<i>The Rogue's Conquest</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Rogue's Conquest: Exclusive Excerpt Lily Maxton "There's too much at stake for James to give in to his growing attraction." <i>Jaw Dropping</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Jaw Dropping: Exclusive Excerpt L.P. Maxa "It’s the reality she was sure she never wanted but now craves." <i>Sugar Pine Trail</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Sugar Pine Trail: Exclusive Excerpt RaeAnne Thayne "She wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…" <i>Archangel's Viper</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Archangel's Viper: Exclusive Excerpt Nalini Singh 'The strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…"
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September 22, 2017
Happy Endings for Susan Mallery's You Say It First
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September 21, 2017
3 Books That Put the Romance Back in Fiction
Keira Soleore
September 21, 2017
Victorian Women & the Periodical Press
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“Found Family” Can Be the Best Family
Michele De Winton, Violetta Rand, Michele Mannon
Showing posts by: Scarlettleigh click to see Scarlettleigh's profile
Aug 28 2017 9:30am

4 Women’s Fiction Best Bets for August 2017

There are no makeovers in my books. The ugly duckling does not become a beautiful swan. She becomes a confident duck able to take charge of her own life and problems. 

—Maeve Binchy

Authors imaginatively write about any difficult situations in their books. Hopefully, we will experience very few of them. But it's not the tribulations that draw us to a book, but it is the heroine's ability to overcome these obstacles that gives us immense satisfaction. Readers read women's fiction because we love being along on the journey as the ugly duckling becomes a confident duck.

And at the end of this month's selection, you'll find plenty of confident ducks. Here are some great books to put on your reading list:

How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

A dare between friends leads to startling revelations and simmering tensions in the latest novel from the author of Wedding Girl.

Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world’s most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is. 

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again. 

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn’t seem so lonely—until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date?

Strengths: Interracial dating; luscious food descriptions, friendship conflicts; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Mood: Poignant and lighthearted
Why You Should Read this: This book is definitely about the characters becoming more confident and moving pass roadblocks. While the interracial dating seems idealistic –more like it should be then is—there is intriguing exploration of the difficulties and rewards of renewing old friendships. Read on a full stomach or you’ll go crazy reading about the wonderful food.

[Read more...]

Aug 27 2017 11:00am

First Look: Robyn Carr’s The Summer That Made Us (September 5, 2017)

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr
The Summer That Made Us
MIRA / September 5, 2017 / $15.99 print, $9.99 digital

Robyn Carr’s new release, The Summer That Made Us is very different from her previous releases. Not in a bad way – I’ll read anything that Carr writes. Still, the family structure seems more dysfunctional than any other book that she has written. Of course, that makes for fascinating reading because you think “wow this one incident really screw-up this family.”

And while the story is about two sisters, Louise and Jo, married to two brothers, Carl and Roy and their girls: Charlene, Hope, Megan, Krista, Beverly, and Mary Verna, the family dysfunctional started with their parents’ marriage:

Grandma said the judge was bought and paid for. And she was angry about it.”

“What kind of business did your grandfather run in Chicago?” Krista asked.

“He was a mortician!” Jo said. “A very successful mortician! And, after they got married and were living in St. Paul, Grandma said the judge got mean. He had a temper, she said. He slapped her around and threw things. Back in those days one never talked about domestic abuse, never. But Grandma was too smart for the judge. She called her father. And her father had what she called connections. Grandma said a couple of men visited the judge and explained, very carefully, that her parents were worried about her and didn’t want to think for one second that she wasn’t being well cared for. After listening to her talk like this for a couple of years, I got the idea my grandfather, Grandma’s daddy, was connected to the mob in Chicago. But your aunt Lou thought Grandma was senile. That’s when Grandma said, “Senile, eh? You’re lucky to have been born. The judge hit me, knocked me down and kicked in the stomach when I was pregnant with you!”

[Read more...]

Jul 30 2017 11:00am

6 Women’s Fiction Best Bets for July 2017

One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”
—Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

With electricity we don’t really need to worry about light to read by—but don’t you find as the summer gets hotter and the humidity gets higher you’re staying indoors more? I know I am—which is perfectly fine. It gives me the perfect excuse to spend more time reading.

