The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell

  • the-young-wives-clubTitle:  The Young Wives Club
  • Author:  Julie Pennell
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Southern Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – Atria/Emily Bestler Books/Alloy Entertainment
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side in this charming debut novel perfect for fans of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Desperate Housewives. 

Laura Landry’s quarterback husband was her ticket out of Toulouse. But when a devastating football injury sidelines him, they’re forced to move back to the small town she was so desperate to leave. As Brian starts drinking instead of rehabbing his knee, Laura must reevaluate what her future looks like…and if it includes her husband.

For years, Madison Blanchette has been waiting for bad-boy musician Cash Romero to commit to her. When wealthy George Dubois asks her out, she figures she may as well wait in style. Life with George means weekend trips to New Orleans, gourmet meals, and expensive gifts. At first she loves how George’s affection sparks Cash’s jealousy, but when George proposes to Madison, she finds herself torn between two men…

All Claire Thibodeaux wants is to be the perfect wife and mother. If she can do everything right she won’t end up like her mom, a divorced, single parent trying to make ends meet. But when Claire’s husband Gavin, a well-respected local pastor, starts spending late nights at work and less time in their bed, she can’t help but fear that history is about to repeat itself…

Gabrielle Vaughn never thought she’d end up with someone like her fiancé. The son of a prominent congressman, Tony Ford is completely out of her league—which is why she lied to him about everything from having a college degree to the dark truth about her family. She knows she has to come clean, but how do you tell the love of your life that your entire relationship is a lie?

As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.  (publisher)

My take:  The Young Wives Club is about a group of friends who grew up together in a small Louisiana town where everyone goes to the same school and the same social events, etc. It’s the norm to marry young and the dream is to live happily ever after.

The friends learn that dreams don’t always come true. Some will learn that what they thought was their dream really wasn’t. They’ll all find out that they have the power to change their circumstances.

I thought Julie Pennell’s debut novel was sweet and had a good message. It’s a story told with a lot of heart and humor. My problem with reading it is my fault – I’m just not the right age demographic. I think younger women (late teens – twenties) might get more from reading it than I did. I could be wrong so if the publisher’s synopsis grabs your attention then you should read it!  I enjoyed Pennell’s writing style and would definitely take a look at her next book. Recommended to fans of Southern Chick-Lit.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julie Pennell grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, where she ate her weight in crawfish, used the word “y’all” a lot, and wrote a weekly “Teen Scene” column for the local paper. After graduating from college, she moved to New York to work at Seventeen magazine and later Alloy Entertainment as a digital editor. She lives in New York City with her husband and is a regular contributor to Teen Vogue, TODAY.com, and The NestThe Young Wives Club is her first novel.

THE YOUNG WIVES CLUB by Julie Pennell

Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books Paperback | ISBN: 9781501136467 | On sale: February 14, 2017 | 320 pages | $16.00


FIND JULIE ONLINE:

Website: http://juliepennell.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @juliepens

Instagram: @juliepens

 

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In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell

  • in-the-shadow-of-lakecrestTitle:  In the Shadow of Lakecrest
  • Author:  Elizabeth Blackwell
  • Genre:  Historical Mystery
  • Pages:  271
  • Published:  February 2017 – Lake Union Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher

Description: The year is 1928. Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape—as long as she can keep her past concealed.

After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right with her husband—or her new family. As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband’s disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew’s terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before. As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone’s sanity—especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family’s twisted past? (publisher)

My take:  This historical mystery was a quick read. Two people, a young governess and a young man who’d been attending to his family’s business in Europe, met on board a ship sailing home to America in the 1920s. There was an instant attraction and the two married soon after reaching Chicago. What followed was Kate’s story of learning what it meant to be part of Matthew’s family. There’s a creepy mansion and family secrets and a domineering matriarch who is mainly interested in appearances.

I liked the setting of the Lake Michigan shore as well as the era of the 1920s. I think fans of mysteries with gothic undertones would enjoy In the Shadow of Lakecrest. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.


About the author:

Elizabeth Blackwell is the author of While Beauty Slept. A graduate of Northwestern University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she lives outside of Chicago with her family and piles of books she is absolutely, positively going to read someday.

Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

  • stolen-beauty-march-17Title:  Stolen Beauty: A Novel
  • Author:  Laurie Lico Albanese
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – Atria Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings.

In the dazzling glitter of 1903 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons.

Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive.

