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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Goodnight Stranger: A Novel by Miciah Bay Gault

Release Date - July 30, 2019

When I learn there's a book by a Vermont author, I do make every effort to read it. Miciah Bay Gault lives in the state's capital city, but her story is mostly set in Massachusetts on a fictional island off Cape Cod.

Lydia Moore has been responsible for her brother since her mom's death. She and Lucas are more than brother-sister, they're two of a set of triplets. Their infant brother died tragically when he was just weeks old.

One day, a stranger comes to the island. Lydia can't help but feel drawn to him. It's Lucas, however, that is convinced this stranger is their deceased brother who has somehow returned. The man, Cole, knows too many things about their home and their mother for it to be a coincidence.

Lydia must uncover the truth. To do so, she has to leave the island, and that poses problems. She's been on the island so long that leaving it triggers anxiety. She knows something is wrong, but unless she can find out who Cole truly is, she'll never be able to convince her brother that the man he has become attached to is hiding something.

I really enjoyed Goodnight Stranger. I loved the setting. There's a story told by Cole that is a local legend and Emily's Bridge does exist, though the town listed in Goodnight Stranger is fictional. Having that level of familiarity always draws me into a story.

I will admit that the ending made me both happy and sad. No spoilers here, here I wish one aspect had been finalized a little more, but I can see why the author chose to leave it as she did.

All in all, Goodnight Stranger kept me hooked long into the night. As soon as I got up this morning, I had to finish it before starting my day. It was that good.

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Stranger on the Beach by Michelle Campbell

Release Date - July 23, 2019

I would have really loved this novel so much more had I not had it pegged from the start. The author builds suspense well. The situations are almost creepy at times. But, I had the "twist" figured out before I was too far into the story.

Empty nester Caroline Stark is delighted that her gorgeous, albeit expensive, waterfront home is ready. When her husband announces he won't be back from his business trip in time to be there for the housewarming party, she's heartbroken. Worse, she catches him in a lie. He claims to be in another state, but she tracks his phone and learns he's in a hotel in the city.

With her marriage in shambles and a mysterious stranger watching her house from the beach, Caroline finds her world is falling apart. That stranger, Aidan, ends up being the man she turns to for a one-night stand when she learns her husband has been with another woman. Little does she know that Aiden's dark history and unusual behavior will be far more than she ever could have imagined.

A Stranger on the Beach is very much a psychological suspense novel with the mystery involving the lies Caroline's husband hides and Aidan's infatuation with her. Everything does tie together at some point, but I never found the final revelation to be shocking. I liked A Stranger on the Beach, but it never shocked me. If anything, I found it to be a bit predictable.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock

Release Date - July 9, 2019

One thing I was totally ready for was a heroine who didn't take things in stride. Crashing the A-List finds Clara Montgomery unemployed and desperate. She was at the top of her game in the publishing industry, but a merger led to many book editors being tossed onto the streets at the same time and finding a new job has proven to be more than difficult.

Rather than return home to a very passive-aggressive mother, Clara moves in with her brother and his fiancee. She's given up her plush bed for a lumpy sofa. She just needs that one break. The only one she currently has is a temporary job cleaning abandoned storage units.

Many of those abandoned units are packed with things that smell of beets or are of a questionable nature with things she cannot and doesn't want to imagine what they once were. It's the discovery of a locker filled with paperwork that seems most tedious and changes her life. That locker is packed floor-to-ceiling with paperwork from a former escort service.

With the help of her friend, she discovers a very popular actor among the list of escorts. One drunken call to him leads to a very embarrassing situation where he believes she was going to blackmail him and turns the tables by requiring her to become his "girlfriend" until his red carpet premiere. At that point, he'll stage a very public break up.

The dislike for each other is apparent, but that doesn't keep Clara from doing what she feels she needs to do to avoid jail. Meanwhile, getting through the next few weeks is proving to be harder than ever, and at any moment, the walls of Clara and Caspian's ruse could come crashing down.

