’s life. People fall asleep. But Paige has never forgiven herself. She loved Caleb more than life, and now the doubt and little moments of regret push into her thoughts and render her miserable and anxious all the time.

She didn’t stay home like Cora, she practically lived at the restaurant. She ran it for years. Caleb grew up doing his homework in the kitchen break room and helping wipe down tables and hand out menus. He seemed to love it. He didn’t watch TV all afternoon after school, he talked to new people, learned skills. But did she only tell herself that to alleviate the guilt? Would he have thrived more if he had had a more nor mal day-to-day? When he clung to her leg that first day of preschool, should she have forced him to go? Should he have let him change his college major so many times? Had he been happy? Had she done right by him?

And why was there a gun at the scene? Was he in trouble, and she didn’t know? Did he have friends she didn’t know about? He’d told her everything, she thought. They were close. Weren’t they?

As she approaches the kitchen window to put her mug down, she sees Grant pulling up outside. She can see him shaking his head at the sight of the cops before he even gets out of the car.

He doesn’t mention the police when he comes in. He silently pours himself a cup of coffee and finds Paige back out in the garden, where she has scurried to upon seeing him. He hands her a copy of the Times after removing the crossword puzzle for himself and then peers at it over his glasses.

He doesn’t speak until Christopher comes to greet him, and then he says, “Who wants a pocket cookie?” and takes a small dog biscuit from his shirt pocket and smiles down at little Christopher, who devours it.

This is how it’s been for the many months since Grant and Paige suffered insurmountable loss. It might be possible to get through it to the other side, but maybe not together, Paige said to Grant one night after one of many arguments about how they should cope. Grant wanted to sit in his old, leather recliner in the downstairs family room and stare into the wood-burning fireplace, Christopher at his feet, drinking a scotch and absorbing the quiet and stillness.

Paige, on the other hand, wanted to scream at everyone she met. She wanted to abuse the police for not finding who was responsible for the hit-and-run. She wanted to spend her days posting flyers offering a reward to anyone with information, even though she knew only eight percent of hit-and-runs are ever solved. When the world didn’t respond the way she needed, she stopped helping run the small restaurant they owned so she could just hole up at home and shout at Jeopardy! and paper boys. She needed to take up space and be loud. They each couldn’t stand how the other was mourning, so finally, Grant moved into the small apartment above their little Italian place, Moretti’s, and gave Paige the space she needed to take up.

Now—almost a year since the tragic day—Grant still comes over every Sunday to make sure the take-out boxes are picked up and the trash is taken out, that she’s taking care of herself and the house isn’t falling apart. And to kiss her on the cheek before he leaves and tell her he loves her. He doesn’t make observations or suggestions, just benign comments about the recent news headlines or the new baked mostaccioli special at the restaurant.

She sees him spot the pair of binoculars on the small table next to her Adirondack chair. She doesn’t need to lie and say she’s bird-watching or some nonsense. He knows she thinks one of the neighbors killed her son. She’s sure of it. It’s a gated community, and very few people come in and out who don’t live here. Especially that late at night. The entrance camera was conveniently disabled that night, so that makes her think it wasn’t an accident but planned. There was a gun next to Caleb’s body, but it wasn’t fired, and there was no gunshot wound. Something was very wrong with this scenario, and if the po-lice won’t prove homicide, she’s going to uncover which of her bastard neighbors had a motive.

She has repeated all of this to Grant a thousand times, and he used to implore her to try to focus on work or take a vacation—anything but obsess—and to warn her that she was destroying her health and their relationship, but he stopped responding to this sort of conspiracy-theory talk months ago.

“What’s the latest?” is all he asks, looking away from the binoculars and back to his crossword. She gives a dismissive wave of her hand, a sort of I know you don’t really want to hear about it gesture. Then, after a few moments, she says, “Danny Howell at 6758. He hasn’t driven his Mercedes in months.” She gives Grant a triumphant look, but he doesn’t appear to be following.

“Okay,” he says, filling in the word ostrich.

“So I broke into his garage to see what the deal was, and there’s a dent in his bumper.”

“You broke in?” he asks, concerned. She knows the How-ells have five vehicles, and the dent could be from a myriad of causes over the last year, but she won’t let it go.

“Yes, and it’s a good thing I did. I’m gonna go back and take photos. See if the police can tell if it looks like he might have hit a person.” She knows there is a sad desperation in her voice as she works herself up. “You think they can tell that? Like if the dent were a pole from a drive-through, they could see paint or the scratches or something, right? I bet they can tell.”

