Breakfast At The Honey Creek Café

Breakfast At The Honey Creek Café by Jodi Thomas

Published:  May 2020 – Zebra/Kensington Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Piper Jane Mackenzie, mayor of Honey Creek, won’t let a major scandal rip her quirky hometown apart, or jeopardize her dream of one day running for higher office. So she’s willing to welcome undercover detective Colby McBride, hired to help solve the mystery behind her wannabe fiancé’s disappearance. Colby’s cover? That he is an old boyfriend now begging Piper for a second chance—always when there are plenty of townsfolk around to witness his shenanigans. 
 
Piper hardly knows whether to laugh or cry, especially when she finds herself drawn to the handsome rascal. He’s not the only newcomer she has to deal with. There’s a new interim preacher in town, Sam Cassidy. Drifting from one assignment to another since his one love died, Sam isn’t sure he’s the right fit for Honey Creek. But as Piper knows, this is a place chock-full of surprises. And if she can keep her town—and her heart—from going completely off the rails, there may be a sweet, unexpected future in store . . . (publisher)

My take:  Breakfast At The Honey Creek Café is book one in the new Honey Creek series by Jodi Thomas. I’ve been a fan since reading Rewriting Monday ten years ago. I’ve grown to love the small town settings, quirky characters and charming plots that are hallmarks of her novels. This book is no exception and was just the book I wanted to read when I picked it up. I find them a comfort no matter what’s going on in my life but especially during a quarantine.

I enjoyed learning about the small Texas town of Honey Creek, the mayor and her challenges, the substitute minister, and an undercover trooper whose goal is to be a Texas Ranger. I liked the light mystery and drama woven through the story as well as the romance. All told with humor and heart which is what I’ve come to expect from Jodi Thomas. Recommended.


About the author:

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 50 novels and a dozen novellas. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world. Jodi has been inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. When not working on a novel, Thomas enjoys traveling, renovating a historic home, and “checking up” on her grown sons and four grandchildren.

 

Visit Jodi Thomas online at:


 

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Expected publication date:  Dec. 31, 2019 – Kensington Books

Digital galley courtesy of Kensington and NetGalley

Description:  Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .
 
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .  (publisher)

My take: The whimsical and charming first chapter hooked me and I was happy the feeling carried through the rest of the novel. Meg (a letters girl) and Reid’s (a numbers guy) relationship begins in an unexpected way which I enjoyed reading about. Kate Clayborn built on that with a steady pace that kept me interested and turning the pages. There’s friendship, attraction, drama, love between several characters (best friends, new friends, colleagues), The Brooklyn setting was perfect. I liked the sign game created by Reid that helped him and Meg become better acquainted. The ability to read signs would be helpful in their future. I liked that both Meg and Reid showed subtle growth, learned to take a breath and consider things from another perspective before reacting. All in all, a fresh and fun love story. I look forward to seeing what Clayborn writes next.


About the author:

Kate Clayborn is a two-time RITA Award finalist and author of the critically acclaimed Chance of a Lifetime series. She lives in Virginia, where she’s lucky enough to spend her days reading and talking about all kinds of great books. At home she’s either writing, thinking about writing, or–during long walks around her fabulous neighborhood—making her handsome husband and sweet-faced dog listen to her talk about writing.

Visit Kate Clayborn online at: www.KateClayborn.com
Instagram: /KateClayborn.Author
Facebook: /KateClaybornBooks
Twitter:
/KateClayborn

 

LOVE LETTERING
By Kate ClaybornKensington Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
On Sale: December 31, 2019 / Fiction / Trade Paperback
$15.95 ($21.95 CAN) / 978-1-4967-2517-2


A Texas Kind of Christmas

A Texas Kind of Christmas by 

Jodi Thomas  Celia Bonaduce   Rachel Miles

Expected publication:  Oct. 29, 2019 – Kensington Books

Book courtesy of the Kensington and NetGalley

Description:

It’s Christmas Eve, 1859, and everyone who’s anyone is headed to the glorious St. Nicholas Hotel for the most talked about ball of the season. It’s the kind of Texas night where anything can happen—even love . . .
 
ONE NIGHT AT THE ST. NICHOLAS
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas
 To escape her stepmother’s plot to marry her off, Texas heiress Jacqueline Hartman spends Christmas Eve sharing a hideout with an accused bank robber. After a night in Nathaniel Ward’s arms, Jacqueline is certain she has met her match after all. But will his heartfelt promise of love lead to his demise at the hands of the law?
 
BIRDIE’S FLIGHT * Celia Bonaduce
Seamstress Birdie Flanagan gets the surprise of her life when she receives a beautiful gown—and a sudden invitation—for the ball of the season! Birdie creates a stir from the moment she arrives, capturing the eye of the dashing Captain Douglas Fairbanks.  But will a secret from her past keep her from her long-awaited happily-ever-after?
 
