Tag Archives: contemporary women's fiction

Between February and November by Patti Lee Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman discovers the impossible as she witnesses her marriage hanging on the verge of destruction and she must discover whether it can be saved in author Patti Lee’s “Between February and November”.

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The Synopsis

From Firebird Book Award winning author, Patti Lee, her debut novel “Between February and November” delves into the messy uncertainty of long-term marriages. Being in the wrong place at the right time can change your life in an instant.

That February morning started out like any other; Layla Ranker got her kids ready for school and her husband off to work before she went to work herself. It went downhill from there. An unfortunate event took her two towns away from home where she happened to see her husband, Alan, with a young, attractive woman going into a hotel.

Devastated, Layla contemplates the last twenty years of her life and wonders if Alan regrets marrying her right after high school. Old wounds are opened as she struggles to figure out what went wrong.

Can they rekindle what they once had?

The Review

This was a tense and emotional read. The author did a fantastic job of crafting a narrative that felt both realistic and engaging to the reader. The tension and atmosphere the author built around the cast of characters really heightened the imagery that made this story feel more cinematic and dramatic in its delivery.

The characters were the true heart of this story. The way the author showcased the point of view of the three main players in this story and woven the backstories of these characters from their pasts into the development of these drastic turns of events in the present made this feel both grounded and mesmerizing in its delivery. The themes of love, loss, and relationships, in general, were so profoundly felt in this book and made me feel connected to the characters and their hardships in this tale.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, emotional, and thoughtful in its approach, author Patti Lee’s “Between February and November” is a must-read contemporary women’s fiction and family drama novel of 2022. The relatability of these characters and the heartbreak surrounding the situations they face all culminate in some twists and turns that make the readers feel shocked at the turn of events that this narrative takes. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Patti Lee brings women’s fiction stories to life, tapping into the hopes and sometimes fears of readers. Her debut novel, Between February and November, due to be released in 2022, placed in the top 10 in Notebook Publishing’s #IndieApril contest. An award-winning essay writer, her creative non-fiction has been included in Crone Rising by Jazz House Publications, and her short story, The Ward House, was included in the Of Cottages and Cauldrons autumn anthology, also by Jazz House Publications.

Patti Lee is currently putting the finishes touches on her second novel. When she’s not writing or playing with her grandkids, she dabbles in acrylic painting. She is a groupie of singer-songwriter Josh Ritter and alt/folk duo Parsonsfield but has also been known to play the soundtrack to Hamilton on repeat. She currently resides in Vermont, where she has more cats than throw pillows. Read more about her and her writing at http://pattileewriter.com. You can find her on Twitter @pattiauthor and Instagram @authorpattilee.

https://www.pattileewriter.com/

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Forever Home by Elysia Whisler Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A retired Marine hoping to see her dreams of owning a motorcycle repair and sales garage finds her late father’s motorcycle stolen from her shop, and the detective who has found himself enamored with her goes to work to solve the crime in author Elysia Whisler’s “Forever Home”.

The Synopsis

If home is where the heart is, Dogwood County may have just what Delaney Monroe needs.

Newly retired from the Marine Corps, Delaney is looking for somewhere to start over. It’s not going to be easy, but when she finds the perfect place to open her dream motorcycle shop, she goes for it. What she doesn’t expect is an abandoned pit bull to come with the building. The shy pup is slow to trust, but Delaney is determined to win it over.

Detective Sean Callahan is smitten from the moment he sees Delaney, but her cool demeanor throws him off his game. When her late father’s vintage motorcycle is stolen from Delaney’s shop, Sean gets to turn up in his element: chasing the bad guy and showing his best self to a woman who’s gotten under his skin in a bad way.

Delaney isn’t used to lasting relationships, but letting love in – both human and canine – helps her see that she may have found a place she belongs, forever.

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The Review

This is such a well-balanced and engaging story. The way the author is able to weave themes of PTSD, how military service impacts those who come home, loss and opening ourselves up to the possibility of love into this narrative set against the backdrop of a crime mystery and a slow-burn romance was truly entertaining. The vibrant yet muted imagery of the story’s setting really felt cinematic in its delivery, making this such an incredible read.

What was so mesmerizing was the character’s arcs in this narrative. The heavy exploration of romance between the two protagonists felt so realistic to real life. I’ve always felt there is a time and place for both magical-inspired fairytale romances and real-world, gritty romances that take time to build, and that’s what makes this novel shine so brightly. The strength and courage these two find in one another, both in challenging each other and then in working together, was inspired to see, and how each helped the other overcome past pains were so fun to watch come together in this novel.

The Verdict

A memorable, emotional, and gripping romance, author Elysia Whisler’s “Forever Home” is such a unique and entertaining women’s fiction and contemporary romance read. A true one-of-a-kind read that shows romance in an entirely new setting and creates a love that feels very real and relatable all at once, this is one novel you will not want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Elysia Whisler was raised in Texas, Italy, Alaska, Mississippi, Nebraska, Hawaii, and Virginia, in true military fashion. If she’s not writing she’s probably working out, coaching, or massaging at her CrossFit gym. She lives in Virginia with her family, including her large brood of cat and dog rescues, who vastly outnumber the humans.

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Here is an Excerpt From Forever Home

ONE

Three Rebels Street.

