The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

Published:  February 2019 – Berkley Books

Book courtesy of Berkley

Description:  Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.  (publisher)

My take:  The Matchmaker’s List is the story of Raina, her Nani (grandmother), and Nani’s quest to match Raina before her 30th birthday. As her birthday approaches Raina agrees to date the possible matches on Nani’s list – some with hilarious results, others are more appalling. They only elevate Raina’s frustration with her choices, cultural and personal, and lead her to reveal something that will set a series of events in motion. How will she rein it all back in? The novel, with some unexpected turns, becomes Raina’s journey to figuring out what she really wants in life. Although I was a bit frustrated with her on more than one occasion I ultimately cheered her on.  Recommended to fans of chick lit that you can imagine ending up on the big screen.


 

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

The Secret of Clouds by Alyson Richman

Published:  February 2019 – Berkley

Finished copy from Berkley

My take:  This is the story of Yuri, a boy whose parents immigrated to the US after the Chernobyl tragedy. They didn’t know the lasting effect that tragedy would have on their future. Their son was born with a heart defect that prevented him from experiencing a life other children and parents take for granted. But it didn’t stop him from loving baseball and his favorite team, the NY Yankees. And that served as a connection to his English tutor, Maggie Topper. They bond over their love of the sport which leads to lively conversations and writing in a journal and reading books. I loved that while Maggie was there to teach Yuri she learned so much from him – ultimately that life is meant to be lived no matter how much time we have.  The Secret of Clouds is an emotional novel. Alyson Richman used baseball, classical music, the power of the written word and the importance of personal interactions – which is to say, she wrote the book I want to read.


 

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

February 2019 – Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint

Book provided by Berkley

Description:  Liam Jones was the love of Juliet’s life. He was her brother’s best friend, then her best friend, then the father of her little boy. In those shining weeks after Zac was born, she had never been happier and neither had Liam.
 
And then one night, Liam disappeared without a trace.
 
Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson collects facts: octopuses have three hearts, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth. But no one will tell him what happened to his father and where he went.
 
When Juliet, inadvertently admits that his father is the only man she’s ever loved, Zac decides he is going to find him and deliver his mom the happily ever after she deserves.

But Liam left for a reason, and as Zac searches for clues of his father, Juliet begins to rebuild what shattered so many years ago.
 
An unforgettable, heart-stopping story of the secrets we keep and of love in all of its many forms. (publisher)

My take:  Ten-year-old Zac loves to learn facts – about everything. His favorite book is a tome of facts. Lately he’s been wanting to discover the facts about his father. He and his best friend Teagan make it their mission to get answers to questions he’s asked (in his mind) for a long time. Little by little he’ll learn the true facts from various sources – but at what cost?

Katy Regan’s novel really tugged at my heartstrings.  I couldn’t help but cheer for Zac and Teagan – wanted to reach through the pages and hug them. Their individual stories are heartbreaking yet hopeful. The inner strength and resilience they show is remarkable. One might expect those qualities from adults but these children shine in the novel.

This is a story about facts and truth and how the same truth is usually different for everyone. We hang on to the truth that helps us get by – but sometimes that’s not enough. As serious as that sounds, there are many moments of levity. I really liked this novel and recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction about living with grief and overcoming difficult circumstances.


 

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

Published: February 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: A young widow embraces a second chance at life when she reconnects with those who understand the sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families in award-winning author Laura Trentham’s The Military Wife.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.

In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts? (publisher)

My take: The Military Wife is an emotional novel about Harper Lee Wilcox, a widow with a young son. She’s still coming to grips with the tragic loss of her husband while trying to provide a normal life for her son. When she meets with a man who survived the mission that claimed her husband she hopes to find the answers she’s sought for so many years. She’ll find much more. Along the way she gets an opportunity to repay a kindness to another military wife and that opens up the possibility to help more. The Military Wife is a story of honor, loss and second chances. I really liked it and look forward to the next book since this is billed as the first of a series.


About the author:

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.


Buy-Book Links: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250145536


 

Paperback release: The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

Berkley Trade Paperback Reprint; February 5, 2019

Description:  Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events during her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance at a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend. (publisher)

My take:  Kimmery Martin’s debut novel is the story of two friends, betrayal, and the possibility of forgiveness. Zadie and Emma meet in medical school and become dependable friends as they experience the ins and outs of their medical training.

