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


 

Spotlight: Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes

Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes by Alexa Martin

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; September 7, 2021;

Diverse Women’s Fiction

About:

Jude Andrews is famous. Well, at least on Instagram. Her brand is clean eating, good vibes, Pilates, and casually looking like a sun-kissed goddess. In real life, however, she’s a total disaster. She has a strained relationship with her fame-hungry mom and her latest bad decision emptied out her entire savings account.

Lauren Turner had a plan: graduate medical school and become the top surgeon in the country. But when she became unexpectedly pregnant, those plans changed. And when her fiancé left her, they changed again. Now navigating the new world of coparenting, mom groups, and dating,  she decides to launch a mommy podcast with all the advice she wishes someone had given her.

Jude and Lauren don’t have much in common, but maybe that’s why they’ve been best friends since the third grade. Through ups and downs, they’ve been by each other’s sides. But now? They’re broke, single, and do the only thing that makes sense—move in together, just like they talked about when they were teenagers. Except when they were younger, the plan didn’t include a five-year-old daughter and more baggage than their new townhouse can hold. (publisher)


Advance praise for Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes:

“Alexa Martin is an auto-buy author for me. Her first women’s fiction novel brings the same warmth, humor, and sincerity of her romances. Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes is a celebration of the strength, joy, and complications of female friendships that span our lifetimes. I will read anything Alexa Martin writes!”—Lyssa Kay Adams, author of Isn’t It Bromantic?

Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes is a sparkling novel about female friendship in all its messy glory. The love the characters have for one another practically bursts off the page. If their podcast was real, I’d be hitting ‘subscribe’ immediately.”—Laura Hankin, author of Happy & You Know It

Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes is Alexa Martin’s relatable story of the perfectly flawed connections between mothers, daughters, and sister-friends that make life crazy and complete. If you enjoy page turning drama, second chance heroines, or relationships that remind you of the ones that got you through life, you will want to pick up this book and then you won’t want to put it down.”—Alli Frank & Asha Youmans, authors of Tiny Imperfections

“I devoured Mom Jeans and Other Mistakes. In this perfectly of-the-moment story, two strong female characters sprung off the page and into my heart. Jude and Lauren, though very different from each other, are both highly relatable women for whom I found myself cheering the entire time. Mom jeans are definitely a mistake… recommending this book is definitely not!”—Elyssa Friedland, author of Last Summer at the Golden Hotel 

A story of motherhood, friendship, sacrifice, and self-actualization, Alexa Martin’s Mom Jeans & Other Mistakes is an entertaining and empowering novel that honors family in all its iterations.”—Kathleen West, author of Are We There Yet?


About the author:

Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. She lives in Colorado with her husband, a former NFL player who now coaches at the high school where they met, their four children, and a German Shepherd. When she’s not telling her kids to put their shoes on…again, you can find her catching up with her latest book boyfriend or on Pinterest pinning meals she’ll probably never make. Her first book, Intercepted, was inspired by the eight years she spent as an NFL wife.


 

Christmas in July – Spotlight

I’ve accepted a few Christmas review galleys that will publish in September and October so I thought I’d shine a spotlight on them today. I’ll hold off on reading for a while but have to say I’m looking forward to each book!

Description

From May Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it. 

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

Description

The reigning legendary queens of Regency Romance, bestselling authors Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney, deck the halls with this delightful Christmas collection of three sparkling holiday interconnected romances, as stranded travelers find merriment, mistletoe, and holiday romance awaiting at a quaint country inn…
 

THE UNEXPECTED GIFT by Madeline Hunter
Jenna Waverly has closed her inn, anticipating a blissfully quiet Christmas, until a snowstorm brings the first of several strangers to her property. Lucas Avonwood, as charming as he is secretive, is on a mission to track down a scoundrel, but the inn’s lovely owner is giving him a more compelling reason to stay…

WHEN WE FINALLY KISS GOOD NIGHT
 by Sabrina Jeffries
When Flora Younger first met Konrad Juncker, she thought she’d found her match, only to have her hopes dashed. Konrad is now a famous playwright whose plays Flora has secretly panned in reviews. But a chance meeting in a secluded inn may help them rewrite this star-crossed romance…

WHEN STRANGERS MEET by Mary Jo Putney
Kate Mcleod is shocked to find that her fellow guest in the snowbound inn is the dashing soldier who may or may not be her husband. Daniel Faringdon barely remembers that long-ago night when he rescued her from disaster, but the desire they discover now will be impossible to forget, or to ignore . . .

Description

Maybe this Christmas can thaw his frozen heart—and heal hers.

