Mon
Nov 23 2015 12:00pm

Women’s Fiction Best Bets for November 2015

Put a Ring On It by Beth Kendrick

Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise. ~Author Unknown

The month’s selection range from lighthearted to more serious, but the heroine all share a common dilemma—they all must take risks. Some take risks in love; others in their career, and some even risk their lives fighting for their beliefs. Some end up happy, and some end up wise.

Put a Ring On It (Black Dog Bay Novel) by Beth Kendrick

Brighton Smith doesn’t do outrageous. As an insurance actuary, it’s her job to assess risk and avoid bad investments. But when her fiancé calls to confess he’s married someone else on a whim (“I looked at her and I just knew!”), she snaps…

That night, at a local bar, Jake Sorensen—hot, rich, and way out of her league—buys Brighton a cocktail. At midnight, she kisses him. And by dawn, they’re exchanging vows at a drive-through chapel.

Brighton knows Jake is a bad bet, but she doesn’t care. After a lifetime of playing it safe, she’s finally having fun. Until the whirlwind romance gives way to painful reality...and Brighton finds out the truth about why a guy like Jake married a girl like her. With her heart on the line and the odds stacked against them, Brighton must decide whether to cut her losses or take a leap of faith that this love affair is one in a million.

Strengths:Lighthearted and Humorous, Comedic setting; Appealing Characters; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon         
Introspection Level:Low
Thoughts: Engaging story between heroine and hero with contrasting personalities

Lone Star: A Novel by Paullina Simons

Lone Star: A Novel by Paullina Simons

From the bestselling, acclaimed author of Tully and The Bronze Horseman comes the unforgettable love story between a college-bound young woman and a traveling troubadour on his way to war—a moving, compelling novel of love lost and found set against the stunning backdrop of Eastern Europe.

Chloe is just weeks away from heading off to college and starting a new life far from her home in Maine when she embarks on a great European adventure with her boyfriend and two best friends. Their destination is Barcelona, but first they must detour through the historic cities of Eastern Europe to keep an old family promise.

Here, in this fledgling post-Communist world, Chloe meets a charming American vagabond named Johnny, who carries a guitar, an easy smile—and a lifetime of secrets. From Treblinka to Trieste, from Karnikava to Krakow, from Vilnius to Venice, the unlikely band of friends and lovers traverse the old world on a train trip that becomes a treacherous journey into Europe’s and Johnny’s darkest past—a journey that jeopardizes Chloe’s plans for the future and all she ever thought she wanted.

But the lifelong bonds Chloe and her friends share are about to be put to the ultimate test—and whether or not they reach Barcelona, they can only be certain that their lives will never be the same again.

A sweeping, beautiful tale that mesmerizes and enchants, Lone Star will linger long in the memory once the final page is turned.

Strengths: Multi-faceted characters; Noteworthy settings; Youthful life lessons; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Insightful portrayal of obsessive and healthy love!

Counting Stars by Kathleen Long

Counting Stars by Kathleen Long

When Bernadette Murphy’s brother, Mark, dies unexpectedly, her world is rocked. Jenny, the wife he left behind, skips grieving and goes straight into survival mode. That is, until she shows up at Bernie’s door in tears, holding a battered canvas journal in which Mark—once obsessed with adventure—had listed larger-than-life travel destinations.

Before losing her brother, life had been great for Bernie—a new career and a nice romance—even though she wavers on her boyfriend’s proposal and wears her diamond engagement ring on a cord around her neck instead of on her finger. But inspired by Mark’s unique bucket list, Bernie puts her mom, her dog, her best friend’s angsty teenager, and Jenny into a borrowed RV and sets off on a cross-country road trip, sharing quirky adventures and unexpected turns along the way.

But Bernie can’t run forever. Will she find a way to let go of the past, heal her losses, and open herself to life’s new possibilities?

Strengths: Unique Journey; Poignant family bonds; Heartening Character growth, Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts:  Wonderful conclusion to heroine’s story begun in Chasing Rainbows.

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams

Each of the three Schuyler sisters has her own world-class problems, but in the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler's problems are in a class of their own. When Pepper fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction, she thinks she's finally found a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries, the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician.

But the car's new owner turns out to have secrets of her own, and as the glamorous and mysterious Annabelle Dommerich takes pregnant Pepper under her wing, the startling provenance of this car comes to light: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle's life from World War II stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.

Indomitable heroines, a dazzling world of secrets, champagne at the Paris Ritz, and a sweeping love story for the ages, in New York Times bestselling author Beatriz William's final book about the Schuyler sisters.

Strengths: Multiple Historical time periods; Ardent love story; Spirited heroines; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts:  Imaginative storytelling around WWII and the 1960’s.

