The Social Graces

The Social Graces by Renée Rosen

Description:

The author of Park Avenue Summer throws back the curtain on one of the most remarkable feuds in history: Alva Vanderbilt and the Mrs. Astor’s notorious battle for control of New York society during the Gilded Age.

1876. In the glittering world of Manhattan’s upper crust, women are valued by their pedigree, dowry, and, most importantly, connections. They have few rights and even less independence—what they do have is society. The more celebrated the hostess, the more powerful the woman. And none is more powerful than Caroline Astor—the Mrs. Astor. 

But times are changing.

Alva Vanderbilt has recently married into one of America’s richest families. But what good is dizzying wealth when society refuses to acknowledge you? Alva, who knows what it is to have nothing, will do whatever it takes to have everything.

Sweeping three decades and based on true events, this is the mesmerizing story of two fascinating, complicated women going head to head, behaving badly, and discovering what’s truly at stake. (publisher)

My take:

Calling all fans of historical fiction – especially 1800s American HF. I thoroughly enjoyed Renée Rosen’s story of Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt. Caroline was the head of New York society and Alva wanted to be invited into the select group. Given her wealth, that should have been easy, right? But, not so fast. There was a distinction between Old Money families and the Nouveau Riche thus sparking the feud between Caroline and Alva. Rosen’s story, both factual and fictional, became a bit addicting for me. I’ve never read the details of these families – only casual references in other novels. On more than one occasion I searched for photos, articles, etc. That’s what I love about the genre – when done well I’m motivated to find out more. I thought the author did a great job making these seemingly unrelatable people human – not a simple task, in my opinion. I appreciated the author interview, discussion questions, and bibliography included at the end.

About the author:

Renee is the bestselling author of historical fiction including: PARK AVENUE SUMMER, WHAT THE LADY WANTS, WINDY CITY BLUES, WHITE COLLAR GIRL and DOLLFACE, as well as the YA novel, EVERY CROOKED POT. 
THE SOCIAL GRACES, a novel of Alva Vanderbilt and Mrs. Astor vying for control of New York society during the Gilded Age, will be published in April 2021 from Penguin Random House / Berkley. 

Most people discover their love of reading first and then decide to try writing. For Renee Rosen, it was just the opposite. From the time she was a little girl she knew she wanted to be a writer and by age seventeen had completed her first novel, with what she admits was the worst opening line of all time. Her hopes of being the youngest published author on record were soon dashed when her “masterpiece” was repeatedly rejected. Several years and many attempts later, Renee finally became a reader first.

Since then she has been fortunate enough to study the craft of writing from such esteemed novelists as Michael Cunningham, Susan Minot and Carol Anshaw. 

Renee now lives in Chicago where she is working on a new novel. You can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/ReneeRosenAu…https://twitter.com/ReneeRosen1 or visit her website at www.reneerosen.com

Lost, Found, and Forever

Lost, Found and Forever by Victoria Schade

Published:  March 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Justine Becker could not be more in love with her rescue dog, Spencer. He’s her best friend and “colleague” at her dog supply store, Tricks & Biscuits, in upstate New York. When she discovers a heartbreaking social media post trying to locate a dog that looks suspiciously like Spencer, Justine realizes that her beloved pup might actually belong to someone else.

Her worst fears are realized when she and Spencer meet up with Brooklyn-based Griffin McCabe, and he wants Spencer back. He claims he is the dog’s rightful owner, and has the paperwork to prove it. But Justine refuses to roll over and let him take Spencer without a fight.

It’s not easy juggling Spencer’s burgeoning new career as a dog actor, along with the demands of her life upstate, all while constantly trying to prove she’s a better pet parent than Griffin. Their not-so-friendly competition teeters on the edge of flat-out hate, so when romantic feelings for Griffin catch Justine off guard, she needs to determine if it’s all part of his plot to win the pup back, or if the guy who was good enough for Spencer might also be good enough for her.  (publisher)

My take:

Justine rescued Spencer, possibly the world’s most adorable dog, and he repaid her by coming to her rescue. There’s nothing she wouldn’t do for him including fight for him when his former owner enters the picture. Just when Justine thinks her world can’t get more dramatic Spencer falls into an acting gig that’s being filmed not far from where said former owner lives. Does this sound like a novel that could be a Hallmark movie? I would watch that movie! Lost, Found & Forever has it all:  attractive humans, adorable dog, and just enough drama to make an interesting escape of a read. I enjoyed it!