SPIRIT OF TEXAS * Rachael Miles
When lovely spinster Eugenie Charpentier makes a trip across the Texas frontier with former Texas Ranger Asher Graham, she dreams of an adventure, and the rough-and-tumble cowboy is happy to oblige. But both Eugenie and the rugged lawman are keeping secrets. Can they find each other—and love—on the dance floor at the Christmas ball?  (publisher)

My take:  What initially sold me on this book was seeing Jodi Thomas’s name. I think it’s the first time I’ve ready anything by Celia Bonaduce and Rachael Miles. It turned out to be a great introduction because I’ve added them both to my TBR list. I’m a fan of historical romance of this era and a US setting and I’m glad to have found new-to-me authors. I enjoyed their writing style.

The connection shared by the three novellas is a Christmas Ball hosted at the grand Dallas hotel, The St. Nicholas. It is the destination and main setting for the characters but Christmas plays a minor role. At the forefront are well-to-do fathers looking to marry off their daughters, a financially independent spinster who might have found her soul mate, and the terrible beauty that is the Texas terrain. I enjoyed each story and recommend the book to fans of the authors and historical romance.


THE HISTORY BEHIND A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS: 

➢ Sarah Horton Cockrell opened the St. Nicholas Hotel in 1859 under her own management, one year after her husband, Alex Cockrell, died at the hands of a Dallas sheriff. It was known as one of the most fashionable, grand hotels of its time until it burned down in the Dallas Fire of 1860. It was the first building constructed taller than two stories and the crowning social event Dallas society was the grand ball with which it made its debut. Sarah Horton Cockrell named the hotel after the man she chose as its manager – Nicholas H. Darnell, a captain in the Indian wars of 1839, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Texas Congress of 1842, and Lieutenant Governor elected in the first state election of 1846. 

Sarah Horton Cockrell (1819-1892) 

➢ An astute businesswoman, real estate maven and transportation pioneer whose wealth and power defied gender conventions of the time, Sarah Horton Cockrell went on to own nearly 1⁄4 of Downtown Dallas, opening the Dallas Hotel (later known as the St. Charles), a number of flour mills and other businesses. She constructed the first iron bridge across the Trinity, leading to enormous economic development for the state. 

➢ After Sarah Horton Cockrell’s death in 1892, The Dallas Morning News’s obituary stated that her funeral procession and floral tributes were among the largest ever seen in Dallas.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS 

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and her historical anthology, A Texas Kind of Christmas (Nov. 2019). The first book in her new series with Kensington, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café, comes out May 2020. Please visit her at http://www.JodiThomas.com.


Celia Bonaduce, also the author of The Venice Beach Romances and the Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas series, has always had a love affair with houses. Her credits as a television field producer include such house-heavy hits as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; HGTV’s House Hunters and Tiny House Hunters. She lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband and dreams of one day traveling with him in their own tiny house. She can be found online http://www.CeliaBonaduce.com

Rachael Miles is an acclaimed romance novelist and historian specializing in the 19th century, as well as a professor of literary history. A fifth-generation Texan and native of Dallas, she now lives and teaches in New York. Visit her online at http://www.RachaelMiles.com.


Meet Jodi Thomas, Rachael Miles & Celia Bonaduce at these Upcoming Events! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 @ 6pm DALLAS WOMAN’S FORUM at the Alexander Mansion of Dallas Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres with Jodi Thomas, Rachael Miles & Celia Bonaduce (Author Talk, followed by Q&A and Book Signing) 4607 Ross Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204 

Thursday, November 21, 2019 @ 11am DALLAS WOMAN’S FORUM at the Alexander Mansion of Dallas Luncheon with Jodi Thomas, Rachael Miles & Celia Bonaduce (Author Talk, followed by Q&A and Book Signing) 4607 Ross Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204 

Thursday November 21, 2019 @ 6pm INTERABANG BOOKS 10720 Preston Rd #1009B Dallas, TX 75230 

Saturday, November 23, 2019 @ 11am DALLAS ARBORETUM – Rosine Hall 8525 Garland Rd. Dallas, Texas 75218


 

 

The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas

The Valentine’s Curse by Jodi Thomas

Published:  Dec. 18, 2018 – Kensington

Book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas takes you back to the Old West, where two strangers find love in the least likely place, with the least likely person, just in the nick of time . . .
 
As a Yankee in Texas two years after the Civil War, cowboy Broderick Monroe is given the jobs no one else wants to do—including keeping company with the cursed Widow Allen at the annual Valentine’s Day dance thrown by his boss’s wife.
 
After losing two husbands to the war, Valerie Allen has become a local pariah. Rumor has it that if a man touches her, he’ll be dead by morning. But Brody believes in curses about as much as he believes in love.
 
One secret embrace in the moonlight leads Valerie to think she has found a kindred spirit, but fate—and the curse—aren’t done with her yet . . . (publisher)

My take:  This novella was originally part of the anthology Be My Texas Valentine (published in 2012). It’s a story of two people who’ve been dealt some hard blows by life. When they meet at a Valentine’s dance they know they aren’t meant to be. He agreed to sit next to her when asked by his boss’s wife and she is too proper to disagree. But that doesn’t mean she must speak to him. She’s known around the county as a cursed widow. He’s known as a Yankee and only tolerated because of his strong work ethic. As always happens in a Jodi Thomas story, unexpected circumstances will change the course of lives and this reader loved finding out how. Told in the author’s warm and charming style this is a novella her fans and those of historical western romance will want to read. I’m glad I finally discovered it!


