Dog Friendly

Dog Friendly by Victoria Schade

Published: June 28, 2022 – Berkley

Digital galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A burned-out veterinarian takes a much-needed beach vacation, where a charming surfer makes waves in her love life, and a unique foster pup renews her passion for her work.
 
Exhausted veterinarian Morgan Pearce is feeling overworked and under-thanked, so when two favorite clients ask her to watch their special needs senior dog in their Nantucket home, she jumps at the chance for a summer break. She hopes her time on the island will be a reset from the stress of her everyday life, but her chill vacation vibe takes a hit when she gets roped into fostering a challenging, anxious dog and helping plan the local rescue group’s glittery annual fundraiser.
 
Her trip starts to feel more like a vacation when Morgan begins falling for Nathan Keating, an irresistible entrepreneur who thinks every problem can be solved on a surfboard. Just as the summer is shaping up to be the magical refresh she needs, thanks to a fling that feels like the beginning of something real and Hudson, the foster dog who reminds her how much she loves her job, a visit from her estranged brother and the discovery of who Nathan really is changes everything. Morgan finds herself at a crossroads, trying to determine if mistakes from the past must define the future, or if she should forgive, forget, and grab hold of a chance to finally rescue herself. (publication)

My take:

Morgan Pearce is a veterinarian who heads to Nantucket for a couple of months to recover from major anxiety. She will stay at the home of friends and watch their dog at the same time. As can happen she meets other dog people and then some – including the handsome Nathan. So there’s some romance, some family dynamics and more than a few emotional issues.

Fans of beach reads, dogs, and a Nantucket setting will find all that and more in Victoria Schade’s new novel.


 

Donut Disturb

Donut Disturb by Ellie Alexander

A Bakeshop Mystery, #15

Published:  June 28, 2022 – St. Martin’s Press

Digital galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The filling is looking grim for pastry chef and amateur sleuth Juliet Capshaw in Donut Disturb, the next in Ellie Alexander’s beloved Bakeshop Series.

Love is in bloom in Ashland, Oregon. The Shakespearean hamlet is bursting with fresh spring energy. Fragrant lilacs and the sweet aroma of vanilla cake fill the air as everyone in town gathers at Lithia Park for the celebration of the year—Thomas and Kerry’s wedding.

It’s a picture perfect day. Guests gather on picnic blankets in front of the bandshell to watch Kerry walk down the aisle and wed Ashland’s favorite detective in training, Thomas. Jules and her team at Torte have been tasked with catering the outdoor reception and everything is going according to plan, until a wedding crasher shows up.

The uninvited guest isn’t just someone looking to score a free glass of champagne. It’s Kerry’s estranged father who is supposed to be behind bars. Kerry is distraught. Jules vows to do everything she can to make sure that there are no other surprises on her friend’s big day. But when the bassist for Heart Strings, the wedding band, is found stabbed with the blunt end of his instrument Jules’s promise takes on new meaning. Now she’ll have to slice through the five tiered cake and a bevy of potential suspects in order to track down a killer before they turn the knife on her. (publisher)

My take: I’m jumping into the Bakeshop Mystery series rather late in the game but I didn’t feel lost at all. Author Ellie Alexander’s descriptions of setting, foods and various citizens of Ashland were just right and I felt up to speed with all.

I’m sure fans of the series will be excited that the wedding of Kerry and Thomas is about to happen. If I lived in Ashland I’d want to be a guest at this celebration. Everything sounded amazing. Well, until one of the people involved in the big day is found dead. And one of the suspects is the bride’s estranged father.

Alexander gives the reader plenty of red herrings and it was interesting to see how the case was solved. A quick read that I enjoyed and would read more of the series. Recommended to fans of cozy mysteries.


 

Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins

Published:  June 7, 2022 – Berkley

Galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t heartbroken. She’s furious.
 
Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife, and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people . . . not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.
 
She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in, of all people, Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie twenty years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.
 
It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you . . . out of the clear blue sky. 
(publisher)

My take:

Lillie is at a point of big change. Her only child is set to graduate high school and head off to a distant college. But her life as a nurse midwife in her small Cape Cod town is full and she can only imagine what the future will bring. Well. Her husband has plans and they don’t include her. He’ll soon find out the truth in the old saying about the fury of a woman scorned. Lillie goes a little crazy and who could blame her.

