Talk Bookish To Me – Excerpt

Excerpt: Talk Bookish to Me

One

“Wait, was I supposed to bring a gift?”

I turn my gaze from the floor to the well-dressed man standing beside me. There are only two of us in the elevator, so he must be talking to me.

“I think it’s a matter of personal preference,” I answer. “I’m the maid of honor so I had to be excessive.”

His eyebrows bob up as I adjust my grip on the Great-Dane-sized gift basket I’m carrying. The cellophane wrapping paper crinkles each time I move, echoing through the confined space just loudly enough to keep things weird. Because if everyone isn’t uncomfortable for the entire ride, are you even really in an elevator?

I’m low-key ecstatic when the doors glide open ten seconds later. With my basket now on the cusp of breaking both my arms and my spirit, I beeline it out of there and stride into the rooftop lounge where my best friend is hosting her pre-wedding party, drinking in the scent of heat and champagne as I maneuver through the sea of guests.

Like most maids-of-honor, I flung myself down the Etsy rabbit hole headfirst and ordered an obscene amount of decorations for tonight’s event. Burlap “Mr. & Mrs.” banners dangle from floating shelves behind the bar as twinkle lights weave around the balcony railings like ivy. Lace-trimmed mason jars filled with pink roses sit on every candlelit cocktail table. Cristina and I worked with the tenacity of two matrimonial Spartans to get everything ready this morning, and it’s clear that our blood, sweat and tears were very much worth it.

It’s then that I spot Cristina mingling near the end of the bar. Beautiful, petite and come-hither curvy, I’d hate her if she weren’t one of my favorite people ever. Her caramel hair spills down her back and her white high-low dress sets her apart from the crowd in just the right way—she’s a princess in the forest and we’re her adoring woodland animals. I’m her feisty chipmunk sidekick to my core.

I place my gift on a nearby receiving table and give a little wave when I catch her eye. She’s waiting for me with a huge grin when I arrive at her side.

“Hey, lady!” she says, pulling me in for a hug. “Look at you, rolling in here looking all gorgeous.”

We step apart and I stand up a bit taller. “Why, thank you. I feel pretty good.”

It’s also very possible that Cristina is just so used to me dazzling the world with yoga pants and sweaters every day that my transformation seems more dramatic than it is.

“Were you able to get any writing done this afternoon?” she asks, handing me a glass of champagne from off the mahogany bar top.

I get a twisting knot in my gut at the mention of my writing, or lack thereof. Having been dying a slow literary death for almost a year, I’m never without some stomach-turning sensation for long. The final deadline for my next romance novel is officially a month away and if I don’t deliver a bestseller by then—

“Okay, you’re making your freak-out face,” Cristina interjects. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have brought it up.”

I inhale a shallow breath and force a smile. “It’s fine. I’m good.”

“Let’s switch gears—are you sure it’s not weird that I’m having a pre-wedding party? Was booking the salsa band too much since I’m having one at the wedding, too?”

Beyond grateful for the booming trumpet and bongos that are drowning out my own thoughts, I turn to the corner and find the ten-piece group playing with addictive abandon. Cristina’s relatives, who are essentially non-trained professional salsa dancers, dominate the dance floor, and rightfully so. Cristina’s brother, Edgar, once tried to teach me the basics but I’m fairly confident I looked like a plank of wood that was given the gift of limbs. Cristina recommended dance lessons. Edgar suggested a bottle of aguardiente and prayer.

“The band is amazing,” I say as I swing back around, “and of course people have pre-wedding parties.” I’ve actually never heard of a pre-wedding party. An engagement party, yes. A bachelorette party, absolutely. But what’s going down tonight is basically a casual reception days before the mega-reception.

“Jason and I just have so many people coming in from out of town, plus we wanted the bridal party to get acquainted. We figured a little get-together would be fun.”

“I’m all for it. Who doesn’t want to pre-game for a wedding a week in advance?”

“I know I do,” Cristina says, lifting her own champagne and taking a sip. “Everyone is here except Jason and some groomsmen. Can you believe that creep is late to his own party?”

“Should you really be calling your fiancé a creep?”

“He’s my creep so it’s okay.”

“Valid point.”

“Picture please! Will you girls get together?”

I look to my right and find a teenage boy with wildly curly hair pointing a camera at us. He’s dressed in all black and looks so eager to take our photo that I can’t help but to find him endearing.

“Absolutely! Big smile, Kara.” Cristina throws her arm around my waist and after we withstand an intense flash, the young man is gone before my eyes can readjust. “That was Jason’s cousin, Rob. He wants to be a photographer, so I hired him for the night.”

