The Minders

The Minders by John Marrs

Published:  February 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect… (publisher)

My take:  I have to confess I’m not much of a sci-fi reader but every once in a while I dip my toe into the genre. This is the third of John Marrs’ books I’ve read and I think I will always read his latest offering. They are entertaining, relatable (ok that might be a stretch) but they are believable enough to draw me along for the thrilling ride. So, all that said, I decided early on to just sit back and watch the story unfold. It’s one of those novels that a character list and brief description helped me keep things straight. Still, I had to pause occasionally to think about what was going on. Confusing? At times. Enjoyable? To the extent that I’m not a fan of violent acts in my reading, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book. It’s extremely violent in parts and quite tender in some. All in all, I enjoyed it but be warned that this will fool with your mind – what is real and what is created to seem real?


 

The Nature of Fragile Things

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

Published:  February 2, 2021 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake rocks San Francisco just before daybreak, igniting a devouring inferno. Lives are lost, lives are shattered, but some rise from the ashes forever changed.

Sophie Whalen is a young Irish immigrant so desperate to get out of a New York tenement that she answers a mail-order bride ad and agrees to marry a man she knows nothing about. San Francisco widower Martin Hocking proves to be as aloof as he is mesmerizingly handsome. Sophie quickly develops deep affection for Kat, Martin’s silent five-year-old daughter, but Martin’s odd behavior leaves her with the uneasy feeling that something about her newfound situation isn’t right.

Then one early-spring evening, a stranger at the door sets in motion a transforming chain of events. Sophie discovers hidden ties to two other women. The first, pretty and pregnant, is standing on her doorstep. The second is hundreds of miles away in the American Southwest, grieving the loss of everything she once loved.

The fates of these three women intertwine on the eve of the devastating earthquake, thrusting them onto a perilous journey that will test their resiliency and resolve and, ultimately, their belief that love can overcome fear.

From the acclaimed author of The Last Year of the War and As Bright as Heaven comes a gripping novel about the bonds of friendship and mother love, and the power of female solidarity. (publisher)

My take:  The Nature of Fragile Things is a captivating story about a young woman in New York City who answers an ad to become the wife of a man in California. Within a month she becomes his wife and step-mother to his five year old daughter. The year is 1906 and Sophie Whalen can’t believe her good fortune: a handsome and quiet man, a step-daughter she adores and a beautiful new home. She feels content and safe for the first time in a very long while.

But everyone has secrets. And those secrets soon become known. Add in the horrendous San Francisco earthquake and you’ve got the makings of a compelling novel that is quite the page turner! Once again, Susan Meissner has written a novel I didn’t want to end. Recommended to fans of Historical Fiction, stories about family and friendship, and Susan Meissner.


 

The Love Proof

The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry

Published:  February 9, 2021 – Atria Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.

When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities. (publisher)

My take:  The Love Proof is the story of Sophie and Jake. They meet during their first days at Yale and spend almost every day together until life takes them in different directions. They are gifted in different ways and have an amazing personal connection – all leading to an unanticipated future. We learn their story via flashbacks and the present (future). A bit angsty at times but it seemed to fit. Author Madeleine Henry had me feeling the emotions. If you like novels about the nature of love, unique personalities, with a dose of physics and philosophy be sure to give this one a try. 


About the author:

Madeleine Henry is the author of The Love Proof and Breathe In, Cash Out. She has appeared on NBC, WABC, The Jenny McCarthy Show, and Inspire Living. She has been featured in the New York Post, Parade, and Observer Media. Previously, she worked at Goldman Sachs and in investment management after graduating from Yale in 2014. She lives in New York City.

