Kristan Higgins – Backseat Book Club chat today

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Terry from Romance In The Backseat sent a reminder for an author chat event TODAY (May 28):

Hey all!
Live chat with Kristan Higgins at Romance in the Backseat’s Backseat Book Club!
Do I like long names for things or what? 4-8 pm EST or post questions ahead of time on the forum.
Thanks for the support and I look forward to meeting you,
Terry Kate

I reviewed Too Good To Be True here. Although I can’t be at the Book Club for most of the time, I’ll try to get there before it ends. It should be fun! Hope to see you there.

Giveaway: To Beguile A Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt


CAN A WOUNDED BEAST . . . Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he’s kept suppressed for years begin to awaken. TRUST A BEAUTY WITH A PAST . . . Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won’t let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away. TO TAME HIS MOST SECRET DESIRES? Beneath Helen’s beautiful façade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn’t back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen’s secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find-a happy ever after. Listen to the Podcast Interview.

Giveaway: 5 copies of To Beguile A Beast (thank you, Hachette Book Group)

– To enter you must include your email in the comment (no email, no entry)

Only residents of the U.S. or Canada are eligible to win

– No P.O. Boxes
– Contest ends Wednesday June 3, 10pm edt. Winners announced June 4.

Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani

Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani: Book Cover

From the back of the book: Meet three women who are as different as could be – at least that’s what they think – and the men who’ve turned their lives upside down as their paths collide in sizzling, sexy Miami.

Cutting Loose is the story of three women who are trying to make it in a modern world while living up to family and cultural expectations. Ranya finds out her new husband has a secret that changes everything she thought their future held; Zahra is in love with her boss who is only interested in her as an employee and friend; and Rio loves a man who will never commit to her. I found the book entertaining and would recommend including it in your summer reading. Yes, it wraps up neatly – but I wouldn’t want it any other way!
My thanks to author Nadine Dajani for the review copy.
Author’s website:
I received an extra copy so I’m offering both copies in a giveaway.

1. Open to US and Canada only
2. Comment and you must include your email
3. Contest ends Friday, May 29 (10pm, edt)

Giveaway Winners

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

Winners of a copy of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming:


Yes, there are three winners because the UPS man delivered yet another copy of the book yesterday! I wasn’t expecting it but I’m delighted to pick three winners instead of two. So, email your address info to me (check my profile for my email) and I’ll get the books out asap.

May Flowers – Original Short Story

To get the summer reading season off to a good start check out Romance in the Backseat – a great blog that highlights romance authors and their books (plus some fun backseat author interview videos).

Terry from RITB writes:

I am so excited to start posting Romance in the Backseats Original Short Stories. Kristan Higgins leads off this month’s story “May Flowers”. When I got the first entry it blew me away from there it passed to fabulous authors like Megan Crane, Cat Johnson, Allie Boniface, Toni Andrews, and more then circles back in a round robin to the awesome Kristan Higgins and so on and so on. I get to read the new pages as they come in and the story never goes the way I would have guessed and is better then I ever dreamed. I look forward to hearing what readers think.

You can find May Flowers at this link. I know I’ll be visiting daily!

A quick giveaway – The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

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My thoughts on the book are here.


“A ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one. Jackson’s latest is a wild, smartly calibrated achievement. A-.” – Entertainment Weekly

“…spellbinding southern-gothic tale….” – Family Circle

I received a copy for review and then another copy arrived from the publisher. So I have two copies to give away.

To enter:
1. leave a comment with your email.

Giveaway specifics:
I’ll announce winners on Friday morning, May 22.
Giveaway open to US and Canada only. No. P.O. boxes.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the books

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg: Book Cover
Random House synopsis: In this new novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Helen Ames–recently widowed, coping with loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her–is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in her life, offering unsolicited and unwelcome advice. Helen’s problems are compounded by her shocking discovery that her mild-mannered and loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. The Ameses had painstakingly saved for a happy retirement, but that money disappeared in several large withdrawals made by Helen’s husband before he died. In order to support herself and garner a measure of much needed independence, Helen takes an unusual job that ends up offering far more than she had anticipated. And then a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery that causes both mother and daughter to reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.

Helen isn’t handling life very well after her husband’s death. It’s a good thing she has her best friend, Midge as well as her mother to set her straight from time to time. While Helen is learning to be the person who pays bills, hires repairmen, and generally take care of everything, she’s also managing to interfere in her adult daughter’s life. At one point Helen’s mom says “I think you need to let Tessa grow up. You need to let up on her. I’ve been meaning to say that for a long time. And as long as I’m being honest, I think you need to stand on your own feet a little better than you do. You’re capable of more than you know. Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve had a habit of hanging back and letting others do for you what you should do for yourself.” Helen decides to accept a job teaching a writing class to a group of people at the library. Each person has a story to tell and Helen guides them in writing. I think Berg could write a book just about this group. It was a wonderful part of Home Safe.