Then there’s ‘the other woman’. She set a plan to change her life as a young girl and, by golly, she did it. In her mind, she’s worked hard and deserves everything she earned. I wasn’t sure if I was to admire her or be repulsed. I ended up in the latter camp.

Not a bad beach read but my complaint would be the book addressed too many issues. At just under 500 pages it felt long and a few issues could have been edited out. Also, the romantic interest for Lillie felt too convenient and too late in the book. There are some moments of levity and I ended up pulling for Lillie to have a great life going forward.


About the author:

Kristan Higgins has sold 4.5 million books worldwide, scored nine New York Times bestsellers, and is published in more than two dozen languages. Her novels have received rave reviews from the New York Times and NPR and regularly receive national media attention from People, Entertainment Weekly, Woman’s World and more.


 

The Best is Yet to Come

The Best is Yet to Come by Debbie Macomber

Expected publication:  July 12, 2022 – Ballantine

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A new beginning in charming Oceanside, Washington, is exactly what Hope Godwin needs after the death of her twin brother. There are plenty of distractions, like her cozy cottage with the slightly nosy landlords next door, and a brewing drama among her students at the local high school.

Despite having settled quickly into the community, something is still missing for Hope. That is, until her landlord convinces her to volunteer at his animal shelter. There she meets Shadow, a rescue dog that everyone has given up on. But true to her name, Hope believes he’s worth saving.

Like Shadow, shelter volunteer Cade Lincoln Jr., is suffering with injuries most can’t see. A wounded ex-marine, Cade identifies with Shadow, assuming they are both beyond help. Hope senses that what they each need is someone to believe in them, and she has a lot of love to give. As she gains Shadow’s trust, Hope notices Cade begins to open up as well. Finding the courage to be vulnerable again, Cade and Hope take steps toward a relationship, and Hope finally begins to feel at peace in her new home.

But Hope’s new happiness is put to the test when Cade’s past conflicts resurface, and Hope becomes embroiled in the escalating situation at the high school. Love and compassion are supposed to heal all wounds. But are they enough to help Hope and Cade overcome the pain of their past and the obstacles in the way of a better future? (publisher)

My take:

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Debbie Macomber book. The Best Is Yet To Come is a heartwarming novel about people in need of fresh starts.

Cade is a vet who is trying to make sense of his life since returning to the States. Hope is a high school teacher beginning a new job in a new town. They meet as volunteers at the local animal shelter and slowly become friends. Also, part of the story involves events at the high school which adds a bit of drama and a “young love” aspect to the novel.

I enjoyed it all and can recommend to fans of Women’s Fiction, light romance, and the author.


 

The Homewreckers

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Expected publication date:  May 3, 2022 – St. Martin’s Press

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Hattie Kavanaugh went to work restoring homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at eighteen, married the boss’s son at twenty, and became a widow at twenty-five. Now, she’s passionate about her work, but that’s the only passion in her life. “Never love something that can’t love you back,” is advice her father-in-law gives her, but Hattie doesn’t follow it and falls head-over-heels for a money pit of a house. She’s determined to make it work, but disaster after disaster occurs, and Hattie’s dream might cost Kavanaugh & Son their livelihood. Hattie needs money, and fast.

When a slick Hollywood producer shows up in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, she gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called “The Homewreckers,” cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. Soon, there’s more at stake than bad pipes and dry rot: during the demolition, evidence comes to light that points to the mysterious disappearance of a young wife and mother years before.

With a burned out detective investigating the case, an arsonist on the loose, two men playing with her emotions, and layers upon layers of vintage wallpaper causing havoc, it’s a question of who will flip, who will flop, and if Hattie will ever get her happily-ever-after. (publisher)

My brief take:

To dig herself out of a financial hole Hattie agrees to be on a home renovation show – a HGTV-like program that is produced to romantically link Hattie and her designer co-host without her knowledge as they renovate an old Tybee Island house.

Add in a years-old unsolved local mystery as well as a dash of romance and a pinch of humor and you’ve got Mary Kay Andrews’ 2022 novel.

It was a fun read (maybe a bit too long) – perfect for reading by the pool or, really, anywhere.


