The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

Paperback release:  September 2019 – Gallery Books

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description: It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.

In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.

Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side. (publisher)

Guest Review by Bookfan daughter:

I devoured this enjoyable book in short order. When I first noticed the author employed the alternating narrator technique, I was not thrilled. I have had my fill of juggling two voices in different time periods. However, this story was woven together with the vehicle of the diary and that helped provide continuity. There is a bit of mystery as Cara attempts to find the author of the diary and I loved that I could not figure it out. I was pulled along with Cara in her search. I wish I could follow these characters further in their story.


 

 

Cover reveal: Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

I’m a fan of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s books so it is my pleasure to take part in the cover reveal for her novel that is due to be published in April 2020. I can’t wait to read it! Please scroll down for preorder links.

From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand) and the bestselling author of the Peachtree Bluff series comes an odd couple tale of friendship that asks just how much our past choices define our happiness. 

Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a busted Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience.

With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn, but when the one that got away comes back, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.

In her warmest, wittiest, and wisest novel yet, Kristy Woodson Harvey delivers a discerning portrait of modern womanhood through two vastly different lenses. Feels Like Falling is a beach bag essential for Harvey fans—and for a new generation of readers.

Preorder links:  Kristy is donating 100% of proceeds from preorders Sept 13-Sept 20 to the Red Cross for hurricane relief.


 

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.


 

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Pub. date:  July 30, 2019 – Gallery Books

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book. (publisher)

My take:  I love a good small-town setting. Add in warm, somewhat quirky characters and you’ve got enough for a series. According to Goodreads, The Book Charmer is book one in the Dove Pond series. We have Sarah, a lifelong resident and librarian. Books have spoken (really!) to Sarah for a long time. They tell her who needs to read a particular book and she does her best to put that book in the right hands.

New to Dove Pond is Grace. She describes her life this way “I haven’t had time [for a serious relationship]. I worked my way through college and then had a full-time, seventy-hour-a-week job after that. And then my sister died and I became a parent, and then Mama G [Grace’s foster mother] got sick – it’s been a whirlwind of relationship nonstarters. I’m the poster girl for the woman you don’t want to date.”  It’s clear that Grace has learned to rely on herself – only herself. What will happen if she learns to allow herself a friend or two?

The Book Charmer is about finding family, friendship, community and ultimately a home. I loved it all and look forward to reading more in the Dove Pond series.


 

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Published: May 7, 2019 – Gallery Books

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description: With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.  (publisher)

My take:  Kristy Woodson Harvey takes readers back to Peachtree Bluff – home base to the Murphy family. No matter how far away life takes them they know they can always go home to Peachtree Bluff when all they need is family. Reading the third book, The Southern Side of Paradise, was like coming home. I love the small coastal town setting where everyone knows everyone, the mostly quirky characters, and the Murphy family with all their issues. Life is never dull. This book is overflowing with secrets that come to light, life-changing decisions that need to be made, and a family of sisters and mother who, no matter how annoyed, disappointed, or sad they make each other, will always be the safe harbor when life gets rough. I’m sad to see this trilogy end but also excited to see what Kristy Woodson Harvey dreams up next. Read this trilogy in order. You’ll love it!


Praise for Kristy Woodson Harvey:

With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power” (Booklist).
One of the hottest new Southern writers.” —Parade.com
 
“Writers come and writers go, but Kristy Woodson Harvey is here to stay. The warmth, wit, and wisdom of this novel pave her way into the exclusive sisterhood of southern writers.” —The Huffington Post 
 

“The south is known for breeding brilliant storytellers and Kristy Woodson Harvey has proven herself to be one of the south’s most heartfelt female driven authors of our generation.”—Jaime Pressly, star of CBS’s Mom


 

The Goodbye Café by Mariah Stewart

 

THE GOODBYE CAFÉ

The Hudson Sisters series, Book 3
On sale March 26, 2019
Trade Paperback • Price: $16.00 • ISBN: 9781501145124 eBook • Price: $7.99 • ISBN: 9781501145162

Review copy provided by Gallery Books and NetGalley

Description:

California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.

She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep? (publisher)

My take: The Goodbye Café is the third book in the Hudson Sisters series. I suppose you could read it as a stand alone but you’d miss out on a lot of context so I recommend reading books one and two first. The Goodbye Café is Allie’s story. She’s been the hard-edged, abrasive sister who seemed determined not to gain sympathy from anyone. She’s a complex character and we finally get to see what’s behind the emotional armor she wears when dealing with almost everyone. I enjoyed her story and seeing her strength of character become apparent to all. If you enjoy novels about family – sisters, specifically – you’ll want to read this book and the rest of the series. I’m hopeful there will be another book!


About the author:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at MariahStewart.com, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.


 

Cover Reveal: Book 3 in the Peachtree Bluff series

I’m pleased to be part of cover reveal day for THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE, book 3 in Kristy Woodson Harvey’s Peachtree Bluff series. If you haven’t read the first two books you’ll want to – before May 2019. You can read my take on the books by clicking the covers:

     


The Book 3 cover reveal!

I can’t wait to read The Southern Side of Paradise

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Indiebound


From internationally bestselling author and “rising star of Southern fiction” (Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author) Kristy Woodson Harvey comes the third novel in her Peachtree Bluff series, in which a secret threatens the tight-knit bond between a trio of sisters and their mother.

With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.

With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power” (Booklist).

One of the hottest new Southern writers.” —Parade.com
 
“Writers come and writers go, but Kristy Woodson Harvey is here to stay. The warmth, wit, and wisdom of this novel pave her way into the exclusive sisterhood of southern writers.” —The Huffington Post 
 
“The south is known for breeding brilliant storytellers and Kristy Woodson Harvey has proven herself to be one of the south’s most heartfelt female driven authors of our generation.”—Jaime Pressly, star of CBS’s Mom