Helen has decisions to make, both large and small. She learns to stand on her feet and gathers confidence along the way. I enjoyed seeing the small changes that start to add up in Helen’s life. This is a book about hope and having the courage to move forward when one’s definition of normal changes.

Home Safe would be a good book club selection.

Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs

Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs: Book Cover

Back of the book: Sarah Moon tackles life’s issues with a sharp wit in her syndicated comic strip, Just Breathe. With both Sarah and her cartoon heroine undergoing fertility treatments, her fiction often reflects her reality. However, she hadn’t scripted her husband’s infidelity.

In the wake of her shattered marriage, Sarah flees to the coastal town in California where she grew up. There, she revisits her troubling past: an emotionally distant father, the loss of her mother and an unexpected connection with Will Bonner, the high school heartthrob skewered mercilessly in her comics. But he’s been through some changes himself. And just as her heart is about to reawaken, Sarah makes a most startling discovery. She’s pregnant. With her ex’s twins.

The winds of change have led Sarah to this surprising new beginning. All she can do is just close her eyes…and breathe.

I’m a fan of Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles so when I saw that her stand alone novel Just Breathe was released recently in paperback I knew I had to read it. I enjoyed reading about Sarah – how she was able to leave a bad situation and move forward. Sometimes moving forward means going back to the beginning. Sarah moves back to the area where she was raised and the story takes off from there. I really liked Will and his daughter as well as several other characters. I’d love to read a sequel … or the second book in a new series? Just a thought.

Waiting on Wednesday – May 13

Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay: Book Cover

Good Things I Wish You

A Novel

By A. Manette Ansay

Price: $25.99
On Sale: 6/30/2009

The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill returns with a story of two unlikely romances—one historical, the other modern-day—separated by thousands of miles and well over a century.

Battling feelings of loss and apathy in the wake of a painful divorce, novelist Jeanette struggles to complete a book about the long-term relationship between Clara Schumann, a celebrated pianist and the wife of the composer Robert Schumann, and her husband’s protégé, the handsome young composer Johannes Brahms. Although this legendary love triangle has been studied exhaustively, Jeanette—herself a gifted pianist—wonders about the enduring nature of Clara and Johannes’s lifelong attachment. Were they just “best friends,” as both steadfastly claimed? Or was the relationship complicated by desires that may or may not have been consummated?

Through a chance encounter, Jeanette meets Hart, a mysterious, worldly entrepreneur who is a native of Clara’s birthplace, Leipzig, Germany. Hart’s casual help with translations quickly blossoms into something more. There are things about men and women, he insists, that do not change. The two embark on a whirlwind emotional journey that leads Jeanette across Germany and Switzerland to a crossroads similar to that faced by Clara Schumann—also a mother, also an artist—more than a century earlier.

Accompanied by photographs, sketches, and notes from past and present, A. Manette Ansay’s original blend of fiction and history captures the timeless nature of love and friendship between women and men.

To read more WoW posts, visit Breaking the Spine

April & Oliver by Tess Callahan

April and Oliver by Tess Callahan: Book Cover

Back of the book: April and Oliver have been soul mates since childhood, and the attraction between them has always been palpable. Now, years after being completely inseparable, they have become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives are about to collide once again with the sudden death of April’s brother.

Sexual tension builds as Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student, finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April—and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to “save” his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend, and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own—secrets he hasn’t shared with anyone, even his fiancée.

Yet April knows. Is it really her life that’s unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral . . . toward a surprising revelation.

Tess Callahan’s debut novel is dark and churning – much like the book cover. April & Oliver pulled me in little by little until I couldn’t put the book down. I found my jaw clenched in the tense mood until I noticed it relaxing near the end of the book. I realize it doesn’t sound like I enjoyed the reading experience. Not true. Callahan’s prose carried me along. Her writing is smooth and the pace kept me turning the pages, not wanting to stop. I could cite a few instances where I found myself smiling. One was when April and Oliver are discussing some people they know and what style or individual work of music they would be. I loved that.

Yes, this book has some troubling scenes but they are not gratuitous. Rather, they add layers to the characters. They are who they are because of decisions they make or decisions concerning them made by others long ago. I know this book will stay with me for a while. And that’s my sign of a good book.

To read more about the author, visit
I found the Q&A interesting.