Hollywood starlet Tia Beckett knows one moment can change your life. Her career had been on the fast track before a near-fatal accident left her with a debilitating facial scar. Certain her A-lister dreams are over, she agrees to house-sit at her producer’s secluded estate in Silver Springs. It’s the escape from the limelight Tia’s been craving, until she discovers she’s not the only houseguest for the holidays. And her handsome new roomie is impossible to ignore.

Artist Seth Turner has good reason to keep his distance. Losing his wife after only a few years of marriage has left a deep scar, even if he is still happy to spend a semester teaching art classes at the New Horizons Boys Ranch for troubled teens. Despite nursing her own wounds, Tia finds her curiosity piqued by enigmatic Seth, whom she recognizes as something of a kindred soul. Maybe spending Christmas together could be another game changer for both of them—this time, for good.

Description

“[Thayne’s] books are wonderfully romantic, feel-good reads that end with me sighing over the last pages.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Celebrate the season with this sparkling holiday romance, perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Dorthea Benton Frank, and Nancy Thayer!

Ranch manager Annie McCade thought her twin niece and nephew could join her at the Angel View Ranch for Christmas with her absent employer being none the wiser. But when the ranch’s owner, Tate Sheridan, shows up out of the blue, Annie’s plans are upended. Soon she finds herself helping Tate make a Christmas to remember for his grieving and fractured extended family.

Sleigh Bells Ring is the latest heartwarming, festive Christmas story by New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne.

Description:

After a confession of murder, a sleuthing English teacher will need a Christmas miracle to prove a condemned man innocent

Colorful Christmas lights dapple the family homes in the idyllic lakeside town of Sweet Haven when Jennifer Dean, a young librarian at the local elementary school, is brutally murdered. There are witnesses and her boyfriend Travis Blake confesses to the crime… but something doesn’t quite add up. Blake is a third generation Army Ranger, awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Afghanistan―how could a beloved son of this tight-knit burgh commit such a grisly deed?

As a community of military families a few miles down the road from an Army base, no one in Sweet Haven wants to investigate a war hero like Blake, not even the top brass at the police department. In steps Cameron Winter, a rugged and lonesome English professor haunted by the ghosts of his own Christmas past, whose former lover asks him to prove Blake innocent. The Sweet Haven murder reverberates in his mind, echoing a horrific yuletide memory from his youth, and Winter knows there are darker powers at play here than a simple domestic dispute. If he can solve this small-town mystery, just maybe he can find peace from his inner demons as well.

The thirty-sixth novel by two-time Edgar Award winner Andrew Klavan, When Christmas Comes is a seasonal tale of tradition, family, and murder; its chilling twists are best experienced curled up beside a burning Yule log.

The Summer of Lost and Found

The Summer of Lost and Found

Description:

The coming of Spring usually means renewal, but for Linnea Rutledge, Spring 2020 threatens stagnation. Linnea faces another layoff, this time from the aquarium she adores. For her—and her family—finances, emotions, and health teeter at the brink. To complicate matters, her new love interest, Gordon, struggles to return to the Isle of Palms from England. Meanwhile, her old flame, John, turns up from California and is quarantining next door. She tries to ignore him, but when he sends her plaintive notes in the form of paper airplanes, old sparks ignite. When Gordon at last reaches the island, Linnea wonders—is it possible to love two men at the same time?

Love in the time of coronavirus proves challenging, at times humorous, and ever changing. Relationships are redefined, friendships made and broken, and marriages tested. As the weeks turn to months, and another sea turtle season comes to a close, Linnea and the Rutledge family continue to face their challenges with the strength, faith, and commitment that has inspired readers for decades. (publisher)

My take:

I’ve read a few of the books in the Beach House series and love it because of how author Mary Alice Monroe includes themes of family dynamics and ecology, and the continuation of story lines with familiar characters from previous books. It’s like going home and catching up when I read these books. The Summer of Lost and Found hit all the notes and had me flipping the pages. It takes place during 2020 so was even more relatable because we’ve all been through the pandemic and all that it involved. It was the perfect summer read but if you need to catch up with the series (because that’s how you read) this book will work in any season.

Recommended.

Shoulder Season

Description:

The small town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is an unlikely location for a Playboy Resort, and nineteen-year old Sherri Taylor is an unlikely bunny. Growing up in neighboring East Troy, Sherri plays the organ at the local church and has never felt comfortable in her own skin. But when her parents die in quick succession, she leaves the only home she’s ever known for the chance to be part of a glamorous slice of history. In the winter of 1981, in a costume two sizes too small, her toes pinched by stilettos, Sherri joins the daughters of dairy farmers and factory workers for the defining experience of her life.