So much about Caspian was completely unlikable. Like Clara, I found his pompous attitude to be very hard to take. I wasn't sure I would ever like him. In fact, I'm still not sure I really did become fond of him.

Yet, the story had me hooked. Clara is charming, witty, and exactly the type of friend I'd be proud to have. Her best friend is even better. What a pair they'd be to have over for drinks!

Crashing the A-List turned into a fantastic beach read. I started it and just couldn't stop. I may have spent a bit too much time reading rather than enjoying the beauty of Popham Beach that sunny day, but it was worth every minute. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The One Who Stays by Toni Blake

Release Date - July 30, 2019

This first book in the Summer Island series hooked me from the start. Unlike many romances, I wasn't always sure who Meg would choose. It's nice not knowing until the end.

Meg Sloan returned to Summer Island for unhappy reasons, but she's come to love her grandmother's island. After her grandmother passes away, she's remained on the island running her grandmother's inn. It's a roof over her head and a steady income, but she isn't sure it's all she wants from life.

Part of that lies in the part-time romance she has going with a local fisherman. He comes and goes as he wants, and she's tired of watching him go away for weeks at a time and waiting for his return. She wonders if Zack will ever want to be part of a committed relationship.

As spring arrives, Meg finds herself hiring a newcomer to the island. Seth Darden is only around for a few months, but he needs the money and agrees to be the Summerbrook Inn's handyman. He is really at the inn for another reason, but he hopes never to reveal the truth.

Meg finds herself torn between two men. She's definitely intrigued by Seth, even if he is younger. Meanwhile, Zack seems to be changing. He's talking more about how much he loves Meg. Is his sudden claim that he loves her enough?

To add to her confusion, Seth stumbles across an old diary hidden in the floorboards. It's her grandmother's diary. In it is a confession that Meg never sees coming. Her grandmother may be offering the best advice from the pages of her diary, but it's up to Meg to decide what her heart wants.

There were several things I found felt right at home. I, too, live for the scent of lilacs in the spring. My back deck is surrounded on three sides (minus the stairs) so that I can sit on the covered back deck and inhale that scent as I work. I related to Meg for that reason. Like her, I also have roses, but they're just not the same.

Now, I've never been to Michigan's islands, but as I read this book, I was thinking of Block Island. I fell in love with Block Island two years ago and would love to live there. I managed to avoid the island in peak tourist season, which is my preferred time to get to know an area. There is a charm to being on an island in the off-season as the summer crowds just start to return. While Meg was busying talking about the reasons she'd like to leave, I was thinking that they were the reasons I'd want to stay.

Spoilers are something I work hard to avoid. What I do want to say is that the man who loses out in this first book in the series will hopefully get to tell his own story in the future. I really want to learn more about what happens to him! Write as fast as you can Ms. Blake. I am eager for the next chapter in this island's tale.

Monday, July 1, 2019

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Release Date - July 30, 2019

It's a team building exercise they believe. They're ruthless on Wall Street, but it's bonus time and somethings may not be as well as they'd hope. When Sam, Sylvie, Jules, and Vincent get an email that they are to meet up at a specific location, they jump. They're used to jumping, even if it means messing up plans with wives, boyfriends, and just about anyone else they know.

The escape room challenge seems easy enough. Solve the puzzles and get out of the elevator. Some of them soon learn that they may not make it out alive.

Here's a situation where I spent a lot of time rooting for the person I was sure was behind the creation of the escape room. This book is twisted and dark, but I never felt sorry for the four trying to escape the elevator. In fact, I was cheering every time they struggled to solve the next clue. I had them solved and knew what would happen next. There were no surprises. It was just an entertaining read from the first page to the last.

Sam, Sylvie, Jules, and Vincent are just not likable people. They're ruthless and enjoy stomping on others to get to the top. That makes them easy to hate. I liked the puzzles, loved the plot, and was very satisfied when it all reached the final page.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry

Release Date - June 4, 2019

I spent a lot of time tearing up as I read The Favorite Daughter. If you have a parent or loved one with Alzheimer's, this book is going to hit home.

