The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

  • Title:  The Summer That Made Us
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  336
  • Published:  September 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; Little Bird Publicity; NetGalley

Description:  Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again. 

That was then… 

For the Hempsteads, summers were idyllic. Two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, the women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything. 

This is now… 

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best, hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth. (publisher)

My take:  I love the way Robyn Carr tells a story. In this stand-alone novel we learn about the women of the Hempstead family:  mothers, sisters, daughters, cousins all spent their summers at their Minnesota lake house until a tragedy ended the tradition. That tragedy was the tipping point in most of their lives. Now one of the cousins is in the end stage of cancer and her one wish is for everyone to come back to the lake house. What will happen when everyone says yes to her invitation? The Summer That Made Us is a page-turner of a novel. I love stories about second chances. Each person who returned to the lake seemed to have earned that second chance but will the secrets and misunderstandings from decades earlier be explained and resolved? I enjoyed it all and recommend it to fans of Robyn Carr and stories about families.


About the author:  Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as well as highly praised women’s fiction titles such as Four Friends, What We Find, and The Life She Wants.

Robyn has won a RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America, and in 2016 she was awarded RWA’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the genre. Her novels have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries.

Originally from Minnesota, Robyn now resides in Henderson, Nevada, with her aviator husband; they have two grown children. When she isn’t writing, Robyn puts her energy into community service: she has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book club chats in and out-of-state whenever possible, and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fundraising and visiting author events that bring writers, their books, and the community together.


THE SUMMER THAT MADE US

On Sale: September 5, 2017 Hardcover
$26.99 U.S. / $29.99 CAN. ISBN-13: 978-0778331049


 

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Race Against Time by Sharon Sala

  • Title:  Race Against Time
  • Author:  Sharon Sala
  • Genre:  Romantic Suspense
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  June 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Sometimes fate brings you together…only to tear you apart 

Growing up in the foster system, Quinn O’Meara made a point of never getting involved. But when she discovers a crying baby amid a fiery crime scene, she knows she has no choice. Suddenly in way over her head, Quinn turns to the police, unintentionally positioning herself in the crosshairs of a deadly human-trafficking ring. 

The last time homicide detective Nick Saldano saw Quinn, she was still the young girl he’d shared a foster home with. The girl who’d loved and cared for him when no one else had. Now here she was, gorgeously all grown-up—and in terrible danger. 

Unwilling to lose her again, Nick insists on keeping Quinn close, especially when the bond they once shared heatedly slides into desire. Quinn finally has someone worth holding on to, but what kind of future can they have when she might not live to see tomorrow?  (publisher)

My take:  Race Against Time is a stand-alone romantic suspense novel that kept me on the edge of my seat as the story progressed. It started out very fast and kept that pace for most of the book.

The seedy underbelly of Las Vegas is explored in the world of Anton Baba, a casino kingpin with his hand in assorted related ventures (not the least being human trafficking). When Baba decides to make some changes his world begins to collapse in ways he’d never imagined. He won’t rest until he takes down the people responsible.

Race Against Time is a story of good vs. evil. It was easy to cheer on Nick and Quinn as they courageously stood up against Anton Baba. They knew it would be worth any chance to bring down that evil man instead of having to run and hide for the rest of their lives. They have a past and are brought back together in a wild coincidence – one that I decided just to go along with and enjoy wherever Sharon Sala’s story took me. It’s a very fast read and one I’d recommend to fans of romantic suspense and the author.


 

No One But You by Brenda Novak

  • Title:  No One But You
  • Series:  Silver Springs #2
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Pages:  448
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pub. Date:  May 30, 2017 – MIRA Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak welcomes you to Silver Springs, a picturesque small town in Southern California where even the hardest hearts can learn to love again… 

Struggling to make ends meet after a messy divorce, Sadie Harris is at the end of her tether. Her waitressing gig isn’t enough to pay the bills let alone secure primary custody of her son, Jayden, a battle she refuses to lose. Desperate, she accepts a position assisting Dawson Reed—the same Dawson Reed who recently stood trial for the murder of his adoptive parents. Joining him at his isolated farm seems risky, but Sadie is out of options. 

Dawson has given small town Silver Springs plenty of reasons to be wary, but he’s innocent of the charges against him. He wants to leave his painful past behind and fix up the family farm so he can finally bring his dependent sister home where she belongs. 

As Sadie and Dawson’s professional relationship grows into something undeniably personal, Sadie realizes there’s more to Dawson than the bad boy everyone else sees—he has a good heart, one that might even be worth fighting for. (publisher)

My take:  Can two people, down on their luck, find acceptance and even love when most of the world seems to be against them?

