This week was a busy one so my only challenge was to hit 10K steps average/day.
- Fri 10139
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- Sun 11304
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Read on the treadmill:
Description: From the beloved books editor at Glamour magazine comes a heartfelt and painfully funny debut about what happens when a wife and mother of three leaps at the chance to fulfill her professional destiny—only to learn every opportunity comes at a price.
In A Window Opens, Elisabeth Egan brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor, and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker, or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers—an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life—seems suddenly within reach.
Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up, and her work takes an unexpected turn. Fans of I Don’t Know How She Does It, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she—Alice Pearse—really want? (publisher)
My take: When Alice Pearce’s husband quits his job after learning he won’t make partner Alice starts searching for a full-time job that will help make ends meet until Nicholas can get his private law practice up and running. She lands a job with a company that, while the income is wonderful, may require the sale of her soul.
Life as Alice knew it quickly changes. On top of the new job learning curve, Alice’s father is quite ill, Nicholas seems to be drinking more than she’s ever known him to, and their three kids need her more than ever before. Alice has to bring home a paycheck so she keeps trying to hold things together.
For as anxious as all that may make a reader feel I found Egan’s writing engaging to the point where I didn’t want to stop reading. My kids are raised and yet I find myself in the “sandwich generation” in that I help out by watching my grandchildren and have elderly parents who are dealing with health issues.
I enjoyed all the characters in the novel but most of all Alice. I could relate to her on a few levels. My heart went out to her because I understood her unenviable position. I loved that, from time to time, Alice remembered quotations from people such as Frost and Churchill. And I loved Alice’s relationship with her dad. Their scenes and exchanges made me tear up a few times.
A Window Opens is a wonderful debut and I look forward to Elisabeth Egan’s next book.
Bestselling author Nicole Dweck brings to life one of history’s greatest yet overlooked stories of love and resilience.
In 2002, thirty-two-year-old Selim Osman, the last descendant of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, flees Istanbul for New York. In a twist of fate he meets Hannah, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and an artist striving to understand a father she barely knows. Unaware the connection they share goes back centuries, the two feel an immediate pull to one another. But as their story intertwines with that of their ancestors, the heroic but ultimately tragic decision that bound two families centuries ago ripples into the future, threatening to tear Hannah and Selim apart.
From a 16th-century harem to a seaside village in the Holy Land, from Nazi-occupied Paris to modern-day Manhattan, Nicole Dweck’s The Debt of Tamar weaves a spellbinding tapestry of love, history, and fate that will enchant readers from the very first page.
Praise for The Debt of Tamar:
“I was enchanted by The Debt of Tamar. This lyrical tale of lovers lost and found across the centuries had me hooked to the last page. Nicole Dweck is a natural storyteller.” –Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times bestselling author of 22 Britannia Road
“A promising literary debut that entertains as well as informs. History, this book reminds us, is often more stunning and implausible than fiction itself.” –Gina B. Nahai, bestselling author of Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
NICOLE DWECK holds a BA in Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Global Affairs from NYU. When The Debt of Tamar, her debut novel, was self-published, it became a USA Today bestseller and received honorable mention in Writer’s Digest‘s Self-Published Book Awards. She lives in New York City with her husband and their son.
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This view is on my neighborhood walk – it was quite foggy a couple of days last week
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Description: Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it’s the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there’s an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .
The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . . (publisher)
My take: In her new series Jill Shalvis introduces the Kincaid family of siblings. Second Chance Summer focuses on Aidan and his chance at reconnecting with Lily Danville – a girl from his past.
Lily is back in town and working at a local hair salon while waiting for a better job opportunity (preferably out-of-town). She left Cedar Ridge with heartbreak several years ago and wants to keep a low profile for the short time she expects to be in town. Not possible in a small Colorado mountain town. She runs into the one guy she wanted to avoid – Aidan. He has his own issues not the least being that he feels completely responsible for his family (mother and siblings). And now he hopes for a second chance with Lily.
