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!


 

Happiness For Beginners

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Re-release:  September 1, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Happiness for Beginners begins a year after Helen Carpenter, 32, gets divorced. Helen knew it was time to pull herself together. And she knew she needed to do something wild and adventurous and completely out of character. Which is why she signed up for a wilderness survival course in Wyoming. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to start over, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen’s own little life seem bigger. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really lost before you can even have a hope of being found. (publisher)

My take:  Katherine Center’s charming novel about Helen, a recently divorced young woman setting off on an adventure, grabbed me from the start. Helen signs up for a challenging three week hiking trip in the Wyoming mountains. She wants to get stronger and toughen up regarding how she handles what life throws at her. She also wants to appreciate nature’s beauty and to be happy. She ends up learning much more about herself and true happiness from fellow hikers and experiences on the trail. She also gains new perspective on the people in her family. Deceptively light in tone (what I’ve come to expect from this author) and relatable on a few levels – I enjoyed it all.

Note: This is a re-release. It claimed a spot on my 2015 Favorite Books list!


About the author:

Katherine Center is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including Things You Save in a Fire, How to Walk Away, and Happiness for Beginners. Her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, was turned into a movie starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel, and released digitally and on VOD. Katherine recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy, and her work has appeared in InStyle, People, USA Today, The Atlantic, Real Simple, and others. She lives in Houston with her husband and two kids.


Praise for Happiness for Beginners:

“If you’re anything like us, you’ll read this book in one sitting.”InStyle Magazine

“A deliciously refreshing take on life.”The Houston Chronicle

“Center has written a wonderful story, a fast-paced read with sharp, perfectly written dialogue. Her newest does exactly what we want a good novel to do, introduce us to characters who engage us and take us on a journey.”Booklist

“Happiness for Beginners is my favorite Katherine Center novel yet. I folded down pages to go back to – and that’s a sign of a great book: when I see something so true or profound that I know I need to mark it. It’s wonderful. Could not put it down.”Jenny Lawson

“This wise, delicious, page-turning novel won’t let you go. Katherine Center writes about falling down, growing up, and finding love like nobody else. You can always see yourself and the people you love in her characters and their stories.”Brené Brown


 

Paris Never Leaves You

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Published:  August 4, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Living through World War II working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Ellen Feldman’s Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.

The war is over, but the past is never past.  

My take:  Charlotte survived occupied Paris, managing to protect her child because of choices she made. Those choices resurface years after she and her daughter moved to America. Feelings of shame return as a letter brings about memories of a time she wants to forget. The theme of survivor’s guilt runs through the novel – not just for Charlotte but also the man she works for in New York. They both learn lessons of forgiveness, acceptance, and finding the courage to move forward in life.

I think because half of the book is about Charlotte’s life in New York, Paris Never Leaves You is different from other WWII era novels I’ve read. Ultimately, it’s an emotional story that I’m glad I had the chance to read.


About the author:

Ellen Feldman, a 2009 Guggenheim fellow, is the author of Terrible Virtue, The Unwitting, Next to Love, Scottsboro (shortlisted for the Orange Prize), The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank (translated into nine languages), and Lucy. Her last novel, Terrible Virtue, was optioned by Black Bicycle for a feature film.

Buy Links:

Praise for Paris Never Leaves You

 

“A memorable, thought-provoking moral conflict, and dialogue [that] crackles like a duel… Paris Never Leaves You succeeds as a meaty moral tale.” —Historical Novel Society

“Fans of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale may want to pick this up.” —Booklist 

“Nothing is quite what it seems… Wartime Paris is described in vivid, sometimes harrowing, detail… [An] engrossing page-turner.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The best works of historical fiction have a way of illuminating the present, allowing readers to better understand themselves through well-defined characters reflected in the prism of time…. Feldman does this beautifully in a multi-layered, tender story that explores the emotionally charged, often parallel terrains of truth, deception, love and heartbreak.” —Shelf Awareness

