Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston

Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston

Expected publication:  October 22, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s The Little Shop of Found Things was called “a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House.

After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.

But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.

While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.

This time she’ll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed? (publisher)

My take:  Xanthe and her mother are new proprietors of an antiques shop and they must find enough stock to be ready for holiday shoppers to make a success of their business. Xanthe is well-suited to this job because interesting objects ‘speak’ to her. In the first book of the series it was a chatelain from the 1600s that took Xanthe on the adventure of a lifetime. Now, in the second book, Xanthe isn’t sure she wants another adventure but when she touches a recently acquired chocolate pot she envisions the man she met the first time she travelled. She realizes she may not have a choice whether or not to return to him. At the same time her ex-boyfriend turns up and instantly reminds her of why he’s an ex. Xanthe is faced with decisions and choices in the current day as well as a few centuries earlier. It all added up to an enjoyable time travel that left me looking forward to the next book in the Found Things series.


 

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Pub. date:  August 13, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew—even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…and it means risking it all—the only job she’s ever loved, and the hero she’s worked like hell to become. (publisher)

My take: On the night Cassie is to receive a top honor at her firefighter banquet life throws her a curveball and changes her career path.

Things You Save in a Fire is about forgiveness. As Cassie’s perspective evolved about events that happened ten years earlier, it was easy to hope that some well-deserved happiness would come her way. But first she would need to learn to forgive.

Katherine Center succeeded in making me feel the frustration of being new and female in a formerly all male firehouse and she had me flying through the pages of the breathtaking firefighter scene near the end of the novel.

A quick and enjoyable read which is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Center.


 

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Publication date:  July 9, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy courtesy of the publisher

Description:

Following her father-in-law’s sudden death, Joanna Rafferty Collier begrudgingly moves into her husband’s family home – the venerable and imposing Brynmor – hoping to get her marriage back on solid ground and provide comfort to her grieving mother-in-law, Susannah Parrish Collier. But her mother-in-law is less than welcoming, enigmatic, and intimidating, and the months of living at Brynmor in forced companionship and congeniality, largely without her husband by her side, have begun to take their toll on Joanna. She’s been greeted, instead, by hints of tragedies past: Whose baby is buried in the unmarked grave? And what happened to Susannah’s one true love? Slowly, Joanna comes to understand that her mother-in-law is not the impenetrable woman she thought she was, but a fragile one, harboring a lifetime of secrets.  (publisher)

My take: The publisher’s description tells everything you need to know. At least it was all I wanted to know going in. What I found is a really good story that kept me reading long into the night. Told in alternating perspectives of Joanna in the 1960s and Susannah in the 1920s, Bethlehem is the story of two women and their secrets and the cost of keeping those secrets. Not wanting to risk a spoiler I will just say I would recommend Bethlehem to fans of romantic historical fiction, family sagas and, ultimately, a well-told tale. I really liked it and won’t hesitate to read whatever Karen Kelly writes next.


Praise for Bethlehem:

“Mystery, first love, and long-held secrets fold together in this atmospheric tale of a family coming to a long overdue reckoning… and finding a way to rise from the aftermath.” – Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

“With delicate and insightful prose, Karen Kelly sweeps us into the psyches of two deeply entwined families as their lives – and secrets- unravel. A haunting debut, Bethlehem will pull you in from start to finish, and leave you grappling with the timeless quandary of when to bury the truth, and when to confront it.” – Georgia Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of We Were the Lucky Ones


About the author:

Karen Kelly has a BA in English from Vanderbilt University, and lives in Edina, Minnesota. She is also the author of Prospice.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson by Emily March

Jackson by Emily March

Published: June 25, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Sometimes it takes a new beginning
Caroline Carruthers thinks she buried her dreams along with the love of her life…until a stranger named Celeste dares her to chase a dream all on her own. Moving to Redemption, Texas, is chapter one in Caroline’s new life story. Opening a bookstore is the next. Finding love is the last thing on her mind as she settles into this new place called home. But when she meets a handsome, soulful man who’s also starting over, all bets are off.

to reach a happily-ever-after
Jackson McBride came to Redemption looking only to find himself, not someone to love. Ever since his marriage ended, he’s been bitter. Sure, he used to believe in love—he even has the old song lyrics to prove it—but the Jackson of today is all business. That is, until a beautiful young widow who’s moved to town inspires a change of heart. Could it be that the myth of Redemption’s healing magic is true…and Jackson and Caroline can find a second chance at a happy ending after all? (publisher)

My take: Jackson is Emily March’s newest offshoot from her Eternity Springs series. The setting is Texas and will involve the McBride cousins, all who seem to be haunted by their pasts. Jackson has an ex-wife who just won a custody battle and he’s distraught over not being able to have contact with his daughter. His cousins convince him to return to Texas and a new business opportunity. That’s where he meets Caroline who also has come out of an emotionally draining time ending in the death of her husband. She’s ready for a fresh start. Jackson and Caroline find Redemption, Texas a perfect place to begin their next chapters. As in March’s other books the conduit to change is Celeste – a lady who knows a lot about everyone to the point of knowing what’s best for them and she has the ability to convince people to take her advice. Well, Celeste shows up in Redemption to help her cousin do what Celeste does in Eternity Springs. Their back and forth added some levity to the novel. I liked this book and am interested in reading the next because of the way things left off with Jackson’s cousin and one of Caroline’s close friends.



					

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

Published:  May 21, 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review galley from the publisher and NetGalley

Description:  Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.

Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home. (publisher)

My take:  Erica Bauermeister’s novels are sensual journeys. The Scent Keeper is about scent, memory and what they tell us about our past and the people in our lives. It is the story of Emmeline. We meet her as a young girl living on an island with her father. It’s an idyllic life until things change. She finds herself thrust into world so different and yet she tries to adapt. She’ll learn who to trust and find a way to survive in this new life. That will serve her well for what lies ahead on her journey of discovery.

Will Emmeline be able to hang onto the important aspects of her early years as the world opens in ways she never expected?  During all those years of living with her father on the island – where was her mother? Will her magical relationship with scent feel the effect of all the changes? As Emmeline discovers answers to her questions she’ll come to understand what’s truly important. As I read The Scent Keeper I would occasionally pause to think about the important scents of my life and what they mean to me now. That made for a very personal and enjoyable reading experience.


About the author:

Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Photo Credit: Susan Doupé 
Buy links:

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews

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

ARC provided by the publisher, Tandem Literary, NetGalley

Description:

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

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

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

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

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

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


About the author:

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

 

Connect with MKA:

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


 

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

April 2019 – St. Martin’s Press

Review copy provided by the publisher

Description: Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game―and his heart―to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins. (publisher)

My take: The Girl He Used To Know is the story of Annika and Jonathan. They dated in college and then went their separate ways afterward. Ten years later they run into each other in the grocery store and decide to get to know each other again. But this is much more than a second chance at love story. Early on Jonathan discovers there’s something a bit different about Annika. What is revealed is that she’s an amazing person. She’s very intelligent, a great chess player, and quite beautiful. She also misses social cues to a degree that makes most others uncomfortable. The author addresses this pointedly late in the novel. I don’t want to say more because it’s interesting to experience the character development as the novel progresses. The Girl He Used To Know is a story of unconditional love and about finding one’s strengths and potential while facing extraordinary challenges. I quite liked it and look forward to reading more of this author’s work.


About the author:

Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.