“That was thoughtful of you,” I say, still recovering from my momentary blindness. “By the way, where is Jason?”

“He’s still at home. Two of his groomsmen are driving up and he wanted to wait for them since, apparently, grown men can’t find their way to a party by themselves.”

“Driving in Manhattan is intimidating. He probably didn’t want them to get lost.”

“Right, because neither of them has GPS? Jason should be here.”

I’m honestly shocked that Jason isn’t here. I love Cristina and Jason both to death but they’re one of those couples that rarely go out socially without each other. Even when I invite Cristina over to my apartment for a wine night, she asks to bring Jason. I’ve always thought it was a bit much, but I guess it works for them.

“Okay, forget everyone else, let’s toast.” I clear my throat and hold up my champagne. “When we were both waitressing at McMahon’s Pub in grad school, I had no idea it would lead to nine amazing years of friendship. Now I’d be lost without you. Here’s to you having a magical night. I’m so glad I’m here to celebrate with you.”

We smile and tap our glasses together, the ding of the crystal echoing my words.

I take a sip and the bubbly drink slips easily down my throat. Still savoring the sweetness, I ask, “So, who are these mystery groomsmen Jason’s waiting for?”

“One is named Beau and I can’t remember the other one. They’re two guys he grew up with when his family lived in North Carolina.”

“North Carolina? I thought Jason was from Texas?”

“He spent most of his life in Texas, but he lived in North Carolina until he was ten. He somehow kept in contact with these two through the years.”

“That’s nice, him staying friends with them for so long.”

“Yeah, it’s adorable, but they still should have gotten their asses here on their own.” Cristina is poised to elaborate when her gaze locks on something across the room. She tries and fails to look annoyed instead of excited.

“I’m guessing the groom has arrived,” I say, glancing over my shoulder. My suspicions are confirmed as I see Jason making his way toward us, smiling at Cristina like a fifth grader saying “cheese” on picture day. He’s tilting his head and everything.

“There she is! There’s my incredibly forgiving future wife.” Jason leans down and kisses Cristina before she can verbally obliterate him. He gives me a quick kiss on the cheek next and then shifts back to his fiancée’s side, sneaking an arm around her waist and pulling her to his hip.

“So, I’m going to go ahead and disregard all the semi-violent text messages you’ve sent me over the past hour. Bearing that in mind, how’s everything going?”

Cristina looks up at him, feigning disinterest. “It’s going great. Since you weren’t here, I talked to several nice men. Turns out, pre-wedding parties are a great place to meet guys.”

“I’m so happy for you.”

“I appreciate that. Four contenders, specifically, really piqued my interest.”

“Are they taller than me?” Jason asks. “Do they make a lot of money?”

“Obviously. They’re way taller and all of them are independently wealthy.”

“Nice. Kara, did you meet these freakishly tall and rich men?”

“I did and spoiler alert, I’m engaged now, too! Double wedding here we come!”

Jason smiles and pulls Cristina in even closer, his gaze holding hers. “I guess this is where being late gets you. I’m sorry I wasn’t here. Do you forgive me?”

“Don’t I always?”

He leans down and gives her another picture-perfect kiss.

It’s official. I’m dying alone. Just putting that out there.

“Now, where are these friends of yours? Oh! Let’s set one of them up with Kara!” Cristina looks at me with a dangerous matchmaker gleam in her eyes.

“Actually, I already mentioned Kara, and one of my buddies said he went to college with her.”

Went to college with me?

Jason looks towards the entrance and waves. “Hey, Ryan! Come over here!”

And then I go catatonic. I can’t move. I stand stock still, looking at Cristina like she sprouted a third arm out of her forehead and it’s giving me the middle finger.

Someone walks past me and a soft breeze ghosts across my overheating skin. I stare in a state of utter disbelief as Ryan Thompson steps into view beside Jason.

“It’s been a while, Sullivan,” he says, his voice as steady and tempting as ever.

My champagne glass falls from my fingers and shatters against the floor.

“Kara?” Cristina’s voice rings with concern as she nudges us away from the broken glass that’s now littered around our feet. She grasps my elbow, but I don’t feel it. She could backhand me across the face with a polo mallet and I wouldn’t feel it. My mind is spiraling, plummeting inwards as I come to grips with the realization that Ryan is standing two feet away from me.

Dressed in a navy suit, a crisp white button-down and brown dress shoes, he’s come a long way from the sweatshirts and jeans that were his unofficial uniform in college. His dirty-blond hair is on the shorter side, but a few wayward strands still fall across his forehead. Ten years ago, I would have reached up and brushed them aside without a thought. Now, my hand curls into a tight, unforgiving fist at my side.

