Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Miranda Writes 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 former attorney turned blogger finds the past coming back in unexpected ways when the witness who disappeared in her last case returns to implicate her and her now-ex in a shocking coverup in author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Miranda Writes”.

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The Synopsis

A disgraced attorney seeking redemption. A single mother desperate to regain custody of her son. Two women willing to risk it all to put a sexual predator behind bars.

Former Assistant District Attorney Miranda Quinn is on the brink of a career comeback when she gets a phone call. It’s a witness who disappeared three years earlier, resulting in a violent criminal going free. Miranda got fired as a result, but the witness has re-surfaced with a shocking story to tell; one that implicates Miranda and her ex, defense attorney Adam Baxter. And now, there’s a new victim.

Miranda’s legal advice blog-turned-podcast Miranda Writes is about to become a daytime TV show, but the negative press could destroy her credibility. Will the network stand behind her?

When it comes to the law, Miranda has all the answers, but the questions are getting harder and the stakes are getting higher. The dangerous web of lies and cover-ups she exposes leaves her questioning just how much she is willing to risk. She has the right to remain silent, but needs to speak up… doesn’t she?

Miranda Writes is a story of how far we’ll go to protect those we love and the power of second chances.

The Review

The author did such a marvelous job of balancing out the mystery and suspense of the narrative with the language and details of the legal aspect of the story. The twists and turns this story takes as the protagonist takes on corruption and a violent criminal will have readers hanging off of the author’s every word, while the fusion of light-hearted character interactions and shocking mystery moments that unravel and show layer after layer of haunting revelations left me as a reader eagerly taking in this story.

Character development was the driving force behind the narrative itself. Miranda is a perfect protagonist, showcasing the morality and passion for which she fights for justice and uses the law to take down the corruption surrounding her. The relationship with her father is beautiful to read, and the way she fights for Becky as the revelations and actions against her begin to pile up is inspiring and engaging to read.

The Verdict

Powerful, entertaining, and captivating, author Gail Ward Olmsted’s “Miranda Writes” is a must-read women’s fiction meets thriller novel and one of my top picks for reads of 2022. The twists and turns of the narrative are truly engaging, and the empowering narrative showcasing a strong female protagonist facing off against corrupt and negative male figures surrounding her made this story such a delight to read. Be sure to preorder your copy today or grab your copy on September 8th, 2022!

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 full-time 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.

https://www.gailolmsted.com/

Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins Review

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

A mission to get revenge on her cheating ex-fiancee turns into a sudden romance she could have never seen coming as interior designer Dani begins to fall for the architect at her firm while building a spite house in author Anna E. Collins’s “Love at First Spite”.

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The Synopsis

In this delightful, breezy romcom, interior designer Dani decides to get revenge on her cheating ex the only way she knows how: by building a spite house next door.

They say living well is the best revenge. But sometimes, spreading the misery seems a whole lot more satisfying. That’s interior designer Dani Porter’s justification for buying the vacant lot next to her ex-fiancé’s house…the house they were supposed to live in together, before he cheated on her with their realtor. Dani plans to build a vacation rental that will a) mess with his view and his peace of mind and b) prove that Dani is not someone to be stepped on. Welcome to project Spite House.

That plan quickly becomes complicated when Dani is forced to team up with Wyatt Montego, the handsome, haughty architect at her firm, and the only person available to draw up blueprints. Wyatt is terse and stern, the kind of man who eats his sandwich with a knife and fork. But as they spend time together on- and off-site, Dani glimpses something deeper beneath that hard veneer, something surprising, vulnerable, and real. And the closer she gets to her goal, the more she wonders if winning revenge could mean losing something infinitely sweeter…

The Review

This was such a charming and witty romance novel. The author struck just the right amount of chords to draw in readers that enjoy narratives that blend equal amounts of romance with humor. Right off the bat, the friendship and bond that Dani shares with characters like Iris and her cousin Mia were so wonderful to see explored not just as a secondary storyline, but as an important aspect of Dani’s character as a whole. 

What stood out to me aside from the amazing chemistry between Wyatt and Dani and their character developments overall was the sheer depth of emotions the author explored with these characters. From the hilarious banter Dani had when dealing with her ex to the vulnerable moments when Wyatt let her see the real struggles he has in his personal life outside of the firm and the way they each evolved over time, this novel gave readers a truly engaging and well-rounded view of what a true romance should look and feel like. 

The Verdict

A beautiful, entertaining, and heartfelt romance, author Anna E. Collins’s “Love at First Spite” is a must-read novel of 2022! This women’s fiction and romance novel were so beautifully crafted, and the author did such a wonderful job of making the reader feel immersed in the novel’s world. From vibrant settings and relatable characters to an emotional connection to the romance brewing between these two protagonists, this is a book romance and women’s fiction fans will not be able to put it down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Anna E. Collins is a Seattle-area author who writes stories about the lives and loves of women. Once upon a time she was a teacher, and she has a master’s degree in educational psychology. LOVE AT FIRST SPITE is her first novel.