Will Maria and her family escape the grip of Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for? (from the publisher)

My take:  I love to read historical fiction about works of art so this novel seemed perfect for me. It features a woman, Adele Bloch-Bauer, whose portrait was painted by Gustav Klimt in 1907. There’s another storyline that involves Bloch-Bauer’s niece, Maria Altmann. Maria was almost like a daughter to her aunt who hadn’t been able to carry a pregnancy to term. Many years later Maria would heed the call she felt to save something very important to her beloved aunt and uncle.

It was interesting reading the author’s imagined details in the story of a remarkable young woman, Adele, who captured the artist’s attention. Klimt and his contemporaries were pushing the art world in new directions that weren’t appreciated by the establishment. However, Bloch-Bauer was part of society that hosted intellectual salons that encouraged these artists – all at a time when the drums of change were starting a low-sounding beat in European politics.

Laurie Lico Albanese’s novel had a slow start for me but gradually picked up the pace and captured my interest to the point where I didn’t want to stop reading. I did stop from time to time to look up Klimt’s paintings which I found breath-taking. I learned about aspects of the Viennese culture in the early 20th century that I hadn’t a clue about before reading Stolen Beauty. I also learned about Klimt’s paintings. I’d only been familiar with The Kiss before reading this novel but there are so many more. That’s what I love about historical fiction – when done well the story is what grabs the reader but the truth is the star. I thought the author brought it all together beautifully. Recommended to fans of historical fiction and art.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Laurie Lico Albanese is the author of the novel Stolen Beauty, which brings to life the world of Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer in fin-de-siecle Vienna. Stolen Beauty spans a century and 2 generations of Jewish women. It is the first time that Adele Bloch-Bauer is brought to life in fiction.

Albanese is also co-author of The Miracles of Prato (Morrow, 2009 / Booksense Summer Reading Selection 2009), a work of historical fiction set in Renaissance Italy, and the author of Blue Suburbia: Almost a Memoir (Perennial, 2004 Booksense Best Books of the Year selection) and Lynelle by the Sea (Putnam, 2000), a novel. Albanese is the recipient of a Catherine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship, a NJ State Council on the Arts fellowship, and co-recipient of a Hadassah-Brandeis Research Grant. She teaches writing, travels widely, and has written travel stories for the New York Times Sunday Travel section, More magazine, and Narratively. In 2016 she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She is the mother of two grown children and lives outside of NYC with her husband, Frank, who is a book publishing executive.


Praise for Stolen Beauty:

“This sensual and mesmerizing novel brings to vivid life Gustav Klimt and his greatest muse and model, Adele Bloch-Bauer. For fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Paula McLain’s Circling the SunSTOLEN BEAUTY is a must-read. I tore through the pages.” — Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of ORPHAN TRAIN.

“Laurie Lico Albanese has given us a powerful and important tale of love and war, art and family. Filled with lush prose and vivid historical detail, STOLEN BEAUTY is a work simultaneously intimate and sweeping in its scope. I was transported; I loved being swept up into the glorious, golden era of fin de siecle Vienna.” — Allison Pataki, New York Times Bestselling Author of SISI: EMPRESS ON HER OWN.


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January books:

  • 1.   The Echo of Twilight by Judith Kinghorn
  • 2.   Wild Horse Springs by Jodi Thomas
  • 3.   The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
  • 4.   The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell
  • 5.   A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber
  • 6.   Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh
  • 7.   In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen
  • 8.   Anything For You by Kristan Higgins
  • 9.   News of the World by Paulette Jiles
  • 10. A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran
  • 11. A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery
  • 12. The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle
I enjoyed them all but if pressed for a favorite it would have to be News of the World. I listened to the audiobook.
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Starlight Bridge Teaser/Excerpt/Giveaway

 

starlight-bridgeABOUT THE BOOK

  • Title: STARLIGHT BRIDGE
  • Author: Debbie Mason
  • Series: Harmony Harbor, #2
  • On Sale: February 28, 2017
  • Publisher: Forever
  • Mass Market: $7.99 USD
  • eBook: $5.99 USD

Add to Goodreads

A second chance for romance…

Hidden in Graystone Manor is a book containing all the dark secrets of Harmony Harbor, and Ava DiRossi is determined to find it. No one—especially not her ex-husband, Griffin Gallagher—can ever discover what really tore her life apart all those years ago. With Griffin back in town, it’s more important than ever that she find the book before someone else does. Because her ex is still angry with her for leaving him. And he still has no idea Ava never stopped loving him…

Ava is no longer the vibrant, happy woman Griffin had once loved and married, and he would do anything to bring back the sparkle to her brilliant green eyes. But what’s never changed are the sexy sparks of attraction between Ava and Griffin, and he won’t give her up again without a fight. He knows there’s the real possibility of a future together…if the truth doesn’t burn the bridge between them forever.