Ten years ago, Colleen "Lena" Donohue walked away from her family after suffering the worst kind of betrayal. On her wedding day, Lena found her husband-to-be passionately kissing her sister. She's spent a decade touring the world and writing articles about her adventures. Her visits home have been limited since that day.

When Lena's brother calls with news that their dad has Alzheimer's, Lena has to return home. No matter what her sister did, her dad is and always will be the one family member she could never turn her back on.

As their dad's memories slip farther away, Lena, her brother, and her sister work together to take old family photographs and create a book that tells each photo's story. Along the way, Lena learns more about herself than she could ever imagine.

I wasn't shocked by the surprise that their dad was hiding. I had that figured out long before it was revealed. That said, the details into Alzheimer's and its progression were spot on. My mom has Alzheimer's and I really felt the situations they faced were very true.

There were also times I was extremely jealous of these fictional characters. When my dad died, we sat down with a social worker. No one gave us a folder filled with paperwork and forms that could help us navigate our mom's care. We found just how much our dad had been hiding as he cared for our mom. We had no idea how progressed her Alzheimer's really was. Instead, we bounced from lawyers to social workers to assisted care homes to nurses and memory care doctors who didn't once have answers for us. We had to do the research and talk to countless programs and agencies on our own.

The symptoms of Alzheimer's hit everyone differently. Our mom is a lot like the Donohue's dad, so it hit home. It hit hard. The agitation, anger, flip-flopping of topics, denial, and confusion are all things we've watched her deal with. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but even the ending struck me as very realistic giving things I've heard my mom say.

Is The Favorite Daughter an easy read? It wasn't for me. It really hit hard emotionally, but it was so, so good. 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Summer We Lost Her by Tish Cohen

Release Date - June 4, 2019

Much of her life has been spent being the very best. With a chance to compete in the Olympics, Elise Sorenson knows her husband won't be as delighted as she is. It's made worse when she must leave her scheduled flight to go calm her agitated horse, which makes her break a promise to her eight-year-old daughter.

Matt Sorenson is once again let down that his wife has let them down. He's both mom and dad to their daughter Gracie, and now he has the chance to become a partner in the law firm where he works. It's a chance he doesn't want to miss, but money is tight. The only way to afford his dream is to sell his late grandfather's lakefront property.

The couple head to Lake Placid, New York, to fix up and clean up the lakefront home and prepare it to sell. Two things happen that can change their relationship and their lives. Matt reunites with his former girlfriend and starts to wonder "what if?" This throws Elise for a loop as Matt's attraction to his old girlfriend is still very apparent. Before they can even talk about whether or not they have a future together, Gracie disappears.

I both loved and hated The Summer We Lost Her. Elise is not a great mom most of the time. Her horse and career clearly come first. Matt is better for Gracie, but he's also a very dislikable man. I suppose given his grandfather, it's not surprising that he grew up to be a jerk. When Gracie goes missing, I had my guess and I was right. It was too predictable for me.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Woman in Our House by Andrew Hart

Release Date - June 18, 2019

Anna Klein thinks she's ready to return to work. To do so, she and her husband Josh opt to hire a nanny. Hiring a live-in nanny is a little worrisome, but they've talked to others who say the arrangement works beautifully. They're recommended a Mormon agency based in Utah.

When Oaklynn Durst arrives, she's better than Anna and Josh could have imagined. Not only is she delightfully warm and caring, but she's eager to show the family just how hard she's willing to work. She's soon cooking their meals, catering their parties, and doing far more than imagined.

When their girls start ending up with unexplained illnesses and experiencing "accidents" that require hospitalizations, Anna begins to worry that Oaklynn is not the Mary Poppins-like nanny they've imagined. She starts to fear that Oaklynn has a very dark side that is putting her family in danger.

The Woman in Our House started out strong. As the story progressed, there were things I couldn't decide why they were included. Anna's a bit hard to like. I get wanting to jump back into her career, but I also wondered why a live-in nanny was really necessary given the time she spent out of her home office checking on the girls or joining the nanny and girls in activities. A babysitter a few days a week would have sufficed.

