500 Miles From You

500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

Published:  June 2020 – Harper Audio

Borrowed from my library via Libby App

Description:  

Lissa, is a nurse in a gritty, hectic London neighborhood. Always terribly competent and good at keeping it all together, she’s been suffering quietly with PTSD after helping to save the victim of a shocking crime. Her supervisor quietly arranges for Lissa to spend a few months doing a much less demanding job in the little town of Kirrinfeif in the Scottish Highlands, hoping that the change of scenery will help her heal. Lissa will be swapping places with Cormack, an Army veteran who’s Kirrinfeif’s easygoing nurse/paramedic/all-purpose medical man. Lissa’s never experienced small-town life, and Cormack’s never spent more than a day in a big city, but it seems like a swap that would do them both some good.

In London, the gentle Cormack is a fish out of the water; in Kirrinfief, the dynamic Lissa finds it hard to adjust to the quiet. But these two strangers are now in constant contact, taking over each other’s patients, endlessly emailing about anything and everything. Lissa and Cormack discover a new depth of feeling…for their profession and for each other.

But what will happen when Lissa and Cormack finally meet…?  (publisher)

My take:  Two nurses, he’s from Scotland and she’s from London, change places and jobs for three months. She’s never lived in a small town and he hasn’t spent much time in the big city. Themes of loss and PTSD figure strongly in the novel. Jenny Colgan’s characters are warm, sympathetic and believable. I wanted to keep reading about Cormac and Lissa. This is the third in a series but can stand alone.  Recommended, especially on audio.


 

Forget About Me

Forget About Me by Karen Grey

Narrated by:  Emma Wilder and Brian Pallino

Published:  November 2020 – Home Cooked Books

Review audio courtesy of Karen Grey

Description:

Ben Porter may be living the dream, but it’s not his.

His dad’s health scare might not be the ideal reason to come home for the summer, but it’s a welcome break from the stellar glitz of Ben’s life in Los Angeles. Even if modeling has him rivaling Marky Mark’s fame, posing isn’t his passion. Landing a role with a Boston Shakespeare theater brings him closer to fulfilling his dreams of being a real actor.

Facing the reason he went west in the first place? That’s another story.

Lucy Minola’s dreams were shattered seven years ago when a drunk driver smashed into her brother’s car. She knows it was her fault. So as penance, she works hard to care for her family, goes to confession faithfully, and buries all the feelings she had for the person who left when she needed him most: her brother’s best friend.

When an injured dog brings them back together, Lucy’s good-girl façade begins to crack. Women everywhere are obsessed with the rad bod they see in magazines, but she’s the only one Ben seems to notice.

She can’t trust herself with the man who walked away…but can she let him go a second time?

This bittersweet romance, book 2 in Karen Grey’s 1980s Boston Classics series, proves that everyone deserves a second chance in love and in life. (publisher)

My take:  I enjoyed the first book in The Boston Classics series, What I’m Looking For, so I happily signed on for the second book. This is the wistful story of Lucy and Ben. Tragedy cut their relationship short but 8 years later they are back in the same neighborhood they grew up in. A second chance? Perhaps but they’ll need to work through the reasons they went their separate ways years ago. Karen Grey titled each chapter with an ’80s tune and, like the first book, worked Shakespeare and an adorable dog into the plot. Fans of the 1980s and contemporary romance are sure to enjoy this novel!

I loved the audiobook narrators. Emma Wilder and Brian Pallino were perfectly cast and kept me listening to “one more chapter” each time I listened. I was sorry to learn that Brian Pallino passed away after completing work on this project. His voice will be missed.

About the author:

Karen Grey is the pen name for award-winning narrator Karen White. A stage, screen and radio drama actor in Boston, New York and Los Angeles in the late 20th century, she started recording books in 1999. Now back in her home state of North Carolina, she shares a home with her family and probably too many pets, where she continues to narrate audiobooks as well as make up stories. Her first novel What I’m Looking For released in June 2020.


About the narrators:

Emma Wilder is a classically trained actor and narrator who has worked all over the world on everything from steamy romance novels to Shakespeare. When she isn’t behind a mic, she can be found rescuing and training animals, sipping fine bourbon, and watching home renovation shows.