Delaney should’ve known that this was where she’d end up. This was the kind of street a woman went down when all the big changes in her life were happening at once. You simply couldn’t hit a retirement ceremony, the road and a funeral all in one week and not end up on Three Rebels Street.

Small is not the right word. I prefer quaint.” The real estate agent, Ronnie, gazed around the studio apartment situated on Three Rebels Street, and nodded her head in approval. “You said it was just for you, right? Which means it’s the perfect size.”

Stop trying to sell me on the apartment. Ronnie had described it as an “alcove studio”—not just a studio—because even though the living room and kitchen were all in one large space, the bedroom was situated in a little nook, with its own door. Delaney didn’t care. The living quarters didn’t really matter. Right now the place was dumpy. Dust everywhere, the ceiling fan hanging crooked with exposed wires, and debris in the corners, like the previous tenants hadn’t taken care of the place and then left in a hurry.

“We didn’t have a chance to get this cleaned before your showing,” Ronnie said, following Delaney’s gaze. “Remember, I suggested waiting until Friday.”

But Delaney hadn’t been able to wait.

Ronnie lowered her voice to a near whisper. “They were evicted. But this place cleans up nice, I promise.”

“Can we go back down to the shop?” Delaney ran her hands through her hair, rubbing the weariness from her scalp. Ronnie had whisked them through the front bay door and up the stairs, like the apartment was the prize inside the cereal box. And Delaney supposed it was—small, an add-on, not really the point. For Delaney, the shop downstairs was the entire point.

“Of course.” Ronnie’s voice was bright, forced, like she didn’t give two shits. This was probably her last showing of the day and she wanted to get home, into a hot bath with a glass of red as soon as possible. She clacked down the stairs in her high heels.

Delaney followed, the earthy clunk of her motorcycle boots the bass drum in the cacophony of their feet.

“The shop.” Ronnie swept out her arm. “Look how much space.” There was no enthusiasm in her voice. Ronnie, who probably did mostly living spaces, had no idea how to sell the garage.

Didn’t matter. Delaney sized up the shop herself: concrete floor, perfect for working on bikes. It was kind of dinged up, but that was okay, she was already envisioning painting it beige with nonslip floor paint. Modern fluorescent lighting. Large bay door, wide-open to the cool air, excellent for ventilation. A countertop with a register. Empty shelves on one side for parts and motor clothes. Showroom space for custom bikes, and enough room for at least two workspaces out front. The rest, Delaney would provide. Hydraulic lifts. Workbench. Parts tank. Tools. Parts. Bikes.

She wanted to pinch herself, but chose a poker face. Ronnie stood in the center of the floor, like she was trying to avoid touching anything, to avoid getting any grease or oil on her smart red suit. The shop was in better condition than the apartment, but it still looked like the last occupants had left quickly—or, if they’d truly been evicted, perhaps reluctantly was a better word. Nothing important remained, but the place hadn’t been swept or washed or readied for sale in any manner.

“I’ll consider this.” Delaney rubbed her chin as she strode through the shop. “It’s a little small.” It was actually larger than she’d expected. “Light’s good, but might get a little cold in the winter.” It was winter now, technically. Mid-March. Delaney loved this time of year, when winter and spring intersected, like lovers making up after a nasty fight, the weather edgy and unpredictable.

“There’s a lot of interest in this space.” Ronnie clutched her clipboard to her chest as she looked around. She could be looking at the inside of a spaceship and hold that same expression.

Motorcycle shops were going out of business, all over the place, including the one that had recently vacated. After suddenly finding herself on Three Rebels Street last week, in front of a shop-apartment combo for sale, Delaney had done her research. The previous tenants, who she now knew had been evicted, were brothers who ran a shop by day and lived upstairs by night. They sold mostly new bikes and motorcycle gear. Repairs and maintenance were basic. Their website was still up, despite the fact that Dude’s Bikes had closed. Dude’s appeared to focus mostly on male riders, leaving Delaney to wonder if Dude’s was just about dudes or if one of the owners was, indeed, named Dude. 

“What’s the story on this place?”

Ronnie glanced at her clipboard. “The owner wants to sell. After the last renters’ lease ran out, they were given the option of buying or moving. I don’t think their shop was doing well, because they couldn’t afford to buy. They weren’t even paying their rent. And they weren’t quick about moving. The rest, as they say, is history.”

If the last motorcycle shop had failed, buying would be a gamble. But any business venture was a gamble.

Life was a gamble.

“There are a couple of people looking, after you.” Ronnie continued, “About five.”

Delaney could respect white lies in the sales biz but seriously? Five? Five or so people were waiting to check out the bike shop with an overhead apartment suitable for one small, low-maintenance tenant? She had no idea how two brothers had managed up there.

She strolled through the space, wanting a good feel. She needed to touch things, inhale the shop, draw its molecules into her lungs and taste its history before she could decide on the symbiosis of her dream space. Triple M Classics—short for Martin Monroe’s Motorcycles, named after her father—would own her as much as she would it, so this relationship was going to be deep and mutual. Through the front window, she could see the parkway that ran the length of the county. At just past eighteen-hundred hours, rush hour was a jam of red taillights in the waning daylight. No amount of time would erase Delaney’s memory of her last tour here, when she had to commute to work every day. Pure hell. It would be nice to go right upstairs to her cozy little apartment after closing, rather than having to sit in that mess.

