Spotlight: The Spice Master At Bistro Exotique

The Spice Master At Bistro Exotique by Samantha Vérant

Published:  December 6, 2022 – Berkley

Description:

A talented chef discovers how spices and scents can transport her—and, more importantly, how self-confidence can unlock the greatest magic of all: love—in this perfectly seasoned new novel by Samantha Vérant.

Kate Jenkins doesn’t believe in fate. She believes in a clear vision, meticulous planning, and hard work in order to achieve her culinary dreams. On the cusp of opening her own Parisian restaurant, Bistro Exotique, she isn’t even concerned when her standoffish—and annoyingly sexy—neighbor dismisses her as a crazy American tourist or when she meets the wildly eccentric Garrance, the self-proclaimed Spice Master of Paris, who ominously warns her of the previous owner’s failures.

Confident and optimistic, Kate keeps calm and cooks on. Until a series of unfortunate events derail her plans and her entire staff quits.
 
Kate is about to throw in the kitchen towel on her lifelong dream when Garrance offers to use her mastery of scents and spices to help her, but it comes at a price: Kate must work with Garrance’s son, Charles, a world-class chef and total jerk. After Kate hesitantly concedes to the deal, she slowly learns to open her heart and mind to new concepts, not quite sure if the magic she’s experiencing comes from Garrance’s spices, from within herself, or from the growing chemistry with Charles. One thing is certain, though: her kitchen is getting increasingly hot. (publisher)


About the author:

Samantha Vérant is a travel addict, a self-professed oenophile, and a determined, if occasionally unconventional, at home French chef. She lives in southwestern France, where she’s able to explore all of her passions, and where she’s married to a sexy French rocket scientist she met in 1989, but ignored for twenty years.


 

The Bookshop by the Bay

The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela Kelley

Expected publication date:  June 6, 2023 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Jess loves her work as a high-profile lawyer in the respectable and austere city of Charleston. But when she finds her husband, Parker, has been cheating on her with his assistant, she retreats, with her thirty year-old daughter Caitlin for support, to her childhood home on Cape Cod, in Chatham. Caitlin has always been bright but directionless, looking for her passion but keeps coming up blank. And Jess needs to regroup with the help of good food and wine, the company of her best friend, Allison, and come up with a plan for the future.

Allison’s career has hit a low. After twenty years as an editor for the Chatham magazine, circulation is dwindling and though her boss and long-time friend, Jim, does everything to keep her, she has no choice but to take a step back. With a career on hiatus and her main relationship being with Chris, her ex-husband who is still a good friend, Allison is at a pivotal point in life. Her daughter Julia opened her own artisanal jewelry shop a year prior, and she has the kind of day-to-day fulfillment Allison yearns for.

When Allison stops into her beloved local bookstore one day and learns that the owner wants to sell, a long-held dream turns into a reality, thanks to Jess. Allison and Jess set a plan in motion and what was once a place that held warm childhood memories is now theirs to run. As the two friends, along with the help of their daughters, reopen the doors of the cherished bookstore and adjacent coffee shop to the community, they also open themselves up to the possibility of romance, the bonds of mothers and daughters, and the magic of second chances. (publisher)

My take: 

I’m not going to rehash the publisher’s synopsis so I hope you’ll read it (above). The Bookshop by the Bay is my kind of beach read. It’s women’s fiction and involves longtime friends and their daughters – all going through personal dramas.

Jess has lived in Charleston for most of her adult life. Her daughter Caitlin is grown and at loose ends so the timing couldn’t be better for the two of them to visit Jess’s mother on Cape Cod for the summer. Having found out her husband was unfaithful and clearly heading in a different direction from Jess the time away from Charleston will give her space and time to think and make some decisions.

Jess’s best friend from childhood is Allison. She has always dreamed of owning a bookstore and when the opportunity arises she can only hope to make that happen. When Jess agrees to being a business partner suddenly the future looks brighter in many ways. Allison’s daughter is a local jewelry designer whose business is taking off. She wishes her love life looked as bright.

If you’ve read enough romantic women’s fiction you’ll predict the ending and probably be right. I enjoyed it all and look forward to reading more by Pamela Kelley.


About the author:

Pamela M. Kelley is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of women’s fiction, family sagas, and suspense. Readers often describe her books as feel-good reads with people you’d want as friends.