 

By Any Other Name

By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate

Published:  March 1, 2022 – Penguin Group/Putnam

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

From # 1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Kate comes an enemies-to-lovers romance about an editor, her bestselling author, and one life-changing secret.

What she doesn’t know about love could fill a book.
 
With a successful career as a romance editor, and an engagement to a man who checks off all ninety-nine boxes on her carefully curated list, Lanie’s more than good. She’s killing it. Then she’s given the opportunity of a lifetime: to work with world-renowned author and her biggest inspiration in love and life—the Noa Callaway. All Lanie has to do is cure Noa’s writer’s block and she’ll get the promotion she’s always dreamed of. Simple, right? 
 
But there’s a reason no one has ever seen or spoken to the mysterious Noa Calloway. And that reason will rock Lanie’s world. It will call into question everything she thought she knew. When she finally tosses her ninety-nine expectations to the wind, Lanie may just discover that love By Any Other Name can still be as sweet. (publisher)

My take:

After a bit of a slow beginning I was drawn in and rooting for romance novel editor Lanie and her author.

The loss of her mother when Lanie was ten had a profound effect on her. As a college student she was introduced to the books of Noa Calloway which formed an ideal for finding her true love. Fast forward several years and Lanie is in her dream job as book editor for a publisher of romance novels when fate presents her with the opportunity to edit her favorite author! At this point I was unable to put the book down. No more details from me but if this sounds like your kind of book you’ll want to find a copy.

I enjoyed this story about what happens when you discover what you want in life differs from what you’d thought you wanted. It’s about taking chances and trusting yourself. An enjoyable read.


About the author:

Lauren Kate is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of nine novels for young adults, including Fallen, which was made into a major motion picture. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages and have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. She is also the author of The Orphan’s Song, her debut adult novel. BY ANY OTHER NAME is her second adult novel. Kate lives in Los Angeles with her family.


 

The Siren of Sussex

The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews

Belles of London #1

Published:  January 11, 2022 – Berkley

Review copy from the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

But pushing boundaries comes at a cost and not everyone is pleased to welcome Evelyn and Ahmad into fashionable society. With obstacles spanning between them, the indomitable pair must decide which hurdles they can jump and what matters most: making their mark or following their hearts? (publisher)

My take:

One year after her older sister’s season ended in scandal Evelyn is in London to save her family’s reputation and insure that her younger sisters will eventually stand a chance of making suitable matches. Evelyn meets a gifted tailor, Ahmad, who sews the most amazing riding habits as well as gorgeous gowns. As they get to know each other a friendship grows to stronger feelings that will pose challenges, to be sure. This HR addresses differences in race, culture and class. I was drawn into the story by the slow burn romance that Mimi Matthews developed between the main characters. I loved revisiting characters from a previous novel by Matthews (A Modest Independence). It was lovely to see Ahmad take center stage. Recommended to fans of the HR genre. I look forward to the next book in the series due out in October 2022.

Note: I also purchased the audiobook which I recommend. The narrators did a superb job and bumped my rating up!

4.5 stars rounded up


 

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

Expected publication:  March 1, 2022 – Penzler Publishers/Scarlet

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In a small fishing village on the Devon coast, Lucy Locke has built a life that anyone would envy. She and her husband, Daniel, own successful businesses and live with their two children in a picturesque home overlooking the harbor. But everything changes one morning when, following a monumental storm, the family yacht is found empty — and Lucy’s husband is nowhere in sight.

As the search for Daniel mounts, so does Lucy’s sense of dread, raised to a fever pitch when another, more terrifying revelation pushes her storybook life to the brink of total destruction. Lucy is reluctantly forced to face a harsh truth: the sea gives life, and just as quickly takes it away. And when the detective on the case uncovers suspicious details that Lucy had hoped would stay buried, she’ll have to confront the nightmarish possibility that she created her own undoing.

Beautifully rendered with evocative, atmospheric prose, The Rising Tide is at once a pulse-pounding, inescapably suspenseful thriller and a poignant tale of the power of the natural world. Its characters and settings are sure to stay with readers long after the final page—and after their heart rates finally return to normal. (publisher)

My take:

After a slow burn beginning this thriller gathered steam and led to a gripping, edge-of-my-seat read.

The seaside/fishing village setting drew me in and then little by little seeing a bit of the underside of the characters kept me turning the pages. By the end I was reading through my finger-covered eyes and wondering how the heck the author would work things out.