Across the street was a row of shops, including a grocery story and an Italian restaurant. Food. Check. 

On the south side, the shop butted up to the woods, which had a downward slope of grass and weeds that led to the trees. Privacy. Double check. Plus, Delaney figured if there was a tornado, that slope could count as a ditch, and would probably be the safest place to run. She laughed at herself. This wasn’t Omaha. Virginia tornado season consisted of a few warnings that rarely panned out.

Delaney withdrew the listing, printed from the internet, from her back pocket, crammed together with a grocery receipt for extra firm tofu, Tater Tots and Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. “This is the price, right?” She handed over the paper. Money would be tight, but Delaney should be able to manage for a little while until things got going.

That is, if she was going to do this.

Was she really going to do this?

All her adult life Delaney had moved around, from station to station. Forts, camps, bases. Not shops. Not homes. She’d never put down roots. Never had anything permanent other than her childhood home with Dad. Never owned a thing she couldn’t cram into a duffel bag.

Ronnie looked at the paper. “No.” She sniffed. “There’s a newer listing.” She flipped through her clipboard, laid it on the counter and pointed. “Here we go.”

Delaney looked at the asking price, choked a little bit, almost thanked Ronnie for her time and left. That would be the smart thing to do. Sometimes childhood dreams just needed to stay dreams.

She strode around once more, mentally saying goodbye to everything that she’d never even made hers. Even though all of this had been a panster move, it felt like all the blood in her veins had been replaced with disappointment. She stopped by the far wall, where a ratty piece of paper hung by a sliver 

of tape. Delaney smoothed out the curled edges and read the flyer.

Fiftieth Annual Classic Motorcycle Show.

Dogwood County Fairgrounds.

The event was in July. There was a contest, including prizes. The grand prize for the winning classic cycle was five grand plus a feature article in Ride magazine.

The disappointment started to drain away. Five grand wouldn’t pay all the bills, but exposure in a major motorcycle magazine would be a boon for business. Plus, there was something about that poster, just hanging there like that.

It seemed like a sign.

Excerpted from Forever Home by Elysia Whisler, Copyright © 2021 by Elysia Whisler. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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Q&A with Elysia Whisler

Q: This is the second book in a series? Do you have plans to write more books in this series?

A: Yes! “Becoming Family” is Book 3 in the Dogwood County series. It will be out in August of 2022. I have hopes for a couple more books in the series after that, too!

Q: What should the reader know if they have not read the first book in the series?

A: So far, the early readers think Forever Home does really well as a standalone if you have not read Book 1. The only thing I’d add, if you have not read Book 1, be prepared that I always have 3 points of view. Some traditional romance readers like to see the POV go between two love interests but I always have a third POV that typically sets up the next book. This third POV does not get as much space as the other two but just be prepared for it. I know it’s unusual but I’m okay with that. 

Q: Where do you get your story ideas from?

A: My stories usually start with a single scene or idea that I build around. With Rescue You I worked around the idea of how everyone (human or animal, male or female)  can be either the hero or the saved in life, depending on the situation. With Forever Home, I wanted a super strong female lead to match up for my detective character from Book 1. My teen daughter had just finished getting her motorcycle license and it hit me … my heroine was going to be a badass biker chick. We see so many guys on motorcycles in romance and the women are always on the back. I wanted a heroine who drove her own bike and a man strong enough to love that.

Q: Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing?

A: Mostly a pantster. I usually have a broad concept of the story, have a beginning and an end and usually a midpoint idea. Then I start writing and once I’ve got the opening (first 30-50) I’ll go back and outline a little more. Then write. Then outline. Etc.

Q: What is a fun fact about you?

A: I love to read horror, especially literary horror. I read everything — I don’t care about genre, only good storytelling and solid writing — but 75% of my TBR pile is horror/thriller/mystery. 

Q: You grew up in the military and moved around quite a bit. Did you enjoy this? How do you think it has affected the stories you write?

A: Moving around was a mixed bag. I loved getting to travel and go to new places. I actually adored the traveling part — by plane, train, car. I made up stories in my head about being a fugitive running off to new lands. I’d spend a lot of plane/car time writing by hand. The hard part was getting to the new places and having to establish all new friendships and schools. I barely ever got to see extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins). I never had that community of people I grew up with. That said, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. I got to experience so many different lands, cultures, climates. Living in Alaska at a young age in particular instilled in me a great love for the natural world that I’m grateful for to this day. All of that informed my writing in a big way. There’s definitely something to be said for seeing the world, getting outside your bubble and having that experience. The best compliments I get are on my characters being complex and real and I credit that directly to all the moving around I did. When you’re always new you have to be quiet, pay attention, watch and understand. You learn a lot that way.

An Impossible Promise (Providence Falls #2) by Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A man out of time must choose between a moment of happiness with the woman he loves or his soul and his true love’s own true love in authors Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets’s “An Impossible Promise”, the second book in the Providence Falls series. 

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The Synopsis 

Book 2 in the Providence Falls Trilogy. Outlander meets The Lake House (movie) in this epic love story that crosses continents and centuries. Master storyteller Jude Deveraux joins forces with up and coming author Tara Sheets to create a series that will appeal to women’s fiction and romance readers alike. A rogue thief in 1840s Ireland is sent by angels to a contemporary small town in America to make amends for his crimes in the past. Forbidden to tell anyone why he is there he must convince the woman he loves to marry another man or be damned for eternity.