From beach read books to books that make you think about social mores or just how it feels to be different, there is the perfect book just for you in this month’s selection:  

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Elvira Carr believes in rules. She also strongly believes in crisp schedules, clear guidelines, and taking people at face value. Not that the twenty-seven-year-old sees many people. After several unfortunate incidents, her overbearing mother keeps her at home.

But when her mother has a stroke, Elvira is suddenly on her own. To help her navigate a world that is often puzzling, she draws up seven ironclad rules. Armed with these, a notebook full of questions, and guidance from a helpful neighbor, she takes charge of herself ? and realizes that something isn't quite right about the life she thought she knew.

She'll need all the courage, perseverance and curious charm she can muster to unravel the mystery of what happened to her family and to manager her own life, her way.

Strengths: Atypical heroine; Multi-faceted characters; Compelling storyline; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: This book is definitely a favorite. I loved the characters, especially Elvira and her altruistic neighbor. And while the book thoroughly entertained it's a great societal reminder that we're all different. 

[Read more...]

Jul 5 2017 2:30pm

First Look: Dorothy Garlock’s The Nearness of You (July 11, 2017)

The Nearness of You by Dorothy Garlock

Dorothy Garlock
The Nearness of You
Grand Central Publishing / July 11, 2017 / $26.00 print, $13.99 digital 

One of the most accepted truism about falling in love is that when it happens we become better individuals. For some people, it might be that they become kinder, or less prone to impatience or anger. Other individuals finally have the courage to make changes or take risks.

In Dorothy Garlock’s newest book, The Nearness of You, she sweetly shows how Lily Denton and Boone Tatum bring out the best in each other.

Lily’s mother died when she was six-years-old and her protective father brought her up alone.  And while her father put a lot of energy into his position as mayor of their small town, he still had plenty left over to smother Lily. 

Lily has always dreamed of living somewhere more exciting. So when her best friends states that she’s leaving for New York City, and asked Lily to come along, she excitedly agrees. But when push comes to shove, Lily doesn’t have the courage to leave:

[Read more...]

Jun 30 2017 9:30am

7 Women’s Fiction Best Bets for June 2017

“You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.”

-Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Sometimes our family is the wind beneath our wings and sometimes they’re our biggest heartache. Ditto for friends—because in some cases we’re blessed with lifetime friends but other times—well, like choosing lovers, we don’t always choose that wisely. We’re blinded –taken in by fool’s gold.

This month’s selection is all about relationships but the stories are so varied. That is what I love about women’s fiction. No matter your age or your life situation there is a book for you —from the traditional women’s fiction type stories to the niche stories that entertain with humorous and satirical takes on societal norms.

The Street Where You Live by Roisin Meaney

The Street Where You Live by Roisin Meaney

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

It's the hottest heatwave in years and as preparations for an end-of-summer concert get underway, the notes soar. But so, too, do the scandals and secrets ...

Choir member Molly sees a young boy who she's convinced is her grandson, but how does she find out the truth when her son Philip ran away to New Zealand five years ago?

Meanwhile Molly's daughter Emily has fallen in love for the second time in her life. Except this time it's with the wrong man ...

While choir leader Christopher, who closed off his heart to love a long time ago, is making do with snatched trysts with new member Jane - who also happens to be married. But then American author Freddie moves in next door and suddenly things begin to get complicated.

As performance night approaches, the heatwave breaks and members of the choir discover that their lives intertwine more than they could ever have imagined. But are the inhabitants of the town ready for what happens next?

Strengths: Staycation appeal; Multi-faceted characters; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: I’m a big fan of Roisin Meaney books. One reason, of course, is the setting—idyllic Ireland. Meaney does a wonderful job of writing about everyday people dealing with all the complexities of life.

[+6 more Best Bets ahead!]

