Promises Of Tomorrow

Promises of Tomorrow by Shelley Shepard Gray

Expected Pub. date:  July 6, 2020 – Gallery Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Two years have passed since their friend Andy’s death, and the Eight is still struggling to cope with their loss. In an attempt to give the group some time to reconnect with one another, remember their friend, and reflect on the last two years, Marie decides that a relaxing couple’s getaway is just what they need before the craziness of the holiday season begins. When their large cabin in the woods turns out to be more rundown than rustic, though, Marie fears that she’s ruined everything, but at least, she thinks, the trip can’t get any worse—that is, until a lost English girl named Beth appears at the cabin. And with such heavy snow, the Eight is forced to take her in for the next twenty-four hours.

Although Marie feels as if all her planning and good intentions were for nothing, she has no idea that Beth will give the group a gift they didn’t know they needed: the reminder that life may not always be fair and sometimes it’s painful, but there’s always another day. (publisher)

My take:  Normally I don’t read or post about Christmas books in the middle of the year but Promises of Tomorrow published this week so I hope you’ll indulge me. This is a novella and book 4.5 of the Walnut Creek series.

A close-knit group of young married couples (the Eight) still dealing with the death of one of their friends two years previous work through their feelings at a pre-Christmas getaway. Their rental cabin doesn’t quite meet expectations but they make the best of it. The arrival of a young woman during a snowstorm adds a layer of tension but could also be an unexpected blessing.

Tragedy, faith, and the miracle of Christmas all combine in a novella that fans of the Walnut Creek series are sure to enjoy.


About the author:

A practicing Lutheran, Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than eighty novels, translated into multiple languages. In her years of researching the Amish community, she depends on her Amish friends for gossip, advice, and cinnamon rolls. She lives in Colorado with her family and writes full time.


 

The Ingredients of You and Me

The Ingredients of You and Me by Nina Bocci

Published:  May 2020 – Gallery Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

After selling her famous bakery back in New York, Parker Adams visits Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, to figure out her next steps. And soon she’s wondering why she ever loved city life in the first place. Between the Golden Girls—the senior women who hold court—and Nick Arthur, her equally infuriating and charming former flame, Parker finds a community eager to help her get her mojo back.

But even though Hope Lake gives her the fresh start she’s been looking for, Parker discovers that it’s not so easy to start over again with Nick. Their chemistry is undeniable, but since Nick is a freshly taken man, Parker is determined to keep things platonic. With a recipe for disaster looming, Parker must cook up a new scheme, figuring out how to keep everything she’s come to love before she loses it all. (publisher)

My take: Parker’s boyfriend Nick ghosted on her after a few months of their hidden-from-their-mutual-friends relationship. Life moved on and, after selling her wildly successful Brooklyn bakery, she goes to see her friends in their small Pennsylvania town. That’s where she sees what’s new with Nick. He has a very possessive girlfriend who isn’t crazy about the idea of Parker being around. That’s okay with Parker because she’s only interested in helping her friends the Golden Girls (aka The Baking Nanas) launch their dream off the ground. The GGs are intent on getting Parker and Nick together. Let the games begin. This was a cute story told from Parker’s POV. I liked it and kept imagining the Hallmark version (which would need to be edited to a G rating). The Ingredients of You and Me is the third book in the Hopeless Romantics series but can stand alone. Recommended to fans of contemporary romance and foodie fiction. Recipes included!


 

My One True North

My One True North by Milly Johnson

Published:  March 2020 – Gallery Books

E-Galley courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Overwhelmed by their grief, they join the same counselling group…and change their lives forever.

From their profound sadness, Pete and Laurie begin to find happiness and healing. Except, the more they get to know one another, the more Laurie begins to spot the strange parallels in their stories. Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything—one which threatens to reverse everything they’ve worked towards.

But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart. (publisher)

My take:  After the untimely deaths of their partners, Laurie (a lawyer) and Pete (a firefighter) meet at a grief support group. They are about the same age and the youngest members of the rag-tag group so they form a bit of a connection. They both have questions about their partners so a good deal of the novel revolves around finding answers. This is the first of Milly Johnson’s books I’ve read and I found her characters easy to cheer on and hope for happier times. I enjoyed the secondary characters – they provided much comic relief, which I loved. There’s a twist in the middle that I saw a mile away but I decided just to go with it and see where the author was taking us.