I had real issues with the neighbor. She's not likable, and honestly, her role in the story was minimally important at best. I could have done without her. Certain parts of the story were never explained. I don't want to give away any plot, but there were things that happen that when everything came to the climax, I still found myself asking "why did that part back there happen, then?"

In the end, I liked this story. It had great potential, but some of it fell flat and then the ending was easy to predict. For that reason, it wouldn't make my keeper list.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sisters of Summer's End by Lori Foster

Release Date - June 11, 2019

Joy Lee left her family behind after her husband made it clear he wanted nothing to do with becoming a dad. Joy's family also turned their backs on her. She moved to an RV resort where she has a great job, a home, plenty of friends, and is a great mom to her precocious son.

Maris Kennedy is the closest thing to a sister that Joy's ever had. When Maris urges Joy to live it up a bit and accept the advances of the new owner of the area drive-in, Joy decides to take Maris's advice. Meanwhile, she also convinces Maris to let loose a bit and accept the advances of the summer resort's maintenance guy.

These two women are forging a new friendship and leaning heavily on each other as they navigate the world of dating. Trusting in each other seems to be far easier than trusting in men, but it's getting harder to deny that having someone in their lives may be exactly what they need.

If you are looking for a warm, cozy romance, you get a two-for-one in Sisters of Summer's End. While there are two romances, Joy's takes center stage. I loved that it was so uplifting and romantic. I also loved having the very tough, tomboy-ish Maris realize she needed a man just as much as her friend did.

I am hoping this is a new series in the making. I really loved the setting and would like to see what Maris and Joy are up to in the future.

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera

Release Date - June 11, 2019

Call Your Daughter is bittersweet to me. It took me a bit to get into the story due to the switching back and forth between the three characters. You have Gertrude, an abused wife trying to keep her four children alive. There's Annie, the matriarch of the Cole Family, who's been distanced from her own children for years. Finally, there's Retta, a freed slave who works for Annie.

The women become linked forever when Gertrude finally has the chance to escape her abusive husband by working for Annie's clothing factory. Gertrude's daughter is horribly sick and Retta is one of the only people with the skill to help save her life. Meanwhile, Annie is now Gertrude's boss. When Annie discovers a long-hidden family secret, her will to live may be shattered forever.

All of this story takes place during the Great Depression. Times are hard and the author does a great job bringing poverty and fear of survival into the story. There are times that the Depression feels like it's a character in the story rather than just the setting.

I'm not always a fan of historical novels, but this one really tugged at my heart. I've read stories from past generations in my family and know just how accurate some of this is. It's powerful but sad.

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

Release Date - June 26, 2018

She took her eyes off the road for the briefest of seconds. She never saw the vehicle barreling towards her at twice the speed limit. It doesn't matter for Mackenzie Cooper. That her young daughter died and she lived is torture enough. That the world saw her as an unfit mother who was too busy looking at her dash, which led to new laws about dash displays, that's also torture.

Mackenzie, now Maggie, is starting anew in Vermont. She has friends, a solid job doing makeup at a local spa, and a quiet existence where no one knows about her past. Her ex-husband, brother, mother, and former friends are all in her past where she needs them to be.

It's all threatening to fall apart when her ex-husband shows up after purchasing the inn where she works. Worse, her best friend's son is accused of hacking, which is putting Mackenzie at risk of the media recognizing her.

Before and Again is a touching story. In essence, there's a series in the making with other people in this quiet town hiding from their own troubled pasts. I wouldn't mind returning.

It poses some good questions. Today's cars have dashboard computers that are used for so many things. It's the same as in the past with radio controls. The equipment is there, and it's dangerous if you do use it, yet it is still there. I think many people fall into the guilty column having changed a station (unless you have steering wheel controls). You have GPS maps built into cars to help you get to your destination, but those systems are equally dangerous.