Jun 17 2017 11:00am

Nalini Singh’s Silver Silence Spoilers: Why It Was So Hard to Start the New Arc of the Psy-Changeling Series

Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Long running series are so addictive. A good series writer knows how to cleverly and oh so maddeningly tease, infuriate and delight us with bits and pieces, that keep us anxious for the next book in the series, and there is no doubt that Nalini Singh is an excellent series writer.

Like you, I counted down the days, anxiously waiting to get my hand on Silver Silence, the newest book, and a new direction in the series for Singh’s Psy-Changelings’ series featuring BEARS!

The glimpse that Singh shared was so enticing:

Silver Mercant believed in control. It was what made her so good at what she did—she was never caught by surprise. She prepared for everything. Unfortunately, it was impossible to prepare for the heavily muscled man standing at her apartment door.

“How did you get in?” she asked in Russian, making sure to stand front and center in the doorway so he wouldn’t forget this was her territory.

Bears had a habit of just pushing everything out of their way.

This bear shrugged his broad shoulders where he leaned up against the side of her doorjamb. “I asked nicely,” he replied in the same language.

“I live in the most secure building in central Moscow.” Silver stared at that square-jawed face with its honey-dark skin. It wasn’t a tan. Valentin Nikolaev retained the shade in winter, got darker in summer. “And,” she added, “building security is made up of former soldiers who don’t understand the word ‘nice’” One of those soldiers was a Mercant. No one talked his way past a Mercant.

Except for this man. This wasn’t the first time he’d appeared on her doorstep on the thirty-fourth floor of this building.

“I have a special charm,” Valentine responded, his big body blocking out the light and his deep smile settling into familiar grooves in his cheeks, his hair an inky black that was so messy she wondered if he even owned a comb.

So now that you’ve read it, let’s talk about it. You have read it, haven’t you? Because this is a Major Spoiler blog for the book.

[Spoilers ahead!]

Jun 6 2017 2:00pm

First Look: Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All (June 6, 2017)

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen
Once and For All
Viking Books for Young Readers / June 6, 2017 / $19.99 print, $10.99 digital

For those of you who grew up reading Sarah Dessen’s books—her first book, That Summer was published over twenty years ago—you know that she writes exquisite stories around present-day issues. If you need your memory refreshed, check out Class of 2012: A Superlative Sarah Dessen.

For those who missed her books, you really need to try them, especially if you’re reading women’s fiction now. Because Louna is dealing with disillusionment about love and happily-ever-afters brought about by her mother’s and godfather’s attitude toward love; her own first-hand observations as she viewed brides and grooms vow “til death do us part,” only to divorce a couple of years after their weddings; and her own tragic experience with love.

On the one hand, I lived and breathed the wedding dream, dragged along to ceremonies and venues, privy to meetings on every excruciating detail from Save the Date cards to cake toppers. But away from the clients and the work, there was a constant, repetitive commentary about how it was a sham, no good men really existed, and we were all better off alone. It was no wonder that a few years earlier, when my best friend Jilly had suddenly gone completely boy-crazy, I'd been reluctant to join her. I was a fourteen-year-old-girl with the world-weariness of a bitter mid-life divorcee, repeating all the things I'd heard over and over like a mantra. “Well, he'll only disappoint you, so you should expect it,” I'd say, shaking my head as she texted with some thick-necked soccer player. Or I'd warn: “Don't give what you're not ready to lose.”...

[Read more...]

May 27 2017 1:00pm

The 7 Women’s Fiction Best Bets of May 2017

The Man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them

Mark Twain

Are you going to take advantage of this month’s list of good books? Of course, good is subjective—but every base is covered in this month’s selection. There are books to challenge the way you think; books that incorporate a sweet romance; book that are pure escapism; and books that celebrate starting over—even when the heroine of the book doesn’t think she ready for that.  Grab your favorite beverage and your sunscreen and take some advantage of some “Me” time.

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently, being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles botanical garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not...

Strengths: Humorous voice; Appealing characters; Uplifting and emotionally satisfying starting over story 
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Mood: Poignant and lighthearted
Why You Should Read this: The author captures the dich0tomy of moving forward, but reluctant to let go of the past perfectly. Great combination of character growth, romance and rewarding ending!

