Spotlight: Forget About Me

 

Forget About Me, an all-new retro romantic comedy guaranteed to bring all the feels from Karen Grey is available now! 

Ben Porter may be living the dream, but it’s not his. 

 

His dad’s health scare might not be the ideal reason to come home for the summer, but it’s a welcome break from the stellar glitz of Ben’s life in Los Angeles. Even if modeling has him rivaling Marky Mark’s fame, posing isn’t his passion. Landing a role with a Boston Shakespeare theater brings him closer to fulfilling his dreams of being a real actor.

 

Facing the reason he went west in the first place? That’s another story.

 

Lucy Minola’s dreams were shattered seven years ago when a drunk driver smashed into her brother’s car. She knows it was her fault. So as penance, she works hard to care for her family, goes to confession faithfully, and buries all the feelings she had for the person who left when she needed him most: her brother’s best friend.

 

When an injured dog brings them back together, Lucy’s good-girl facade begins to crack. Women everywhere are obsessed with the rad body they see in magazines, but she’s the only one Ben seems to notice.

 

She can’t trust herself with the man who walked away… but can she let him go a second time?

 

This bittersweet romance, book two in Karen Grey’s 1980’s Boston Classics series, proves that everyone deserves a second chance in love and in life.

 

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon:https://amzn.to/3c3Lsu4
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/forgetaboutme 

 

Add FORGET ABOUT ME to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3bNL5ni 

 

Start the series today with WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR.
Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited. 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mvD1w7
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/whatimlookingfor 


Meet Karen 

 

Karen Grey (also known as Karen White and K.E. White) has had several essays published, in Salt Magazine and the Nevertheless We Persisted collections (one an Audies Finalist and the other a SOVAs finalist), and a short story in the collection Vintage Love Stories. Her first romance novel was a winner of the NJ Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book contest and Hearts Through History’s Romance Through the Ages contest in the Modern History category and won second place in the GA Romance Writers’ Maggie Award. The first book in her 1980’s era romance series Boston Classics, What I’m Looking For releases June 23, 2020.

 

Connect with Karen

 

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3c3KBJS
Instagram: https://bit.ly/3kmpkOc
Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3kf84KK
Stay up-to-date with Karen Grey, join her mailing list:
https://bit.ly/3mpQt4H
Website: https://bit.ly/ 3iApGQP


 

Re-Release Spotlight: A Texas Kind of Christmas

A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS, which originally came out last October, recently won first place at the National Federation of Press Women’s Communications Contest. It was re-released on September 29. You can read my original post here.

A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS

By Jodi Thomas, Celia Bonaduce, & Rachael Miles

Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing

On Sale: September 29th 2020/

Mass Market Max/Fiction $8.99 ($10.90 CAN) / 978-1-4201-4869-5

LEGENDARY AUTHOR JODI THOMAS HEADLINES NEW CHRISTMAS COLLECTION WITH THREE CONNECTED STORIES FEATURING HISTORIC DALLAS HOTEL IN 1859, BUILT & MANAGED BY FASCINATING LOCAL WIDOW, SARAH COCKRELL 

 

It’s Christmas Eve, 1859, and everyone who is anyone is headed to the glorious St. Nicolas Hotel for the most talked about ball of the season… 

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas headlines A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS, a holiday-themed collection of three connected stories set in 1859 Dallas and based on the true history of the St. Nicholas Hotel. Built and managed by Sarah Horton Cockrell, a Texan businesswoman known for her contributions to the development of the state, the famed St. Nicholas was one of the most fashionable, grand hotels of its time. In the hands of Jodi Thomas, Celia Bonaduce, and historian and novelist Rachael Miles, this real-life setting comes to life in three romantic tales infused with vivid imagery and witty prose. A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS evokes the grandeur of a bygone era and the indomitable pioneer spirit of the region and is sure to be the fan favorite romance collection of the Christmas season.


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

Celia Bonaduce, also the author of The Venice Beach Romances and the Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas series, has always had a love affair with houses. Her credits as a television field producer include such house-heavy hits as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; HGTV’s House Hunters and Tiny House Hunters. She lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband and dreams of one day traveling with him in their own tiny house. She can be found online http://www.CeliaBonaduce.com

Rachael Miles is an acclaimed romance novelist and historian specializing in the 19th century, as well as a professor of literary history. A fifth-generation Texan and native of Dallas, she now lives and teaches in New York. Visit her online at http://www.RachaelMiles.com.


THE HISTORY BEHIND A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS: 

➢ Sarah Horton Cockrell opened the St. Nicholas Hotel in 1859 under her own management, one year after her husband, Alex Cockrell, died at the hands of a Dallas sheriff. It was known as one of the most fashionable, grand hotels of its time until it burned down in the Dallas Fire of 1860. It was the first building constructed taller than two stories and the crowning social event Dallas society was the grand ball with which it made its debut. Sarah Horton Cockrell named the hotel after the man she chose as its manager – Nicholas H. Darnell, a captain in the Indian wars of 1839, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Texas Congress of 1842, and Lieutenant Governor elected in the first state election of 1846. 

Sarah Horton Cockrell (1819-1892) 

➢ An astute businesswoman, real estate maven and transportation pioneer whose wealth and power defied gender conventions of the time, Sarah Horton Cockrell went on to own nearly 1⁄4 of Downtown Dallas, opening the Dallas Hotel (later known as the St. Charles), a number of flour mills and other businesses. She constructed the first iron bridge across the Trinity, leading to enormous economic development for the state. 

➢ After Sarah Horton Cockrell’s death in 1892, The Dallas Morning News’s obituary stated that her funeral procession and floral tributes were among the largest ever seen in Dallas.


Sneak Peek: Forget About Me

Forget About Me, an all-new feel good, retro romantic comedy from Karen Grey is coming October 22nd, and we have the first sneak peek! 

