Mon
Jul 27 2015 4:45pm

Time Flies: Women’s Fiction Best Bets for July 2015

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.
-Nathaniel Hawthorne

The past does cast a shadow. It can make you nostalgia for halcyon days; or fill you with regrets and if-only thoughts. It can hold secrets that affect those around you. Memories are very powerful, as the heroines from July’s releases discover.

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

Told with Beth Harbison's wit and warmth, If I Could Turn Back Time is the fantasy of every woman who has ever thought, “If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd do things so differently...”

Thirty-seven year old Ramie Phillips has led a very successful life. She made her fortune and now she hob nobs with the very rich and occasionally the semi-famous, and she enjoys luxuries she only dreamed of as a middle-class kid growing up in Potomac, Maryland. But despite it all, she can't ignore the fact that she isn't necessarily happy. In fact, lately Ramie has begun to feel more than a little empty.

On a boat with friends off the Florida coast, she tries to fight her feelings of discontent with steel will and hard liquor. No one even notices as she gets up and goes to the diving board and dives off...

Suddenly Ramie is waking up, straining to understand a voice calling in the distance...It's her mother: “Wake up! You're going to be late for school again. I'm not writing a note this time...”

Ramie finds herself back on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, with a second chance to see the people she's lost and change the choices she regrets. How did she get back here? Has she gone off the deep end? Is she really back in time? Above all, she'll have to answer the question that no one else can: What it is that she really wants from the past, and for her future?

Strengths: Enticing premise; Challenging decisions; Poignant scenarios; HEA
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Who hasn’t wished for a do-over? You’ll love discovering if Ramie got it right the first time or the second!

The Color of Light by Emilie Richards

The Color of Light by Emilie Richards

For more than a decade minister Analiese Wagner has felt privileged to lead her parishioners along a well-lit path. Her commitment has never been seriously tested until the frigid night she encounters a homeless family huddling in the churchyard. Offering them shelter in a vacant parish house apartment and taking teenage Shiloh Fowler—a girl desperate to rescue her parents—under her wing, she tests the loyalty and faith of her congregation. 

Isaiah Colburn, the Catholic priest who was her first mentor and the man she secretly longed for, understands her struggles only too well. At a crossroads, he's suddenly reappeared in her life, torn between his priesthood and his growing desire for a future with Analiese.  

Divided between love and vows they've taken, both must face the possibilities of living very different lives or continuing to serve their communities. With a defeated family's trust and her own happiness on the line, Analiese must define for herself where darkness ends and light begins

Strengths: Unique ethical conflict; Societal dilemmas; Compelling characters; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Wonderful integration of the issues of homelessness. Two emotionally charged storylines.

*Read H&H's First Look review of The Color of Light here.

Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson

Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson

One of the sharpest attorneys in Charleston, S.C., Sally Baynard isn't your typical southern belle. She's certainly not what her mother hoped she'd grow up to be, especially since she divorced her husband, Family Court Judge Joe Baynard, and his historic family with their historic wealth and historic houses. Maybe Sally was never going to be a proper society lady, but her success as a public defender and family lawyer have been enough for her. She's represented murderers, burglars, drug dealers and lately has taken on some of the thorniest divorces, all cases closed with her Sally Bright Baynard wit, charm and brains.

Or have they? One case she's never successfully closed is her marriage. And when Judge Joe assigns her to one of his divorce cases by appointing her as the Lawyer for the Dog — Sherman, a miniature schnauzer— she's forced into close quarters with him again. Juggling the needs of the dog, the angry owners, her amorous but uncommunicative ex-husband, her aging, Alzheimer's-ridden mother, and the expectations of the court is more than Sally could have imagined. And as rascally Sherman digs his way into Sally's heart, he brings along his charming vet Tony, a man who makes Sally question her views on love and marriage.

Strengths: Knowledgeable world building; Droll scenarios; Pleasing characters; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: The authenticity about the law, and workings of the court added a wonderful touch of realism to this enjoyable story.

The Secrets She Keeps by Deb Caletti

The Secrets She Keeps by Deb Caletti

From bestselling author Deb Caletti comes a beautiful and profound novel of three women coming to terms with love and marriage—sure to move and delight fans of Kristin Hannah, Liane Moriarty, and Anna Quindlen.
 
“You don’t grow up on a divorce ranch and not learn to take a vow seriously.”
 
