Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication:  September 24, 2019 – HQN

Book courtesy of HQN, NetGalley and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?  (publisher)

My take:  If, like me, readers of the Haven Point series have been wondering about Luke and Elizabeth Hamilton – this is their book!  Her disappearance several years earlier sparked many wild theories among locals, none that placed Luke in a positive light. When Elizabeth comes back to Haven Point she reveals what happened. RaeAnne Thayne gives readers a plausible, emotional story. This novel touches on depression (clinical and postpartum) and my heart went out to Elizabeth and the family she left behind. Coming Home for Christmas is a story of forgiveness and courage – and love. Perfect themes for the season. Recommended to fans of the series, RaeAnne Thayne, and a good Christmas story.


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on:  cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 60 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website a http://www.raeannethayne.com


 

Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

Published:  August 2019 – Lake Union

Book courtesy of the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.

When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Naomi chose poverty and hardship over a submissive marriage and a husband’s control of her money. Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear.

Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance… (publisher)

My take:  Julia Kydd sails from England to New York with the sole purpose of claiming her inheritance upon her 25th birthday. That evolves into a fight with her half-brother that keeps her in New York longer than she’d expected. They strike a deal – a bet, really – in which the winnings (the inheritance) will go to the victor. I won’t spoil by revealing more. What I can say is that fans of historical mysteries, a post WWI New York City setting, and snappy writing of the era will probably enjoy Relative Fortunes as much as I did. I’ll be watching for the second book in the Julia Kidd series.


About the author:

Marlowe Benn (who also writes as Megan Benton) was nominated for UCLA’s 2013 Kirkwood Prize for fiction. Her poetry has appeared in the Chicago Review and other outlets, and her history of American book culture between the wars, Beauty and the Book, was published by Yale University Press in 2000.


 

Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

Published July 9, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Book courtesy of the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description:  Lifestyle journalist Ella Skye remembers every celebrity she interviewed, every politician she charmed between the sheets, and every socialite who eyed her with envy. The chance meeting with her husband, Damien; their rapid free fall into love; and their low-key, intimate wedding are all locked in her memory. But what she can’t remember is the tragic car accident that ripped her unborn child from her. Ella can’t even recall being pregnant.

Hoping to find the memories of a lost pregnancy that’s left her husband devastated and their home empty, Ella begins delving into her past when she’s assigned an exclusive story about Nathan Donovan, a retired celebrity adventurer who seems to know more about her than she does him. To unravel the mystery of her selective memory loss, Ella follows Nathan from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada to the frozen slopes of southeast Alaska. There she discovers the people she trusts most aren’t the only ones keeping secrets from her—she’s hiding them from herself. Ella quickly learns that some truths are best left forgotten. (publisher)

My take:  So this is one of those books where I was glad I didn’t know much going in. I decided early on it would be best to just go along for the ride with this steamy story – and what a crazy ride it was. There are beautiful, rich people behaving badly. They’ve lost their moral compass – assuming they every possessed one. There’s the selective memory loss theme that seemed so far-fetched but I was willing to get on board with because Kerry Lonsdale also made it appear kind of plausible. Last Summer was an addictive book that I read quickly and recommend if you like twisty, steamy and unbelievably crazy plots. Given the epilogue, I wonder if Ella’s story will continue.


About the author:

Kerry Lonsdale is the Wall Street Journal, Amazon Charts, and #1 Amazon Kindle bestselling author of the Everything series—Everything We Keep, Everything We Left Behind, and Everything We Give—as well as All the Breaking Waves. She resides in Northern California with her husband and two children. Learn more about Kerry at http://www.kerrylonsdale.com


 

False Step by Victoria Helen Stone

False Step by Victoria Helen Stone

Pub. Date:  July 1, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Review galley from the publisher, Little Bird Publicity, and NetGalley

Description:  Stay calm, keep smiling, and watch your step. In this marriage of secrets and lies, nothing is what it seems.

For days, all of Denver, Colorado, has worried over the fate of a missing child, little Tanner Holcomb. Then, a miracle: handsome, athletic Johnny Bradley finds him, frightened but unharmed, on a hiking trail miles from his wealthy family’s mountain home.