 

CHAPTER ONE

“You May Be Right” – Billy Joel

Lucy’s Keep on Truckin’ Mixtape, Song #3

BEN

Falling in love, killing a guy by accident and mortally wounding myself when it appears that my bride has taken her life is a lot. Doing it six times in four days is just too much. The addition of two weekend matinees to Shakespeare Boston’s Romeo and Juliet schedule must be taking its toll. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This year—just like the past seven—began in Los Angeles, where modeling work has dominated my life, keeping me far from home and too busy to do theater. Six months into 1988, due to circumstances I never expected to face, I’m back in Boston performing for a live audience. It feeds my soul, so I don’t care if I’m exhausted.

I’m tired at the end of every weekend, but on this particular late-August Monday morning, I might be hallucinating. Adrenaline spiking, heart in my throat, it takes a few beats for me to figure out what just happened. My hands grip the railing that kept me from falling off my second-floor porch as I take in the lump I just tripped over on my way out the door.

It’s a mottled gray color, and I think that’s fur. Not moving, though. Wondering if it’s alive, I step closer. It makes a snuffling noise, unfolding itself, and I release the breath I’ve been holding. It’s not some weird package from a mega-fan; it’s a dog. With tufted brows and a whiskery muzzle, he looks like the dog in that movie when we were kids—Benji.

“Where the heck did you come from, little guy?” Want more? Continue reading → https://bit.ly/3mUNBNl 


Pre-order your copy today exclusively on Amazon!
Amazon:https://amzn.to/3c3Lsu4
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/forgetaboutme 

 

Add FORGET ABOUT ME to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3bNL5ni 

 

Start the series today for ONLY 99¢ with WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR.
Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited. 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mvD1w7
Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/whatimlookingfor 

 


 

Forget About Me Synopsis:

 

Ben Porter may be living the dream, but it’s not his. 

 

His dad’s health scare might not be the ideal reason to come home for the summer, but it’s a welcome break from the stellar glitz of Ben’s life in Los Angeles. Even if modeling has him rivaling Marky Mark’s fame, posing isn’t his passion. Landing a role with a Boston Shakespeare theater brings him closer to fulfilling his dreams of being a real actor.

 

Facing the reason he went west in the first place? That’s another story.

 

Lucy Minola’s dreams were shattered seven years ago when a drunk driver smashed into her brother’s car. She knows it was her fault. So as penance, she works hard to care for her family, goes to confession faithfully, and buries all the feelings she had for the person who left when she needed him most: her brother’s best friend.

 

When an injured dog brings them back together, Lucy’s good-girl facade begins to crack. Women everywhere are obsessed with the rad body they see in magazines, but she’s the only one Ben seems to notice.

 

She can’t trust herself with the man who walked away… but can she let him go a second time?

 

This bittersweet romance, book two in Karen Grey’s 1980’s Boston Classics series, proves that everyone deserves a second chance in love and in life.


Meet author Karen Grey:

Karen Grey (also known as Karen White and K.E. White) has had several essays published, in Salt Magazine and the Nevertheless We Persisted collections (one an Audies Finalist and the other a SOVAs finalist), and a short story in the collection Vintage Love Stories. Her first romance novel was a winner of the NJ Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book contest and Hearts Through History’s Romance Through the Ages contest in the Modern History category and won second place in the GA Romance Writers’ Maggie Award. The first book in her 1980’s era romance series Boston Classics, What I’m Looking For releases June 23, 2020.

 

Connect with Karen

 

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3c3KBJS
Instagram: https://bit.ly/3kmpkOc
Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3kf84KK
Stay up-to-date with Karen Grey, join her mailing list:
https://bit.ly/3mpQt4H
Website: https://bit.ly/ 3iApGQP


 

Spotlight: The Book of Lost Names

I’m thrilled to announce that, as of today, THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES (July 21; @Gallery Books), the instant New York Times bestseller by @Kristin Harmel, is back in stock everywhere! If you haven’t read this “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People magazine) yet, now’s your chance to snap it up! Order NOW! Shop local HERE: http://bit.ly/BOLNisBack


SYNOPSIS: Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel from the New York Timesbestselling author of the “epic and heart-wrenching World War II tale” (Alyson Noel, #1 New York Timesbestselling author) The Winemaker’s Wife. An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.

#TheBookofLostNames #historicalfiction #wwiifiction #kristinharmel #gallerybooks


 

Spotlight on: Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

 

Content provided by the publicist

Description:

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.


  • Title: Here to Stay
  • Author: Adriana Herrera
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Imprint: Carina Press
  • On-Sale: August 25, 2020
  • Format: Ebook (Trade Paperback & Audiobook formats also available!)
  • Ebook ISBN: 9780369700926
  • Ebook Price: $3.99 USD

 

 

Buy Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780369700926_here-to-stay.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Here-Stay-Adriana-Herrera-ebook/dp/B086R2QY77

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/here-to-stay-adriana-herrera/1136795733

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/here-to-stay/id1506190677

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Adriana_Herrera_Here_to_Stay?id=_-zaDwAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/here-to-stay-20


About Adriana Herrera

Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s ‘Best Romance Debuts of 2019’, and one of the ‘Top 10 Romances of 2019’ by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezcla and Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective. Represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.

Connect with Adriana Herrera

Website: https://adrianaherreraromance.com 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladrianaherrera 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laura.adriana.94801 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ladriana_herrera/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18639202.Adriana_Herrera 


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Paper Solution

The Paper Solution by Lisa Woodruff

Published:  August 4, 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Content and Giveaway book provided by the publisher

Description:

From the “Marie Kondo of paper” comes a simple and accessible guide to paper management.

Americans are drowning in paper. We keep stacks of it on the kitchen counter, stash it in drawers, and store file cabinets full of documents that we never even look at. Studies show that fully 85 percent of the paper in our lives can be tossed–but which 85 percent? And how do we organize and manage the 15 percent that remains?

