Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication:  September 24, 2019 – HQN

Book courtesy of HQN, NetGalley and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?  (publisher)

My take:  If, like me, readers of the Haven Point series have been wondering about Luke and Elizabeth Hamilton – this is their book!  Her disappearance several years earlier sparked many wild theories among locals, none that placed Luke in a positive light. When Elizabeth comes back to Haven Point she reveals what happened. RaeAnne Thayne gives readers a plausible, emotional story. This novel touches on depression (clinical and postpartum) and my heart went out to Elizabeth and the family she left behind. Coming Home for Christmas is a story of forgiveness and courage – and love. Perfect themes for the season. Recommended to fans of the series, RaeAnne Thayne, and a good Christmas story.


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on:  cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 60 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website a http://www.raeannethayne.com


 

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Paperback Published:  June 25, 2019 – MIRA

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

When you climb a tree, the first thing you do is to hold on tight…

Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy—Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

Now it’s time for Harry to let go…

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements—a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive—come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures. (publisher)

My take:  Life is not without tragedy but the secret is to persevere, keep moving forward. Maybe, just maybe, one will find moments of happiness and contentment. That’s the lesson for us all but especially Harry, Amanda and Oriana.

Jon Cohen created lovely main characters and then added quirky, flawed secondary characters that formed the kind of novel I needed at the moment. It was heart-tugging, magical, tender and, at times, quite funny. And who doesn’t like a story that stresses the immense value of libraries and books!

Recommended.


 

Spotlight: The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew

THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW
by 

MILLY JOHNSON

On Sale: July 29, 2019

 

Purchase Link:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Magnificent-Mrs-Mayhew/Milly-Johnson/9781982129781

 

About THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW:

Milly Johnson, the Queen of Feel-Good Fiction and The Sunday Times bestselling author, is back with a “glorious, heartfelt novel” (Rowan Coleman, New York Times bestselling author) about a woman trying to find her own place in the world, who through love, loss, and the kindness of strangers, discovers everything she needs in a village by the sea.

 

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of every successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhew seems to have the perfect life. The glamourous wife of a rising political star who is one step away from the highest position in the government, she matches her husband in looks, pedigree, and money. But he has made some stupid mistakes on his way to the top, and some of those mistakes are just now threatening to emerge. Still, this can all be swept under the rug so long as Sophie the Trophy plays her part in front of the cameras. But the words that tumble out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors drilled into her head.

Bursting out of the restrictive mold that has been tightening around her since birth, Sophie flees to a small village on the coast, a safe haven from her childhood days, where she intends to be alone. But once there, she finds a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time in her life. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long, though, so she must decide: where does her real future lie?


About MILLY JOHNSON

Milly Johnson is The Sunday Times bestselling author of numerous novels about the universal issues of friendship, family, love, betrayal, good food, and the little bit of that magic in life that sometimes visits the unsuspecting. Milly is a columnist for her local newspaper and is also an experienced broadcaster on radio and TV. She can be booked via the Women Speakers Agency for motivational speaking events. Milly is patron of several charities, including Yorkshire Cat Rescue and The Well at the Core. Her publishers call her The Queen of Feel-Good Fiction, and together they are aiming to spread as much joy as possible with every book published. Find out more at MillyJohnson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @MillyJohnson.


Excerpt from THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW:

 

Chapter 1

 

DOORSTEPGATE, 11 A.M.

 

As Sophie stood in the middle of them all, the moment strangely crystalized for her, as if time had frozen solid and she was able to study everything at leisure, appreciate how odd it was to be surrounded by familiar people in the house she had lived in for eight years and yet still feel as if she had been dropped from a great height into a roomful of strangers.