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Here is a Q&A From Author Anna E. Collins

Q&A with Anna E. Collins

Q: Love at First Spite is your debut novel. Tell us about your journey to get here.

A: I started writing full-length fiction twelve years ago when my kids were little as an escape from the eating/sleeping/changing diapers rut. Initially, it was just a fun experiment, but my perception of my writing as merely a hobby really transformed when I got into PitchWars in 2017. It was a sort of recognition that I had something worth cultivating, and it also introduced that most crucial aspect of a writer’s life – the writing community. I learned so much from that – about the writing and editing process, about querying, about persistence, and about the importance of not going at it alone. I didn’t sign with my agent (Kimberley Cameron of Kimberley Cameron & Associates) through PitchWars though, but from a cold query about six months later. 

At that point I was writing exclusively women’s fiction. We went on sub with the book that Kimberley signed me on in 2018 and then with another one in 2019, and for a long time nothing happened. We had lots of rejections – polite and complimentary ones, yes, but still rejections. I think this is something authors don’t often talk about, but it happens to most of us. You have to develop a thick skin and always write the next thing.

So, 2020 arrived, I had two books on long-term sub, I had written yet another WF manuscript, and was considering my next project. With Covid shutting everything down with no end in sight, I needed a change, so I decided to try my hand at writing something more light-hearted. Said and done – with the cheerleading of my writing group (also closest friends) spurring me on, Love at First Spite was born. Turns out some flirty banter and revenge shenanigans were exactly what my writerly quarantine year needed!

As luck would have it, I actually ended up signing my two WF books with a smaller press at the end of 2020, and shortly after that, Graydon House acquired Love at First Spite and set a publication date that would make it my debut. And here we are!

Q: What inspired this story?

A: I keep a running list of ideas for stories that I add to whenever I see or hear something that strikes me as interesting, or when I read about a topic that seems off-beat or unusual. Often, a title relating to the topic will come to me first, so I’ll jot down that and a brief line about it. In this case, I had read an article about spite houses around the world probably a year or so prior, found the lengths some people go to for revenge fascinating, and consequently made a note of it on my list. The exact words were “The Spite House – building a building to get revenge.” That was it – no genre, no characters, nothing. When I decided I wanted to write a romcom, this title stood out to me in my list as I could easily picture the pettiness required for such a build being ripe for comedic situations. It’s over-the-top right away as far as revenge goes, which seemed like a good place to start.

Q: What research did you do for this book?

A: I’m neither an interior designer nor an architect like my two main characters, so I obviously had to do some research into what day-to-day life might look like in those fields. I also researched zoning laws for the city where the story takes place, fence regulations, construction terms, house building processes, common neighbor disputes (there are some pretty colorful ones on the internet), video surveillance systems, and how to tuft figures out of wool. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but that’s at least a general overview of my search history during that period of writing.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Currently, I’m wrapping up a second romcom that I can’t currently talk about, while also finishing copy edits for my first women’s fiction title, These Numbered Days, which will be out some time in spring/summer 2022. And brainstorming my next project, of course. Always brainstorming!

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And now, here is an Excerpt from “Love at First Spite”

Chapter 1

My white dress trails me as we make our way across the small clearing to where the others are waiting. The heavy fabric rustles against the ground, a few leaves catching in the hem, but I ignore them, concentrating instead on what’s ahead. All eyes are on me. 

“Are you sure?” my cousin Mia asks at my elbow. My partner in crime. 

I glance her way. I’m nervous, but I don’t want to be, and the simmering excitement in her expression reassures me. This is the right choice. 

“Hundred percent,” I say. 

She smiles and squeezes my hand. “You’ll rock this, I know it.” She lets go and steps away to assume her position with a wink. “See you on the other side.” 

Then it begins.

I take off at a sprint. The paintball arena is at least a football field in size and strewn with steel drums, crates, and sandbags. A few larger structures in the middle resemble a small-scale Old West town complete with porches and a saloon sign. The guys Mia and I’ve been teamed up with run that way, while she and I head for the trees along the sides. The large pines tower stoically above the fray, and I choose one of the largest trunks for my first cover.

“Did everyone else go the other way?” I call out to Mia but get no response. Wasn’t she behind me? 

I peer around the trunk only to catch the whisp of her braid beneath her helmet as she dives for shelter by a tree trunk twenty yards in front of me. 

“Don’t be a baby, Porter,” I chastise myself, before following her. It’s a thirty-minute game of most-hits-win, so she’s got the right idea: it’s go time. 

