Sunday, June 27, 2021

The House Guests by Emilie Richards

 Release Date - June 29, 2021

Since her husband's death, Cassie Costas has done everything she can to be a single mom to her teenage stepdaughter. Selling their New York City home and moving to Tarpon Springs, Florida, where Cassie is closer to her family made the most sense. The money Cassie knew they had isn't in the bank accounts, and no one seems to know where it went. She's running out of funds, and Savannah isn't making it easy.

Savannah blames Cassie for everything. She's been uprooted from her home, her friends, and she even blames Cassie for her father's death. When she and her friends find a purse full of cash in a parking lot, Savannah knows the right thing would be to find the owner, but they decide to keep it and throw a blowout party that gets very out of hand.

Amber Blair and her teen son, Will, end up getting evicted when Amber loses her tips and can't pay her rent. A local reporter asks to do a news story on her situation, and she reluctantly agrees if her and her son's names are not mentioned in the article. When Cassie reads the story, she realizes that Savannah's actions made this woman's life more difficult than it already was. She has a  plan. She asks Amber and Will to move in with her and Savannah. There's plenty of room, and it will be a good lesson in responsibility.

It's soon clear to Cassie and Amber that they needed each other. Cassie's family takes Amber and Will in, and they have the family they've always wanted. Amber's hiding a secret that could put her and Will in danger if it was revealed. Meanwhile, Amber's experience in bookkeeping is exactly what Cassie needs to figure out why so much of their savings vanished. Together, these women help each other in ways they never would have imagined.

The House Guests has romantic aspects, but it's a women's fiction story with a lot of depth and some very delicious foods sprinkled in along the way. I could see why Amber and Will enjoyed being taken in by this large Greek family. I adore Greek food, so the restaurant meals and family gathering foods sounded delicious.

There are two mysteries in Emilie Richards' latest novel. You have the mystery regarding why Amber is on the run. You have the mystery regarding Cassie's husband's death and where the money in. Both are woven into the story, but never take over the growing friendships between Cassie and Amber and Will and Savananah. Both the adults and the teens needed each other to rely on as they dealt with their situations.

This is an enjoyable summer read. If you're looking for an involving story for the beach or in your backyard, The House Guests is perfect.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Lady Sunshine by Amy Mason Doan

 Release Date - June 29, 2021

Lady Sunshine moves seamlessly between the 1970s and the 1990s in order to tell Jackie Pierce's story. She, her father, and her stepmother don't get along. When they decide to take a trip without her, Jackie is sent to stay with her uncle for the summer. She doesn't know too much about her mom's brother other than he's a talented musician, but she's overjoyed to have some freedom from them.

Her uncle owns a sprawling estate on the Californian coast. The Sandcastle is a retreat of sorts for musicians, artists, and their families. There, Jackie finds freedom and friendship with her cousin. But, before the summer is over, tragic events will change their relationship for good and lead to Willa's disappearance.

In the 1990s, Jackie inherits The Sandcastle following her aunt's death. She returns with the plans to sell it, but before that happens, she learns her aunt asked a musician to record a tribute album. She agrees to let the musicians and their families move in until the album is finished. Doing so brings Jackie back to the carefree days with her uncle and his fellow artists and makes her take a look back at the events and what really happened to Willa.

This novel is part mystery, part romance, and incredibly addicting. You learn all about the time leading up to the events that transpire, but it's not easy to predict exactly what led to Willa's disappearance or why. As a result, you have to savor this book rather than rush through it to the end. It made every page important and kept me hooked.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Summer of No Attachments by Lori Foster

 Release Date - June 22, 2021

Veterinarian Ivey Anders is ready to move on from her current relationship. She and her boyfriend don't mesh, and she should have realized they were a lousy match a long time ago. She's ready to have some fun without being tied down or restricted. Her first step is to help her assistant and friend Hope find a place to call her own. That leads her to meet a newcomer to town who just purchased a lakefront home that has an apartment over the garage that Hope could move into immediately.

When she meets Corbin Meyer and his son, she can't help but fall for Corbin's son. After all, the very shy pregnant dog her practice just took on willingly goes to Justin. If the dog thinks Justin is okay, how can Ivey turn her back on him and his dad? Soon, she's spending a lot of time and becoming a big part of their lives. But is she really ready to bounce from one relationship into another where someone else's needs always have to come first?

I am a sucker for storylines where a single dad is doing everything he can to improve a child's life. Corbin is magical for that reason. Justin's mother is an addict and never was the mother Justin needed. She also never told Corbin about his son. The two have to adjust to their new relationship, which makes it clear that Corbin has to carefully balance his new role with his new romance.