Instagram: @madeleineshenry and @madeleinehenryyoga

Twitter: @madeleineshenry


Early Praise for The Love Proof:

The Love Proof is a fascinating story about how love opens us up to the remarkable possibilities of the universe. Smart, sexy, and scientific.” —Jill Santopolo, New York Times bestselling author of The Light We Lost

 

“This brilliant novel attempts to answer the age-old question: What happens when all-consuming, passionate love comes to an end? Henry crafts a connection so real between Jake and Sophie, it left me breathless. A must-read.” —Colleen Oakley, USA Todaybestselling author of You Were There Too

 

“I could not put this book down. Madeleine Henry has masterfully crafted a touching and timeless tale about the enduring power of first love. Just like the magic between Sophie and Jake, The Love Proof will captivate you from the start and leave you hoping it never has to end.” —Amy Blumenfeld, author of The Cast


 

The Path to Sunshine Cove

The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected publication:  March 30, 2021 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

With a past like hers, Jessica Clayton feels safer in a life spent on the road. She’s made a career out of helping others downsize—because she’s learned the hard way that the less “stuff,” the better, a policy she applies equally to her relationships. But a new client is taking Jess back to Cape Sanctuary, a town she once called home…and that her little sister, Rachel, still does. The years apart haven’t made a dent in the guilt Jess still carries after a handgun took the lives of both their parents and changed everything between them.

While Jess couldn’t wait to put the miles between her and Cape Sanctuary, Rachel put down roots, content for the world—and her sister—to think she has a picture-perfect life. But with the demands of her youngest child’s disability, Rachel’s marriage has begun to fray at the seams. She needs her sister now more than ever, yet she’s learned from painful experience that Jessica doesn’t do family, and she shouldn’t count on her now.

Against her judgment, Jess finds herself becoming attached—to her sister and her family, even to her client’s interfering son, Nate—and it’s time to put everything on the line. Does she continue running from her painful past, or stay put and make room for the love and joy that come along with it? (publisher)

My take:  RaeAnne Thayne’s latest novel is a stand alone story about two sisters overcoming a horrific event that set their lives on different trajectories. When they end up in the same town Jess and Rachel are dealing with life on their own terms. Rachel is a social media influencer whose life isn’t quite as perfect as her Instagram posts would lead people to believe. Jess arrived in town to help a client declutter her large home. She didn’t expect the client’s son to make her question everything she’d done for years to protect her feelings. The Path to Sunshine Cove is a touching story of learning to rethink what’s important in life. I think fans of RaeAnne Thayne and stories about sisters will enjoy it as much as I did.


 

Aftershock

Aftershock by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Published:  January 19, 2021 – Hanover Square Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, forensics expert Jessie Teska faces her biggest threat yet in this explosive new mystery from the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff and First Cut.

At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body is located on a construction site under what looks like a collapse beam. But when Dr. Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the tell-tale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice, and prevent him from potentially striking again.

But when a major earthquake strikes San Francisco right at Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive.

With their trademark blend of propulsive prose, deft plotting and mordant humor, this electrifying new installment in the Jessie Teska Mystery series offers the highest stakes yet.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the second book in the Dr. Jessie Teska Mysteries. I didn’t read the first but felt the authors did a good job catching me up with pertinent details. A San Francisco medical examiner, Dr. Jessie has her hands full when crime details on her newest case don’t match up with the evidence. An earthquake throws a wrench into things and then her latest romantic interest seems to be losing interest in her! I liked this novel but didn’t love it. For me, it suffered from pacing and perhaps too many plot directions. Too much for me but I’m not a hardcore procedural reader. Would I give the next book in the series a try? Sure. I enjoyed the offbeat character we have in Dr. Jessie. She has an interesting background and I like her unwillingness to suffer fools. I want to see where it all takes her.


About the authors:

Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and the novel First Cut. Dr. Melinek studied at Harvard and UCLA, was a medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. T.J. Mitchell, her husband, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their children.

Social links:

TWITTER:

FB: @DrWorkingStiff

Insta:

Goodreads


Buy links:



 

The Kitchen Front

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

Expected publication date:  February 23, 2021 – Ballantine Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

From the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir comes an unforgettable novel of a BBC-sponsored wartime cooking competition and the four women who enter for a chance to better their lives.