“A nuanced WWII story of love and survival in Occupied Paris… With its appealing heroine and historically detailed settings… a dangerous secret gives Feldman’s story a gasp-worthy spin.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Things are seldom as they seem in this engrossing tale of identity, survival, loyalty, and love…Recommend with enthusiasm.” —Library Journal

“Ellen Feldman’s writing is riveting in this beautiful novel that tells the bittersweet story of a young mother’s strength and survival during WWII. From a tiny bookstore in Nazi-occupied Paris to a post-war New York publishing house, Feldman effortlessly captures the terror, immediacy, and inextinguishable human spirit.” —Noelle Salazar, author of The Flight Girls 

“Completely compelling. I tore through it. This novel pivots on how we manage to survive surviving… Charlotte’s visceral story will stay with me.” —Naomi Wood, New York Times best-selling author of Mrs. Hemingway and The Hiding Game

“Feldman’s powerful exploration of some of the most profound questions about love and loyalty resonates strongly today: What would you do to save your child? What is morality in wartime? How do we make peace with the past?” —Christina Lynch, author of The Italian Party

“This is an exquisite novel – one that gives us what we’re hungry for: an intelligent, complex female character who challenges our ideas of right and wrong, morality and immorality. We’re reminded, too, of the dangers of drawing easy, swift conclusions. Feldman achieves all of this with wholly admirable precision and wit; she takes aim and does not miss.” —Elizabeth J. Church, author of The Atomic Weight of Love and All the Beautiful Girls

“A fluid, rich, and nuanced novel, expertly crafted, guaranteed to follow you around long after you’ve turned the last page. I gulped it down.” —Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra, Vera, The Witches, and A Great Improvisation 

“Feldman’s characters—in the Paris bookstore that harbors many secrets or the Manhattan publishing house with its marvelous cast of misfits—are both terrifying and utterly engaging. With more twists and turns than the back streets of Paris, the story is as propulsively readable as a spy novel, and as rich and psychologically rewarding as only the finest literature can be.” —Liza Gyllenhaal, author of Local Knowledge and Bleeding Heart

“…a vivid and precise portrait of that city under German occupation during the Second World War, but it is also an exploration of the courage and cowardice of those bitter years, as well as offering a slyly persuasive love story. The swift, engrossing narrative conceals, in the best way, the fact that Feldman is also giving us a wise and troubling lesson about the great moral crisis of the last century.” —Richard Snow, author of Iron Dawn

“A thrilling achievement…I was thoroughly drawn into a deep, rich, vivid world of engrossing characters and emotional and moral crises…a great piece of writing in every way.” —Fred Allen, Leadership Editor, Forbes


 

The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

Published:  February 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition. (publisher)

My take:  If you like historical fiction set in 15th century Italy you probably know about the Borgias. Alyssa Palombo delves into this illustrious family that ruled the Vatican and provided fodder for Roman citizens who enjoyed gossiping about the rich and famous.

The novel is filled with the politics of the day, intrigue, and outrageous family dynamics fueled by the self-serving ambitions of the Borgia siblings and their father. The Borgias believed the ends justified the means and they did whatever it took to get what they wanted. Told from the perspectives of Maddalena, a pretty maid in the household of Lucrezia Borgia, and Cesare Borgia, the oldest son of Pope Alexander VI. Ultimately, The Borgia Confessions is a tale of ambition and betrayal and the cost to all involved.

Palombo’s informative author’s note at the end explains the fictional and actual events of the novel.


Praise for Alyssa Palombo and THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS

“[A] vivacious tale of power and love set in 1492… Excavating the personal relationships and petty disagreements that fueled Pope Alexander VI’s controversial reign, Palombo’s enticing tale will please fans of Sharon Kay Penman.” 

Publishers Weekly

“Readers looking for an immersive, light, romantic read will enjoy this book.”