Summertime Guests

Summertime Guests by Wendy Francis

Expected publication date:  April 6, 2021 – Graydon House

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The Seafarer is the place to see and be seen in the summer…

With its rich history and famous guests, the glamorous Boston hotel is no stranger to drama. But the bustle at the iconic property reaches new heights one weekend in mid-June when someone falls tragically to her death, the event rippling through the lives of four very different people. 

Bride-to-be Riley is at the hotel to plan her wedding. She would have preferred a smaller, more intimate celebration, but her bossy mother-in-law has taken charge and her fiancé hasn’t seemed to notice. Jean-Paul, the hotel’s manager, is struggling to keep his marriage and new family afloat, but now he must devote all his energy to this latest scandal at work. Claire, recently widowed, comes to town to connect with a long-lost love, but has too much changed in the last thirty years?  And then there’s Jason, whose romantic getaway with his girlfriend has not exactly gone the way he’d hoped and instead has him facing questions he can’t bring himself to answer.

Over three sun-drenched days, as the truth about the woman who died—and the secret she was hiding—is uncovered, these four strangers become linked in the most unexpected of ways. Together, they just might find the strength they need to turn their own lives around. (publisher)

My take:  Summertime Guests starts out with an unexpected surprise for guests dining at The Seafarer, a posh Boston hotel where people go to be seen. The unexpected event affects our characters in ways that are, well, unexpected. We have Riley, a bride-to-be whose fiancé’s mother has decided to help the young couple plan their wedding. Mother-in-law Claire also has another reason to be in town. Then there’s a couple who are trying to overcome a serious issue. Speaking of serious issues, the wife of the busy new hotel manager seems to be experiencing one herself. There’s a lot going on in this novel, perhaps a bit too much for my taste. But, if you enjoy a mystery and emotional upheaval in your light summertime reading, plus a bit of a back-and-forth timeline, you might want to give Summertime Guests a try.


About the author:

wendy-francis-author-photo

Wendy Francis is a former book editor and the author of the novels The Summer Sail, The Summer of Good Intentions, Three Good Things, and Best Behavior. Her essays have appeared in Good HousekeepingThe Washington Post, Yahoo Parenting, The Huffington Post, and WBUR’s Cognoscenti. A proud stepmom of two grown-up children, she lives outside Boston with her husband and eleven-year-old son.

Join Wendy at her launch event at An Unlikely Story @ April 6th 8 p ET, in conversation with Kristy Woodson Harvey

Social Links:

Buy Links: 



Her Dark Lies

Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison

Published: March 2021 – Mira

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Jutting from sparkling turquoise waters off the Italian coast, Isle Isola is an idyllic setting for a wedding. In the majestic cliff-top villa owned by the wealthy Compton family, up-and-coming artist Claire Hunter will marry handsome, charming Jack Compton, surrounded by close family, intimate friends…and a host of dark secrets.

From the moment Claire sets foot on the island, something seems amiss. Skeletal remains have just been found. There are other, newer disturbances, too. Menacing texts. A ruined wedding dress. And one troubling shadow hanging over Claire’s otherwise blissful relationship—the strange mystery surrounding Jack’s first wife.

Then a raging storm descends, the power goes out—and the real terror begins… (publisher)

My take:  A wedding at the groom’s family home on an island off the coast of Italy. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Claire is set to become part of the Comptom family and live happily ever after. When she arrives she gets the feeling that things aren’t as they seem. From sightings of ghostly images, to troubling things happening all around (her ruined wedding dress, for one), to an ever increasing body count, Claire is wondering what she’s getting into. The huge home with it’s unsettling staff of long-time employees help create a gothic tone to the novel and made me wonder if this wedding would actually take place. It seems everyone has secrets and a bit of an axe to grind. There’s plenty of action too – J.T. Ellison had me holding my breath with the exciting conclusion!


About the author:

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 25 novels, and the EMMY® award winning co-host of the literary show A WORD ON WORDS. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 28 countries. She lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.

Social Links:

Website: https://www.jtellison.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTEllison14/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thrillerchick 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thrillerchick 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/shop/jtellison 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jtellison 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-t-ellison 

Mailing List: https://www.jtellison.com/subscribe 

 

Buy Links:

Are We There Yet?

Are We There Yet? by Kathleen West

Published:  March 16, 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

About:

Alice Sullivan, a high-achieving architect and mom of two, is used to being in control. Until life rips the blueprints right out of her hands. 

While she’s always strived for a picture perfect life, Alice’s foundation is rocked when she discovers her daughter is failing reading at school, and worse, her son is a bully, having humiliated a classmate on stage in front of 500 of their peers. Alice feels desperate to make things right, but when she turns to her friends for support, she discovers her own social standing has eroded now that she’s one of “those moms” who can’t control her kids.