Living in the “bunny hutch”—Playboy’s version of a college dorm—Sherri gets her education in the joys of sisterhood, the thrill of financial independence, the magic of first love, and the heady effects of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. But as spring gives way to summer, Sherri finds herself caught in a romantic triangle—and the tragedy that ensues will haunt her for the next forty years.  

From the Midwestern prairie to the California desert, from Wisconsin lakes to the Pacific Ocean, this is a story of what happens when small town life is sprinkled with stardust, and what we lose—and gain—when we leave home. With a heroine to root for and a narrative to get lost in, Christina Clancy’s Shoulder Season is a sexy, evocative tale, drenched in longing and desire, that captures a fleeting moment in American history with nostalgia and heart. (publisher)

My take:

Sherri Taylor spent most of her high school years caring for her sick mother. When she died Sherri had no idea what the future would hold. College wasn’t an option so when her best friend announced she was going to interview at the Playboy Resort in nearby Lake Geneva, Sherri went with her on a whim. That interview set the course for her life. Sherri’s story is that of a small town girl moving into a fast paced life style. Bunny culture was a world apart from the first 18 years of her life. A naive, innocent and trusting girl, newly orphaned, finds a new family with her co-workers and staff at the resort. Shoulder Season is a look back at the devil-may-care early 1980s. It’s a coming-of-age story that kept me turning the pages. I loved the local Wisconsin mentions as well as pop-culture references. I appreciate that Christina Clancy neatly wrapped up her story with a where-are-they-now ending.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advance reader copy and Macmillan Audio for the audio via NetGalley. Narrator Karissa Vacker did a fabulous job with the narration – especially the perfect pronunciation of the names of various Wisconsin towns! I’ve listened to several books narrated by Vacker and, as with Shoulder Season, her performance is always top notch.

About the author:

Christina Clancy is the author of The Second Home. Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Chicago TribuneThe Sun Magazine, and in various literary journals, including Glimmer TrainPleiades, and Hobart. She holds a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her family.

Praise for SHOULDER SEASON:

Shoulder Season is a delightBriskly plotted, the book moves like a river through time, sweeping the reader along for an unexpected, humorous, and surprising journey of friendship, exploration, and discovery.”

––Nickolas Butler, bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs

Shoulder Season shines a bright light on a neglected moment in history and tells a coming-of-age story I’ve truly never read before. In Sherri, Christina Clancy rescues the Playboy Bunny from ridicule and illuminates her inner life with all of the richness and complexity she deserves.”

 ––Lauren Fox, author of Days of Awe

“Christina Clancy’s story of a young woman’s difficult road to independence hums with contemporary resonance. Clancy is a gifted storyteller, and Shoulder Season is a riveting tale of ambition, romance, friendship, heartbreak and hope.” 

––Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party

“I adored the story of Sherri, an unlikely Playboy Bunny, and her wild and poignant adventures inside the Lake Geneva Playboy Resort. Both a tender coming of age novel and a sun-drenched ride through the 1980’s poolside and in Hugh Hefner’s glamorous suite, Shoulder Season is an absolute pleasure.”

––Amanda Ward, author of the New York Times bestseller The Jetsetters

Shoulder Season is a triumph of heart, of courage, and of resilience — and a message that the tragedies that spark our journeys don’t decide their endings. I loved it.”

––J. Ryan Stradal, bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Shoulder Season is a beautifully-written, thrilling, heartbreaking story of a bumpy coming of age. A page-turner full of twists and surprises, Bunnies and bad boyfriends, and lasting sisterhood found in unexpected places. I loved it.

––Julia Claiborne Johnson, bestselling author of Be Frank With Me

Expertly researched and flawlessly executed, Shoulder Season has a bit of everything: adventure and excess; love and heartbreak; shocking tragedy. You’ll start reading for the wild ride of the Playboy Resort but stay for Sherri, the complex protagonist at the heart of this exquisite novel.”

—Amy Meyerson, author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Imperfects

I tore through this vibrant coming-of-age tale of small-town girls seduced by a new life of sex and glitter just miles from their quiet Wisconsin towns. Clancy’s vulnerable characters come roaring to life in full eighties glamour—before spiraling toward a central tragedy that will define their adult lives and the very definition of home.”

—Steven Rowley, bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus

What a Happy Family

Description:

From the outside, the Joshi family is the quintessential Indian-American family. Decades ago, Bina and Deepak immigrated to America, where she became a pillar of their local Indian community and he, a successful psychiatrist. Their eldest daughter, Suhani, is following the footsteps of her father’s career and happily married. Natasha, their middle daughter, is about to become engaged to the son of longtime family friends. And Anuj, their son—well he’s a son and what could be better than that?
 