In one century she loved him madly, and in another she wants nothing to do with him

In this second book of a trilogy, the story of Liam O’Connor and Cora McLeod continues. While they were lovers in the past, things are very different in the present. Liam and Cora are both police officers and roommates in Providence Falls, North Carolina. Liam is trying to do as the angels have commanded–make sure Cora falls in love with another man—but Cora is not the impressionable innocent girl Liam remembers. She’s strong and smart and not easily manipulated. Liam is forced to face the truth about himself as he comes to realize that he truly isn’t the right man for Cora. But, as Liam is coming to that conclusion, Cora is starting to see him in a new light.

Liam wants Cora for himself, but with his soul hanging in the balance, he must choose between a stolen moment in time or an eternity of damnation.

An Impossible Promise is romantic, fun and pure escape.

The Review

What a fascinating and engaging read! The author brilliantly finds a balance between passionate romance and mystery, drawing in a multitude of readers who can find a connection to it. The history, the more supernatural elements to the past-lives and destiny aspect of the narrative, and even the romance all sang in perfect harmony with one another as the story progressed, creating a perfect fusion of genres that many fans of contemporary women’s fiction and romance will love. 

The characters really were the heart of this narrative. The growth that each of these characters saw and the torn feelings of the protagonists really tugged at the heartstrings as the question of whether passion and love could matter more than destiny and romance took center stage. Getting to see Liam find his reflection in newcomer Magnus and seeing Liam’s evolution as a result of this was amazing character writing on the author’s part, and really drew me into the narrative further.

The Verdict

A heartfelt, engaging, and soulful read, author Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets’s “An Impossible Promise” is a must-read contemporary romance of 2021. The perfect follow-up to the first book in this series, the authors did a great job of crafting a story that could stand on its own while providing fans of the series a new series of twists and turns in the growing mystery and leaves a massive cliffhanger that will leave fans and Liam both shocked at the importance of Cora’s destiny. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Jude Deveraux is the author of forty-three New York Times bestsellers, including For All Time, Moonlight in the Morning and A Knight in Shining Armor. She was honored with a Romantic Times Pioneer Award in 2013 for her distinguished career. To date, there are more than sixty million copies of her books in print worldwide. Jude lives in Kansas City, Missouri

Tara Sheets is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her work has earned first place recognition in literary contests nationwide, and her debut novel, DON’T CALL ME CUPCAKE, won the 2016 Golden Heart® award sponsored by Romance Writers of America. Tara lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/an-impossible-promise/9780778332084

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/077833208X/thebookreport01 

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SOCIAL LINKS:

JUDE DEVERAUX:

Author website: https://judedeveraux.com/

Twitter: @JudeDeveraux1      

Facebook: https://facebook.com/224518397561073 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/judedeveraux/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/28574.Jude_Deveraux 

TARA SHEETS:

Author website: https://tarasheets.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraSheetsBooks/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarasheets/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17082616.Tara_Sheets 

Here is an Exclusive Excerpt from “An Impossible Promise”

PROLOGUE

THE CELESTIAL CHAMBER OF JUDGMENT WAS not cozy by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the time it appeared to be nothing more than white roiling walls of mist, which the angel Agon found downright dreary. But his associate Samael deemed it necessary, believing that human souls facing judgment were better off with no distractions. This was probably why Samael’s face was now scrunched in open disapproval—an expression Agon had grown used to over the centuries.

“What,” Samael demanded, pointing an elegant finger at the object against the chamber wall, “is that?” With his blond ringlets and cherub cheeks, he looked like a Renaissance painting of a frazzled choir boy.

It made Agon want to smile, but he refrained. For an angel as old as himself, he’d learned a thing or two. Instead, he drew up to his full height, impressive even by angelic standards, and stretched his snowy wings wide. “It’s called a recliner,” he said cheerfully. “For sitting and resting. Very comforting to humans, from what I gather.”

Samael looked incredulous. “I’ve told you before, this is no place of solace. Human souls are summoned here to face judgment, and not all of them are headed to a comfortable destination.”

“True.” Agon sat on the edge of the overstuffed chair, swiveling left, then right. “But I see no harm in offering them a place to rest while we review their lives. If nothing else, it will provide an alternative to their usual pacing and wringing of hands and stumbling about in distress. It is pitiable when they do that, you must admit.”

Samael sighed, shook his head and turned toward the wall of mist. A good sign, Agon decided. For now, it seemed the new chair could stay. Perhaps later he could bring in a few other earthly things to liven up the place, but what was that human expression? Ah, yes. Baby steps.

“We haven’t time for your antics,” Samael muttered, waving a hand at the wall of mist. “Our wayward rogue is about to learn a valuable lesson.” 

The mist cleared, revealing a city street at night. A swarthy stranger in a black leather jacket and designer jeans pulled his motorcycle to a stop outside a sports bar.

Agon rose from the chair and went to stand beside Samael as they watched the scene unfold. “You’re sure this man is just like Liam O’Connor?”