Two years into World War II, Britain is feeling her losses: The Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is holding a cooking contest—and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the competition would present a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For a lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.

These four women are giving the competition their all—even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together only serve to break it apart? (publisher)

My take:  The Kitchen Front is a look at life on the home front in a British village during WWII. I’ve read more than a few historical fiction novels about this era and always admire what citizens did to serve their country during wartime. If living in England during this time wasn’t challenging enough, our four main characters have that and then some.  Two women, sisters at odds with each other since childhood, a young maid who thinks life outside of servitude has to be better, and a young pregnant and single woman who relocates to the village, all find themselves in a cooking competition that could be life changing. The winner’s prize is becoming host of a BBC radio cooking show. Yes, there are recipes included! Jennifer Ryan’s novel will appeal to fans of historical women’s fiction. I adored her novel The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir a few years ago. The Kitchen Front is different but similar in setting and era. I appreciated the information shared in the author’s note at the end where Ryan describes the inspiration for her novel.


 

Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas – Boone

Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas – Boone by Emily March

Expected publication:  December 29, 2020 – St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  With his smooth talk, rugged good looks, and deep pockets, native Texan Boone McBride appears to be a man who has it all. Few people know about the heartbreak behind his decision to leave home, family, and career for the isolation of a small town in the Colorado Rockies. Luckily, time and life in Eternity Springs has worked its healing magic upon his wounded soul, so when he meets obviously troubled Hannah Dupree, Boone sees a chance to pay his good fortune forward. The last thing he anticipates is tumbling into love.

Tragedy has taken everything Hannah loves, and her will to keep going is failing. So when Boone strides into her life determined to save her, it’s easier to go along with him than to resist. Soon she is drawn into the fabric of life in Eternity Springs, and as her spirit begins to heal, her strength returns, and she’s able to go toe-to-toe with this hardheaded, big-hearted Texan. But just when love blooms and happiness is within their grasp, shadows from the past threaten. Hannah and Boone must stand strong and united in order to defeat old ghosts—if they are to create a brand-new life together. (Publisher)

My take: Two people who’ve experienced unthinkable loss meet by chance. Boone and Hannah are at different points in their grief when they meet. They recognize a unique connection that turns quickly to attraction. I’m not a fan of ‘insta-love’  but as the novel progressed I got on board and enjoyed how their story developed. This is a story of loss, forgiveness and finding the courage to live and love. It was fun to see what was new in the lives of Boone’s cousins and friends and visit the town of Eternity Springs. Fans of Emily March’s McBrides of Texas trilogy will want to read this wrap to the series but for new readers, it can stand alone.


About the author:

EMILY MARCH is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

https://emilymarch.com


 

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas

Happy publication day!

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by

Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn

Published:  October 27, 2020 – Kensington

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take:  I have no doubt fans of Historical Romance (American West) and authors Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn will enjoy this collection. It’s a great way to sample each author if you haven’t had a chance. I’m a fan of Jodi Thomas but Lovelace and Dunn are new to me and I look forward to reading more of their work.
I love an anthology at this busy time of year because I can read a complete story in a short time – this book hit the mark. It will tug your heartstrings and engage in an emotional and heartwarming way. If you enjoy historical romance, add The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas to your reading list this season.
***
Father Goose by Jodi Thomas
A young man, fresh out of the army and in need of a job, agrees to take a group of 5 young school girls to their father’s ranch in Texas. He must get them home before Christmas. Meanwhile, a young woman decides to escape her life of drudgery and signs on to chaperone the girls for the trip. This rag-tag group will make the arduous journey that could set the path of the future for them all.
*
The Mistletoe Promise by Sharla Lovelace
Two people with a history must overcome pride and learn to trust again. Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Josie and Ben I learned their story and was soon hoping for their HEA.
*
Christmas Road by Scarlett Dunn
A veteran rides home hoping to see his ill mother for what could be her last Christmas. What he didn’t expect was to meet a young widow and mother of two girls who’d help nurse his mother. This a story of survival during challenging times and the honorable people who step up to help. A heartwarming tale about finding the magic of Christmas.