As fast as my skirts allow, I jog in the direction of the rapid pops and ka-splats of active battle, paintball gun at the ready. The staff told me I’d be at a disadvantage playing in my wedding dress, and they had a good point. But then again, I didn’t come here expecting to leave in virginal white. 

I barely get my finger on the trigger before two shots in succession hit me squarely in the chest, and a green stain blooms before me. It hurts less than I anticipated, but I still freeze too long and another round easily finds my shoulder. Blue paint drips off the white lace of my sleeve. 

Oh yeah? That’s how it’s going to be? 

Something akin to glee bubbles up my chest and I let out a loud cackle. All righty, then. Shouldering my gun, I aim at the culprit—some kid a full foot shorter than me— and one, two, three splotches of paint hit his belly.

“Yeah!” I shout, as he hightails off. Adrenaline pumps through my arms. 

“Dani, over here!” Mia runs sideways behind me from the cover of a fake building to a stack of boxes. “I’ll shield you.” 

Yeah right. She already looks like she’s wrestled with a rainbow. 

I consider darting the opposite way, to a smattering of hay bales, but Mia sounds increasingly desperate. I hike up my skirts and do my best to make myself small before jumping to safety next to her. 

Back up against the boxes, I peek around the corner. “Two of them,” I say, still breathing hard. “On my mark.” I count down with my fingers and, on three, we spring out, guns leveled at opponents who don’t see us coming. I’m a vengeful angel, gliding through the sky—at least that’s what I picture until my toe catches the hem of my dress and I stumble forward into a mouthful of dirty straw. 

“Take that!” Mia shouts from a distance, accompanied by a fresh round of shots volleying through the air. 

“What the fuck?” a deep voice yells out. 

Another voice: “We’re on the same fucking team.”

I lift my face off the ground. Mia is backing up toward me, pursued by our imagined foe who’s indeed wearing the same beat-up Timberlands I spotted on our teammates earlier. 

It’s fair to say they’re about as excited to be paired with us as my taste buds are about the straw. I spit out the horse fodder and push myself up. 

“We should have never teamed up with them,” the first guy complains. “That one wants to get hit, and this one…” He gestures at Mia. 

She exhales as if he’s punched her.

“What?” I say, moving to stand between him and my cousin. “This one, what?” 

“Dude, come on,” the second guy says. “Let’s just play.” 

“Well she’s not exactly agile, is she?” guy number one sneers. 

“Ha, that’s funny.” I bob my head a few times and train my gun on him. “What do you think, Mia?” 

She appears at my side. “I think someone’s about to get pummeled.” 

His eyebrows jerk behind his protective goggles, but that’s all he manages before we shoot. 

And shoot again. 

Who needs a team? The sight of them running away is totally worth losing for.

Excerpted from Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins, Copyright © 2022 by Anna E. Collins. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan Review

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

Two life-long best friends find their relationship tested during the holidays as buried feelings come to the surface and their focus on other relationships take center stage in author Sarah Morgan’s “The Christmas Escape”.

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The Synopsis

This Christmas, be whisked away by USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan in this uplifting novel of friendship, the festive season, and risking everything for the biggest gift of all…

Christy and Alix are forever-friends. Not even Alix’s well-meant but badly-timed intervention the night before Christy’s wedding has put a dent in their bond. There’s nothing Alix won’t do for the woman who helped fill the hole in her heart left by her own family’s rejection. But taking Christy’s boisterous little daughter Holly on holiday to Lapland, days before Christmas, is a huge ask. Marketing whizz Alix might know how to turn toys into million-dollar Christmas bestsellers, but the responsibility of parenthood terrifies her. And unfortunately, she’ll have a witness to her ineptitude, in the annoyingly delicious shape of Zac, Holly’s father’s best friend, who will also be there…

Christy had hoped this year would be her dream Christmas, in her dream new family house. Instead, it’s turning into the nightmare before Christmas, with a frightening list of household repairs, no money, and a make-or-break crisis in her marriage. Even worse, it’s a crisis of her own making, and one that is on her shoulders to fix. With best friend Alix coming to the rescue and looking after Holly, Christy will finally have time to focus on rebuilding her relationship.

As Alix confronts her fears and finds unexpected romance under the Northern Lights, and Christy fights to save her marriage, could it be that their Christmas holiday opens their eyes, and their hearts, to what they’ve always wanted?

The Review

This was such an emotional and well-rounded holiday read. The author did a perfect job of conveying the protagonist’s friendship and struggles both apart and together. The tension that can build between two longtime friends when living their own separate lives was perfectly illustrated here, and the struggle to find a balance between the friendship you once had and the evolution that it has taken was explored expertly here. 