 

Spotlight on: Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades

Today it is my pleasure to shine the Bookfan spotlight on Have You Met Nora? by Nicole Blades.

Kensington; November 2017; $15.00; Trade Paperback

Description: (Spotlight content provided by the publicist)

She’s blossomed from wealthy surgeon’s beautiful daughter to elegant socialite to being the top fashion stylist in the country. And Nora Mackenzie is only days away from marrying into one of New York’s richest, most powerful families. But her fairy tale rise is rooted in an incredible deception—one scandal away from turning her perfect world to ashes . . .

What no one knows is that Nora is the biracial daughter of a Caribbean woman and a long-gone white father. Adopted—and abused—by her mother’s employer, then sent to an exclusive boarding school to buy her silence, Nora found that “passing” as a white woman could give her everything she never had. Every golden opportunity she seized and every deception she worked kept that powerless, forgotten girl forever in the past.

Now, an ex-classmate who Nora betrayed many years ago has returned to her life to even the score. She’s a woman who won’t be bought off, reasoned against, or pleaded with. Her machinations are turning Nora’s privilege into one gilded trap after another. Running out of choices, Nora must decide how far she will go to protect a lie or give up and finally face the truth.


Praise for Have You Met Nora?
“Emotionally intense. Nicole Blades weaves a compelling web of secrets as a desperate woman struggles to overcome her past and secure her future, no matter the price.” —Colleen Faulkner, author of What Makes a Family
*

“…stunning, riveting, and positively unpredictable. This is a deft and searing commentary on identity and race. Nicole Blades has written a book that feels effortless to read and yet pulls no punches, offering a point of view that is piercing and uncompromising. You will be thinking about this book long after it’s over.” —Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, After I Do and Forever Interrupted


About the author:  

Nicole Blades launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine, co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health. Her essays have been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, MarieClaire.com, WashingtonPost.com, Health, SELF, and Buzzfeed.  Blades can be heard co-hosting her new podcast, “Hey, Sis!,” and lives in Connecticut with her husband and their son.  Here is her most recent piece in The New York Times: Help! It’s Wear Your Teacher’s Favorite Color Day.


US Giveaway: Summer Dance by Nan Rossiter

My review of Summer Dance posted on Tuesday, May 30 (click the title for review). Author Nan Rossiter has generously offered a copy of her new book to one lucky winner – scroll down for the US Giveaway!

Description:  New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nan Rossiter brings together characters from her acclaimed novel Nantucket in a powerful, heartwarming love story that bridges past and present.

When Liam Tate was seven years old, his uncle Cooper opened his heart and his Nantucket home to him. In the intervening decades, Liam has found both love and loss on the island, and since learning of his son Levi’s existence, a new kind of happiness. Yet one piece of his family history remains elusive—the long-ago romance between his uncle and Sally Adams. Now Sally has a revelation that sets the whole town abuzz: She’s publishing a book about what happened during the summer when she and Cooper first met, painting a picture so vivid it feels like yesterday . . .

In 1969, Winston Ellis Cooper III lands on Nantucket with only a duffel bag and a bottle of Jack Daniels. He finds a sparsely furnished beach cottage, about as far from Vietnam as he can get. But even here, Cooper can’t withdraw from the world entirely. Especially once his eyes meet Sally’s in the flickering lights of a summer dance. The effects of that fiery affair can still be felt decades later. And as the story unfolds, there are new lessons for all to learn about life’s triumphs and heartaches, and about loving enough to let go.

US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

Giveaway ends on June 9, 2017


 

Summer Dance by Nan Rossiter

  • Title:  Summer Dance
  • Series:  Nantucket #2
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Pages:  352
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  May 2017 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Summer Dance is the story of Sally Adams. We met Sally in the first book of the Nantucket series. She was the love of the protagonist’s uncle Coop in that book (Nantucket).

Sally has always wanted to write a book and decides that a memoir would be the way to go. Her life was deeply impacted by the death of her mother when Sally was a little girl. Her father made sure she was fed, clothed and educated but wasn’t able to give her much direction in the important things in the life of a girl. He did tell her that humans “make mistakes. Hopefully, we learn and move on…and God forgives us.” The decisions regarding her education and religion would guide her life for decades. That had positive and negative consequences but all made for a good memoir.

Sally could be a frustrating character but, at the same time, very human. She seemed to find forgiveness for almost everyone in her life but herself. Guilt consumed her and she felt undeserving of true happiness because of her sins. From the time she was a little girl she knew if she wasn’t good she wouldn’t get to heaven to see her mother someday. Sally strove to be a ‘good Catholic’. So, while it was frustrating for this 21st century Catholic to read about those mid-20th century days I also felt sympathy for Sal. Ultimately she was a good person who tried her best and had many people who loved her.