If we were another former couple, seeing each other for the first time in a decade might be a dreamy, serendipitous meet-cute—a Nancy Meyers movie in pre-production. We’d have a few drinks and spend hours reminiscing about old times before picking up right where we left off. It would be comfortable and familiar as anything, like a sip of hot chocolate at Christmas with Nat King Cole crooning on vinyl in the background.

But we are not that kind of former couple, and I’m convinced that if Nat King Cole were here and knew my side of the story, he would grab Ryan by the scruff of his shirt and hold him steady as I roundhouse-kicked him in the throat.

It’s a tough pill to swallow but Ryan looks good. Like, really good. His face is harder than it was when he was twenty-one and the stubble on his chin tells me he hasn’t shaved in a few days, making him seem like he just rolled out of bed. And not rolled out of bed in a dirty way, but in a “I just rolled out of bed and yet I still look ruggedly handsome and you fully want to make out with me” kind of way.

The bastard.

“Ryan,” Cristina says, always the first to jump in, “Jason mentioned that you and Kara went to college together.”

“We did.” His eyes don’t move from mine for even a second. “It’s got to be what, ten years now?”

“Yeah, it’s been a long, long time,” I say quickly, turning to face Cristina. “I think I may have mentioned him before. Remember my friend from North Carolina?”

If someone were to look up “my friend from North Carolina” in the Dictionary of Kara, they would find the following:

My friend from North Carolina (noun): 1. Ryan Thompson. 2. My college boyfriend. 3. My first real boyfriend ever. 4. My first love. 5. Taker of my virginity. 6. Guy who massacred my heart with a rusty sledgehammer and fed the remains to rabid, ravenous dogs.

Cristina is well versed in the dictionary of Kara and recognition washes over her. “No way,” she says, her voice dropping.

“Yes way,” I answer happily, overcompensating.

Now’s it’s Cristina’s turn to panic. “Wow. Okay, wow, what a small world, huh?” She grabs Jason’s hand in an iron grip, making him wince as she blasts an over-the-top smile. “Well, we should give you guys a chance to catch up. My abuelita just got here so Jason and I are going to say hello.”

“Your abuelita died two years ago,” I hiss.

“I know, it’s a miracle. See you two later!” She drags her soon-to-be husband away before he can get a word out.

I watch them go, sailing away like the last lifeboat as I stand on deck with the string quartet, the cheerful Bach melody only further confirming that this ship is going down.

Excerpted from Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley, Copyright © 2021 by Kate Bromley

Published by Graydon House Books.

TALK BOOKISH TO ME

Author: Kate Bromley 

ISBN: 9781525806438

Publication Date: May 25, 2021

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Buy Links: 

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Social Links:

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Twitter: @kbromleywrites

Instagram: @katebromleywrites

Facebook: @katebromleywrites

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Author Bio: 
KATE BROMLEY lives in New York City with her husband, son, and her somewhat excessive collection of romance novels (It’s not hoarding if it’s books, right?). She was a preschool teacher for seven years and is now focusing full-time on combining her two great passions – writing swoon-worthy love stories and making people laugh. Talk Bookish to Me is her first novel.

New Girl in Little Cove – Excerpt

Description:

Take a literary trip to Newfoundland: the island of the world’s friendliest people, the setting for the award-winning musical Come From Away, and home of the delightfully quirky and irresistibly charming debut, NEW GIRL IN LITTLE COVE (May 11; $16.99; Graydon House Books) by Damhnait Monaghan! After being utterly scandalized by the abrupt departure of their school’s only French teacher (she ran off with a priest!) the highly Catholic, very tiny town of Little Cove, Newfoundland needs someone who doesn’t rock the boat. Enter mainlander Rachel O’Brien —technically a Catholic (baptized!), technically a teacher (unused honors degree!)— who is so desperate to leave her old life behind, she doesn’t bother to learn the (allegedly English) local dialect. Stuck on an island she’s never known surrounded by a people and culture she barely understands, Rachel struggles to feel at home. Only the intervention of her crotchety landlady, a handsome fellow teacher, and the Holy Dusters – the local women who hook rugs and clean the church – will assure Rachel’s salvation in this little island community.

Excerpt:

September 1985 

Little Cove: Population 389 

The battered sign came into view as my car crested a hill on the gravel road. Only 389 people? Damn. I pulled over and got out of the car, inhaling the moist air. Empty boats tilted against the wind in the bay below. A big church dominated the valley, beside which squatted a low, red building, its windows dark, like a row of rotten teeth. This was likely St. Jude’s, where tomorrow I would begin my teaching career. 

“You lost?” 

I whirled around. A gaunt man, about sixty, straddled a bike beside me. He wore denim overalls and his white hair was combed neatly back from his forehead. 