With The Paper Solution, founder of Organize365 Lisa Woodruff delivers a proven, step-by-step guide for what to shred, what to save, and how to sort what’s left behind. With her method, you’ll learn:

  •  What documents you must absolutely hold on to
  •  Which papers you can dispose of today
  •  How to ditch your bulky filing cabinets and make your vital documents accessible and portable

And at the heart of it all is the Sunday Basket: a box that sits on your counter and corrals those stray bills, forms, coupons, and scraps into an easy-to-use paper-management system. The Sunday Basket will become your new weekly habit–one that leads to less paper, less stress, and more time to spend on the things (and people) that matter most.

About the author:

Lisa Woodruff started Organize365 at her kitchen table in 2012, and today it has become the go-to brand for paper organization, offering podcasts, organizational products, professional certifications, and Sunday Basket workshops that attract people from around the U.S. seeking tools to tame the out-of-control paper in their lives. She lives in West Chester, Ohio, with her family.

Praise for The Paper Solution:

“Systems are the engine to create efficiency in the home. The Paper Solution gives practical tips and tools that allows us all to free up our precious time to focus on what truly matters.” —Eve Rodsky, author of Fair Play

“Drowning in paper? With Lisa’s ingenious methods, you can take control, get more organized, and free up incredible amounts of time. You’ll never lose a day to hunting down a permission slip again.”

—Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock and 168 Hours

“Professional Organizer Lisa Woodruff brings a fresh and realistic approach to paper. I loved that she didn’t tell me to get rid of everything. Lisa shares a method for handling paper in a way that eliminates the unnecessary and keeps what’s needed right where you’ll easily find it. A must-read for anyone that has ever struggled with too much paper and wondered if they are keeping and shredding the right documents. Read this and you’ll know what to do with everything that comes your way.” —Becky Rapinchuk, author of Clean Mama’s Guide to a Healthy Home and Simply Clean

The Paper Solution walks you step-by-step to conquering the paper dilemma in your home…Her tips are practical and doable, leaving readers feeling empowered!” —Maria Dismondy, author, speaker, and publisher of Cardinal Rule Press 

“Lisa’s enthusiasm for productivity and organization shines through every chapter of this book. Her easy-to-follow implementation strategy makes quick work of overwhelming paper piles, and the comprehensive detail within each chapter assures all paper clutter questions have an answer. Lisa is the expert on all things “paper clutter” and The Paper Solution is proof! This go-to resource provides the information, structure, tools, and motivation to properly manage your paper clutter and stop it from taking over your home and life.” —Andrea Dekker, professional organizer and blogger at AndreaDekker.com

“Even in our digital age, paper remains one of the biggest sources of clutter both at home and in the workplace…In The Paper Solution, Lisa Woodruff has presented a practical, actionable approach to solving that problem. I found myself tabbing pages and highlighting sections that spell out easy-to-follow steps for clearing our homes and workspaces of paper clutter. I can’t wait to share this encouraging and truly helpful book with my friends, colleagues, and listeners.” —Laura McClellan, lawyer, productivity coach, and host of The Productive Woman podcast

“It’s a miracle! A system of managing papers (and my life) that works in tandem with my ADHD brain (and those of my clients). The Sunday Basket concept is so simple, yet so brilliant. The book takes you through the entire system, step-by-step. Great reference and great program. Highly recommended!” —Linda Roggli, award-winning author and founder of the ADDiva Network

Please click here to enter the US Giveaway


 

Spotlight: Murder In The East End

Tomorrow, August 4th, is publication day for the newest installment of the Kat Holloway Mysteries so I wanted to spotlight Murder In The East End. I look forward to reading and reviewing in the next few weeks!

Murder In The East End by Jennifer Ashley

Expected publication date:  August 4, 2020 – Berkley

Description:

The fourth Victorian murder mystery in the Kat Holloway series from the New York Times bestselling author of Death in Kew Gardens.

When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London’s Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing, she can’t turn a blind eye. East End parish vicar Errol Fielding has his suspicions, but the police brush him off, and Kat–and his childhood acquaintance Daniel McAdam–are his last option.

Kat and Daniel are determined to solve the mystery, and Kat engages the help of her scullery maid, Elsie, who reveals she had been a foundling. Their investigation takes them to the less hospitable areas of London, including the very streets where Kat grew up. She soon suspects the answers they seek are much closer to home than any of them realized–and may reveal far more than any of them wants.


About the author:

Jennifer Ashley is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Below Stairs Mysteries, the Shifters Unbound paranormal romances, and the Mackenzies historical romances. She also writes as USA Today bestselling mystery author Ashley Gardner. Jennifer lives in the Southwest with her husband and cats, and she spends most of her time in the wonderful worlds of her stories.

Praise for Jennifer Ashley’s Below the Stairs Mysteries

This is one of my favorite new series. Ashley writes exquisite historical romance and equally marvelous mysteries.” The Washington Post

“A smart and suspenseful read, Death Below Stairs is a fun series launch that will leave you wanting more.” —Bustle

An exceptional series launch…Readers will look forward to this fascinating lead’s future endeavors.” —Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)

“A top-notch new series that deftly demonstrates Ashley’s mastery of historical mysteries by delivering an impeccably researched setting, a fascinating protagonist with an intriguing past, and lively writing seasoned with just the right measure of dry wit.” —Booklist


 

Spotlight: Deal With The Devil

Deal With The Devil by Kit Rocha

Published:  July 2020 – Tor Books

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.

Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.

They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…

Or they could do the impossible: team up.

This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance. 


Advance praise:

“An exhilarating start to what promises to be a compelling series… bring on the next Mercenary Librarians adventure!”

—Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author

“The sizzling sexual tension is simply the icing that makes DEAL WITH THE DEVIL one of my favorite SF reads ever.”