The heart of the narrative was the relationship between all of the characters, not just the protagonists. While the friends were the driving force of the story, getting to see how each interacted with others in this vacation setting was interesting, from Alix’s budding romance to Christy’s fragile marriage and the struggles with her own past, this novel really allowed the characters to shine while still keeping a bit of the magic of the holidays with such a wintery setting.

The Verdict

A gripping, heartfelt, and engaging holiday story, author Sarah Morgan’s “The Christmas Escape” is a must-read women’s fiction and holiday romance bundled up into one novel. The captivating character developments and the emotional journey that these protagonists take during this holiday retreat make this story such a powerful narrative, and one not to be missed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe and three RITA® Awards from the Romance Writers of America. Sarah lives with her family near London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office.

Buy Links: 

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Social Links:

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Facebook: @AuthorSarahMorgan

Instagram: @sarahmorganwrites

Twitter: @SarahMorgan_

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Here is an Excerpt from “The Christmas Escape”

1

Robyn

She hadn’t dared hope that this might happen.

Someone less cynical might have thought of it as a Christmas miracle, but Robyn no longer believed in miracles. She was terrified, but layered under the terror was a seam of something else. Hope. The kaleidoscope of emotions inside her matched the swirl and shimmer of color in the sky. Here in Swedish Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle, the unpolluted skies and clear winter nights made for frequent sightings of the northern lights.

She heard the door open behind her, heard the soft crunch of footsteps on deep snow and then felt Erik’s arms slide around her.

“Come inside. It’s cold.”

“One more minute. I need to think…” She’d always done her best thinking here, in this wild land where nature dominated, where a human felt insignificant beneath the expanse of pink-tinted sky. Everything she’d ever done that was foolish, selfish, risky or embarrassing shrank in importance because this place didn’t care.

Trees bowed under the weight of new snow, the surface glistening with delicate threads of silver and blue. The cold numbed her cheeks and froze her eyelashes, but she noticed only the beauty. Her instinct was to reach for her camera, even though she already had multiple images of the same scene.

She’d come here to escape from everything she was and everything she’d done and had fallen in love with the place and the man. It turned out that you could reinvent yourself if you moved far enough away from everyone who knew you.

Erik pulled the hood of her down jacket farther over her head. “If you’re thinking of the past, then don’t.”

How could she not?

Robyn the rebel.

Her old self felt unfamiliar now. It was like looking at an old photo and not recognizing yourself. Who was that woman?

“I can’t believe she’s coming here. She was three years old when I last saw her.”

Her niece. Her sister’s child.

She remembered a small, smiling cherub with rosy cheeks and curly blond hair. She remembered innocence and acceptance and the fleeting hope of a fresh start, before Robyn had ruined it, the way she’d ruined everything back then.

Her sister had forbidden her to ever make contact again. There had been no room for Robyn in her sister’s perfect little family unit. Even now, many years later, remembering that last encounter still made her feel shaky and sick. She tried to imagine the child as a woman. Was she like her mother? Whenever Robyn thought about her sister, her feelings became confused.

Love. Hate. Envy. Irritation. She hadn’t known it was possible to feel every possible emotion within a single relationship. Elizabeth had been the golden girl. The perfect princess and, for a little while at least, her best friend in the world.

Time had eased the pain from agony to ache.

All links had been broken, until that email had arrived.

“Why did she get in touch now, after so long? She’s thirty. Grown.”

Part of her wanted to celebrate, but life had taught her to be cautious, and she knew this wasn’t a simple reunion. What if her niece was looking for answers? And what if she didn’t like what she heard?

Was this a second chance, or another emotional car crash?

“You can ask her. Face-to-face,” Erik said, “but I know you’re nervous.”

“Yes.” She had no secrets from him, although it had taken her a while to reach the point where she’d trusted their relationship not to snap. “She’s a stranger. The only living member of my family.”

Her sister was gone, killed instantly two years earlier while crossing the road. There was no fixing the past now. That door was closed.

Erik tightened his hold on her. “Your niece has a daughter, remember? That’s two family members. Three if you count her husband.”

Family. She’d had to learn to live without it.

She’d stayed away, as ordered. Made no contact. Rebuilt her life. Redesigned herself. Buried the past and traveled as far from her old life as she could. In the city she’d often felt trapped. Suffocated by the past. Here, in this snowy wilderness with nature on her doorstep, she felt free.

And then the past had landed in her in-box.

I’m Christy, your niece.

“Was it a mistake to ask her here?” It was the first time she’d invited the past into the present. “Apart from the fact we don’t know each other, do you think she’ll like this place?” For her it had been love at first sight. The stillness. The swirl of blue-green color in the sky, and the soft light that washed across the landscape at this time of year. As a photographer, the light was an endless source of fascination and inspiration. There were shades and tones she’d never seen anywhere else in the world. Midnight blue and bright jade. Icy pink and warm rose.