[Read more...]

Apr 30 2017 11:00am

The 6 Women’s Fiction Best Bets for April 2017

“We dance round in a ring and suppose, While the secret sits in the middle and knows"
-Robert Frost

Don’t you just love a good secret?  Except when it is your own, of course. Some months the theme that brings the month’s best books together is a bit broad or loose, but this month the underlying premise is surprising strong. Secrets never stay hidden, and keeping them will always change a person— as our heroines discover.

Of course, each story is uniquely different, but within the story each author has taken a secret and spin it into a fascinating tale –of intrigue; of lost love; and in some cases, scenarios that test the bonds of family.

You’ll find a fascinating journey within the cover of each book.

The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Marin Bishop has always played by the rules, and it's paid off: at twenty-eight she has a handsome fiancé, a prestigious Manhattan legal career, and the hard-won admiration of her father. But one moment of weakness leaves Marin unemployed and alone, all in a single day. Then a woman claiming to be Marin's half-sister shows up, and it's all Marin can do not to break down completely. Seeking escape, Marin agrees to a road trip to meet the grandmother she never knew she had. As the summer unfolds at her grandmother's quaint beachside B&B, it becomes clear that the truth of her half-sister is just the beginning of revelations that will change Marin's life forever. THE FOREVER SUMMER is a delicious page-turner and a provocative exploration of what happens when our notions of love, truth, and family are put to the ultimate test.

Strengths:Wonderful exploration of new family bonds; challenging scenarios; Multi-faceted, flawed characters; Uplifting ending;
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: Brenner is a wonderful storyteller and she takes you on such an intriguing journey. Marvelous theme of forgiveness, and the strength of family.

[+5 More Women's Fiction Best Bets...]

Apr 23 2017 1:00pm

First Look: Laura Moore’s Making Waves (April 25, 2017)

Making Waves by Laura Moore

Laura Moore
Making Waves: A Beach Lane Novel
Ballantine / April 25, 2017 / $16.00 print, $11.99 digital

There are many types of heroines and heroes—and we readers like a variety. Maybe a wallflower heroine in this book or a career women in the next. An alpha hero can make us swoon in one book, but so can the quiet intellectual in the next. Sometimes we want the down- to- earth hero—but I suspect that we all have the guilty pleasure of wanting to read about the prince

You know what I mean—the man who seems to have it all—wealth, good looks, and just a touch of arrogance. And of course, he meets the woman who doesn’t seem overly impressed with all his attributes—a woman who doesn’t fall at his feet. Now, I don’t know about you, but for the time it takes me to read the book, I love to live vicariously through the heroines.

Because the heroines are no slouches either. They’re smart, intelligent and caring. In fact, a perfect match for the hero—a princess-in-waiting and the story of their romance is the perfect fairytale.

[Read more...]

Apr 17 2017 9:30am

First Look: Robyn Carr’s Any Day Now (April 18, 2017)

Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr
Any Day Now (Sullivan's Crossing #2)
MIRA/ April 18, 2017 / $26.99 print, $12.99 digital

One of the things that readers enjoy most about Robyn Carr’s books is the unique scenarios she incorporates within her books. We’ve read about a heroine who lived in a commune; a hero who served time in prison and many more. Carr continues this trend in Any Day Now with Sierra Jones.

Sierra and her brothers and sisters had a very atypical upbringing. Sadly, their father is schizophrenic and their mother’s focus has always been more on  supporting him rather than her children’s welfare. This lead to a very unstable childhood:

“My parents?” she asked. “Oh, Sully. Hasn’t Cal told you about Jed and Marissa? They raised us mostly in a converted school bus! On the road. Sometimes we picked vegetables to make ends meet. We hardly went to school. Jed has a serious screw loose. Last time I saw him he was wearing an aluminum foil beanie on his head. He was the first person to give me a joint!”