I like a ‘book within a book’ novel and Nan Rossiter did a great job with it. Sally’s life was filled with good times as well as times of heartache – much like anyone. Summer Dance is a wonderful companion to the first book and I hope this saga will continue. There are a couple of loose ends at the close of the novel that seem a natural lead-in to a book 3.

Recommended to fans of the author, a Nantucket setting, and family sagas. Also included is a Reading Group Guide as well as a sneak peek chapter of the first book in the series.


Advance praise for Summer Dance:

“Rossiter returns to the characters from her novel Nantucket in this coming-of-age story.” – Publishers Weekly 

“Continuing the story started in Nantucket, Rossiter revisits the New England island with a quiet look back at one woman’s past with the man she loved…It’ s a pleasant love story fit for a summer read.”– RT Book Reviews 


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nan Rossiter’s adult fiction is often compared to the work of Nicholas Sparks – especially her first novel, THE GIN & CHOWDER CLUB. Nan’s second novel, WORDS GET IN THE WAY, is an uplifting story about a single mom whose young son has autism. Her third novel, MORE THAN YOU KNOW, touches on the bonds of sisterhood and the tragedy and despair of Alzheimer’s. UNDER A SUMMER SKY ties the first three books together in an unexpected way, and NANTUCKET touches on the difference time can make, the truths that never alter, and the bittersweet second chances that arrive just in time to steer a heart back home. FIREFLY SUMMER is an uplifting story of the resilience of sisterhood and the bright glimpses of joy and solace that, like fireflies after rain, can follow the deepest heartaches, and Nan’s new novel, SUMMER DANCE, brings together characters from her acclaimed novel NANTUCKET in a powerful, heartwarming love story that bridges past and present.

Nan is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and is also the author-illustrator of several books for children including, most recently, THE FO’C’SLE: HENRY BESTON’S OUTERMOST HOUSE, called “a lovely vision of one man’s communion with nature” by Publisher’s Weekly.

Nan lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, two handsome sons and a black Lab named Finnegan.

To learn more visit http://www.nanrossiter.com


 

Review/US Giveaway: Firefly Summer by Nan Rossiter

  • Firefly Summer (7:26)Title:  Firefly Summer
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2016 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  The close-knit Quinn siblings enjoyed the kind of idyllic childhood that seems made for greeting cards, spending each summer at Whit’s End, the family’s home on Cape Cod. Then comes the summer of 1964, warm and lush after a rainy spring—perfect firefly weather. Sisters Birdie, Remy, Sailor, Piper, and their brother, Easton, delight in catching the insects in mason jars to make blinking lanterns. Until, one terrible night, tragedy strikes.

Decades later, the sisters have carved out separate lives on the Cape. Through love and heartbreak, health issues, raising children, and caring for their aging parents, they have supported each other, rarely mentioning their deep childhood loss. But one evening, as they sit together at Whit’s End to watch the sun set, the gathering fireflies elicit memories of that long-ago night, and a tumult of regrets, guilt, and secrets tumble out.

Poignant yet hopeful, Firefly Summer is an uplifting story of the resilience of sisterhood and the bright glimpses of joy and solace that, like fireflies after rain, can follow even the deepest heartaches.  (publisher)

My take:  I’m from a big family of seven girls and one boy so I love novels about siblings, especially sisters. Nan Rossiter’s new novel is about four sisters in their late-fifties to mid-sixties. When they were young, more than fifty years earlier, tragedy struck the family and had a profound effect on each sibling.

Birdie, the oldest feels responsible for the tragedy and has increasingly self-medicated with wine. It’s taking a toll on her marriage as well as her relationship with her sisters. Remy was widowed young and made her life’s focus raising her three children. Now she has an unexpected chance of love. Sailor, having just filed for divorce from her philandering husband, has realized her dream of living on the Cape near her sisters. Piper, the youngest sister, is feeling the physical changes women of a certain age go through and is a bit disconcerted by it all.

I loved reading Firefly Summer. The Cape setting was lovely. There’s so much I identified with – a bit in each sister. I found that so enjoyable. There’s not a lot of fiction out there with characters in my age demographic so I relished in reading it. The future is uncertain for all the siblings, just as it is for all of us. What is certain is that if one remains optimistic in life it makes the tough times a little easier to endure. And, in this novel as well as my case, having sisters is always a plus. Recommended.


Praise for the novels of Nan Rossiter

“Nan Rossiter is at the peak of her storytelling abilities with Under a Summer Sky, which is told with the kind of compassion, grace, and wisdom that is nearly unrivaled in contemporary fiction.”—Examiner.com

“Eloquent and surprising…I love this story of faith, love, and the lasting bonds of family.”—Ann Leary, author of Outtakes from a Marriage on The Gin & Chowder Club

“A gripping story of three sisters, of love lost and found and a family’s journey from grief to triumph. A sure winner.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on More Than You Know


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nan Parson Rossiter’s adult fiction is often compared to the work of Nicholas Sparks – especially her first novel, THE GIN & CHOWDER CLUB. She hopes readers who enjoyed GIN & CHOWDER (or those who haven’t discovered it yet!) will look for the same characters in the Christmas anthology, MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT. Nan’s second novel, WORDS GET IN THE WAY, is an uplifting story about a single mom whose young son has autism. Her third novel, MORE THAN YOU KNOW, touches on the bonds of sisterhood and the tragedy and despair of Alzheimer’s, and her new novel, UNDER A SUMMER SKY, ties them all together in the spring of 2014.