She lives in a historic seaside town near Cape Cod and just south of Boston. She has always been an avid reader of women’s fiction, romance, mysteries, thrillers and cook books. There’s also a good chance you might get hungry when you read her books as she is a foodie, and occasionally shares a recipe or two. (from Goodreads)


 

The Wedding Ranch

The Wedding Ranch by Nancy Naigle

Expected publication:  December 6, 2022 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When Lorri Walker’s husband gifted her with a mastiff puppy on Valentine’s Day, she believed he was recommitting himself to their marriage after going astray. Six months later, he left both her and their dog for someone else. Since her recent move to Dalton Mill to unbraid herself from the past, Lorri’s graphic design business is now flourishing, her growing mastiff, Mister, has plenty of space to romp, and her ex in Raleigh can fade to a distant memory.

Ryder Bolt is haunted by the tragic loss of his wife and young son seven years ago. Thankfully, ranching keeps Ryder busy, and spending time with his niece and nephew—whose venue, The Wedding Ranch, has become a popular tourist destination—keeps him from getting lonely.

When Lorri and Ryder met, love was the last thing they were looking for. When they’re together, smiles come easier and burdens feel lighter, and both are embracing the possibility of something deeper.

But when a long-buried revelation surfaces, the fate that brought them together threatens to tear them apart. (publisher)

My take:

The Wedding Ranch is a story of two people who meet and form a friendship that grows into something more. They’ve lived through life-changing emotional pain and loss but are in a place where they’re ready to move forward in life. Sounds like they’ll get their happily ever after, right?  But there is something that could change everything.There was foreshadowing early on in the novel so I was waiting to see when and how things would play out. I have to say figuring things out so early on kind of took me out of the story. Still, I liked how Naigle brought Lorri and Ryder on their emotional journey of discovery and forgiveness. I also liked the setting and, of course, Mister the dog.


About the author:

USA TODAY Bestselling author, Nancy Naigle, writes love stories from the crossroad of small town and suspense.

With a career spent on the cutting edge of technology in the banking industry, she never let go of her dream to write. Now she works full-time writing stories that are a calming blend of community, family, and the simple things in life. She writes the kind of stories she hopes will provide an escape from the hectic day-to-day in the make believe worlds she creates.

Aside from writing she enjoys hunting for treasures in junk and antique shoppes, and getting crafty no matter what the medium from painting and digitizing embroidery designs, to weaving pine needle baskets. She also enjoys horseback riding on her palomino, Tooter.

A Virginia native, and spending most of her life in the Tidewater area, she now calls North Carolina home.


 

The Wishing Quilt

The Wishing Quilt by 

Jodi Thomas * Lori Wilde * Patience Griffin

Expected publication:  August 30, 2022 – Kensington/Zebra

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take:

The Wishing Quilt is an entertaining anthology sure to appeal to fans of quilting and contemporary romance.

One of my favorite authors is Jodi Thomas and she was the perfect one to lead off the book. The Secret Wish about a ballet dancer who is looking for a new start after an accident forced her into early retirement. She’s open to a new chapter in life but never saw the local sheriff playing a part in her life.

Wish Upon a Wedding by Lori Wilde is about a young doctor returning home for her sister’s wedding. She will be faced with her past and hopefully learn the truth and the why’s of what made her not want to return to her hometown for thirteen years.

Closing out the collection is When You Wish Upon a Quilt – Patience Griffin’s story of a textile professor attending a quilt show that leads to unexpected introductions and possibly, love.

It was an enjoyable anthology about people piecing together their next chapters in life. Recommended to fans of the anthology format (sometimes it’s the perfect way to read!) and the authors.

Description:

Texas is about to be wrapped up in love and homespun perfection with this new contemporary romance anthology featuring novellas from legendary, bestselling authors Jodi Thomas, Lori Wilde, and Patience Griffin! Three novellas weave tales of women whose quilting craft ultimately leads them down the path to love.

THE SECRET WISH * Jodi Thomas
The little town of While-a-Way, Texas, may as well be named Last Chance as far as Avery Cleveland is concerned. Running her late great-grandmother’s quilt shop is the only way to build back her life after losing her dancing career. But local sheriff Daniel Solis is stunned by Avery’s beauty and spirit—and hopes to show her how to stitch brand-new dreams together . . .
 
WISH UPON A WEDDING * Lori Wilde
Ellie Winter’s sister is holding a quilting bee as her bachelorette party, creating a memory quilt for their grandmother. If only the event weren’t happening at the ranch where Ellie spent childhood summers, now owned by the man she can’t forget. Four days surely isn’t enough time to fall in love again . . . but what about four long, hot, summer nights?
 