Esther by Rebecca Kanner

Esther by Rebecca Kanner

A glittering Persian king has a vast empire that reaches farther than where the sun meets the horizon. He is bathed in riches and commands a frightening military force. He possesses power beyond any other mortal man and rules his kingdom as a god. Anything he desires, he has. Any woman he wants, he possesses. Thousands of them. Young virgins from all across his many lands.

A Jewish girl is ripped from her hut by the king’s brutish warriors and forced to march across blistering, scorched earth to the capitol city. Trapped for months in the splendid cage of the king’s palace, she must avoid the ire of the king’s concubines and eunuchs all while preparing for her one night with the king. Soon the fated night arrives, and she does everything in her power to captivate the king and become his queen.

But wearing the crown brings with it a new set of dangers. When a ruthless man plies the king’s ear with whispers of genocide, it is up to the young queen to prevent the extermination of the Jews. She must find the strength within to violate the king’s law, risk her life, and save her people.

This is a story of finding hidden depths of courage within one’s self. Of risking it all to stand up for what is right.

This is the story of Queen Esther.

Strengths: Valiant Characters; Old-World feel; Faith based story; Uplifting Ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Novel incorporates engrossing complexity to a well-known tale.

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

When Alizée Benoit, a young American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her arts patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends and fellow WPA painters, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who, while working at Christie’s auction house, uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt? 
 
Entwining the lives of both historical and fictional characters, and moving between the past and the present, The Muralist plunges readers into the divisiveness of prewar politics and the largely forgotten plight of European refugees refused entrance to the United States. It captures both the inner workings of New York’s art scene and the beginnings of the vibrant and quintessentially American school of Abstract Expressionism. 
 
As she did in her bestselling novel The Art Forger, B. A. Shapiro tells a gripping story while exploring provocative themes. In Alizée and Danielle she has created two unforgettable women, artists both, who compel us to ask: What happens when luminous talent collides with unstoppable historical forces? Does great art have the power to change the world? 

Strengths: Intriguing Mystery; Multiple time periods; Enlightening historical facts, Uplifting Ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Low
Thoughts: Thought-provoking premise, especially when compare with today’s current stance toward Syria immigrants.

Pattern of Change by Terri DuLong

Pattern of Change by Terri DuLong

Chloe Radcliffe was ready to shake the dust of Cedar Key off her feet and sink her toes into the warm sands of Ormond Beach with her soon-to-be husband. But when tragedy struck, she found herself alone, unraveled—and unsure where she belonged…
 
A series of vivid dreams of a Victorian house with a beautiful fishpond convince Chloe to take a leap of faith and rent a condo in Ormond Beach. There, she makes fast friends with a group of knitters and the owner of a tea shop, who also happens to have a house nearly identical to the one in Chloe’s dreams—and she’s willing to rent her the property. Just as Chloe begins casting on her grand plans for the home, her tangled past comes back to haunt her—but her dreams and newfound friends just might point her toward the love she’s been missing all along…

Strengths: Mature Heroine; New beginnings; Small town feel; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: low
Thoughts: Great combination of crafts; mystical elements and starting over.

The Japanese Lover: A Novel by Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover: A Novel by Isabel Allende

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family—like thousands of other Japanese Americans—are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Sweeping through time and spanning generations and continents, The Japanese Lover explores questions of identity, abandonment, redemption, and the unknowable impact of fate on our lives. Written with the same attention to historical detail and keen understanding of her characters that Isabel Allende has been known for since her landmark first novel The House of the Spirits, The Japanese Lover is a profoundly moving tribute to the constancy of the human heart in a world of unceasing change.

Strengths: Multiple Time periods; Unique plot details; Historical element; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon         
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Two distinctive heroines face unique challenges.  

White Collar Girl: A Novel by Renée Rosen

White Collar Girl: A Novel by Renée Rosen

Every second of every day, something is happening. There’s a story out there buried in the muck, and Jordan Walsh, coming from a family of esteemed reporters, wants to be the one to dig it up. But it’s 1955, and the men who dominate the city room of the Chicago Tribune have no interest in making room for a female cub reporter. Instead Jordan is relegated to society news, reporting on Marilyn Monroe sightings at the Pump Room and interviewing secretaries for the White Collar Girl column.

Even with her journalistic legacy and connections to luminaries like Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and Ernest Hemingway, Jordan struggles to be taken seriously. Of course, that all changes the moment she establishes a secret source inside Mayor Daley’s office and gets her hands on some confidential information. Now careers and lives are hanging on Jordan’s every word. But if she succeeds in landing her stories on the front page, there’s no guarantee she’ll remain above the fold.…

Strengths: Intrepid Heroine; Pre-feminist setting; Historical Uplifting Ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Great insight into the struggle pioneering women faced.

Too Many Cooks by Dana Bates

Too Many Cooks by Dana Bates

In this hilarious, insightful new novel from the author of A Second Bite at the Apple, a cookbook ghostwriter finds that she's bitten off more than she can chew. . .