As she tries to figure out where she went wrong, her curated life unravels further. She faces setbacks with a key client, her husband travels incessantly for business, and her mother decides to unload a family secret she’s kept for more than thirty years–one that shifts Alice’s entire perception of herself.

Despite her attempts to keep things under control, Alice can no longer rely on a spotless kitchen and an inventive mudroom design to make her feel better. She’s been trying to beat the competition, measuring her success and happiness by everyone else’s standards. Alice finds help, comfort, and strength from unexpected places, once she realizes that no one’s got it all together, and that maybe that’s okay. (publisher)

My take:  This is one of those novels that makes me glad I raised my kids before the dawn of social media. Not without challenges but bringing kids through the 80s, 90s and into the oughts seems a walk in the park compared to today. I fielded calls from the school principal on an almost weekly basis for one of my kids. Thank goodness I didn’t have to read about said child on numerous social platforms.

Anyway, when Alice’s seemingly wonderful life flips on her she is forced to face her reality and rethink what is truly important. Fans of mommy lit – women’s fiction will relate because we’ve all been there or know someone who has.


About the author:

Kathleen West is a veteran middle and high-school teacher. She graduated with a degree in English from Macalester College and holds a Master’s degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis with her hilarious husband, two sporty sons, and very bad goldendoodle.


 

An Unexpected Peril

An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn

Published:  March 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A princess is missing and a peace treaty is on the verge of collapse in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

January 1889. As the newest member of the Curiosity Club–an elite society of brilliant, intrepid women–Veronica Speedwell is excited to put her many skills to good use. As she assembles a memorial exhibition for pioneering mountain climber Alice Baker-Greene, Veronica discovers evidence that the recent death was not a tragic climbing accident but murder. Veronica and her natural historian beau, Stoker, tell the patron of the exhibit, Princess Gisela of Alpenwald, of their findings. With Europe on the verge of war, Gisela’s chancellor, Count von Rechstein, does not want to make waves–and before Veronica and Stoker can figure out their next move, the princess disappears.

Having noted Veronica’s resemblance to the princess, von Rechstein begs her to pose as Gisela for the sake of the peace treaty that brought the princess to England. Veronica reluctantly agrees to the scheme. She and Stoker must work together to keep the treaty intact while navigating unwelcome advances, assassination attempts, and Veronica’s own family–the royalty who has never claimed her. (publisher)

My take:  An Unexpected Peril is another fun adventure for Veronica and Stoker. They want to find out who murdered a renowned mountain climber. And, since she so closely resembles the suddenly missing Princess of Alpenwald (a tiny and fictional mountainous country), Veronica will pose as Princess Gisela during an exhibit honoring the dead climber. I’m laughing as I write this and I laughed a lot while reading the book. I love the dry wit and consternation Veronica and Stoker have with each other and other people in general. The duo find themselves in the midst of royal political machinations that could put them in quite a jam. It was an enjoyable read and can stand alone for readers new to the series – so don’t let the fact that this is the sixth book stop you from jumping on the Veronica and Stoker train!


 

The Vineyard at Painted Moon

The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery

Published:  February 2021 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher

Description:

MacKenzie Dienes’s life isn’t perfect, but it’s as close as she could ever hope to get. Her marriage to Rhys, her best friend’s brother, is more friendship than true love. But passion is highly overrated, right? And she loves her job as the winemaker at Bel Apres, her in-laws’ vineyard. So what if it’s a family business and, even after decades of marriage and incredible professional success, she’s still barred from the family business meetings? It’s all enough…until one last night spent together leads to an incredibly honest—and painful—conversation. Rhys suggests that they divorce. They haven’t had a marriage in a long time and, while he wants her to keep her job at Bel Apres, he doesn’t think they should be married any longer. Shocked, MacKenzie reels at the prospect of losing the only family she’s ever really known…even though she knows deep in her heart that Rhys is right.

But when MacKenzie discovers she’s pregnant, walking away to begin a new life isn’t so easy. She never could have anticipated the changes it would bring to the relationships she cherishes most: her relationship with Barbara, her mother-in-law and partner at Bel Apres, Stephanie, her sister-in-law and best friend, and Bel Apres, the company she’s worked so hard to put on the map.