WHEN YOU WISH UPON A QUILT * Patience Griffin
Paige Holiday’s last visit to the International Quilt Festival in Houston ended in heartbreak. It seems like all the women in her family are unlucky in love. So at this year’s festival, Paige is focused solely on business, until a gorgeous cowboy crosses her path, ready to turn her life—and her luck—around . . . (publisher)


 

Blog Tour Spotlight: The Magic Of Lemon Drop Pie

by Rachel Linden

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; August 2, 2022; Women’s Fiction; Romance

The story:

After her mother’s tragic death ten years ago, Lolly abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant and left her first love behind to care for her younger sister and grieving father and keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat. Now, a decade later, nothing has changed. Each morning Lolly dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies while fantasizing about the life she should be living.

As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, she finds herself re-evaluating everything. After sharing her discontentment, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift—three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t died? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she’s ever loved? All these questions and more will be answered with each adventure. (content from the publisher)


 

The Edge of Summer

The Edge of Summer by Viola Shipman

Published:  July 12, 2022 – Graydon House

Finished copy courtesy of the author

Description:

Devastated by the sudden death of her mother—a quiet, loving and intensely private Southern seamstress called Miss Mabel, who overflowed with pearls of Ozarks wisdom but never spoke of her own family—Sutton Douglas makes the impulsive decision to pack up and head north to the Michigan resort town where she believes she’ll find answers to the lifelong questions she’s had about not only her mother’s past but also her own place in the world.

Recalling Miss Mabel’s sewing notions that were her childhood toys, Sutton buys a collection of buttons at an estate sale from Bonnie Lyons, the imposing matriarch of the lakeside community. Propelled by a handful of trinkets left behind by her mother and glimpses into the history of the magical lakeshore town, Sutton becomes tantalized by the possibility that Bonnie is the grandmother she never knew. But is she? As Sutton cautiously befriends Bonnie and is taken into her confidence, she begins to uncover the secrets about her family that Miss Mabel so carefully hid, and about the role that Sutton herself unwittingly played in it all. (publisher)

My take: 

This is a story of discovery. Sutton is on a journey to solve the mystery of her mother’s past. And what a story it turns out to be. I loved how Viola Shipman’s tale unfolded. The first scene had an emotional impact as it brought back my own vivid Covid memories of visiting my mom at the window of her assisted living apartment.

As Sutton navigates through the aftermath of losing her mom she is compelled to make changes and take chances. Her journey takes her to a Michigan resort town that could provide the answers she’s seeking. A mystery or two will be solved and she might find a future that’s more than she’d ever dreamed.

The Edge of Summer is my kind of perfect summer escape read. It has a mystery, a gorgeous setting, a little romance and a satisfying ending – just what I wanted! Grab a copy to take on vacation this summer or to read on the porch and pretend it’s the Lake Michigan shore.


 

Spotlight: The Edge of Summer

Description:

Bestselling author Viola Shipman delights with this captivating summertime escape set along the sparkling shores of Lake Michigan, where a woman searches for clues to her secretive mother’s past

Devastated by the sudden death of her mother—a quiet, loving and intensely private Southern seamstress called Miss Mabel, who overflowed with pearls of Ozarks wisdom but never spoke of her own family—Sutton Douglas makes the impulsive decision to pack up and head north to the Michigan resort town where she believes she’ll find answers to the lifelong questions she’s had about not only her mother’s past but also her own place in the world.

Recalling Miss Mabel’s sewing notions that were her childhood toys, Sutton buys a collection of buttons at an estate sale from Bonnie Lyons, the imposing matriarch of the lakeside community. Propelled by a handful of trinkets left behind by her mother and glimpses into the history of the magical lakeshore town, Sutton becomes tantalized by the possibility that Bonnie is the grandmother she never knew. But is she? As Sutton cautiously befriends Bonnie and is taken into her confidence, she begins to uncover the secrets about her family that Miss Mabel so carefully hid, and about the role that Sutton herself unwittingly played in it all.

About the author:

Wade Rouse is a popular award-winning memoirist and internationally bestselling author of twelve books, which have been translated into twenty languages and selected as Today show Must-Reads, Indie Next Picks, and Michigan Notable Books. Rouse writes fiction under his grandma’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms inspire his writing. He lives in Michigan and California, and hosts “Wine & Words with Wade, A Literary Happy Hour,” every Thursday live on the Viola Shipman Facebook page.