Nan is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and is also the author-illustrator of several books for children including, most recently, THE FO’C’SLE: HENRY BESTON’S OUTERMOST HOUSE, called “a lovely vision of one man’s communion with nature” by Publisher’s Weekly.

Nan lives in rural Connecticut with her husband and two handsome sons.

To learn more visit www.nanrossiter.com


US Giveaway

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Firefly Summer (7:26)

Giveaway ends August 13, 2016

Better Get To Livin’ by Sally Kilpatrick

  • better get to livin' (5:31)Title:  Better Get To Livin’
  • Author:  Sally Kilpatrick
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  May 2016 – Kensington Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Presley Cline has put aside dreams of Hollywood stardom and come back to Ellery, Tennessee, to work in a beauty shop. In truth, the dreams in question were more her mother’s than her own. Presley may have the face and body of a movie icon, but she lacks the stomach for it. Yet a loving relationship and normal home life seem almost as unattainable as an Oscar. Being able to see and speak to dead people certainly isn’t helping. 

Presley’s first job, beautifying “clients” at the Anderson Funeral Home, is quite a change from working on a movie set. The place is home to dozens of ghosts all hoping that Presley can help them move on–and also one very-much-alive owner, Declan Anderson. Like Presley, Declan is caught between following family expectations and his own aspirations. But with a little meddling from loved ones and locals–both living and dead–Presley is starting to see that life is too short not to be who you want to be, and the most rewarding journeys involve some unexpected detours…  (publisher)

My take:  Better Get To Livin’ isn’t listed as part of a series but its the third of Sally Kilpatrick’s books that takes place in Ellery, Tennessee. Ellery is a small town where everyone went to the same school and everyone knows (or think they know) your business. If that isn’t enough, Presley Cline comes back from Hollywood after compromising photos appear in a fan magazine – so now the whole world knows her business.

Fortunately for Presley, she went to beauty school when she first arrived in Hollywood to help pay the bills while she waited for her big break. That is a huge help when she comes back to Ellery because she’s broke. She gets a job at The Holy Roller (ha!) and is sent to a local funeral home to ready a person for a visitation. That’s where she reconnects with Declan Anderson, funeral director and former high school math tutor to Presley. That’s also where her gift of seeing spirits of the departed becomes apparent to the reader.

This isn’t a paranormal novel but I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. This is a story about one’s hopes and dreams. It’s about finding out and deciding what to do – live for someone else or appreciate every minute of every day and along the way figuring out what your dreams are. I enjoyed it all and hope for more stories from Ellery with all its quirky characters.

Stitches in Time by Terri DuLong

  • stitches in timeTitle:  Stitches in Time
    • Series:  Ormond Beach #2
  • Author:  Terri DuLong
  • Pages:  252
  • Published:  June 2016 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Isabelle Wainwright is no stranger to heartache. She was just fifteen when her mother left her to be raised by her father so she could start a new life across the country. Rather than crumbling in despair, Isabelle eventually stitched together her own path, graduating from college and starting a family in Atlanta. But her hard-won fairytale ending is beginning to unravel…

The shock of her father’s sudden death is compounded when Isabelle’s husband leaves her and her daughter for someone else. Reeling from being abandoned yet again, she finds comfort in Chloe Radcliffe, her father’s girlfriend, who encourages her to move to Ormond Beach, Florida, and help her run her yarn shop. There, Isabelle may find the strength to confront her past, build new friendships, and perhaps even learn to love in a way she never thought possible… (publisher)

My take:  In Stitches in Time author Terri DuLong takes readers back to Ormond Beach, Florida. This time the featured character is Isabelle Wainwright, adult daughter of Chloe Radcliffe’s (principal character from book 1) former boyfriend. After Isabelle’s father died she remained close to Chloe and that’s how she and her teenage daughter end up relocating to Ormond Beach.

Life is progressing favorably when Isabelle gets a surprise – her estranged mother decides to retire to Ormond Beach and reconnect with her daughter and granddaughter. Can Isabelle ever reconcile with the woman who deserted her thirty years earlier?

Stitches in Time is about forgiveness and second chances. I liked it and especially enjoyed the relationships between all of the women in the novel. Knitting is featured prominently and a pattern for the scarf discussed within the story is included at the end of the book. I look forward to the next book in the series. Recommended to fans of women’s fiction, knitting, and Terri DuLong.

