The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Pub. Date: September 25, 2018 – HQN

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas? (publisher)

My take:  Three sisters, adopted at a young age when their parents perished in a climbing accident, reunite to celebrate Christmas in the Scottish Highlands – and no one is more excited than their adoptive parents, Suzanne and Stewart.

Hannah hasn’t been around for a family Christmas in a few years. Her fast-paced job has kept her occupied. That’s still the case but she also has a secret. Beth is mother to two young children. She wants to return to work and try to recapture some of the person she’d been before kids. Her husband is less than thrilled with the idea. Posy, the sister who stayed in Scotland to work in the family business, has met someone who makes her yearn for a bigger life – one that would take her away from home.

As the three sisters work through their challenges will their parents get the family Christmas they hoped for? I enjoyed finding out and recommend to fans of Sarah Morgan and women’s fiction. Who can resist a Scottish setting at Christmas time? Not this reader!


 

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Rush by Lisa Patton

Rush: A Novel by Lisa Patton

Pub. date:  August 21, 2018

St. Martin’s Press

Review copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press; Tandem Literary

Description:  Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all. (publisher)

My take:  The publisher’s description will tell you about Rush better than I can. What I can tell you is that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It reminded me a bit of The Help at times. Although I’ve never been part of the Greek system experience, one of my daughters has and she read the book before I did. It was fun to discuss her take on the book. She really liked it and will recommend it to some of her ‘sisters’. Lisa Patton’s characters were memorable – even the over-the-top Lilith Whitmore – but my favorites were Miss Pearl, Cali and Ellie. Pearl was the shining beacon that signaled goodness and faith to the young women of Alpha Delta Beta. Cali and Ellie are the new generation of students who see things a bit differently than some of those before them – and aren’t afraid to show it. If you’re looking for a good read in the last few weeks of summer this could be the book for you. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.


Praise for RUSH:

“There’s not a better Southern author today than Lisa Patton. Her delightful new book is a modern look at what is perhaps the most sacred of all Southern rituals: sorority rush at ‘Ole Miss.’ Happily for us, Patton captures to absolute perfection the hilarity, hysteria and heartbreak of it all. Funny, touching and full of twists and turns, I couldn’t have loved it more.” – Fannie Flagg, New York Times bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

“You are in for a treat as the astute Lisa Patton takes you on a hayride through sorority life in the American south. Written with humor, reverence and enough treachery to make it read, RUSH is a magnificent story about mothers and daughters, legacy and tradition and the abiding strength of the sisterhood. Grab the punch bowl and the mixed nuts as this animal house goes crackers. You will love it!” – Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of Kiss Carlo

“RUSH transports us smack dab into the middle of the secret world of sorority rush. We find ourselves behind the scenes with a provocative peek into the world of sorority sisters and the beloved House staff who work tirelessly on their behalf. Lisa Patton has penned a powerful and relevant story infused with raw emotion and the beating heart of her sassy humor.” – Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop at Water’s End


About the author:

Lisa Patton is the bestselling author of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, Yankee Doodle Dixie, Southern as a Second Language, and Rush. Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Lisa spent time as a Vermont innkeeper until three sub-zero winters sent her speeding back down South. A proud graduate of the University of Alabama, Lisa is the mother of two sons, and a furry daughter named Rosie. She and her husband live in the lush, rolling hills of Nashville.


 

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

Every Time You Go Away by Beth Harbison

St. Martin’s Press:  July 24, 2018

Review galley from the publisher and NetGalley

 

Description:  Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son. (publisher)

My take:  Willa’s husband Ben died unexpectedly leaving her to raise their fourteen year old son Jamie. Now, three years later, they are back at their beach house with the intention of getting it ready to sell. Willa is unprepared for seeing Ben again but there he is – or at least a version of him is there and he has a reason for appearing. Willa and Jamie have been stuck since his death and he wants to encourage Willa toward her new future. She has to grapple with all the emotions you’d imagine. This is a bittersweet novel that made me think about how I’d handle things if I were in Willa’s position. I found her reactions and feelings believable. I felt so sad for Jamie and then cheered him on as he began to move through his grief. With the help of their long-time friends Kristin and her daughter Kelsey, the future seems less daunting for Willa and Jamie. There are moments of such sadness balanced by lighter, more humorous scenes making it an emotional reading experience for me. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.


About the author:

BETH HARBISON is The New York Times bestselling author of One Less Problem Without YouIf I Could Turn Back TimeDriving with the Top DownChose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger; When In Doubt, Add Butter; Always Something There To Remind Me; Thin, Rich, Pretty; Hope In A Jar; Secrets of a Shoe Addict; and Shoe Addicts Anonymous. She grew up in Potomac, Maryland, outside Washington, DC, and now shares her time between that suburb, New York City, and a quiet home on the eastern shore.