The Little Cornish House

The Little Cornish House by Donna Ashcroft

Release Date:  June 30, 2022 – Dreamscape Media

Review audio from Dreamscape and NetGalley Audio

Description: (please read)

Thirty-year-old Ruby is done with love: no more drama, no more complications, no more men. She’s living life for herself, and that’s the way she likes it. But her whole world is turned upside down when her grandmother calls to say her beloved pottery business is failing, and she might lose her beautiful little Cornish house by the sea. She needs Ruby to come back to Cornwall and save the day…

Returning to Indigo Cove stirs up memories Ruby would rather forget, but she’s determined to save her grandmother’s home. As the summer heats up, so does the pressure on Ruby, and she’s in need of a distraction. Although quite literally walking into Gabe Roskilly, the sexy and brooding owner of the local brewery, wasn’t part of her game plan.

Ruby tries to ignore her attraction to Gabe, but it’s impossible to avoid the tall, dark, handsome stranger as Gabe is at the center of village life. And when Ruby’s plans for the little Cornish house start to fall apart, she discovers Gabe might be the one person who can help her. Ruby’s promise to stay single is tested to the limit. But are Gabe’s intentions all good, or is Ruby about to get her heart broken again?

Can Ruby save her grandmother’s cottage and find true happiness this summer? Or will secrets from the past ruin everything? (publisher)

My take:

I loved the Cornwall setting, the various characters and even the complicated family dynamics. The Little Cornish House is for fans of multi-generational women’s fiction. There’s a mystery or two to be solved and enough light humor to make it my kind of a summer escape. I thought the main characters Ruby and Gabe had wonderful chemistry. I wasn’t expecting their detailed love scenes but also wasn’t bothered by them. I only mention because I know some readers are sensitive to that. I was happy by the personal growth they individually experienced when they took the necessary courageous steps.

I liked the audio narration by Helen Johns. She made listening to the novel such an enjoyable experience. She voiced each character with just enough nuance to make distinguishing between characters easy for me. I look forward to hearing more of her audiobook performances.



					

Out of the Clear Blue Sky

Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins

Published:  June 7, 2022 – Berkley

Galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t heartbroken. She’s furious.
 
Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife, and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people . . . not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.
 
She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in, of all people, Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie twenty years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.
 
It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you . . . out of the clear blue sky. 
(publisher)

My take:

Lillie is at a point of big change. Her only child is set to graduate high school and head off to a distant college. But her life as a nurse midwife in her small Cape Cod town is full and she can only imagine what the future will bring. Well. Her husband has plans and they don’t include her. He’ll soon find out the truth in the old saying about the fury of a woman scorned. Lillie goes a little crazy and who could blame her.

Then there’s ‘the other woman’. She set a plan to change her life as a young girl and, by golly, she did it. In her mind, she’s worked hard and deserves everything she earned. I wasn’t sure if I was to admire her or be repulsed. I ended up in the latter camp.

Not a bad beach read but my complaint would be the book addressed too many issues. At just under 500 pages it felt long and a few issues could have been edited out. Also, the romantic interest for Lillie felt too convenient and too late in the book. There are some moments of levity and I ended up pulling for Lillie to have a great life going forward.


About the author:

Kristan Higgins has sold 4.5 million books worldwide, scored nine New York Times bestsellers, and is published in more than two dozen languages. Her novels have received rave reviews from the New York Times and NPR and regularly receive national media attention from People, Entertainment Weekly, Woman’s World and more.


 

Sunday at the Sunflower Inn

Sunday at the Sunflower Inn by Jodi Thomas

Published:  April 26, 2022 – Zebra Books/Kensington

Review galley from the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Jessica Ann McKenzie—“Jam” to everyone in Honey Creek—has fulfilled her dream of owning the best restaurant for miles around. Serving candlelit dinners to every couple in town on Valentine’s Day is a reminder of another dream, one she’s just about given up on. Until, that very night, Sergeant Tucson Smith clambers out of the muddy river and onto her land, bringing the promise of something they’ve both been searching for.
 
When McCoy Mason crashes on Interstate 45, he doesn’t just bust up his Mustang, his leg, and his relationship. He also loses his prospects of a job and apartment in Houston. Honey Creek, home to his estranged grandfather, offers a temporary respite, a place to recover before moving on again. After all, what permanent use could a town so picture-perfect have for a man like him?
 