With themes of loss, healing and living in the moment My One True North is an uplifting story that left me smiling at the end (and also hoping to win the lottery so I can book a cruise like the one in this novel!)


About the author:

MILLY JOHNSON was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. A Sunday Times bestseller, she is one of the Top 10 Female Fiction authors in the UK, and with millions of copies of her books sold across the world, Milly’s star continues to rise. Milly was chosen as one of the authors for The Reading Agency’s Quick Reads 2020 campaign. Her books champion women, their strength and resilience, and celebrate love, friendship and the possibility of second chances. MY ONE TRUE NORTH is her seventeenth novel.


 

The Protective One

The Protective One by Shelley Shepard Gray

Published:  January 2020 – Gallery Books

Book provided by the publisher

Description:

The tragic and untimely death of her old friend has made Elizabeth rethink not only her priorities but her relationship with David, the man her parents have been encouraging her to see. Desperate for a change, she breaks things off with David in an effort to just focus on herself for a while.

But when her family becomes upset with her decision, Elizabeth turns to her friends for support. One of her most supporting friends is Will, who has long secretly harbored feelings for her. And when Elizabeth’s ex unexpectedly raises some trouble, Will decides to step up to the plate for his long-time friend. Can their friendship survive this difficult time or will it actually change for the better? (publisher)

Guest review by Katie (Bookfan daughter)

I’ll admit, when my mom, Bookfan, asked me to review an Amish book, it sat on my bedside table for a month. I brought it along on two different weekend trips but I never opened it. I am a firm believer in the idea that we read each book at the exact time we are supposed to read it. Well, the day the world shifted and I became a homeschooling mother of three young children, unable to go anywhere or see anyone, I opened up The Protective One.  And what a gift it was on that first weekend of The Virus. This book was like a breath of bright crisp spring air after a long winter (or quarantine.)  I quickly came to enjoy our heroine, E.A. and her strong sense of self, sensitivity to the needs of her friends and her willingness to say what needs to be said. The author beautifully wove together E.A.’s own romantic relationships with that of her English student, Marta. This is a story of friendship, love, family, grief and triumph.  I stayed up late into the night to immerse myself in this world. It was the perfect escape from all of the other digital distractions vying for my attention. I loved this book so much that I immediately purchased the Kindle versions of the first two books in The Walnut Creek Series, The Loyal One and The Patient One. I wasn’t ready to leave Walnut Creek or E.A.’s group of lifelong friends, The Eight.  I am so excited that the fourth book in this series is coming this spring.


About the author:

Since 2000, Shelley has sold over forty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Shelley also writes historical, western inspirational romances for Abingdon Press as Shelley Gray. Her first novel with Abingdon, A Texan’s Promise, was released in October 2011 and has earned glowing reviews.

In addition to her writing as Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley has written a dozen novels for Harlequin American Romance under the pseudonym Shelley Galloway. Her first novel with Harlequin, Cinderella Christmas, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list, and her second book for the American Romance line, Simple Gifts, won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Harlequin American Romance of 2006.

Her written essays have appeared on CNN.com

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Shelley is a member of RWA’s Published Author chapter, ACFW, and the Faith Hope and Love Chapter of RWA.  Please visit www.shelleyshepardgray.com to learn more about Shelley and her books.


 

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Published:  April 28, 2020 – Gallery Books

ARC courtesy of Gallery Books

Description: It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy.

Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her evangelical husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger fired from her job at the local pharmacy.

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. (publisher)

My take: Feels Like Falling is the story of two women who couldn’t be more different and yet, when it comes down to it, are more alike than they know. Their lives have been shaped by similar fears. This story was an emotional one that had some very funny moments as well as times that had me reaching for the tissues. I loved the empowering theme of choosing to live with courage instead of bitterness. Feels Like Falling was my first book of 2020 and when I turned the last page I was so happy I chose to start the year off with such a good book. I loved it all and recommend it to fans of Kristy Woodson Harvey and contemporary Southern fiction. 


