The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

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

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

That was then… 

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

This is now… 

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

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


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

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

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


THE SUMMER THAT MADE US

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


 

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The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas

  • Title:  The Future She Left Behind
  • Author:  Marin Thomas
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  September 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art. 

But Shirley Pratt—master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn’s terror of a live-in monster-in-law—has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn’s trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams. (publisher)

My take:  Katelyn’s life is turned upside down when she is served divorce papers from her husband who has been away for business. When she thinks about it, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Her husband has traveled internationally for business during most of their marriage leaving her with the bulk of raising their twins during those years. Now the kids are heading off to college and her husband on to a life without Katelyn. She goes where anyone in her position would want to go – home to her mom. What she didn’t expect was to have her almost ex mother-in-law along for the ride. That added mild conflict and a good dose of comic relief to the novel.

The Future She Left Behind is about resetting your life, going home, and finding your passion for life again. What will happen when Katelyn returns to the place she couldn’t wait to leave decades earlier? I loved how Marin Thomas answered that question. She filled her novel with colorful and entertaining support characters that made me look forward to getting back to the story each time I had to put it down. It seemed each woman in the novel was like every woman – trying to live her best life while giving support to the people in her life and finding some happiness along the way. I enjoyed it all and recommend The Future She Left Behind to fans of the author and novels about strong, authentic women.


About the author:  Marin Thomas writes Women’s Fiction for Berkley and western romances for Harlequin and Tule Publishing. To date she has contracted over 35 projects for Harlequin. Her first women’s fiction novel, The Promise of Forgiveness, released March 2016 and her second novel, The Future She Left Behind releases September 2017. Marin is also a member of the Tall Poppy Writers https://tallpoppies.org

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Say No More by Liliana Hart

  • Title:  Say No More
  • Series: Gravediggers #3
  • Author:  Liliana Hart
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Romantic Suspense
  • Published:  July 2017 – Pocket Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Sometimes the dead do rise…

Dante Malcolm is a man of refined tastes. He was once a part of Britain’s Elite Intelligence Force, but there was a reason he’d never been able to capture Simon Locke, the notorious thief who always seemed to be one step ahead. That’s because Dante and Simon were one and the same, until Dante’s double life eventually caught up with him and now he belongs to the Gravediggers.

Liv Rothschild is a Detective Inspector with Interpol and is the one responsible for catching MI-6’s most notorious agent in his final heist—except the heist killed him. But something has never felt right about his death, and it’s haunted her for months. It was too easy, and Dante Malcolm was too smart to go down that way.

Dante might belong to the Gravediggers in body, but his heart and soul will always belong to the next job. The rest of the team doesn’t know about his alter ego because he made sure the information went missing from his file. So when the job he’s always waited for seems like a possibility, he sneaks out of the country like a thief in the night, only to run into the only woman who’s ever been able to match him in wit—and passion—for the job. Except they’re standing on opposite sides of the law—and only one of them can walk away with the prize.  (publisher)

My take:  Say No More is book three in Liliana Hart’s Gravediggers series. The Gravediggers are a team of elite special ops who fight crime while flying under the radar of, well, everyone. You see, they are dead. At least people who knew them before think they are dead. Each member went through a process that faked their death and then were brought back to life with the stipulation that they are under contract to the Gravediggers team. In this book the assignment is to recover launch codes before they land in the wrong hands. Another assignment works into this one because the same people are also involved in human trafficking. Really shady, disgusting characters. I say all that to alert any readers who just can’t read about that.

Liliana Hart’s principal characters are Dante and Liv – and they share a past that comes back to haunt them and may just be their undoing. Their assignment takes the team to Dubai and the Virgin Islands which make for glamorous settings with the creepy trafficking plot line woven through. Despite that factor I really enjoyed the fast paced action of the team as they worked to accomplish their goals. There are still a couple of Gravediggers who haven’t come to the forefront yet so I’m hoping there will be more books in the series.


 

Bittersweet by Shirlee McCoy

  • Title:  Bittersweet
  • Series:  Home Sweet Home #3
  • Author:  Shirlee McCoy
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2017 – Zebra
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  In Benevolence, Washington, the Lamont family’s luscious handmade chocolates are a beloved tradition—and the sweetest of comforts. And for the most reserved of the three Lamont sisters, they’re a much-needed way to challenge the past, rekindle hope—and make happiness for a lifetime.
 