—Alyssa Cole, award-winning author

“High-stakes action and plenty of chemistry, DEAL WITH THE DEVIL absolutely crackles!”

—Chloe Neill, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“My advice? Cancel your plans so you can get swallowed up in Kit Rocha’s exciting new world.”

—Thea Harrison, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author

“Edgy and engrossing, I can’t wait to see what happens next!”

—Jeaniene Frost, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author


 

Spotlight: Saving Ruby King

Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West

Published:  June 16, 2020 – Park Row Books

All information provided by the publisher

Description:

Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.

When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it’s a devastating loss that leaves her on her own with her violent father. While she receives many condolences, her best friend, Layla, is the only one who understands how this puts Ruby in jeopardy.

Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what is the price for turning a blind eye? In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla uncovers the murky loyalties and dangerous secrets that have bound their families together for generations. Only by facing this legacy of trauma head-on will Ruby be able to break free.

An unforgettable debut novel, Saving Ruby King is a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present and the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.

About the author:

Catherine Adel West is a writer/editor living on the South Side of Chicago. Her experience as a black woman shapes every aspect of her writing and she is sure to be a voice for many women. Her work has been published in Black Fox Literary Magazine, Five2One, Better than Starbucks, Doors Ajar, 805 Lit + Art, The Helix Magazine, Lunch Ticket, and most recently Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal. Saving Ruby King is her debut novel.

https://www.catherineadelwest.com


Early praise for Saving Ruby King:

“Saving Ruby King is a stunning force of a novel that has everything anyone could want in a family saga—honey-dipped prose, strikingly human characters, and a satisfying, soul-stirring conclusion that will stay with me for a long, long time.”

– Zakiya Harris, author of THE OTHER BLACK GIRL

“Told with teeth and tenderness, SAVING RUBY KING is a surprising, pedal-down debut that explores what happens when the fabrics of family, faith, and friendship snag on violent machinations of the heart. Redemption and survival share a pew with reckoning and hope here, all tangled up with the ties that bind. Catherine Adel West gifts us Chicago, the black church, and a choir of flawed, wonderfully complicated characters who flash fresh with every turn of the page, who stand against the wind, who won’t go down without a fight.”

— Leesa Cross-Smith, author of Whiskey & Ribbons and So We Can Glow

“What an astonishing book. Catherine Adel West breathes life into violence and mayhem like a poet on a new day. These are the stories we need to hear: voices of hope in a wilderness of pain.”
— Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder and The Butterfly Girl

“West is a bold, exciting new voice in fiction. With honesty and compassion, she brings readers beyond the headlines into the real south side of Chicago where love, church, and family abide. She makes us think not only about saving Ruby King, but about finding our own redemption as we save ourselves individually and collectively. In this assured debut, West deftly breathes life into this community with characters you’ll cry with and root for long after the last page.”

— Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie

“[An] Ambitious, keenly observant debut… West’s tale of grace, redemption, and hope would translate handily to the screen. This should enjoy wide popularity with book groups.” –Publishers Weekly

“Debut author West plays with multiple perspectives and timelines, making for a rich tale… A daring, dynamic story. A multilayered love letter to South Side Chicago’s African American faith-based community.” – Kirkus Reviews


 

Spotlight: The Marriage Game

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

Published:  June 9, 2020 – Berkley

Publisher’s Description:

Layla Santos, daughter of first-generation immigrants from India, has found herself in one bad romantic rendezvous after the next, the last of which culminated in a royally catastrophic break-up, complete with a viral video capturing Layla’s less-than-wonderful response to the situation. Quickly finding herself single, jobless, and despondent, Layla returns to San Francisco, where her parents run a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant. 

Layla’s dad only wants the best for his little girl—so of course, he lets her use the office above the restaurant to try her hand at starting her own business. He also secretly signs her up for IndianGirlMatch.com, the perfect place to find a suitable husband. When her dad suddenly falls ill, Layla becomes determined than ever to launch a successful new business and make him proud.

Enter Sam Mehta, also a child of Indian-American immigrants and the self-made CEO of a corporate downsizing agency. When Sam arrives at the office space he rented (which just so happens to be located above a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant), he’s surprised to find the owner’s daughter, Layla, has already settled in. Sam is not about to give up his prime real estate without a fight. 

The pair become fast enemies—until a seemingly random suitor comes calling for Layla, the girl he was matched with on a dating site. Utterly confused, Sam and Layla soon learn about Layla’s father’s game of Cupid—and that he has agreed to meet with a number of hopeful matches for his daughter. Sam agrees to accompany Layla on these dates—until an office romance changes all the rules….


About the author:

THE MARRIAGE GAME is the first in a new OwnVoices romance series from Sara Desai, who also writes under the name Sarah Castille. Sara Desai has been a lawyer, a radio DJ, a historian, a bouncer and a librarian. She lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and three children.


 

Spotlight: Belladonna by Anbara Salam

Belladonna by Anbara Salam

Berkley Hardcover; June 9, 2020

Spotlight content courtesy of the publisher 

Description:


About the author:

Anbara Salam is half-Palestinian and half-Scottish, and grew up in London. She has a PhD in Theology and now lives in Oxford.

Spotlight: Master Class

Master Class by Christina Dalcher

Published:  April 2020 – Berkley

Publisher’s Description:

It’s impossible to know what you will do…

Every child’s potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it’s off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

When your child is taken from you.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena’s perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.

And she will do the unthinkable to make it happen.


About the author:

Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.

Her short stories and flash fiction appear in more than one hundred journals worldwide. Recognition includes first place for the Bath Flash Award, nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards. She lives in Norfolk, Virginia, with her husband.