“It’s worth a shot,” he says, and she knows what he wants to say, also knows he won’t waste words telling her not to break into the garage a second time for photos. He changes the subject.

“I’m looking for someone to help out at the restaurant a few days a week—mostly just a piano player for the dinner crowd—but I could use a little bookkeeping and scheduling, too,” he says, and Paige knows it’s a soft attempt to distract her, but she doesn’t bite.

“Oh, well, good luck. I hope you find someone,” she says, and they stare off into the backyard trees.

“The ivy is looking robust,” he comments after a few minutes of silence.

“You think it’s hurting the foundation?” she asks.

“Nah,” he says, and he reaches over and places his hand over hers on the arm of her chair for a few moments before getting up to go. On his way out, he kisses her on the cheek, tells her he loves her. Then he loads the dishwasher and takes out the trash before heading to his car. She watches him reluctantly leaving, knowing that he wishes he could stay, that things were different.

When Paige hears the sound of Grant’s motor fade as he turns out of the front gate, she imagines herself calling him on his cell and telling him to come back and pick her up, that she’ll come to Moretti’s with him and do all the scheduling and books, that she’ll learn to play the piano just so she can make him happy. And, after all the patrons leave for the night, they’ll share bottles of Chianti on checkered tablecloths in a dimly lit back booth. They’ll eat linguini and clams and have a Lady and the Tramp moment, and they will be happy again.

Paige does not do this. She goes into the living room and closes the drapes Grant opened, blocking out the sunlight, then she crawls under a bunched-up duvet on the couch that smells like sour milk, and she begs for sleep.

 

Excerpted from On A Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass, Copyright © 2022 by Seraphina Nova Glass. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

ON A QUIET STREET

Author: Seraphina Nova Glass

ISBN: 9781525899751

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

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Social Links:

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Twitter: @SeraphinaNova

Facebook: Seraphina Nova Glass: Author

Goodreads



The Locked Room

The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths,

Book 14 – Ruth Galloway series

Expected US publication:  June 28, 2022 – Mariner Books

Uncorrected review copy courtesy of the publisher

My take:

I don’t usually jump into a series with book 14 but I felt reassured by a few GR reviewers of The Locked Room that it wouldn’t be a problem. And, overall, it wasn’t. At times there seemed to be a lot of characters making me wish I’d bothered to keep a notebook nearby. But I didn’t so there were times I would have to pause and think about who a person was and their relationship to the MCs. All to say, that’s on me. Next time I’ll know better.

I enjoyed getting to know Ruth, Nelson and the various supporting characters. Ruth is an archeologist and college professor. Nelson is head of the Serious Crime Unit and currently in the middle of investigating murders and/or suicides. Ruth and Nelson have a past and are parents of eleven year old Kate. Nelson’s current wife has been caught in lock down at her mother’s home so she’s a bit out of the picture.

On top of everything, Covid 19 causes the country to lock down making things challenging for everyone (as we all know).

I thought author Elly Griffiths did a great job of portraying the strange first days of lock down. Now that we’re more than two years down the road it’s very interesting to read how Ruth, Nelson and the others handled things. They did their best and managed to solve the crime and a separate mystery pertaining to Ruth. I enjoyed it all and, given how things left off for Nelson, I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!


Description:

Pandemic lockdowns have Ruth Galloway feeling isolated from everyone but a new neighbor—until Nelson comes calling, investigating a decades-long string of murder-suicides that’s looming ever closer.

Three years after her late mother’s death, Ruth is finally sorting through her things when she finds a curious relic: a decades-old photograph of Jean’s Norfolk cottage with a peculiar inscription. Ruth returns to the cottage to uncover its meaning as Norfolk’s first cases of COVID-19 make headlines, leaving her and Kate to shelter in place there. They struggle to stave off isolation by clapping for frontline workers each evening and befriending a kind neighbor, Zoe, from a distance. But when Nelson breaks quarantine to rush to Ruth’s cottage and enlist her help in investigating a series of murder-suicides he has connected to an archeological discovery, he finds Zoe is hardly who she says she is. The further Nelson investigates these deaths, the closer they lead him to Ruth’s friendly neighbor—until Ruth, Zoe, and Kate all go missing, and Nelson is left scrambling to find them before it’s too late. (publisher)


 

Blog Tour: The Mad Girls of New York

The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale

Published:  April 26, 2022 – Berkley

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In 1887 New York City, Nellie Bly has ambitions beyond writing for the ladies pages, but all the editors on Newspaper Row think women are too emotional, respectable and delicate to do the job. But then the New York World challenges her to an assignment she’d be mad to accept and mad to refuse: go undercover as a patient at Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for Women.