“Car broke down?” he continued. 

“No,” I said. “I’m just … ” My voice trailed off. I could hardly confide my second thoughts to this stranger. “…admiring the view.”

He looked past me at the flinty mist now spilling across the bay. A soft rain began to fall, causing my carefully straightened hair to twist and curl like a mass of dark slugs. 

“Might want to save that for a fine day,” he said. His accent was strong, but lilting. “It’s right mauzy today.” 

“Mossy?” 

“Mauzy.” He gestured at the air around him. Then he folded his arms across his chest and gave me a once-over. “Now then,” he said. “What’s a young one like you doing out this way?” 

“I’m not that young,” I shot back. “I’m the new French teacher out here.” 

A smile softened his wrinkled face. “Down from Canada, hey?” 

As far as I knew, Newfoundland was still part of Canada, but I nodded. 

“Phonse Flynn,” he said, holding out a callused hand. “I’m the janitor over to St. Jude’s.” 

“Rachel,” I said. “Rachel O’Brien.” 

“I knows you’re staying with Lucille,” he said. “I’ll show you where she’s at.” 

With an agility that belied his age, he dismounted and gently lowered his bike to the ground. Then he pointed across the bay. “Lucille’s place is over there, luh.” 

Above a sagging wharf, I saw a path that cut through the rocky landscape towards a smattering of houses. I’d been intrigued at the prospect of a boarding house; it sounded Dickensian. Now I was uneasy. What if it was awful? 

“What about your bike?” I asked, as Phonse was now standing by the passenger-side door of my car.

“Ah, sure it’s grand here,” he said. “I’ll come back for it by and by.” 

“Aren’t you going to lock it?” 

I thought of all the orphaned bike wheels locked to racks in Toronto, their frames long since ripped away. Jake had been livid when his racing bike was stolen. Not that I was thinking about Jake. I absolutely was not. 

“No need to lock anything ’round here,” said Phonse. 

I fumbled with my car keys, embarrassed to have locked the car from habit. 

“Need some help?”

“The lock’s a bit stiff,” I said. “I’ll get used to it.” 

Phonse waited while I jiggled in vain. Then he walked around and held out his hand. I gave him the key, he stuck it in and the knob on the inside of the car door popped up immediately. 

“Handyman, see,” he said. “Wants a bit of oil, I allows. But like I said, no need to lock ’er. Anyway, with that colour, who’d steal it?” I had purchased the car over the phone, partly for its price, partly for its colour. Green had been Dad’s favourite colour, and when the salesman said mountain green, I’d imagined a dark, verdant shade. Instead, with its scattered rust garnishes, the car looked like a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Still, it would fit right in. I eyeballed the houses as we drove along: garish orange, lime green, blinding yellow. Maybe there had been a sale on paint. 

As we passed the church, Phonse blessed himself, fingers moving from forehead to chest, then on to each shoulder. I kept both hands firmly on the steering wheel. 

“Where’s the main part of Little Cove?” I asked. 

“You’re looking at it.”

There was nothing but a gas station and a takeout called MJ’s, where a clump of teenagers was gathered outside, smoking. A tall, dark-haired boy pointed at my car and they all turned to stare. A girl in a lumber jacket raised her hand. I waved back before I realized she was giving me the finger. Embarrassed, I peeked sideways at Phonse. If he’d noticed, he didn’t let on. 

Although Phonse was passenger to my driver, I found myself thinking of Matthew Cuthbert driving Anne Shirley through Avonlea en route to Green Gables. Not that I’d be assigning romantic names to these landmarks. Anne’s “Snow Queen” cherry tree and “Lake of Shining Waters” were nowhere to be seen. It was more like Stunted Fir Tree and Sea of Grey Mist. And I wasn’t a complete orphan; it merely felt that way. 

At the top of a hill, Phonse pointed to a narrow dirt driveway on the right. “In there, luh.” 

I parked in front of a small violet house encircled by a crooked wooden fence. A rusty oil tank leaned into the house, as if seeking shelter. When I got out, my nose wrinkled at the fishy smell. Phonse joined me at the back of the car and reached into the trunk for my suitcases. 

“Gentle Jaysus in the garden,” he grunted. “What have you got in here at all? Bricks?” He lurched ahead of me towards the house, refusing my offer of help. 

The contents of my suitcases had to last me the entire year; now I was second-guessing my choices. My swimsuit and goggles? I wouldn’t be doing lengths in the ocean. I looked at the mud clinging to my sneakers and regretted the suede dress boots nestled in tissue paper. But I knew some of my decisions had been right: a raincoat, my portable cassette player, stacks of homemade tapes, my hair straighteners and a slew of books. 