Caring family and friends, tranquil streets—ex-prosecutor Willow Lamont wishes these could make her feel truly at home. She’s back to help her grandfather manage Chocolate Haven, a long-held dream come true. But she’s struggling to make their unique fudge—and to cope with a secret trauma that haunts her. Yet when she finds an abandoned baby who breaks her heart wide open, she wonders how long she can hide her emotions—especially from warm, handsome, and way too nosey Deputy Sheriff Jax Gordon.
 
Always an outsider, Jax knows more than he should about loss. But he didn’t expect his difficult search for baby “Miracle’s” mother would reveal such a vulnerable side to the accomplished, beautiful woman he’s always admired. Earning Willow’s trust is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. Yet between her honesty and courage, he’s longing to fill her life with rekindled joy—and a forever of irresistible love.  (publisher)

My take:  Bittersweet is the story of Willow Lamont and Jax Gordon – two people who survived horrific events when they were young. Both dealt with their traumas in their own way and grew to be upstanding adults who only hoped to outrun their bad memories. When Willow returns to the small town where she grew up to help at her family’s chocolate shop she runs into Jax, a school friend from when they both lived in Benevolence. Neither has a problem with being friends but can they deal with what could happen if the underlying attraction they feel becomes more? Fate has plans of her own when a baby comes on the scene late one night. No spoilers here! This is the first of author Shirlee McCoy’s books I’ve had a chance to read. I thought it was a sweet and heart warming story about learning to trust and move forward. I’d definitely read another book by McCoy. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary romance.


Praise for Shirlee McCoy’s Sweet Haven

“Fans of Debbie Macomber will appreciate McCoy’s sweet, funny, heartwarming romance with its friendly, small-town setting.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A delicious small‑town treat.” —Library Journal

*

Praise for Home Sweet Home

“The latest in McCoy’s Home Sweet Home series is a heartfelt story that will touch your heart. With her engaging storytelling, McCoy brings us characters with substance who are clear, distinctive, and endearing. Willow is a strong, courageous, and vulnerable heroine and Jax is a compassionate, reassuring hero who compliments her. A well-crafted plot filled with raw emotion and conflict is the highlight of this tender story of love, loss, and healing.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“McCoy has created two wounded souls and sent them on an unforgettable journey of healing. Readers will find this emotional roller-coaster ride of a story as compelling as it is heartwarming.”– Booklist 


 

Review: Indigo Lake – plus author guest post by Jodi Thomas

  • Title:  Indigo Lake
  • Series:  Ransom Canyon #6
  • Author:  Jodi Thomas
  • Pages:  432
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Two families long divided by an ancient feud. Can a powerful love finally unite them? 

Blade Hamilton is the last of his line. He’s never even heard of Crossroads, Texas, until he inherits land there. Riding in on his vintage Harley-Davidson, Blade finds a weathered ranch house, an empty prairie and a dark river that cuts a decisive path between the Hamilton’s land and that of their estranged neighbors. 

When Dakota helps a stranger on the roadside, she isn’t prepared for the charisma of the man on the motorbike—or for the last name he bears: Hamilton, of her family’s sworn enemies, representing all she’s been raised to loathe. The problem is, it looks like Blade is in town to stay, and there’s something about his wolf-gray eyes she just can’t ignore. 

Lauren Brigman feels adrift. Unhappy in work and unlucky in love, she knows she ought to be striving for more, but she’s never truly at peace unless she’s at home in Crossroads. If the wider world can’t satisfy her, is home truly where her heart is?  (publisher)

My take:  I love going back to Crossroads, Texas and seeing what’s new with the people we’ve met in previous Ransom Canyon series books and meeting new ones. Indigo Lake introduces readers to Blade and Dakota – two people who don’t think love will ever find them. Blade is a man whose job takes him in every direction so he’s never put down roots. He plans to sell the ancestral home (he didn’t know about until recently) he’s inherited and move on. Dakota’s life revolves around her job, studying, and taking care of her older sister and grandmother. She doesn’t have time for a relationship. And besides, their families are in a feud! It was fun watching these two become important to each other. It was also fun seeing Lauren Brigman’s life progress in a way she didn’t dare hope. I thought it was very sweet (in a good way) how Jodi Thomas made that happen. Of course, there are the usual quirky characters and inept criminals who added the element of suspense as well as humor to the novel. I enjoyed it all and wonder if there will be more to come in the Ransom Canyon series. I hope so!