 

Photo credit: Laurens Arenas

Buy links:

 


Early Praise for Master Class:

“The book’s examination of the way people will accept more and more small social changes until the system becomes something unrecognizable and horrific feels timely and urgent…top notch and keeps the reader guessing. An engaging parable of dangerous social change.”⁠—Kirkus Reviews

“Dalcher combines the pace and tension of a standout thriller with thought-provoking projections of the possible end result of ranking children based on test scores. Admirers of The Handmaid’s Tale will be appropriately unsettled.”⁠—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Dalcher’s novel reads like an expanded episode of Black Mirror; it is terrifying, haunting, and cautionary.”Booklist


 

Spotlight: Safe House

Safe House by Jo Jakeman

Published:  March 2020 – Berkley

Description:

She’s paid the price for giving her ex a false alibi, and now she’s moved to a seaside village to escape her past–but more than her lie follows her there in this chilling and twisty psychological thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Exes’ Revenge.

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty–or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears. (publisher)


About the author (from the author’s website)

Jo was the winner of the prestigious Friday Night Live competition at York Festival of Writing. Her debut Psychological Thriller was published in the UK as Sticks and Stones by Harvill Secker (Penguin Random House) and as The Exes’ Revenge in the USA and Canada. It was shortlisted for the Best Revenge thriller of the year at the Dead Good Reader Awards. Her second thriller SAFE HOUSE is due October 31,

2019 in the UK and Spring 2020 in America and Canada.

http://www.jojakeman.com

“Jo Jakeman’s assured debut is a revenge thriller…a cracking pace, plenty of twists and some well-judged dark humour.”–The Guardian (UK)


Spotlight: A Murderous Relation

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn

Pub. Date:  March 10, 2020 – Berkley Hardcover

Description:

A royal scandal’s connection to a brutal serial killer threatens London in this new Veronica Speedwell adventure from New York Times bestselling and Edgar® Award–nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Autumn 1888. Veronica Speedwell and her colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to stop a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, and the proprietress, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve it from the club before scandal can break. 

Worse yet, London is being terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper—and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.
Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Auroreʼs high-class brothel, where a body soon turns up. Secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family—and it is up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it is too late for all of them. (publisher)

About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Deanna Raybourn is a 6th generation native Texan with a degree in English and history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her novels have been nominated for numerous awards including the Edgar, two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards, the Agatha, two Dilys Winns, and a Last Laugh. She launched a new Victorian mystery series featuring intrepid butterfly hunter and amateur sleuth, Veronica Speedwell, in 2015.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: And They Called it Camelot

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Expected publication:  March 10, 2020 – Berkley Trade Paperback Original

Book provided by the publisher

Description:

An intimate portrait of the life of Jackie O…
 
Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.
 
But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend. (publisher)

About the author:

Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska.


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Spotlight: Tidelands – Paperback release

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Paperback release:  February 18, 2020 – Washington Square Press

Courtesy of the publisher

Description: This New York Times bestseller from “one of the great storytellers of our time” (San Francisco Book Review) turns from the glamour of the royal courts to tell the story of an ordinary woman, Alinor, living in a dangerous time for a woman to be different.

On Midsummer’s Eve, Alinor waits in the church graveyard, hoping to encounter the ghost of her missing husband and thus confirm his death. Until she can, she is neither maiden nor wife nor widow, living in a perilous limbo. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run. She shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marshy landscape of the Tidelands, not knowing she is leading a spy and an enemy into her life.

England is in the grip of a bloody civil war that reaches into the most remote parts of the kingdom. Alinor’s suspicious neighbors are watching each other for any sign that someone might be disloyal to the new parliament, and Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her as a woman who doesn’t follow the rules. They have always whispered about the sinister power of Alinor’s beauty, but the secrets they don’t know about her and James are far more damning. This is the time of witch-mania, and if the villagers discover the truth, they could take matters into their own hands. (publisher)


About the author:

Philippa Gregory is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Many of her works have been adapted for the screen including The Other Boleyn Girl. Her most recent novel, The Last Tudor, is now in production for a television series. She graduated from the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, where she is a Regent. She holds honorary degrees from Teesside University and the University of Sussex. She is a fellow of the Universities of Sussex and Cardiff and was awarded the 2016 Harrogate Festival Award for Contribution to Historical Fiction. She is an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London. She founded Gardens for the Gambia, a charity to dig wells in poor rural schools in The Gambia, and has provided nearly 200 wells. She welcomes visitors to her website PhilippaGregory.com.


Praise for Tidelands:

“Superb…a searing portrait of a woman that resonates across the ages.” People

“This is Gregory par excellence. A promising start to a family saga about ordinary people.”
Kirkus Reviews
“A gripping novel…with her usual meticulous attention to detail, the author easily elicits the chaos and dangers of the mid-17th century…this book will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series. Fans of Gregory’s works and of historicals in general will delight in this page-turning tale.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“History buffs and Gregory’s fans alike will be anticipating the next installment.
–Publishers Weekly
“a welcome topical pivot from gifted Gregory”
Booklist
 
“Richly detailed and brimming with secrets (personal and political), Tidelands is a captivating portrait of a brave woman and a compelling start to a new series.”
–Shelf Awareness
“The first in a planned series, Tidelands has moved on from the Tudor and Plantagenet era of Gregory’s previous novels, and the author crafts her material with effortless ease. Her grasp of social mores is brilliant, the love story rings true and the research is, as ever, of the highest calibre.”

Daily Mail


 

 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: More Than Words

More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

Paperback published:  February 2020 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Giveaway book provided by the publisher

Description:  Nina has always known who she’s supposed to be. But is that who she truly is? Nina Gregory has always been a good daughter. Raised by her father, owner of New York City’s glamorous Gregory Hotels, Nina was taught that family, reputation, and legacy are what matter most. And Tim–her devoted boyfriend and best friend since childhood–feels the same. But when Nina’s father dies, he leaves behind a secret that shocks Nina to her core. Soon, Nina begins to see the men in her life–her father, her boyfriend, and unexpectedly, her boss, Rafael–in a new light, finding herself caught between the world she loves, and a passion that could upend everything. MORE THAN WORDS is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about grief, loss, love, and self-discovery, and how we choose which life we are meant to live. (publisher)

Praise for More Than Words

“A smart, sexy, delicious novel.”