Praise for FEELS LIKE FALLING:

“Two women in turmoil, two lives at a crossroads. Only Kristy Woodson Harvey can make sense of the sometimes devastating, often-times delicious dilemmas faced by the protagonists of her newest perfect beach read FEELS LIKE FALLING. Readers will fall in love with entrepreneur Gray, whose husband’s betrayal leaves her feeling adrift and looking for something beyond career success, while plucky down-and-out Diana will win the hearts of those of us who always root for the underdog. Buckle up, buttercups, because FEELS LIKE FALLING feels like your next summer sizzler!” —Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of Sunset BeachThe High Tide Club, and The Weekenders

“Kristy Woodson Harvey has the voice of a best friend; a storyteller of the finest sort. Feels Like Falling takes us on a page-turning journey with two very different women who must somehow find their way together. Harvey asks the important question — how do we let go of the preconceived notions of our life ? And she answers that question with lyrical prose, an uncommon wisdom and a sharp wit. This is more than a novel about friendship, it is also a story for friendship: you will find yourself sharing it with everyone you love. Dive in; the storytelling is delicious!” —Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times Bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis  

“Harvey creates genuine, capable, flawed protagonists and fun secondary characters, and readers will appreciate the thoughtful depiction of women supporting one another in an easy, breezy story. Fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe should add this to their beach read lists.” Booklist

“In pitch-perfect tones, Harvey creates two Southern women doing their best to deal with everything life throws at them, and her able plotting will keep readers turning the pages…Harvey’s optimistic tale just might convince readers that bouncing back can actually land a person in a better place than where they started.” Publishers Weekly

Buy Links:


 

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



 

 

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

Review copy provided by Gallery Books

Series: The Beach House (Book 5)

Hardcover: 400 pages

Publisher: Gallery Books (May 22, 2018)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1501193295

ISBN-13: 978-1501193293

 

Description:  Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn’t know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt’s beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original “turtle lady,” Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition. (publisher)

My take:  Readers return to Isle Of Palms, South Carolina to find Cara moving back to her mother’s beloved cottage for a new chapter in her life. She’s been a widow for three years but there are changes – one big one that has set in motion a few more. Cara’s niece Linnea is a recent college graduate without a job offer so she jumps at the chance to join her aunt on Isle of Palms for the summer. The two women will find a few surprises on the island but will also learn if they have what it takes to stand up when faced with challenges. I really enjoyed the story of the Rutledge women. Mary Alice Monroe wove into her story the environmental thread of the annual trek of the sea turtles. Each chapter began with facts about the turtles and their plight. With the support of mindful people they’ll continue to do what they do – just like the women in Beach House Reunion. This is book 5 in the series but it can stand alone. The author does a good job of catching up readers who haven’t read the previous books.


About the author:

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-one novels and three children’s books. She has received numerous awards, including the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, the Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, and The SC Academy of Authors inducted Monroe into the Literary Hall of Fame in 2018. Her bestselling novel The Beach House will be a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie set to premiere in April, 2018, starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, Minka Kelly, and Chad Michael Murray. Mary Alice is an active conservationist and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.


While in Florida last month I passed this sign on my way to the beach each day. It always brought to mind Mary Alice Monroe’s novels.


 

The Sugarhouse Blues by Mariah Stewart

Review copy from Gallery Books and NetGalley

THE SUGARHOUSE BLUES

The Hudson Sisters Series, Book 2

by Mariah Stewart

Gallery Books

May 15, 2018

9781501144929 (trade paperback)

$16.00 (trade paperback)

Description:  From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes more “catnip for women’s fiction fans” (Booklist) in the second novel of the Hudson Sisters series.

Allie, Des, and Cara, each having her own reasons for wanting a share of their father’s estate, meet in the grand Victorian home in which he grew up, only to be greeted by another secret he purposely hid from them: his sister Bonnie. The women reluctantly band together to take on Fritz’s challenge, working with a local contractor to begin the renovations financed by an account Fritz had set up for the task. While the restoration appears to go smoothly at first, it soon becomes apparent that the work will be more extensive than originally thought, and Des, elected to handle the money, needs to find ways to stretch out the remaining savings while searching for new sources of funding.