MacKenzie has always dreamed of creating a vineyard of her own, a chance to leave a legacy for her unborn child. So when the opportunity arises, she jumps at it and builds the Vineyard at Painted Moon. But following her dreams will come at a high price—one that MacKenzie isn’t so sure she’s willing to pay…

My take:  The Vineyard at Painted Moon is the story of family run winery headed by a vindictive, narcissistic matriarch. When her son Rhys and daughter-in-law Mackenzie decide to divorce a series of events cause large-scale change within the Bel Apres winery. This book had me thinking back to the tv series Falcon Crest (80s nighttime soap). There’s an over-the-top mother/villainess, characters to cheer on, and a lovely epilogue. A good starting over story, emotional and soapy.  It would be a good beach read or one to take you out of the quarantine blues. Also included are recipes as well as wine info and pairings.


About the author:

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

Photo credit:  Annie Brady

Social Links:

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1335912797/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vamf_tkin_p1_i6 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-susan-mallery/1136918902?ean=9781335912794 

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-9781335912794/9781335912794 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335912794 

Libro.fm: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781488210488 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Vineyard-Painted-Moon/Susan-Mallery/Q840696538?id=7843731390040 

Target: https://www.target.com/p/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon-by-susan-mallery-hardcover/-/A-80128583 

Walmart: https://www.walmart.com/ip/The-Vineyard-at-Painted-Moon-Hardcover/508623296 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-vineyard-at-painted-moon/id1509949550 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susan_Mallery_The_Vineyard_at_Painted_Moon?id=aL3eDwAAQBAJ 


 

The Love Proof

The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry

Published:  February 9, 2021 – Atria Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.

When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities. (publisher)

My take:  The Love Proof is the story of Sophie and Jake. They meet during their first days at Yale and spend almost every day together until life takes them in different directions. They are gifted in different ways and have an amazing personal connection – all leading to an unanticipated future. We learn their story via flashbacks and the present (future). A bit angsty at times but it seemed to fit. Author Madeleine Henry had me feeling the emotions. If you like novels about the nature of love, unique personalities, with a dose of physics and philosophy be sure to give this one a try. 


About the author:

Madeleine Henry is the author of The Love Proof and Breathe In, Cash Out. She has appeared on NBC, WABC, The Jenny McCarthy Show, and Inspire Living. She has been featured in the New York Post, Parade, and Observer Media. Previously, she worked at Goldman Sachs and in investment management after graduating from Yale in 2014. She lives in New York City.

Instagram: @madeleineshenry and @madeleinehenryyoga

Twitter: @madeleineshenry


Early Praise for The Love Proof:

The Love Proof is a fascinating story about how love opens us up to the remarkable possibilities of the universe. Smart, sexy, and scientific.” —Jill Santopolo, New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost

 

“This brilliant novel attempts to answer the age-old question: What happens when all-consuming, passionate love comes to an end? Henry crafts a connection so real between Jake and Sophie, it left me breathless. A must-read.” —Colleen Oakley, USA Todaybestselling author of You Were There Too

 

“I could not put this book down. Madeleine Henry has masterfully crafted a touching and timeless tale about the enduring power of first love. Just like the magic between Sophie and Jake, The Love Proof will captivate you from the start and leave you hoping it never has to end.” —Amy Blumenfeld, author of The Cast


 

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


 

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


 

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.


 

She Gets That From Me

 

She Gets That From Me by Robin Wells

Published:  September 22, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Quinn never expected that her best friend’s courageous decision to be a single mother by choice would end up transforming her own life in this poignant novel from USA Today bestselling author Robin Wells.
 
When Quinn Langston’s best friend unexpectedly passes away, Quinn embraces Brooke’s three-year-old daughter Lily and elderly grandmother Margaret as the family she’s always wanted.  She’ll do whatever it takes to help them heal, but she didn’t anticipate Lily’s biological father would be part of the plan. Margaret is old-fashioned, though, and she has no compunction about finding a way to reach Lily’s dad, a sperm donor. After all, he’s a blood relative, and she believes family should raise family.
 
 Zack Bradley doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out he has a child. Sperm donors don’t usually get to meet their…well, he’s not sure what to call Lily yet, but he’s certain he wants to get to know her. There’s just one of problem: he’s about to move to Seattle with his wife, Jessica, who’s undergone multiple infertility treatments, desperately wants a family of her own and can’t stand the idea of Zack playing daddy to another woman’s child.
 
Together, they’ll all learn that the human heart is infinitely expandable and there are many different roads to family. (publisher)

My take:  When the unthinkable happens to Quinn’s best friend she steps in to care for 3 year old Lily(who was conceived via donor from a fertility center) and her great-grandmother Margaret. Around this time Zack and his wife Jessica are going through their own infertility heartbreak. I won’t spoil how all the principals are drawn together but at one point I highlighted this passage:

‘ “Good Lord – sounds like an episode of Maury Povich just happened in here,” the aide whispers to the therapist.’  – (location 4145)

That was definitely the vibe I was getting while reading but I also think author Robin Wells wrote with heart and empathy. No matter how selfishly I believe Jessica acted Wells still let me find some sympathy for her situation.