 –Booklist

 

“Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition–and love. I was utterly engrossed from page one. A colorful and suspenseful novel, The Borgia Confessions is packed with complex characters and political intrigue, and will leave readers hungry for more.” 

Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco

“Palombo has crafted a sweeping and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Cesare Borgia, one of history’s most notorious “bad boys,” and the world surrounding him. [A] dark Renaissance parable about the intertwining of lust and power. If you’re as fascinated with all things Borgia as I am, you won’t want to miss this one!” 

Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams and Bad Princess

“Handsome. Intriguing. Dangerous. Seductive. [This] is everything you want in a book–it’s a romance, a page-turner, and a ride deep into the sumptuous and tumultuous time of Renaissance Italy.” 

Crystal King, author of The Chef’s Secret

“Alyssa Palombo’s deft and delicate prose makes a gorgeous contrast against the visceral and cutthroat world of the Borgias. Dark and decadent, THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS is mesmerizing from start to finish.” 

Meghan Masterson, author of The Wardrobe Mistress


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.

Photo credit: Jennifer Hark-Hameister



THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS: A Novel

By Alyssa Palombo

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin | On-Sale: February 11, 2020

Trade Paperback | 9781250191205 | $16.99

EBook | 9781250191212 | $9.99


An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham

An Everyday Hero by Laura Trentham

Published:  February 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  At thirty, Greer Hadley never expected to be forced home to Madison, Tennessee with her life and dreams of being a songwriter up in flames. To make matters worse, a series of bad decisions and even crappier luck lands her community service hours at a nonprofit organization that aids veterans and their families. Greer cannot fathom how she’s supposed to use music to help anyone deal with their trauma and loss when the one thing that brought her joy has failed her.

When Greer meets fifteen-year-old Ally Martinez, her plans to stay detached and do as little as possible get thrown away. New to town and dealing with the death of her father in action, she hides her emotions behind a mask of bitterness and sarcasm, but Greer is able to see past it and recognizes pieces of who she once was in Ally. The raw and obvious talent she possesses could take her to the top and Greer vows to make sure life’s negativities don’t derail Ally’s potential.

After Greer is assigned a veteran to help, she’s not surprised Emmett Lawson, the town’s golden boy, followed his family’s legacy. What leaves her shocked is the shell of a man who believes he doesn’t deserve anyone’s help. A breakthrough with Ally reminds Greer that no one is worth giving up on. So she shows up one day with his old guitar, and meets Emmett’s rage head on with her stubbornness. When a situation with Ally becomes dire, the two of them must become a team to save her—and along the way they might just save themselves too. (publisher)

My take:  Thirty year old Greer Hadley tried to make it as a singer/songwriter in Nashville but when her dream didn’t take hold she came home to Madison, TN. To make matters worse she gets in a bar fight which gets her arrested. She ends up doing community service at a non-profit that uses songwriting and music as therapy for veterans or family members of vets.

Greer gets the most challenging clients. First is Ally, a surly teenager who has no interest in a stranger teaching her how to write songs. Second is Emmett, a newly discharged vet who is dealing with the loss of a leg and the reasons behind it. He’s also a former classmate of Greer’s. She has her hands full with these two but is determined to put her time in and then move on with her life.

An Everyday Hero is about learning to live a new normal after you think life is through with you. I liked the realistic and upbeat tone of the book. This is the second of Laura Trentham’s books I’ve read and I look forward to reading more.


About the author:

An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. Then He Kissed Me, a Cottonbloom novel, was named as one of Amazon’s best romances of 2016. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she’s shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.


 

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Published:  Oct. 29, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.

But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?

Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?

From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words BookshopThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out. (publisher)

My take:  Take one completely engaging lead character (Ailsa), add a life-threatening condition, a sparkling cast of characters with issues of their own, and tango – well that’s a recipe for a novel that made me happy I’m a reader.