Feeling abandoned by her siblings, and being the only one left behind Sierra turned to drugs and alcohol but never felt that she was addicted or that these substances controlled her life. But then she met Derek and what he did devastated her:

Well, there was an accident. I wasn’t driving but it was my car. He was driving. He took me out of a bar, took my keys and was driving me home. He said I was drunk and he was just taking me home. I think he put something in my wine because, seriously, it wasn’t that easy for me to get wasted like that. It was still early. I knew we hit something but I didn’t see it happen. He stopped the car and looked and got back in and drove away. He said it was a cyclist and he left him there. Left him. Left him to die.

“He told me he called the police and said he was a witness, that he saw a woman driver hit a man and leave him. I didn’t hear him call the police. I don’t know if he did. I don’t know if he hit a man or a tree branch or a dog. I was in and out. He told me what he said. I said, “But I wasn’t driving!” And he said, “No one will believe you—you have a history.’ And then. . . And then he convinced me. In a brutal way. In a terrifying way. He said I would never tell anyone anything.  Or I’d be sorry.

Derek scared her so much that she ran straight to rehab and then to a group home —spending nine months isolated from the world. Needing a fresh start, and to put distance between her and the toxic people in her life, she decides to visit her brother Cal, and his new wife Maggie in Colorado.

[Read more...]

Apr 13 2017 2:00pm

First Look: Julie James’s The Thing About Love (April 18, 2017)

The Thing About Love by Julie James

Julie James
The Thing About Love
Berkley / April 18, 2017 / $15.00 print, $8.99 digital 

Readers have long embraced small town romances, but reading the same type book over and over again is a sure-fire recipe for a reading rut which then leads to a reading slump.

Luckily for readers, Julie James has the perfect cure. Her settings are big city; her heroines are highly educated professional women who go head to head with their male counterparts. Heroines like Jessica Harlow.

 Listening to her father’s dinner time stories about his civil litigation cases inspired Jessica to go into law herself.  After only a year of law experience, Jessica was recruited into the FBI. She knew up front that being female would be a disadvantage and her youth too –she is the youngest in her class but there is more:   

“You’re a woman. You’re fresh out of some fancy Ivy League law school with only a year’s worth of job experience. And you’re short.” In their final meeting before she’d left for Quantico, her recruiter, Special Agent Stan Ross, had ticked off those characteristics on his fingers, looking particularly peevish about the last one. “Not to mention, you look like you just stepped out of a shampoo commercial with all this. . . flowy hair.” . . .

“There are going to be people who won’t want to take you seriously. People who see a pretty, young blonde and make assumptions,” he’d continued. “So you make them take you seriously. Don’t give them any reason to doubt you in the Academy. You go in there, Harlow, and you’d goddamn better show them what you’re made of. You do that, and you’ll be fine. More than fine actually.”

[Read more...]

Apr 4 2017 12:00pm

First Look: Donna Alward’s Somebody’s Baby (April 4, 2017)

Somebody's Baby by Donna Alward

Donna Alward
Somebody's Baby (Darling, VT #3)
St. Martin's Press / April 4, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital 

I’ve read all three books in Donna Alward’s Darling, VT new series, and thoroughly enjoyed all three. Isn’t it fabulous that the wait time between the books has only been a month. If you missed the start of the series, don’t worry, each book stands on its own.

Now as much as I’ve enjoyed the other books I must admit that Somebody’s Baby is my favorite. Of course, I had an inkling that it would be –since the hero is a veterinarian.

Rory Gallagher and Oaklee Collier grew up together. Rory and Oaklee’s brother Cam were best friends and two-years-younger Oaklee always wanted to follow along. Rory and Cam still keep in touch, but rarely get together since Cam is now a big-time hockey player. Still, Rory vividly remembers the slug, and Cam verbal warning that his sister was off limits after Rory was caught looking at her... physical attributes.

Rory and Oaklee left Darling for college, and both fell in love there. Each suffered a harsh disappointmen, and now both are back in Darling.

[Read more...]

Mar 30 2017 1:00pm

6 Women’s Fiction Best Bets of March 2017

What are the best women's fiction romances of March?