As an added bonus, Corbin's brother shows up and happens to be the perfect match for Hope, if Hope is able to get past an abusive episode from her past. I loved that there were two romances in one. That made this book the perfect lazy summer day read.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

To Sir, With Love by Lauren Layne

 Release Date - June 29, 2021

Gracie Cooper has done everything she can to make her father's wine store profitable. Since his unexpected death from lung cancer, Gracie has turned from her passion for art to become a store owner without much help from her siblings.

The only bright spot in Gracie's day is her conversations with a guy she met on an unusual dating app. This dating app focuses on avoiding face-to-face meetings and chatting online instead. This is how Grace met and fell in love with "Sir."

While she keeps hoping for a happily ever after with Sir, she's dealing with a handsome, yet annoying Sebastian Andrews. He's trying his hardest to get Gracie to let him buy out the rest of her 10-year lease for his family's corporation. She will not let him end her father's dreams, so she plans to fight him at every turn. Yet, she has no clue that her "Sir" and Sebastian are one in the same, and he's falling for her just as hard as she's fallen for him.

Years ago, I watched and fell in love with a classic musical "The Shop Around the Corner." This is a modern take on that movie. I found To Sir, With Love to be just as heartwarming. The readers knows who they are from the start, and it becomes a lot of fun to watch them start to put the clues together. 

This is a charming, warm, funny romance that is perfect for summer reading.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Pug Actually by Matt Dunn

 Release Date - June 29, 2021

Pug Actually is a unique contemporary romance. The story isn't told from the heroine or hero's point of view. Instead, Doug, a determined pug owned by the story's heroine, tells his matchmaking story.

Julie is madly in love with her boyfriend. There's a big problem, however. He's yet to leave his wife. Julie's adopted pug (Doug) cannot stand Luke and wants Julie to find Mr. Right. It's hard to do when Luke seems determined to keep Doug locked away so that the only time they spend together is done so in the bedroom.

Sometimes, Doug gets to go on walks with Julie's dad, a widower who doesn't seem to catch on that Dot, the local coffee truck/muffin lady, is interested. Doug decides to try to push them together, and that leads to a brilliant plan to get Julie and Dot's son to meet. 

Doug will do whatever he has to to make sure Julie meets Tom. Even if it means putting himself into danger. You see, Tom is exactly what Doug fears most - a veterinarian.

Matt Dunn's quirky romance isn't your stereotypical romance. Having a dog as a matchmaker made for a novel that was filled with romance, humor, and relatable situations. I laughed, I teared up, and I felt completely satisfied with this romantic comedy. I loved it.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer

 Release Date - June 2, 2021

Elzbieta Rabinek has seen firsthand the atrocities that the Germans are willing to commit. She saw her father and brother murdered, but she hides that in order to stay safe. It's that knowledge that leads to her helping her uncle's tenant, a nurse named Sara.

Sara is part of a group doing everything possible to help young children help escape the ghettos. When Elzbieta finds Sara hiding children in her apartment, Elzbieta demands to help out. That leads to the teen becoming Sara's apprentice. And, that's how Elzbieta meets a Jewish teen, Roman Gorka. 

Roman's mom had a baby and is struggling to keep the infant fed. Sara and Elzbieta can save the infant, but Roman is furious with the war and treatment from the German's. He decides to join a group that is fighting back, even if it means separating from Elzbieta at a time when the teens are started to fall for each other. It also puts Sara's mission to save the children at risk.

I struggled a little with this book. I wasn't sure where things were going. It's told from both Elzbieta's and Roman's points of view, so you get a comprehensive look into what Elzbieta is hiding and Roman's outrage with the situation surrounding his family. 

That said, I found the story moved slowly. It seemed to be two teens sharing their experiences as the German's rounded up Jews to send them to concentration camps. Eventually, the plot became clear. I wonder had I read The Things We Cannot Say if I'd feel more connected to those in the story.
Some of The Warsaw Orphan covered details I'd just read last month in another Jewish historical fiction novel. Because of that story's focus on using the sewers to escape, placing infants with other families to save their lives, etc., this story didn't come off as different and unique as it would to readers who missed the other novel. My suspicion is that that book impacted my views of this one.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

 Release Date - April 27, 2021

Meddelin Chan's mother has done it this time. Meddy learns that her mother has been on dating sites posing as Meddy, and she's landed Meddy a supposed dream beau. Only, he turns out to be a demanding handsy guy, so Meddy protects herself by tazing him. Suddenly, Meddy is a killer.