I’ve come to expect humor, drama and, of course, romance in a Jill Shalvis novel and they are present throughout Second Chance Summer culminating in an exciting last chapter and enjoyable epilogue.
As always, Karen White’s narration is perfect for this genre and especially books by Jill Shalvis.
Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town—where family can be made by blood or by choice…
Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent of Ransom Canyon’s founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O’Grady… or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.
Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand’s son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn’t imagined.
Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn’t plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town’s weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car’s pedals, isn’t prepared for what he encounters.
In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.
My take: Ransom Canyon is the first book in Jodi Thomas’s new series. I enjoyed meeting the people who live in and around Crossroads, Texas. After maintaining an almost aloof relationship for years Staten Kirkland and Quin O’Grady are faced with a life-changing decision.
Newcomer Yancy Grey is hoping for a second chance at life when he falls into a job that surprises him even more than the people who will come to rely on him.
There’s a budding friendship between two teens that may become more over the course of the next few years. That will have to wait if Lauren’s father has anything to say about it. He’s the sheriff, after all.
I loved the way Jodi Thomas wove her story with love, drama and humor. It’s why I enjoy her books so much. I can’t wait to read the next book in the Ransom Canyon series. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary, small town romance.
With seven generations of my family in Texas, of course I write about the state I love. In this new series I’m going more modern-day western than I ever have. Step into the life of small towns and ranching with me. I promise, you’ll fall in love with the people of Ransom Canyon.
The idea for RANSOM CANYON came from living in the Texas Panhandle. I wanted to write about the real west of today. I wanted my people to be like the men and women I grew up with, honest and true. Not the cowboy on a book cover who has never been on a horse, but the cowboy who gets up at five to load his own horse and make it to the ranch before dawn. He doesn’t work by the hour, but by the day.
More than anything else I’ve always thought the people make the stories in books. I love characters who walk off the page and the reader falls a little bit in love as they discover not only passion, but a bond as deep as time.
As I began my first book in the series Staten Kirkland jumped off the page. He’s strong and good, a rancher everyone looks up to, but he’s broken and only one woman can calm his heart. Shy Quinn asks nothing of him. She offers understanding amid the storm of his life.
Ransom Canyon is about the beauty of people and how they interact with one another as friends, families and lovers. And, of course, the winners in life’s game are the people who love the deepest. So, saddle up with me and step into Ransom Canyon.
Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 41 novels and 13 short story collections. A five-time RITA winner, Jodi currently serves as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn returns to her Victorian-era roots and introduces a new, adventurous protagonist in Veronica Speedwell
Advance Praise for A CURIOUS BEGINNING:
“The intrepid Veronica’s witty narration and the sexual tension she shares with the equally eccentric and articulate Stoker deliver a fun read with promises of more to come.” Publishers Weekly
“Mastermind of the charming Lady Grey Mysteries series, Raybourn introduces her latest feisty heroine, deftly twining together suspense, romance, and cracking good dialogue….As Veronica and Stoker careen through dastardly plot twists, they match wits, bantering with skill worthy of Tracey and Hepburn. A thrilling—and hilarious—beginning to a promising new series.” Kirkus
“With wicked intelligence, Deanna Raybourn has created a fresh and fascinating sleuth. Veronica Speedwell is sure to join the greats of mystery fiction. Impeccably plotted and meticulously researched, A CURIOUS BEGINNING will leave you, as it left me, whimpering for more.” Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce series
A CURIOUS BEGINNING
by Deanna Raybourn
Veronica Speedwell is not your typical Victorian-era woman. Scoffing at the notion of marriage, she is a lepidopterist by training and has traveled the world searching for rare specimens of butterflies, leading to several series of adventures around the world. However, mere hours after burying the second of the two spinster aunts who raised her, she comes home to find her cottage being ransacked and is saved by the kind, yet mysterious Baron von Stauffenbach, who warns her of impending danger. Thus begins the aptly named A CURIOUS BEGINNING (New American Library; Hardcover; September 1, 2015; $25.95).