“He has all the same traits as the rogue,” Samael said. “The arrogance, the selfish motives, the questionable morals. He wasn’t originally scheduled to cross paths with Liam, but it was easy enough to arrange.” 

Agon tilted his dark head, studying the man who was now sauntering toward the entrance of the bar. A neon sign that read ROOKIES blinked above the door. “And you’re certain introducing this man to Liam will serve a useful purpose?”

Samael crossed his arms. “It will be good for Liam to see his own personality traits reflected in someone else. Perhaps then, through serious introspection, the rogue will realize his many faults and be at peace with the task we’ve given him.”

“Perhaps,” Agon said, though he wasn’t so sure. Liam O’Connor and peace did not seem to mix. The man was hell-bent on winning Cora McLeod for himself, no matter how much he assured the angels he was trying to help Cora achieve her true destiny by marrying Finley Walsh. Agon knew what desperation looked like in a man’s eyes, and paired with determination, it could be a dangerous combination. Liam had both in abundance. “I hope it works. He only has two months left to achieve his task.”

Samael let out a huff. “It has to work. We can’t interfere with his free will, and this is the last thing I could think of to help steer him in the right direction. We’ve already agreed to some of the ‘boosts’ he’s asked for. Rudimentary computer knowledge. Fair warning when we plan to visit. We’ve even made it so he’d no longer feel pain whenever he and Cora touch.” He gave Agon a stern look. “That last one was only because you advocated so strongly on his behalf.”

“I think we can trust him to make the right decisions,” Agon said. “I know he seems like a lost cause, but let us have faith that he will prevail.”

“Mmm, faith,” Samael said as they watched the tall man disappear into the bar. “In a rogue. What could possibly go wrong?”

Excerpted from An Impossible Promise by Jude Deveraux and Tara Sheets. Copyright © 2021 by Deveraux Inc. Published by MIRA Books. 

Driving on the Left by Gail Ward Olmsted Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

As a young woman starts falling hard for a man she meets while on vacation with her mother in Ireland, and her mother must not only contend with helping her daughter but deciding how much to sacrifice for her own love in author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Driving on the Left”.

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The Synopsis

A trip of a lifetime and a love that changes everything…

Becca Colby was not expecting to fall in love while vacationing in Ireland with her mother, yet she falls hard for sexy tour guide Sean Donovan. He’s everything she never knew she wanted, but a summer fling is a complication that she really doesn’t need right now. Becca’s got a life waiting for her back home, but Sean may be just too good to resist.

Her mom Jackie knows all too well how a seductive stranger can change the entire course of your life, so how can she advise her daughter to resist Sean’s charms? And besides, Jackie has a problem of her own. She needs to decide just how much she is willing to sacrifice for the man she loves.

Driving on the Left celebrates the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter: two women with only one week to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives as they travel through the beautiful Irish countryside.

The Review

What a whirlwind story! The author does an incredible job of writing a story that both newcomers and established readers alike will love, as the narrative focuses on Jackie 20 years after the author’s previous book, Jeep Tour, and brings Jackie’s daughter in as the dual protagonist of this tale. The imagery that comes with any book set in a beautiful travel location such as Ireland is incredibly vivid as the author takes readers through the sites and brings fresh emotions and a balanced tone of light-hearted bonding and passionate romance. 

It is the bond of a mother and daughter that really makes up the core of this story. Both protagonists, Jackie and Becca, are struggling with their own set of problems in their lives. The way the author balances out their own struggles with the relationship that keeps them together and allows Jackie to see herself in her daughter is the emotional lynchpin that keeps this narrative together. The way the author paints the similarities to the first book’s narrative, (i.e., Jackie’s experiences) and the differences with Becca’s journey make this story so engaging to read.

The Verdict

An emotional, bonding, and entertaining women’s fiction and romance novel, author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Driving on the Left” is a must-read novel. The relatable cast of characters that make up the protagonist’s story and the emotional bond between mother and daughter and the highs and lows that come with that will have readers enthralled and relating heavily to the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a fulltime basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, a distant cousin of her husband’s, and his wife Mary.

For more information, please visit her on Facebook and at GailOlmsted.com.

Twitter https://www.twitter.com/gwolmsted

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Email  gwolmsted@gmail.com

Amazon  www.amazon.com/author/gailolmsted

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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8158738.Gail_Ward_Olmsted

The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Three women discover they are sisters after their photojournalist father passes away, and they inherit the family vineyard in author JoAnn Ross’s “The Inheritance”. 

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The Synopsis

When conflict photographer Jackson Swann dies, he leaves behind a conflict of his own making when his three daughters, each born from a different mother and unknown to each other, discover that they’re now part owners of Maison de Madelaine, the family’s Oregon vineyard—a once famous business struggling to recover from a worldwide economic collapse.

After a successful career as a child TV star, a disastrous time as a teen pop star, and now a successful author, Tess is, for the first time in her life, suffering from a serious case of writer’s block and identity crisis.

Charlotte, brought up to be a proper Southern wife, has given up her own career goals to support her husband while having spent the past year struggling to conceive a child to create a more perfect marriage. On the worst day of her life, she discovers her beloved father has died, she has two sisters she’d never been told about, and her husband has fallen in love with another woman.