Ailsa was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and has managed to stay alive until the age of twenty-eight when a compatible heart becomes available. She thought the journey to that day was hard. And it was. But she learns that living with her new heart has a new set of challenges, not the least being brave enough to put herself out there in this new life.

The story is told through the blog she set up related to her condition, emails and texts with various people, and the story of past relationships. I hesitate to expand but I can say I’m very glad to have had the chance to read Stephanie Butland’s second novel. It’s an emotional novel and one that left me with a happy heart.


About the author:

Photograph by Elliott Franks

STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.

Book-buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250242174


 

Seven Letters by J.P. Monninger

Seven Letters by J.P. Monninger

Published:  October 8, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  Kate Moreton is in Ireland on sabbatical from her teaching position at Dartmouth College when she meets Ozzie Ferriter, a fisherman and a veteran of the American war in Afghanistan. The Ferriter family history dates back centuries on the remote Blasket Islands, and Ozzie – a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States – has retreated to the one place that might offer him peace from a war he cannot seem to leave behind.

Beside the sea, with Ireland’s beauty as a backdrop, the two fall deeply in love and attempt to live on an island of their own making, away from the pressures of the outside world. Ireland writes its own love stories, the legends claim, and the limits of Kate and Ozzie’s love and faith in each other will be tested. When his demons lead Ozzie to become reckless with his life―and Kate’s―she flees for America rather than watch the man she loves self-destruct. But soon a letter arrives informing Kate that her heroic husband has been lost at sea, and Kate must decide whether it is an act of love to follow him or an act of mercy to forget.  (publisher)

My take:  This is the story of Kate and Ozzie. They meet, fall in love, and then life takes unexpected turns. I was surprised that everything seemed to happen quickly where these two were concerned but decided it was the author’s story to tell and I was along for the ride.

I loved the setting. I know Ireland is wonderful and magical because I’ve been there more than once. Monninger did a beautiful job with description. I also liked learning a bit about the Blasket Islands. Although set mainly in Ireland the story travels to Italy, Canada and the US.

There were a few times when I felt lost because of ‘time gaps’  but I quickly got up to speed. The seven letters serve to catch the reader up as the story progresses and by the time I’d read the seventh I was satisfied with the resolution. As I read I felt a bit of a folktale tone – something I didn’t know I liked. I enjoyed Seven Letters and recommend it to fans of the author and contemporary fiction.


About the author:

J.P. Monninger, author of The Map That Leads to You, is an award-winning writer in New England and Professor of English at Plymouth State University.


 

Christmas Angels by Nancy Naigle

Christmas Angels by Nancy Naigle

Expected publication date:  Oct. 15, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Growing up, Liz Westmoreland dreamed of taking over her grandparents inn located in the small mountain town of Angels Creek only for it to be sold before she ever got the chance. While browsing the internet, she stumbles upon a listing for what looks to be the picturesque inn and it’s set to go to auction. Liz places a bid, and by a miracle, wins the auction. But when she gets there she finds the property in significant disrepair.

When Matt Hardy narrowly lost the inn and property that butted his land, he just hoped it wasn’t another city slicker coming to make matters worse after the previous owners gutted the place for an art gallery. But the minute he recognized the sweet, freckle-faced girl from his childhood and heard her plans to reopen the inn, he jumps at the chance to help his childhood crush restore a place where he made so many fond memories.

While working on repairs, Liz and Matt discover her grandmother’s collection of angels in one of the cabins. When the angels start mysteriously showing up all over the inn, she begins to look at them as reassurance—that restoring the inn is what she’s meant to do. But when an accident leaves Liz feeling like she made a mistake, will Matt—and the residents of Angels Creek—be able to show Liz that she’s found a home? And possibly true love as well? (publisher)

My take:  Christmas Angels is the story of Liz Westmoreland and Matt Hardy, two people looking for a chance to realize their dreams. When fate brings them together in Angels Creek they’ll find out if dreams really do come true. Liz loved the area when her grandparents lived there and ran an inn. She would love to do the same and, at the same time, help to revitalize the community. Matt has the same intentions and will use his contractor and construction skills to make things happen. The two will have to dodge occasional bumps in the road but they also have a lot of fun getting to know each other along the way. This is a Christmas story with the theme of sharing one’s gifts being the best gift of all. Perfect for fans of Hallmark movies and all things Christmas.


