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


 

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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)


Christmas On The Island by Jenny Colgan

Christmas On The Island by Jenny Colgan

Published:  October 2018 – William Morrow Paperbacks

Thanks for the free/gifted book, @WmMorrowBooks @LibraryThing 

Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Café by the Sea—whose novels are “an evocative, sweet treat” (JOJO MOYES)—comes this heartwarming holiday novel set on a charming Scottish island

On the remote Scottish island of Mure, the Christmas season is stark, windy, and icy—yet incredibly festive and beautiful…

It’s a time for getting cozy in front of whisky barrel wood fires, and enjoying a dram and a treacle pudding with the people you love—unless, of course, you’ve accidentally gotten pregnant by your ex-boss, and don’t know how to tell him. In the season for peace and good cheer, will Flora find the nerve to reveal the truth to her nearest and dearest? Will her erstwhile co-parent Joel think she’s the bearer of glad tidings—or is this Christmas going to be as bleak as the Highlands in midwinter?

Meanwhile Saif, a doctor and refugee from war-torn Syria is trying to enjoy his first western Christmas with his sons on this remote island where he’s been granted asylum. His wife, however, is still missing, and her absence hangs over what should be a joyful celebration. Can the family possibly find comfort and joy without her?

Travel to the beautiful northern edge of the world and join the welcoming community of Mure for a Highland Christmas you’ll never forget! (publisher)

My take:  I loved catching up with Flora and her family and friends on the (imaginary) island of Mure. This is the third in a series about the lovely inhabitants of Mure. If you haven’t read the first two books you really should before dipping into this book. You’ll want to learn all about the people – get the context of their relationships. I have loved each book and the third just as much. It boils down to connections between people and how we all need them and must continue to try to do better – in every way. I really hope this isn’t the last I’ll read of the people of Mure. There are some ends that weren’t completely tied up – and I need some reassurance!


 

Spotlight: Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Congratulations to Francesca Hornak on the paperback release of her novel Seven Days of Us. If you missed reading it last year in hardcover you’ll want to pick it up now!

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Berkley Paperback Reprint; October 16, 2018

Publisher’s description: It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.
 
For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while her older sister, Olivia, deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.
 
Their father, Andrew, sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent. But his wife, Emma, is hiding a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.  
 
In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

My take: (first posted November 2017)

Seven Days of Us is an entertaining and deceptively light novel about a family. The Birches are an interesting group. Andrew, the father, is a snarky restaurant reviewer for a newspaper. Emma, the matriarch, just wants everyone to have the kind of Christmas holiday she remembers from childhood. Altruistic eldest daughter Olivia is a doctor just returned from relief work in Liberia and the reason for the family quarantine. Younger daughter Phoebe is completely self-absorbed and more than a bit annoyed at being forced to spend the holidays with her family instead of her new fiancé.

Told from the perspective of each family member, plus a couple of other characters, the chapters are short and follow a day-by-day form that made the novel easy to stop and start reading. This was also a great way to lay out the Birch family’s messy dynamics. It ended up being an emotional read for me – that was unexpected and very much appreciated. Recommended to fans of novels about imperfect families. I loved the setting(s) and the holiday-ness to which I think most readers will relate on one level or another.


About the author:

Francesca Hornak is a journalist and writer, whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Red. She is the author of two nonfiction books, History of the World in 100 Modern Objects: Middle Class Stuff (and Nonsense) and Worry with Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama.


 

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!


 

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.