For months, rumors have been swirling about deplorable conditions at Blackwell’s, but no reporter can get in—that is, until Nellie feigns insanity, gets committed and attempts to survive ten days in the madhouse. Inside, she discovers horrors beyond comprehension. It’s an investigation that could make her career—if she can get out to tell it before two rival reporters scoop her story.

From USA Today bestselling author Maya Rodale comes a rollicking historical adventure series about the outrageous intrigues and bold flirtations of the most famous female reporter—and a groundbreaking rebel—of New York City’s Gilded Age. (publisher)

My take:

For readers new to this era of historical fiction (1880s) The Mad Girls of New York is a good introduction. Author Maya Rodale shows the challenges faced by women who wanted to work in the newspaper world, the social challenges of marginalized groups, and the plight of women who just wanted to survive their circumstances in New York City.

Nellie, our heroine, was daring, plucky and smart. She had to fight the perception that women were not good reporters. Her willingness to put her life on the line for her job and infiltrate an insane asylum was astonishing. She was easy to cheer on and I look forward to seeing what the next book in the Nellie Bly series will bring.


About the author:

Maya Rodale is the best-selling and award-winning author of funny, feminist fiction including historical romance, YA and historical fiction. A champion of the romance genre and its readers, she is also the author of Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. Maya reviews romance for NPR and has appeared in Bustle, Glamour, Shondaland, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and PBS. She began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and has never been allowed to forget it.

Sign up for her newsletter at www.mayarodale.com/newsletter


 

Sunday at the Sunflower Inn

Sunday at the Sunflower Inn by Jodi Thomas

Published:  April 26, 2022 – Zebra Books/Kensington

Review galley from the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Jessica Ann McKenzie—“Jam” to everyone in Honey Creek—has fulfilled her dream of owning the best restaurant for miles around. Serving candlelit dinners to every couple in town on Valentine’s Day is a reminder of another dream, one she’s just about given up on. Until, that very night, Sergeant Tucson Smith clambers out of the muddy river and onto her land, bringing the promise of something they’ve both been searching for.
 
When McCoy Mason crashes on Interstate 45, he doesn’t just bust up his Mustang, his leg, and his relationship. He also loses his prospects of a job and apartment in Houston. Honey Creek, home to his estranged grandfather, offers a temporary respite, a place to recover before moving on again. After all, what permanent use could a town so picture-perfect have for a man like him?
 
At sixty-seven, Charles H. Winston III lives by order and routine. One of his most cherished rituals is a regular lunch date with three lovely ladies at the Honey Creek Café, including the very proper Miss Lilly Lambert. But it’s not too late to surprise the whole town—or himself—by seizing a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. And there’s no better season than spring, when the warm breeze blowing in from the Brazos River brings fresh hope and second chances to those who need them most . . . (publisher)

My take:

With her new novel, Sunday at the Sunflower Inn, Jodi Thomas proves why she is on my favorite  authors list. This is book four in the series but easily stands alone. That said, if you love a good comfort read I highly recommend any of her books.

As usual, Jodi Thomas writes relatable (on one level or another) characters and situations. I won’t rehash the synopsis included above. I enjoy that she always includes characters of different generations in a way that isn’t caricature. In this book there is young love between a teen couple, love in the 30s for a few people, and love at last for a couple who thought it might have passed them by.

Told with the warmth and humor I’ve come to expect this was a book with characters I wasn’t ready to leave by the last page. Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas and contemporary women’s romantic fiction.


 

Spotlight/Review: How to Keep House While Drowning

How to Keep House While Drowning by K.C. Davis, LPC

Expected publication date: April 26, 2022 – Simon Element

Book courtesy of the publisher

My take:
I have a sister who seems to love to clean her house. I, on the other hand, do not. I’m more an as-needed cleaner. There are times I wish I was more like my sis but I’ve managed to live this long being her almost polar opposite (where cleaning is concerned).
So, I was intrigued when the publicist reached out about K.C. Davis’s book. Davis writes with compassion as she describes her reasons for sharing her thoughts and philosophy of keeping house, how she and her husband divide or share tasks, and ultimately she conveys the message of treating yourself with kindness. I found a lot of her tips to be common sense but many people (not raised by my wonderful mother who loved to have a tidy home) will find kernels of wisdom and encouragement. 😊
*
About the book:

This revolutionary approach to cleaning and organizing helps free you from feeling ashamed or overwhelmed by a messy home.