When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly's new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer—movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips.

Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss's neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there's no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she's gone too far in reaching for what she wants?

Strengths: Foodie delight; Ethical dilemma; Complex romantic relationship; Uplifting Ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts:  Lots of repercussions from this heroine’s foolish choices.  

The Improbability of Love: A novel by Hannah Rothschild

The Improbability of Love: A novel by Hannah Rothschild

Wickedly funny, this totally engaging, richly observed first novel by Hannah Rothschild is a tour de force. Its sweeping narrative and cast of wildly colorful characters takes you behind the scenes of a London auction house, into the secret operations of a powerful art dealer, to a flamboyant eighteenth-century-style dinner party, and into a modest living room in Berlin, among many other unexpected settings.

In The Improbability of Love we meet Annie McDee, thirty-one, who is working as a chef for two rather sinister art dealers. Recovering from the end of a long-term relationship, she is searching in a neglected secondhand shop for a birthday present for her unsuitable new lover. Hidden behind a rubber plant on top of a file cabinet, a grimy painting catches her eye. After spending her meager savings on the picture, Annie prepares an elaborate birthday dinner for two, only to be stood up.

The painting becomes hers, and as it turns out, Annie has stumbled across a lost masterpiece by one of the most important French painters of the eighteenth century. But who painted this masterpiece is not clear at first. Soon Annie finds herself pursued by interested parties who would do anything to possess her picture. For a gloomy, exiled Russian oligarch, an avaricious sheikha, a desperate auctioneer, and an unscrupulous dealer, among others, the painting embodies their greatest hopes and fears. In her search for the painting’s identity, Annie will unwittingly uncover some of the darkest secrets of European history—as well as the possibility of falling in love again.

Irreverent, witty, bittersweet, The Improbability of Love draws an unforgettable portrait of the London art scene, but it is also an exuberant and unexpected journey through life’s highs and lows and the complexities of love and loss. 

Strengths: Idiosyncratic characters; Sardonic look at Art acquisition; Enigmatic mystery; Uplifting Ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon         
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts:   Masterpiece art painting has its own thoughts about its past and present dilemma.

Tightrope by Simon Mawer

Tightrope by Simon Mawer

An historical thriller that brings back Marian Sutro, ex-Special Operations agent, and traces her romantic and political exploits in post-World War II London, where the Cold War is about to reshape old loyalties
  
As Allied forces close in on Berlin in spring 1945, a solitary figure emerges from the wreckage that is Germany. It is Marian Sutro, whose existence was last known to her British controllers in autumn 1943 in Paris. One of a handful of surviving agents of the Special Operations Executive, she has withstood arrest, interrogation, incarceration, and the horrors of Ravensbrück concentration camp, but at what cost? Returned to an England she barely knows and a postwar world she doesn’t understand, Marian searches for something on which to ground the rest of her life. Family and friends surround her, but she is haunted by her experiences and by the guilt of knowing that her contribution to the war effort helped lead to the monstrosities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the mysterious Major Fawley, the man who hijacked her wartime mission to Paris, emerges from the shadows to draw her into the ambiguities and uncertainties of the Cold War, she sees a way to make amends for the past and at the same time to find the identity that has never been hers.
 
A novel of divided loyalties and mixed motives, Tightrope is the complex and enigmatic story of a woman whose search for personal identity and fulfillment leads her to shocking choices.

Strengths: Multi-faceted heroine; Historic elements; Complicated political dilemma;
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Perfect for readers who enjoy books with Noir type feel!

The Witch’s Market by Mingmei Yip

The Witch’s Market by Mingmei Yip

Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.
 
When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. Gradually Eileen immerses herself in her exotic surroundings, finding romance with a handsome young furniture maker. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.

Strengths: Unique premise;life lessons; Exotic locale; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Unpredictable and diverse journey

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Learn more about the books mentioned in this post: 

Put a Ring On It (Black Dog Bay Novel) by Beth Kendrick  
Lone Star by Paullina Simons  
Counting Stars by Kathleen Long  
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams  
Esther by Rebecca Kanner  
Muralist by B.A. Shapiro  
Pattern of Change by Terri DuLong  
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende  
White Collar Girl by Renée Rosen  
Too Many Cooks by Dana Bates  
The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild  
Tightrope by Simon Mawer  
The Witch’s Market by Mingmei Yip  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Scarlettleigh, Blogger

 

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2 comments
Maggie Boyd
1. maggieboyd66
There are a ton of books on this list that really intrigue me. Lone Star, the Japanese Love, White Collar Girl, The Muralist, The Witch's Market. Thanks for bringing so many intriguing reads to my attention. :-)
Lee Brewer
2. LeeB.
Thanks for the recommedations Leigh. I did enjoy Put a Ring on It.
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