People

 

“Santopolo returns with the tender More Than Words.” 

Marie Claire

“Another gorgeously heart-breaking and romantic read. . . . This one is certainly going to sweep you up in feelings.” 

Bustle

 

“A heartfelt story about life, love, and taking chances in the aftermath of loss. . . . This is a charming and sexy crowd-pleaser.”

Publishers Weekly

 

“Nina’s struggle to decide between two men, one of whom represents her old life and the other who represents what she could be if she took a chance, is propulsive and compelling. The depiction of Nina’s grief for her father is vividly raw, made more real by her eventual understanding that he was an imperfect human being. Full of drama, scandal, and romance, [More Than Words] is sure to delight fans of Santopolo’s The Light We Lost.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

“The latest from best-selling author Santopolo is a bittersweet and reflective novel of grief, loss, and coming into one’s own. Fans of leisurely paced and character-driven novels will appreciate the time she spends developing Nina’s voice and ensuring that it’s heard.”

Booklist

 

More Than Words is an outstandingly poignant and honest novel. Jill Santopolo is a true master of matters of the heart. This is a tender and wise story about family, love, and self. I couldn’t put it down.”

Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

 

“The perfect combination of romantic and real. I dare you to put this book down.”

Leslie Cohen, author of This Love Story Will Self-Destruct

US Giveaway

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Once Removed by Colette Sartor

Once Removed by Colette Sartor

Published: September 15, 2019 – University of Georgia Press

Book provided by the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description: Women drive the narrative in ONCE REMOVED. They carry the burdens imposed in the name of intimacy: the secrets kept, lies told, disputes initiated and the joy that can still manage to triumph. A singer with a damaged voice and an assumed identity befriends a silent, troubled child; an infertile law professor covets a tenant’s daughterly affection; a new mother tries to shield her infant from her estranged mother’s surprise Easter visit; an aging shopkeeper hides her husband’s decline and a decades-old lie to keep her best friends from moving away. With depth and an acute sense of the fragility of intimate connection, Colette Sartor creates characters that resonate with familiarity and emotional complexity. Some of these women possess the fierce natures and long, vengeful memories of expert grudge holders. Others avoid conflict at every turn, or so they tell themselves. For all of them, grief lies at the core of love. #onceremovedstories.


About the author:

COLETTE SARTOR teaches at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program as well as privately and is an executive director of the CineStory Foundation, a mentoring organization for emerging TV writers and screenwriters. Her writing has appeared in Carve magazine, Slice magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Kenyon Review Online, Colorado Review, and other publications. Among other awards, she has been granted a Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, a Glenna Luschei Award, a Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, and a Truman Capote fellowship from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she completed her MFA.

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/colettesartor
https://twitter.com/UGAPress

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/colettesartor/
https://www.instagram.com/ugapress/

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/colettesartorauthor/
https://www.facebook.com/UGAPress/

Praise for ONCE REMOVED:

“Colette Sartor’s stories shimmer with a radiant, unsettling light. She strips away the veils that we hide behind and exposes our deepest fears and desires, revealing who we inescapably are. The stories are laced with dark humor and raw, earned emotion, and they proceed from page to page with a beautiful urgency. Her prose sings and her wounded characters linger in readers’ memories like people you’ve known, people you could have been had luck gone the other way. This is trenchant, gorgeous fiction, the voice of a writer you’ll follow anywhere, everywhere.” —Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This

“These are short stories the way they were meant to be told, from a writer who, tale after tale, proves her mastery of the form. Peopled with characters that are bracingly complex, these stories tease out the subtleties of human relationships, especially when they’ve gone awry. I was absorbed and moved from every first sentence to the last.” —Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

“Lordy, what a wallop each of these stories delivers—to the heart and the head, sure, but also to the conscience and the soul, not to mention to the myths of family that we embrace and to the vital lies peculiar to love that we cleave to. Equally stunning is Ms. Sartor’s command of craft—no cleverness for its own sake, no peekaboo, no ‘Look, Ma, no hands.’ Instead, with enviable humility and no little grace, she has subordinated herself to the needs, wishes, desires, and dreams of characters who have galvanized her imagination and engaged her empathy. Bravo.” — Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories

Once Removed is that rare book that succeeds on both micro and macro levels; the stories focus on the specific intimacy of individual lives yet also participate in the larger project of a whole world made of these stories—dependent on them, in fact, supported and enlarged and sustained by them. Sartor’s women suffer the internal and external scarring of the dangerous terrain they navigate: love, family, self, community. They ask uncomfortable questions, both of themselves and of the reader; it’s hugely satisfying to reach the end of the book and feel the resonant strength of the answers it proposes.” — Antonya Nelson, author of Bound


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers by John Marrs

Published August 27, 2019 – Berkley

Content for this post provided by the publisher

Description:

The headlines have made it known:  driverless cars are coming. And soon. As author John Marrs has put it:  “Whether we like it or not, there are arriving soon. Within the next decade, we will be sitting in the front seats of our vehicles with a flat dashboard containing no steering wheel, and below us, no brakes. We will be in the hands of an operating system that we cannot touch and that we cannot see. It will be making life or death decisions for us. But what if that artificial intelligence could be compromised? What if it is hacked and something – or someone – other than the OS is controlling our destiny?”

Marrs takes that idea and hits full speed in THE PASSENGERS. In it, the British government has mandated all cars be automated. Several years into their implementation, on a seemingly average day, eight people get into their self-driving cars. Suddenly on their journey, the doors lock and the pre-determined route changes. The riders have lost all control. A mysterious voice tells them, “You are going to die.” 