 

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Patchwork Bride

The Patchwork Bride by Sandra Dallas

Paperback publication: August 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Giveaway book courtesy of the publisher

From Sandra Dallas, the best-selling author of A Quilt for Christmas, comes the irrepressible story of one woman’s quest to find love without losing herself in the American West – now available in paperback.

Ellen is putting the finishing touches on a wedding quilt made from scraps of old dresses when the bride-to-be—her granddaughter June—unexpectedly arrives and announces she’s calling off the marriage. With the tending of June’s uncertain heart in mind, Ellen tells her the story of Nell, a Kansas-born woman who goes to the High Plains of New Mexico Territory in 1898 in search of a husband.

Working as a biscuit-shooter, Nell falls for a cowboy named Buddy. She sees a future together, but she can’t help wondering if his feelings for her are true. When Buddy breaks her heart, she runs away.

In her search for a soul mate, Nell will run away from marriage twice more before finding the love of her life. It’s a tale filled with excitement, heartbreak, disappointment, and self-discovery—as well as with hard-earned life lessons about love. Another stunning, emotional novel from a master storyteller.

Sandra Dallas is the author of fifteen novels, including A Quilt for Christmas, Fallen Women, True Sisters, The Bride’s House, Whiter Than Snow, Prayers for Sale, Tallgrass and New Mercies. She is a former Denver bureau chief for Business Week magazine and lives in Denver, Colorado.


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

Paperback published June 4, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and Tandem Literary

Description: When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.  

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget. (publisher)

My take: (originally published October 1, 2018)

What would you do to save your unborn child, the last connection to your husband who was killed in the war? Caroline (Carly) Sears’ answer is “anything”. And that is why she agrees to travel to another time to get medical help for her daughter’s heart. If she doesn’t, her baby doesn’t have much hope of survival after her birth. Carly will do whatever it takes to give her daughter a chance at life.

So the question I began with led to other questions such as could I place trust in a friend like Carly did in Hunter, her brother-in-law? Could I be as brave as Carly? Would I be able to travel alone to a place where I knew no one and then deal with life-altering issues? After finishing I don’t have an answer for every question but I would aspire to be as courageous as Carly.

Diane Chamberlain’s time-travel story is very accessible to readers who normally don’t go in for that sub-genre. That would include me! This novel is a true page turner that had me looking forward to getting back to the story whenever I had to set it down. It’s an emotional story that covers several decades from the 1960s to the 2020s. I enjoyed it all and recommend it to fans of Diane Chamberlain.


Praise for THE DREAM DAUGHTER:

“This mind-bender of a novel will keep you glued to the page.”—People Magazine

“We may forget how different life was in 1970, but imagine being thrust from those days to 2013. Diane Chamberlain does in this terrific novel.”—NJ.com, Top Ten Books of 2018

“Chamberlain stretches her sense of familial relationships with toe-curling suspense in new directions, weaving in elements of trust, history, and time as she explores the things we do for love. With a little tension and a lot of heart, The Dream Daughter will delight.”—Booklist

“Chamberlain writes with supernatural gifts akin to those she chronicles in the book, seamlessly weaving time travel and global events into a credible and gut-wrenching family saga. Fate, destiny, chance and hope combine for a heady and breathless wonder of a read.”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale**

“Can a story be both mind-bending and heartfelt? In Diane Chamberlain’s hands, it can. The Dream Daughter will hold readers in anxious suspense until the last satisfying page.”—Therese Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z*

“Rich and breathtaking.”—Woman’s World

The Dream Daughter is a heartwarming and exciting page turner.”—Augusta Chronicle 

“Chamberlain’s exciting and heartfelt novel is a page-turning crowd-pleaser.”—Publishers Weekly

“The story is well-paced and the ending satisfyingly sweet.”—Kirkus Reviews

“An entertaining chick-lit adventure.”—Wilmington Star-News


About the author:

Diane Chamberlain is the international bestselling author of 25 novels. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie.