The Last Chance Christmas Ball

  • the last chance Christmas ball (9:29)Title:  The Last Chance Christmas Ball
  • Authors:  Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Anne Gracie, Susan King, Cara Elliott, Nicola Cornick
  • Genre:  Christmas Anthology
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  September 2015 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  Christmas 1815. Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Hall is abuzz with preparations for a grand ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New Year…

A chance meeting beneath the mistletoe, a stolen glance across the dance floor—amid the sumptuous delicacies, glittering decorations, and swell of the orchestra, every duchess and debutante, lord and lackey has a hopeful heart. There’s the headstrong heiress who must win back her beloved by midnight—or be wed to another….the spinster whose fateful choice to relinquish love may hold one more surprise for her…a widow yearning to glimpse her long-lost love for even one sweet, fleeting interlude …a charming rake who finds far more than he bargained for. And many other dazzling, romantic tales in this star-studded collection that will fill your heart and spice up your holidays…

My take:  In my opinion this is the perfect kind of book to read during the busy holiday season – especially if you enjoy historical romances and anthologies. I enjoyed each story (although some more than others). The nice thing about an anthology is that it gives me a chance to sample authors I haven’t read before. That was the case for almost every author in this book.

I liked the premise of celebrating the 50th Christmas Ball hosted by the Dowager Countess of Holbourne Hall. She’s invited many of her godchildren who seem to be in need of a match (even though they don’t think so). I especially enjoyed the stories involving the Dowager’s grandchildren.

If you’re looking for a book to cozy up to the fire with this month I’d suggest you grab a copy of The Last Chance Christmas Ball. I’m glad I had a chance to read it.

Bittersweet Creek by Sally Kilpatrick

  • bittersweet creek (10:27-Kensington)Title:  Bittersweet Creek
  • Author:  Sally Kilpatrick
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  October 2015 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

My take:  When Romy Satterfield comes home driving a silver Porsche with her boyfriend in the passenger seat she runs a red light and runs over her husband, Julian. She’s back in town to get divorce papers signed and to spend a few weeks helping her dad on the family farm. But things don’t go as planned. Past relationships are revisited, secrets are revealed, and new possibilities are considered.

Sally Kilpatrick’s characters are completely believable and well-formed. As a reader it was easy to have an emotional reaction to the central characters. For me, I’ve found that’s not always the case. I think this was because of the alternating first person POV of Romy and Julian. That was perfect for the story.

I’m not sure what I expected when I began reading Bittersweet Creek but what I got was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that was difficult to put down. There are several Shakespeare references throughout and, as in many Shakespeare plays, it is filled with good and evil, comedy and drama, love and conflict. I enjoyed it all and recommend it to fans of Sally Kilpatrick and women’s fiction. I’m so glad I had a chance to read Bittersweet Creek and look forward to reading more from the author.

Nantucket by Nan Rossiter (plus a US Giveaway)

  • Nantucket (8:25)Title:  Nantucket
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  August 25, 2015 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Over twenty-five years ago, Liam Tate and Acadia McCormick Knox fell in love. It was summer on Nantucket, and eighteen-year-old Liam knew that wealthy, college-bound Cadie was way out of league for a local boy who restored boats for a living. Yet the two became inseparable, seizing every chance to slip away in Liam’s runabout to secluded spots, far from the world that was trying to keep them apart. 

After Cadie returned home to New York and discovered she was pregnant, her parents crushed any hope of communicating with the boy she’d left behind. Unanswered letters and calls couldn’t change Liam’s heart, but over the years he’s settled into a simple, solitary life in his rambling beachfront house. Now he’s learned that Cadie is returning to Nantucket for the opening of her son’s art show. Over a weekend of revelations and poignant memories, Cadie and Liam have an opportunity to confront the difference time can make, the truths that never alter, and the bittersweet second chances that arrive just in time to steer a heart back home… (publisher)

My take: Nantucket is the story of Liam and Cadie. We learn about their history in chapters that alternate between 1989 and the present. Usually when this technique is used in a novel I prefer one time period over the other but Nan Rossiter did it flawlessly and I was engrossed in both.

I loved Liam’s willingness to open himself to Cadie and her family when it would have been so much easier to keep living his closed-off life. Cadie risked a lot by coming back to Nantucket but she knew she had to do it. I was also charmed by the children in the novel. They added so much to the emotional tone of many scenes.

Of course, I loved the Nantucket setting. The passages describing Liam’s job of building and repairing boats were interesting and, at the same time, helpful in the understanding of Liam himself.

Nantucket is an emotional and romantic story of love, forgiveness, trust and second chances. I really liked it and recommend it to fans of Nan Rossiter and women’s fiction.


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Nantucket (8:25)


Second Chances by Stacy Finz

  • second chances (Apr14)Title:  Second Chances
  • Series:  Nugget Romance series #3
  • Author:  Stacy Finz
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 14, 2015 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Harlee Roberts makes quite an entrance in Nugget, CA. Her Mini Cooper, pulling a U-Haul trailer, slides off the mountain road leading to her family’s cabin. Luckily, Colin Burke, Harlee’s new neighbor, sees it happen and is able to rescue her and her things.

Harlee is looking to get her life back on track after losing her newspaper job in San Francisco. She also wants to devote time to her start-up online company. The mountain cabin near the small town of Nugget seems the perfect place to get her bearings going forward.