Natalie, daughter of Jack’s long-time mistress, has always known about both half-sisters. Still mourning the loss of her mother, the death of her father a year later is a devastating blow. And she can’t help feeling that both her sisters may resent her for being the daughter their father decided to keep.

As the sisters reluctantly gather at the family vineyard, they’re enchanted by the legacy they’ve inherited, and by their grandmother’s rich stories of life in WWII France and the love she found with a wounded American soldier who brought her to Oregon where they started Maison de Madelaine

The Review

A truly inviting and emotional read. The author has captured a captivating blend and balance of history and contemporary women’s fiction. The narrative delves into the history of WWII from the perspective of a WWII French Resistance Fighter, setting the backstory of not only the main character but the complex history of the person who was the catalyst for the protagonists to come together. 

Yet it was the emotional struggle of the three sisters that really sold this narrative. Having watched people close to me lose their parents in recent years and dealing with the fallout afterward amongst their siblings, this narrative did an amazing job of hitting the emotional core of that process while adding an extra element of personal turmoil as each sister not only dealt with their own strained relationship with their father but the discovery of their sisters as well. I always enjoy reading works that push the boundaries on what family truly means, and how the bonds we build with one another mean more than anything else. The added elements of romance and character buildup that each sister experienced made this a brilliant story to engage with.

The Verdict

A remarkable, thought-provoking, and emotional read, author JoAnn Ross’s “The Inheritance” is a must-read novel of 2021. The perfect amount of intrigue and history to balance out the romance and personal relationships each sister had to force themselves to build amongst each other made this such an engaging story to get lost in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author JoAnn Ross has been published in twenty-seven countries. The author of over 100 novels, JoAnn lives with her husband and many rescue pets — who pretty much rule the house — in the Pacific Northwest.

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Here is an Excerpt from The Inheritance

Prologue

Aberdeen, Oregon

Conflict photographer Jackson Swann had traveled to dark and deadly places in the world most people would never see. Nor want to. Along with dodging bullets and mortars, he’d survived a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, gotten shot mere inches from his heart in Niger and been stung by a death-stalker scorpion while embedded with the French Foreign Legion in Mali.

Some of those who’d worked with him over the decades had called him reckless. Rash. Dangerous. Over late-night beers or whatever else passed as liquor in whatever country they’d all swarmed to, other photographers and foreign journalists would argue about whether that bastard Jackson Swann had a death wish or merely considered himself invincible.

He did, after all, rush into high-octane situations no sane person would ever consider, and even when the shit hit the fan, somehow, he’d come out alive and be on the move again. Chasing the next war or crisis like a drug addict chased a high. The truth was that Jack had never believed himself to be im-mortal. Still, as he looked out over the peaceful view of rolling hills, the cherry trees wearing their spring profusion of pink blossoms, and acres of vineyards, he found it ironic that after having evaded the Grim Reaper so many times over so many decades, it was an aggressive and rapidly spreading lung cancer that was going to kill him.

Which was why he was here, sitting on the terraced patio of Chateau de Madeleine, the towering gray stone house that his father, Robert Swann, had built for his beloved war bride, Madeleine, to ease her homesickness. Oregon’s Willamette Valley was a beautiful place. But it was not Madeleine’s child-hood home in France’s Burgundy region where much of her family still lived.

Family. Jack understood that to many, the American dream featured a cookie-cutter suburban house, a green lawn you had to mow every weekend, a white picket fence, happy, well-fed kids and a mutt who’d greet him with unrestrained canine glee whenever he returned home from work. It wasn’t a bad dream. But it wasn’t, and never would be, his dream.

How could it be with the survivor’s guilt that shadowed him like a tribe of moaning ghosts? Although he’d never been all that introspective, Jack realized that the moral dilemma he’d experienced every time he’d had to force himself to re-main emotionally removed from the bloody scenes of chaos and death he was viewing through the lens of his camera had left him too broken to feel, or even behave like a normal human being.

Ten years ago, after his strong, robust father died of a sudden heart attack while fly-fishing, Jack had inherited the winery with his mother, who’d professed no interest in the day-to-day running of the family business. After signing over control of the winery to him, and declaring the rambling house too large for one woman, Madeleine Swann had moved into the guesthouse next to the garden she’d begun her first year in Oregon. A garden that supplied the vegetables and herbs she used for cooking many of the French meals she’d grown up with.

His father’s death had left Jack in charge of two hundred and sixty acres of vineyards and twenty acres of orchards. Not wanting, nor able, to give up his wanderlust ways to settle down and become a farmer of grapes and cherries, Jack had hired Gideon Byrne, a recent widower with a five-year-old daughter, away from a Napa winery to serve as both manager and vintner.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to call them?” Gideon, walking toward him, carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses, asked not for the first time over the past weeks.

“The only reason that Tess would want to see me would be to wave me off to hell.” In the same way he’d never softened the impact of his photos, Jack never minced words nor romanticized his life. There would be no dramatic scenes with his three daughters—all now grown women with lives of their own—hovering over his deathbed.

“Have you considered that she might want to have an opportunity to talk with you? If for no other reason to ask—”

“Why I deserted her before her second birthday and never looked back? I’m sure her mother’s told her own version of the story, and the truth is that the answers are too damn complicated and the time too long past for that discussion.” It was also too late for redemption.