Some said the life up here was harsh and hard, but Robyn had known hard, and this wasn’t it. Cold wasn’t only a measure of temperature, it was a feeling. And she’d been cold. The kind of cold that froze you inside and couldn’t be fixed with thermal layers and a down jacket.

And then there was warmth, of the kind she felt now with Erik.

“Christmas in Lapland?” He sounded amused. “How can she not like it? Particularly as she has a child. Where else can she play in the snow, feed reindeer and ride on a sled through the forest?”

Robyn gazed at the trees. It was true that this was paradise for a Christmas-loving child, although that wasn’t the focus of the business. She had little experience with children and had never felt the desire to have her own. Her family was Erik. The dogs. The forest. The skies. This brilliant, brutal wilderness that felt more like home than any place she’d lived.

The main lodge had been handed down through generations of Erik’s family, but he’d expanded it to appeal to the upper end of the market. Their guests were usually discerning

travelers seeking to escape. Adventurous types who appreciated luxury but were undaunted by the prospect of heading into the frozen forest or exploring the landscape on skis or snowshoes. Erik offered his services as a guide when needed, and she, as a photographer, was on hand to coach people through the intricacies of capturing the aurora on camera. You couldn’t predict it, so she’d learned patience. She’d learned to wait until nature gave her what she was hoping for.

Through the snowy branches she could see the soft glow of lights from two of their cabins, nestled in the forest. They were five in total, each named after Arctic wildlife. Wolf, Reindeer, Elk, Lynx and Bear. Each cozy cabin had floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a breathtaking view of the forest and the sky. The Snow Spa had been her idea and proved a popular addition. The focus here was wellness, with an emphasis on the nature that surrounded them. She and her small team used local resources whenever they could. Guests were encouraged to leave phones and watches behind.

Erik was right. It was the perfect escape. The question she should have asked wasn’t Will she like it here? but Will she like me?

She felt a moment of panic. “The last time I saw Christy—well, it wasn’t good.” The kitten incident. The memory of that visit was carved into her soul. Despite all her good intentions, it had gone badly wrong. “What age do children start remembering? Will she remember what happened?” She hoped not. Even now, so many years later, she could still remember the last words her sister had spoken to her.

You ruin everything. I don’t want you in my life.

Robyn pressed closer to Erik and felt his arms tighten.

“It was a long time ago, Robyn. Ancient history.”

“But people don’t forget history, do they?” What had her sister told her daughter?

Robyn the rebel.

She wondered what her sister would say if she could see her now. Happy. Married to a man she loved. Living in one place. Earning a good living, although no doubt Elizabeth would see it as unconventional.

Christy, it seemed, was happily married and living an idyllic life in the country, as her mother had before her.

What would Elizabeth say if she knew her daughter was coming to visit?

Robyn gave a shiver and turned back toward the lodge.

Elizabeth wouldn’t have been happy, and if she could have stopped it, she would have done so. She wouldn’t have wanted her sister to contaminate her daughter’s perfect life.

Excerpted from The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan. Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Morgan. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s 

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @ElysiaWhisler

Facebook: @ElysiaWhisler

Instagram: @Elysiawhisler

Goodreads

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.

The Christmas Wedding Guest 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. 

Two sisters, one facing past loves, another facing motherhood, each return home for the holidays to celebrate their parent’s vow renewal, and in the process find the promise of romance in author Susan Mallery’s “The Christmas Wedding Guest”. 

The Synopsis

The last thing Reggie Sommerville wants is to come back home for Christmas. It’s only been a year and a half since her boyfriend, Jake, proposed and then broke up with her, all in one weekend, and the prospect of facing the entire town is humiliating. But when her parents reveal that they’re renewing their vows in the lavish wedding they always wanted and her mother asks her to be a bridesmaid, Reggie knows she can’t say no. No matter how much she wants to. She expected the town would be gossiping about her relationship with Jake, but she never expected to run into Toby, her first love that broke her heart all those years ago, living in town and raising his son. She always thought things between them were long over…but this Christmas is full of surprises.

Dena Sommerville has only ever wanted one thing: to have a child. But motherhood has been alluding her because she never met the right man…until she took the bull by the horns and decided to have a baby as a single mom. She knew it would be difficult and the morning sickness alone is knocking her down for the count, but she’s determined to do this on her own. So when a handsome musician checks into the inn where she works, Dena is surprised when a friendship develops. He has his own issues to work through—that much is clear. But she can’t deny there’s something between them

This Christmas, guilted into being bridesmaids at their parents’ vow renewal ceremony, Reggie and Dena Sommerville just might find the most unexpected gift of all—love.