In a heartbeat, his rescuer goes from financially strapped fitness trainer to celebrated hero. The heat of the spotlight may prove too much for Johnny’s picture-perfect family, however. His wife, Veronica, despises the pressure of the sudden fame, afraid that secrets and bitter resentments of her marriage may come to light. And she’s willing to do anything to keep them hidden.

But when a shocking revelation exposes an even darker side to Tanner’s disappearance, Veronica realizes that nothing in her life can be trusted. And everything should be feared. (publisher)

My take:  Veronica has maintained the appearance of a happy family life but really she’s tired of the charade. She can’t reveal the truth because of the pain it would cause her daughter – the same pain she herself felt growing up in a home that lacked the security of loving parents. Veronica also has a secret she knows would devastate her daughter if discovered. When her husband becomes an instant celebrity after rescuing a lost child Veronica starts to notice things that just don’t seem right. Soon her life is running out of her control and she doesn’t know who to trust. Questionable decisions by Veronica lead her to a dramatic denouement that confirmed my early suspicions of what happened.  I was a little disappointed by that because I like being shocked or surprised by the “who done it” in a suspense novel. I might be in the minority in that regard. False Step is a very quick read making it a perfect beach book or a while away the afternoon on the front porch read.


About the author:

Victoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, now writes dark suspense from her home in Utah. Her novels include the bestselling and critically-acclaimed Jane Doe; Evelyn, After; and Half Past.


 

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Published: May 21, 2019 – Lake Union Publishing

Review copy from the publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Description: Raymond Jaffe feels like he doesn’t belong. Not with his mother’s new family. Not as a weekend guest with his father and his father’s wife. Not at school, where he’s an outcast. After his best friend moves away, Raymond has only two real connections: to the feral cat he’s tamed and to a blind ninety-two-year-old woman in his building who’s introduced herself with a curious question: Have you seen Luis Velez?

Mildred Gutermann, a German Jew who narrowly escaped the Holocaust, has been alone since her caretaker disappeared. She turns to Raymond for help, and as he tries to track Luis down, a deep and unexpected friendship blossoms between the two.

Despondent at the loss of Luis, Mildred isolates herself further from a neighborhood devolving into bigotry and fear. Determined not to let her give up, Raymond helps her see that for every terrible act the world delivers, there is a mirror image of deep kindness, and Mildred helps Raymond see that there’s hope if you have someone to hold on to. (publisher)

My take:  On the day that seventeen-year-old Raymond’s closest (and only) friend moves to California he meets Mrs. Gutermann in the hallway of their New York apartment building. She’s in her nineties and is blind. She’s been waiting for the man who helps her with errands, etc. for several weeks. He doesn’t answer his phone and she’s worried. She asks anyone who passes her in the building if they’ve seen Luis Velez. One thing leads to another and Raymond finds himself on a quest to find out what happened to Luis. Along the way he’ll find a new friend or two – especially in Mrs. G.  I loved their relationship – how it grew and the impact it had on both of them. Truly special. They have things to learn from each other. On a larger scale I liked how the novel (and all of the books I’ve read by this author) makes the point that if people would act out of kindness and empathy the world would be a better place. I’m so glad I had the chance to read this book.

There are discussion questions included.


About the author:

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than thirty published and forthcoming books. An avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she has released her first book of photos, 365 Days of Gratitude: Photos from a Beautiful World. Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages for distribution in more than thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow Book List, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories, California Shorts, and New York Times bestseller Dog Is My Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for the O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories. She is the founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, spoken at Cornell University twice, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton. For more information and book club questions, please visit the author at http://www.catherineryanhyde.com.


 

Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins

Girl Most Likely by Max Allan Collins

Published:  April 2019 – Thomas & Mercer

Review galley courtesy of the publisher, NetGalley, Little Bird Publicity

Description:  It’s never too late for revenge in this thrilling novel by New York Times bestselling and award-winning crime master Max Allan Collins.

In a small Midwest town, twenty-eight-year-old Krista Larson has made her mark as the youngest female police chief in the country. She’s learned from the best: her father, Keith, a decorated former detective. But as accustomed as they are to the relative quiet of their idyllic tourist town, things quickly turn with Krista’s ten-year high school reunion.