Sadie Harris, estranged from her husband (soon-to-be ex) and mother to a five-year-old boy is struggling to make ends meet. She just can’t seem to get ahead and her son’s father is trying to delay divorce by any means possible. He’s a bad guy and also a police officer who has the loyalty of his coworkers. No one seems to have a good opinion of Sadie because of what he’s told them. So it doesn’t help matters for her when she accepts a job being a caregiver to the sister of the local pariah, Dawson Reed. He was recently found not guilty of murdering his adoptive parents. He’s still guilty in the eyes of most of the townspeople and the local authorities.

Sadie and Dawson will have to contend with Sadie’s ex and others as they try to live normal lives. Brenda Novak’s novel was a quick and compelling read. Filled with interesting, odd, and a couple of abhorrent characters, the novel’s pages flew by and came to a satisfying conclusion. No One But You is second in the Silver Springs series but it can definitely stand alone. Recommended to fans of Brenda Novak and contemporary romance.


 

Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

  • Title:  Any Day Now
  • Series:  Sullivan’s Crossing #2
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pub. date:  April 18, 2017 – Mira Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Little Bird Publicity

Description: The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan’s Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It’s a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love. 

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. 

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.  (publisher)

My take:  Any Day Now is the second book in Robyn Carr’s Sullivan’s Crossing series. We meet Cal’s sister Sierra who is one year sober and looking for a new start in the small town her big brother now calls home. She’ll stay at Sully’s campground and help out while looking for another job. It’s the best possible place for her to start fresh. Soon she also has a waitress job at a diner in town which makes meeting locals very easy. One of those people will become quite special to Sierra and she to him.

I love how Robyn Carr creates a sense of place in her novels. She populates them with the kind of people most readers will relate to easily. I look forward to seeing several of the secondary characters in future books in the series. Most of all, I love the second chance trope. I wasn’t disappointed with Sierra’s story.

There’s a reason Sierra doesn’t drink anymore and that reason eventually catches up with her. That provided a dark and dramatic finish to the novel. I was happy to read the epilogue that closed out the book with an upbeat scene.  Recommended to fans of Robyn Carr and the Sullivan’s Crossing series.


Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as well as highly praised women’s fiction titles such as Four Friends, What We Find, and The Life She Wants.

Robyn has won a RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America, and in 2016 she was awarded RWA’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the genre. Her novels have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries.

Originally from Minnesota, Robyn now resides in Henderson, Nevada, with her aviator husband; they have two grown children. When she isn’t writing, Robyn puts her energy into community service: she has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book club chats in and out of state whenever possible, and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fundraising and visiting author events that bring writers, their books, and the community together.


Praise for #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Robyn Carr:

“Capturing the best of small-town romance.” — The Washington Post

“Appealing characters and a fresh and heart-tugging twist to a familiar conflict, coupled with what-did-she-just-say? dialogue and a cozy sense of community, all help make this latest installment in the Virgin River series a true romantic getaway.” — USA TODAY

“Robyn Carr delivers yet another fictional win that will speak to the soul of every feminist reader.” — Coastal Living

“Carr sets the bar for contemporary romance.” — Booklist Starred Review

“Carr continues her brilliant community-building as a number of storytelling threads come together in a rich narrative tapestry.” — Kirkus Reviews


A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

  • a-million-little-things-feb17Title:  A Million Little Things
  • Series:  Mischief Bay #3
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Pages:  368
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  From the bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay and The Friends We Keep comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs…

Zoe Saldivar is more than just single – she’s ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it’s up to her to stop living in isolation.

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated – her first new friend is Jen’s widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen’s brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe’s own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam’s flustered, Jen’s annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think “alone” doesn’t sound so bad, after all.

Friendship isn’t just one thing – it’s a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!  (publisher)

My take:  A Million Little Things is the third book in the Mischief Bay trilogy but it can stand alone.

Zoe is frustrated with how she’s let others determine her life and happiness to this point. She’s not happy with her job and isn’t sure she made the right decision in buying a house. After all, she bought it because she hoped her boyfriend would want to get married and they could raise a family there. Then reality stepped in and she broke up with the boyfriend.

Zoe’s friend Jen is married and has a toddler. She also is filled with anxiety about almost everything in her life. Even though her husband, mother and Zoe try to convince her to get help she’s determined to get control of things herself. I really felt sorry for her. Anxiety is not an easy thing to live with and that’s what she tried to do.

Pam, Jen’s mom and a widow of two years, is learning how to live without her husband. She’d been doing a pretty good job of it until her loved ones started throwing challenges her way. They weren’t necessarily bad things but they challenged her idea of how things should be. She was starting to feel out of control. Lucky for her she has a tight-knit group of friends. But then they started to make her question how she was reacting to situations. An interesting predicament, for sure.