Jack doubted his eldest daughter would give a damn even if he could’ve tried to explain. She’d have no way of knowing that he’d kept track of her all these years, blaming himself when she’d spiraled out of control so publicly during her late teens and early twenties. Perhaps, if she’d had a father who came home every night for dinner, she would have had a more normal, stable life than the Hollywood hurricane her mother had thrown her into before her third birthday.

Bygones, he reminded himself. Anything he might say to his firstborn would be too little, too late. Tess had no reason to travel to Oregon for his sake, but hopefully, once he was gone, curiosity would get the better of her. His girls should know each other. It was long past time.

“Charlotte, then,” Gideon pressed. “You and Blanche are still technically married.”

Technically being the operative word.” The decades-long separation from his Southern socialite wife had always suited them both just fine. According to their prenuptial agreement, Blanche would continue to live her privileged life in Charleston, without being saddled with a full-time live-in husband, who’d seldom be around at any rate. Divorce, she’d informed him, was not an option. And if she had discreet affairs from time to time, who would blame her? Certainly not him.

“That’s no reason not to give Charlotte an opportunity to say goodbye. How many times have you seen her since she went to college? Maybe twice a year?”

“You’re pushing again,” Jack shot back. Hell, you’d think a guy would be allowed to die in peace without Jiminy Cricket sitting on his shoulder. “Though of the three of them, Char-lotte will probably be the most hurt,” he allowed.

His middle daughter had always been a sweet girl, running into his arms, hair flying behind her like a bright gold flag to give her daddy some “sugar”—big wet kisses on those rare occasions he’d wind his way back to Charleston. Or drop by Savannah to take her out to dinner while she’d been attending The Savannah School of Art and Design.

“The girl doesn’t possess Blanche’s steel magnolia strength.”

Having grown up with a mother who could find fault in the smallest of things, Charlotte was a people pleaser, and that part of her personality would kick into high gear whenever he rolled into the city. “And, call me a coward, but I’d just as soon not be around when her pretty, delusional world comes crashing down around her.” He suspected there were those in his daughter’s rarified social circle who knew the secret that the Charleston PI he’d kept on retainer hadn’t had any trouble uncovering.

“How about Natalie?” Gideon continued to press. “She doesn’t have any reason to be pissed at you. But I’ll bet she will be if you die without a word of warning. Especially after losing her mother last year.”

“Which is exactly why I don’t want to put her through this.”

He’d met Josette Seurat, the ebony-haired, dark-eyed French Jamaican mother of his youngest daughter, when she’d been singing in a club in the spirited Oberkampf district of Paris’s eleventh arrondissement. He’d fallen instantly, and by the next morning Jack knew that not only was the woman he’d spent the night having hot sex with his first true love, she was also the only woman he’d ever love. Although they’d never married, they’d become a couple, while still allowing space for each other to maintain their own individual lives, for twenty-six years. And for all those years, despite temptation from beautiful women all over the globe, Jack had remained faithful. He’d never had a single doubt that Josette had, as well.

With Josette having been so full of life, her sudden death from a brain embolism had hit hard. Although Jack had im-mediately flown to Paris from Syria to attend the funeral at a church built during the reign of Napoleon III, he’d been too deep in his own grief, and suffering fatigue—which, rather than jet lag, as he’d assumed, had turned out to be cancer—to provide the emotional support and comfort his third daughter had deserved.

“Josette’s death is the main reason I’m not going to drag Natalie here to watch me die. And you might as well quit playing all the guilt cards because I’m as sure of my decision as I was yesterday. And the day before that. And every other time over the past weeks you’ve brought it up. Bad enough you coerced me into making those damn videos. Like I’m some documentary maker.”

To Jack’s mind, documentary filmmakers were storytellers who hadn’t bothered to learn to edit. How hard was it to spend anywhere from two to ten hours telling a story he could capture in one single, perfectly timed photograph?

“The total length of all three of them is only twenty minutes,” Gideon said equably.

There were times when Jack considered that the man had the patience of a saint. Which was probably necessary when you’d chosen to spend your life watching grapes grow, then waiting years before the wine you’d made from those grapes was ready to drink. Without Gideon Byrne to run this place, Jack probably would have sold it off to one of the neighboring vineyards years ago, with the caveat that his mother would be free to keep the guesthouse, along with the larger, showier one that carried her name. Had he done that he would have ended up regretting not having a thriving legacy to pass on to his daughters.

“The total time works out to less than ten minutes a daughter. Which doesn’t exactly come close to a Ken Burns series,” Gideon pointed out.

“I liked Burns’s baseball one,” Jack admitted reluctantly. “And the one on country music. But hell, it should’ve been good, given that he took eight years to make it.”

Jack’s first Pulitzer had admittedly been a stroke of luck, being in the right place at the right time. More care had gone into achieving the perfect photos for other awards, but while he admired Burns’s work, he’d never have the patience to spend that much time on a project. His French mother had claimed he’d been born a pierre roulante—rolling stone—al-ways needing to be on the move. Which wasn’t conducive to family life, which is why both his first and second marriages had failed. Because he could never be the husband either of his very different wives had expected.

“Do you believe in life after death?” he asked.

Gideon took his time to answer, looking out over the vine-yards. “I like to think so. Having lost Becky too soon, it’d be nice to believe we’ll connect again, somewhere, somehow.” He shrugged. “On the other hand, there are days that I think this might be our only shot.”