If you’re struggling to stay on top of your to-do list, you probably have a good reason: anxiety, fatigue, depression, ADHD, or lack of support. For therapist KC Davis, the birth of her second child triggered a stress-mess cycle. The more behind she felt, the less motivated she was to start. She didn’t fold a single piece of laundry for seven months. One life-changing realization restored her sanity—and the functionality of her home: You don’t work for your home; your home works for you.

In other words, messiness is not a moral failing. A new sense of calm washed over her as she let go of the shame-based messaging that interpreted a pile of dirty laundry as “I can never keep up” and a chaotic kitchen as “I’m a bad mother.” Instead, she looked at unwashed clothes and thought, “I am alive,” and at stacks of dishes and thought, “I cooked my family dinner three nights in a row.”

Building on this foundation of self-compassion, KC devised the powerful practical approach that has exploded in popularity through her TikTok account, @domesticblisters. The secret is to simplify your to-do list and to find creative workarounds that accommodate your limited time and energy. In this book, you’ll learn exactly how to customize your cleaning strategy and rebuild your relationship with your home, including:

-How to see chores as kindnesses to your future self, not as a reflection of your worth
-How to start by setting priorities
-How to stagger tasks so you won’t procrastinate
-How to clean in quick bursts within your existing daily routine
-How to use creative shortcuts to transform a room from messy to functional

With KC’s help, your home will feel like a sanctuary again. It will become a place to rest, even when things aren’t finished. You will move with ease, and peace and calm will edge out guilt, self-criticism, and endless checklists. They have no place here. (publisher)

Photograph by Julie Soefer

KC Davis is a licensed professional therapist, author, and speaker. She is the creator of the mental health platform Struggle Care, where she shares a revolutionary approach to self and home care for those dealing with mental health, physical illness, and hard seasons of life. KC began her mental health journey at sixteen, when she entered treatment for drug addiction and mental health issues. After getting sober, she became a speaker and advocate for mental health and recovery. She lives in Houston with her husband and two daughters.


 

The Patron Saint of Second Chances

The Patron Saint of Second Chances by Christine Simon

Published:  April 12, 2022 – Atria Books

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Vacuum repairman and self-appointed mayor of Prometto, Italy (population 212) Signor Speranza has a problem: unless he can come up with 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, the water commission will shut off the water to the village and all its residents will be forced to disperse. So in a bid to boost tourism—and revenue—he spreads a harmless rumor that movie star Dante Rinaldi will be filming his next project nearby.

Unfortunately, the plan works a little too well, and soon everyone in town wants to be a part of the fictional film—the village butcher will throw in some money if Speranza can find roles for his fifteen enormous sons, Speranza’s wistfully adrift daughter reveals an unexpected interest in stage makeup, and his hapless assistant Smilzo volunteers a screenplay that’s not so secretly based on his undying love for the film’s leading lady. To his surprise—and considerable consternation, Speranza realizes that the only way to keep up the ruse is to make the movie for real.

As the entire town becomes involved (even the village priest invests!) Signor Speranza starts to think he might be able to pull this off. But what happens when Dante Rinaldi doesn’t show up? Or worse, what if he does? (publisher)

My take:

This book is so different from what I usually read (women’s fiction, suspense, romance) but it was the right book at the right time. Christine Simon’s story has quirky characters, some more larger-than-life than others, a beleaguered everyman protagonist in Speranza, and an almost hopeless cause that could either break his tiny town or make it stronger than ever. The author had me often laughing with the madcap happenings as the story played out. The pace was good and I was happy with how she wrapped things up.

3.5 stars rounded up


About the author:

Christine Simon grew up in a very large and very loud Italian family and now lives with her husband and four children. The Patron Saint of Second Chances is her first novel.


 

Love & Saffron

Love & Saffron by Kim Fay

Published:  February 8, 2022 – Putnam

Book courtesy of the publisher

My take:

Calling all fans of “food fiction” and epistolary novels! I definitely fit into those categories. When a young woman writes a fan letter to a columnist for a monthly ‘home & life’ magazine it is the beginning of a lovely friendship.