At sixty-seven, Charles H. Winston III lives by order and routine. One of his most cherished rituals is a regular lunch date with three lovely ladies at the Honey Creek Café, including the very proper Miss Lilly Lambert. But it’s not too late to surprise the whole town—or himself—by seizing a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. And there’s no better season than spring, when the warm breeze blowing in from the Brazos River brings fresh hope and second chances to those who need them most . . . (publisher)

My take:

With her new novel, Sunday at the Sunflower Inn, Jodi Thomas proves why she is on my favorite  authors list. This is book four in the series but easily stands alone. That said, if you love a good comfort read I highly recommend any of her books.

As usual, Jodi Thomas writes relatable (on one level or another) characters and situations. I won’t rehash the synopsis included above. I enjoy that she always includes characters of different generations in a way that isn’t caricature. In this book there is young love between a teen couple, love in the 30s for a few people, and love at last for a couple who thought it might have passed them by.

Told with the warmth and humor I’ve come to expect this was a book with characters I wasn’t ready to leave by the last page. Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas and contemporary women’s romantic fiction.


 

Love & Saffron

Love & Saffron by Kim Fay

Published:  February 8, 2022 – Putnam

Book courtesy of the publisher

My take:

Calling all fans of “food fiction” and epistolary novels! I definitely fit into those categories. When a young woman writes a fan letter to a columnist for a monthly ‘home & life’ magazine it is the beginning of a lovely friendship.

Joan is a new food writer living in Los Angeles and Imogen is a 60-ish writer living with her husband on an island off the coast of Seattle. They share parts of their lives, the food they love, and hopes and dreams. The food descriptions had me drooling and I loved that a few recipes were included.

A few notable events of the early 1960s are worked into the story and give a bit of heft to the setting. I appreciated that. What I loved most, though, was the friendship between two women from different generations. Just a lovely novel that I will recommend to friends this spring.


Description:

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter–as well as a gift of saffron–to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic–exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.
 
Food and a good life—they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship—a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.
 
A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating. (publisher)


About the author:

Born in Seattle and raised throughout the Pacific Northwest, Kim Fay lived in Vietnam for four years and still travels to Southeast Asia frequently. A former bookseller, she is the author of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, winner of the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States, and The Map of Lost Memories, an Edgar Award finalist for Best First Novel. She is also the creator/editor of a series of guidebooks on Southeast Asia. Fay now lives in Los Angeles.


 

The Best is Yet to Come

The Best is Yet to Come by Debbie Macomber

Expected publication:  July 12, 2022 – Ballantine

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A new beginning in charming Oceanside, Washington, is exactly what Hope Godwin needs after the death of her twin brother. There are plenty of distractions, like her cozy cottage with the slightly nosy landlords next door, and a brewing drama among her students at the local high school.

Despite having settled quickly into the community, something is still missing for Hope. That is, until her landlord convinces her to volunteer at his animal shelter. There she meets Shadow, a rescue dog that everyone has given up on. But true to her name, Hope believes he’s worth saving.

Like Shadow, shelter volunteer Cade Lincoln Jr., is suffering with injuries most can’t see. A wounded ex-marine, Cade identifies with Shadow, assuming they are both beyond help. Hope senses that what they each need is someone to believe in them, and she has a lot of love to give. As she gains Shadow’s trust, Hope notices Cade begins to open up as well. Finding the courage to be vulnerable again, Cade and Hope take steps toward a relationship, and Hope finally begins to feel at peace in her new home.

But Hope’s new happiness is put to the test when Cade’s past conflicts resurface, and Hope becomes embroiled in the escalating situation at the high school. Love and compassion are supposed to heal all wounds. But are they enough to help Hope and Cade overcome the pain of their past and the obstacles in the way of a better future? (publisher)

My take:

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Debbie Macomber book. The Best Is Yet To Come is a heartwarming novel about people in need of fresh starts.

Cade is a vet who is trying to make sense of his life since returning to the States. Hope is a high school teacher beginning a new job in a new town. They meet as volunteers at the local animal shelter and slowly become friends. Also, part of the story involves events at the high school which adds a bit of drama and a “young love” aspect to the novel.

I enjoyed it all and can recommend to fans of Women’s Fiction, light romance, and the author.


 

The Homewreckers

The Homewreckers by Mary Kay Andrews

Expected publication date:  May 3, 2022 – St. Martin’s Press

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Hattie Kavanaugh went to work restoring homes for Kavanaugh & Son Restorations at eighteen, married the boss’s son at twenty, and became a widow at twenty-five. Now, she’s passionate about her work, but that’s the only passion in her life. “Never love something that can’t love you back,” is advice her father-in-law gives her, but Hattie doesn’t follow it and falls head-over-heels for a money pit of a house. She’s determined to make it work, but disaster after disaster occurs, and Hattie’s dream might cost Kavanaugh & Son their livelihood. Hattie needs money, and fast.