With a strong setting, characters that you do feel for, and very emotional writing. This book ended up being one that I can't believe I struggled to get into before now. I'm glad I didn't give up on it.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Release Date: June 18, 2019

Most people are aware that I adore Maine. The cover art and picturesque setting in The Last House Guest were reasons I felt compelled to read this book. It's set in a fictional town of Littleport, Maine. Littleport, like many coastal Maine towns, has an entirely different population in the summer months.

Avery Greer has grown up in Littleport. She sees the summer residents come and go. Her friendship with one of them, Sadie Loman, is unusual at best. For years, they've been best friends. It all ends when Sadie is found dead from a suspected suicide. Avery has always believed that determination to be suspicious.

One year after Sadie's death, odd happenings make Avery more convinced than ever before that Sadie's death was no accident. She's convinced that someone is setting it up to make it look like she committed murder, and she'll do whatever it takes to uncover the truth.

There are so many twists in The Last House Guest. I found myself making a few incorrect assumptions along the way. I was thrown when the truth is revealed. That makes this book a win! It's not often that I can't figure out the mystery.

As I read the story and got involved in the town, I couldn't help but feel like I was in a version of Ogunquit or Kennebunkport, but with rockier beaches. I loved that familiar feel. It almost came off like a cross between Ogunquit and Bailey Island, two of my favorite places. If Littleport existed, I could see myself wanting to stay.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Last Thing She Remembers by J.S. Monroe

Release Date - May 28, 2019

She's not sure what brings her to a specific house in a quiet village. She remembers getting off a plane and losing her purse and everything that could tell her who she is. She cannot remember a thing, but something draws her to this house.

Laura and Tony have no idea who the woman is at their door, but her familiarity with the house is alarming. After taking her to the local doctor, they only know she's suffering from some kind of amnesia. As townspeople start to try to figure out who she is and why she's here, it will cause relationships to fray and suspicions to grow.

I loved the twists in this book. Part of it was a bit easy to guess after a certain point. By that point, I didn't care. I felt compelled to keep reading to see how things would work out for the amnesiac, Laura, and Tony.

This was one of the better psychological suspense novels I've picked up this year. I highly recommend it.

Jackson: Eternity Springs (The McBrides of Texas) by Emily March

Release Date - June 25, 2019

Jackson is a spin-off from Emily March's Eternity Springs romances. It's the first in the new The McBrides of Texas series. Clearly, it's setting up a lot of stories and catching up readers on other characters. For that reason, there's an awful lot going on. It took a bit for me to settle in and really start to enjoy the story.

Jackson has lost so much. His ex-wife has him in a bitter tug-of-war over their daughter. Plus, while he wrote her songs, she was the star and since these events, he's been unable to do any songwriting. News that he and his cousins have inherited a gorgeous paradise in Texas may be just what he needs for a fresh start.

Caroline Carruthers never expected to become a widow at her age. She married an older man, but she loved him dearly. When he's diagnosed with early-onset dementia, they're both devastated. She moves to Redemption, Texas, to open a book store that's aptly named The Next Chapter. She's ready to start the next chapter of her life.

Both Caroline and Jackson are cautious about starting over, but they can't ignore the attraction they have. Rumors are that Redemption is a place for new chances. Can they really give love a second chance?

Once I'd gotten past all the building up the town and reintroducing certain characters from past books, I settled in and enjoyed a charming romance with plenty of passion, likable characters, and a great location. It's hard not to want to be part of this town. I'm intrigued and can't wait to see what happens next.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Liar's Child by Carla Buckley

Release Date - March 12, 2019

I just discovered I never loaded the review for The Liar's Child. My mom's Alzheimer's has led me to a point where I burned out and needed to walk away from everything for a bit - well as much as I can when I'm trying to be with her, run my business, and be there for my kids' big life steps (graduation from college for one and purchase of the first home for another).

Sara Lennox moves to North Carolina to escape her past. She doesn't expect to get drawn into her neighbors' lives in their seedy little apartment complex. Pre-teen Cassie and her younger brother Boon seem to be on their own more than they are with their dad, who is doing everything he can to keep his family together.