When Phonse reached the door, he pushed it open, calling, “Lucille? I got the new teacher here. I expect she’s wore out from the journey.” As he heaved my bags inside, a stout woman in a floral apron and slippers appeared: Lucille Hanrahan, my boarding house lady. 

“Phonse, my son, bring them bags upstairs for me now,” she said. 

I said I would take them but Lucille shooed me into the hall, practically flapping her tea towel at me. “No, girl,” she said. “You must be dropping, all the way down from Canada. Let’s get some grub in you before you goes over to the school to see Mr. Donovan.” 

Patrick Donovan, the school principal, had interviewed me over the phone. I was eager to meet him. 

“Oh, did he call?” I asked. 

“No.” 

Lucille smoothed her apron over her belly, then called up the stairs to ask Phonse if he wanted a cup of tea. There was a slow beat of heavy boots coming down. “I’ll not stop this time,” said Phonse. “But Lucille, that fence needs seeing to.” 

Lucille batted her hand at him. “Go way with you,” she said. “It’s been falling down these twenty years or more.” But as she showed him out, they talked about possible repairs, the two of them standing outside, pointing and gesturing, oblivious to the falling rain. 

A lump of mud fell from my sneaker, and I sat down on the bottom step to remove my shoes. When Lucille returned, she grabbed the pair, clacked them together outside the door to remove the remaining mud, then lined them up beside a pair of sturdy ankle boots. 

I followed her down the hall to the kitchen, counting the curlers that dotted her head, pink outposts in a field of black and grey.

“Sit down over there, luh,” she said, gesturing towards a table and chairs shoved against the back window. I winced at her voice; it sounded like the classic two-pack-a-day rasp. 

The fog had thickened, so nothing was visible outside; it was like watching static on TV. There were scattered cigarette burns on the vinyl tablecloth and worn patches on the linoleum floor. A religious calendar hung on the wall, a big red circle around today’s date. September’s pin-up was Mary, her veil the exact colour of Lucille’s house. I was deep in Catholic territory, all right. I hoped I could still pass for one.

Excerpted from New Girl in Little Cove by Damhnait Monaghan, Copyright © 2021 by Damhnait Monaghan

Published by Graydon House Books

Author Bio: 

DAMHNAIT MONAGHAN was once a mainlander who taught in a small fishing village in Newfoundland. A former teacher and lawyer, Monaghan has almost sixty publication credits, including flash fiction, creative non-fiction, and short stories. Her short prose has won or placed in various writing competitions and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions. Her Lessons in Little Passage placed in the top six from more than 350 entries in the 2019 International Caledonia Novel Award. 

NEW GIRL AT LITTLE COVE

Author: Damhnait Monaghan

ISBN: 9781525811500

Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

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Amazon

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Social Links:

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Twitter: @Downith

Instagram: @Downith1

Facebook: @AuthorDMonaghan

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Summertime Guests

Summertime Guests by Wendy Francis

Expected publication date:  April 6, 2021 – Graydon House

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The Seafarer is the place to see and be seen in the summer…

With its rich history and famous guests, the glamorous Boston hotel is no stranger to drama. But the bustle at the iconic property reaches new heights one weekend in mid-June when someone falls tragically to her death, the event rippling through the lives of four very different people. 

Bride-to-be Riley is at the hotel to plan her wedding. She would have preferred a smaller, more intimate celebration, but her bossy mother-in-law has taken charge and her fiancé hasn’t seemed to notice. Jean-Paul, the hotel’s manager, is struggling to keep his marriage and new family afloat, but now he must devote all his energy to this latest scandal at work. Claire, recently widowed, comes to town to connect with a long-lost love, but has too much changed in the last thirty years?  And then there’s Jason, whose romantic getaway with his girlfriend has not exactly gone the way he’d hoped and instead has him facing questions he can’t bring himself to answer.

Over three sun-drenched days, as the truth about the woman who died—and the secret she was hiding—is uncovered, these four strangers become linked in the most unexpected of ways. Together, they just might find the strength they need to turn their own lives around. (publisher)

My take:  Summertime Guests starts out with an unexpected surprise for guests dining at The Seafarer, a posh Boston hotel where people go to be seen. The unexpected event affects our characters in ways that are, well, unexpected. We have Riley, a bride-to-be whose fiancé’s mother has decided to help the young couple plan their wedding. Mother-in-law Claire also has another reason to be in town. Then there’s a couple who are trying to overcome a serious issue. Speaking of serious issues, the wife of the busy new hotel manager seems to be experiencing one herself. There’s a lot going on in this novel, perhaps a bit too much for my taste. But, if you enjoy a mystery and emotional upheaval in your light summertime reading, plus a bit of a back-and-forth timeline, you might want to give Summertime Guests a try.