When a slick Hollywood producer shows up in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, she gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: star in a beach house renovation reality show called “The Homewreckers,” cast against a male lead who may be a love interest, or may be the ultimate antagonist. Soon, there’s more at stake than bad pipes and dry rot: during the demolition, evidence comes to light that points to the mysterious disappearance of a young wife and mother years before.

With a burned out detective investigating the case, an arsonist on the loose, two men playing with her emotions, and layers upon layers of vintage wallpaper causing havoc, it’s a question of who will flip, who will flop, and if Hattie will ever get her happily-ever-after. (publisher)

My brief take:

To dig herself out of a financial hole Hattie agrees to be on a home renovation show – a HGTV-like program that is produced to romantically link Hattie and her designer co-host without her knowledge as they renovate an old Tybee Island house.

Add in a years-old unsolved local mystery as well as a dash of romance and a pinch of humor and you’ve got Mary Kay Andrews’ 2022 novel.

It was a fun read (maybe a bit too long) – perfect for reading by the pool or, really, anywhere.


 

A Good Measure

A Good Measure by Nan Rossiter

Expected publication:  April 12, 2022 – Harper Paperbacks

Review copy courtesy of the author and the publisher

Description:

“Sinking into a Nan Rossiter story is like coming home.”—Robyn Carr

Return to Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia in USA Today bestselling author Nan Rossiter’s third Savannah Skies novel, a heartwarming story about love, acceptance, finding your place in the world, and learning to carry on in the face of overwhelming loss.

It has been eight months since Libby Tennyson’s husband, Jack, passed away, and now every afternoon when the fiery sun sinks below the horizon, she finds herself wandering through the empty old farmhouse in which they raised their six sons. Melancholy hour, she calls it—the time of day that was once a flurry of dinner, homework, and chores, but with her sons grown and on their own, she grieves for all she has lost—and worries about what the future holds for her youngest son, twenty-eight-year-old Chase.  

All the Tennyson boys are handsome—but there’s something about Chase that has always made women swoon. Growing up in the shadow of his older brothers, Chase was different—gentler, kinder, a boy with a big heart who looked after those most vulnerable. Though his family loves him deeply, Chase never felt he could truly be himself until he met Liam Evans, his partner in business and love. After six years, Chase and Liam are ready to make a lifetime commitment…yet both feel apprehensive including their very traditional families in their wedding planning.

But life is full of surprises, and Libby finds unexpected hope in her new stage of life when she connects with The Guild, a group of widows who get together every Thursday evening for wine, laughter, and companionship. Here, Libby not only discovers a safe space, but a place of honesty, and…growth. And while Chase and Libby may not see eye to eye every time, they can both always agree that love truly does win.

After all, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, is always poured back…because for all the measure you use, it will be measured to you! (publisher)

My take:

If you enjoy women’s fiction novels about family, friends and life in general you’ll want to read one of Nan Rossiter’s books. A Good Measure is about all these things and I really enjoyed it.

There are three longtime friends who’ve been widowed in recent years: Libby, Payton and Ames. They all face various life challenges and find support and unconditional love in their friends. I most related to Libby but enjoyed the camaraderie of all three.

Libby is learning to live without her husband who passed fairly quickly after a cancer diagnosis. Payton runs a coffee shop with her son who is on the Autism spectrum. Ames is learning to enjoy life as she wants. All three women have grown children who they worry about – as probably every mother on earth does!

The novel is told from the three women’s POV and in alternating short chapters. I turned the final page with a smile and glad to have read the book.

Recommended to fans of the genre and Nan Rossiter.


 

The Golden Couple

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Expected publication: March 8, 2022 – Macmillan Audio

Review audio from the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal–she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault–and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple–until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger. (publisher)

My take:

Avery Chambers is a former therapist who now consults with people who want to improve their lives, relationships, situations, etc. Her ten step process has proven effective but she only takes on clients who agree to that process. She will definitely earn her exorbitant fee with Marissa and Mathew Bishop. They are a golden couple – almost too good to be true. Authors Hendricks and Pekkanen take the reader on a roller coaster ride full of suspense. I have to admit there were times when I wondered just where this novel was headed. It was a slow build that laid the groundwork for a dramatic scene that answered many questions. The story is told from the POV of Avery and Marissa. At a certain point I wasn’t sure of the reliability of either and decided to just get on board and enjoy the finding out.