Connect:

Website: https://dianechamberlain.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Diane.Chamberlain.Readers.Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/d_chamberlain
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chamberlain_diane/


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US Giveaway: The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

 Trade Paperback published by St. Martin’s Griffin – May 21, 2019

Book provided by the publisher

Description:

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

Published: February 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: A young widow embraces a second chance at life when she reconnects with those who understand the sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families in award-winning author Laura Trentham’s The Military Wife.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.

In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts? (publisher)

My take: The Military Wife is an emotional novel about Harper Lee Wilcox, a widow with a young son. She’s still coming to grips with the tragic loss of her husband while trying to provide a normal life for her son. When she meets with a man who survived the mission that claimed her husband she hopes to find the answers she’s sought for so many years. She’ll find much more. Along the way she gets an opportunity to repay a kindness to another military wife and that opens up the possibility to help more. The Military Wife is a story of honor, loss and second chances. I really liked it and look forward to the next book since this is billed as the first of a series.


About the author:

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.


Buy-Book Links: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250145536


 

Christmas At The Chalet by Anita Hughes

Christmas At The Chalet by Anita Hughes

October 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Review Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:

It’s the day after Christmas, and Felicity Grant is at a gorgeous ski chalet in St. Moritz for the biggest fashion show of her career. Felicity is a rising star on the bridal design scene, and this is her best collection yet. But when her boyfriend gives her a spa day instead of a diamond ring for Christmas, she has to face the possibility that she may never walk down the aisle in one of her own stunning designs.

And then there’s Nell, the top model headlining Felicity’s show. Nell is planning her dream wedding to her wonderful fiancé with one catch: her divorced parents can’t stand each other and threaten to no-show if the other is there.

Add to that Felicity’s race against the clock to create a special gown for a prestigious bridal salon, and what both girls need is a Christmas miracle. What better place to find one than in the Swiss Alps with its dark forests and sparkling vistas?

But for Felicity it’s hard to recognize a miracle even when it’s right in front of her, and for Nell one miracle might not be enough to fix the past. Can dreams really come true or is that the stuff of Swiss fairytales? (publisher)

My take: Christmas at the Chalet is the story of two young women who face personal and emotional challenges while trying to enjoy working in beautiful St. Moritz.

Felicity is a rising star in the world of wedding dress design. She and her business partner are hoping a show of her designs in this world-class city will spotlight her talent on an international level. This Christmas would be perfect if only her longtime boyfriend would agree to become engaged.

Nell, one of the models in the fashion show, is engaged and planning a wedding. Now if only her divorced parents would set their selfish differences aside and agree to be part of her happy day.

I loved reading about the St. Moritz setting mostly because I’m pretty sure I’ll never get there in person. I always appreciate how Anita Hughes makes setting a major part of her novels. The story itself is fairly light but sometimes that’s exactly the right thing to escape into, especially during the busy holiday season.  I’d recommend Christmas at the Chalet to fans of the author and Christmasy romances with a bit of drama.


 

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo

Published Oct. 2, 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors. 