The subject of infertility could be a trigger for some readers and that’s what this novel is about. It got a bit soapy at times but if you like to read novels about all kinds of families you’ll want to add She Gets That From Me to your list. I’m glad I had the chance to discover Robin Wells and will be interested to see what she writes next.


About the author:

Robin Wells was an advertising and public relations executive before becoming a full-time writer. She always dreamed of writing novels–a dream inspired by a grandmother who told “hot tales” and parents who were both librarians. Her books have won the RWA Golden Heart, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and numerous other awards. She now lives in Texas with her husband, but will always be a Louisiana girl at heart.

Author photo credit: Arden Wells


 

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Vérant

Published:  September 2020 – Berkley Trade

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

French-born American chef Sophie Valroux had one dream: to be part of the 1% of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant. From spending summers with her grandmother, who taught her the power of cooking and food, to attending the Culinary Institute of America, Sophie finds herself on the cusp of getting everything she’s dreamed of.

Until her career goes up in flames.

Sabotaged by a fellow chef, Sophie is fired, leaving her reputation ruined and confidence shaken. To add fuel to the fire, Sophie learns that her grandmother has suffered a stroke and takes the red-eye to France. There, Sophie discovers the simple home she remembers from her childhood is now a luxurious château, complete with two restaurants and a vineyard. As Sophie tries to reestablish herself in the kitchen, she comes to understand the lengths people will go to for success and love, and how dreams can change. (publisher)

My take:  If you love to immerse yourself in foodie fiction, romantic stories and feel-good second chance tales you’ll want to read The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux.

After enduring public humiliation in New York Sophie goes to France when she gets the call that her beloved grandmother is ill. This is the woman who sparked Sophie’s love of cooking from a young age when she still lived at the family Chateau. Sophie will do anything to have more time with her grandmother as well as help at the Chateau. This is a gift because she’ll have a chance to regroup and find the confidence in the kitchen she’d lost in New York.

I enjoyed the author’s descriptive writing about the setting, food and people. This is a sweet story and  Samantha Vérant’s debut novel. I look forward to seeing what she writes next.


 

Spotlight on: Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

 

Content provided by the publicist

Description:

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.


  • Title: Here to Stay
  • Author: Adriana Herrera
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Imprint: Carina Press
  • On-Sale: August 25, 2020
  • Format: Ebook (Trade Paperback & Audiobook formats also available!)
  • Ebook ISBN: 9780369700926
  • Ebook Price: $3.99 USD

 

 

Buy Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780369700926_here-to-stay.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Here-Stay-Adriana-Herrera-ebook/dp/B086R2QY77

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/here-to-stay-adriana-herrera/1136795733

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/here-to-stay/id1506190677

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Adriana_Herrera_Here_to_Stay?id=_-zaDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/here-to-stay-20


About Adriana Herrera

Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s ‘Best Romance Debuts of 2019’, and one of the ‘Top 10 Romances of 2019’ by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezcla and Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective. Represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.

Connect with Adriana Herrera

Website: https://adrianaherreraromance.com 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladrianaherrera 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laura.adriana.94801 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ladriana_herrera/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18639202.Adriana_Herrera 


 

The Last Mrs. Summers

The Last Mrs. Summers by Rhys Bowen

Published:  August 4, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: 

I am a bit at loose ends at the moment. My cook, Queenie, is making my new role as mistress of Eynsleigh something akin to constant torture as Darcy is off on another one of his top secret jaunts. And Grandad is busy helping wayward youths avoid lives of crime. So when my dearest friend, Belinda, inherits an old cottage in Cornwall and begs me to go with her to inspect the property, I jump at the chance.

After a heart-stopping journey in Belinda’s beast of a motorcar, we arrive at the creaky old cottage called White Sails and quickly realize that it is completely uninhabitable. Just when I’m starting to wonder if I would have been better off trying to get Queenie to cook a roast that hasn’t been burnt beyond all recognition, we meet Rose Summers, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent time in Cornwall. Rose invites us to stay at Trewoma Hall, the lovely estate now owned by her husband, Tony.

Belinda confesses that she never liked Rose and had a fling with Tony years ago, so staying with them is far from ideal but beggars can’t be choosers as they say. Trewoma is not the idyllic house Belinda remembers. There’s something claustrophobic and foreboding about the place. Matters aren’t helped by the oppressively efficient housekeeper Mrs. Mannering or by the fact that Tony seems to want to rekindle whatever he and Belinda once had right under his wife’s nose.