Narrators Karissa Vacker and Marin Ireland did a wonderful job giving voice to the characters. Their performances enhanced my enjoyment of the book.


 

The Way We Weren’t

Description:

“You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?”
 
Marcie Malone didn’t think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger’s home, she doesn’t seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.
 
Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it—he’s learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she’s on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.
 
As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damage life has wrought, Marcie and Flint have to decide whether to face up to the past they’ve each been running from, and find a way to move forward with the people they care about most. (publisher)

My take:

This is only the second of Phoebe Fox’s novels I’ve read but I can say she is on my short list of “auto-read authors” already. I love how she shapes a story around relatable characters and settings. Who can’t relate to the theme that we are defined by our decisions and the possibility to make changes if we can find the courage? My heart went out to Marcie as she dealt with emotional upheaval and went a little crazy. Lucky for her, Herman Flint found her the day everything played out. Lucky for him too. Without giving more away I’ll just recommend the novel to fans of women’s fiction and the author. Thanks to Berkley and NetGalley for the digital galley.

Note: I also used an Audible credit and recommend the audiobook – wonderful narrators.


 

Celebration at Christmas Cove

Description:

Travel magazine writer Celeste Bell is in a terrible mood. Not only was her flight to the Caribbean diverted to a Massachusetts island, now it looks like she’ll have to spend Christmas there. Single and still mourning the loss of her mother a year earlier, Celeste is desperate to avoid any emotional entanglements and all holiday festivities. She just doesn’t feel like celebrating.
 
But that’s exactly what community center director Nathan White and his young daughter Abigail want to do. Nathan is entirely focused on making sure that his daughter has a happy Christmas, especially with the knowledge that if he can’t raise money for the community center soon, it will close and they’ll have to leave the island. When he meets Celeste, Nathan begins to feel a connection and wonders if he’s brave enough to risk his heart once more.

Thawing their frozen hearts, and saving the community center will require a Christmas miracle. But tis’ the season… (publisher)

My take:

Imagine the disappointment when travel writer Celeste’s flight plans to the Caribbean are changed at the last minute and she’s rerouted to a small Massachusetts island. When weather prevents her from getting off the island she’s forced to rethink and accept her situation.

Nathan is the director of the island activity center that is days away of losing its funding. He feels the incredible stress of letting the community down as he applies for grant after grant. If he can’t pull something together the center will close and he and his daughter will have to move.

Celeste and Nathan are not looking for a relationship but, as happens in a Christmas romance/women’s fiction, fate has other ideas. Carrie Jansen added several supporting characters who enhanced the novel. I loved the New England island setting. Despite feeling a bit of lag in pace in the middle, overall I enjoyed the novel and recommend to fans of Christmas novels.


 

Release Day Spotlight: The Way We Weren’t

The Way We Weren’t by Phoebe Fox

Published:  November 9, 2021 – Berkley Trade

Content courtesy of the publisher

Description:

An unlikely friendship between a septuagenarian and a younger woman becomes a story of broken trust, lost love, and the unexpected blooming of hope against the longest odds.

“You trying to kill yourself, or are you just stupid?”

Marcie Malone didn’t think she was either, but when she drives from Georgia to the southwestern shore of Florida without a plan and wakes up in a stranger’s home, she doesn’t seem to know anymore. Despondent and heartbroken over an unexpected loss and the man she thought she could count on, Marcie leaves him behind, along with her job and her whole life, and finds she has nowhere to go.

Herman Flint has seen just about everything in his seventy years living in a fading, blue-collar Florida town, but the body collapsed on the beach outside his window is something new. The woman is clearly in some kind of trouble and Flint wants no part of it—he’s learned to live on his own just fine, without the hassle of worrying about others. But against his better judgment he takes Marcie in and lets her stay until she’s on her feet on the condition she keeps out of his way.

As the unlikely pair slowly copes with the damage life has wrought, Marcie and Flint have to decide whether to face up to the past they’ve each been running from, and find a way to move forward with the people they care about most.

About the author:

Phoebe Fox is the author of the Breakup Doctor series (The Breakup Doctor, Bedside Manners, Heart Conditions, Out of Practice) and has been a contributor or regular columnist for a number of national, regional, and local publications, including the Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and SheKnows. A former actor on stage and screen, Phoebe has been dangled from wires as a mall fairy; was accidentally concussed by a blank gun; and hosted a short-lived game show. She has been a relationship columnist; a movie, theater, and book reviewer; and a radio personality, and currently lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two excellent dogs.

