Mar 28 2016 2:00pm

Run the Gamut: March 2016 Women’s Fiction Best Bets

Fly By Night by Andrea Thalasinos

“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place.”
—Margaret Mead

Fiction, especially women’s fiction is very good “at recognizing the whole gamut of human potentialities.” If a scenario can be imagined, then some inspired author is going to write about it. Lucky for us.

Once again, you will find a wide-ranging selection of wonderful books in this month releases.

Fly By Night by Andrea Thalasinos

On the same day Greek American marine biologist Amelia Drakos receives word that funding for her beloved Seahorse Laboratory has been cut, she discovers that her deceased father had lived a secret life.

With foreclosure and unemployment looming, as well as the fallout from a brief, confusing love affair, Amelia reluctantly becomes curator for Minnesota's Mall of America Sea Life Aquarium. At the same time, a string of perplexing e-mails from someone with her late father's name, Ted Drakos, arrive. Ted claims that he has important information about an inherited property on Lake Superior. And that he is her older brother.

When Amelia and Bryce, a long-time friend, go to check out the property, they discover week-old, orphaned, husky/wolf-hybrid pups under the dilapidated porch. Amelia adopts the pups and takes them back with her to Minneapolis, where they introduce chaos into her already crazy life.

Amelia and Bryce soon find themselves embroiled in the midst of a very angry environmental debate regarding reinstatement of the wolf hunt in Wisconsin. Amelia wonders if she and her newfound brother can overcome the sins of their father and find peace.

In Fly by Night, Andrea Thalasinos shows that family secrets can jump-start a new way of looking at the world.

Strengths: Appealing Characters; Rich ecological details; Strong friendships; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: The uniqueness of the characters’ career initially will pull you into the story, but you’ll continue reading because of the sweet romance, strong friendships, and family ties. 

Multiple Listings by Tracy McMillan

Multiple Listings by Tracy McMillan

What would you do if your ex-con father suddenly came to visit…indefinitely? Family drama ensues when Nicki’s dad unexpectedly wants to move in with her, her son, and her boyfriend in this comedic novel from successful TV writer Tracy McMillan.

Nicki Daniels owns a home appraisal business, but real estate is her true passion: she lives for open houses and really knows her way around a floor plan. And especially at this juncture of her life, real estate has come to signify the stability she is trying to build with her teenage son, Cody, and her much younger boyfriend, Jake. She’s finally ready to find the perfect house for the three of them and work on a new business venture with Jake that she thinks will jump-start their lives together.

Strengths: Unique premise; Mended bonds; New beginnings: Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: McMillan succeeds in writing a story about engaging characters that is both lighthearted and touching.

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

The bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand returns with a breathtaking novel of love on the eve of World War I that reaches far beyond the small English town in which it is set.
East Sussex, 1914. It is the end of England’s brief Edwardian summer, and everyone agrees that the weather has never been so beautiful. Hugh Grange, down from his medical studies, is visiting his Aunt Agatha, who lives with her husband in the small, idyllic coastal town of Rye. Agatha’s husband works in the Foreign Office, and she is certain he will ensure that the recent saber rattling over the Balkans won’t come to anything. And Agatha has more immediate concerns; she has just risked her carefully built reputation by pushing for the appointment of a woman to replace the Latin master.

Strengths: Edwardian setting; exploration of societal restrictions; Enticing characters; Uplifting ending 
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: low
Thoughts:  Women characters are a perfect blend of forward and conventional thinking. Wonderful social commentary and sweet romance.

Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany

Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany

What happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.

Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.

How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart.

Strengths: Multi-faceted characters; Engrossing plot; Both uplifting and bittersweet;
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Superb exploration of the different directions lives can take with and without a support system of family and friends. Great book club selection.

All They Ever Wanted by Tracy Solheim

All They Ever Wanted by Tracy Solheim

In the new Second Chances novel by the author of Back to Before, even love might not prove strong enough to save a man's promising future from a woman's hidden past...