When Callie McBride finds a woman’s phone number written on a scrap of paper her husband has thrown away, she thinks that her marriage is over. Callie flees to Nevada and her Aunt Nash’s Tamarosa Ranch, where she’s shocked to see that the place of so many happy childhood memories is in disrepair. Worse, Aunt Nash is acting bizarrely—hoarding stacks of old photographs, burying a book in the yard, and railing against Kit Covey, a handsome government park ranger who piques Callie’s interest.
 
But Aunt Nash may prove to be saner than she seems once Callie pulls back the curtain on Tamarosa’s heyday—the 1940s and ’50s, when high-society and Hollywood women ventured to the ranch for quickie divorces and found a unique sisterhood—and uncovers a secret promise Nash made to her true love. Callie will come to see is that no life is ever ordinary. No story of love is, either.

Strengths: Exceptional historical backdrop; Authentic martial difficulties; Family bonds; Historical element; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Great glimpse into role Las Vegas played in divorce.  Skillful exploration of the slow decline of intimacy within marriage.

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Strengths: Alternating storyline; Exploration of soul mate; Heartfelt scenarios; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: low
Thoughts: We all know that time and place can impact our lives. Beguiling story of just how different it can be, based on one decision.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.

Strengths: Charming characters; lighthearted story; Foodie’s delight; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: Low
Thoughts: Not only do you get a sweet love story, but you discover more about Wisconsin. I want to try some cheese curds!

Follow Me Home by Cathy Woodman

Follow Me Home by Cathy Woodman

A charming and poignant romp through the love affairs—both hound and human—of a country-village midwife, from the international bestselling author of City Girl, Country Vet, set in Talyton St George, Britain's most romantic town.

Life has been tough, lately, for Zara, a recently divorced country midwife. Now living with her grandmother, it is hardly the ideal situation in which to get her life back on track. And then one day, love walks in, in the form of an abandoned puppy.

From the start, Zara feels in over her head: she knows nothing about dogs, and has been afraid of them for most of her life. Yet she quickly comes to adore her new friend, despite the fact that the puppy causes havoc wherever they go. She is grateful when a local shepherd, Lewis, offers to help train her.

But Lewis has an ulterior motive for helping. And though Zara may be able to trust him with her naughty dog, can she trust him with her bruised heart?

Strengths: English culture and setting; Heart wrenching acceptance; non-stereotypical romance; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Reading books with English setting is so entertaining because of juxtaposition between living in English village, and small American town.

Someday Jar by Allison Morgan

Someday Jar by Allison Morgan          

Fans of Sophie Kinsella and the Shopaholic series will fall in love with Lanie Howard—young, fabulous, and desperate to transform her life—in this funny, quirky, and endearing story about finding perfect happiness in life’s most imperfect moments.


WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMON-DROP MARTINIS...
Real-estate broker Lanie Howard figures she has the perfect man, the perfect job, and the perfect life. Then she stumbles across her old Someday Jar, the forgotten glass relic where she stashed all the childhood wishes—no matter how crazy—that her father encouraged her to write down on the backs of Chinese restaurant fortunes. She used to be fun once! What happened to her?

DON'T CHOKE ON THE RIND.
Although Lanie is wary of uncorking her past, when an attractive stranger saves her from a life-or-death encounter with a lemon peel at the bottom of a martini glass, she realizes that life is way too short for regrets. Now, jar in hand, Lanie decides to throw caution to the wind, and carry out everything she had once hoped to do, even if it means leaving her perfectly “perfect” life behind…

Strengths: Charming carpe diem theme; Lighthearted; Amusing scenarios; HEA  
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: low
Thoughts: Humorous and enticing account of heroine developing a backbone!

A Time for Friends by Patricia Scanlan

From the #1 internationally bestselling author comes her next heartwarming and comforting Irish-set novel about the complexities of lifelong friendship, perfect for fans of Maeve Binchy and Cathy Kelly.

When are the boundaries of friendship pushed too far, and when is it time to stop flying over oceans for someone who wouldn’t jump over a puddle for you? There comes a time when Hilary Hammond has to make that call.

Hilary and Colette O’Mahony have been friends since childhood, but when irrepressible Jonathan Harpur breezes into Hilary’s life and goes into business with her, Colette is not pleased.

After their first encounter, Colette thinks he’s a “pushy upstart” while he thinks she’s “a snobby little diva.” And so the battle lines are drawn—and Hilary is square in the middle.