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The Review

This was a beautiful and heartfelt romance novel for the holiday season. I’m a sucker for a good holiday romance, and the author’s perfect world-building in this little fictitious Washington town and the holiday setting really brought a certain level of man-made magic and wonder to the narrative. The exploration of how the past defines our present, overcoming our insecurities and fears, and allowing room for love in our lives were very present themes in this novel, and the imagery that this small-town setting brought along with the holiday wedding storyline made this story really shine.

What was amazing to watch unfold was the personal character growth that this amazing cast of characters showcased. The protagonists, Reggie and Dena, really were special, as their bond as a family and their very positive outlook on romance as a whole was a nice change of pace for the typical characterizations that protagonists in a romance novel will have. Toby’s very emotional background and experiences really showcased the journey he went on as well, and his struggle with his childhood and past relationship and his desire to do what’s best for his son above himself really elevated the romance that bloomed between himself and Reggie. 

The Verdict

An emotional, heartwarming, and entertaining read, author Susan Mallery’s “The Christmas Wedding Guest” is a must-read novel of the 2021 holiday season! An engaging story of romance, heartbreak, and letting go of the past to find a brighter tomorrow, this novel really will keep readers invested and add the perfect jumping-off point for the holiday romance season for readers everywhere. If you haven’t yet, grab your own copy of this spectacular read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Susan Mallery is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as mom.

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Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman Review

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

Two sisters seeking to shed the restrictions their father and society has placed upon them look to not only discover their identities, but their role in the midst of the Great War in author Suzanne Feldman’s “Sisters of the Great War”.

The Synopsis

Two sisters. The Great War looming. A chance to shape their future.

Sisters Ruth and Elise Duncan could never have anticipated volunteering for the war effort. But in 1914, the two women decide to make the harrowing journey from Baltimore to Ypres, Belgium in order to escape the suffocating restrictions placed on them by their father and carve a path for their own future.

Smart and practical Ruth is training as a nurse but dreams of becoming a doctor. In a time when women are restricted to assisting men in the field, she knows it will take great determination to prove herself, and sets out to find the one person who always believed in her: a handsome army doctor from England. For quiet Elise, joining the all female Ambulance Corps means a chance to explore her identity, and come to terms with the growing attraction she feels towards women. Especially the charming young ambulance driver who has captured her heart.

In the twilight of the Old World and the dawn of the new, both young women come of age in the face bombs, bullets and the deadly futility of trench warfare. Together they must challenge the rules society has placed on them in order to save lives: both the soldiers and the people they love.

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The Review

This was so beautifully crafted and vividly descriptive that readers will feel instantly transported into the narrative. The stark contrast between the restrictive household the protagonists started out into the visceral hellscape of the front lines of WWI and the interlaced story of deeply personal growth with strong themes throughout really made this story shine brightly. The horrors of war the sisters endured showed a much different aspect of the Great War than most projects tackle, highlighting the physical and mental effects the battles had on nurses and physicians in the field. 

The psychology and personal development of both Ruth and Elise were so engaging and brilliantly written. The themes of feminist struggles and the deep hardship of the LGBTQ community who had to remain hidden in the face of overwhelming battles like those faced in WWI really highlighted the intimate relationships they both formed with friends and loves alike, and their bond with one another as well. 

The Verdict

A gripping, thought-provoking, and entertaining women’s fiction and historical fiction read, author Suzanne Feldman’s “Sisters of the Great War” is a must-read this fall. The growth and perseverance the sisters held onto in the face of great adversity, and the way their historical storyline and struggles can resonate with so many readers today made this a thoroughly enjoyable read and is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Suzanne Feldman, a recipient of the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize and a finalist for the Bakeless Prize in fiction, holds an MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University and a BFA in art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her short fiction has appeared in Narrative, The Missouri Review, Gargoyle, and other literary journals. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.

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Q&A with Suzanne Feldman

Q: Your books have won quite a few awards. Do you ever feel pressure when you write a new book to make it an award winning book?

A: I do love awards and who doesn’t? (I’m striving for a Pulitzer!) But awards are sort of a wonderful perk for what I already love doing, which is making something big from a little spark of an idea. I think it’s a stretch to think to yourself, ‘I’m going to write something for THIS award.’ because what if the book doesn’t win anything? I’m much happier just writing and editing until I think it’s ready to go out into the world–then we’ll see how it does.

Q: What inspired this book?

A: Sisters of the Great War was a four-year project that started one morning as I walked into my classroom at some pre-dawn hour. I’d been thinking about my next project after ‘Absalom’s Daughters’ and I knew I wanted to write a war story–but there were already so many books about WW2. So I thought, what about WW1? Could I write something epic yet intimate about that period? I wrote on a post-it: ‘WW1; epic yet intimate,’ and put it in my pocket. After school that day, I found the post-it and by some miracle, I still knew what I’d meant.  