Brian Pallino is a highly sought-after narrator of contemporary adult and romance books. He has voiced series for multiple award-winning authors, including Lauren Blakely, CD Reiss, and Meredith Wild.  He lives in NYC and is an unabashed fan of both the Yankees AND the Mets.  Brian is also a musician, and particularly loves playing audiobook characters who are musicians themselves or have musical backgrounds.  With a versatile range, Brian is a storyteller who strives to bring books to life and move his listeners.

Sadly, Brian recently passed away. His prodigious musical talent, which included arranging, composing and performing jazz and classical music, co-existed with his skill as an award-winning and prolific audiobooks narrator and voice actor.

“Angelo was passionate, intense, obviously talented, fiercely loyal and loving, very faithful in Christ,” said his mother, Martha A. Di Loreto. “But Angelo lived with the illness of anxiety and depression, and in his final moments the disease took hold of him.”

His mother and his father, Domenic Di Loreto, stressed that their son “lived a full life until the disease overtook him,” with close relationships with his family and many friends.

https://buffalonews.com/obituaries/features/angelo-di-loreto-30-award-winning-pianist-composer-narrator-and-actor/article_328bd322-13ba-11eb-9343-0f4e58387126.html


 

 

 

 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Since the day Filomena Fontana cast a curse upon her sister more than two hundred years ago, not one second-born Fontana daughter has found lasting love. Some, like second-born Emilia, the happily-single baker at her grandfather’s Brooklyn deli, claim it’s an odd coincidence. Others, like her sexy, desperate-for-love cousin Lucy, insist it’s a true hex. But both are bewildered when their great-aunt calls with an astounding proposition: If they accompany her to her homeland of Italy, Aunt Poppy vows she’ll meet the love of her life on the steps of the Ravello Cathedral on her eightieth birthday, and break the Fontana Second-Daughter Curse once and for all.
 
Against the backdrop of wandering Venetian canals, rolling Tuscan fields, and enchanting Amalfi Coast villages, romance blooms, destinies are found, and family secrets are unearthed—secrets that could threaten the family far more than a centuries-old curse. (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of two young women, cousins, who find out what could be possible in their lives if they would take a chance. When their great-aunt Poppy invites them to visit Italy with her they almost immediately shut that idea down. She won’t take no for an answer though and soon they take off on a life-changing trip. I adored Aunt Poppy, hoped for the best for Emilia, and found a place in my heart for her polar-opposite cousin Lucy. This is the story of secrets born out of desperation and their far-reaching effect on so many people. I really enjoyed this novel and kept thinking it would make a great movie. I loved the Italian setting and endearing and larger-than-life characters brought to life by Lori Nelson Spielman. This is one of those books that had me shedding a few happy tears at the end. I love when that happens!


About the author:

Lori Nelson Spielman in the New York Times bestselling author of The Life List and Sweet Forgiveness. She is a former speech pathologist, guidance counselor, and homebound teacher. She enjoys fitness running, traveling, and reading, though writing is her true passion. She lives in Michigan with her husband.

lorinelsonspielman.com

twitter.com/lnelsonspielman


 

Wrapped Up In Christmas Joy

Wrapped Up In Christmas Joy by Janice Lynn

Narrated by Alexander Cendese and Rachel L. Jacobs

Published:  October 2020 – Dreamscape Media

Review audiobook courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When a quilt shop owner finds a former Marine’s journal, she longs to heal his heart…


When Sophie Davis sorts through a box of donated books to her church, she’s surprised to discover a soldier’s journal. As the daughter of a veteran who watched her father struggle over the years, she feels a deep connection to the man who wrote the emotional entries. Former Marine Cole Aaron battled to find peace after returning to civilian life. He’s always needed to protect others. Now, fighting fires in Pine Hill, Kentucky helps him put out the demons within him. When Sophie shows up at the fire hall with his journal from when he’d first returned stateside, Cole can’t believe it was in the box he’d donated. Not wanting to face painful memories, he tells her to trash it. Sophie and Cole are drawn together as they both volunteer for their community, but it’s hard for Cole to let down his guard, and he doesn’t need anyone’s pity. After all he’s been through in the past, can he find faith in a more hopeful future…one touched by joy?
This heartwarming romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Dilly Duchess Potatoes. (publisher)