There are highs and lows that I imagine only people who’ve worked in a hospital or shared the common bond of med school can truly understand. Martin’s descriptive writing kept me interested, especially when I didn’t have a clue if what was happening during procedures, etc. was realistic. Given her real life experience as an ER doctor I trusted and went along with the story. I was completely engaged in what transpired in the hospital setting and on a personal level with Zadie and Emma.

I think fans of medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy will enjoy The Queen of Hearts. I look forward to Kimmery Martin’s next novel.


 

The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

January 2019 – Mira

Review copy courtesy of Mira and LIttle Bird Publicity

Description:  In Sullivan’s Crossing, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr has created a place where good people, powerful emotions, great humor and a healthy dose of common sense are the key ingredients to a happy life. Sullivan’s Crossing brings out the best in people. It’s a place you’ll want to visit again and again.

Dr. Leigh Culver loves practicing medicine in Timberlake, Colorado. It is a much-needed change of pace from her stressful life in Chicago. The only drawback is she misses her aunt Helen, the woman who raised her. But it’s time that Leigh has her independence, and she hopes the beauty of the Colorado wilderness will entice her aunt to visit often.

Helen Culver is an independent woman who lovingly raised her sister’s orphaned child. Now, with Leigh grown, it’s time for her to live life for herself. The retired teacher has become a successful mystery writer who loves to travel and intends to never experience winter again.

When Helen visits Leigh, she is surprised to find her niece still needs her, especially when it comes to sorting out her love life. But the biggest surprise comes when Leigh takes Helen out to Sullivan’s Crossing and Helen finds herself falling for the place and one special person. Helen and Leigh will each have to decide if they can open themselves up to love neither expected to find and seize the opportunity to live their best lives. (publisher)

My take:The Best of Us is book 4 in the Sullivan’s Crossing series but can stand alone. There are brief appearances of former primary characters that give continuity to the series and made me smile remembering their particular books.

In The Best of Us we meet the new town doctor and she meets the town’s favorite pub owner. They hit it off from the start and enjoy their relationship until an unexpected surprise is found out. No spoiler here. If you’re a fan of Robyn Carr’s series you’ll want to read this latest book ASAP. I enjoyed it all, especially the supporting plot line involving the doctor’s aunt, a noted mystery author, and Sully. Lots of fun reading about their friendship!

If you like a novel about people learning to take their second chance when life offers, this should fit the bill.


Robyn Carr is the bestselling author of over 40 novels, which have sold over 27 million copies, been translated into 19 languages, and distributed in 30 countries. The 20-volume Virgin River series alone has netted more than 13 million copies. Eleven of her books have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, collectively spending 231 weeks on the list since A Virgin River made its debut there in 2008. In 2016, the Romance Writers of America recognized Robyn with the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award for her achievements in the genre. Robyn and her now-retired husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada, although they enjoy traveling and take frequent research trips together.

MORE PRAISE FOR ROBYN CARR

“Carr’s gift for writing lovably flawed heroes and heroines is evident on every page.”

–Publishers Weekly

“Robyn Carr is a master of the small-town romance.” –New York Journal of Books

“Understanding what women do and say and want is something Carr has considered hard over her long career…. [She] taps into female emotions over and over in her books.” -The Miami Herald


 

In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

January 2019 – Berkley

Book provided by the publisher

Description:  From the author of Once Upon a Wine, a new novel set in the charming seashore town of Black Dog Bay, Delaware.

When everything has gone to the dogs . . .

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.

My take:  I thoroughly enjoyed In Dog We Trust. How could I not enjoy a book that involves adorable dogs (I mean, come on – that cover!), a seaside setting, likeable characters (for the most part) and an entertaining plot. There are shenanigans involving a will, dog people, and assorted other people. It all adds up to a perfect vacation read – could be read on a cross-country flight – or when you’re in the mood for a light, funny read. In Dog We Trust is book 4 in the Black Dog Bay series but it can stand alone.


Praise for Beth Kendrick and her novels:

 

Witty, juicy, and lots of fun!”

Susan MalleryNew York Times bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay

“A smart, funny spin on happily-ever-after!”

Beth HarbisonNew York Times bestselling author of One Less Problem Without You

“Kendrick proves she is the leader of the pack when it comes to fashioning cheekily clever love stories.”

Booklist (starred review)