I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll be looking for the author’s previous book.


About the author:

Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, where he learned his love of storytelling. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl. His debut thriller, The Memory Wood, was published to huge critical acclaim in 2020. The Rising Tide is his second novel.


 

The Way We Weren’t

Description:

“You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?”
 
Marcie Malone didn’t think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger’s home, she doesn’t seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.
 
Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it—he’s learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she’s on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.
 
As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damage life has wrought, Marcie and Flint have to decide whether to face up to the past they’ve each been running from, and find a way to move forward with the people they care about most. (publisher)

My take:

This is only the second of Phoebe Fox’s novels I’ve read but I can say she is on my short list of “auto-read authors” already. I love how she shapes a story around relatable characters and settings. Who can’t relate to the theme that we are defined by our decisions and the possibility to make changes if we can find the courage? My heart went out to Marcie as she dealt with emotional upheaval and went a little crazy. Lucky for her, Herman Flint found her the day everything played out. Lucky for him too. Without giving more away I’ll just recommend the novel to fans of women’s fiction and the author. Thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for the digital galley.

Note: I also used an Audible credit and recommend the audiobook – wonderful narrators.


 

Celebration at Christmas Cove

Description:

Travel magazine writer Celeste Bell is in a terrible mood. Not only was her flight to the Caribbean diverted to a Massachusetts island, now it looks like she’ll have to spend Christmas there. Single and still mourning the loss of her mother a year earlier, Celeste is desperate to avoid any emotional entanglements and all holiday festivities. She just doesn’t feel like celebrating.
 
But that’s exactly what community center director Nathan White and his young daughter Abigail want to do. Nathan is entirely focused on making sure that his daughter has a happy Christmas, especially with the knowledge that if he can’t raise money for the community center soon, it will close and they’ll have to leave the island. When he meets Celeste, Nathan begins to feel a connection and wonders if he’s brave enough to risk his heart once more.

Thawing their frozen hearts, and saving the community center will require a Christmas miracle. But tis’ the season… (publisher)

My take:

Imagine the disappointment when travel writer Celeste’s flight plans to the Caribbean are changed at the last minute and she’s rerouted to a small Massachusetts island. When weather prevents her from getting off the island she’s forced to rethink and accept her situation.

Nathan is the director of the island activity center that is days away of losing its funding. He feels the incredible stress of letting the community down as he applies for grant after grant. If he can’t pull something together the center will close and he and his daughter will have to move.

Celeste and Nathan are not looking for a relationship but, as happens in a Christmas romance/women’s fiction, fate has other ideas. Carrie Jansen added several supporting characters who enhanced the novel. I loved the New England island setting. Despite feeling a bit of lag in pace in the middle, overall I enjoyed the novel and recommend to fans of Christmas novels.


 

Miss Moriarty, I Presume?

Miss Moriarty, I Presume? by Sherry Thomas

Published:  Nov. 2, 2021 – Berkley

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Charlotte Holmes comes face to face with her enemy when Moriarty turns to her in his hour of need, in the USA Today bestselling series set in Victorian England.

A most unexpected client shows up at Charlotte Holmes’s doorstep: Moriarty himself. Moriarty fears that tragedy has befallen his daughter and wants Charlotte to find out the truth. 

Charlotte and Mrs. Watson travel to a remote community of occult practitioners where Moriarty’s daughter was last seen, a place full of lies and liars. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s sister Livia tries to make sense of a mysterious message from her beau Mr. Marbleton. And Charlotte’s longtime friend and ally Lord Ingram at last turns his seductive prowess on Charlotte—or is it the other way around?

But the more secrets Charlotte unravels about Miss Moriarty’s disappearance, the more she wonders why Moriarty has entrusted this delicate matter to her of all people. Is it merely to test Charlotte’s skills as an investigator, or has the man of shadows trapped her in a nest of vipers? (publisher)

My take:

Miss Moriarty, I Presume? is a fun and exciting addition to the Lady Sherlock series. Charlotte Holmes is one of my favorite characters in recent years. She’s smart, intuitive, loves to eat and seems unconcerned what people (other than those closest to her) think of her. I love that author Sherry Thomas makes me chuckle at something Charlotte has done or thought. The mystery is secondary for me. She and her team find themselves with an intriguing assignment in their latest case. It was interesting but what I really loved was finding out what was new for Charlotte, Lord Ingram, Mrs. Watson and all the rest.