I liked this novel about people learning to make adjustments in life. Being able to do that means growth, I think. And don’t we all want to keep growing as we move forward in life? I read the second book in the trilogy and look forward to reading the first at some point. If you’re a fan of Susan Mallery and contemporary fiction I think you’ll enjoy A Million Little Things.


About the author:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories about women. Publishers Weekly calls Susan’s prose “luscious and provocative, ” and Booklist says, “Novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling.” Susan lives in Seattle with her husband and her tiny but intrepid toy poodle. Visit her at www.susanmallery.com.


PRAISE FOR THE MISCHIEF BAY SERIES

“Once again, Susan Mallery has created an inviting world that envelops her readers’ senses and sensibilities… Fans of Jodi Picoult, Debbie Macomber, and Elin Hilderbrand will assuredly fall for The Girls of Mischief Bay.” — Bookreporter on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery skillfully depicts three very different women in different stages of their romantic relationships who enter into unbreakable friendships… Will appeal to fans of women’s fiction, especially such friendship books as Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club.”
— Booklist on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Fresh and engaging…the writing is strong, the dialogue genuine and believable. There’s a generational subtext that mirrors reality and the complexities of adult relationships…filled with promise of a new serial that’s worth following.” — Fort Worth Star-Telegram on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Romance superstar Mallery begins a new women’s fiction series with a novel that is both heart-wrenching and warmhearted… A discerning, affecting look at three women facing surprising change and the powerful and uplifting impact of friends.”— Kirkus Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“You will become totally invested in each of these characters and their struggles and root for a happy ending. Can’t wait for the next installment from Ms. Mallery and The Girls of Mischief Bay!” — Fresh Fictionon The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Mallery’s series debut is an emotional lesson in triumphs and tragedies told in her iconic eloquent style… Her exceptional handling of the climactic hard knocks and joyful events, and her tiny canine co-star, rocked.” — RT Book Reviews on The Girls of Mischief Bay

“Highly original and fascinating page-turner… Mallery brings our inner lives to the surface and evokes deep emotions from her readers.” — RT Book Reviews on The Friends We Keep

“The characters will have you crying, laughing, and falling in love… another brilliantly well-written story.” — San Francisco Book Review on The Friends We Keep

“Gabby, Haley, and Nicole are down-to-earth real women with whom readers will be able to identify, and Mallery successfully balances each story line. The women’s stories and the depth of support they provide one another make this an engaging read to be savored all the way through.” — Publishers Weekly on The Friends We Keep

“[A]n intersecting tale of the ties that bind and strangle…a novel about the relationships among women, friends, sisters, mothers, daughters, and stepchildren, with a strongly woven romantic subplot.” — Library Journal on The Friends We Keep

the-girls-of-mischief-bay  the friends we keep (2:23)  a-million-little-things-feb17

Starting Over on Blackberry Lane by Sheila Roberts

  • starting-over-on-blackberry-laneTitle:  Starting Over on Blackberry Lane
  • Series:  Icicle Falls #10
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pub. Date:  February 28, 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Stefanie Stahl has a husband with renovation ADD. He can’t seem to finish anything he starts and her house is littered with his “projects.” If he doesn’t smarten up, she swears she’s going to murder him and bury him under the pile of scrounged lumber in the backyard.  

Her friend Griffin James is suddenly single and thinking maybe she needs to sell her fixer-upper and follow her career bliss up the ladder of success, even if that scary ladder is clear across the country. Getting her place ready to sell proves harder than she originally thought. She needs help.  

She’s not the only one. Cass Wilkes, their neighbor, has an empty nest—with a leaking roof. When her ceiling crashes in, she knows it’s time to do something. When Grant Masters offers his handyman services at a fund-raiser auction, the three women go in together to outbid the competition and win their man. (Cass’s friends think she should win Grant in a different way, too!) Now it’s time to make some improvements…in their houses and their lives.  (publisher)

My take:  If you’ve kept up with Icicle Falls series you’ll enjoy seeing what the group of friends are up to. The thing I’ve enjoyed most about the series is the support felt by the women of all ages in the group. If you haven’t read any of the series you don’t have to worry – this book can stand alone.

Stef, Griffin and Cass are at the point where life needs to change. The thing is, how can they start that change? Stef will find out that there’s power in her words and how she chooses those words is very important. Griffin has dreamed of taking her photography to the next level but her current life situation is dragging her down. Cass is almost an empty-nester and feels the whole world passing her by. And now she has a leaky roof. What next?!

In typical Sheila Roberts style, she had me laughing and cheering her characters on as each dealt with the obstacles placed in her way. I loved how she drove home the point that we should live the heck out of life for as long as we can. Recommended to fans of the series, Sheila Roberts, and recipes mentioned in the novel.