Our increasingly awkward visit soon turns deadly when a member of the household is found murdered and all clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. I soon learn that some long buried secrets have come back to haunt those in residence at Trewoma Hall and I’ll need to sift through the ruins of their past so Belinda doesn’t lose her chance at freedom in the present. . . .  (publisher)

My take: I haven’t visited Georgie, Darcy, and company for quite a while. I read the first few books in the series and then it got away from me. That’s all to say I wasn’t lost jumping back in at this late date.

Darcy is off on assignment leaving Georgie at loose ends. When Belinda asks her to accompany her as she takes a look at a Cornwall cottage she’s inherited Georgie accepts. In due course they find themselves involved in a mystery and among the suspects of a murder. Sounds serious, doesn’t it? Well, parts are but other parts are laugh out loud funny. I was completely invested in the crime solving and can’t wait to read another of this wonderful series. Highly recommended to fans of the genre!

Note: I also used an Audible credit to listen when I couldn’t sit and read. Narrator Jasmine Blackborow did a fabulous job voicing the various characters. What a treat!


 

A Little Bit Of Grace

A Little Bit Of Grace by Phoebe Fox

Published:  August 11, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Family is everything—Grace Adams McHale’s mom must have said it to her a thousand times before she died. Before Grace’s dad ran off with an aspiring actress half his age. Before only-child Grace found out she was unable to have children of her own. Before Brian—her childhood best friend, business partner, and finally her husband—dropped a “bombshell” on her in the form of her stunning new replacement.

Which means Grace now has…nothing.

Until she receives a letter from a woman claiming to be a relative Grace never knew she had, sending her on a journey from the childhood home she had to move back into, to a Florida island to meet a total stranger who embraces her as family. There, Grace starts to uncover answers about the eccentric woman her family never mentioned: a larger-than-life octogenarian who is the keeper of a secret held for more than fifty years, and the ultimate inspiration to always be true to yourself. As Grace gets to know this woman and picks up the pieces of her own shattered life, she is forced to question whether she can find forgiveness for the unforgivable. (publisher)

My take:  Grace married the boy next door, her best friend, and they practiced law in the same firm. A HEA if I ever read one. And then Grace’s husband told her he wasn’t happy and they divorced. There’s more to their story and when faced with the last straw Grace realized she needed a change of scenery. She flew to Florida to visit her (newly found) great-aunt Milly. I loved Milly and Grace and the way they got to know each other. Milly had a lot to teach Grace and Grace was family that Milly didn’t know she had – what a gift! This is a story about finding the courage to take a new direction. It’s about trusting yourself first and accepting (some) change as a new normal. I loved this heartfelt story and recommend to fans of women’s fiction. I  can’t wait to see what Phoebe Fox writes next.


 

Lies, Lies, Lies (Excerpt)

Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks

Published:  August 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Book Summary:

LIES LIES LIES (MIRA Trade Paperback; August 4, 2020; $17.99) centers on the story of Simon and Daisy Barnes. To the outside world, Simon and Daisy look like they have a perfect life. They have jobs they love, an angelic, talented daughter, a tight group of friends… and they have secrets too. Secrets that will find their way to the light, one way or the other.

Daisy and Simon spent almost a decade hoping for the child that fate cruelly seemed to keep from them. It wasn’t until, with their marriage nearly in shambles and Daisy driven to desperation, little Millie was born. Perfect in every way, healing the Barnes family into a happy unit of three. Ever indulgent Simon hopes for one more miracle, one more baby. But his doctor’s visit shatters the illusion of the family he holds so dear.

Now, Simon has turned to the bottle to deal with his revelation and Daisy is trying to keep both of their secrets from spilling outside of their home. But Daisy’s silence and Simon’s habit begin to build until they set off a catastrophic chain of events that will destroy life as they know it.


Prologue

May 1976

Simon was six years old when he first tasted beer.

He was bathed and ready for bed wearing soft pyjamas, even though it was light outside; still early. Other kids were in the street, playing on their bikes, kicking a football. He could hear them through the open window, although he couldn’t see them because the blinds were closed. His daddy didn’t like the evening light glaring on the TV screen, his mummy didn’t like the neighbours looking in; keeping the room dark was something they agreed on.