ARC from Grand Central Publishing

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton: Book Cover

Back of the book: sometimes what happens in Vegas … follows you home. Peggy Adams is upset when she wakes up next to a strange man after a Vegas night she can’t remember … but she’s horrified when she discovers that she married him! Luke Sedgwick is WASP royalty, the last of the New Nineveh, Connecticut, Sedgwicks. He might also be perfect, if Peggy weren’t already “pre-engaged” to her live-in boyfriend of seven years (she even has a “promise ring” to prove it). Peggy and Luke agree to get an annulment ASAP – and then receive an offer they can’t refuse …

Luke’s eccentric great-aunt Abigail offers the two the chance to make millions on the family estate: All they have to do is stay married for a year. Peggy is soon pretending to be one-half of the perfect couple among New England’s WASPy set on the weekends, while keeping her marriage a secret during the week. But she isn’t prepared for what might be her worst mistake of all – falling in love with her soon-to-be ex-husband.

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP was a fun novel. I enjoyed Ms. Lipton’s smooth writing and unpretentious style. Her characterizations of Luke, Peggy and Aunt Abby are wonderful. Take this book to the shore – it would be a great vacation read.
Review copy from Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay: Book Cover

From the back of the book: Four months after her husband’s death, Janie LaMarche remains undone by grief and anger. Her mourning is disrupted, however, by the unexpected arrival of a builder with a contract to add a porch onto her house. Stunned, Janie realizes the porch was meant to be a surprise from her husband—now his last gift to her.

As she reluctantly allows construction to begin, Janie clings to the familiar outposts of her sorrow—mothering her two small children with fierce protectiveness, avoiding friends and family, and stewing in a rage she can’t release. Yet Janie’s self-imposed isolation is breached by a cast of unlikely interventionists: her chattering, ipecac-toting aunt; her bossy, over-manicured neighbor; her muffin-bearing cousin; and even Tug, the contractor with a private grief all his own.
As the porch takes shape, Janie discovers that the unknowable terrain of the future is best navigated with the help of others—even those we least expect to call on, much less learn to love.

* * * * * *

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay is about grief. Not just the grief of a young widow but also grief caused by other loss – trust, innocence, hope, to name a few.

Janie LaMarche is barely coping after the tragic death of her husband when construction begins on a porch he’d contracted without her knowledge. Her never-married aunt is trying to convince her to take a self-defense course because she needs to be able to protect herself and her children. And while she’s at it, Janie may as well help her aunt at the soup kitchen. These are just a few of the ways Janie is forced to move forward with and through her grief.

Fay’s writing is so natural and her portrayal of the emotions of loss, true. I enjoyed the secondary characters. The bits of information I learned about them drew my own comparisons to people in my life. At first glance it may seem that the book bites off more than it can chew – so many people with their own issues (Janie’s brother, her mother, her parish priest, her son’s best friend’s mom, I could go on) but I think it all distills down to this: everyone deals with their own grief, in their own way and yet most try to move forward and most have people who love them, depend on them and need them to not give up – people who will also help to give shelter on the journey.

I recommend Shelter Me to everyone. I borrowed it from the library but will be buying a copy for my “keeper” shelf.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

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BN synopsis: Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty. Coming from a family with a literal skeleton in their closet, she’s developed this talent all her life, whether helping her willful mother to smooth over the reality of her family’s ugly past, or elevating humble scraps of unwanted fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts.

Her sister Thalia, an impoverished “Actress” with a capital A, is her opposite, and prides herself in exposing the lurid truth lurking behind life’s everyday niceties. And while Laurel’s life was neatly on track, a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in lovely suburban Victorianna, everything she holds dear is thrown into question the night she is visited by an apparition in her bedroom. The ghost appears to be her 14-year-old neighbor Molly Dufresne, and when Laurel follows this ghost , she finds the real Molly floating lifeless in her swimming pool. While the community writes the tragedy off as a suicide, Laurel can’t. Reluctantly enlisting Thalia’s aid, Laurel sets out on a life-altering investigation that triggers startling revelations about her own guarded past, the truth about her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

Holy cow(slip), what a story! Ok, that’s a lame joke that you’ll get if you read the book. With The Girl Who Stopped Swimming Joshilyn Jackson shows why she’s one of the most imaginative writers out there today.

I’m not a mystery lover per se, but give me atmosphere and some teetering-on-the-brink-of-crazy characters, I’ll just have to find out “whodunit”. It was a page-turner, to be sure. The second half of the book had me riveted to my chair and didn’t release me until I finished reading the last page. I know I’ll be thinking about it for quite some time and I look forward to Jackson’s next book (soon, please). If she’s a new author to you, in addition to this book, I recommend Gods In Alabama.

The trade paperback publish date is May 26, 2009

Thanks to Valerie Russo and Hachette Book Group for sending the book for review.