All he ever fought for...
Aspiring congressman Miles McAlister has dreamed of representing his hometown of Chances Inlet, North Carolina, since he was a boy. So when he's asked to help run his mother's bed and breakfast he moves home and rolls out his campaign at the same time. But political stardom isn't a given, especially when he's expected to compromise the very ideals he's trying to uphold. Making matters worse is the inn's stubborn, and distractingly beautiful cook. He's loved and lost before, so falling for Lori Hunt is not part of his plan.
All she ever feared...
Lori just wants to do her job and be left alone until she can safely move on. The last thing she needs is to get involved with her boss's son. Miles proves to be too sexy to ignore, however.  Their heated fling elicits feelings deeper than either anticipated. But everything about Lori is a lie. She's harboring a secret that'll destroy Miles's career, and when the truth gets out it's going to shock Chances Inlet to its core, forcing Miles to make the hardest decision of his life.

Strengths: Appealing characters; Strong romance; Wonderful sense of community; HEA
Measure of Love: Tablespoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Plenty of twist and turns in this feel good story!

All Stories Are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer

All Stories Are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer

In this thoughtful, mesmerizing tale with echoes of Station Eleven, the author of An Uncommon Education follows a group of survivors thrown together in the aftermath of two major earthquakes that strike San Francisco within an hour of each other—an achingly beautiful and lyrical novel about the power of nature, the resilience of the human spirit, and the enduring strength of love.

On Valentine’s Day, two major earthquakes strike San Francisco within the same hour, devastating the city and its primary entry points, sparking fires throughout, and leaving its residents without power, gas, or water.

Among the disparate survivors whose fates will become intertwined are Max, a man who began the day with birthday celebrations tinged with regret; Vashti, a young woman who has already buried three of the people she loved most . . . but cannot forgot Max, the one man who got away; and Gene, a Stanford geologist who knows far too much about the terrifying earthquakes that have damaged this beautiful city and irrevocably changed the course of their lives.

As day turns to night and fires burn across the city, Max and Vashti—trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium—must confront each other and face the truth about their past, while Gene embarks on a frantic search through the realization of his worst nightmares to find his way back to his ailing lover and their home.

Strengths: Gripping, thought-provoking scenarios; Joys and sacrifices of love: Genuine characters.
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: High
Thoughts:The bitter with the sweet is the perfect description of this book—but isn’t that true of life? Touching and poignant.

SEE ALSO: Power to Create: Women’s Fiction Best Bets for February 2016

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

After years of watching her best friends Ben and Claire try for a baby, Romily has offered to give them the one thing that they want most.

Romily expects it will be easy to be a surrogate. She's already a single mother, and she has no desire for any more children. But Romily isn't prepared for the overwhelming feelings that have taken hold of her and which threaten to ruin her friendship with Ben and Claire-and even destroy their marriage.

Now there are three friends, two mothers and only one baby, and an impossible decision to make...

Thought-provoking, heart-rending but ultimately uplifting, Julie Cohen's Dear Thing is a book you won't be able to put down, until you pass it on to your best friends.

Strengths: Noteworthy characters; Exploration of complexities of surrogacy and friendship;Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: It’s so easy to identify with both women. A mesmerizing read.   

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

“Reader, I murdered him.”
A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.
Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?
A satirical romance about identity, guilt, goodness, and the nature of lies, by a writer who Matthew Pearl calls “superstar-caliber” and whose previous works Gillian Flynn declared “spectacular,” Jane Steele is a brilliant and deeply absorbing book inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s classic Jane Eyre.

Strengths: Wickedly appealing heroine; Dastards gets just rewards; Enticing drollness; HEA
Measure of Love: Teaspoon
Introspection Level: Low
Thoughts: A truly entertaining and sardonic spoof of Jane Eyre.

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax

The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born,”wrote the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson, whose 1928 parenting guide was revered as the child-rearing bible. For their dangerous and “mawkish” impulses to kiss and hug their child, “most mothers should be indicted for psychological murder.”

Behave is the story of Rosalie Rayner, Watson’s ambitious young wife and the mother of two of his children.