Packing her few belongings (most importantly her trusty butterfly net), Veronica follows the Baron to London where he leaves her in the care of the ill-tempered naturalist, Stoker. However, the Baron himself is brutally murdered and Stoker fears that they may be being set-up to take the fall, he and Veronica elude the authorities. Aided by her sharp wit (and tongue), the hirsute Stoker, and a well-placed hatpin, Veronica flees London. However, there are still mysterious men trying to single her out. And Stoker, keeping his oath to the Baron, tries to keep her safe at any cost. What follows is a series of adventures involving noble families, harrowing boat escapes, a stuffed mouse, and a traveling freak show.
As Veronica and Stoker get closer to uncovering the Baron’s killer, more details emerge about how this is related to Veronica, as there is still a threat to her safety. And that threat is tied to her true parentage.
Deanna Raybourn is the author of the award-winning, New York Times bestselling Lady Julia Grey mysteries and several standalone novels. She lives in Virginia with her family.
More Advance Praise for A CURIOUS BEGINNING:
“Deanna Raybourn writes with wisdom, sass and a rich texture that is a joy to read. I love this book! A CURIOUS BEGINNING brings us the powerful Veronica Speedwell who triumphs over diversity and danger with wit, charm and uncanny determination. This is a real find for mystery lovers!” —Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River series
“A CURIOUS BEGINNING is a fantastic read, both wickedly clever and devilishly amusing. Like a grown-up Flavia de Luce, Victorian explorer and naturalist Veronica Speedwell is a joy—slaying rapscallions, scoundrels and dullards alike with her bon mots—or sharpened hatpin. She’s an unflappable, unrepentant, and thoroughly delightful butterfly of a new heroine—and I’m already impatiently drumming my fingers awaiting the next book.” — Susan Elia MacNeal, author of the New York Times bestselling Maggie Hope series
“I’ve been a big fan of Deanna’s for some time and this book was a treat to read. How could I resist a royal scandal, an Irish plot, and a really sexy hero who has a tendency to work with no shirt on? Deanna is one of the few writers who can make history feel immediate and exciting without losing a feel for the period.” —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of Her Royal Spyness series and winner of the Agatha Award for Queen of Hearts
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Synopsis: Over twenty-five years ago, Liam Tate and Acadia McCormick Knox fell in love. It was summer on Nantucket, and eighteen-year-old Liam knew that wealthy, college-bound Cadie was way out of league for a local boy who restored boats for a living. Yet the two became inseparable, seizing every chance to slip away in Liam’s runabout to secluded spots, far from the world that was trying to keep them apart.
After Cadie returned home to New York and discovered she was pregnant, her parents crushed any hope of communicating with the boy she’d left behind. Unanswered letters and calls couldn’t change Liam’s heart, but over the years he’s settled into a simple, solitary life in his rambling beachfront house. Now he’s learned that Cadie is returning to Nantucket for the opening of her son’s art show. Over a weekend of revelations and poignant memories, Cadie and Liam have an opportunity to confront the difference time can make, the truths that never alter, and the bittersweet second chances that arrive just in time to steer a heart back home… (publisher)
My take: Nantucket is the story of Liam and Cadie. We learn about their history in chapters that alternate between 1989 and the present. Usually when this technique is used in a novel I prefer one time period over the other but Nan Rossiter did it flawlessly and I was engrossed in both.
I loved Liam’s willingness to open himself to Cadie and her family when it would have been so much easier to keep living his closed-off life. Cadie risked a lot by coming back to Nantucket but she knew she had to do it. I was also charmed by the children in the novel. They added so much to the emotional tone of many scenes.
Of course, I loved the Nantucket setting. The passages describing Liam’s job of building and repairing boats were interesting and, at the same time, helpful in the understanding of Liam himself.
Nantucket is an emotional and romantic story of love, forgiveness, trust and second chances. I really liked it and recommend it to fans of Nan Rossiter and women’s fiction.
