Spotlight: Dress of Violet Taffeta

A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen

Published:  July 5, 2022 – Berkley Books

Content courtesy of the publicist

Description:

Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, and texture in ways few people can begin to imagine. But is the male-dominated world of haute couture, who would use her art for their own gain, ready for her?

 

When she is deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is left penniless with an aging mother and her five-year-old daughter to support. Desperate to survive, Lucy turns to her one true talent to make a living. As a little girl, the dresses she made for her dolls were the envy of her group of playmates. Now, she uses her creative designs and her remarkable eye for color to take her place in the fashion world—failure is not an option. 

 

Then, on a frigid night in 1912, Lucy’s life changes once more, when she becomes one of 706 people to survive the sinking of the Titanic. She could never have imagined the effects the disaster would have on her fashion label Lucile, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucy will live on as a trailblazing and innovative fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn. This is her story. (publisher)


Dog Friendly

Dog Friendly by Victoria Schade

Published: June 28, 2022 – Berkley

Digital galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A burned-out veterinarian takes a much-needed beach vacation, where a charming surfer makes waves in her love life, and a unique foster pup renews her passion for her work.
 
Exhausted veterinarian Morgan Pearce is feeling overworked and under-thanked, so when two favorite clients ask her to watch their special needs senior dog in their Nantucket home, she jumps at the chance for a summer break. She hopes her time on the island will be a reset from the stress of her everyday life, but her chill vacation vibe takes a hit when she gets roped into fostering a challenging, anxious dog and helping plan the local rescue group’s glittery annual fundraiser.
 
Her trip starts to feel more like a vacation when Morgan begins falling for Nathan Keating, an irresistible entrepreneur who thinks every problem can be solved on a surfboard. Just as the summer is shaping up to be the magical refresh she needs, thanks to a fling that feels like the beginning of something real and Hudson, the foster dog who reminds her how much she loves her job, a visit from her estranged brother and the discovery of who Nathan really is changes everything. Morgan finds herself at a crossroads, trying to determine if mistakes from the past must define the future, or if she should forgive, forget, and grab hold of a chance to finally rescue herself. (publication)

My take:

Morgan Pearce is a veterinarian who heads to Nantucket for a couple of months to recover from major anxiety. She will stay at the home of friends and watch their dog at the same time. As can happen she meets other dog people and then some – including the handsome Nathan. So there’s some romance, some family dynamics and more than a few emotional issues.

Fans of beach reads, dogs, and a Nantucket setting will find all that and more in Victoria Schade’s new novel.


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (Mailbox Monday)

I’m a Debra Webb fan so I grabbed this as one of my July Kindle First picks. 

 

The sequel to The Family Upstairs releases in August so I bought TFU with the hope of reading it soon. 

 

Last two weeks on Bookfan:

Review:  The Little Cornish House

Review:  Donut Disturb

Reading plan for this week:

I’m still reading this book. It’s good but I haven’t had much time to sit and read. I keep hoping an audio galley will be offered by NG but so far no luck there.


 

Donut Disturb

Donut Disturb by Ellie Alexander

A Bakeshop Mystery, #15

Published:  June 28, 2022 – St. Martin’s Press

Digital galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The filling is looking grim for pastry chef and amateur sleuth Juliet Capshaw in Donut Disturb, the next in Ellie Alexander’s beloved Bakeshop Series.

Love is in bloom in Ashland, Oregon. The Shakespearean hamlet is bursting with fresh spring energy. Fragrant lilacs and the sweet aroma of vanilla cake fill the air as everyone in town gathers at Lithia Park for the celebration of the year—Thomas and Kerry’s wedding.

It’s a picture perfect day. Guests gather on picnic blankets in front of the bandshell to watch Kerry walk down the aisle and wed Ashland’s favorite detective in training, Thomas. Jules and her team at Torte have been tasked with catering the outdoor reception and everything is going according to plan, until a wedding crasher shows up.

The uninvited guest isn’t just someone looking to score a free glass of champagne. It’s Kerry’s estranged father who is supposed to be behind bars. Kerry is distraught. Jules vows to do everything she can to make sure that there are no other surprises on her friend’s big day. But when the bassist for Heart Strings, the wedding band, is found stabbed with the blunt end of his instrument Jules’s promise takes on new meaning. Now she’ll have to slice through the five tiered cake and a bevy of potential suspects in order to track down a killer before they turn the knife on her. (publisher)

My take: I’m jumping into the Bakeshop Mystery series rather late in the game but I didn’t feel lost at all. Author Ellie Alexander’s descriptions of setting, foods and various citizens of Ashland were just right and I felt up to speed with all.

I’m sure fans of the series will be excited that the wedding of Kerry and Thomas is about to happen. If I lived in Ashland I’d want to be a guest at this celebration. Everything sounded amazing. Well, until one of the people involved in the big day is found dead. And one of the suspects is the bride’s estranged father.

Alexander gives the reader plenty of red herrings and it was interesting to see how the case was solved. A quick read that I enjoyed and would read more of the series. Recommended to fans of cozy mysteries.