In 1920, when she graduated from Vassar College, Rayner was ready to make her mark on the world. Intelligent, beautiful, and unflappable, she won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins assisting the charismatic celebrity psychologist John B. Watson. Together, Watson and Rayner conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. They also embarked on a scandalous affair that cost them both their jobs—and recast the sparkling young Rosalie Rayner, scientist and thinker, as Mrs. John Watson, wife and conflicted, maligned mother, just another “woman behind a great man.”

Strengths: Insightful story;Fascinating characters; Great historical element; Bittersweet woman behind man story
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: A very compelling tale about the early experiments into behavioral science and the personal life of John Watson and Rosalie Rayner.

The Rejected Writers' Book Club by Suzanne Kelman

The Rejected Writers' Book Club by Suzanne Kelman

Librarian Janet Johnson is puzzled when she is invited—and practically dragged—to her first meeting of the Rejected Writers’ Book Club. This quirky group of women would much rather celebrate one another’s rejected manuscripts over cups of tea and slices of lemon cake than actually publish a book. But good friends are exactly what Janet needs after moving to the small town of Southlea Bay, Washington. Just as the ladies are about to raise a teacup to their five hundredth rejection letter, they receive bad news that could destroy one member’s reputation—and disband the group forever. To save the club, Janet joins her fellow writers on a wild road trip to San Francisco in search of the local publisher who holds the key to a long-buried secret. As they race to the finish line, they’ll face their fears—landslides, haunted houses, handsome strangers, ungrateful children—and have the time of their lives.

Strengths: Quirky characters; Amusing plot; Female bonding; Uplifting ending
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: low
Thoughts: A light and entertaining read about the value of friendship and family.

Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker

Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker

In Susan Strecker's Nowhere Girl, sixteen-year-old Savannah Martino is strangled to death in an abandoned house. The police rule Savannah’s murder a random attack of opportunity, which prompts the small New Jersey town to instigate a curfew and cancel football games. Isolated and afraid, Savannah’s sister, Cady, continues to communicate with Savannah through dreams. Cady knows Savannah in ways no one else knew: The beautiful, ethereal twin everyone thought was an angel was actually on the road to self-destruction.

Years later a chance encounter while researching her latest novel coincides with an unexpected call from the once-rookie cop on Savannah’s case, Patrick Tunney, now a detective, who tells Cady that Savannah’s case has been reopened. Through new evidence, it has been determined that Savannah’s death wasn’t a random attack and that whoever killed her sister loved her.

Despite years of interviewing convicted killers, profilers, and psychiatrists for her bestselling thrillers, Cady isn’t prepared for the revelation that someone close to her could have killed her sister. Cady is drawn into a labyrinth of deception and betrayal reaching all the way back to her childhood that will force her to find the strength she never knew she had in order to face the truth.

Strengths: Surprising and unpredictable; Credible mystery; Flawed and interesting characters; Pleasing closure
Measure of Love: Dash
Introspection Level: Medium
Thoughts: Strecker will grab your attention with the twin bond, and keep it with this gripping plot.

Want more great reads? 

Your Eggs, My Basket: March 2016 New Adult Best Bets

Pot O’ Gold: Not-Your-Usual Historicals Best Bets for March 2016

Power to Create: Women’s Fiction Best Bets for February 2016







Learn more about the books mentioned in this post: 

Fly By Night by Andrea Thalasinos  
Multiple Listings by Tracy McMillan  
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson  
Somewhere Out There by Amy Hatvany  
All They Ever Wanted by Tracy Solheim  
All Stories Are Love Stories by Elizabeth Percer  
Dear Thing by Julie Cohen  
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye  
Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax  
The Rejected Writers' Book Club by Suzanne Kelman  
Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker  














Scarlettleigh, Blogger 


Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Lee Brewer
1. LeeB.
Thanks for the recommendations. Have already read The Summer Before the War, which was excellent.
Maggie Boyd
2. maggieboyd66
Thanks for all the recs - there are a lot of great books here. Like Lee I've read Summer Before the War but I am very interested in Nowhere Girl and Fly By Night.
3. Kareni
Some enticing chocies here! Thanks for the post.
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