It's time for Meddy to do the only thing she can think of. She calls her aunties and mom. They decide to help her get rid of the body and save the day. The problem is that they're in the middle of one of the biggest weddings they've planned, arranged, and catered, so the dead body is going to have to stay hidden until they can dispose of it. 

Unfortunately, the cooler where they've hidden the body is accidentally packed up and sent to the island where the wedding is being held, which makes it even harder to keep hidden. Worse, the love of Meddy's life is back in town and very interested in reconnecting. Nothing more could go wrong, right?

Dial A For Aunties is a comical story that has a touch of romance, a bit of mystery, and a whole lot of humor. I wasn't sure everyone would get the humor. I only did because I have a Japanese friend who will tell you his mother can be exactly like the aunties in this book - pushy and demanding yet incredibly loving and devoted.

Obviously, Meddy makes some horrible choices. Had she simply reported the accidental death when it first happened, the story wouldn't have existed. Yet, panic ensues and she makes all the wrong decisions. How it all plays out is up to the reader to find out.


Friday, June 11, 2021

It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark

 Release Date - May 4, 2021

At what should be an amazing wedding, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Liv Goldenhorn can't help but become more and more frustrated by her husband's absence from this event. They've worked together as wedding planners for two decades, and he's never failed to be on time before.

Liv's world crashes down when she receives a call alerting her that Eliot is dead. Worse, it's his girlfriend, Savannah, who calls to tell her. That's not all, she later finds out that Eliot left his half of the wedding planning business to Savannah, and Savannah is determined to make this work.

Liv cannot imagine a worse form of torture than to have to partner up with her late husband's mistress. Yet, starting over with Savannah's fresh, younger take on the business may be exactly what's needed to succeed.

It Had to Be You is a delightful story. It mixes comedy and tearjerker moments. It takes an older character and a youthful one and brings them together in fun, unexpected ways. While the characters never lose focus on rebuilding the business's reputation, they clash and grow as women along the way. 

Both establish new romances of their own and become a great support system to help them with established methods and new ideas to create a cohesive team that has you cheering. I loved it.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie

 Release Date - June 22, 2021

It's 1969 and teen sensation artist Jesse Reid is making an appearance at the Bayleen Island Folk Fest. Jane Quinn, a local musician, doesn't get the hype. While Jane is the island's pride and joy, the fans at the music festival only want to see Jesse. When Jesse has an accident and can't perform, Jane and her band are asked to take his place. The fans are not at all pleased until she starts singing Jesse's hit song. Suddenly, she has their attention.

In her downtime, Jane often helps her aunt, a local home care aide. Jesse was in an accident and soon Jane finds herself helping out. He and Jane find that music connects them, and their attraction to one another doesn't hurt. Before she can blink, Jane is joining Jesse on his tour and she and her band also have a recording contract and first album. 

The problem is that the music industry has a way of stepping all over females, and no one wants to take Jane seriously. She also struggles with her past and a side of Jesse she's never seen before until he's on tour. Jane starts to question how to reconcile her past, her passion for music, and her love for Jesse.

Songs in Ursa Major is a stunning novel. I have to admit that while reading it, I kind of had the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks relationship playing through my mind. Their music together was brilliant, but their relationship always came off as trouble waiting to happen.

The novel is set in 1969 into the 1970s. The music scene is vivid and draws you into the life, touring, and creation. The relationship between Jane and Jesse, the producers and managers, other artists, and Jane's family and friends is equally absorbing. I loved this book and think it could end up being my favorite June release.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

You Will Remember Me - Hannah Mary McKinnon

 Release Date - May 25, 2021

A man wakes up on a beach. He has no idea who he is, how he got there, or why he has a huge gash in his head. Thoughts of Maine are strong, so he hides in an RV for the trip north.

Meanwhile, a man's girlfriend cannot find him. He was going out for a swim and never returned. Lily Reid learns that Jack wasn't his real name. Why he lied is beyond her.

In Maine, Maya Scott is stunned when her brother randomly returns after disappearing. She's delighted that he's back, but he's clearly suffering from amnesia and doesn't seem to remember anything about his past - a past that involved two girlfriends vanishing.

You Will Remember Me is one hell of a psychological suspense. It takes the reader on a wicked ride as you learn more about each character and the lies they tell. Here's the kicker, the ending, which I knew it was coming, still had me in shock. From start to finish, this book takes you on a journey that will stick in your head long after you've read the final page.

You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

 Release Date - October 25, 2022 After his dad's death, Adam Stillwater and his mom do everything in their power to keep the family...