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”
-Cesare Pavese

Isn’t that the truth, that we do remember moments, be them good or bad. The commonality of this month’s selection is that character do have notable situations that affect their lives.  And these scenarios are so imaginative. From incorporating the history of Queen Mary, to utilizing early fascination with natural selection, to the despair of finding you have an terminal disease. Then there is the love, concern and worry for a child that considers herself a misfit.

Find yourself a comfortable chair, and be prepared to be entertained!

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

(Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo)

February, 1946.World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Résistance spy.
Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Their new lives in the United States brightly beckon until their tightly-held secrets are laid bare in their shared stateroom. When the voyage ends at New York Harbor, only one of them will disembark...
Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides—and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings.

Strengths: Strong female friendships; Wonderful backdrop and settings; Engaging characters; Intriguing mystery
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: A very appealing story filled with hope, love and a touch of magic as four young women navigate the complexities of life, love and marriage. Perfect for readers who love reading books with both contemporary and historical settings!

[Read more...]

Mar 10 2017 1:00pm

Single Dads and Second Chances Intertwine in Donna Alward’s Someone to Love

Someone to Love by Donna Alward

In the First Look on Somebody Like You the first book in the Darling, VT series by Donna Alward, Tanyalk mentions how wonderful it is to read about an ordinary couple. People like you and me.  In the second book, Someone to Love, this trend continues because that what Alward does—write about relatable people and their problems. but the focus is more on the difficulties of falling in love.

As youths, we tend to think that falling in love just happens when you meet the right one. And sometimes it does work that way. That is how it happened with Ethan. He met the right girl—Lisa. They both had the same goals. They got married and then had two rumbustious, adorable boys.  Their life was perfect. Until Lisa got ill and died. Now Ethan life is divided into two phases—with Lisa:

“Lisa was perfect for him. She was sweet but no pushover, and she ran a tight ship. Always organized, always taking the boys on little outings, making sure they did things as a family. For a long time, it seemed as though she had limitless energy. Maybe that’s when we first realized something was wrong. She lost that crazy spark.”

And life without. He has too much baggage to fall in love again. Not only is he mourning the loss of his wife, but also the demise of his dreams for the future. How he and Lisa would raise their boys, Connor and Ronan and then grow old together. Not only is he not living the life he planned but neither are Connor and Ronan. Sure, his mother and sisters has stepped in, providing a women’s touch, but he can tell at odd times that they miss being held in a mother’s arms. Do they feel the loss as keenly as he does? What do they remember?

[Read more...]

Feb 28 2017 2:30pm

February 2017’s Women’s Fiction Best Bets—Embrace the Love!

What were the best women's fiction novels of February?

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
-Maya Angelou

Women’s fiction is about the journey but it’s also about the relationships –with family, friends, children, and that special partner. We're told all our lives to make a difference in someone else's life—by acts of kindness or the hand of friendship and in some cases the embrace of love. These wonderful stories illustration the veracity of that. You can't helped but be charmed, entertained, and touched as these strong women face tough and difficult challenges.

The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

All their lives, Alice Stanhope and her daughter, Zoe, have been a family of two, living quietly in Northern California. Zoe has always struggled with crippling social anxiety and her mother has been her constant and fierce protector. With no family to speak of, and the identity of Zoe’s father shrouded in mystery, their team of two works―until it doesn’t. Until Alice gets sick and needs to fight for her life.

Desperate to find stability for Zoe, Alice reaches out to two women who are practically strangers but who are her only hope: Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four of them come together, a chain of events is set into motion and all four of them must confront their sharpest fears and secrets―secrets about abandonment, abuse, estrangement, and the deepest longing for family. Imbued with heart and humor in even the most dismal moments, The Mother’s Promise is an unforgettable novel about the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters and the new ways in which families are forged.

Strengths: Engaging characters; captivating plot; emotionally moving
Measure of Love:  Dash
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: This is a story that just pulls you in. Not only are the characters likeable and appealing, their journey is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Wonderful mixture of poignant and uplifting moments.

[Read more...]