She saw her mother seated, holding a cup of tea in one hand and the accompanying china saucer in the other, talking to her father, who was standing, one hand slotted stiffly in his jacket pocket; his default pose, as if he were a catalogue model. Mother was talking to him and Father had a polite smile of concentration on his face. Standing next to him, her parents-in-law, Clive and Celeste, looking serious and focused as if they were building up to jumping out of a plane. Sophie’s husband, John, deep in conversation with the top pick of his aides: Parliamentary Assistant (London) Rupert Bartley-Green; Senior Communications Director and Press Officer Len Spinks; Chief of Staff Edward Mayhew, who also happened to be John’s eldest brother; and Executive Office Manager (Cherlgrove) Findlay Norris. Between his two governmental bases and the office that looked after his investment and property portfolio, John had more staff than the POTUS, although there was an opening for a girl Friday (London) now, since his last one was currently enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame. The “people” of breakfast and daytime TV, and every program that attracted those the media chose to concentrate its temporary but brightest lights on, were no doubt already negotiating appearance fees with her “people.” Why is it always someone in that junior assistant/intern/researcher role who topples the boss? thought Sophie. Weren’t there enough cautionary tales of littered corpses to warn any man in a high-profile position—who really should know better—what dark and treacherous waters he elected to dip into when he chose a pretty, young, ambitious swimming companion? A pond with a hundred signs around it, all lit up with massive red neon lettering and strings of exclamation marks: warning. danger. come any closer and you’re a bloody idiot!!!!!

It would have been easy for the other woman to fall in love with her husband, though; if that were what it was. John could sell ice to the Eskimos, coal to Newcastle, toys to Santa, and all the other clichés. Charm personified, absurdly handsome, moneyed, intelligent, refined—oh yes, John F. Mayhew was the full package. Sophie could guess how quickly Rebecca Robinson would have become ensnared in his net, even thrown herself into it willingly, because she had done the same thing fourteen years ago, when she was eighteen.

She’d met him at the Christmas Ball when she was in her first year at Cambridge University, studying French, and he was in his last year studying business and politics. He’d been absolutely wrecked on champagne and told her he was going to marry her, before his friends dragged him off for yet more alcohol. She didn’t think much about it until Valentine’s Day, when their paths collided again at a private party. She spotted him long before he noticed her, which gave her the luxury of studying him unseen. He wasn’t her dream type at all, but he was extremely magnetic, and from the way he held himself, it was more than obvious he knew what his best qualities were. He was long limbed and lean, and she imagined him as a human equivalent of a well-bred racehorse, something pampered and valued. Greek-statue profile, midbrown hair that flopped into his eyes— and what eyes they were: puppy-brown, intense, seductive. Eventually, as if detecting the heat in her gaze, his eyes swept around to hers, locked, and she felt powerless, as if she were a hen and he a fox. He sliced through the banks of students that stood between them, mouth stretching into a killer smile, and when he reached her, said:

“Well, if it isn’t you again. Where have you been hiding yourself?”

And from that moment they were a couple. Sophie forgot all about swooning over the rugby player who was in her class, which was a shame because he would end up captaining England and was a thoroughly nice chap, but John F. Mayhew engulfed her brain and was all she could think about.

John F. was going to be richer than Croesus and prime minister one day, he said, and she didn’t doubt that he would be. She could easily forecast his future: top of the tree in his chosen profession, women would adore him, men would want to be him, magazine reporters would queue up outside his door to take photos of the beautiful home he lived in. His children would be perfect and well behaved. Maybe they’d be her children, too. Maybe this was the man her old headmistress Miss Palmer-Price told her would be the one to carry her along in the grip of his force field.

The “F” stood for Fitzroy, he told her postcoitus in bed on the night he took her virginity. His great-great-great-grandfather— Donal F. Mayhew—and his best friend, Patrick, had decided to escape the great Irish famine by emigrating to America in the late 1840s. But an Irish heiress fell hook, line, and sinker for the strong and handsome—if impoverished—gypsy Donal and he changed his mind about going. Donal and his wife eventually moved to London, where his determination both to shake off the label of male “gold digger” and to better himself drove him to build up a fortune in his own right selling property, metal, alcohol, ship parts; anything legal or illegal to trade in order to make a profit. Across the pond, Patrick’s family’s fortunes improved with every generation, too. His great-grandson John F. Kennedy became president of the United States of America. The Kennedys, John said, had stolen the idea of using the “F” from the Mayhews, and in doing so had cursed themselves. As if he couldn’t get any more fascinating, traveler magic was thrown into the mix.

By April Sophie could not imagine living without John F. Mayhew; then in May she found that she’d have to, because he dumped her for the fabulously rich wild child Lady Cresta Thorpe. Sophie was heartbroken. John graduated with honors and spent a year touring the world with Cresta, who had dropped out of university, far preferring to indulge her habits of clubbing, cocktails, and cocaine. His life, so she gleaned from gossip, was shining and golden as hers slipped further into the dark and depressing. Her coursework suffered and she started self-medicating with alcohol to blot out the pain. She also realized that the girls she’d thought of as friends weren’t that hot in a crisis. She had never been good at gathering friends. The beautiful, insubstantial people were attracted to her, but the really nice people found her own good looks intimidating.

