Miss Austen

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Published:  April 7, 2020 – Flatiron Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Whoever looked at an elderly lady and saw the young heroine she once was?

England, 1840. For the two decades following the death of her beloved sister, Jane, Cassandra Austen has lived alone, spending her days visiting friends and relations and quietly, purposefully working to preserve her sister’s reputation. Now in her sixties and increasingly frail, Cassandra goes to stay with the Fowles of Kintbury, family of her long-dead fiancé, in search of a trove of Jane’s letters. Dodging her hostess and a meddlesome housemaid, Cassandra eventually hunts down the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. Will Cassandra bare the most private details of her life to the world, or commit her sister’s legacy to the flames?

Moving back and forth between the vicarage and Cassandra’s vibrant memories of her years with Jane, interwoven with Jane’s brilliantly reimagined lost letters, Miss Austen is the untold story of the most important person in Jane’s life. With extraordinary empathy, emotional complexity, and wit, Gill Hornby finally gives Cassandra her due, bringing to life a woman as captivating as any Austen heroine. (publisher)

My take:  I’m not an Austen scholar by any stretch of the imagination but I am a fan of her novels. I loved reading about Jane and her sister Cassandra in Miss Austen. They had such a dear relationship. Jane fought bouts of depression and Cassie took care of her as well as their mother. Cassie had deep compassion for others and ultimately lived to serve members of her family instead of focusing on her losses. It was easy to feel sympathy for her all the while hoping for some romantic happiness to land at her door. The novel moves back and forth from her time as a daughter and sister to her days of relying on the charity of relatives. She visits one relative with hopes of reclaiming letters that could reveal Jane’s personal feelings/thoughts if they were to land in the wrong hands. I enjoyed Gill Hornby’s novel and found myself smiling quite a bit while reading. It was a satisfying read for this casual fan.


Praise for Miss Austen

“For readers who enjoy Austen’s novels and wish to know more about her life and for those seeking excellent English historical fiction.”

Library Journal, starred review

 
“[Miss Austen] strikes gold….Echoing Austen’s sardonic wit and crisp prose without falling into pastiche, Hornby succeeds with a vivid homage to the Austens and their world.”
Publishers Weekly


“Austen fans will enjoy Hornby’s nuanced, fresh portrayal of Jane….Cassandra herself is similarly fascinating, a woman who never ceases her efforts to carve out a life of her own in a world that is not kind to unmarried women.”

Booklist

 
“[A] gift to the world of Austen lovers….A deeply imagined and deeply moving novel. Reading it made me happy and weepy in equally copious amounts.” 
—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
 
“Unputdownable. So good, so intelligent, so clever, so entertaining—I adored it.”
—Claire Tomalin, author of Jane Austen: A Life  

 
“Extraordinary and heart-wrenching, Miss Austen transported me from page one. A remarkable novel that is wholly original, deeply moving, and emotionally complex.”
—Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept


The Love Story of Missy Carmichael

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey

Published: April 7, 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: The world has changed around seventy-nine-year-old librarian Millicent Carmichael, aka Missy. Though quick to admit that she often found her roles as a housewife and mother less than satisfying, Missy once led a bustling life driven by two children, an accomplished and celebrated husband, and a Classics degree from Cambridge. Now her husband is gone, her daughter is estranged after a shattering argument, and her son has moved to his wife’s native Australia, taking Missy’s beloved only grandchild half-a-world away. She spends her days sipping sherry, avoiding people, and rattling around in her oversized, under-decorated house waiting for…what exactly?

The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog named Bob to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. In short order, Missy finds herself in the jarring embrace of an eclectic community that simply won’t take no for an answer–including a rambunctious mutt-on-loan whose unconditional love gives Missy a reason to re-enter the world one muddy paw print at a time.

Filled with wry laughter and deep insights, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a coming-of-old story that shows us it’s never too late to forgive yourself and, just as important, it’s never too late to love. (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of Missy, a seventy-nine-year-old woman who until this point seems to have let life happen to her. It’s the story of the family she is related to and the unrelated people who welcome her into their fold and, against her better instincts, she decides to accept. I wouldn’t describe Missy as curmudgeonly but more as overly-cautious. Slowly the author revealed exactly how much Missy had on her plate, what she tended to, and what she ignored. For me it was a very slow reveal but I found the pay-off in the last parts of the novel. I loved Missy’s ‘adopted’ family of characters and, above all, I loved Bob the dog. Ultimately this is a heartfelt and uplifting story that I very much enjoyed.


About the author:

Beth Morrey‘s work has been published in the Cambridge and Oxford May Anthologies and shortlisted for the Grazia Orange First Chapter competition. Currently the creative director at RDF Television, she lives in London with her family and dog. THE LOVE STORY OF MISSY CARMICHAEL is her debut novel.