These passengers—an aging actress, a pregnant young woman, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife, and a suicidal man—are panicked. From cameras hidden in their cars, their frantic pleas for help are broadcast to millions of people around the world. The public will show their true colors when they are asked, “Which of these people should we save? Who should we kill first?”

The passengers desperately plead for the lives and sell themselves to the cameras blasting this onto social media. But it soon becomes apparent most of these passengers haven’t been picked randomly. They are all hiding secrets that, once revealed, could be the difference between life and death for each of them.


About the author:

John Marrs is the author of The One which is being made into a 10 part Netflix series, The Good Samaritan, Her Last Move, When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are. Until recently, he worked for twenty-five years as a freelance journalist based in London, England, where he interviewed celebrities from the world of television, film, and music for national newspapers and magazines. He has written for publications including the Guardian’s Guide and Guardian Online, Total Film, the Huffington Post, Empire, Q, GT, the Independent, S Magazine, and Company. He is now a full-time author.

Praise for THE PASSENGERS:

THE PASSENGERS is a 1970s disaster movie by way of Black Mirror, with an added dash of technology-gone-wrong straight out of Michael Crichton….If you’re looking for a sleek, exhilarating ride, look no further.”— Financial Times

 

“One can almost hear the Hollywood music in the background as the action unfolds; the plot twists are truly gripping….Summer blockbuster entertainment at its best.”— Kirkus Reviews

 

“[THE PASSENGERS’s] strength lies in its well-developed characters and in its exploration of issues such as the growing role of AI, mob psychology, and the ethics of who gets to decide who lives or dies.”— Publishers Weekly

 

“Marrs excels at thrilling readers by creating a real sense of tension and delivering a believable, harsh criticism of modern society through this dark and entertaining story.” —Los Angeles Times

 

“What a ride!”—Booklist


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Spotlight: The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew

THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW
by 

MILLY JOHNSON

On Sale: July 29, 2019

 

Purchase Link:

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Magnificent-Mrs-Mayhew/Milly-Johnson/9781982129781

 

About THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW:

Milly Johnson, the Queen of Feel-Good Fiction and The Sunday Times bestselling author, is back with a “glorious, heartfelt novel” (Rowan Coleman, New York Times bestselling author) about a woman trying to find her own place in the world, who through love, loss, and the kindness of strangers, discovers everything she needs in a village by the sea.

 

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of every successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhew seems to have the perfect life. The glamourous wife of a rising political star who is one step away from the highest position in the government, she matches her husband in looks, pedigree, and money. But he has made some stupid mistakes on his way to the top, and some of those mistakes are just now threatening to emerge. Still, this can all be swept under the rug so long as Sophie the Trophy plays her part in front of the cameras. But the words that tumble out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors drilled into her head.

Bursting out of the restrictive mold that has been tightening around her since birth, Sophie flees to a small village on the coast, a safe haven from her childhood days, where she intends to be alone. But once there, she finds a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time in her life. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long, though, so she must decide: where does her real future lie?


About MILLY JOHNSON

Milly Johnson is The Sunday Times bestselling author of numerous novels about the universal issues of friendship, family, love, betrayal, good food, and the little bit of that magic in life that sometimes visits the unsuspecting. Milly is a columnist for her local newspaper and is also an experienced broadcaster on radio and TV. She can be booked via the Women Speakers Agency for motivational speaking events. Milly is patron of several charities, including Yorkshire Cat Rescue and The Well at the Core. Her publishers call her The Queen of Feel-Good Fiction, and together they are aiming to spread as much joy as possible with every book published. Find out more at MillyJohnson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @MillyJohnson.


Excerpt from THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW:

 

Chapter 1

 

DOORSTEPGATE, 11 A.M.

 

As Sophie stood in the middle of them all, the moment strangely crystalized for her, as if time had frozen solid and she was able to study everything at leisure, appreciate how odd it was to be surrounded by familiar people in the house she had lived in for eight years and yet still feel as if she had been dropped from a great height into a roomful of strangers.

She saw her mother seated, holding a cup of tea in one hand and the accompanying china saucer in the other, talking to her father, who was standing, one hand slotted stiffly in his jacket pocket; his default pose, as if he were a catalogue model. Mother was talking to him and Father had a polite smile of concentration on his face. Standing next to him, her parents-in-law, Clive and Celeste, looking serious and focused as if they were building up to jumping out of a plane. Sophie’s husband, John, deep in conversation with the top pick of his aides: Parliamentary Assistant (London) Rupert Bartley-Green; Senior Communications Director and Press Officer Len Spinks; Chief of Staff Edward Mayhew, who also happened to be John’s eldest brother; and Executive Office Manager (Cherlgrove) Findlay Norris. Between his two governmental bases and the office that looked after his investment and property portfolio, John had more staff than the POTUS, although there was an opening for a girl Friday (London) now, since his last one was currently enjoying her fifteen minutes of fame. The “people” of breakfast and daytime TV, and every program that attracted those the media chose to concentrate its temporary but brightest lights on, were no doubt already negotiating appearance fees with her “people.” Why is it always someone in that junior assistant/intern/researcher role who topples the boss? thought Sophie. Weren’t there enough cautionary tales of littered corpses to warn any man in a high-profile position—who really should know better—what dark and treacherous waters he elected to dip into when he chose a pretty, young, ambitious swimming companion? A pond with a hundred signs around it, all lit up with massive red neon lettering and strings of exclamation marks: warning. danger. come any closer and you’re a bloody idiot!!!!!

It would have been easy for the other woman to fall in love with her husband, though; if that were what it was. John could sell ice to the Eskimos, coal to Newcastle, toys to Santa, and all the other clichés. Charm personified, absurdly handsome, moneyed, intelligent, refined—oh yes, John F. Mayhew was the full package. Sophie could guess how quickly Rebecca Robinson would have become ensnared in his net, even thrown herself into it willingly, because she had done the same thing fourteen years ago, when she was eighteen.