It took Sophie a long time to get over losing John F. Mayhew, partly because she didn’t have a group of hard-core pals to help chase him out of her heart. She buried her true feelings deep as she had been taught to at school, threw herself into her studies, never let anyone see how wounded she was. Her heart had just about healed by the time she graduated, give or take the scar he had left.

Months later, Sophie had been working as a temp at the London headquarters of the glossy magazine Mint when she heard that they were to run a feature on a young, successful investment banker, a high-risk taker and up-and-coming politician, at home in his recently acquired, stupidly expensive bachelor penthouse. His name was John F. Mayhew. Sophie’s heart started to race. She wangled it so she accompanied the reporter and the photographer, desperate to show herself off at her best to him: content, happy, preened, and perfect— unattainable and indifferent. Or so she thought.

He was overjoyed to see her, ridiculously so, and she was gracious enough not to dampen his delight with a long-overdue rebuke for dumping her so callously. He asked her out to dinner and she accepted, merely for old times’ sake, sure that if he asked to see her again, she would politely refuse, walk away, having shut the door firmly in his face this time.

He had never forgiven himself for the caddish way he had behaved, he said in Le Gavroche. He’d been glamoured by Cresta’s glitzy veneer, but it was mere infatuation. He hadn’t realized how much he felt for Sophie until he lost her. Sophie was in love with him all over again before the dessert menus had been delivered to them.

Six months after the photos of his bachelor pad had been published, John F. Mayhew had moved out and into Park Court, a beautiful, if run-down, country residence—a wedding present from his parents for himself and his new bride-to-be, the sublime Miss Sophie Calladine. She ignored that little voice inside her that warned her about the speed of all this, the worm burying into her happiness. Is this the real deal, Sophie, or are you just grateful to be loved?

To a woman starved for affection, the full spotlight of his attention was blinding, disorientating—of course she knew this. She had gulped it like air seeping through a hole in a vacuum. For that reason, it would be too easy to let that worm convince her that genuine love was not her primary reason for accepting John’s marriage proposal: but it was, it really was. It had to be said, though, that her heart was whooping considerably that she had also earned parental approval for her choice of husband, and she could even hear the echoes of applause from her old headmistress, nodding consent from the afterlife: I knew you’d be a credit to St. Bathsheba’s in the end, Sophie, like your sisters and your mother before you. But she did love him very much. Enough to have sacrificed her own wants and needs on his altar for the past eight and a half years. Enough to be standing here with her heart ripped open in this roomful of people who were looking at her to mend her marriage. Because by doing that, Sophie Mayhew would mend everything.


 

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Pub. date:  August 6, 2019 – Berkley Books

Courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help? (publisher)

My take:  A single mysterious event changes the lives of Genevieve, a wealthy East coast woman, and her son Clark. Genevieve was raised to believe that if she followed the rules her mother taught her she would have a perfect life – and she was living that life until a tragedy changed things. Years later she finds herself caring for one granddaughter and then another. As the years go by Genevieve added more armor and turned into a formidable person who was admired by many but feared by her granddaughter, Emma. When Emma doesn’t follow Genevieves rules she is turned away and left to deal with her predicament at her maternal grandfather’s Chicago area home. Fast forward several years and Emma receives a phone call from Genevieve saying she needs her to come to her Connecticut home and help her as she is quite ill. Emma will have to decide if blood is thicker than water and if she should head back East.

This is a novel that addresses messy family dynamics and how people deal when life throws a curve ball. Just could be, life could take a turn in a good way. I loved learning about Genevieve from the perspectives of Emma and her daughter Riley and I was charmed by several supporting characters. Kristan Higgins had me laughing at times and also reaching for a tissue. All in all, another good story from one of my favorite authors.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: Rosie Colored Glasses

Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

MIRA Trade Paperback Reprint; June 11, 2019

“What a wonderful, emotional ride! It’s like the Ordinary People of the 21st century…such an achievement!” —Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Summer That Made Us

SEEING THE WORLD THROUGH ROSIE COLORED GLASSES

Just as opposites attract, they can also cause friction, and no one feels that friction more than Rex and Rosie’s daughter, Willow. Rex is serious and unsentimental and tapes checklists of chores on Willow’s bedroom door. Rosie is sparkling and enchanting and meets Willow in their treehouse in the middle of the night to feast on candy.