Recommended to fans of historical mystery. I know this is book 6 but I encourage readers to begin with book one and have fun getting to know Charlotte. I can’t wait to see what Sherry Thomas has in store with this group in the next book.


 

Dinner on Primrose Hill

Dinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi Thomas

Publication date:  October 26, 2021

Kensington Books; Zebra

Description:

Benjamin Monroe is pretty sure how his life will play out. He’ll continue teaching chemistry in his small college, and spend his free time biking through the valley. Eventually, he’ll retire to putter around in his garden and greenhouse.
 
His colleague, Virginia Clark, is not one for routines. She’s chatty, spontaneous, and bubbly, and before Benjamin realizes what happened, she’s talked him into collaborating on a research project—studying the mating habits of college students. Virginia knows her desire to work with Benjamin is motivated by more than the potential prize money…and hopes he might not be quite as indifferent as he seems to be.
 
Ketch Kincaid, one of Benjamin’s star students, returned to college after serving in the army. He needs something to get his mind off his recent breakup and collecting research data might do it. And there’s another distraction on the horizon—a woman who looks like she, too, knows about heartache.
 
Soon enough, their project, “The Chemistry of Mating,” is gaining notoriety. Friends, neighbors…the whole town has become involved. But no matter what the data determines, one conclusion seems inescapable: love follows its own rules… (publisher)

My take:

Dinner on Primrose Hill is #3 in the Honey Creek series. That said, it can stand alone. I enjoyed the occasional visit from characters featured in the previous books but if you’re new to the series you won’t feel lost. I won’t rehash the publisher’s description posted above but will say there are a few more characters that add a lot to the story. Told with Jodi Thomas’s signature heart and humor she proved once again why she’s my go-to comfort read author. It’s a story about finding home – be it a place or a person. It was exactly the book I needed at the end of August 2021. If you need a book to take you away you’ll never go wrong with a Jodi Thomas novel. I was happy to find at the end a preview of the next book in the series.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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. Jodi lives in Amarillo, Texas,  and can be found online at JodiThomas.com 


DINNER ON PRIMROSE HILL 

By Jodi Thomas 

Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp. 

On Sale: October 26th 2021 / Trade Paperback Original 

Contemporary Romance / $15.95 ($21.95 CAN) / ISBN: 978-1-4201-5134-3


 

Sleigh Bells Ring

Sleigh Bells Ring by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication date:  Oct. 26, 2021 – HQN

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Angel’s View Ranch has always been special to Annelise McCade. Once upon a time, it was her family’s land, until her grandfather sold it to billionaire Wallace Sheridan. Now employed as the live-in caretaker, Annie is just trying to make it through the holidays with both her sanity and her niece’s and nephew’s faith in the magic of Christmas intact.

The six-year-old twins recently lost their mother, so Annie tells herself it wouldn’t be a problem to bring them to Angel’s View. Why should it be? The Sheridans haven’t visited in years, not since Wallace died. They would never know the twins were there…until Tate Sheridan shows up out of the blue two weeks before Christmas.

Crushed to learn that Tate is there to sell his grandfather’s property—and mortified that her secret guests have been discovered—Annie offers her resignation. But Tate asks them to stay and help him get the house ready for one last family Christmas before it’s put on the market.

Annie and Tate have three days to work their magic before the Sheridan clan arrives—and to work through the growing attraction between them. But Annie simply can’t fall for the man who will put her out of a job and a home. Still, the sparkle of the season is impossible to deny…and this Christmas has surprises in store for everyone. (publisher)

My take:

RaeAnne Thayne delivers everything I want in a Christmas Romance. It’s a heartwarming story about people in various stages of grief just hoping to get through this joyous time of year.

I loved every moment spent reading this book. That’s what makes Thayne one of my go-to authors. She speaks to my heart.

Highly recommended to fans of Contemporary Romance, the author, and touching stories.

Now I’m tempted to dig out the Christmas decorations – I’m inspired to go over and above this year!



					

Release Day Spotlight: The Woman At The Front by Lecia Cornwall

Description:
A daring young woman risks everything to pursue a career as a doctor on the front lines in France during World War I, and learns the true meaning of hope, love, and resilience in the darkest of times.

When Eleanor Atherton graduates from medical school near the top of her class in 1917, she dreams of going overseas to help the wounded, but her ambition is thwarted at every turn. Eleanor’s parents insist she must give up medicine, marry a respectable man, and assume her proper place. While women might serve as ambulance drivers or nurses at the front, they cannot be physicians—that work is too dangerous and frightening.

Nevertheless, Eleanor is determined to make more of a contribution than sitting at home knitting for the troops. When an unexpected twist of fate sends Eleanor to the battlefields of France as the private doctor of a British peer, she seizes the opportunity for what it is—the chance to finally prove herself.

But there’s a war on, and a casualty clearing station close to the front lines is an unforgiving place. Facing skeptical commanders who question her skills, scores of wounded men needing care, underhanded efforts by her family to bring her back home, and a blossoming romance, Eleanor must decide if she’s brave enough to break the rules, face her darkest fears, and take the chance to win the career—and the love—she’s always wanted. (publisher)


About the author:

Lecia Cornwall writes historical romance and historical fiction. She lives and writes in Alberta, Canada, amid the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies, with four cats, two adult children, a crazy chocolate Lab, and one very patient husband. She is hard at work on her next book.


 

Keep Me Warm at Christmas

Keep Me Warm at Christmas by Brenda Novak

Expected pub. date:  September 28, 2021 – MIRA

Digital galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Maybe this Christmas can thaw his frozen heart—and heal hers.

Hollywood starlet Tia Beckett knows one moment can change your life. Her career had been on the fast track before a near-fatal accident left her with a debilitating facial scar. Certain her A-lister dreams are over, she agrees to house-sit at her producer’s secluded estate in Silver Springs. It’s the escape from the limelight Tia’s been craving, until she discovers she’s not the only houseguest for the holidays. And her handsome new roomie is impossible to ignore.

Artist Seth Turner has good reason to keep his distance. Losing his wife after only a few years of marriage has left a deep scar, even if he is still happy to spend a semester teaching art classes at the New Horizons Boys Ranch for troubled teens. Despite nursing her own wounds, Tia finds her curiosity piqued by enigmatic Seth, whom she recognizes as something of a kindred soul. Maybe spending Christmas together could be another game changer for both of them—this time, for good. (publisher)

My take:

It’s Christmastime in Silver Springs. Seth Taylor, a talented artist and one of Aiyana’s adopted sons, is staying at the home of his biggest benefactor – a Hollywood producer. It’s a tough time of year for him because his wife and love of his life died just three years earlier. Now her parents need another financial bailout and he feels their emotional blackmail.

Also staying on the grounds (in the guesthouse) is a young actress and friend of the homeowner. She has one hit movie and then an accident ended her dream of more roles. Her face was disfigured and now the paparazzi are after the first pic of her post-accident.

With challenges like those Seth and Tia try to get through each day while everyone else is caught up in the season. Can these two find the courage to reimagine their future? It’s definitely not a Hallmarkesque Christmas story and I’m okay with that. There’s a grittier feel to the Silver Springs series and yet Brenda Novak always makes me care about her characters. Keep Me Warm at Christmas is another good book in the series. It can stand alone but I’m glad I got in with book 1.



 

Riverbend Gap

Riverbend Gap by Denise Hunter

Expected pub. date:  October 19, 2021

Thomas Nelson

Description:

She came in search of the family she’d always wanted—and found the kind of love she’d never dared to imagine.

When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard.

She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite his best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them.

As they grow closer, Katie shares the secrets of her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either of them could have imagined. Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff’s office. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever. (publisher)

My take:

I thoroughly enjoyed Denise Hunter’s newest book, Riverbend Gap. From the opening scene I was captivated by Cooper and Kate. Instead of a “meet-cute” they experienced a “meet-exciting”. These two engaging characters come from very different upbringings. Cooper comes from a strong family but not without drama. Kate was pretty much abandoned as a child and grew up in foster care. Having experienced a recent devastating loss she’s looking for a fresh start in Riverbend Gap. I love stories about family and the need to belong to one – be it the one you’re born into or one you’ve become part of over time. This is the first in a new series and I look forward to Cooper’s siblings’ books. There was a bit of foreshadowing but that’s all I’ll say.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.



Spotlight: Wait For It

Wait For It by Jenn McKinlay

Description:

A woman looking for a new lease on life moves to Arizona where she rents a guest house on a gorgeous property with a mysterious owner—a man who teaches her about resilience, courage, and ultimately true love, in this funny, bighearted novel about hope and healing from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay.
 

Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She’s not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal… from her ex-husband. When she’s offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.
 
When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he’s her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there’s no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.
 
Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.

My take:

I loved the charming heroine and brooding hero of this contemporary romance. She’s always been a fixer in past relationships and he’s coming off of a major health event that has left him with anxiety and depression. Knowing that, their back and forth and give and take were understandable as well as entertaining.

Written with a lot of heart and humor Wait For It was just the book I needed and left me smiling as I turned the last page.

About the author:

Jenn McKinlay is the award-winning, New York TimesUSA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series. Her work has been translated into multiple languages in countries all over the world. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.

Photo credit:  Jacqueline Hanna Photography


 

Christmas in July – Spotlight

I’ve accepted a few Christmas review galleys that will publish in September and October so I thought I’d shine a spotlight on them today. I’ll hold off on reading for a while but have to say I’m looking forward to each book!

Description

From May Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it. 

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

Description

The reigning legendary queens of Regency Romance, bestselling authors Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney, deck the halls with this delightful Christmas collection of three sparkling holiday interconnected romances, as stranded travelers find merriment, mistletoe, and holiday romance awaiting at a quaint country inn…
 

THE UNEXPECTED GIFT by Madeline Hunter
Jenna Waverly has closed her inn, anticipating a blissfully quiet Christmas, until a snowstorm brings the first of several strangers to her property. Lucas Avonwood, as charming as he is secretive, is on a mission to track down a scoundrel, but the inn’s lovely owner is giving him a more compelling reason to stay…

WHEN WE FINALLY KISS GOOD NIGHT
 by Sabrina Jeffries
When Flora Younger first met Konrad Juncker, she thought she’d found her match, only to have her hopes dashed. Konrad is now a famous playwright whose plays Flora has secretly panned in reviews. But a chance meeting in a secluded inn may help them rewrite this star-crossed romance…

WHEN STRANGERS MEET by Mary Jo Putney
Kate Mcleod is shocked to find that her fellow guest in the snowbound inn is the dashing soldier who may or may not be her husband. Daniel Faringdon barely remembers that long-ago night when he rescued her from disaster, but the desire they discover now will be impossible to forget, or to ignore . . .

Description

Maybe this Christmas can thaw his frozen heart—and heal hers.

Hollywood starlet Tia Beckett knows one moment can change your life. Her career had been on the fast track before a near-fatal accident left her with a debilitating facial scar. Certain her A-lister dreams are over, she agrees to house-sit at her producer’s secluded estate in Silver Springs. It’s the escape from the limelight Tia’s been craving, until she discovers she’s not the only houseguest for the holidays. And her handsome new roomie is impossible to ignore.

Artist Seth Turner has good reason to keep his distance. Losing his wife after only a few years of marriage has left a deep scar, even if he is still happy to spend a semester teaching art classes at the New Horizons Boys Ranch for troubled teens. Despite nursing her own wounds, Tia finds her curiosity piqued by enigmatic Seth, whom she recognizes as something of a kindred soul. Maybe spending Christmas together could be another game changer for both of them—this time, for good.

Description

“[Thayne’s] books are wonderfully romantic, feel-good reads that end with me sighing over the last pages.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Celebrate the season with this sparkling holiday romance, perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Dorthea Benton Frank, and Nancy Thayer!

Ranch manager Annie McCade thought her twin niece and nephew could join her at the Angel View Ranch for Christmas with her absent employer being none the wiser. But when the ranch’s owner, Tate Sheridan, shows up out of the blue, Annie’s plans are upended. Soon she finds herself helping Tate make a Christmas to remember for his grieving and fractured extended family.

Sleigh Bells Ring is the latest heartwarming, festive Christmas story by New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne.

Description:

After a confession of murder, a sleuthing English teacher will need a Christmas miracle to prove a condemned man innocent

Colorful Christmas lights dapple the family homes in the idyllic lakeside town of Sweet Haven when Jennifer Dean, a young librarian at the local elementary school, is brutally murdered. There are witnesses and her boyfriend Travis Blake confesses to the crime… but something doesn’t quite add up. Blake is a third generation Army Ranger, awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Afghanistan―how could a beloved son of this tight-knit burgh commit such a grisly deed?

As a community of military families a few miles down the road from an Army base, no one in Sweet Haven wants to investigate a war hero like Blake, not even the top brass at the police department. In steps Cameron Winter, a rugged and lonesome English professor haunted by the ghosts of his own Christmas past, whose former lover asks him to prove Blake innocent. The Sweet Haven murder reverberates in his mind, echoing a horrific yuletide memory from his youth, and Winter knows there are darker powers at play here than a simple domestic dispute. If he can solve this small-town mystery, just maybe he can find peace from his inner demons as well.

The thirty-sixth novel by two-time Edgar Award winner Andrew Klavan, When Christmas Comes is a seasonal tale of tradition, family, and murder; its chilling twists are best experienced curled up beside a burning Yule log.

What a Happy Family

Description:

From the outside, the Joshi family is the quintessential Indian-American family. Decades ago, Bina and Deepak immigrated to America, where she became a pillar of their local Indian community and he, a successful psychiatrist. Their eldest daughter, Suhani, is following the footsteps of her father’s career and happily married. Natasha, their middle daughter, is about to become engaged to the son of longtime family friends. And Anuj, their son—well he’s a son and what could be better than that?
 
But a family scandal shows that nothing is as it seems. Bina’s oldest friendship starts to unravel and she finds herself as an outsider in the community she helped build. Suhani discovers that her perfect marriage isn’t as solid as she thought. Natasha faces a series of rejections that send her into a downward spiral. 
 

As they encounter public humiliation, gossiping aunties, and self-doubt, the Joshi family must rely on each other like never before. But sometimes, family has to fall apart in order to come back stronger than before. (publisher)

My take:

What a Happy Family is the story of the Joshi family. Author Saumya Dave’s second novel continues the themes from her first: cultural, family, societal expectations and the effect on everyone involved. All are relatable no matter what the reader’s background. My heart went out to matriarch Bina as she endures a humiliation that goes to the core of all she holds important. She only wants the best for her family but at what cost? What to do when her daughters make choices that were never considered by her generation. A major topic of the novel, especially in the second half, is depression. When it strikes close to home what does one do? No matter how prepared a person or family is, there’s still the stigma of mental illness. The hope is that it will be faced with courage and faith in the ones closest to them. What a Happy Family is a family drama that had me flipping the pages, completely entertained and wanting to know how things would work out for the Joshis. Recommended to fans of contemporary diverse women’s fiction. And I’m sure wonderful discussion would come from book groups. There are discussion questions at the end.

WHAT A HAPPY FAMILY by Saumya Dave

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; June 22, 2021; Diverse Women’s fiction

The Shell Collector

The Shell Collector by Nancy Naigle

Description:

Two years after her husband’s death, Amanda Whittier has two children to raise alone, an abandoned dream of starting a business, and a fixer-upper cottage by the sea. She has no room in her life for anything else and little interest in moving on after losing the man she loved. 

Paul Grant is a relative newcomer to the area, and his work with former military dogs needing rehabilitation has been good for the town. Though he loved once before, he’s convinced he’s not suited for romance and is determined to find meaning—alone—through his work and role in the community. 

Widowed Maeve Lindsay was born and raised on Whelk’s Island. Spirited, kind, and a little mischievous, she pours her life into the town. But she carries a secret that shapes her every move. 

Together, these three souls find encouragement in the most mysterious places and discover a love that’s bigger than their pain, healing their wounded hearts in ways none of them could have hoped for or expected. (publisher)

My take:

This was such a lovely story about moving through grief after the loss of a loved one – be it spouse or friend. Nancy Naigle experienced such a loss and was inspired to write this novel. Amanda, a young widow and mother of two children, is beginning a new chapter in a new community. She meets an elderly woman, Maeve, on the beach. An instant connection is formed between Maeve and the young family. It was truly delightful as Maeve taught the children about the wonderful treasures to be found on the beach. There are more people whose importance to this core group is apparent. I enjoyed them all and loved the message of living each day in the moments. Recommended.