His mummy didn’t like a lot of things: wasted food, messy bedrooms, Daddy driving too fast, his sister throwing a tantrum in public. Mummy liked ‘having standards’. He didn’t know what that meant, exactly. There was a standard-bearer at Cubs; he was a big boy and got to wave the flag at the front of the parade, but his mummy didn’t have a flag, so it was unclear. What was clear was that she didn’t like him to be in the street after six o’clock. She thought it was common. He wasn’t sure what common was either, something to do with having fun. She bathed him straight after tea and made him put on pyjamas, so that he couldn’t sneak outside.

He didn’t know what his daddy didn’t like, just what he did like. His daddy was always thirsty and liked a drink. When he was thirsty he was grumpy and when he had a drink, he laughed a lot. His daddy was an accountant and like to count in lots of different ways: “a swift one’, “a cold one’, and ‘one more for the road’. Sometimes Simon though his daddy was lying when he said he was an accountant; most likely, he was a pirate or a wizard. He said to people, “Pick your poison’, which sounded like something pirates might say, and he liked to drink, “the hair of a dog’ in the morning at the weekends, which was definitely a spell. Simon asked his mummy about it once and she told him to stop being silly and never to say those silly things outside the house.

He had been playing with his Etch A Sketch, which was only two months old and was a birthday present. Having seen it advertised on TV, Simon had begged for it, but it was disappointing. Just two silly knobs making lines that went up and down, side to side. Limited. Boring. He was bored. The furniture in the room was organised so all of it was pointing at the TV which was blaring but not interesting. The news. His parents liked watching the news, but he didn’t. His father was nursing a can of the grown ups’ pop that Simon was never allowed. The pop that smelt like nothing else, fruity and dark and tempting.

“Can I have a sip?” he asked.

“Don’t be silly, Simon,” his mother interjected. “You’re far too young. Beer is for daddies.” He thought she said ‘daddies’, but she might have said ‘baddies’.

His father put the can to his lips, glared at his mother, cold. A look that said, “Shut up woman, this is man’s business.” His mother had blushed, looked away as though she couldn’t stand to watch, but she held her tongue. Perhaps she thought the bitterness wouldn’t be to his taste, that one sip would put him off. He didn’t like the taste. But he enjoyed the collusion. He didn’t know that word then, but he instinctively understood the thrill. He and his daddy drinking grown ups’ pop! His father had looked satisfied when he swallowed back the first mouthful, then pushed for a second. He looked almost proud. Simon tasted the aluminium can, the snappy biting bitter bubbles and it lit a fuse.

After that, in the mornings, Simon would sometimes get up early, before Mummy or Daddy or his little sister, and he’d dash around the house before school, tidying up. He’d open the curtains, empty the ashtrays, clear away the discarded cans. Invariably his mother went to bed before his father. Perhaps she didn’t want to have to watch him drink himself into a stupor every night, perhaps she hoped denying him an audience might take away some of the fun for him, some of the need. She never saw just how bad the place looked by the time his father staggered upstairs to bed. Simon knew it was important that she didn’t see that particular brand of chaos.

Occasionally there would be a small amount of beer left in one of the cans. Simon would slurp it back. He found he liked the flat, forbidden, taste just as much as the fizzy hit of fresh beer. He’d throw open a window, so the cigarette smoke and the secrets could drift away. When his mother came downstairs, she would smile at him and thank him for tidying up.

“You’re a good boy, Simon,” she’d say with some relief. And no idea.

When there weren’t dregs to be slugged, he sometimes opened a new can. Threw half of it down his throat before eating his breakfast. His father never kept count.

Some people say their favourite smell is freshly baked bread, others say coffee or a campfire. From a very young age, few scents could pop Simon’s nerve endings like the scent of beer.

The promise of it.

 

Excerpted from Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks, Copyright © 2020 by Adele Parks. 

Published by MIRA Books


Author Bio: 

Adele Parks was born in Teesside, North-East England. Her first novel, Playing Away, was published in 2000 and since then she’s had seventeen international bestsellers, translated into twenty-six languages, including I Invited Her In. She’s been an Ambassador for The Reading Agency and a judge for the Costa. She’s lived in Italy, Botswana and London, and is now settled in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband, teenage son and cat.

photo credit:  Sekkides

Social links:

Buy links:

 

LIES LIES LIES

Author: Adele Parks

ISBN: 9780778360889

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books


 

 

Paris Never Leaves You

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Published:  August 4, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.

The war is over, but the past is never past.  

My take:  Charlotte survived occupied Paris, managing to protect her child because of choices she made. Those choices resurface years after she and her daughter moved to America. Feelings of shame return as a letter brings about memories of a time she wants to forget. The theme of survivor’s guilt runs through the novel – not just for Charlotte but also the man she works for in New York. They both learn lessons of forgiveness, acceptance, and finding the courage to move forward in life.