About the authors:

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

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sassy, sexy love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs. She is the author of the exciting Heart of the Storm series, the fun and sexy Charmed in Texas series, and five stand-alone novels. Connect with Sharla at http://www.sharlalovelace.com, or find her on social media as @sharlalovelace at all the places! 

Before becoming a published author, Scarlett Dunn was an entrepreneur. Her love of history and the adventurous souls who settled the West inspired her to write historical inspirational romance novels. She lives in Kentucky, and as an avid outdoorswoman she enjoys any activity under the sun where she develops her characters and plots. Readers can find her at http://www.scarlettdunn.com or on Facebook, Twitter (scarlettdunn2), or Instagram.

THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS
By Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, & Scarlett Dunn
Kensington Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
On Sale: October 27th 2020/
Trade Paperback/Fiction $15.95 ($21.95 CAN) / 978-1-4967-2549-3

Autumn Skies

Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter

Published:  October 20, 2020 – Thomas Nelson

Courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Facing the past is easier if you don’t have to face it alone.

The Bluebell Inn is turning a profit, and it’s time for the Bennett siblings to sell it and move on. Only Grace has plans to stay in the small lake town of Bluebell, North Carolina, where she hopes her growing outfitters business will save her from the loneliness of her siblings’ departure and the persistent sense of unworthiness in her life.

A gunshot wound resurrects the past for Secret Service agent Wyatt Jennings, and a mandatory leave of absence lands him in Bluebell. There he must come to grips with the tragedy that altered his life fourteen years ago.

When Wyatt books a room at the Bluebell Inn, sparks fly between him and Grace. She volunteers to be his mountain guide, and he soon opens up to her, drawn to her strength and sense of humor. But both are reticent to talk about the survivor’s guilt they each carry, and when their pasts finally collide, their budding romance might not survive the truth.

From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom and A December Bride (now beloved Hallmark Original movies) comes the third and final novel in the Bluebell Inn series. (publisher)

My take: (I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)

It’s a time of big change at the Bluebell Inn. The owner-siblings are planning to sell the Inn and move on to their individual dreams. Youngest sister Grace is the only one planning to stay in town in a new venture. When Wyatt Jennings books a room at the Inn he plans to stay for a short time and then return to work. Neither had planned for the spark of attraction they felt. It was fun to see their relationship take shape. They had more in common than they knew. With themes of loss, survivor’s guilt, and following your dreams, Autumn Skies kept me engaged and turning the pages. It was a one day read for me. Fans of author Denise Hunter will want to read this third book in the Bluebell Inn series. It’s the first one I read and I felt it could stand alone.


 

Return to Virgin River

Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Expected publication:  October 13, 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take:  After twelve years Robyn Carr takes readers back to her beloved fictional town of Virgin River, California.

In Return to Virgin River we meet Kaylee Sloan, an author with writer’s block brought on by the loss of her mother in the past year. Friends have graciously allowed Kaylee to stay at their vacation home in Virgin River so she can finish her book. When she arrives she finds the fire department extinguishing a fire that has left the home uninhabitable. Someone suggests she go to Jack’s Bar for a bite to eat and perhaps a lead on where she can find a new place to rent. The book takes off from there and I settled in for the enjoyable read I’ve come to expect from Robyn Carr. I loved catching up with several characters and places featured in previous books. And I loved seeing how Kaylee’s life changed in small ways that would impact the rest of her life. The Thanksgiving/Christmas theme played a big part in the book and led to the heartwarming ending.

Return to Virgin River is a lovely read for fans of the Virgin River series and Robyn Carr. Of course, I recommend reading the entire VR series but readers could jump in here and then go back. It’s one of my favorite series ever!