As strangers linked only by their DNA try to become a family, the Hudson sisters also try to come to terms with the father they only thought they knew. In the process, each woman discovers her own capacity for understanding, forgiveness, love, and the true meaning of family. (publisher)

My take:  Mariah Stewart’s second book of the Hudson Sisters series picked up where the first ended. It’s the story of three sisters who share the same father and have been tasked with restoring his family’s historic theater in his Pennsylvania hometown. They will receive their inheritance if they can complete this huge assignment. First they have to find a way to be comfortable working together.

Two of the sisters share the same parents and have grown up with a sibling rivalry that was more on Allie’s part than Des’s. That resentment seems to grow now that they’re living under the same roof and working on this huge project. Can they work past their issues and come to value what they truly have as adults?

I love the progression of this storyline. The pacing seems just right. Des will find out what can happen when she lets go of her insecurities where relationships are concerned. The story of Des and Seth brought a smile to my face. Adding in the dog rescue facet made The Sugarhouse Blues a gem of a novel for me. I recommend picking up the first book, The Last Chance Matinee, to learn how the three sisters meet and then read The Sugarhouse Blues.


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.


 

The Secret To Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

 

Description:

After finding out her military husband is missing in action, middle sister Sloane’s world crumbles as her worst nightmare comes true. She can barely climb out of bed, much less summon the strength to be the parent her
children deserve.

Her mother, Ansley, provides a much-needed respite as she puts her personal life on hold to help Sloane and her grandchildren wade through their new grief-stricken lives. But between caring for her own aging mother, her daughters, and her grandchildren, Ansley’s private worry is that secrets from her past will come to light.

But when Sloane’s sisters, Caroline and Emerson, remind Sloane that no matter what, she promised her husband she would carry on for their young sons, Sloane finds the support and courage she needs to chase her biggest dreams—and face her deepest fears. Taking a cue from her middle daughter,
Ansley takes her own leap of faith and realizes that, after all this time, she might finally be able to have it all.

Harvey’s signature warmth and wit make this a charming and poignant story of first loves, missed opportunities, and second chances and proves that she is the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand, New York Times bestselling author).


My take:  I really enjoyed the second installment of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s Peachtree Bluff series. The Secret To Southern Charm is about a family of women (and the men who love them) who are stronger than they think and will learn that family is everything – in good times and bad. They live in a small coastal Georgia town where secrets are hard to keep and people love to talk. Ansley is at a point in life where she’s pulled from all sides – her mother is ill, her adult daughters seem to have cornered the market on personal crises, and her past love has resurfaced. Something’s gotta give! I love Harvey’s easy writing style that makes her characters and plot relatable in a few ways. It all wrapped up in a satisfying way that has me excited for the next book. I know it will be a while but I also know it will be worth the wait.


About the author:

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the bestselling author of Dear Carolina (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2015), Lies and Other Acts of Love (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2016) and the Peachtree Bluff Series, beginning with Slightly South of Simple (Gallery/Simon & Schuster, 2017).

Dear Carolina was long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, has been optioned for film and has appeared on numerous “ must-read” lists.

Lies and Other Acts of Love was a Romantic Times top pick, a Southern Booksellers Okra Pick and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize.

Slightly South of Simple was a Southern Bestseller, a Barnes & Noble Bestseller, one of PopSugar’s picks for “Ultimate Summer Reading” and one of Glitter Guide’s “Must-Reads for April.”

The Secret to Southern Charm, the second book in the Peachtree Bluff series, releases April 3, 2018.

She blogs with her mom, Beth Woodson, daily on Design Chic, the inaugural member of the Design Blogger Hall of Fame sponsored by Traditional Home and winner of Amara’s Best Luxury Blog, sponsored by Roberto Cavalli, about how creating a beautiful home can be the catalyst for creating a beautiful life and loves connecting with readers at kristywoodsonharvey.com.