But a family scandal shows that nothing is as it seems. Bina’s oldest friendship starts to unravel and she finds herself as an outsider in the community she helped build. Suhani discovers that her perfect marriage isn’t as solid as she thought. Natasha faces a series of rejections that send her into a downward spiral. 
 

As they encounter public humiliation, gossiping aunties, and self-doubt, the Joshi family must rely on each other like never before. But sometimes, family has to fall apart in order to come back stronger than before. (publisher)

My take:

What a Happy Family is the story of the Joshi family. Author Saumya Dave’s second novel continues the themes from her first: cultural, family, societal expectations and the effect on everyone involved. All are relatable no matter what the reader’s background. My heart went out to matriarch Bina as she endures a humiliation that goes to the core of all she holds important. She only wants the best for her family but at what cost? What to do when her daughters make choices that were never considered by her generation. A major topic of the novel, especially in the second half, is depression. When it strikes close to home what does one do? No matter how prepared a person or family is, there’s still the stigma of mental illness. The hope is that it will be faced with courage and faith in the ones closest to them. What a Happy Family is a family drama that had me flipping the pages, completely entertained and wanting to know how things would work out for the Joshis. Recommended to fans of contemporary diverse women’s fiction. And I’m sure wonderful discussion would come from book groups. There are discussion questions at the end.

WHAT A HAPPY FAMILY by Saumya Dave

Berkley Trade Paperback Original; June 22, 2021; Diverse Women’s fiction

Spotlight: Pack Up The Moon

Pack Up The Moon by Kristan Higgins

Description:

Every month, a letter. That’s what Lauren decides to leave her husband when she finds out she’s dying. Each month, she gives Josh a letter containing a task to help him face this first year without her, leading him on a heartrending, beautiful, often humorous journey to find happiness again in this new novel from the New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins.
 
Joshua and Lauren are the perfect couple. Newly married, they’re wildly in love, each on a successful and rewarding career path. Then Lauren is diagnosed with a terminal illness. 
 
As Lauren’s disease progresses, Joshua struggles to make the most of the time he has left with his wife and to come to terms with his future–a future without the only woman he’s ever loved. He’s so consumed with finding a way to avoid the inevitable ending that he never imagines his life after Lauren.
 
But Lauren has a plan to keep her husband moving forward. A plan hidden in the letters she leaves him. In those letters, one for every month in the year after her death, Lauren leads Joshua on a journey through pain, anger, and denial. It’s a journey that will take Joshua from his attempt at a dinner party for family and friends to getting rid of their bed…from a visit with a psychic medium to a kiss with a woman who isn’t Lauren. As his grief makes room for laughter and new relationships, Joshua learns Lauren’s most valuable lesson: The path to happiness doesn’t follow a straight line. 
 
Sometimes heartbreaking, often funny, and always uplifting, this novel from New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins illuminates how life’s greatest joys are often hiding in plain sight.
(publisher)

About the author:

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly twenty novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children and dogs. If… More about Kristan Higgins

Paperback | $16.00  
Published by Berkley
Jun 08, 2021 | 464 Pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/4| ISBN 9780451489487

The Break-Up Book Club

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

Description:

On paper, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara have little in common – they’re very different people leading very different lives. And yet at book club meetings in an historic carriage house turned bookstore, they bond over a shared love of reading (and more than a little wine) as well as the growing realization that their lives are not turning out like they expected. 

Former tennis star Jazmine is a top sports agent balancing a career and single motherhood. Judith is an empty nester questioning her marriage and the supporting role she chose. Erin’s high school sweetheart and fiancé develops a bad case of cold feet, and Sara’s husband takes a job out of town saddling Sara with a difficult mother-in-law who believes her son could have done better – not exactly the roommate most women dream of.

With the help of books, laughter, and the joy of ever evolving friendships, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara find the courage to navigate new and surprising chapters of their lives as they seek their own versions of happily-ever-after. (publisher)

My take:

Wendy Wax is back with a new stand-alone novel about members of a book club. The Break-Up Book Club is set at an Atlanta bookstore. At first glance the group of readers don’t seem to have a lot in common besides their love of reading. But as time goes by each member will find out just how important they are to each other.

I loved that the members were diverse in many ways and had so much to learn from each other – not the least being the lesson of empathy. You never know what another person has experienced and that you might have more in common with them than you’d thought.

There are serious issues addressed but Wendy Wax’s humor and warmth cushioned it all in a way that had me smiling at the end. I enjoyed it and recommend to fans of the author and women’s fiction.