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase. (publisher)

My take:  I put off reading The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel until October because I expected it to be a good one to read near Halloween. I liked it but didn’t find it at all spooky. Alyssa Palombo’s romantic tale involves forbidden love between two young people of different classes, the Sleepy Hollow legend, and a bit of imagined magic – all from Katrina’s point of view. I think that is what I enjoyed most about this retelling. She’s a young woman with admirable temperament, high intelligence, and a good heart. Her parents love their only child but they expect her to marry well. She’s an heiress so only suitors of means are welcome. Poor Ichabod Crane doesn’t stand a chance. They love each other and hope to change her father’s mind. If you’re familiar with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow you know where the story goes. I’d recommend this version to fans of romantic retellings of classic tales.


 

Spotlight: Christmas at the Chalet by Anita Hughes

CHRISTMAS AT THE CHALET by Anita Hughes

St. Martin’s Griffin; October 16, 2018

Description (provided by the publisher)

It’s the day after Christmas, and Felicity Grant is at a gorgeous ski chalet in St. Moritz for the biggest fashion show of her career. Felicity is a rising star on the bridal design scene, and this is her best collection yet. But when her boyfriend gives her a spa day instead of a diamond ring for Christmas, she has to face the possibility that she may never walk down the aisle in one of her own stunning designs.

And then there’s Nell, the top model headlining Felicity’s show. Nell is planning her dream wedding to her wonderful fiancé with one catch: her divorced parents can’t stand each other and threaten to no-show if the other is there.

Add to that Felicity’s race against the clock to create a special gown for a prestigious bridal salon, and what both girls need is a Christmas miracle. What better place to find one than in the Swiss Alps with its dark forests and sparkling vistas?

But for Felicity it’s hard to recognize a miracle even when it’s right in front of her, and for Nell one miracle might not be enough to fix the past. Can dreams really come true or is that the stuff of Swiss fairytales?


About the author:

ANITA HUGHES is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Christmas in Paris, White Sand, Blue Sea, Emerald Coast, and Christmas in London. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.


Early praise for CHRISTMAS AT THE CHALET:

“A breathtaking glimpse into the glittering and magical world of St. Moritz. Part romance, part Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Hughes gives her readers a beautiful story about the meaning of true love, peopled with charming and endearing characters. This is a refreshing novel destined to create cravings for hot chocolate in front of a blazing fire and make us all believe in Christmas miracles.” —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author

 

Christmas at the Chalet is the most sparkling and glamorous of all Anita Hughes’s wise and gorgeous books.” —Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author

 

“The glam of St. Moritz is the stage for this modern fairy tale… Anita Hughes’s Christmas at the Chalet sparkles with Christmas miracles.” —Mariah Stewart, New York Times bestselling author 

 

“In gorgeous detail, Anita Hughes paints a vivid picture of blossoming love amid the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes in the opulent setting of St. Moritz. This enchanting love story will leave you pining for the winter holidays. I loved every page.” —Tracey Garvis Graves, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl He Used to Know

 

“Hughes again crafts a highly readable story of love, hope, and going after your dreams… The detailed setting and winter love story centered on the holidays make it an easy recommendation for romance and women’s fiction fans.” —Booklist

 

“A refreshing setting and characters combine with Felicity’s offbeat occupation to create a sweet story of meaningful relationships.”Library Journal


 

Spotlight: The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

by Alyssa Palombo

St. Martin’s Griffin; on-sale October 2

Description:

When Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel
nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.  (publisher)


About the author:

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice and The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review.  She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively.  A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. She lives in Buffalo, New York.

Website: https://alyssapalombo.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alyssinwnderlnd?lang=en

photo credit: Jennifer Hark-Hameister


 

Praise for THE SPELLBOOK OF KATRINA VAN TASSEL:

“Marrying forbidden love, devoted friendship, and the supernatural with Palombo’s signature passion for music, storytelling, and heartbreaking choices, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel enchants with a concoction of love, longing, and loss plucked from the bones of one of our most enduring and haunting legends.” – Erin Lindsay McCabe, USA Today bestselling author of I Shall Be Near to You