Colin is quickly becoming famous for the amazing furniture he makes as well as his custom home carpentry. There’s a bit of mystery about him that Harlee would like to know but she will patiently wait for him to share. That mystery has affected Colin’s life in negative ways. Harlee tries to help him deal with some issues without knowing his entire story. How the truth will affect these two who seem destined for one another soon becomes apparent.

Second Chances is the third book in the Nugget series though it can be read as a stand alone. I enjoyed the Harlee/Colin story as well as seeing familiar characters from previous books. I look forward to seeing how a few subplots progress in the next book. There’s a preview of book 4 at the end. Recommended to fans of small town romance.

Hearth Stone by Lois Greiman

  • Hearth Stone (Feb24)Title:  Hearth Stone
  • Author:  Lois Greiman
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 24, 2015 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Hearth Stone is the story of a young woman whose life takes a turn in a new direction, much to her distress. Sydney was raised in privilege by a rigid father, a cold grandmother, and several nannies. When an injury changes everything she’s forced to rethink her future. She sets off on a journey to finding new meaning in her life. What she doesn’t expect is to find that her old life was based on lies.

Sydney arrives in South Dakota at her newly purchased ranch. She immediately starts to rehab the barn and house and then finds an injured horse that most would put out of its misery. She insists on trying to save it – much like the ranch is saving her.

Helping her with the work on the ranch and the injured horse is Hunter. He’s a mysterious man but she soon realizes he’s one of the good guys. Another person who shows up one day to work is Vura and her young daughter Lily. Vura is a talented carpenter with secrets of her own. Hunter, Vura and Lily are all instrumental in Sydney finding her true calling.

I had a bit of trouble with the way Sydney spoke at first. Her conversation seemed so affected but it became clear that it was a coping mechanism when speaking to Hunter (and a couple of other minor characters). As they got to know each other she loosened up.

Overall I enjoyed this novel and recommend it to fans of Contemporary/Women’s Fiction.  It’s an uplifting story and I look forward to reading more from Lois Greiman.

Makin’ Miracles by Lin Stepp

  • Makin' Miracles (Dec30)Title:  Makin’ Miracles
  • Author:   Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Christian
  • Published:  December 30, 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Zola Devon has always been a little different. Half Tahitian, with long black hair and dark eyes, she’s especially distinctive in the mountain town of Gatlinburg. She even stocks her gift shop, Nature’s Corner, with items that reflect her island heritage and tantalize tourists. But it’s her spot-on intuition that truly sets Zola apart. When she gets a hunch about a person, she’s almost always right. And when the surly photographer who owns the gallery next door starts meddling in her business, she can only hope that, for once, her instincts are wrong.

The one thing Spencer Jackson loves more than his camera is the majestic scenery of the Smoky Mountains. Reeling from his painful past, he’s settled in a cabin in the woods to train his lens on the breathtaking landscape. A woman as uniquely beguiling as Zola could only throw his simple, uncomplicated days into chaos–and force him to lay bare his darkest secrets. But as their lives become unavoidably intertwined, they both may discover the beauty of the truth, and the joy of the unexpected.  (publisher)

My brief take:  This is the second of Lin Stepp’s novels I’ve had a chance to read. I love the Smoky Mountain setting, the characters who seem so genuine, and her themes of people learning to forgive, trust, and love. Pertinent bible references are woven into the story in a relevant and natural way.

I had issues with Spencer. He seemed almost immature in his attitude toward his problems with his family and his willingness to let go of the past. It made him moody and rather annoying. I couldn’t understand why Zola kept seeing him. But she did. I really liked Zola. She had such a wonderful outlook on life and a great sense of who she was. She looked for and found the goodness in people. It was easy to understand why Spencer would be attracted to her.

Makin’ Miracles is a story of drama, mystery, romance and family dynamics. I enjoyed the pace and was satisfied with how Stepp wrapped things up. Recommended to fans of Christian Contemporary Fiction.

The Divorce Diet by Ellen Hawley

  • The Divorce Diet (Dec30)Title:  The Divorce Diet
  • Author:  Ellen Hawley
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  December 30, 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Abigail is sure the only thing standing between her and happiness is the weight she gained along with her beloved new baby. Until she instantly loses 170 pounds of husband.

When Thad declares that “this whole marriage thing” is no longer working, a shell-shocked Abigail takes her infant daughter, Rosie, and moves back to her parents’ house. Floundering, she turns to an imaginary guru and best friend, the author of her new weight-loss book. But surviving heartache, finding a job, and staying sane as a suddenly single new mom isn’t easy, especially on a diet–sorry, life journey.

Make an inventory of your skills, Abigail’s guru instructs. Abigail loves cooking and preparing food–real food, not the fatless, joyless dishes her diet prescribes, or the instant-frozen-artificially flavored fare she finds in her mother’s kitchen. So far, following everyone else’s rules has led to being broke, lonely, and facing a lifetime of poached eggs, faux mayonnaise, and jobs in chain restaurants. What might happen if Abigail followed her own recipe for a good life instead?…

Bitingly funny, wise, and insightful, Ellen Hawley’s fresh new novel is an ode to food and self-discovery for any woman who’s ever walked away from a relationship–or a diet–to find what true satisfaction is all about.  (publisher)

My brief take:  When Abigail takes her baby and moves back home with her parents (after her husband tells her it’s him, not her) she’s already started a diet to lose the pregnancy weight. She soon finds herself on a journey of discovery by having internal conversations with her diet guru – the author of the self-improvement (diet) book.