Photo credit: Korey Howell


 

Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars

Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars by Samantha Vérant

Published:  October 26, 2021 – Berkley

Review galley from the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Everybody wants a piece of grand chef Sophie Valroux. With her once-destroyed reputation fully recovered and then some, Sophie is making her mark in the culinary world. She’s running the restaurants of Château de Champvert, the beautiful estate that she inherited from her grandmother. She and her fiancé, Rémi, are closer than ever, and she’s even bonding with his daughter Lola. Everything should be perfect.

Yet, Sophie still feels something in her heart is missing.

When she’s invited to cook at an exclusive event her culinary idol is attending, she thinks this could be the thing to catapult her to greater heights, maybe even bring her one step closer to her one and only dream of achieving the stars—Michelin stars.

But fate has other plans for Sophie. After she accepts to cook for the Parisian elite, her world crumbles. She suffers a fall and loses her senses of smell and taste. Certain that her career will vanish if people find out, she keeps this secret to herself, not even telling Rémi. She fakes it all: the menus for every meal, the taste of fresh figs, the juicy cherries in the orchard. All she has to do is get through life—and the event—tasteless without missing a single step. Fake it ‘til you make it…right? (publisher)

My take:

I loved Samantha Vérant’s previous novel about Sophie Valroux and am happy to say this new novel didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed going back to the southwest of France where Sophie’s wonderful chateau is situated. Sophie is feeling more confident in her role as chef and things seem to be running smoothly at the chateau. When Sophie is invited to an exclusive event in Paris it might be her chance at gaining notice for her culinary talent and possibly a Michelin star. But not everyone is happy about her going to Paris. Will this upset life back at the chateau? Might it spoil her dreams? I enjoyed it all and turned the final page with a satisfied reader’s smile. Recommended to fans of foodie fiction, a sweet romantic story, and french food. Added bonus? The recipes, of course!


About the author:

Samantha Vérant is a travel addict, a self-professed oenophile, and a determined, if occasionally unconventional, at home French chef. She lives in southwestern France, where she’s married to a French rocket scientist she met in 1989, a stepmom to two incredible kids, and the adoptive mother to a ridiculously adorable French cat. When she’s not trekking from Provence to the Pyrénées or embracing her inner Julia Child, Sam is making her best effort to relearn those dreaded conjugations.


 

Dinner on Primrose Hill

Dinner on Primrose Hill by Jodi Thomas

Publication date:  October 26, 2021

Kensington Books; Zebra

Description:

Benjamin Monroe is pretty sure how his life will play out. He’ll continue teaching chemistry in his small college, and spend his free time biking through the valley. Eventually, he’ll retire to putter around in his garden and greenhouse.
 
His colleague, Virginia Clark, is not one for routines. She’s chatty, spontaneous, and bubbly, and before Benjamin realizes what happened, she’s talked him into collaborating on a research project—studying the mating habits of college students. Virginia knows her desire to work with Benjamin is motivated by more than the potential prize money…and hopes he might not be quite as indifferent as he seems to be.
 
Ketch Kincaid, one of Benjamin’s star students, returned to college after serving in the army. He needs something to get his mind off his recent breakup and collecting research data might do it. And there’s another distraction on the horizon—a woman who looks like she, too, knows about heartache.
 
Soon enough, their project, “The Chemistry of Mating,” is gaining notoriety. Friends, neighbors…the whole town has become involved. But no matter what the data determines, one conclusion seems inescapable: love follows its own rules… (publisher)

My take:

Dinner on Primrose Hill is #3 in the Honey Creek series. That said, it can stand alone. I enjoyed the occasional visit from characters featured in the previous books but if you’re new to the series you won’t feel lost. I won’t rehash the publisher’s description posted above but will say there are a few more characters that add a lot to the story. Told with Jodi Thomas’s signature heart and humor she proved once again why she’s my go-to comfort read author. It’s a story about finding home – be it a place or a person. It was exactly the book I needed at the end of August 2021. If you need a book to take you away you’ll never go wrong with a Jodi Thomas novel. I was happy to find at the end a preview of the next book in the series.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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. Jodi lives in Amarillo, Texas,  and can be found online at JodiThomas.com 


DINNER ON PRIMROSE HILL 

By Jodi Thomas 

Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp. 

On Sale: October 26th 2021 / Trade Paperback Original 

Contemporary Romance / $15.95 ($21.95 CAN) / ISBN: 978-1-4201-5134-3