My take:  Wrapped Up in Christmas Joy is a heartfelt Christmas romance about Cole, a veteran, and Sophie, a young woman with a heart of gold. He is a firefighter who also fights his war memories. When Sophie discovers (and then reads) his journal in a box of donated things at her church’s sale she decides to involve him in holiday related activities. He’s reluctant but has a hard time saying no to Sophie. Saying yes could make all the difference. This is a sweet story for the season that fans of Hallmark movies are sure to enjoy!

Narration:  I thought, overall, Rachel Jacobs and Alexander Cendese did a good job. However, there was one thing that struck me. When Jacobs voiced Sophie and Cole I was totally invested in the story. When Cendese did both I was distracted by Sophie’s voice. I’ve found I usually feel the same when any male narrator voices a female character. I guess it’s personal preference.


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

         

Last week on Bookfan:

   

Reading plan for this week:

Reading from my shelf to start the week.


 

Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas – Boone

Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas – Boone by Emily March

Expected publication:  December 29, 2020 – St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  With his smooth talk, rugged good looks, and deep pockets, native Texan Boone McBride appears to be a man who has it all. Few people know about the heartbreak behind his decision to leave home, family, and career for the isolation of a small town in the Colorado Rockies. Luckily, time and life in Eternity Springs has worked its healing magic upon his wounded soul, so when he meets obviously troubled Hannah Dupree, Boone sees a chance to pay his good fortune forward. The last thing he anticipates is tumbling into love.

Tragedy has taken everything Hannah loves, and her will to keep going is failing. So when Boone strides into her life determined to save her, it’s easier to go along with him than to resist. Soon she is drawn into the fabric of life in Eternity Springs, and as her spirit begins to heal, her strength returns, and she’s able to go toe-to-toe with this hardheaded, big-hearted Texan. But just when love blooms and happiness is within their grasp, shadows from the past threaten. Hannah and Boone must stand strong and united in order to defeat old ghosts—if they are to create a brand-new life together. (Publisher)

My take: Two people who’ve experienced unthinkable loss meet by chance. Boone and Hannah are at different points in their grief when they meet. They recognize a unique connection that turns quickly to attraction. I’m not a fan of ‘insta-love’  but as the novel progressed I got on board and enjoyed how their story developed. This is a story of loss, forgiveness and finding the courage to live and love. It was fun to see what was new in the lives of Boone’s cousins and friends and visit the town of Eternity Springs. Fans of Emily March’s McBrides of Texas trilogy will want to read this wrap to the series but for new readers, it can stand alone.


About the author:

EMILY MARCH is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

https://emilymarch.com


 

Excerpt: Rescue You

 

RESCUE YOU

Author: Elysia Whisler  

ISBN: 9780778310082

Publication Date: October 27, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books

One

Constance slammed on her brakes. Steam rose from the street as rain gurgled through the ditches. She killed the engine, stepped into the pattering droplets and scanned the shoulder of the road. Nothing there but the remains of a goose carcass. “Where are you, boy?” Constance gave a low whistle. 

It hadn’t been her imagination. The picked-over goose only made her more certain she’d seen a dog, weaving through the foggy afternoon air like a phantom. A lost dog, with his head bent against the rain as he loped along the muddy ditch. 

Constance whistled again. Silence, but for the sound of rain hitting the trees that lined the road. “Maybe I’m just tired.” She’d done a lot of massages today, which made her feel wrung out. Constance almost ducked back into the van, but halted. 

There he was: a white face with brown patches, peeking at her from behind a bush. “Hey, boy.” Constance squatted down, making herself smaller, less threatening. The dog watched, motionless. Constance drew a biscuit from her coat, briefly recalling the cashier’s amusement at the grocery store today when she’d emptied her pockets on the counter, searching for her keys. Five dog biscuits had been in the pile with her phone, a used tissue and the grocery list. 

“Dog mom, huh?” the elderly cashier had said.

 “Something like that.” More like dog aunt, to all of the rescues at Pittie Place. Her sister, Sunny, had quite the brood. 