 

The Little Cornish House

The Little Cornish House by Donna Ashcroft

Release Date:  June 30, 2022 – Dreamscape Media

Review audio from Dreamscape and NetGalley Audio

Description: (please read)

Thirty-year-old Ruby is done with love: no more drama, no more complications, no more men. She’s living life for herself, and that’s the way she likes it. But her whole world is turned upside down when her grandmother calls to say her beloved pottery business is failing, and she might lose her beautiful little Cornish house by the sea. She needs Ruby to come back to Cornwall and save the day…

Returning to Indigo Cove stirs up memories Ruby would rather forget, but she’s determined to save her grandmother’s home. As the summer heats up, so does the pressure on Ruby, and she’s in need of a distraction. Although quite literally walking into Gabe Roskilly, the sexy and brooding owner of the local brewery, wasn’t part of her game plan.

Ruby tries to ignore her attraction to Gabe, but it’s impossible to avoid the tall, dark, handsome stranger as Gabe is at the center of village life. And when Ruby’s plans for the little Cornish house start to fall apart, she discovers Gabe might be the one person who can help her. Ruby’s promise to stay single is tested to the limit. But are Gabe’s intentions all good, or is Ruby about to get her heart broken again?

Can Ruby save her grandmother’s cottage and find true happiness this summer? Or will secrets from the past ruin everything? (publisher)

My take:

I loved the Cornwall setting, the various characters and even the complicated family dynamics. The Little Cornish House is for fans of multi-generational women’s fiction. There’s a mystery or two to be solved and enough light humor to make it my kind of a summer escape. I thought the main characters Ruby and Gabe had wonderful chemistry. I wasn’t expecting their detailed love scenes but also wasn’t bothered by them. I only mention because I know some readers are sensitive to that. I was happy by the personal growth they individually experienced when they took the necessary courageous steps.

I liked the audio narration by Helen Johns. She made listening to the novel such an enjoyable experience. She voiced each character with just enough nuance to make distinguishing between characters easy for me. I look forward to hearing more of her audiobook performances.



					

Sunday Post

Book arrivals: (Mailbox Monday)

Audiobook from Dreamscape Media and NetGalley

From Berkley and NetGalley

A sale book that has been on my wish list for a while

Last week on Bookfan:

No posts last week and that’s how the summer will be. I have a few blog tour stops scheduled but not on a consistent basis. Family life has been busy and full and will continue that pace for the foreseeable future. I’ll visit blogs and participate in Mailbox Monday as new books arrive in my mailbox 😊

Reading plan for this week:

Probably The Little Cornish House (see Book Arrivals above) since that will release soon


 

Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins

Published:  June 7, 2022 – Berkley

Galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t heartbroken. She’s furious.
 
Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife, and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people . . . not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.
 
She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in, of all people, Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie twenty years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.
 
It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you . . . out of the clear blue sky. 
(publisher)

My take:

Lillie is at a point of big change. Her only child is set to graduate high school and head off to a distant college. But her life as a nurse midwife in her small Cape Cod town is full and she can only imagine what the future will bring. Well. Her husband has plans and they don’t include her. He’ll soon find out the truth in the old saying about the fury of a woman scorned. Lillie goes a little crazy and who could blame her.

Then there’s ‘the other woman’. She set a plan to change her life as a young girl and, by golly, she did it. In her mind, she’s worked hard and deserves everything she earned. I wasn’t sure if I was to admire her or be repulsed. I ended up in the latter camp.

Not a bad beach read but my complaint would be the book addressed too many issues. At just under 500 pages it felt long and a few issues could have been edited out. Also, the romantic interest for Lillie felt too convenient and too late in the book. There are some moments of levity and I ended up pulling for Lillie to have a great life going forward.


About the author:

Kristan Higgins has sold 4.5 million books worldwide, scored nine New York Times bestsellers, and is published in more than two dozen languages. Her novels have received rave reviews from the New York Times and NPR and regularly receive national media attention from People, Entertainment Weekly, Woman’s World and more.


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

Bought for Kindle after hearing about it on a YouTube channel and checking a few trusted Goodreads friends’ opinions.

A Kindle sale book last Sunday

My Kindle First Reads pick for June

Last week on Bookfan:

No book posts last week but here’s a pic of my peonies 😊

Reading plan for this week:

I’ll pick something from my personal book shelf


 

From my bookshelf: One Line Takes

Earlier this Spring I spotted a meme on a few blogs that involved one word reviews. I usually only feature reviews of books sent from publishers but I’ve read several from my own bookshelf in the first half of the year and thought I’d try some one line takes. I’ll probably do a Part 2 later in the year. Covers link to Goodreads.

 

Audio: A good coming of age story in 1930s Kentucky

“Who controls the past”, ran the Party slogan “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”… p. 34

 

Loved the setting, the Greek mythology and secret society aspects.

A love letter to vinyl records, music shops and music lovers of all kinds.

 

An entertaining and twisty read.

 

Author Ruth Reichl perfectly narrates the audio and left me wanting to try more than a few recipes!

 

Entertaining in a Stephanie Plum way.

 

Fun start to a series!

 

A shocking outcome of a joyous day leaves two families dealing with unimagined grief and wondering how to carry on.

 

1930s era New York City novel – glad I finally got around to reading it!


 

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

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 

Social Links:

Author Website

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.