Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

  • letters to the lost (may'15)Title:  Letters to the Lost: A novel
  • Author:  Iona Grey
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance
  • Published:  May 2015 – Thomas Dunne Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.  

In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five. The odds are stacked against the pair; the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in a powerfully moving novel perfect for fans of Sarah Jio and Kate Morton.  (publisher)

My take:   I loved the WWII and 2011 dual storylines and how they converged to solve a mystery in Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey.

The principal characters of Dan and Stella and Jess and Will were well-drawn and completely engaging. I found their stories compelling and looked forward to getting back to the book each time I had to stop reading. I credit Grey’s writing and her obvious gift for telling a good story! She impressed on the reader the emotions of those fighting in the war and those at home.

Stella and Jess shared similarities. Stella married the man she worked for naively thinking he truly loved her. Jess stayed too long in an abusive relationship before running away. The difference is that Jess had choices and Stella did not. That difference is what affected the rest of Stella’s life.

If you enjoy historical fiction with a good dose of romance you’re in for a treat with Iona Grey’s novel Letters to the Lost. I know I’ll be thinking about this book for a while. Recommended.

The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

  • the bourbon kings (7:28)Title:  The Bourbon Kings
  • Series:  The Bourbon Kings #1
  • Author:  J.R. Ward
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2015 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive. (publisher)

My take:  Reminiscent of the nighttime soaps of the 70s and 80s, Dallas and Falcon Crest, The Bourbon Kings is the story of the Bradford (Baldwine) family who make bourbon. They are filthy rich and have the problems associated with the filthy rich.

The  family is made up of a hateful patriarch, a mother who never comes out of her bedroom, a physically and psychologically wounded oldest son, a middle son who disappeared by choice, a younger son who having returned home feels the need to be responsible, and a daughter, the youngest child, who faces an impossible situation. The supporting characters are colorful and add layers to the story.

I won’t go into the plot more than sharing the publisher’s synopsis. If The Bourbon Kings sounds like your kind of entertainment I think you’ll enjoy it. I liked it and look forward to the second book in the series. If you’re heading to the beach for the Labor Day weekend this would be the perfect book to toss in the beach bag.


About the author:

J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 15 million novels in print published in 25 different countries around the world. A graduate of Smith College, she currently lives in Kentucky where she has learned to enjoy and appreciate all things Southern. Prior to becoming an expat Yankee, she worked as a lawyer in Boston and spent many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard’s world-renowned academic medical centers.

This summer Ward introduces a new contemporary series set in her adopted home state of Kentucky with the novel The Bourbon Kings. The series will follow the intertwined and scandalous fortunes of several ultra wealthy Kentucky families who have made their fortunes from bourbon.

J.R. Ward lives with her husband, daughter and their beloved golden retriever, as well as many other dogs, in Kentucky. Visit her popular website and fan community at www.jrward.com and Facebook.com/JRWardBooks.


 

 

All The Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank

  • all the single ladiesTitle:  All the Single Ladies: A novel
  • Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  June 2015 – William Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  The perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with an emotionally resonant novel that illuminates the power of friendship in women’s lives, and is filled with her trademark wit, poignant and timely themes, sassy, flesh-and-blood characters, and the steamy Southern atmosphere and beauty of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry.

Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.

Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?

A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love.  (publisher)

My take:  I love how Dorothea Benton Frank tells a story. I’ve read a handful of her books and am so happy there are so many more to read. She makes me laugh as well as sympathize with her characters’ dilemmas.

The ladies of ALL THE SINGLE LADIES are of a certain age (40s and 50s) and seem to be happy (or maybe resigned to) where life has taken them. At any rate, they’re used to being single and fending for themselves. When the friend who brought them all together dies and leaves her estate to one of the women they are faced with a mystery. As they try to figure things out life brings new people into their lives. The supporting characters are, for the most part, completely charming. They add to the warmth, tension, and emotion of the novel.

The ladies find that true friends will get you through just about anything life throws at you. And a sense of humor and an open heart make the road easier.

I loved the novel and look forward to the author’s next book. I also listened (used an audible credit so I could listen when I walked). The narration by Robin Miles was so enjoyable. Her performance enhanced the book for me.

#FitReaders Weekly Check-in

FitReaders2015

#FitReaders is hosted by  Geeky Bloggers Book Blog  and That’s What I’m Talking About.

I went to the Wisconsin State Fair last Saturday with my two daughters, their husbands and one grandchild. We had a fun time and I got lots of steps but I was exhausted by the end of the day!

IMG_4569

One of the crowded streets at the Fair

Fitbit steps:

  • Fri:    12756
  • Sat:    15505
  • Sun:    3685
  • Mon:  12211
  • Tue:   10389
  • Wed:  11670
  • Thu:     6811

Read on the treadmill:

the bourbon kings (7:28)   Nantucket (8:25)

Pretty Much Screwed by Jenna McCarthy

  • pretty much screwed (7:7)Title:  Pretty Much Screwed:  A Novel
  • Author:  Jenna McCarthy
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2015 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Charlotte Crawford’s husband of twenty years took her out for a nice dinner and told her he wanted a divorce. If that wasn’t bad enough he also told her there was no one else – he just didn’t want to be married to her anymore.

Charlotte’s best friend went through a divorce a year earlier so she knew how hard it would be. When the legal issues were finalized Charlotte had to start living again. She found that being single and dating was a different game than twenty years ago. Jenna McCarthy had me laughing as I read about Charlotte navigating 21st century dating via social media, texting, etc. She really met some winners.

While I liked a lot of this novel I had difficulty believing some of the decisions Charlotte made. That said, I really liked Charlotte’s best friend Lizzy as well as a certain chef named Jesse. I thought the novel wrapped up a bit too neatly but that aspect, along with McCarthy’s gift for telling an entertaining story, made Pretty Much Screwed a perfect beach read.