Constance laid the biscuit near her foot and waited. A moment later, the bush rustled and the dog approached. He had short hair and big shoulders. He got only as close as he needed to, then stretched his neck out for the prize. As he gingerly took the biscuit, Constance noted a droopy abdomen and swollen nipples, like a miniature cow.

 So. He was a she. Constance inched toward her. The dog held on to the biscuit, but reared back. Constance extended her fist, slowly, so the mom could smell her. “You got puppies somewhere?” 

The dog whimpered, but crunched up the biscuit.

 “Where are your puppies?” 

The dog whimpered again. Her legs shook. Her fur was muddy, feet caked with dirt. She had blood on her muzzle— probably from the dead goose. By her size and coloring, Constance decided she was a pit bull. 

Constance rose up, patted her thigh and headed toward her van. She slid open the side door, grabbed a blanket and spread it out, but when she turned around, the dog was several yards away. Her brown-and-white head was low as she wandered beneath a streetlamp, the embodiment of despair in the drizzle that danced through the light. 

Constance followed, slipping on the leaves that clogged the drainage ditch. The dog glanced once over her shoulder, but her pace didn’t quicken. Constance decided her calm demeanor was working, keeping the dog from fleeing. And let’s be honest: the biscuit hadn’t hurt. Chances were, the dog would be happy to have more as soon as she got wherever she was going. “Let’s see where you’re headed, then. Show me if you’ve got a home.” 

Constance followed her across the road, around the curve and down the narrow lane. Frogs popped like happy corn all over the slick street, but the chill of the oncoming winter slithered through Constance’s blood. 

She followed the dog for a good quarter mile. Even before she hooked a left down the unpaved road hidden behind the trees, Constance had figured out that the mama was headed to one of the handful of empty places that sat decomposing on the hundred or so acres the Matteri family owned. Constance paused only long enough to squelch the sizzle of anger that bubbled up inside before she pressed on, determined to know if the dog was a stray or a neglected mother from Janice Matteri’s puppy mill. 

Constance took the same turn and watched as the dog neared the abandoned house up ahead. Nobody had lived there in years. It was only a matter of time before it became condemned. The dog bypassed the crumbling porch of the old colonial and went around back. Constance knew little daylight was left, and she hadn’t brought a flashlight. She broke into a trot, clutched her coat tighter around her and didn’t slow until the dog came back into view. Constance followed her, her heart thumping harder with each step. 

The dog passed the rusted chain-link fence and disappeared over a rise in the property, near an old shed so overgrown with trees it was only recognizable by a pale red door. Just as she reached the hill, Constance heard a squeak. The sort of high-pitched noise that echoes from everywhere and nowhere all at once. Another squeak came. And another. She crested the hill and saw the dog slink inside the shed door. Constance got to the shed and pushed inside. The dog had reached her destination: a battered old mattress, three shades of brown, lying a few feet inside. The mewls, now loud and hungry, came from a shredded section of the mattress.

 Constance narrowed her eyes. At first, she counted only two bobbing, brown heads, but as she drew closer there was a third. Then a fourth. The last one didn’t move nearly as much, just sort of waded on his stomach. The puppies had cocoa-colored fur and black muzzles. Eyes open. The ones that moved didn’t really walk, just stumbled into each other, like drunks. Mama dog curled around them and they all wiggled toward her abdomen. 

Constance knelt down next to the mattress and watched the suckling puppies. She decided they were about two weeks old. The air in the shed smelled of sour milk, poop and urine. She dug out another biscuit and reached, slowly, her hand in a fist to protect her fingers, her gaze on the mama for any sign she was upset, such as pinned ears, bared teeth or a raised ridge of fur down the back. The energy around the mom and her pups was calm, to the point of exhausted. Constance had certainly helped with enough of Sunny’s dogs over the years to know. She offered the biscuit and the mom took it. With her mouth busy, Constance carefully touched the smallest puppy, who shook so hard the tremble came from deep inside, beneath his skin and fur, straight from his bones. 

Constance rose slowly and did a quick search of the vicinity for more puppies, which turned up nothing but trash, vermin and an old orange crate, which she brought over to the mattress. 