About the author:

Robyn Carr is the bestselling author of over 60 novels which have sold more than 28 million copies. Her beloved Virgin River series alone has netted more than 13 million copies; the Netflix television adaptation of Virgin River debuted in 2019 and has since become one of the streaming service’s most popular shows. Eleven of Robyn’s books have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, collectively spending 250 weeks on the list since Virgin River made its debut there in 2008. In 2016, the Romance Writers of America recognized Robyn with the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2019, she was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.


 

Murder on Cold Street

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas

Published:  October 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Inspector Treadles, Charlotte Holmes’s friend and collaborator, has been found locked in a room with two dead men, both of whom worked with his wife at the great manufacturing enterprise she has recently inherited. 
 
Rumors fly. Had Inspector Treadles killed the men because they had opposed his wife’s initiatives at every turn? Had he killed in a fit of jealous rage, because he suspected Mrs. Treadles of harboring deeper feelings for one of the men? To make matters worse, he refuses to speak on his own behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.
 
Charlotte finds herself in a case strewn with lies and secrets. But which lies are to cover up small sins, and which secrets would flay open a past better left forgotten? Not to mention, how can she concentrate on these murders, when Lord Ingram, her oldest friend and sometime lover, at last dangles before her the one thing she has always wanted? (publisher)

My take:  It’s the week before Christmas (1886) and Charlotte Holmes is tasked with solving a double murder in which the prime suspect is Inspector Treadles. What looks like an open and shut case to some is clearly not to Charlotte, Lord Ingram, and company. As they investigate, the clues they discover lead them into a complex crime that will unveil astonishing details about members of the community. Do the principals involved truly know those closest to them? I had no idea how the crime would be solved but I needn’t have worried because Sherry Thomas always comes through. I enjoyed the Christmas setting, the growing relationship between Charlotte and Lord Ingram, and the cast of characters who are Holmes’s inner circle. I have an idea where the next book might go and can’t wait to find out if I’m right.


 

The Good Sister

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Expected publication:  April 13, 2021 – St. Martin’s Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one, with a home and a husband and a fierce desire to become a mother. Fern is the quirky one, the free spirit, the librarian who avoids social interaction and whom the world might just describe as truly odd. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

Spine tingling, creepy, utterly compelling and unpredictable, The Good Sister is about the ties that bind sisters together…and about the madness that lurks where you least expect it. (publisher)

My take:   The Good Sister is told from the perspectives of twin sisters Fern and Rose. They were raised by their self-absorbed, single mother. It was a very unstable childhood that set the tone for their future.

As often happens in families, the siblings have different recollections of the same events and I was constantly wondering which was closer to the truth. I have to say I was on Team Fern – she was such a lovable, sympathetic character. And her boyfriend Wally (not his actual name but Fern thought he resembled Waldo when they first met – so the name stuck) was so unique and wonderful. Thank goodness he walked into her library the day they met!

I don’t want to spoil with more but I can say fans of novels about sibling conflict, manipulation and deceit will find that for sure in The Good Sister. It was a quick read only because I had to find out what happened next – didn’t want to put it down.


 

Christmas At Holiday House

Christmas at Holiday House by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected pub. date:  October 6, 2020 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: A widowed young mother’s search for the perfect Christmas for her little boy leads her to Silver Bells, Colorado. Abby Powell becomes enamored with the heartwarming small-town community—with snow!—but not so much with her new client’s less-than-jolly son, Ethan Lancaster.