About the author:

wendy-francis-author-photo

Wendy Francis is a former book editor and the author of the novels The Summer Sail, The Summer of Good Intentions, Three Good Things, and Best Behavior. Her essays have appeared in Good HousekeepingThe Washington Post, Yahoo Parenting, The Huffington Post, and WBUR’s Cognoscenti. A proud stepmom of two grown-up children, she lives outside Boston with her husband and eleven-year-old son.

Join Wendy at her launch event at An Unlikely Story @ April 6th 8 p ET, in conversation with Kristy Woodson Harvey

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Before I Let You Go

Description: (content provided by the publisher)

From USA TODAY bestselling author Kelly Rimmer, BEFORE I LET YOU GO is an emotional and profoundly moving new novel that explores addiction, motherhood, the failures of the justice system, and the unbreakable bond of sisterhood.

Lexie is a successful doctor, engaged to a handsome fellow physician, and leads a picture-perfect life— at least that’s what it looks like from the outside. What people don’t see is that Lexie has little family to speak of: even years after the fact, she still grieves the untimely death of her beloved father, and she has little contact with the mother who, shortly after being widowed, tried to raise her daughters in a religious cult. Perhaps most devastatingly, Lexie hasn’t seen her troubled sister, Annie, in over two years. But when Annie contacts her out of the blue asking for help, Lexie must confront all that has happened to her bright and bubbly little sister. Annie is now drug addicted, living in a squalid trailer park, and has a baby on the way. Lexie promised her father she’d always protect Annie, but now she’s not sure she’ll be able to and wonders, as her own heart breaks, if it’s too late for Annie to turn her life around.

Annie has hit rock bottom more times than she can count, but this time, she finally has a reason to try to pick herself up: the life and well-being of her unborn daughter. With Lexie’s help, she’s finally committed to overcoming the devastating opioid addiction that has taken over her life—she wants, more than anything, to be a better sister, a good mother and the best version of herself. But doctors tell Annie she must wait to give birth before she can enter a rehab program, and before she can do either, Annie is tracked down by social services and charged with chemical endangerment of her own child. Just as she’s prepared to turn over a new leaf, Annie faces the prospect of a harsh sentence and decades in prison. Now she must fight not only for sobriety but also for her very freedom and custody of her child.

Dark secrets and shattering revelations emerge with the arrival of Lexie and Annie’s estranged mother and their stepfather, the leader of the religious cult that both girls escaped and tried to leave behind years ago. Lexie discovers that what she knows about Annie’s history of substance abuse only scratches the surface, and Annie herself harbors a deep and buried secret that has haunted her for decades—and it’s one that just might kill her.

BEFORE I LET YOU GO is extraordinarily timely and explores the current opioid crisis through the eyes of a young and desperate mother. With great empathy and nuance, it explores the complexities of addiction and reveals how substance abuse often stems from deep and hidden traumas. It calls into question the ways in which society often fails addicts and how the justice system punishes them with harsh and disproportionate sentences. Above all, it is a call for compassion, a recognition of our common humanity and fallibility, and a demonstration of the hope and rebirth that are possible even in the darkest of times.


Early praise for BEFORE I LET YOU GO:

“A heartbreaking book about an impossible decision. Kelly Rimmer writes with wisdom and compassion about the relationships between sisters, mother and daughter, aunt and niece. She captures the anguish of addiction, the agonizing conflict between an addict’s best and worst selves. Above all, this novel is about the deepest love possible.”

—Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author

“Get ready for fireworks in your book club…One of the best books for discussion that I’ve read in years.”

—Diane Chamberlain, bestselling author of The Stolen Marriage

“A heart wrenching story about the love between sisters, the complexities of women, and the lengths we’ll go for those close to us. Thought provoking and deeply affecting.”

—Karma Brown, New York Times bestselling author of In This Moment


ABOUT KELLY RIMMER:

Kelly Rimmer is the USA TODAY bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels, including Me Without You and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, 2 children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

BEFORE I LET YOU GO On Sale: April 2018 $16.99 U.S. / $21.99 CAN. Trade Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1525820847


US Giveaway

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Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

  • Title:  Now That You Mention It
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  416
  • Published:  December 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.  

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments. 

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter—a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was—Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. 

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.  (publisher)

My take:  Now That You Mention It is Kristan Higgins’ new stand-alone novel. Nora Stuart is a ‘glass half-full’ kind of person and that is what ends up saving her. She’s had to endure a lot over her thirty-five years which made her appreciate finally coming into her own as a doctor and as a woman. But recently she finds out life hasn’t finished whacking her upside the head when she gets hit by a van as she crosses a street. That is what brings her back to her mother’s house in Maine where her fifteen year old niece ignores her and her mother doesn’t know what to make of her.