When a hurricane threatens the coast, Cassie and Boon are left alone. Sara makes a rash decision to get the kids and escape the storm. What she does threatens to reveal the secrets she's trying so hard to hide. It also raises questions as to why it was so easy for her to walk away with two children, and what is going on with their father? There's one more character in the story that makes you wonder what is his place in this book?

The Liar's Child has a lot of twists. I was drawn to the kids from the start, though Cassie could be a bit exasperating, much like a tween I guess. Sara was unusual. You know she is hiding something, but it's hard to get a read on what it is. The slow reveal of the secrets and twists kept me hooked. Some didn't surprise me, others did. One thing remained clear, I loved the ride.

The Night Before by Wendy Walker

Release Date - May 14, 2019

Laura Lochner is very unlucky in love. Her streak with men has landed her nothing but one wrong choice after another. She's hoping this new guy is going to be her Prince Charming. She may have met him on an online dating site, but he seems perfect.

When Laura never returns home, her sister panics. Something isn't right, and Rosie feels compelled to find her sister. When her sister moved in with them after the last break-up, Rosie has been certain she wasn't told the full story. Something wasn't normal with this failed romance. Her sister's past and tendency to keep secrets suggests that it may not be Laura that's in trouble. It could very well be this mystery man who is in danger.

In The Night Before, the story shifts from past to present and Rosie's point of view to Laura's. I didn't have a hard time keeping up with these changes. I felt it helped keep the tension strong. What I didn't love where the secrets that start getting revealed. Some of them, well one in particular, seemed completely unnecessary.

I love Wendy Walker's books. I've read many and she's on my list of favorite suspense authors. This latest was okay, but I can't say I loved it. It ended up being no more than a good read.

The Voice in My Head by Dana Davis

Release Date - May 28, 2019

Dana L. Davis had me hooked from the first page of The Voice in My Head. Indigo is contemplating suicide when she slips and falls. To avoid being committed, she lies to her mom and tells her she was up there to get a photo for her dying twin sister. They're identical twins and Indigo cannot imagine a world without Violet there.

In her recovery, Indigo starts hearing a voice. The voice in her head claims to be God. She doesn't want to give her family more reason to think she's crazy, but the voice insists that if she and her family make a trek across states to a rock formation in an Arizona desert, Violet will live. She can't ignore the chance to save her sister.

Surprisingly, she convinces her parents, head-strong older sister, quirky preacher, younger brother, brother-in-law, and nephews to go on this bus trip together. The adventures that await them are almost unbelievable, yet it's exactly what the family needs if they want to see Violet live.

I loved this story. The voice in Indigo's head had me snickering so many times. The family's adventure was fun, but it was also touching. I teared up from time to time, laughed out loud others, and couldn't stop until I'd reached the final word. I loved it.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Release Date - May 14, 2019

What a delightful read this was. Her sister is always so lucky. It's almost maddening. Olive Torres has watched Ami win contest after contest. In fact, Ami's luck has paid for most of her wedding. It's almost unbelievable when food poisoning hits all of the guests and wedding party during the wedding. Olive avoided the seafood buffet, so she and the groom's brother were the only ones spared.

The issue is Ami happened to win a honeymoon in Hawaii. It's non-refundable, and Ami really wants Olive to go in her place. She looks enough like Ami that they can get away with the swap. Sounds great, right? It would be if it wasn't for the fact that Ami's new brother-in-law gets the second ticket. Olive would rather have teeth pulled than be in Hawaii with Ethan.

Olive's currently unemployed and needs a break, so she sucks it up and goes on a dream vacation with her enemy. The problem is that the two may hate each other, but they must pose as happy newlyweds if they're going to pull this deception off.

The Unhoneymooners is a fun read. The story is packed with humorous moments and plenty of sizzle as it becomes harder and harder for Olive and Ethan to avoid the attraction that's forming. If you want an engaging, romantic read. Don't miss this book.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Little Teashop on Main by Jodi Thomas

Release Date - May 7, 2019

Three friends form a life-long friendship before they even start school. It all begins when Zoe's mom invites other girls from her class to a tea party. That forms a tight bond between bubbly Zoe, who dreams of a life in acting; Emily who is a writer at heart but battling mental illness as she gets older; and Shannon, a girl abandoned by her mother but raised under the loving guidance of a military dad and grandmother.