I think because half of the book is about Charlotte’s life in New York, Paris Never Leaves You is different from other WWII era novels I’ve read. Ultimately, it’s an emotional story that I’m glad I had the chance to read.


About the author:

Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting, Next to Love, Scottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her last novel, Terrible Virtue, was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film.

Buy Links:

Praise for Paris Never Leaves You

 

“A memorable, thought-provoking moral conflict, and dialogue [that] crackles like a duel… Paris Never Leaves You succeeds as a meaty moral tale.” —Historical Novel Society

“Fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale may want to pick this up.” —Booklist 

“Nothing is quite what it seems… Wartime Paris is described in vivid, sometimes harrowing, detail… [An] engrossing page-turner.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The best works of historical fiction have a way of illuminating the present, allowing readers to better understand themselves through well-defined characters reflected in the prism of time…. Feldman does this beautifully in a multi-layered, tender story that explores the emotionally charged, often parallel terrains of truth, deception, love and heartbreak.” —Shelf Awareness

“A nuanced WWII story of love and survival in Occupied Paris… With its appealing heroine and historically detailed settings… a dangerous secret gives Feldman’s story a gasp-worthy spin.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Things are seldom as they seem in this engrossing tale of identity, survival, loyalty, and love…Recommend with enthusiasm.” —Library Journal

“Ellen Feldman’s writing is riveting in this beautiful novel that tells the bittersweet story of a young mother’s strength and survival during WWII. From a tiny bookstore in Nazi-occupied Paris to a post-war New York publishing house, Feldman effortlessly captures the terror, immediacy, and inextinguishable human spirit.” —Noelle Salazar, author of The Flight Girls 

“Completely compelling. I tore through it. This novel pivots on how we manage to survive surviving… Charlotte’s visceral story will stay with me.” —Naomi Wood, New York Times best-selling author of Mrs. Hemingway and The Hiding Game

“Feldman’s powerful exploration of some of the most profound questions about love and loyalty resonates strongly today: What would you do to save your child? What is morality in wartime? How do we make peace with the past?” —Christina Lynch, author of The Italian Party

“This is an exquisite novel – one that gives us what we’re hungry for: an intelligent, complex female character who challenges our ideas of right and wrong, morality and immorality. We’re reminded, too, of the dangers of drawing easy, swift conclusions. Feldman achieves all of this with wholly admirable precision and wit; she takes aim and does not miss.” —Elizabeth J. Church, author of The Atomic Weight of Love and All the Beautiful Girls

“A fluid, rich, and nuanced novel, expertly crafted, guaranteed to follow you around long after you’ve turned the last page. I gulped it down.” —Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra, Vera, The Witches, and A Great Improvisation 

“Feldman’s characters—in the Paris bookstore that harbors many secrets or the Manhattan publishing house with its marvelous cast of misfits—are both terrifying and utterly engaging. With more twists and turns than the back streets of Paris, the story is as propulsively readable as a spy novel, and as rich and psychologically rewarding as only the finest literature can be.” —Liza Gyllenhaal, author of Local Knowledge and Bleeding Heart

“…a vivid and precise portrait of that city under German occupation during the Second World War, but it is also an exploration of the courage and cowardice of those bitter years, as well as offering a slyly persuasive love story. The swift, engrossing narrative conceals, in the best way, the fact that Feldman is also giving us a wise and troubling lesson about the great moral crisis of the last century.” —Richard Snow, author of Iron Dawn

“A thrilling achievement…I was thoroughly drawn into a deep, rich, vivid world of engrossing characters and emotional and moral crises…a great piece of writing in every way.” —Fred Allen, Leadership Editor, Forbes


 

The Friendship List

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Published:  August 2020 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest…only to discover that possibilities are everywhere–especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband’s shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he’s literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they’ll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish–everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…

My take:  Ellen and Unity have been friends since they were young girls. Ellen, a single mom of a seventeen year old son, got pregnant the night of her junior prom (the last time she went out with her son’s father). She had her son, finished high school and then college while living with her parents, and then got on with life as a single mom. Unity married her high school sweetheart. He was in the army and when he was killed she returned to their hometown. Ellen and Unity have been stuck in emotional ruts and they realize they aren’t getting any younger so they challenge each other with writing a list of things each woman wants/needs to do.  It was fun to see them start to come out of their shells as they crossed items off and courageously moved toward a new phase of life. Susan Mallery balanced the serious subjects with a light tone and humor. A reader discussion guide and a few recipes are included at the end.


About the author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

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