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PREORDER THE BOOK HERE:

THE HARMONY HARBOR SERIES

Series Page on Goodreads

  • MISTLETOE COTTAGE, #1
  • CHRISTMAS WITH AN ANGEL, #1.5
  • STARLIGHT BRIDGE, #2
    PRIMROSE LANE, #3

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

debbie-mason-credit-debbie-mazzuraDebbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado and Harmony Harbor series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews). When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, three wonderful children, two adorable grandbabies, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella in Ontario, Canada.

 

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STARLIGHT BRIDGE Teaser Excerpt

“We’re in business, Simon. This should do—”
“Tell Grams I’ll see her in a bit.”
Her gaze shot to the door. She’d recognize that voice anywhere. Griffin was here. Now. Outside the door. She shot to her feet, shoving the candelabra in front of the fireplace.

Meow.

She’d trapped Simon. She grabbed the cat, put him on the floor, and scooped up the bucket and sponges while frantically searching for somewhere to hide. The balcony. She didn’t care if she froze to death; she couldn’t let him find her here.

As she turned to run, Ava heard the beep of the passkey. She wouldn’t make it. She spun around and ran the short distance to the bathroom. Her breath coming in panicked puffs, she stepped inside the bathtub and carefully inched the crimson and gold shower curtain across the rod. She sagged against the tile wall, praying his in a bit meant he’d drop his bags off and leave.

If it had been anyone other than Griffin, she’d pretend to be cleaning the room. But she remembered all too clearly the humiliation of being discovered by Griffin and his ex-wife the last time they’d stayed at the manor. He’d looked at Ava like he hadn’t known who she was, and his wife had asked for fresh towels, acting as though Ava hadn’t done her job.

And then there was the book. She couldn’t leave without it.
“How did you get in here?”
Her gaze jerked to the curtain, her heart beating double time. She let out the

breath she’d been holding when the bed creaked. Simon. Griffin was talking to the cat. “Better question would be, what have you been up to? Your paws are black. Off the bed, buddy.”

Her toes curled in her shoes, a warm, fluttery sensation settling low in her stomach in response to the slow drawl of Griffin’s deep voice. He always spoke in that low, unhurried tone. Even when he was angry or when he was whispering how much he loved her or when he was talking her out of her temper. Only then there’d been a hint of laughter too. Her temper used to amuse him. He had a long fuse; she had a short one. She used to, at least.

Her lips curved at the memories; then her wistful smile faded when the consequences of what he’d just said penetrated her lovesick brain. Simon’s paws were dirty. All she’d need was for Griffin to start looking for the source. She had to…

There was the rasp of a zipper, then the light thud of something hitting the floor. At the sound of heavy footfalls approaching the bathroom, Ava’s eyes went wide, and she pressed her back against the tiled wall. A bare, muscled arm reached past the curtain, a large hand turning on the water. The cold spray from the showerhead hit her in the face, and a small, shocked squeak escaped before she could contain it.

Griffin whipped back the shower curtain. His thick, toffee-colored hair glistened under the fluorescent light, his dazzling, deep blue eyes wide in surprise. She opened her mouth to say something, but the words got stuck in her throat as her eyes drifted down his body. He was completely and gloriously naked. And even more beautiful than she remembered.

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On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

  • on-second-thought-2117Title:  On Second Thought
  • Author:  Kristan Higgins
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Pages:  480
  • Published:  January 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Two sisters, Kate and Ainsley, have recently suffered the loss of their partners. Kate’s husband of a few months has died and Ainsley’s boyfriend of eleven years broke up with her in a humiliating way. Kate is grieving her loss like one would expect and so is Ainsley.

Eventually the two sisters wind up living together in Kate’s home. This proves to be a second chance of sorts for the sisters to get to know each other. They are seven years apart and really only share a father. Ainsley never felt her step-mother, Kate’s mom, accepted her and that affected her relationship with Kate. Living together now as women in their 30s gives new perspective to both.

Yes, this is a novel about grief and going through the phases but it was also about sisters and the many facets of that relationship. I could relate. I loved Ainsley and Kate – very different women outwardly but quite similar at the core.

Kristan Higgins writes with her usual humor and ease about the human condition. I enjoyed On Second Thought very much and recommend to fans of Higgins and women’s fiction.

About the author:

Kristan Higgins is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the beloved Blue Heron series. She has won two RITA® Awards from the Romance Writers of America and is a five-time nominee for the Kirkus Prize for best work of fiction.