Joan is a new food writer living in Los Angeles and Imogen is a 60-ish writer living with her husband on an island off the coast of Seattle. They share parts of their lives, the food they love, and hopes and dreams. The food descriptions had me drooling and I loved that a few recipes were included.

A few notable events of the early 1960s are worked into the story and give a bit of heft to the setting. I appreciated that. What I loved most, though, was the friendship between two women from different generations. Just a lovely novel that I will recommend to friends this spring.


Description:

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter–as well as a gift of saffron–to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic–exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.
 
Food and a good life—they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship—a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.
 
A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating. (publisher)


About the author:

Born in Seattle and raised throughout the Pacific Northwest, Kim Fay lived in Vietnam for four years and still travels to Southeast Asia frequently. A former bookseller, she is the author of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, winner of the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States, and The Map of Lost Memories, an Edgar Award finalist for Best First Novel. She is also the creator/editor of a series of guidebooks on Southeast Asia. Fay now lives in Los Angeles.


 

Mini Review: Her Last Affair

Her Last Affair by John Searles

Published:  March 22, 2022 – Mariner Books

ARC courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Every marriage has its secrets….

Skyla lives alone in the shadow of the defunct drive-in movie theater that she and her husband ran for nearly fifty years. Ever since Hollis’s death in a freak accident the year before, Skyla spends her nights ruminating about the regrets and deceptions in her long marriage. That is, until she rents a cottage on the property to a charming British man, Teddy Cornwell….

A thousand miles away, Linelle is about to turn fifty. Bored by her spouse and fired from her job when a questionable photo from her youth surfaces on social media, her only source of joy is an on-line affair with her very first love, a man she’s not seen in nearly thirty years, Teddy Cornwell…

While in New York City, Jeremy, a failed and bitter writer, accepts an assignment to review a new restaurant in Providence. Years ago, Providence was the site of his first great love and first great heartbreak—and maybe, just maybe, he’ll look her up when he’s back in town…

Part page-turning thriller, part homage to film noir, and dazzling in its insight into the often desperate desires of the human heart, Her Last Affair is a tense and atmospheric novel of love lost and found again. (Publisher)

My mini-take:

Please read the publisher’s description above.

Her Last Affair is my first book to read by John Searles. This was a bit grittier in tone than my usual reads. I thought the plot was convoluted at times but still it held my interest – which is why I’ll read more from the author.

This book is about what happens when one revisits the past. Can you go back and be the person you were? For some it could be worth the effort, for others not so much. An interesting read that kept me turning the pages.


 

The Best is Yet to Come

The Best is Yet to Come by Debbie Macomber

Expected publication:  July 12, 2022 – Ballantine

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A new beginning in charming Oceanside, Washington, is exactly what Hope Godwin needs after the death of her twin brother. There are plenty of distractions, like her cozy cottage with the slightly nosy landlords next door, and a brewing drama among her students at the local high school.

Despite having settled quickly into the community, something is still missing for Hope. That is, until her landlord convinces her to volunteer at his animal shelter. There she meets Shadow, a rescue dog that everyone has given up on. But true to her name, Hope believes he’s worth saving.

Like Shadow, shelter volunteer Cade Lincoln Jr., is suffering with injuries most can’t see. A wounded ex-marine, Cade identifies with Shadow, assuming they are both beyond help. Hope senses that what they each need is someone to believe in them, and she has a lot of love to give. As she gains Shadow’s trust, Hope notices Cade begins to open up as well. Finding the courage to be vulnerable again, Cade and Hope take steps toward a relationship, and Hope finally begins to feel at peace in her new home.

But Hope’s new happiness is put to the test when Cade’s past conflicts resurface, and Hope becomes embroiled in the escalating situation at the high school. Love and compassion are supposed to heal all wounds. But are they enough to help Hope and Cade overcome the pain of their past and the obstacles in the way of a better future? (publisher)

My take:

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Debbie Macomber book. The Best Is Yet To Come is a heartwarming novel about people in need of fresh starts.

Cade is a vet who is trying to make sense of his life since returning to the States. Hope is a high school teacher beginning a new job in a new town. They meet as volunteers at the local animal shelter and slowly become friends. Also, part of the story involves events at the high school which adds a bit of drama and a “young love” aspect to the novel.

I enjoyed it all and can recommend to fans of Women’s Fiction, light romance, and the author.