With the out-of-towners holed up in a lakefront lodge, it doesn’t take long to stir up old grudges and resentments. Now a successful TV host, Astrid Lund, voted the “Girl Most Likely to Succeed”—and then some—is back in town. Her reputation as a dogged reporter has made the stunning blonde famous. Her reputation among her former classmates and rivals has made her infamous. Astrid’s list of enemies is a long one. And as the reunion begins, so does a triple murder investigation.

Krista and her father are following leads and opening long-locked doors from their hometown to the Florida suburbs to Chicago’s underworld. They just never imagined what would be revealed: the secrets and scandals of Krista’s own past. (publisher)

My take:  If you’ve attended a high school reunion you probably hope that people will remember only the good times. What happens when someone assumes some bad times might come to mind? Well, in the case of the Galena HS ten-year reunion someone is very worried and takes matters in hand to make sure certain events will not be topics of conversation. Before the reunion ends there will have been three murders for the new police chief, a reunion attendee herself, to solve.

While this genre isn’t my usual fare I like to dip into it occasionally. Girl Most Likely was especially interesting to me because I know the area where most of the novel takes place. I enjoyed the young female small town police chief’s perspective as well as her relationship with her recently widowed and retired detective father. I would read a series with those two as stars! Although I didn’t figure out the murderer I liked trying to sift through all the red herrings you’d expect to find at a high school reunion and I’m glad I gave this book a try.


About the author:

Max Allan Collins was named a Grand Master in 2017 by the Mystery Writers of America. He has earned an unprecedented twenty-three Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Award nominations, winning two for his Nathan Heller novels. That series also earned Collins the PWA Hammer Award for making a major contribution to the private-eye genre. He received the PWA Eye Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. His other books include the New York Times bestseller Saving Private Ryan and the USA Today bestselling CSI series. His graphic novel Road to Perdition is the basis of the Academy Award–winning Tom Hanks film, and is followed by two acclaimed prose sequels and several more graphic novels in the same series. His other comics credits include the syndicated strip Dick Tracy, Wild Dog, Batman, and his own Ms. Tree. Collins is also a screenwriter, playwright, and a leading indie filmmaker in his native Iowa, where he lives with his wife, writer Barbara Collins; as “Barbara Allan,” they have collaborated on fourteen novels. For more information, visit http://www.maxallancollins.com.


 

The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne

The Cliff House by RaeAnne Thayne

Published: March 2019 – HQN

Review book courtesy of HQN, NetGalley and Little Bird Publicity

My take:  RaeAnne Thayne’s new stand-alone novel is about three women on the precipice of change. The events that transpired years earlier will determine their futures unless and until they find the courage to go after the future they desire.

When sisters Daisy and Beatriz were young girls, orphaned after their mother overdosed, they were taken in and cared for by their young aunt, Stella. Stella hadn’t even graduated from college at this point. Daisy and Beatriz were 11 and 9 years old. They all grew up together while their new family unit became strong.

Beatriz became a wife and mother while still in her teens. Her marriage may not have succeeded but she now had a lovely and smart daughter as well as an ex-husband who maintained a presence in his daughter’s life. Lately he seems interested in rekindling their relationship. She’s been there, done that and doesn’t want to move backward. She’d like to explore her feelings for her best friend since fifth grade!

As the novel opens Daisy meets a stranger in the toothpaste aisle of the grocery store and he’s convinced they’ve met before. She’s certain they haven’t. She’d remember meeting him. Daisy is the serious sister and has always taken on responsibility well beyond her years. That habit has proven hard to break – much to her detriment. It’s made her closed-off to expressing her emotions and that has made her life quite lackluster until her unexpected second meeting with ‘the stranger’. Will she open herself up to the possibility of experiencing more in her life?

Stella receives news on her 40th birthday that, while not a surprise, will definitely be life-changing. She also finds out that the only man she ever loved has moved to her town. Their lives become entwined from day one and give her hope for what she once thought an impossibility – a second chance.

I loved every minute I spent with the women in the gorgeous coastal setting of Cape Sanctuary, California. It’s a story of learning to trust and being open to new and second chances. Recommended to fans of Women’s Fiction and RaeAnne Thayne.


About the author:

RaeAnne Thayne is the author of more than 60 novels, including her beloved Haven Point series. Her books have won numerous honors, including four RITA® Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews. THE CLIFF HOUSE is her first-ever standalone hardcover novel, marking an exciting new chapter in her career.