She’d met him at the Christmas Ball when she was in her first year at Cambridge University, studying French, and he was in his last year studying business and politics. He’d been absolutely wrecked on champagne and told her he was going to marry her, before his friends dragged him off for yet more alcohol. She didn’t think much about it until Valentine’s Day, when their paths collided again at a private party. She spotted him long before he noticed her, which gave her the luxury of studying him unseen. He wasn’t her dream type at all, but he was extremely magnetic, and from the way he held himself, it was more than obvious he knew what his best qualities were. He was long limbed and lean, and she imagined him as a human equivalent of a well-bred racehorse, something pampered and valued. Greek-statue profile, midbrown hair that flopped into his eyes— and what eyes they were: puppy-brown, intense, seductive. Eventually, as if detecting the heat in her gaze, his eyes swept around to hers, locked, and she felt powerless, as if she were a hen and he a fox. He sliced through the banks of students that stood between them, mouth stretching into a killer smile, and when he reached her, said:

“Well, if it isn’t you again. Where have you been hiding yourself?”

And from that moment they were a couple. Sophie forgot all about swooning over the rugby player who was in her class, which was a shame because he would end up captaining England and was a thoroughly nice chap, but John F. Mayhew engulfed her brain and was all she could think about.

John F. was going to be richer than Croesus and prime minister one day, he said, and she didn’t doubt that he would be. She could easily forecast his future: top of the tree in his chosen profession, women would adore him, men would want to be him, magazine reporters would queue up outside his door to take photos of the beautiful home he lived in. His children would be perfect and well behaved. Maybe they’d be her children, too. Maybe this was the man her old headmistress Miss Palmer-Price told her would be the one to carry her along in the grip of his force field.

The “F” stood for Fitzroy, he told her postcoitus in bed on the night he took her virginity. His great-great-great-grandfather— Donal F. Mayhew—and his best friend, Patrick, had decided to escape the great Irish famine by emigrating to America in the late 1840s. But an Irish heiress fell hook, line, and sinker for the strong and handsome—if impoverished—gypsy Donal and he changed his mind about going. Donal and his wife eventually moved to London, where his determination both to shake off the label of male “gold digger” and to better himself drove him to build up a fortune in his own right selling property, metal, alcohol, ship parts; anything legal or illegal to trade in order to make a profit. Across the pond, Patrick’s family’s fortunes improved with every generation, too. His great-grandson John F. Kennedy became president of the United States of America. The Kennedys, John said, had stolen the idea of using the “F” from the Mayhews, and in doing so had cursed themselves. As if he couldn’t get any more fascinating, traveler magic was thrown into the mix.

By April Sophie could not imagine living without John F. Mayhew; then in May she found that she’d have to, because he dumped her for the fabulously rich wild child Lady Cresta Thorpe. Sophie was heartbroken. John graduated with honors and spent a year touring the world with Cresta, who had dropped out of university, far preferring to indulge her habits of clubbing, cocktails, and cocaine. His life, so she gleaned from gossip, was shining and golden as hers slipped further into the dark and depressing. Her coursework suffered and she started self-medicating with alcohol to blot out the pain. She also realized that the girls she’d thought of as friends weren’t that hot in a crisis. She had never been good at gathering friends. The beautiful, insubstantial people were attracted to her, but the really nice people found her own good looks intimidating.

It took Sophie a long time to get over losing John F. Mayhew, partly because she didn’t have a group of hard-core pals to help chase him out of her heart. She buried her true feelings deep as she had been taught to at school, threw herself into her studies, never let anyone see how wounded she was. Her heart had just about healed by the time she graduated, give or take the scar he had left.

Months later, Sophie had been working as a temp at the London headquarters of the glossy magazine Mint when she heard that they were to run a feature on a young, successful investment banker, a high-risk taker and up-and-coming politician, at home in his recently acquired, stupidly expensive bachelor penthouse. His name was John F. Mayhew. Sophie’s heart started to race. She wangled it so she accompanied the reporter and the photographer, desperate to show herself off at her best to him: content, happy, preened, and perfect— unattainable and indifferent. Or so she thought.

He was overjoyed to see her, ridiculously so, and she was gracious enough not to dampen his delight with a long-overdue rebuke for dumping her so callously. He asked her out to dinner and she accepted, merely for old times’ sake, sure that if he asked to see her again, she would politely refuse, walk away, having shut the door firmly in his face this time.

He had never forgiven himself for the caddish way he had behaved, he said in Le Gavroche. He’d been glamoured by Cresta’s glitzy veneer, but it was mere infatuation. He hadn’t realized how much he felt for Sophie until he lost her. Sophie was in love with him all over again before the dessert menus had been delivered to them.

Six months after the photos of his bachelor pad had been published, John F. Mayhew had moved out and into Park Court, a beautiful, if run-down, country residence—a wedding present from his parents for himself and his new bride-to-be, the sublime Miss Sophie Calladine. She ignored that little voice inside her that warned her about the speed of all this, the worm burying into her happiness. Is this the real deal, Sophie, or are you just grateful to be loved?

To a woman starved for affection, the full spotlight of his attention was blinding, disorientating—of course she knew this. She had gulped it like air seeping through a hole in a vacuum. For that reason, it would be too easy to let that worm convince her that genuine love was not her primary reason for accepting John’s marriage proposal: but it was, it really was. It had to be said, though, that her heart was whooping considerably that she had also earned parental approval for her choice of husband, and she could even hear the echoes of applause from her old headmistress, nodding consent from the afterlife: I knew you’d be a credit to St. Bathsheba’s in the end, Sophie, like your sisters and your mother before you. But she did love him very much. Enough to have sacrificed her own wants and needs on his altar for the past eight and a half years. Enough to be standing here with her heart ripped open in this roomful of people who were looking at her to mend her marriage. Because by doing that, Sophie Mayhew would mend everything.