Ethan, a single-minded businessman, has learned the hard way that love and family are not for him. But he never counted on the lovely newcomer to town—or the emotional pull she and her son, Christopher, would have over him. As Ethan and Abby work together to restore Holiday House, the Lancaster’s historic family mansion, in time for Christmas, Ethan’s heart begins to open along with his home. (publisher)

My take:  When Abby Powell is contacted by Lucy, her former college roommate, she’s in the middle of packing up her Arizona home to move to Texas. Lucy’s grandmother fell and needs assistance in her home until Lucy can get home from abroad. Abby agrees to help and heads to Colorado with her young son for a few weeks. When she arrives she meets her client’s grandson Ethan who thinks his grandmother should be at a rehab center instead of in her home with a stranger. Abby is in an uncomfortable situation but will stay until Lucy arrives.

A little backstory: Abby’s life changed in a heartbeat by an event that made her a widow. She has an adorable son and is looking toward the future. Lucy and her brother Ethan had an unconventional upbringing by their parents, both narcissists, that left them with a screwed up view of relationships and an inability to have normal ones. It was easy to sympathize with them.

Christmas at Holiday House is set in a charming mountain resort town during the holidays. It’s a heartwarming tale about finding the courage to not allow fear to stand in the way of happiness. Fans of contemporary romance and RaeAnne Thayne are sure to love it. Recommended!


A Highlander is Coming to Town

A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham

Published:  September 29, 2020 – St. Martin’s Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

The third book in the Highland, Georgia romantic comedy series from Laura Trentham, A Highlander is Coming to Town, full of love, laughs…and highlanders!

You better watch out. . .

Holt Pierson is dreading Christmas. His parents absconded to Florida for the season and left him to handle the family farm which will be his one day—whether he wants it or not. Driven by duty, Holt has always followed the path expected of him. But lately, he’s been questioning what he wants and where he belongs. Will assuming the responsibility of the Pierson farm make him happy or is there something—or someone—else out in the wider world calling to him?

To Claire Smythe, the Scottish lead singer of a touring band, Highland, Georgia, is the perfect place to hide . . .until a very handsome and deeply curious Holt begins to ask all the questions Claire doesn’t want to answer. As Holt draws Claire out from under and into the fabric of small-town life, can Claire put the past behind her and embrace the unexpected gifts of the season—including the new and lasting love? (publisher)

My take:  This was cute! The Highlander who came to town is actually a Highlander who doesn’t want to leave the small town of Highland, Georgia. That’s about as complicated as it gets in this book – unless you count feelings and emotions. Claire was part of a band that played a festival in Highland. She stayed behind at the end of the gig and took a job as a home aid to an elderly woman. She has reasons for not wanting to return to Scotland. Add one more reason in the form of Holt, owner of the farm next door to the elderly lady. This is a story of two people who aren’t looking for love but isn’t that just when it finds you? Laura Trentham’s story is filled with heart. It’s about finding what’s truly important and finding the courage to go for it. If you enjoy small-town contemporary romance series you should check this one out!

A Highlander Is Coming To Town is book 3 in the Highland, Georgia series. I didn’t feel lost despite not reading the previous books and I look forward to reading those.


 

She Gets That From Me

 

She Gets That From Me by Robin Wells

Published:  September 22, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Quinn never expected that her best friend’s courageous decision to be a single mother by choice would end up transforming her own life in this poignant novel from USA Today bestselling author Robin Wells.
 
When Quinn Langston’s best friend unexpectedly passes away, Quinn embraces Brooke’s three-year-old daughter Lily and elderly grandmother Margaret as the family she’s always wanted.  She’ll do whatever it takes to help them heal, but she didn’t anticipate Lily’s biological father would be part of the plan. Margaret is old-fashioned, though, and she has no compunction about finding a way to reach Lily’s dad, a sperm donor. After all, he’s a blood relative, and she believes family should raise family.
 
 Zack Bradley doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out he has a child. Sperm donors don’t usually get to meet their…well, he’s not sure what to call Lily yet, but he’s certain he wants to get to know her. There’s just one of problem: he’s about to move to Seattle with his wife, Jessica, who’s undergone multiple infertility treatments, desperately wants a family of her own and can’t stand the idea of Zack playing daddy to another woman’s child.
 