I started doing research and realized pretty quickly that the reason WW1 literature peaked with All Quiet on the Western Front was because it was a trench war, and over the space of four years, the trenches barely moved so there were very few ‘victories.’ The war itself was awful beyond description. Troops went out and were mowed down by new weapons, like the machine gun, tanks, and poisonous gas. It’s hard to write a glorious book about a barbaric war that had no real point, so I decided to explore the lives of the forgotten women–the nurses and ambulance drivers who were in the thick of the action, but not really mentioned in the movies and books about the period. 

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?

A: I have a room where I write, my ‘office.’ I have all my favorite art, my most-loved books, and a bed for my dog. I love being able to close the door and just get into the groove of writing, but I have been known to write in coffee shops and libraries. When I was teaching, when I would get an idea, I would write on a post-it and put it in my pocket, so, yes, technically I have written at work as well.

Q: Do you have a writing routine?

A: My writing routine involves getting really wired on coffee in the morning and then taking a long walk with my dog, sometimes by the river and sometimes in the mountains. I get my ideas for the day in order, and the dog gets tired. Then I spend about four hours working on writing projects–sometimes novels, sometimes short stories, and drinking a lot more coffee. By then the dog has woken up, and we go out for another walk. I like to treat writing as a job. It’s not too exciting, but it works for me.

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

A: I’m a pantser and proud of it! I love not really knowing what’s going to happen, and I love the discovery of plot points and personalities that might not show up in an outline. My favorite part is when a character does something on the page that I never thought of, and I get to go with that. What’s funny is that as a teacher (before I retired) I needed a plan for everything!

Q: What is a fun fact about you?

A: I was a high school art teacher for almost 30 years, and I am also a visual artist. I do a lot of abstract painting, which you can see on my Instagram account, Suzanne Feldman Author. I’ve taught every art class you can imagine, from darkroom photography to ceramics. I had a wonderful time teaching, and I loved nearly all of my students.

Here is an Exclusive Excerpt from “Sisters of the Great War”

1

Baltimore, Maryland

August 1914

Ruth Duncan fanned herself with the newspaper in the summer heat as Grandpa Gerald put up a British flag outside the house. If he’d had a uniform—of any kind—he would have worn it. People on the sidewalk paused and pointed, but Grandpa, still a proper English gent even after almost twenty years in the U.S., smoothed his white beard and straightened his waistcoat, ignoring the onlookers.

“That’s done,” he said.

Ruth’s own interest in the war was limited to what she read in the paper from across the dining table. Grandpa would snap the paper open before he ate breakfast. She could see the headlines and the back side of the last page, but not much more. Grandpa would grunt his appreciation of whatever was in-side, snort at what displeased him, and sometimes laugh. On the 12th of August, the headline in the Baltimore Sun read; France And Great Britain Declare War On Austria-Hungary, and Grandpa wasn’t laughing.

Cook brought in the morning mail and put it on the table next to Grandpa. She was a round, grey-haired woman who left a puff of flour behind her wherever she went.

“Letter from England, sir,” Cook said, leaving the envelope and a dusting of flour on the dark mahogany. She smiled at Ruth and left for the kitchen.

Grandpa tore the letter open.

Ruth waited while he read. It was from Richard and Diane Doweling, his friends in London who still wrote to him after all these years. They’d sent their son, John, to Harvard in Massachusetts for his medical degree. Ruth had never met John Doweling, but she was jealous of him, his opportunities, his apparent successes. The Dowelings sent letters whenever John won some award or other. No doubt this was more of the same. Ruth drummed her fingers on the table and eyed the dining room clock. In ten minutes, she would need to catch the trolley that would take her up to the Loyola College of Nursing, where she would be taught more of the things she had already learned from her father. The nuns at Loyola were dedicated nurses, and they knew what they were doing. Some were out-standing teachers, but others were simply mired in the medicine of the last century. Ruth was frustrated and bored, but Father paid her tuition, and what Father wanted, Father got. 

Ruth tugged at her school uniform—a white apron over a long white dress, which would never see a spot of blood. “What do they say, Grandpa?”

He was frowning. “John is enlisting. They’ve rushed his graduation at Harvard so he can go home and join the Royal Army Medical Corps.”

“How can they rush graduation?” Ruth asked. “That seems silly. What if he misses a class in, say, diseases of the liver?”

Grandpa folded the letter and looked up. “I don’t think he’ll be treating diseases of the liver on the battlefield. Anyway, he’s coming to Baltimore before he ships out.”