 

Brief take: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Published:  June 19 2018

William Morrow Paperbacks

ARC courtesy of William Morrow Paperbacks and LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Description:  Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Green changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build. (publisher)

My brief take:  This was such an enjoyable contemporary romance. It has a sympathetic heroine, a yummy hero (and his wonderful extended family) and a crazy plot. If you love Jill Shalvis or if you’re a fan of laugh-out-loud romance that will also tug your heartstrings you’ll want to read Rainy Day Friends. This is the second in the Wildstone series but it can absolutely stand alone.


 

Brief take: How To Keep A Secret by Sarah Morgan

How To Keep A Secret by Sarah Morgan

Narrator:  Laurel Lefkow

Length:  11 hrs. 16 min.

Published: July 10, 2017 Harlequin Audio

Borrowed from my library via Hoopla

My brief take:  I like novels about secrets and this one had plenty. The characters all seem to have secrets and their lives are in a state of flux. There’s Nancy, mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of a 17-year-old.  One daughter is a recent widow and the other wants nothing more than to have a child. Granddaughter Mac finds out the most important people in her life deceived her in a big way. Nancy is on the cusp of finally living the life she craves – but first she’ll have to make some tough decisions. Juicy secrets and the lovely Martha’s Vineyard setting all combined for a novel that made a long solo car trip surprisingly quick.


 

Cottage By The Sea by Debbie Macomber

Cottage By the Sea by Debbie Macomber

Pub. date:  July 17, 2018 – Ballantine

Review galley courtesy of Ballantine and NetGalley

Description:  Annie Marlow has been through the worst. Rocked by tragedy, she heads to the one place that makes her happy: Oceanside in the Pacific Northwest, the destination of many family vacations when Annie was a teenager.
   
Once there, Annie begins to restore her broken spirit, thanks, in part, to the folks she meets: a local painter, Keaton, whose large frame is equal to his big heart—and who helps Annie fix up her rental cottage by the sea; Mellie, the reclusive, prickly landlord Annie is determined to befriend; and Britt, a teenager with a terrible secret. But it is Keaton to whom Annie feels most drawn. His quiet, peaceful nature offers her both comfort and reprieve from her grief, and the two begin to grow closer.

Then events threaten to undo the idyll Annie has longed for. And when the opportunity of a lifetime lands in her lap, she is torn between the excitement of a new journey toward success and the safe and secure arms of the haven—and the man—she’s come to call home.

In this heartwarming tale, Annie finds that the surest way to fix what is damaged within is to help others rise above their pain and find a way to heal.  (publisher)

My take:  Cottage By The Sea is Debbie Macomber’s new stand alone novel. Following a tragedy Annie Marlow is faced with starting her life over. She returns to the little beach town where her family vacationed when she was young. It is a way to connect to everything she has missed from her past and soon becomes a way to create her future. With the help of new friends, all with issues of their own, that’s exactly what she does. The novel deals with some serious themes such as loss of loved ones, domestic abuse, and hoarding. Macomber conveys the emotions without getting too heavy which is what I’ve come to expect from her.


 

The Lido by Libby Page

The Lido by Libby Page

Expected pub. date: July 10, 2018 – Simon & Schuster

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton, London, all her life but everything is changing.

The library where she used to work has closed. The family grocery store has become a trendy bar. And now the lido, an outdoor pool where she’s swum daily since its opening, is threatened with closure by a local housing developer. It was at the lido that Rosemary escaped the devastation of World War II; here she fell in love with her husband, George; here she found community during her marriage and since George’s death.

Twentysomething Kate Matthews has moved to Brixton and feels desperately alone. A once promising writer, she now covers forgettable stories for her local paper. That is, until she’s assigned to write about the lido’s closing. Soon Kate’s portrait of the pool focuses on a singular woman: Rosemary. And as Rosemary slowly opens up to Kate, both women are nourished and transformed in ways they never thought possible.

In the tradition of Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship. (publisher)

My take:  When the neighborhood swimming pool known as the lido is set to be sold many people are upset. Rosemary, in her eighties, has a special attachment to the place. It has played a big part in her life. The local newspaper sends a young reporter, Kate, to cover the rumored sale of the lido. Kate, who deals with anxiety and panic attacks, wants to interview Rosemary for her article but it won’t be as easy as that. Rosemary agrees but only if Kate will swim at the lido with her. Just about the last thing Kate wants to do is buy a swim suit and then go swimming. But she’ll do it for the story. What follows is the story of a community and a place that is important to them all. A story of an unexpected friendship for Rosemary and Kate – at opposite ends of life but kindred spirits all the same. It’s a story about never losing hope. If you’re looking for a warm hug of a book about life this could be one for you. I’m so happy I had a chance to read it and I was really glad to have a box of Kleenex nearby as I finished reading.

Note: Check out pics of the real Brockwell lido here.