Together, they’ll all learn that the human heart is infinitely expandable and there are many different roads to family. (publisher)

My take:  When the unthinkable happens to Quinn’s best friend she steps in to care for 3 year old Lily(who was conceived via donor from a fertility center) and her great-grandmother Margaret. Around this time Zack and his wife Jessica are going through their own infertility heartbreak. I won’t spoil how all the principals are drawn together but at one point I highlighted this passage:

‘ “Good Lord – sounds like an episode of Maury Povich just happened in here,” the aide whispers to the therapist.’  – (location 4145)

That was definitely the vibe I was getting while reading but I also think author Robin Wells wrote with heart and empathy. No matter how selfishly I believe Jessica acted Wells still let me find some sympathy for her situation.

The subject of infertility could be a trigger for some readers and that’s what this novel is about. It got a bit soapy at times but if you like to read novels about all kinds of families you’ll want to add She Gets That From Me to your list. I’m glad I had the chance to discover Robin Wells and will be interested to see what she writes next.


About the author:

Robin Wells was an advertising and public relations executive before becoming a full-time writer. She always dreamed of writing novels–a dream inspired by a grandmother who told “hot tales” and parents who were both librarians. Her books have won the RWA Golden Heart, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and numerous other awards. She now lives in Texas with her husband, but will always be a Louisiana girl at heart.

Author photo credit: Arden Wells


 

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise by Nancy Naigle

Expected publication:  September 29, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Vanessa Larkin was supposed to be spending Christmas in Paris, France on a business trip she hoped to enjoy as a working vacation. Instead, she’s been assigned to Fraser Hills, North Carolina—home of the Best Fruitcake in the USA—to convert her company’s property into warehouse space and shut down Porter’s, the fruitcake factory. Offering retirement packages and selling locals on new job opportunities may not spread holiday cheer, but Vanessa believes she’s helping secure the town’s future.

Mike Marshall’s family founded Porter’s. For decades, the factory served as the lifeblood of the community until his grandfather sold the business to a Chicago corporation. The sale cost the town its independence—and the Marshalls their family ties. A horse farmer, Mike was never involved with his grandfather’s company, but still felt Fraser Hills lost part of its identity. And as a widower raising a teenage daughter, he’s suffered enough losses in one lifetime. News of the factory’s closing means losing another piece of the town’s legacy.

Far from the skyscrapers and rapid pace of the city, Vanessa finds herself enjoying the easygoing rhythms of rural living. With Mike as her guide, she learns to appreciate the simple pleasures found in shared holiday festivities among friends. Fraser Hills is a town she is growing to love—and Mike is someone she is falling in love with. Now all Vanessa needs is a Christmas miracle to give her newfound friends and home a gift they’ll cherish for many New Years to come. (publisher)

My take:

When a Chicago company acquires a North Carolina fruitcake company they send Vanessa to transition the small company into, well, she has one idea and the employees have another. Things are tense. She’s been a city girl all her life and has plans for a nice vacation when this assignment is completed. She didn’t expect to fall in love with the place!

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise is my kind of Christmas novel. It has a charming small town, a little drama, a little romance and an adorable puppy. Recommended!


 

Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Expected publication:  Sept. 8, 2020 – Atria Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next. (publisher)

My take:  When I pick up one of Fredrik Backman’s novels I’m fairly sure I’m going to enjoy it. He has a gift for writing about the human condition. One minute I’m chuckling and the next I’m tearing up – finding so much relatable. In this book we’re treated to a rag-tag group of people who find themselves at an open house for an apartment when they are taken hostage. Over the next several hours much is revealed about each person. Backman’s tale touches on the cares and worries of them all – people just doing the best they can. Anxious People was written with Backman’s signature humor and heart. And, yes, I enjoyed it all. Recommended!


About the author:

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called OveMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, and two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime, as well as one work of nonfiction, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World. His books are published in more than forty countries. His latest novel is Anxious People. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @Backmansk.