“An enthralling lovers’ tale woven from ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ Alyssa Palombo’s captivating story, told through the eyes and heart of Katrina Van Tassel, is like visiting a treasured childhood friend and finding out all her secrets.” – Gwendolyn Womack, award-winning author of The Memory Painter and The Fortune Teller

“Palombo has conjured up a dark, sexy twist on Washington Irving’s classic tale. The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel will satisfy romance fans who crave a dash of spine-tingling horror.” – Cat Winters, award-winning author of The Uninvited and In the Shadow of Blackbirds


 

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Published August 2018 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:  Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home? (publisher)

My take:  Sarah is deeply affected when she witnesses a little girl (Emma) being mistreated by her mother on more than one occasion. It brings to the forefront her relationship with her own mother and motivates Sarah to do something quite out of character.

Amy, mother of Emma, is one of those people you just know doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin, her life, her relationships. It’s almost a relief when her daughter can’t be found.

This novel made me feel anxious for all involved. It’s about mothers, daughters, disappointments, devastation, resiliency. It’s a study in how parental relationships with children, especially in the early years, are so important in forming who they become later on. Could the events in Not Her Daughter happen in “real life”? I don’t know. It seemed rather improbable as I read but could I stop turning the pages? NO. I had to see how author Rea Frey resolved things. An interesting debut novel that has me has me looking forward to Frey’s next book.


 

Spotlight: The Vengeance of Mothers by Jim Fergus

The Vengeance of Mothers: The Journals of Margaret Kelly & Molly McGill

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin; now out in Trade Paperback 

Description:

9 March 1876

My name is Meggie Kelly and I take up this pencil with my twin sister, Susie. We have nothing left, less than nothing. The village of our People has been destroyed, all our possessions burned, our friends butchered by the soldiers, our baby daughters gone, frozen to death on an ungodly trek across these rocky mountains. Empty of human feeling, half-dead ourselves, all that remains of us intact are hearts turned to stone. We curse the U.S. government, we curse the Army, we curse the savagery of mankind, white and Indian alike. We curse God in his heaven. Do not underestimate the power of a mother’s vengeance…

So begins the Journal of Margaret Kelly, a woman who participated in the U.S. government’s “Brides for Indians” program in 1873, a program whose conceit was that the way to peace between the United States and the Cheyenne Nation was for One Thousand White Woman to be given as brides in exchange for three hundred horses. These “brides” were mostly fallen women; women in prison, prostitutes, the occasional adventurer, or those incarcerated in asylums. No one expected this program to work. And the brides themselves thought of it simply as a chance at freedom. But many of them fell in love with their Cheyenne spouses and had children with them…and became Cheyenne themselves.

The Vengeance of Mothers explores what happens to the bonds between wives and husbands, children and mothers, when society sees them as “unspeakable.” What does it mean to be white, to be Cheyenne, and how far will these women go to avenge the ones they love? With vivid detail and keen emotional depth, Jim Fergus brings to light a time and place in American history and fills it with unforgettable characters who live and breathe with a passion we can relate to even today. ( publisher)


About the author:

Jim Fergus is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines and newspapers. He is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books. Jim divides his time between southern Arizona, northern Colorado, and France.


Praise for THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS

THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS reads like a fact-based tale, and the characters are as real as any pioneer woman who braved the rigors of westering. Fergus is a superb writer…and the finale is both clever and satisfying.” – Denver Post

“Fans of ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN, a book club favorite for 20 years, will recognize familiar characters in THE VENGEANCE OF MOTHERS, but newcomers to Fergus’ imagined intermingling of Caucasian women and the Cheyenne people will easily step into this incredible spinoff from American history.” – Shelf Awareness

“Twenty years on, Fergus’ best-selling novel, ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN (’98), remains vivid in readers’ memories and continues to be discovered by historical fiction fans. He now continues the gripping tale, a history lesson infused with both sadness at the violence perpetuated against the Cheyenne and awe at the endurance of this remarkable group of women.” – Booklist, starred review