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You know how people talk about their life flashing before their eyes? About how they see everything that ever happened to them in a single moment? I always thought that sounded crazy. Until, of course, it happened to me. But it wasn’t with my own life; it was with the life of my characters, Jodi and Khaki, in my debut novel DEAR CAROLINA. Maybe it was from the near-psychosis of new-mommy exhaustion…
My husband and I had been home from the hospital five or six days with our brandnew, beautiful bundle of a son. All was well—or as well as it can be when you’re running on a couple of hours of sleep!
My parents were still at our house, and they had taken our sweet new son into their room so that my husband and I could take a much-needed early evening nap. It seems like as soon as I fell asleep, I heard that tiny cry that had become my alarm clock. He’s okay, I reassured myself. I had just fed him, and, if he needed to be changed or put to sleep, my parents could handle it. They had, after all, raised me with very few complications!
But the crying continued until I finally stumbled, bleary-eyed, over the threshold of my bedroom and into theirs. My dad handed my son to me with a mumbled apology and, in that instant, my baby stopped crying.
I walked back into my room and, still holding him, looked into his eyes, and he looked into mine. Oh my gosh, I remember thinking. I am a mother. I felt that now very familiar tug on what seemed like all of my insides, that almost painful joy that I was the person who would get to raise this child. I would get to see him smile for the first time, take his first steps, and, if I was very lucky, maybe one day in the very far-off future, become a parent himself.
In that very same instant I remember asking myself a question: What would have to happen in your life for you to be able to part with your child? And what would it feel like to know that another woman had this type of deep, forever connection with your child, the child you had adopted. Jodi and Khaki, the two main characters in Dear Carolina, were simply there in that moment, complete with their pasts, presents and futures. They were as alive in my mind as anyone I’ve ever known.
They were both there, both acknowledging the fact that giving up your child, giving this love and this connection that I had with my son, to someone else, was the ultimate gift that one woman could ever give another. They were showing me that breaking that connection would undoubtedly be the most difficult decision that one woman would ever make. And the easiest that another would make would be to accept that gift and get to be the mother that brought this child up in the world.
Because I knew instinctively in that moment too that, sure, I had given birth to this baby, but that deep, heart-wrenching love, that wasn’t about feeling kicks in my belly or being the first person to hold him; it was about seeing my child and knowing that I would do anything in heaven or on earth to protect him. It was about picturing this grand and glorious future laid out in front of us because I was his mother and he was my son.
I knew that my character Khaki felt that exact same way. And, in that way, Dear Carolina was a story that wrote itself, a story of love and family, of sacrifice and commitment. The story itself—and the process of getting it published—was about facing biggest fears and wildest dreams all at the same time. And then saying “yes” to both of them.
Kristy Woodson Harvey holds a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from East Carolina University. She writes about interior design and loves connecting with readers. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and three-year-old son. Dear Carolina is her first novel.
Praise for Dear Carolina:
“Southern to the bone and full of engaging characters, Dear Carolina is a strikingly beautiful story of love and sacrifice. Kristy Woodson Harvey’s debut novel captures your heart and doesn’t let go; her keen insights into a mother’s love will stay with you long after the last page. ” — Kim Boykin, author of Palmetto Moon and The Wisdom of Hair
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Synopsis: When two lifelong friends reunite for one more summer in small-town Maine, they must bridge the gap caused by the dreams and secrets that tore them apart…
Ally Morris and Beth Abbott were beyond inseparable. From the very first time they met, the girls knew they’d found a once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But sometimes, life can’t help but get in the way.
As time goes by, disappointments and petty resentments begin to alter what they once thought was forever. Ally’s boho lifestyle leaves her drowning in confusion and cheap whisky, while a terrible secret threatens to shatter Beth’s carefully controlled world. By the time they need each other most, Ally and Beth are nearly strangers to each other.