Harvey is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s school of journalism and holds a master’s in English from East Carolina University, with a concentration in multicultural and transnational literature. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern Living, Traditional Home, Parade, USA Today, Domino, Our State and O. Henry. She has been seen in Women’s Health, The Washington Post, US News and World Report, The Huffington Post, USA Today’s Happy Every After, Marie Claire’s The Fix, Woman’s World, Readers’ Digest and North Carolina Bookwatch, among others. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and six-year-old son where she is working on her next novel.



The Secret to Southern Charm is available on April 3, 2018 from your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble Target, Books-a-Million, Indiebound and wherever books are sold! It is being simultaneously released in paperback, hardback, e-book and audio, so check out your favorite version!


Beach House For Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

  • Title:  Beach House For Rent
  • Series:  Beach House #4
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  June 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe returns to her beloved Isle of Palms to tell the poignant, charming story of two women, one summer, and one very special beach house.

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Fordham for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, a young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.  (publisher)

My take:  Beach House For Rent is the story of two women who find themselves at an unexpected crossroads in their respective lives. Heather is a gifted artist who also lives with an undercurrent of guilt and anxiety.  Cara has been knocked hard by a loss she didn’t see coming. Her calming, lovely beach cottage will play a part in the future of both women as each figures out a path to take. I love how Mary Alice Monroe weaves an environmental theme through her novels. In this book the shore birds take center stage, as well as the loggerhead turtle. The parallels drawn between the wildlife and the women drew me through the story to the promising conclusion. I’m hoping there will be another book to follow in the Beach House series. Recommended to fans of the author and novels with a gorgeous shore setting with a sweet romance.

Note:  Even though this is the fourth book in the Beach House series it’s the first book I’ve read. No worries – it can stand alone. That said, I’ll be sure to read the previous three books soon because the first book is now being adapted to a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie by the Hallmark Channel, starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, who is also an executive producer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MARY ALICE MONROE is the award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels (A Lowcountry Wedding, A Lowcountry Christmas, The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s End, The Beach House, Beach House Memories), and was recently named a 2018 inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Writers Literary Hall of Fame. She is an active conservationist and lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Learn more at maryalicemonroe.com.


Praise for BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT & Mary Alice Monroe 

“Mary Alice Monroe writes gorgeously, with authority and tenderness, about the natural world and its power to inspire, transport, and to heal. Readers will love this story of two unforgettable women—one reeling from an unexpected tragedy, the other drawn into a daring and passionate new love.”
Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

*
“Readers interested in environmental fiction highlighting endangered birds, turtles, and lands will delight in this latest novel featuring women who need the healing power of nature.” —Library Journal, starred review
*
“Mary Alice Monroe understands that a house is never just a house. As we revisit The Beach House, we  are immersed in the heartbeat and pulse of her South Carolina Lowcountry as never before. Monroe’s singular ability to blend the natural world with the emotional world allows for a gorgeous novel, wondrously bittersweet and life-affirming. No one else tells an insightful and powerful story quite like Mary Alice Monroe—and in BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT, you won’t be able to stop reading—for even that glass of sweet tea.” —New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry
*
“There is no way to describe Monroe’s writing style other than to say it is uniquely wonderful. She has a heart for the lowcountry and the talent to bring it to life.” —Huffington Post
*

“Every book Mary Alice Monroe has written has felt like a homecoming to me.” —New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy


SUMMER 2017 TOUR DATES:

Thursday, June 15 — Spartanburg, SC
Friday, June 16-18 — Nantucket, MA
Monday, June 19 — Charleston, SC
Tuesday, June 20 — Charleston, SC
Tuesday, June 20 — Kiawah Island, SC
Wednesday, June 21 — St. Simon’s Island, GA
Wednesday, June 21 — Savannah, GA
Thursday, June 22 — Bluffton, SC
Thursday, June 22 — Florence, SC
Friday, June 23 — Pawleys Island, SC
Friday, June 23 — Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Saturday, June 24 — Mt. Pleasant, SC
Saturday, June 24 — Isle of Palms, SC
Sunday, June 25 — Summerville, SC
Tuesday, June 27 — Augusta, GA
Tuesday, June 27 — Decatur, GA
Wednesday, June 28 — Peachtree City, GA
Wednesday, June 28 — Woodstock, GA
Thursday, June 29 — Kingsport, TN
Thursday, June 29 — Knoxville, TN
Friday, June 30 — Chattanooga, TN
Saturday, July 1 — Vero Beach, FL
Sunday, July 2 — Wellington, FL
Tuesday, July 4 — Rehoboth Beach, DE
Wednesday, July 5 — Collegeville, PA
Thursday, July 6 — Brielle, NJ
Saturday, July 8 — Strongsville, OH
Thursday, July 13 — Westerville, OH
Saturday, July 15 — Mt. Pleasant, SC
Thursday, July 27 — Santa Clarita, CA
Friday, July 28 — Signal Hill, CA
Saturday, July 29 — Palos Verde, CA
Tuesday, August 1 — Huntington Beach, CA


Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey

  • Title:  Slightly South of Simple
  • Series:  Peach Tree Bluff #1
  • Author:  Kristy Woodson Harvey
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Pub. Date:  April 25, 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description: From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.  (publisher)

My take:  Slightly South of Simple is the story of sisters whose lives are a bit messy. They all head home to their mother (Ansley) who is an interior designer in a small coastal town.  Ansley’s life changes overnight as she is put on constant mom, grandma and daughter duty. Yes, her mother comes to stay as well. With that much family closeness you can imagine the possibilities for drama, etc. And there’s a big secret that weighs on Ansley’s mind – and made me raise an eyebrow. There are old boyfriends, a repentant husband, wacky neighbors and a lovely setting that made Slightly South of Simple a perfect beach read. Recommended to fans of Kristy Woodson Harvey and contemporary fiction. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book of the series.


 

The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart

  • the-last-chance-matineeTitle:  The Last Chance Matinee
  • Series:  The Hudson Sisters #1
  • Author:  Mariah Stewart
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 2017 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended in a tragic overdose. Meanwhile, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—they had a daughter together, Cara, and while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had, he never quite managed to tell her or Cara about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce, allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals, and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old, decrepit theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Guided by Fritz’s closest friend and longtime attorney, Pete Wheeler, the sisters come together—whether they like it or not—to turn their father’s dream into a reality, and might just come away with far more than they bargained for. (publisher)

My take: The Last Chance Matinee is the story of three women who, upon the death of their father, discover sisters they hadn’t known about before his passing. They meet at the reading of his will and are shocked to learn about each other. Des and Allie had the same mother and father. Cara grew up an only child of a free-spirited mother and Fritz who travelled for work much of the time. It all made sense now.

A stipulation of their inheritance is they must bring back to life the theatre in Fritz’s hometown. The small town of Hidden Falls, Pennsylvania, situated in the Poconos, will become the women’s home until the project is completed. That doesn’t seem to bother Des or Cara but Allie has a huge problem since it will mean she has to leave her fourteen year old daughter who lives with her ex-husband part of the time. Allie is angry about many things and deals with her problems by drinking.

Des is a former child star (who never wanted to be in television) who found the quiet life as an adult in Montana and devoting herself to animal rescue. She’s excited about the renovation project and the prospect of starting a rescue in Hidden Falls.

Cara left her New Jersey shore yoga studio (and her former husband who was now engaged to a former friend) in the care of her co-worker. Knowing it’s in good hands she looks forward to being project manager on the theater rehab. She also loves the idea of having sisters, an aunt, and a niece when she thought she had no family at all.

The Last Chance Matinee introduces the characters and the storyline of Mariah Stewart’s new series. There’s a focus on Cara getting a new chance at life and love which I enjoyed. I liked reading about the resurrection of the theatre and all it meant to everyone involved.

Recommended to fans of Mariah Stewart and contemporary fiction. I look forward to reading what happens in the next book!


Praise for The Last Chance Matinee:

“The combination of a quirky small-town setting, a family mystery, a gentle romance, and three estranged sisters is catnip for women’s-fiction fans, and the backdrop of the faded movie palace adds a fascinating element to the story. Stewart’s lively, warmhearted series starter [The Last Chance Matinee] will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.”  —Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance. Readers will look forward to the next installment.”  —Library Journal


About Mariah Stewart:

Mariah Stewart is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels as well as several novellas and short stories. She lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors county life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her at mariahstewart.com and follow her on Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart and on Instagram @mariah_stewart_books.