As Nora gets her bearings and recovers from her injuries we learn about her background – the years of growing up on an island in Maine. Her family life was good until it wasn’t. Life changed one day and left Nora with unanswered questions that would have a lasting effect on her and Lily, her sister.

Nora will find out if one can really go home again. Now That You Mention It is a story about friendships, family and new possibilities. She might even get some answers to those long ago questions. I think fans of Kristan Higgins will be happy with this novel. Higgins’ typical humor, heartfelt story, colorful characters, etc are all there. I enjoyed it.


About Kristan Higgins:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook.

Previously a copywriter, Kristan began writing fiction when her children graced her life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, she found, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so began her first novel. Kristan holds a BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross, which means she can identify dangling participles, quote many great novels and play a mean game of Scrabble.

Kristan is an award-winning baker, devoted fan of the New York Yankees and an avid reader. She and her crew spend as much time as possible at the family home on Cape Cod, where they shiver in the Atlantic, ride bikes, swat horseflies and don’t catch any fish. Visit her at KristanHiggins.com.


 

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

  • Title:  Best Day Ever
  • Author:  Kaira Rouda
  • Genre:  Mystery; Thriller
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  September 2017 – Graydon House
  • Source:  Publisher; Wunderkind PR

Description:  Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How much do they trust each other? And how perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really?

Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Ever crackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion. In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life. (publisher)

My take:  Paul is a confident and successful man. He has life figured out and knows he deserves all he has, and more. He’s planned a weekend away with his wife, Mia. She needs a nice getaway – she’s been sick lately with a mystery illness that countless doctors haven’t been able to figure out. He’s certain this vacation is exactly what she needs. It will all start with the best day ever. But what happens when Paul’s plan doesn’t go the way he intends? Kaira Rouda’s novel takes the reader inside the mind of Paul. It’s creepy and disturbing and yet I couldn’t stop reading. I had an idea where everything was heading – and I was right. It was a departure from my usual reads and I enjoyed it. I loved discovering the significance of the eye-catching cover as well. Yes, a creepy good afternoon of reading about someone’s best day ever.


 Check out my Spotlight post for more information about BEST DAY EVER


Spotlight On: Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Today I want to shine the Bookfan Spotlight on BEST DAY EVER by Kaira Rouda. It’s one of the books I’m looking forward to reading this Fall.

Harper Collins/Graydon House; September 19, 2017; Hardcover; $26.99

About the book:

The perfect couple is the perfect illusion.

Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.

But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spike of tension begins to wedge itself between them and doubts start to arise. How perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? How much do they trust each other? Is Paul the person he seems to be? And what are his secret plans for their weekend at the cottage?
Forcing us to ask ourselves just how well we know those who are closest to us, Best Day Evercrackles with dark energy, spinning ever tighter toward its shocking conclusion.

In the bestselling, page-turning vein of The Couple Next Door and The Dinner, Kaira Rouda weaves a gripping, tautly suspenseful tale of deception and betrayal dark enough to destroy a marriage…or a life.


Praise for BEST DAY EVER:

PopSugar named Best Day Ever one of “the 25 best new books of Fall!”

PopSugar named Best Day Ever one of their “favorite books of the year!”

“It’s clear from the beginning that something sinister is going on in this novel, which will cost you sleep as you race through its pages. Chilling, satisfying suspense.”
—Good Housekeeping

“Clever pacing and an unreliable and chillingly unrepentant narrator.”
Kimberly McCreightNew York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia and The Outliers

“This latest psychological thriller from bestselling Rouda is destined to fly off the shelves, enticing readers to ride along as this multifaceted day in the life of the Stroms unfolds.”
—Library Journal *STARRED REVIEW*

“A tensely written, shocking book that will hold readers on the edge of their seats to the very last page.”
—Publishers Weekly

“Darkly funny, scandalous, and utterly satisfying.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Rouda keeps the pace taut, the action spare, and the characters intense as she takes readers on an hour-by-hour recounting of the couple’s fateful getaway.”
—Booklist

“Kaira Rouda’s BEST DAY EVER is a breath of fresh air. Move over Kepnes’ Joe Goldberg, there’s a new sociopathic voice in town. Paul Strom is irreverent, arrogant, psychotic and yet, utterly addicting. Who will win the Lakeside showdown, Mia or Paul? You’ll whip through the pages to find out. Highly entertaining and truly surprising!“
Kate MorettiNew York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year