Feb 6 2017 10:30am

First Look: Sophie Kinsella’s My (Not So) Perfect Life (February 7, 2017)

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Have you ever dreamed of running off to a cabin in the woods alone...not with a significant other –but with a bag of books? That is my perfect fantasy. Winter cabin with the necessities (snow is okay) plus fireplace...down comforter...and new books by my favorite authors. And one of those authors would be Sophie Kinsella.  While I didn’t get to read her latest, My (Not So) Perfect Life in my fantasy cabin it still was a fabulous treat.

If you’ve never read a Sophie Kinsella book, then the most important things to know about her books is that they are full of humor and laughter, in addition to being a modern women’s perfect allegory. And in her latest Kinsella teaches us and her heroine a valuable (although not new) lesson–don’t believe everything on social media.

While the setting is London, and then Somerset, it’s a story that is universal–small town girl wants to make it big in a sophisticate, cosmopolitan city. And to do that Katie thinks that she needs to leave the country girl behind.  County brogue –gone.  Ingenuous name—changed;

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Jan 31 2017 12:00pm

First Look: Eloisa James’s Seven Minutes in Heaven (January 31, 2017)

Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James

Eloisa James
Seven Minutes in Heaven
Avon / January 31, 2017 / $7.99 print,  $6.99 digital

Parenthood, for the wealthy and aristocratic in the 1800s—with their easy access to governesses should be easy but Eloisa James in her charming new book, Seven Minutes in Heaven easily dissuades us of this. No matter what era you live in, parenting is very complicated—as Eugenia Snowe and Edward Reeve know.

As children, they both had unorthodox childhoods. Eugenia until the age of ten, lived an unconventional life with her father, Lord Strange. Known as the most scandalous man in England because of the motley group of people he invited to live on his estate. Strange protected his daughter from his intellectual but debauched visitors by having the servants lock her in the nursery every night. He failed to supervise the servants, so Eugenia mainly raised herself. It’s only after Eugenia developed rat fever that he rectified his down fallings as a father. Plus, it helped that he fell in love with a wonderful woman, Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, who took them both in hand.

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Jan 30 2017 2:00pm

Escape with Women’s Fiction Best Bets for January 2017

Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it's a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it's a way of making contact with someone else's imagination after a day that's all too real.”
-Nora Ephron

Of course we all know this—we’re readers after all! But nothing makes you appreciate reading more than a great book and in this month releases there are some excellent books. Make contact with someone else’s imagination because these authors shine as storytellers!

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

A story from debut author Abby Fabiaschi that is “as absorbing as it is illuminating, and as witty as it is heartbreaking.”

Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch...until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.

Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge...but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?

Strengths: Multi-faceted characters; Imaginative concept; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love:  Dash
Mood: Poignant
Why You Should Read this: What a spectacular debut! Reading the book summary, you might think, oh, I’ve read a ghost/matchmaking book like this before –but I dare say you haven’t! Wonderful emotional intensity, fabulous characters and imaginative storytelling. The mystery of Maddy’s death, the struggle of her family will keep you turning the pages. While the story is poignant, it is never dark.

[More Best Bets Ahead!]

Jan 29 2017 11:00am

First Look: Kristan Higgins’s On Second Thought (January 31, 2017)

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins
On Second Thought 
HQN Books / January 31, 2017 / $15.99 print, $7.99 digital

It has been a little over ten years since Kristan Higgins released her first book, Fools Rush In. Readers were charmed with its keen and humorous insights about the complexities of finding true love.

Higgins is still writing about love’s travails—lucky for us. In addition, over the years her books have become even more perceptive, and On Second Thought is one of most thoughtful, touching books about the process of finding love that I’ve read in a long time. It made me cry—in good way. The characterization is perfect. The scenarios are both genuine and realistic. And the humor is spot-on.

In romance, there is this whole mythology or truth depending on your view and experience, about people finding the perfect one—that when we meet that person we’ll just know that it’s right. For some, that might happen, but for others, it is not so simple and that is the concept that Higgins explores in On Second Thought. It’s a story of two sisters, one who found “the one” her senior year of college, and one who had resigned herself to singlehood.

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