After high school, the girls head off on their own, but their reunion tea parties never stop. They've returned once more to deal with one of the biggest tragedies they'll ever face.

I loved The Little Teashop on Main. This story is packed with romances that come and go, some that stand the test of time, and plenty of angst and drama that tests them along the path of adulthood. The writing is so engaging, I struggled to put it down for those things like work and household chores that must get done.

The story starts with a male's viewpoint as he looks back on the women he's grown up with and loves with all of his heart. Each woman faces her own challenges, and it's not always an easy read, but it's such an emotional one that is hard to forget. Even a week later, I find myself thinking back to things they did and said. It was amazing.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Wish by Patricia Davids

Release Date - April 30, 2019

After her husband dies, Laura Beth Yoder is ready to pack up and move to Ohio. Her home in Cedar Grove is seriously lacking when it comes to single men her age. She wants nothing more than to have a child of her very own, and she'll move if that's what's needed to make her dearest wish come true.

After serving his time for a theft he didn't realize he was committing, Joshua King learns his ex-wife had his son. Her dying wish is for him to bring the infant to her parents, parents she hasn't spoken to since she abandoned her Amish home. On the way to them, Josh's car is swept up in a flood. That's how he meets Laura Beth.

Laura Beth cannot believe she's found a man and his infant, Caleb, about to get swept away. She takes them into her home and focuses her attention on Caleb. She knows they'll leave eventually, but she's hoping something will happen that will change Josh's mind. She doesn't want to give up this infant. She can't become involved with a non-Amish man, but she believes there is a way to make Caleb hers forever.

I usually enjoy Amish romances, but I found The Wish to be a hard read. This is due to my dislike of Laura Beth. I grew tired of her pushing Josh all the time. Despite his misgivings about raising a son when he had no job, no home, no anything, she kept pushing. She ignored her sister's warnings about taking in an unmarried man. She even does something that she knows Josh will not want her doing, but she is so focused on Caleb that she does it anyway. It bugged me.

I read the full story and appreciated the ending. In the end, however, it was other characters in the story that will leave far more of an impression. The old guy who fishes every day and offers advice to Josh was one of the best characters in the book. I adored him.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Swimming for Sunlight by Allie Larkin

Release Date - April 23, 2019

One thing Katie Ellis won't part with in her divorce is her dog. She'll let her husband cheat and leave her for his mistress, but Bark is hers. Once her lawyer fights to ensure she has custody of Bark, she packs up most of her items and heads to Florida to start over.

Florida holds horrible memories for her, but she also was welcomed into her grandmother's fold of close friends. There, Katie joins in on their plan to go back to their pasts when they were part of a troupe of performing mermaids. She'll do the costume, even if them being in the water is terrifying to her. It may be just what she needs to come to terms with her past and build a worthwhile future.

I loved Nan's friends. They were a riot. Katie is definitely an anxiety-ridden person, and it takes her time to come to terms with everything. One thing remains clear in this book, life is what you make of it and, sometimes, you have to be bold! Read Swimming for Sunlight. It's a lot of fun.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Hot Texas Sunrise by Delores Fossen

Release Date - March 26, 2019

Cleo Delaney misses her close friend, and she will keep her promise. She will do whatever it takes to raise her friend's three boys. The problem is, Cleo has an arrest record and owns a bar, and that makes her a poor choice in social service's eyes. Her friend failed to complete a will before she passed away from cancer.

At the moment, those boys are in their grandmother's care, and that violent alcoholic is a horrible choice. Cleo's last hope is to get a former friend and lover, Deputy Judd Laramie, to step up and agree to become the boys' foster. The problem is Judd is battling his own demons and isn't sure he needs that kind of complication in his life.