Praise for The Love Story of Missy Carmichael

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a generous-hearted story showing the transformative power of friendship and community, whatever our time of life. . . . A fabulously enjoyable book!”

—Sarah Haywood, author of The Cactus

 

“Here is a love story of the most important kind: that of coming to love oneself through accepting and returning the love of others.”

Elizabeth Berg, author of Night of Miracles

 

“Deeply moving, charming and filled with wit and empathy—you can read on every page the love and care that Morrey has for each of her characters and by the end you’ll love them too.”

Kathy Wang, author of Family Trust

 

“Masterful and a real page-turner. Missy is a joy . . . the humor and courage with which she faces loss and aging are handled with such wit and empathy. The world needs more assured female voices like Beth Morrey’s.

Her novel is a breath of fresh air!”

Felicity Hayes-McCoy, author of The Library at the Edge of the World

 

“A beautiful story about love, loss, guilt and the power of friendship.”

—Jill Mansell, author of Maybe This Time

 

“For everyone with an Eleanor Oliphant–shaped hole in their heart, this is the book to fill it.

Gorgeous characters, heartfelt storytelling and the sort of book that lifts your heart.”

Eithne Shortall, author of Grace After Henry

 

“Moving but not sentimental (just as Missy would like it), this is a deeply satisfying read. Missy is a fantastically real character, as complex, frustrating, vulnerable and surprising as any I’ve met in print. I miss her already.”

Eleanor Wasserberg, author of Foxlowe

 

“A soulful, refreshing and tender book.”

—Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words Bookshop

 

“The most beautiful and the most moving book I’ve read in a long time.

It will comfort you and it will break your heart.”

—Emma Flint, author of Little Deaths


 

To Have and to Hoax

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

Publication date:  April 7, 2020 – Atria Books

Digital review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Five years ago, Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met, fell in love, and got married. Four years ago, they had a fight to end all fights, and have barely spoken since.

Their once-passionate love match has been reduced to one of cold, detached politeness. But when Violet receives a letter that James has been thrown from his horse and rendered unconscious at their country estate, she races to be by his side—only to discover him alive and well at a tavern, and completely unaware of her concern. She’s outraged. He’s confused. And the distance between them has never been more apparent.

Wanting to teach her estranged husband a lesson, Violet decides to feign an illness of her own. James quickly sees through it, but he decides to play along in an ever-escalating game of manipulation, featuring actors masquerading as doctors, threats of Swiss sanitariums, faux mistresses—and a lot of flirtation between a husband and wife who might not hate each other as much as they thought. Will the two be able to overcome four years of hurt or will they continue to deny the spark between them? (publisher)

Guest review by Katie, Bookfan daughter!

I am an avid reader of historical romances set in the Regency period and I was intrigued by the premise of this novel. What worked for me: there was absolute chemistry between James and Violet and witty dialogue between the two. Violet’s character, especially, made me laugh out loud more than once. The author created a host of interesting and eclectic characters throughout the novel.

What did not work for me: I found the use of obscenities to be jarring and unnecessary. Each time I flinched and it made me think less of our hero and his character. I also found the amount of day drinking and general heavy drinking to be surprising. These two elements made me feel like I was reading a modern novel that happened to be dropped into a Recency background. The incongruity left me unsettled.

Overall, the author is excellent at creating original characters and laugh out loud dialogue and fans of women’s fiction may enjoy the modern sensibilities of this historical romance.


About the author:

Martha Waters was born and raised in sunny South Florida, and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works as a children’s librarian in North Carolina, and spends much of her free time traveling. To Have and To Hoax is her first novel.

Buy TO HAVE AND TO HOAX:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

IndieBound


 

48 Hour Lockdown

48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy

Published:  April 2020 – Harlequin Intrigue

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take: 48 Hour Lockdown is the start of a new series about a FBI unit (Tactical Crime Division). This book focuses on Evan, a hostage negotiator, who has been called to a school that is on lockdown after being invaded by a cult leader and a few followers. When Evan arrives it all becomes personal as he discovers a past love is involved. She’s a teacher at the school and is being held in a classroom with a few young students. From the first page the novel moves at a fast pace as the TCD team works to free the hostages and capture the criminals before more blood is shed. This is a quick read that left me looking forward to the next book in the series. Recommended to fans of romantic suspense novels.


About the author:

Carla Cassidy is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 125 novels for Harlequin Books. She is listed on the Romance Writer’s of America Honor Roll and has won numerous awards. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.


 

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

   

Last week on Bookfan:

   

Reading plan for this week:

Another title from my TBR list. I have a Kindle edition and also found the audio available from Audible Escape.