Now to see if Mom was going to accept help.

 Though daylight was precious, Constance waited until the pups were done suckling before she offered a third treat. “Let’s go back to my place,” Constance said as Mom accepted the biscuit. “My sister has a rescue for critters, just like you. And I help her all the time. You’ll be safe there. Does that sound okay?”

 While Mama crunched, Constance reached for the two pups closest to her and, keeping an eye on Mom the whole time, she lifted them and settled them in the crate. Mom’s chewing quickened, so Constance acted fast, lifting the last two pups swiftly but carefully. She rose to her feet, crate in her arms. The mother dog was on her feet almost ahead of her, pointing her muzzle at the crate and whining.

 Constance knew the mom would follow her anywhere she took those pups, but she also lacked any signs of aggression, almost as though she knew that this was their only chance. Or as Pete, owner of Canine Warriors and Constance’s longtime childhood friend, would put it, “You just got something about you, Cici. Everybody trusts you. People. Dogs. The damn Devil himself.” 

Constance headed back to her van, chasing the sunset. As expected, the mother followed. Once to the vehicle, Constance opened the van and set the crate full of pups next to the blanket she’d spread out earlier. The mama dog leaped in after them. 

Constance slid the door closed, settled behind the steering wheel and let out a great sigh. Mission accomplished. She edged down the long, lonely road. The rain pattered on the windshield and the scent of dirty puppies hit her nose. She’d take them home tonight and get them settled in, see how they reacted to a new environment, then text Sunny in the morning. Constance had worked with enough dogs, and people, to know that introducing another new person this evening was bad news. Let Mama get used to Constance first, and get some good food and rest, before she was moved to Pittie Place. 

Tonight, at least, this girl and her babies belonged with Constance. 

 

Excerpted from Rescue You by Elysia Whisler Copyright © Elysia Whisler. Published by MIRA Books.


About the author:

Elysia Whisler was raised in Texas, Italy, Alaska, Mississippi, Nebraska, Hawai’i and Virginia, in true military fashion. Her nomadic life has made storytelling a compulsion from a young age. 

She doubles as a mother, a massage therapist and a CrossFit trainer and is dedicated to portraying strong women, both in life and in her works. She lives in Virginia with her family, including her large brood of cat and dog rescues, who vastly outnumber the humans.


Book summary:

She needs a fresh start. He’s got scars that haven’t healed. With the help of some rescue dogs, they’ll discover that everyone deserves a chance at happiness.

After a year of heartbreak and loss, the only thing keeping Constance afloat is the dog rescue she works at with her sister, Sunny. Desperate for a change, Constance impulsively joins a new gym, even though it seems impossibly hard, and despite the gym’s prickly owner.

Rhett Santos keeps his gym as a refuge for his former-military brothers and to sweat out his own issues. He’s ready to let the funny redhead join, but unprepared for the way she wiggles past his hard-won defenses.

When their dog rescue is threatened, the sisters fight to protect it. And they need all the help they can get. As Rhett and Constance slowly open up to each other, they’ll find that no one is past rescuing; what they need is the right person—or dog—to save them.

BUY LINKS:



 

Spotlight: Forget About Me

 

Forget About Me, an all-new retro romantic comedy guaranteed to bring all the feels from Karen Grey is available now! 

Ben Porter may be living the dream, but it’s not his. 

 

His dad’s health scare might not be the ideal reason to come home for the summer, but it’s a welcome break from the stellar glitz of Ben’s life in Los Angeles. Even if modeling has him rivaling Marky Mark’s fame, posing isn’t his passion. Landing a role with a Boston Shakespeare theater brings him closer to fulfilling his dreams of being a real actor.

 

Facing the reason he went west in the first place? That’s another story.

 

Lucy Minola’s dreams were shattered seven years ago when a drunk driver smashed into her brother’s car. She knows it was her fault. So as penance, she works hard to care for her family, goes to confession faithfully, and buries all the feelings she had for the person who left when she needed him most: her brother’s best friend.

 

When an injured dog brings them back together, Lucy’s good-girl facade begins to crack. Women everywhere are obsessed with the rad body they see in magazines, but she’s the only one Ben seems to notice.

 

She can’t trust herself with the man who walked away… but can she let him go a second time?

 

This bittersweet romance, book two in Karen Grey’s 1980’s Boston Classics series, proves that everyone deserves a second chance in love and in life.

 

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon:https://amzn.to/3c3Lsu4
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/forgetaboutme 

 

Add FORGET ABOUT ME to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3bNL5ni 

 

Start the series today with WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR.
Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited. 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mvD1w7
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/whatimlookingfor 


Meet Karen 

 

Karen Grey (also known as Karen White and K.E. White) has had several essays published, in Salt Magazine and the Nevertheless We Persisted collections (one an Audies Finalist and the other a SOVAs finalist), and a short story in the collection Vintage Love Stories. Her first romance novel was a winner of the NJ Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book contest and Hearts Through History’s Romance Through the Ages contest in the Modern History category and won second place in the GA Romance Writers’ Maggie Award. The first book in her 1980’s era romance series Boston Classics, What I’m Looking For releases June 23, 2020.

 

Connect with Karen

 

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3c3KBJS
Instagram: https://bit.ly/3kmpkOc
Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3kf84KK
Stay up-to-date with Karen Grey, join her mailing list:
https://bit.ly/3mpQt4H
Website: https://bit.ly/ 3iApGQP


 

Matrimony, Inc.

Matrimony, Inc.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love by Francesca Beauman

Published:  October 2020 – Pegasus Books

ARC courtesy of Wunderkind PR

Description: (content from the publicist) Scroll down for my review!
Did you know?
  • The first personal ad in America ran in the Boston Evening Post in 1759.

 

  • California’s first personal ads were placed by women.

 

  • America’s most prolific female serial killer, Belle Gunness, found her victims through ads.

 

  • One of the strangest ads Francesca discovered was from 1903 in The New York Times: “Young man, moderate circumstances, and who has glass eye, would like to form the acquaintance of young girl who also has a glass eye or some other deformity not more severe…”

 

  • From the beginning, nearly all American personal ads mentioned money.

 

  • Advertising for love has been uniquely affected by time and place, but has also received criticism in nearly every format, despite being around for hundreds of years!
MATRIMONY, INC.: From Personal Ads to Swiping Right, a Story of America Looking for Love (Pegasus Books; October 6, 2020; $27.95) details how the search for love, and preferences for a partner, has changed (and how much has stayed the same) over the last 250 years. Francesca brilliantly ties together key moments in history to give context to the ads of the day, providing a stunning look at how personal ads helped shape our society.

 

Francesa Beauman spent years scrolling old newspapers to bring these little-known gems to light, and is a champion for women’s history: her family bookstore, Persephone Books in London, reprints neglected work by 20th century women writers and is a fan-favorite of Lena Dunham and Benedict Cumberbatch!


Praise for Matrimony, Inc.

“Lively… She [Beauman] is a companionable and witty narrator and an excellent curator of primary source material. History buffs will be entertained.”
Publishers Weekly

 

“Ever since there were newspapers there were personal ads. Reading them is a peek into the romantic hopes and dreams of people who felt the desire to reach out in this public way. Francesca’s book gives us a window into the history of the U.S. and the politics of how marriage shaped this country.  Fascinating, just like Francesca.”
Joey Soloway, creator of Transparent

 

“Who among us hasn’t been a voyeur of the personal ad? Francesca Beauman’s deep historical dive into a person’s most naked ask into the universe is hilarious and shocking and heartbreaking, and reveals through these incredible finds how the needs and expectations of what we look for in a mate have evolved, and what has stubbornly remained the same. You won’t be able to hear the phrase “swipe right” quite the same way again.”

Kathryn Hahn, actor


About the author:

After a decade as a T.V. host, Francesca Beauman is now a writer, historian and part-time bookseller at London’s most beautiful bookstore, Persephone Books. Francesca is the author of six books, including a history of the pineapple and a history of British personal ads. She also runs the popular book forum “Fran’s Book Shop” (@fransbookshop).

Connect with Fran! Author Website // Instagram // Twitter // Fran’s Book Shop


My take:  Matrimony, Inc. is a look at how people have met their match in America almost from the beginning. Author Francesca Beauman’s subtle wit sets the tone as she takes readers from early days in the country’s history to current time. The book is filled with facts, figures and anecdotes. Personal ads run from the extremely plain to the highly imaginative – all with the same intention: to find a person to marry. Readers with a casual interest in the socio-economic history of the US will find nuggets of data based on the population’s spread to the West through the 19th century. Overall, an interesting book.


 

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas

Happy publication day!

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by

Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn

Published:  October 27, 2020 – Kensington

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take:  I have no doubt fans of Historical Romance (American West) and authors Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn will enjoy this collection. It’s a great way to sample each author if you haven’t had a chance. I’m a fan of Jodi Thomas but Lovelace and Dunn are new to me and I look forward to reading more of their work.
I love an anthology at this busy time of year because I can read a complete story in a short time – this book hit the mark. It will tug your heartstrings and engage in an emotional and heartwarming way. If you enjoy historical romance, add The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas to your reading list this season.
***
Father Goose by Jodi Thomas
A young man, fresh out of the army and in need of a job, agrees to take a group of 5 young school girls to their father’s ranch in Texas. He must get them home before Christmas. Meanwhile, a young woman decides to escape her life of drudgery and signs on to chaperone the girls for the trip. This rag-tag group will make the arduous journey that could set the path of the future for them all.
*
The Mistletoe Promise by Sharla Lovelace
Two people with a history must overcome pride and learn to trust again. Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Josie and Ben I learned their story and was soon hoping for their HEA.
*
Christmas Road by Scarlett Dunn
A veteran rides home hoping to see his ill mother for what could be her last Christmas. What he didn’t expect was to meet a young widow and mother of two girls who’d help nurse his mother. This a story of survival during challenging times and the honorable people who step up to help. A heartwarming tale about finding the magic of Christmas.

About the authors:

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and the first book in her new Honey Creek series, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café is out now. Please visit her at http://www.JodiThomas.com

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sassy, sexy love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs. She is the author of the exciting Heart of the Storm series, the fun and sexy Charmed in Texas series, and five stand-alone novels. Connect with Sharla at http://www.sharlalovelace.com, or find her on social media as @sharlalovelace at all the places! 

Before becoming a published author, Scarlett Dunn was an entrepreneur. Her love of history and the adventurous souls who settled the West inspired her to write historical inspirational romance novels. She lives in Kentucky, and as an avid outdoorswoman she enjoys any activity under the sun where she develops her characters and plots. Readers can find her at http://www.scarlettdunn.com or on Facebook, Twitter (scarlettdunn2), or Instagram.

THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS
By Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, & Scarlett Dunn
Kensington Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
On Sale: October 27th 2020/
Trade Paperback/Fiction $15.95 ($21.95 CAN) / 978-1-4967-2549-3

Autumn Skies

Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter

Published:  October 20, 2020 – Thomas Nelson

Courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Facing the past is easier if you don’t have to face it alone.

The Bluebell Inn is turning a profit, and it’s time for the Bennett siblings to sell it and move on. Only Grace has plans to stay in the small lake town of Bluebell, North Carolina, where she hopes her growing outfitters business will save her from the loneliness of her siblings’ departure and the persistent sense of unworthiness in her life.

A gunshot wound resurrects the past for Secret Service agent Wyatt Jennings, and a mandatory leave of absence lands him in Bluebell. There he must come to grips with the tragedy that altered his life fourteen years ago.

When Wyatt books a room at the Bluebell Inn, sparks fly between him and Grace. She volunteers to be his mountain guide, and he soon opens up to her, drawn to her strength and sense of humor. But both are reticent to talk about the survivor’s guilt they each carry, and when their pasts finally collide, their budding romance might not survive the truth.

From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom and A December Bride (now beloved Hallmark Original movies) comes the third and final novel in the Bluebell Inn series. (publisher)

My take: (I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

It’s a time of big change at the Bluebell Inn. The owner-siblings are planning to sell the Inn and move on to their individual dreams. Youngest sister Grace is the only one planning to stay in town in a new venture. When Wyatt Jennings books a room at the Inn he plans to stay for a short time and then return to work. Neither had planned for the spark of attraction they felt. It was fun to see their relationship take shape. They had more in common than they knew. With themes of loss, survivor’s guilt, and following your dreams, Autumn Skies kept me engaged and turning the pages. It was a one day read for me. Fans of author Denise Hunter will want to read this third book in the Bluebell Inn series. It’s the first one I read and I felt it could stand alone.


 

Robyn Carr news!

I received this email today from Katie @littlebirdpublicity and wanted to share with you:

Today, Netflix announced November 27, 2020 as the premiere date for the highly-anticipated Season Two of Virgin River, the popular television series based on #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s book series by the same name. See the official release here: https://www.whats-on-netflix.com/news/virgin-river-season-2-netflix-release-date-what-we-know-10-21-2020/

Carr’s beloved Virgin River series has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide and has been published in 19 languages. In addition to sharing the air date of Season Two, MIRA Books published the latest novel in the series Return to Virgin River, Carr’s first Virgin River book in eight years, on October 13, 2020.

You can read my review of Return to Virgin River (linked in the title). Spoiler alert: I loved it!


 

Return to Virgin River

Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Expected publication:  October 13, 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take:  After twelve years Robyn Carr takes readers back to her beloved fictional town of Virgin River, California.

In Return to Virgin River we meet Kaylee Sloan, an author with writer’s block brought on by the loss of her mother in the past year. Friends have graciously allowed Kaylee to stay at their vacation home in Virgin River so she can finish her book. When she arrives she finds the fire department extinguishing a fire that has left the home uninhabitable. Someone suggests she go to Jack’s Bar for a bite to eat and perhaps a lead on where she can find a new place to rent. The book takes off from there and I settled in for the enjoyable read I’ve come to expect from Robyn Carr. I loved catching up with several characters and places featured in previous books. And I loved seeing how Kaylee’s life changed in small ways that would impact the rest of her life. The Thanksgiving/Christmas theme played a big part in the book and led to the heartwarming ending.

Return to Virgin River is a lovely read for fans of the Virgin River series and Robyn Carr. Of course, I recommend reading the entire VR series but readers could jump in here and then go back. It’s one of my favorite series ever!


About the author:

Robyn Carr is the bestselling author of over 60 novels which have sold more than 28 million copies. Her beloved Virgin River series alone has netted more than 13 million copies; the Netflix television adaptation of Virgin River debuted in 2019 and has since become one of the streaming service’s most popular shows. Eleven of Robyn’s books have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, collectively spending 250 weeks on the list since Virgin River made its debut there in 2008. In 2016, the Romance Writers of America recognized Robyn with the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2019, she was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.


 

Murder on Cold Street

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas

Published:  October 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Inspector Treadles, Charlotte Holmes’s friend and collaborator, has been found locked in a room with two dead men, both of whom worked with his wife at the great manufacturing enterprise she has recently inherited. 
 
Rumors fly. Had Inspector Treadles killed the men because they had opposed his wife’s initiatives at every turn? Had he killed in a fit of jealous rage, because he suspected Mrs. Treadles of harboring deeper feelings for one of the men? To make matters worse, he refuses to speak on his own behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.
 
Charlotte finds herself in a case strewn with lies and secrets. But which lies are to cover up small sins, and which secrets would flay open a past better left forgotten? Not to mention, how can she concentrate on these murders, when Lord Ingram, her oldest friend and sometime lover, at last dangles before her the one thing she has always wanted? (publisher)

My take:  It’s the week before Christmas (1886) and Charlotte Holmes is tasked with solving a double murder in which the prime suspect is Inspector Treadles. What looks like an open and shut case to some is clearly not to Charlotte, Lord Ingram, and company. As they investigate, the clues they discover lead them into a complex crime that will unveil astonishing details about members of the community. Do the principals involved truly know those closest to them? I had no idea how the crime would be solved but I needn’t have worried because Sherry Thomas always comes through. I enjoyed the Christmas setting, the growing relationship between Charlotte and Lord Ingram, and the cast of characters who are Holmes’s inner circle. I have an idea where the next book might go and can’t wait to find out if I’m right.