Note:

Mariah Stewart’s separate series, the bestselling Chesapeake Diaries, has been a favorite with readers since 2010. The eleventh installment, The Chesapeake Bride, will publish August 29, 2017.


THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE

by Mariah Stewart

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • $16.00 Trade Paperback Original
  • ISBN: 9781501144905
  • Fiction
  • Book 1 in the Hudson Sisters series

Look for Book 2 in 2018 and Book 3 in 2019!


Blog Tour:

March 21st

USA Today Happy Ever After – Down & Dirty Q&A

Happy Mom Blogger

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Devilishly Delicious

Collectors of Book Boyfriends

Tome Tender Book Blog

Uniquec’s Book Blog

March 22nd

The Book Nympho

Books and Bindings

Rockin’ and Reviewing

Lovey Dovey Books

Community Bookstop

Bubble Bath Books

Sour Puss Reviews

March 23rd

The Blonde Bookworm

Bookfan

I Wish I Lived in a Library

PNW Bookworm

Mesha’s Corner

The Librarian (Authors on the Air Global Radio Network) – Interview 7:00 pm ET

March 24th

Kritters Ramblings

My Novelesque Life

Reviews by Crystal

Novelgossip

Romance Junkies

March 25th

Abigail Books Addiction

Rainy Day Reviews

Books According to Abby

Once Upon A Page

That Book Lady Blog

March 26th

Dawn’s Reading Nook

March 27th

Suzy Approved Book Reviews

March 28th

The Written Word(s)

March 29th

Hardly A Goddess

March 30th

Lit Living Mom

March 31st

Tiff Scribes

April 1st

Bigreadersite’s Blog

April 3rd

Staircase Wit

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 7th

Svetlana’s Reads and Views

April 10th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 14th

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

April 17th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

April 21st

Community Bookstop

April 24th

Visit @xoxoafterdark for Monday Matinee Giveaway! #MondayMatinee

May 25th

First for Women

Review in First for Women magazine’s June 19th print issue, on stands May 25th!

 


Events with Mariah Stewart:

Tuesday, March 21st, 7:00 pm

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Concord Mall
  • 4801 Concord Pike
  • Wilmington, DE 19803

Sunday, March 26th, 4:30 pm

  • “An Afternoon With The Author – Mariah Stewart”
  • Hockessin Bookshelf
    7179 Lancaster Pike
    Hockessin, DE 19707

Wednesday, April 5th, 6:30 pm

  • The Doylestown Bookshop
  • 16 S. Main Street
  • Doylestown, Pa 18901

Tuesday, April 11th, 7:00 pm

  • Towne Book Centre
  • 220 Plaza Drive – Ste B3
  • Collegeville, PA 19426

 

 

 

A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

  • a-lowcountry-christmas-tandem-litTitle:  A Lowcountry Christmas
  • Series:  Lowcountry Summer #5
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Fiction; Christmas
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  October 2016 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family tensions darken the holidays.

Heartbreak and financial stress threaten to destroy the spirit of the season until the miraculous gift of a service dog leads Taylor, his family, and their community on a healing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  (publisher)

My take:  A Lowcountry Christmas is the first of Mary Alice Monroe’s books I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a special Christmas book to read this year. It’s the fifth book in a series but I can say, not having read the previous books, it can stand alone.

The McClellan family has welcomed home their son, a veteran with PTSD, and are all getting used to a new normal. On top of that, finances are strained which adds tension to the relationships between parents and children, spouses, and siblings. I loved how Monroe took her characters through their challenges and brought them to a satisfying result: mainly the true meaning of Christmas and what matters most.

A Lowcountry Christmas is truly lovely and I can see it becoming an annual read for me. I can think of a few people on my gift list who will love it. Highly recommended!


About the author:

Known for her intimate portrayals of women’s lives, Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s  End, Last Light Over Carolina, Time is a River, Sweetgrass, Skyward, The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction.

An active conservationist, Monroe draws themes for her novels from nature and the parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world. Mary Alice is involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. She lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.