But as the years roll by and each of them is faced with difficult times and tough decisions, one thing is clear: to have a friend you must be a friend.

Strengths: Irish setting; Numerous multifaceted problems; Complicated relationships: Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: So many issues explored in this book—aging, suicide, gay dating, childhood sexual abuse, fractured family relationships. A definite page turning saga.

The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis

The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis

Cape Cod summers are supposed to remain reassuringly the same, but everything falls apart when three sisters and their families come together for their annual summer vacation—and they are carrying more secrets than suitcases.

Maggie is the oldest. She feels responsible for managing the summer house and making sure everything is as it always has been. But she’s hurt that her parents’ recent divorce has destroyed the family’s comfortable summer routines, and her own kids seem to be growing up at high speed. Is it too late to have another baby?

Jess is the middle sister. She loves her job but isn’t as passionate about her marriage. She’s not sure she can find the courage to tell Maggie what she’s done—much less talk to her husband about it.

Virgie is the youngest, her dad’s favorite. She’s always been the career girl, but now there’s a man in her life. Her television job on the west coast is beyond stressful, and it’s taking its toll on her—emotionally and physically. She’s counting on this vacation to erase the symptoms she’s not talking about.

The Herington girls are together again, with their husbands and kids, for another summer in the family’s old Cape Cod house. When their mother, Gloria, announces she’s coming for an unscheduled visit—with her new boyfriend—no one is more surprised than their father, Arthur, who has not quite gotten over his divorce. Still, everyone manages to navigate the challenges of living grown-up lives in close quarters, until an accident reveals a new secret that brings everyone together in heartbreak…and then healing.

Strengths: Complex familial struggles; Relatable characters; Sisterly bond; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: When push comes to shove, family are there for each other!

Losing Me by Sue Margolis 

The “compulsively readable” (Susie Essman, actress, Curb Your Enthusiasm) author of Best Supporting Role delivers a new novel of one woman who’s stretched so thin, she almost disappears...

Knocking on sixty, Barbara Stirling is too busy to find herself, while caring for her mother, husband, children, and grandchildren. But when she loses her job, everything changes. Exhausted, lonely, and unemployed, Barbara is forced to face her feelings and doubts. Then a troubled, vulnerable little boy walks into her life and changes it forever.

Strengths: U.K. setting, Female friendships; Older heroine, Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Low
Thoughts: Enjoyable theme of it’s never too late for change.

Pretty Much Screwed by Jenna McCarthy

Pretty Much Screwed by Jenna McCarthy

Known for her “hilarious and spot-on”* memoirsI’ve Still Got It…I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It and If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon, Jenna McCarthy turns her comedic talents to fiction with a novel about picking yourself up out of the gutter when life kicks you to the curb…

“I don’t love you anymore.”

For Charlotte Crawford, the worst part about being dumped after twenty years of marriage is that her husband, Jack, doesn’t want another woman; he just doesn’t want her.

Forty-two and clueless, Charlotte is a fish out of water in a dating pool teeming with losers. Just when she thinks she’s finally put her failed marriage behind her, it comes back to bite her in the ass…hard. Without warning, Charlotte finds herself staring down the barrel of a future she wouldn’t (she would totally) wish on her worst enemy.

Engaging, fearless, and relentlessly funny, Pretty Much Screwed is a story of love, loss, friendship, forgiveness, turtledoves, taxidermy, and one hilariously ill-placed tick.

Strengths: Female friendships; Outrageous dating hijinks; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Low
Thoughts: Plenty of facetious humor and a sweet ending

***

Learn more about the books mentioned in this post:

If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison

 

The Color of Light by Emilie Richards

 

Lawyer for the Dog by Lee Robinson

 

The Secrets She Keeps: A Novel by Deb Caletti

 

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

 

Follow Me Home: A Novel by Cathy Woodman

 

Someday Jar by Allison Morgan

 

A Time for Friends: A Novel by Patricia Scanlan

 

The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis

 

Losing Me by Sue Margolis

 

Pretty Much Screwed by Jenna McCarthy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Scarlettleigh, Blogger

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
2 comments
Lee Brewer
1. LeeB.
I've read the books by Beth Harbison, Sue Margolis, Cathy Woodman, Allison Morgan and Amy E. Reichert. Enjoyed them all. Will check out the others. Thanks for the recommendations!
Maggie Boyd
2. maggieboyd66
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake sounds like a book I'll really enjoy. I'll have to add that to my TBR.
Post a comment