It was a gorgeous spring day yesterday and I was in the mood for a light, happy read. Hot Texas Sunrise didn't disappoint. The passion between Cleo and Judd is still strong. I loved that the only conflict in this book would be Cleo's friend's mom. There was nothing else added, which I appreciate because conflict in a romance can often seem forced to me and a little hard to believe. That was never the case here.

Was this book a perfect read? Not really. There were things with the social worker that bugged me. The ending also seemed to come together way too fast and easy. That said, the romance never disappointed and left me with the warm fuzzies I was looking for.

This is a second book in a series, but I don't feel like I missed a thing.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Invited: A Novel by Jennifer McMahon

Release Date - April 30, 2019

I love a book set in my home state. I like to see if an author gets the details right. I like the familiarity. The Invited is a ghost story. Helen and Nate escape their Connecticut life to build a home on the Breckenridge bog.

Legend has it that the ghost of Hattie Breckenridge haunts the bog after being hung for witchcraft. Helen becomes fascinated by the stories and opts to research them. It isn't long before it's clear to her that someone, perhaps Hattie's ghost, wants nothing to do with people building on her land.

As Helen digs deeper into the history, she starts adding pieces of the past to the house they're building. Each piece puts them more in danger than before.

I never found The Invited to be creepy. Coming from multiple generations of Vermonters and hearing some of the stories of my own family's past, the stories of Hattie and her family come off as tragic more than scary. I found it to be a very atmospheric tale of the past and present colliding, but I wasn't ever spooked.

I did find this book hard to put down. The story is told from the viewpoints of Helen and Olive (a teen Helen befriends). As more history is revealed, you might find chapters from characters in the past, too. All add depth to the story that culminates in the truth about Olive's mom's disappearance. It was a quick and engaging story.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer

Release Date - April 9, 2019

By most standards, Becky Gerard is the perfect mother. She is always there for her daughter, Meghan. Meghan's spent years plagued by a mysterious illness that seems to be worsening. Doctors can't find anything wrong, but Meghan's physical pain, dizziness, and lack of energy are worrisome.

After Meghan passes out again, some start to question if there's really anything wrong with Meghan at all. Some believe Becky is causing the symptoms and Munchausen's is what's really going on. Becky will do anything she can think of to save her daughter. How far is she willing to go?

It's been a while since a book threw a twist that I didn't see coming. Saving Meghan was delightful because I was kept guessing.

The basic premise that keeps you guessing is that Becky's own mother forced her daughters to lie in order to scam the government out of disability funds. Becky having Munchausen's makes sense. As you keep reading, her sincerity makes it hard to tell if you're really right or if there's more going on.

I bounced from thinking Becky was guilty to wondering about Meghan herself and Meghan's father. The more I read, the more I wondered what was going on. If you like books where there are so many potential suspects and reasons behind their actions, Saving Meghan is a great choice.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Release Date - April 23, 2019

I've been on a horrible reading slump. Nothing has been intriguing to me. I can't seem to get more than a few pages in before I'm ready to give up. Enter Sally Hepworth's The Mother-in-Law. This book blew me away.

Lucy is sure of one thing. She adores her new beau. Her mother died when she was young, so she's hoping she'll find a connection with Ollie's mom. Unfortunately, his mom is very curt and abrasive. It's clear that Lucy and Diana are not going to get along.

Years pass. Lucy spies police in her driveway and learns that Diana is dead from an apparent suicide. She's stunned, yet there's also a sense of peace that comes with it. She and Diana have never seen eye to eye. Lucy is also on her own as the whole world seemed to dote on Diana's every move.

Despite a suicide note hidden in a drawer, the autopsy reveals Diana was suffocated. When she told her family she had breast cancer, it was all a lie. Someone killed her, and Lucy is the only person to have never gotten along with her.

This is a very emotional read. It's told in the past and present with both Lucy and Diana sharing their stories. It took no time to find a bond with both characters. I've been in Lucy's shoes, but as a new mother-in-law myself, I could also get where Diana was coming from. I became eager to have the truth revealed. It was a tearjerker that kept me on the edge of my seat.