When a family crisis prompts Beth to contact Ally for help out of the blue, the girls reunite in Maine. But the distance between them is overwhelming. To save their friendship, Ally and Beth will have to confront painful moments in their past and redefine who they are—before their incredible connection fades away for good… (publisher)
My take: The Summertime Girls is about two friends, Ally and Beth. Like many friendships that have lasted a long time there have been ups and downs. There’s blame to go around, misunderstandings, and lots of hurt feelings. But there are bright times too. What Beth and Ally need to decide is whether they want to give up on the other or keep trying to get back to the friendship they once had.
Ally just went through a rough breakup and is a live wire reacting to whatever comes in contact with her – much to her detriment. Beth lives a good life but it’s based on guilt for what she has or what she can do with her life. I really felt sorry for her because she was in a constant struggle to prove that she’s a good person. If any two people ever needed to have a good friend who understands them it’s these two.
My favorite character is Owen, the young man who likes Beth but isn’t afraid to hold her accountable for her words and actions. To say anything else would be a spoiler.
There are a lot of emotions tied up in their story. I loved that their friendship mirrored the one Beth’s grandma had with a lost friend. The younger women could learn a lot from them. The Summertime Girls is a story about learning about life and relationships and forgiveness. And realizing it’s never too late to learn.
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Last Saturday we went to the annual Irish Fest – great music, food and lots of walking.
Two of our granddaughters (they’re cousins) at Irish Fest
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Synopsis: Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.
In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five. The odds are stacked against the pair; the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope—inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime—will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in a powerfully moving novel perfect for fans of Sarah Jio and Kate Morton. (publisher)
My take: I loved the WWII and 2011 dual storylines and how they converged to solve a mystery in Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey.
The principal characters of Dan and Stella and Jess and Will were well-drawn and completely engaging. I found their stories compelling and looked forward to getting back to the book each time I had to stop reading. I credit Grey’s writing and her obvious gift for telling a good story! She impressed on the reader the emotions of those fighting in the war and those at home.
Stella and Jess shared similarities. Stella married the man she worked for naively thinking he truly loved her. Jess stayed too long in an abusive relationship before running away. The difference is that Jess had choices and Stella did not. That difference is what affected the rest of Stella’s life.
If you enjoy historical fiction with a good dose of romance you’re in for a treat with Iona Grey’s novel Letters to the Lost. I know I’ll be thinking about this book for a while. Recommended.
Synopsis: For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.
For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.
As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive. (publisher)
My take: Reminiscent of the nighttime soaps of the 70s and 80s, Dallas and Falcon Crest, The Bourbon Kings is the story of the Bradford (Baldwine) family who make bourbon. They are filthy rich and have the problems associated with the filthy rich.
The family is made up of a hateful patriarch, a mother who never comes out of her bedroom, a physically and psychologically wounded oldest son, a middle son who disappeared by choice, a younger son who having returned home feels the need to be responsible, and a daughter, the youngest child, who faces an impossible situation. The supporting characters are colorful and add layers to the story.
I won’t go into the plot more than sharing the publisher’s synopsis. If The Bourbon Kings sounds like your kind of entertainment I think you’ll enjoy it. I liked it and look forward to the second book in the series. If you’re heading to the beach for the Labor Day weekend this would be the perfect book to toss in the beach bag.
About the author:
J.R. Ward is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with more than 15 million novels in print published in 25 different countries around the world. A graduate of Smith College, she currently lives in Kentucky where she has learned to enjoy and appreciate all things Southern. Prior to becoming an expat Yankee, she worked as a lawyer in Boston and spent many years as the Chief of Staff of one of Harvard’s world-renowned academic medical centers.
This summer Ward introduces a new contemporary series set in her adopted home state of Kentucky with the novel The Bourbon Kings. The series will follow the intertwined and scandalous fortunes of several ultra wealthy Kentucky families who have made their fortunes from bourbon.
J.R. Ward lives with her husband, daughter and their beloved golden retriever, as well as many other dogs, in Kentucky. Visit her popular website and fan community at www.jrward.com and Facebook.com/JRWardBooks.