“Here?” said Ruth in surprise. “But why?”

“For one thing,” said Grandpa, “I haven’t seen him since he was three years old. For another, you two have a common interest.”

“You mean medicine?” Ruth asked. “Oh, Grandpa. What could I possibly talk about with him? I’m not even a nurse yet, and he’s—he’s a doctor.” She spread her hands. “Should we discuss how to wrap a bandage?”

“As long as you discuss something.” He pushed the letter across the table to her and got up. “You’ll be showing him around town.”

“Me?” said Ruth. “Why me?”

“Because your sister—” Grandpa nodded at Elise, just clumping down the stairs in her nightgown and bathrobe “—has dirty fingernails.” He started up the stairs. “Good morning, my dear,” he said. “Do you know what time it is?” “Uh huh,” Elise mumbled as she slumped into her seat at the table.

As Grandpa continued up the stairs Ruth called after him. “But when is he coming?”

“His train arrives Saturday at noon,” Grandpa shouted back. “Find something nice to wear. You too, Elise.”

Elise rubbed her eyes. “What’s going on?”

Ruth pushed the letter at her and got up to go. “Read it,” she said. “You’ll see.”

Ruth made her way down Thirty-Third Street with her heavy bookbag slung over one shoulder, heading for the trolley stop, four blocks away, on Charles. Summer classes were almost over, and as usual, the August air in Baltimore was impenetrably hot and almost unbreathable. It irritated Ruth to think that she would arrive at Loyola sweaty under her arms, her hair frizzed around her nurse’s cap from the humidity. The nuns liked neatness, modest decorum. Not perspiring young women who wished they were somewhere else.

Elise, Ruth thought, as she waited for a break in the noisy traffic on Charles Street, could’ve driven her in the motor-car, but no, she’d slept late. Her younger sister could do pretty much anything, it seemed, except behave like a girl. Elise, who had been able to take apart Grandpa’s pocket watch and put it back together when she was six years old, was a use-ful mystery to both Father and Grandpa. She could fix the car—cheaper than the expensive mechanics. , For some rea-son, Elise wasn’t obliged to submit to the same expectations as Ruth—she could keep her nails short and dirty. Ruth wondered, as she had since she was a girl, if it was her younger sister’s looks. She was a mirror image of their mother, who had died in childbirth with Elise. Did that make her special in Father’s eyes?

An iceman drove a sweating horse past her. The horse raised its tail, grunted, and dropped a pile of manure, rank in the heat, right in front of her, as though to auger the rest of her day. The iceman twisted in the cart to tip his hat. “Sorry Sister!”

Ruth let her breath out through her teeth. Maybe the truth of the matter was that she was the ‘sorry sister.’ It was at this exact corner that her dreams of becoming a doctor, to follow in her father’s footsteps, had been shot down. When she was ten, and the governess said she’d done well on her writing and math, she was allowed to start going along on Father’s house calls and help in his office downstairs. Father had let her do simple things at first; mix plaster while he positioned a broken ankle, give medicine to children with the grippe, but she watched everything he did and listened carefully. By the time she was twelve, she could give him a diagnosis, and she remembered her first one vividly, identifying a man’s abdominal pain as appendicitis.

“You did a good job,” Father had said to her, as he’d reined old Bess around this very corner. “You’ll make an excellent nurse one day.”

Ruth remembered laughing because she’d thought he was joking. Her father’s praise was like gold. “A nurse?” she’d said. “One day I’ll be a doctor, just like you!”

“Yes, a nurse,” he’d said firmly, without a hint of a smile. It was the tone he used for patients who wouldn’t take their medicine.

“But I want to be a doctor.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. He hadn’t sounded sorry at all. “Girls don’t become doctors. They become nurses and wives. Tomorrow, if there’s time, we’ll visit a nursing college. When you’re eighteen, that’s where you’ll go.”

“But—”

He’d shaken his head sharply, cutting her off. “It isn’t done, and I don’t want to hear another word about it.”

A decade later, Ruth could still feel the shock in her heart. It had never occurred to her that she couldn’t be a doctor because she was a girl. And now, John Doweling was coming to town to cement her future as a doctor’s wife. That was what everyone had in mind. She knew it. Maybe John didn’t know yet, but he was the only one.

Ruth frowned and lifted her skirts with one hand, balancing the bookbag with the other, and stepped around the manure as the trolley came clanging up Charles.

Excerpted from Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman, Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Feldman. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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

Facebook   www.facebook.com/gailolmstedauthor 

Email  gwolmsted@gmail.com

Amazon  www.amazon.com/author/gailolmsted

Goodreads   

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.

Buy Links: 

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Amazon

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Social Links:

Author Website

Facebook: @JoAnnRossbooks

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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