“Josette came again last night.”

“You must have enjoyed that.”

“I always do.”

Excerpted from The Inheritance by JoAnn Ross, Copyright © 2021 by JoAnn Ross. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Jeep Tour by Gail Ward Olmsted Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A woman struggling after several setbacks in her life takes to the road, heading west in hopes of healing her broken heart and finding a new lease on life in author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Jeep Tour”.

The Synopsis

Attention from a younger guy is definitely good for her ego. But can she find the life she seeks this far from home?

There’s not enough cappuccino in the world to fix Jackie Sullivan’s streak of disasters. Divorced and pushing forty, the final straw comes when she’s denied tenure and fired. With nothing else to lose, she heads west in search of a fresh start and a hot helping of hanky panky…

Settling in Sedona, she struggles to find her balance and to stop putting her foot in her mouth. And her hands are soon full when she hooks up with a buff blonde tour guide. But a call from her ex forces her to reconsider what she left behind…

Will Jackie discover a new lease on life among the red rocks and heal her heart?

Jeep Tour is a fresh and funny contemporary women’s fiction novel. If you like journeys of self-discovery, beautiful desert settings, and sexy second chances, then you’ll love Gail Ward Olmsted’s lighthearted tale.

Buy Jeep Tour for an unforgettable off-road fling today!

The Review

I absolutely loved the sense of realism that the author brought to this contemporary women’s fiction read. The author perfectly portrayed the relationships and struggles of the characters in a very real sense. Allowing the reader to focus on the character development rather than some overtly whirlwind romance with a steamy new man was a great direction to take the narrative, focusing instead on the protagonist’s push to grow and change herself through a new adventure and new life. 

The balance of emotional storytelling and character development was perfect in this narrative. The author also managed to craft a great sense of setting in this story, allowing the Arizona desert and sense of wilderness to become a character all on its own. The theme of growth and change in the face of adversity was perfectly layered within this narrative, allowing the novel’s story to shine brightly without hitting readers over the head with the theme. 

The Verdict

A heartfelt, engaging, and brilliant women’s fiction novel, author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Jeep Tour” is a must-read novel for fans of the genre. Treasured for amazing characters that feel very realistic and seem to come off the page, the author tells a compelling story that will draw readers in immediately. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Gail Ward Olmsted was a marketing executive and a college professor before she began writing fiction on a fulltime basis. A trip to Sedona, AZ inspired her first novel Jeep Tour. Three more novels followed before she began Landscape of a Marriage, a biographical work of fiction featuring landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, a distant cousin of her husband’s, and his wife Mary.

For more information, please visit her on Facebook and at GailOlmsted.com.

http://www.gailolmsted.com

The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman on the verge of losing the only family she’s known and facing a shocking new reality takes a gamble and pursues her own legacy in author Susan Mallery’s “The Vineyard at Painted Moon”.

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The Synopsis

MacKenzie Dienes’s life isn’t perfect, but it’s as close as she could ever hope to get. Her marriage to Rhys, her best friend’s brother, is more friendship than true love. But passion is highly overrated, right? And she loves her job as the winemaker at Bel Apres, her in-laws’ vineyard. So what if it’s a family business and, even after decades of marriage and incredible professional success, she’s still barred from the family business meetings? It’s all enough…until one last night spent together leads to an incredibly honest—and painful—conversation. Rhys suggests that they divorce. They haven’t had a marriage in a long time and, while he wants her to keep her job at Bel Apres, he doesn’t think they should be married any longer. Shocked, MacKenzie reels at the prospect of losing the only family she’s ever really known…even though she knows deep in her heart that Rhys is right.

But when MacKenzie discovers she’s pregnant, walking away to begin a new life isn’t so easy. She never could have anticipated the changes it would bring to the relationships she cherishes most: her relationship with Barbara, her mother-in-law and partner at Bel Apres, Stephanie, her sister-in-law and best friend, and Bel Apres, the company she’s worked so hard to put on the map.

MacKenzie has always dreamed of creating a vineyard of her own, a chance to leave a legacy for her unborn child. So when the opportunity arises, she jumps at it and builds the Vineyard at Painted Moon. But following her dreams will come at a high price—one that MacKenzie isn’t so sure she’s willing to pay…

The Review

The author has done it again, crafting a brilliant contemporary women’s fiction that delves into the emotional core of facing divorce, testing the bonds between not only friends but adopted family, and the oftentimes painful yet worthwhile effort that takes us towards the legacy and career we always dream of. The amazing family dynamics between MacKenzie and her husband’s family are incredible to see, and the drama of her own pursuits mixed with the ties she has to this family really elevates the tension in the character’s arcs. 

However, what really was amazing to see was the author’s attention to detail. The research and deep dive into the study of viticulture was a great addition to the depth of the protagonist and really showcased how well-rounded the narrative felt throughout. Add this with the incredible imagery the author incorporates into the narrative and readers will not be able to put this book down.

The Verdict

A brilliant, captivating, and entertaining read, author Susan Mallery’s “The Vineyard at Painted Moon” is a must-read contemporary women’s fiction read. Full of emotional storytelling and engaging character arcs that readers won’t be able to get enough of, this is a fantastic story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.

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