Note:  Included at the end of this book is the Ransom Canyon series introductory novella Winter’s Camp.


Author post:

When I started INDIGO LAKE, I wanted to write a love story happening in the middle of an old feud.

Blade Hamilton is a man who has no family ties. Since he turned 18, he’s been on his own. When he find out he’s inherited a little farm from a father he never knew, he rides down to Texas from Denver on his Harley to take a look. (Fun note and photo: I had to learn a little about Harleys.)

Sell the place and ride away is his plan, until he meets Dakota Davis and falls into the middle of a hundred-year-old feud. Legends and curses seem to keep them apart, but an attraction neither can deny keeps pulling them together.

Blade  finds himself surrounded by legends and a deep family history as he falls in love with a woman who is afraid to step on his land and has a grandmother who regularly threatens to kill him.

As Blade is drawn into an investigation in town, he truly finds home for the first time in his life. I know you will love Blade and Dakota’s story.

Good news for Ransom Canyon fans, WINTER’S CAMP  is included in the back of INDIGO LAKE!

Hope you enjoy both,

Jodi Thomas 

INDIGO LAKE is available wherever books are sold and at http://www.HQNBooks.com

INDIGO LAKE JODI THOMAS $7.99 U.S. ISBN-13: 978-0-373-79936-7


Praise for the Ransom Canyon series:

“Thomas sketches a slow, sweet surrender.” –Publishers Weekly on the RANSOM CANYON series

“A pure joy to read.” –RT Book Reviews on the RANSOM CANYON series

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


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 currently serves 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 or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, 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 Captain’s Daughter by Meg Mitchell Moore

  • Title:  The Captain’s Daughter
  • Author:  Meg Mitchell Moore
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Pub. Date:  July 18, 2017 – Doubleday
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Growing up in Little Harbor, Maine, the daughter of a widowed lobsterman, Eliza Barnes could haul a trap and row a skiff with the best of them. But she always knew she’d leave that life behind. Now that she’s married, with two kids and a cushy front-row seat to suburban country club gossip in an affluent Massachusetts town, she feels adrift.

When her father injures himself in a boating accident, Eliza pushes the pause button on her own life to come to his aid. But when she arrives in Maine, she discovers her father’s situation is more dire than he let on. Eliza’s homecoming is further complicated by the reemergence of her first love–and memories of their shared secret. Then Eliza meets Mary Brown, a seventeen-year-old local who is at her own crossroad, and Eliza can’t help but wonder what her life would have been like if she’d stayed.

Filled with humor, insight, summer cocktails, and gorgeous sunsets, THE CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER is a compassionate novel about the life-changing choices we make and the consequences we face in their aftermath. (publisher)

My take:  The loss of her mother when Eliza was young was instrumental in shaping her life. Raised by her lobsterman father in a small coastal Maine village, Eliza couldn’t wait to leave for college. Now she lives in an affluent Massachusetts community with her husband and two daughters where her life revolves around her children and their activities and her friends. Life changes when Eliza receives a phone call with the news that her dad was injured while working on his boat. She heads up to Maine to take care of him. That’s where she comes in contact with people from her past who make her wonder what might have been if her life had gone in a different direction. This was a rather quiet novel that kept me turning the pages. I had to know what would happen with a few of the characters. There’s a young woman, a girl really, who reminds Eliza of herself when she lived in Little Harbor. I thought Eliza’s husband was interesting in his changing professional life. I enjoyed Eliza’s daughters and even came to appreciate her mother-in-law. Perspective will help a reader and a character do that. I’d recommend this book to fans of Meg Mitchell Moore, a coastal setting, and contemporary fiction about families.


 

Race Against Time by Sharon Sala

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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