 

The Wonder Boy Of Whistle Stop

The Wonder Boy Of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg

Expected pub. date:  October 27, 2020 – Random House

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop with his mother, Ruth, church-going and proper, and his Aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town’s popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its fun and famous fried green tomatoes. And as Bud often said of his childhood to his daughter Ruthie, “How lucky can you get?”

But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and Whistle Stop became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time.

Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see what has become of his beloved Whistle Stop. In so doing, he discovers new friends, as well as surprises about Idgie’s life, about Ninny Threadgoode and other beloved Fannie Flagg characters, and about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, which change his life and the lives of his daughter and many others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you really go home again?  (publisher)

My take:  I loved Fried Green Tomatoes (the film version) so when I heard that Fannie Flagg had written a sequel I was thrilled. Thanks to Random House for sending the e-galley via NetGalley! I found a way to watch the movie again and then started reading The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop. I didn’t plan on reading it in two days but I just didn’t want to stop. Flagg’s trademark relatable characters, funny situations, and heart-breaking moments just made me grateful for the chance to find out what happened to the people of Whistle Stop, Alabama. Thank you, Fannie Flagg, for taking us back to Whistle Stop. I loved it all.


 

Murder In The East End

Murder in the East End by Jennifer Ashley

Published:  August 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London’s Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can’t turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined. (publisher)

My take:  Kat Holloway is a talented cook in a big Mayfair home. She loves her kitchen staff and assorted people associated with the house. One of those people is deliveryman Daniel McAdam. He’s a mystery man and much more than his job title implies. In this book Kat is drawn into a case of missing children from the Foundling Hospital. This case involved a relative of Daniel’s and a very seedy side of London. Because of Kat’s past Daniel is sure she can help with the investigation. Kind-hearted Kat will do anything to help find the children – as will her friends and associates. I was satisfied with the resolution. Not all strings are tied though which leaves things open for the next book.

I like the glimpses of downstairs life that Jennifer Ashley gives readers in this series. I also like the pace of the development of Kat and Daniel’s relationship. A bit more is shown in each book and I’m always left eager to read the next book. I look forward to seeing what Kat and company will be doing next time.


 

A Little Bit Of Grace

A Little Bit Of Grace by Phoebe Fox

Published:  August 11, 2020 – Berkley

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Family is everything—Grace Adams McHale’s mom must have said it to her a thousand times before she died. Before Grace’s dad ran off with an aspiring actress half his age. Before only-child Grace found out she was unable to have children of her own. Before Brian—her childhood best friend, business partner, and finally her husband—dropped a “bombshell” on her in the form of her stunning new replacement.

Which means Grace now has…nothing.

Until she receives a letter from a woman claiming to be a relative Grace never knew she had, sending her on a journey from the childhood home she had to move back into, to a Florida island to meet a total stranger who embraces her as family. There, Grace starts to uncover answers about the eccentric woman her family never mentioned: a larger-than-life octogenarian who is the keeper of a secret held for more than fifty years, and the ultimate inspiration to always be true to yourself. As Grace gets to know this woman and picks up the pieces of her own shattered life, she is forced to question whether she can find forgiveness for the unforgivable. (publisher)

My take:  Grace married the boy next door, her best friend, and they practiced law in the same firm. A HEA if I ever read one. And then Grace’s husband told her he wasn’t happy and they divorced. There’s more to their story and when faced with the last straw Grace realized she needed a change of scenery. She flew to Florida to visit her (newly found) great-aunt Milly. I loved Milly and Grace and the way they got to know each other. Milly had a lot to teach Grace and Grace was family that Milly didn’t know she had – what a gift! This is a story about finding the courage to take a new direction. It’s about trusting yourself first and accepting (some) change as a new normal. I loved this heartfelt story and recommend to fans of women’s fiction. I  can’t wait to see what Phoebe Fox writes next.