Abigail reconnects with her roots and realizes how superficial she’d become because of her relationships and marriage. Little by little, she gains compassion and empathy for the people in her life.

I found this novel best read in small bites – a few chapters at a time. There were times when I wanted to give Abigail a shake and say “get over yourself”. I think that’s due to the first person narrative. That issue aside, I enjoyed the novel – and there are recipes at the end 🙂

Farewell to Cedar Key by Terri DuLong

  • Farewell to Cedar Key (Nov25)Title:  Farewell to Cedar Key
  • Series:  Cedar Key #6
  • Author:  Terri DuLong
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  November 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Josie Sullivan adores her Cedar Key home. It’s been the ideal place to raise her daughter, Orli, who’s just turning sixteen. Now that Josie has realized her dream of becoming a registered nurse, she’s been offered the perfect job too–helping Dr. Simon Mancini run his new practice. 

Until the clinic opens, Josie is filling in at Yarning Together, where she launches a series of knitting classes for men. Yet for all the vibrant changes, there are some tangled threads. Josie’s romance-author mother, Shelby, receives a worrying diagnosis. And though Josie has always guarded her independence, her connection to Orli’s father, Grant, seems to be rekindling. Most of all, as Shelby’s college classmates rally around their dear friend, Josie begins to see that “home” is more than a place; it’s the relationships woven into each life, strand by strand…  (publisher)

My take:  Terri DuLong’s Cedar Key series is one of my favorites. I loved going back to the Florida island to see what’s up with all the characters I’ve come to know in the first five books. Farewell to Cedar Key could be my favorite of the series! I think that’s remarkable for a sixth book in a series.

This book features Josie, her daughter Orli and many more series regulars. The point that you never know what life will throw at you from one minute to another is the main theme. With the help and support of family and friends you can get through anything and that’s exactly what the people of Cedar Key prove to each other on an almost daily basis.

If you’re a knitter you’ll love that many of the Cedar Key scenes revolve around the local yarn shop. Terri DuLong also takes us to Boston for Christmas.

I enjoyed every page of this novel and recommend it to fans of the series and good contemporary fiction.

When the Snow Falls by Fern Michaels, Nancy Bush, Rosanna Chiofalo, Lin Stepp

  • When the Snow Falls (Oct7) KensingtonTitle:  When the Snow Falls
  • Authors:  Fern Michaels; Nancy Bush; Rosanna Chiofalo; Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Christmas Anthology; Romance
  • Published:  September 2014 – Zebra
  • Source:  Kensington Books

Synopsis:  Something’s in the air this holiday season, and it could be the beginning of a wonderful Christmas romance…

“Candy Canes and Cupid” by Fern Michaels

All private investigator Hannah Ray wants for Christmas is a quiet day at her Florida beachfront condo. When her biggest client insists she join him on a Colorado ski trip, she has little choice—but what she finds on her arrival could melt the coldest heart…

“White Hot Christmas” by Nancy Bush

Aspiring PI Jane Kelly likes to pretend she’s a bah-humbug kind of girl, but she’s had mistletoe on the brain ever since she shared a kiss with her boss, Dwayne. Before she can hope for a repeat performance, Jane must solve a kidnapping that’s as twisted as a candy cane—and not nearly as sweet.

“Seven Days of Christmas” by Rosanna Chiofalo

Five years ago, Bianca Simone received a wonderful early Christmas gift from her boyfriend, Mark—a week amid the stunning Alpine scenery of Innsbruck, Austria. Now she’s back under very different circumstances, but Mark has one more special gift in mind…

“A Smoky Mountain Gift” by Lin Stepp

Veda Trent is back in Townsend to fill in as temporary manager of the Crafts Co-op, but she’s not planning to stay. Though the mountain town is small, it holds lots of unsettling memories. Yet the wind can change, bringing with it new opportunities—and the chance to create the kind of Christmas Veda has always longed for.

My take:  I think Christmas is the perfect time of year to read an anthology. When the Snow Falls includes 4 very different stories. The first involves an attractive pair brought together by a bit of matchmaking on the part of a mutual friend who happens to own a 5 star ski resort in Colorado. There’s a mystery to be solved at the resort too. I liked this story. The second is more mystery than romance. I thought it was ok but that’s how I feel about most mysteries. The third was a heartfelt story about a woman wondering if she can go on in life after a huge loss. Can’t say much more because of the spoiler possibilities. Most of it takes place in Europe and there’s a small paranormal aspect. The last story picked up where a novel I read a few months ago left off. I didn’t expect that. I enjoyed going back to the small mountain town and the people who live there. A young woman wonders if she should find out if you can go home again. I hope the author continues this novella in a future full length novel. This was my favorite of the four stories. That said, When the Snow Falls has a little something for every reader.