After Rex and Rosie’s divorce, Willow finds herself navigating their two different worlds. She is clearly under the spell of her exciting, fun-loving mother. But as Rosie’s behavior becomes more turbulent, the darker underpinnings of her manic love are revealed.

Rex had removed his Rosie colored glasses long ago, but will Willow do the same?

Whimsical, heartbreaking and uplifting, this is a novel about the many ways love can find you. Rosie Colored Glasses triumphs with the most endearing examples of how mothers and fathers and sons and daughters bend for one another. (Publisher)


Praise for Rosie Colored Glasses:

Rosie Colored Glasses begins with love, imagination and wonder, then slides into haunting loss and longing, but oh, how love remains and bursts forth to fill the story.”

–CAROL FITZGERALD, Bookreporter

“Brianna Wilson has done a marvelous and generous thing by writing Rosie Colored Glasses. I followed Willow with a hopeful, breaking heart, reminded how all of us, daughters, mothers, parents, children, are “different” in so many ways, and yet so beautiful and absolutely deserving of giving and receiving our love. “

–NANCY THAYER, New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer

Rosie Colored Glasses is tender and bright, a compelling novel of a young girl (who completely owned my heart) and the mother she adores and fears and needs so badly. Brianna Wolfson is a wonderful writer. She has captured so brilliantly the demons and angels of mental illness, love and longing.”

–LUANNE RICE, New York Times bestselling author of The Beautiful

“A brilliant and beguiling debut exploring the highs and heartbreaking lows of love. Sparkling, insightful and honest, the Thorpe family’s powerful story will stay in my thoughts for a long time.”

–PHAEDRA PATRICK, author of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Rosie Colored Glasses is a bittersweet, tender exploration of many kinds of love. This compelling novel, with unpredictable turns, reveals what love can save and what it can’t.”

–HELEN KLEIN ROSS, award-winning author of What Was Mine

“Heartbreaking and beautiful all at once… a stained glass window pieced together from shards of broken family life that create an illuminated picture of what it means to survive one’s childhood.”

–BUNMI LADITAN, author of Confessions of a Domestic Failure

“A great debut … Brianna Wolfson’s Rosie Colored Glasses has a voice that is irresistible.”

–J.P. MONNINGER, award winning author of The Map That Leads to You


US Giveaway

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

Published July 9, 2019 – Berkley

Review book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
 
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
 
Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
 
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page. (publisher)

My take:  Twenty-nine year old Nina Hill has lived a fairly singular life. Her single mother thought she didn’t need to know anything about her father and then proceeded to leave Nina in the care of a wonderful nanny until she left for college. Nina relies on herself, her books, and her planner to keep her life in order. Her very organized life is upended when she finds herself with a new family courtesy of the father she never met. Abbi Waxman’s novel is about what can happen if Nina can get past the anxiety and open herself to change and a wonderful new path in life. Nina might just find people who “get her” and even like her. I enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and was delighted to see a few characters from Waxman’s first novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings, make an appearance. Recommended to fans of the author and easy, breezy novels you could read in a day.


About the author:

Abbi Waxman, the author of Other People’s Houses and The Garden of Small Beginnings, is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband. She can be found online at abbiwaxman.com, Facebook.com/abbiwaxmanbooks, and on Twitter @amplecat.


 

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Published:  June 2019 – Ballantine Books

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

My take: On the day Evvie Drake decides to pack up and leave her husband she gets a call from the hospital saying he’s been in a terrible accident. That’s not a spoiler, it happens in the first pages of the book.

Evvie doesn’t tell anyone that she was going to leave thus throwing her into widowhood and keeping up the resulting appearances – even to her best friend. This friend, knowing Evvie needs income, sends another friend who needs a place to live to see about renting the apartment attached to Evvie’s house. Dean is a baseball pitcher who lost his mojo and needs to hide out in a place where he won’t be easily recognized. Small town, midcoast Maine seems like a good place. Evvie and Dean slowly form a friendship that was fun to read. I enjoyed their banter and the slow progression of their relationship. I liked how they figured out, in a not so simple/convenient way, the direction their lives would begin to take.

Themes of depression, anxiety, grief, friendship, and love are touched on in Linda Holmes’ deceptively breezy tale. I read it in an afternoon and recommend it to fans of romantic comedy. I wouldn’t be surprised if this winds up on the big screen.