 

Safe House

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Published:  March 10, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty–or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears. (publisher)

My take:  Charlie (formerly Steffi) wanted to think the best of her perfect boyfriend but little by little their relationship had changed and she worried things wouldn’t work out. So, when detectives came to her workplace one day she provided a false alibi for him. After all, he couldn’t possibly be a murderer, could he? Charlie ended up serving a prison sentence for her part. When she was released she relocated to a little town on the Cornwall coast. She bought a fixer-upper and started to adjust to her new name and a fresh start. As she started to get her bearings she had a feeling that someone was watching her. Was it possible someone knew her true identity? And what did they want with her?

This book kept me on the edge of my seat and quickly turning the pages. I enjoyed the setting, the slow build in the drama, and the tense scenes near the end. It was a twisty, fast read that I enjoyed. I wonder what Jo Jakeman will dream up next.


 

Tactical Crime Division – series launch

Perfect for fans of Criminal Minds and Blacklist

Uncover the lives and loves of the FBI elite as they take on the toughest assignments. This is a new four-book miniseries featuring an ensemble cast of characters spread across 4 books, featuring 4 urgent cases, with one stellar team of crime solving experts. 

The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI. Because of the growing concerns and need for ever increasing response time to criminal events, the FBI created a specialized tech and tactical team combing specialists from several active divisions that include: weapons, crime scene investigation, protection, negotiation and IT. 

Each title can be read as a standalone novel, featuring a unique hard to solve crime case.

 


Book #1: 48 Hour Lockdown by Carla Cassidy (on-sale March 17, 2020)

Book description: The Tactical Crime Division—TCD—is a specialized unit of the FBI.They handle the toughest cases in the most remote locations. When TCD learns of a school invasion turned lockdown, every agent is ready to engage. With children in jeopardy, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But it becomes personal for hostage negotiator agent Evan Duran when he learns Annalise Taylor is one of the captives holed up with the students in a school for the gifted. He’ll need every resource available at TCD and every ounce of his expertise to turn this disastrous situation into a rescue mission—and if he succeeds, maybe reunite with the woman he never stopped loving.

About Carla Cassidy: Carla Cassidy is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than 125 novels for Harlequin Books. She is listed on the Romance Writer’s of America Honor Roll and has won numerous awards. Carla believes the only thing better than curling up with a good book to read is sitting down at the computer with a good story to write.

Purchase links:

 

Book #2: Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Heiter (on-sale April 21, 2020)

Book description: In the wake of a tragedy, the Tactical Crime Division is the first call. When ironclad body armor inexplicably fails and soldiers perish, the Tactical Crime Division jumps into action. Agent and former ranger Davis Rogers asks to go undercover to find the traitor responsible for the death of one of his friends, and Petrov Armor CEO Leila Petrov is happy to provide access to her company…especially once she discovers she’s being framed. But will their joint efforts be enough to uncover the truth?

About Elizabeth Heiter: Publishers Weekly bestselling and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists and a little romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages. Visit her at www.elizabethheiter.com

Purchase links:

 

Book #3: Midnight Abduction by Nichole Severn (on-sale May 19, 2020)

Book description: For the Tactical Crime Division, no case is left cold. When Benning Reeves’s twins are kidnapped, the frantic father knows who can help: the Tactical Crime Division and Ana Ramirez. Even though Ana once shattered Benning’s heart, the special agent is the only one he can trust. But Ana is still tormented by the unresolved case that brought them together years before—a case somehow entangled with Benning’s children. It’s up to the TCD and Ana to discover why…before it’s too late.

About Nichole Severn: Nichole Severn writes romantic suspense with strong heroines, heroes who dare challenge them, and a hell of a lot of guns. When she’s not writing, she’s injuring herself running and practicing yoga.

Purchase links:

 

Book #4: Running Out of Time by Cindi Myers (on-sale June 16, 2020)

Book description: When a terrorist is on the loose, the Tactical Crime Division is on the case. To find out who poisoned medications, two of TCD’s agents are tapped to go undercover posing as a married couple and infiltrate the company. But as soon as Jace Cantrell and Laura Smith arrive at Stroud Pharmaceuticals, someone ups the ante by planting explosives in their midst. Turns out that the small-town family business is hiding a million secrets. Could they unknowingly be protecting a vengeful killer?

About Cindi Myers: Cindy Myers became one of the most popular people in eighth grade when she and her best friend wrote a torrid historical romance and passed the manuscript around among friends. Fame was short-lived, alas; the English teacher confiscated the manuscript. Since then, Cindy has written more than 50 published novels. Her historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction have garnered praise from reviewers and readers alike.

Purchase links: