The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller

The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller

Published: May 7, 2019 – MIRA

Review galley provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Caroline is the young wife of Jacob, who together live on a farm raising their daughter just outside of Gettysburg. When Jacob joins the Northern army, no one anticipates he will not return. Then Caroline gets word that her husband is wounded, and she must find her way alone to Washington City and search among the thousands of casualties to find him.

When Jacob succumbs to his injuries, she brings his body home on the eve of the deadliest battle of the war. With troops and looters roaming the countryside, it is impossible to know who is friend and who is foe. Caroline fights to protect those she holds most dear while remaining compassionate to the neediest around her, including two strangers from opposite sides of the fight. Each is wounded… Each is drawn to her beauty, her kindness. Both offer comfort, but only one secretly captures her heart. Still, she must resist exposing her vulnerability in these uncertain times when so much is at risk.

In The Yankee Widow, gifted storyteller Linda Lael Miller explores the complexities and heartbreak that women experienced as their men took up arms to preserve the nation and defend their way of life. (publisher)

My take:  I’ve always been intrigued by the Civil War. My (3x)great grandfather left his family and farm to fight with the northern army. His portrait hung on the wall in my parents’ home. I didn’t truly appreciate the extent of his sacrifice until I began to read accounts of the war – told from various perspectives. Linda Lael Miller’s novel The Yankee Widow is the story of Caroline, a young widow from outside of Gettysburg, PA. Her husband left his young family and farm to fight in the northern army only to succumb to injuries incurred at Chancellorsville. Caroline is left to carry on which is no small task. The war is brought to her front yard as she is grieving the loss of her husband. She must step outside her grief and help with injured men from both sides of the war. Two such men will become central to her story and could very well decide her future. One thing she is certain of: she will make the decision. Showing a strength of character from the beginning of the novel we see even more growth in Caroline as she becomes aware that there are no easy answers except the decision to treat others with compassion – no matter where they are from. The story is filled with vivid battle descriptions that put me in the middle of those scenes. Heartbreaking, to be sure.

Linda Lael Miller swept me along with her story, turning the pages and wondering how Caroline would prevail. For once I was happy a novel ended with a cliff-hanger – I can’t wait to read what happens next. Recommended to fans of the author and historical fiction with a dose of romance.


 

Early Summer Reads Spotlight

A book blogger knows it’s time to get better organized when the NetGalley list is longer than its been in the past ten years…  I have more arcs to read but these are the NG titles. So, I’m listing the books I can’t wait to read in June and July 2019. 

From the author of book club favorite The Salt House comes a deeply affecting novel about a teenage girl finding her voice and the military wife who moves in downstairs, united in their search for the true meaning of home.

Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.

Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house. Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.

For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.

With gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong.


New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins crafts an unforgettable story about a sleepy Southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself. Prepare to fall under its spell.


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.


Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
 
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.


She’s doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.

After four months of unemployment, former book editor Clara Montgomery is officially stuck—stuck sleeping on her little brother’s ugly couch in Queens, stuck scrolling through job listings in search of a new editorial position…and just desperate enough to take on a temporary gig clearing out abandoned storage units. If nothing else, she’s determined to keep her rapidly dwindling savings account intact.

Unfortunately, she is in no way prepared for stumbling upon dead snakes or dealing with glass jars that she’s convinced are full of pickled eyeballs. And why does everything seem to smell like beets?

Then Clara comes across a unit that was once owned by an escort service and finds the brothel “résumé” of a younger Caspian Tiddleswich, an astonishingly famous British actor. She has no intention of cashing in on her discovery, but her awkward attempts to reassure Caspian that his secret is safe go awry. Now Caspian is convinced that Clara is a blackmailer, the tabloids have her pegged as Caspian’s newest girlfriend…and Clara begins to find the A-lister’s charms more irresistible than she expected.


 

Spotlight: The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller

I’ve been waiting for this book to publish for a long time. Over the past few years Linda Lael Miller would update, hint about it, etc. on her blog which put it firmly on my wish list. I’ll post my review soon. In the meantime, here’s what we have to look forward to in THE YANKEE WIDOW.

The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller

Published: May 7, 2019 – MIRA Hardcover

Description:

A richly layered saga is set against the backdrop of the Civil War

In The Yankee Widow, gifted storyteller Linda Lael Miller explores the complexities and heartbreak that families experienced as men took up arms to preserve the nation and defend their way of life.

Told in a smart, assured and compelling voice, this is the story of Caroline, the young wife and childhood sweetheart of Jacob, who together live on a farm raising their daughter, Rachel, just outside of Gettysburg. When Jacob joins the Northern army to do his duty and help save the Union, no one anticipates he will not return. Caroline gets news that he is wounded and has been taken to Washington, DC, with his regiment, and so she must find her way there and navigate the thousands of other wounded soldiers to find him.

Thus begins this novel that focuses on the strong women and men of both sides and both races who sacrificed so much and loved so well during this critical juncture in American history.

You can purchase this book at these online retailers:
Amazon | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | B-A-M
Book Depository | Chapters | Harlequin
IndieBound | iTunes | Powell’s


About the author:

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, Linda pursued her wanderlust, living in London and Arizona and traveling the world before returning to the state of her birth to settle down on a spacious property outside Spokane.

Linda traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she sold Fletcher’s Woman in 1983 to Pocket Books. Since then, Linda has successfully published historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, mysteries and thrillers before coming home, in a literal sense, and concentrating on novels with a Western flavor. For her devotion to her craft, the Romance Writers of America awarded her their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Long a passionate Civil War buff, Linda has studied the era avidly for almost thirty years. She has read literally hundreds of books on the subject, explored numerous battlegrounds and made many visits to her favorite, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where she has witnessed re-enactments of the legendary clash between North and South. Linda explores that turbulent time in The Yankee Widow, a May 7, 2019 MIRA Books hardcover, also available in digital and audiobook formats.

Dedicated to helping others, “The First Lady of the West” personally financed fifteen years of her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women, which she awarded to women 25 years and older who were seeking to improve their lot in life through education. She anticipates that her next charitable endeavors will benefit four-legged critters.

More information about Linda and her novels is available at http://www.lindalaelmiller.com


 

The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

Pub. date:  May 7, 2019 – HQN Books

Review copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  A rainy-day ritual—a tea party between three little girls—becomes the framework of not only their friendship, but their lives.

Redheaded, curly-haired Zoe is open-hearted, kind and free-spirited, and dreams of becoming a famous actor in New York City. Shy Emily struggles with mental health but has the heart and soul of a writer. And Shannon—tall, athletic, strong—has a deep sense of loyalty that will serve her well when she heads off to military college.

As Zoe, Emily and Shannon grow into women—forging careers, following dreams and finding love—they’ll learn that life doesn’t always unfold the way they want it to, but through it all, the one constant is each other, and their regular tea parties. And when the unthinkable happens, the girls must come together to face the greatest test of all. (publisher)

My take:  The Little Teashop On Main is the story of 3 forever friends and the man who loved them all.  Zoe, Emily and Shannon couldn’t be more different but they were brought together as little girls and their friendship grew over the course of their lives. They were more like sisters and stayed loyal and protective over the years. Jack was their friend and loved them as such, with one exception. He loved them all but was in love with one.

This novel felt a bit different from author Jodi Thomas’s other books. I felt a dream-like quality from the very first page that continued throughout. I liked that aspect but wasn’t sure how things would end up – as I usually do with her novels. That said, it still had the same heart and humor that I’ve come to expect in a Jodi Thomas book. I liked it very much. Just be prepared for an emotional journey with this one. Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas and novels about friends/sisters.


PRAISE FOR JODI THOMAS, NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR

“You can count on Jodi Thomas to give you a satisfying and memorable read.”
Catherine Anderson, New York Times bestselling author

“Western romance legend Thomas’s Ransom Canyon will warm readers
with its huge heart and gentle souls.” —Library Journal

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart-wrenching,
emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.”
Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“This tale will grab readers, who will fall in love with the main characters and be just as
enamored of the others.” —Library Journal, starred review, on Lone Heart Pass


A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY
bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.
With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she served as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”
When not working on a novel, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.

For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at http://www.jodithomas.com.


The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

Published: April 23, 2019 – MIRA

Review book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Join USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor

Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.

As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.

Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach. (publisher)

My take:  I read and enjoyed the first book in Moonlight Harbor series, somehow missed the second, and still didn’t feel lost reading the third and newest book The Summer Retreat. So if you haven’t read this series you should know each book can stand alone.

Celeste Jones is fresh out of what she thought would be a permanent relationship with the perfect man. She’s lost confidence in her ability to pick the right one and heads to her sister Jenna’s home in Moonlight Harbor. Jenna owns a small motel and could use Celeste’s help for the summer. Plus, she loves her sister and is happy to have her nearby. As Celeste gets to know the people and places of Moonlight Harbor she starts to feel like she’ll be okay. When she meets a couple of possible boyfriends she feels more than okay! But when it comes to making a choice should she listen to her heart or her brain? Go with the one who feels right or the one who should be right? As you might expect, the reader will know before Celeste.

Sheila Roberts made me laugh out loud and then cringe for her characters – and I enjoyed it. The Summer Retreat (and the Moonlight Harbor series) should appeal to fans of contemporary romance and small town stories.


 

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Pub. date:  May 7, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

ARC provided by the publisher, Tandem Literary, NetGalley

Description:

Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm. (publisher)

My take:  Drue Campbell is a thirty-something woman at loose ends.  Her mother recently died, she lost her job, and an injury has ended her favorite hobby. Just when it doesn’t seem like life can get any worse she is forced to accept a job offer from her estranged father. On the bright side, she discovers that she’s inherited her grandparents’ cottage on Sunset Beach. So at least she has a roof over her head – or a partial roof. Working at her father’s personal injury law office could expand Drue’s horizons and perhaps her non-existent dating life. She’ll find a future she’d never thought possible. Mary Kay Andrews filled her latest novel with interesting characters, a sunny Florida Gulf Coast setting, and a mystery or two that might involve someone close to Drue. I really enjoyed Sunset Beach and hope for a sequel. The possibilities for Drue and company are endless.


About the author:

Mary Kay Andrews is The New York Times bestselling author of The High Tide Club, The Beach House Cookbook, The Weekenders, Beach Town, Save the Date, Ladies’ Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring Fever, Summer Rental, The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Connect with MKA:

Website: https://marykayandrews.com
Newsletter: https://marykayandrews.com/newsletters/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marykayandrewsauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykayandrews/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mkayandrews
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21387.Mary_Kay_Andrews


 

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.