“We read BEST DAY EVER in one sitting—ripping through the pages with a breathless urgency. The book takes place over just twenty-four-hours, making you desperate to know: what exactly does the seemingly perfect Paul Strom have planned for his wife when he takes her away for the weekend? Here’s what we can tell you: whatever you think it is, you’re wrong. BEST DAY EVER isn’t even close to what you’re expecting. BEST DAY EVER is a creepy, spine-tingling and utterly addictive tale of domestic suspense.”
Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke, bestselling authors of The Good Widow

“Kaira Rouda spins a sinister tale of a disintegrating marriage that raises the bar on the unreliable narrator. Deliciously diabolical and highly readable, BEST DAY EVER kept me flipping the pages with anticipation and fascination. Unputdownable!”
A. J. BannerUSA Today bestselling author of The Twilight Wife

“Riveting and provocative, BEST DAY EVER is a gripping suspense that plays with your mind and makes you wonder how well you truly know your spouse. Accomplished author Kaira Rouda deftly navigates a day in the life of Paul and Mia Strom where what appears to be a perfect marriage is not all what it seems. Fast-paced, dark, and slightly disturbing, you won’t be able to put this book down until its jaw-dropping ending. Rouda kept me glued to my seat. Absolutely brilliant!”
Kerry LonsdaleWall Street Journal bestselling author of Everything We Keep

“His voice will grip you. Through self-conscious charm and a chilling wit, Rouda’s narrator creates laugh-out-loud moments that will feel like guilty pleasures in light of the story’s high-impact conclusion. This may well be the most entertaining read of your year.”
Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy

“Completely addicting. Those who loved THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR will want to take note of this one.”
—Book Reporter, Carol Fitzgerald, Newsletter

“a good story that keeps you guessing throughout”
—Sarah Blake, reviewer at Blake Psychotherapy and Associates


About the author:

Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction, including Here, Home, Hope, and The Goodbye Year. Kaira is also the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs and the creator of Real Living, one of the nation’s most successful real estate brands and the first national women-focused brand in real estate. She now lives in Southern California with her family, where she’s lucky enough to write full time, and enjoys the beach whenever possible.  Kaira’s latest novel, Best Day Ever, is one of the major launch titles for Harlequin’s new imprint Graydon House, and will be available on September 19, 2017.

To connect with Kaira, visit her website, KairaRouda.com. Connect with her on Facebook.com/KairaRoudaBooks; and on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter – @KairaRouda.


Where to buy BEST DAY EVER: At your local bookstore or online at
–Amazon:
–Barnes & Noble:
–Indiebound:

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

  • Title:  Something Like Happy
  • Author:  Eva Woods
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  September 2017 – Graydon House Books
  • Source:   Publisher; Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she’d once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.  

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn’t want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it’s that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…  

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie’s convinced it’s impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there’s still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly’s about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.  

With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment. (publisher)

My take:  Eva Woods’ novel about two people trying to live life to the fullest engaged me from the first page. Polly doesn’t have long to live and Annie’s life became very small a few years earlier. It’s a heartfelt and emotional story that I found difficult to put down. These two unlikely pals, who wouldn’t have met if life had been different, find a way to make peace with their lot in life by crossing items off their hundred days list. There were laugh-out-loud moments and times that had me reaching for a tissue.  Polly and Annie’s experiences reminded me to appreciate the little things as well as the huge events in life. I’m very glad I had the chance to read  Something Like Happy and recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction. It’s going on my 2017 Favorites list.


About the author:

Eva Woods was inspired to write SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY after surviving her own brush with cancer and the breakdown of her marriage. Raised in a small village in Northern Ireland, Woods now lives in London, where she teaches creative writing and regularly contributes to Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire UK, xoJane, and other publications. She writes crime fiction as Claire McGowan.

Photo credit: Jamie Drew

 


Praise for Something Like Happy:

“A great option for fans of Graeme Simsion, Gabrielle Zevin and Marian Keyes.” — Library Journal on Something Like Happy

“Filled with beautiful life lessons of love, loss, friendship, and forgiveness, Something Like Happy is a perfect feel good read. A warm, funny, thoughtful novel, packed with heart and charged with emotion.” – Lori Nelson Spielman, #1 Bestselling author of The Life List

“A fresh new voice in romantic fiction.” – Marie Claire

“Page-turning.” – The Guardian

“A knockout new talent you should read immediately.” – Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Warm, witty and lots of fun—a fantastic new voice in women’s fiction.” – Melissa Hill, author of Something From Tiffany’s

“Frothy, smart, and unashamedly fun.” – Heat Magazine


 

SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY

On Sale: September 2017
$26.99 U.S. / $29.99 CAN. Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781525811357