Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Count the Ways

After losing her parents at a young age, Eleanor dreams of creating a family of her own. As her children’s book is a huge success, she drops out of school and buys a farm in New Hampshire. Lonely and wandering through a farmers market Eleanor meets Cam and knows she will never be on her own again. The young couple quickly have three children and immerse themselves in the joyful experience of raising them. Endless holidays, crafts, baking and birthday celebrations - all the idyllic scenes Eleanor yearned for in her younger days. Through the years she begins to feel the financial burden as her books wither and there is little time to create new ones. Cam goes with the flow of an artist, never worrying about money and thriving on farm life alone. But it is not enough and as Eleanor’s obvious unhappiness escalates she discovers that Cam is having an affair. As their family is torn apart, the divorce replaces every good memory with struggle and hardship. Eleanor tries to protect the children and by doing so she destroys their faith in her mothering and choose the farm. Through drawn out decades of strife and forgiveness they slowly grasp the true meaning of family. Filled with heartwarming characters and layers upon layers of emotions, this book is beautiful but about 100 pages too long. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Embassy Wife

As an outsider, life in Namibia is not a straightforward existence. Intense heat, unimaginable traffic, unique customs and traditions make life for these American diplomats and their families appear like a well organized mess. When Amanda gives up her high level position at a Silicon Valley giant to move with her daughter and husband Mark her life is turned upside down in this remote part of Africa. Mark has a Fulbright project to research with hopes of completing his PhD. Amanda is immediately thrown into life as a “trailer” - nickname for the spouses who follow the embassy staff around the globe. She quickly meets the other women who rank themselves in order of importance and prestige based on their husbands positions. Persephone Wilder appears to be the leader of the pack and tries to guide Amanda in the ways of their small somewhat isolated community. Mark, who spent time volunteering in this part of the world many years ago is off on another journey, secretly tracking someone or something. As Amanda’s deals with her daughter struggles at the international school, she befriends the mysterious and beautiful Mila and is determined to save her slowly disintegrating marriage. If this sounds chaotic - that’s because it is. If you can keep up with this fast paced bizarre array of characters you will be smiling the whole way through. Unique and well written, this is an enjoyable summer read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Guilt Trip

Rachel and Jack have a good solid marriage. Their son is off at University and unlike most of their middle aged friends they maintain an active sex life. Jack's brother Will is about to marry Ali, a young woman who previously worked for Jack and is as beautiful as she is burdensome. Perhaps a bit regretful he ever introduced the two, Jack finds himself as best man at their destination wedding in Portugal. Another couple in attendance that may diminish some of the stress is Rachel’s best friends Paige and Noah. Paige is a fast talking dependable lawyer type and Noah, one of Rachel’s oldest and sweetest friends from her college days. The gorgeous cliffside villa is breathtaking upon arrival but as the weekend wears on Ali makes it perfectly clear that something untoward is going on. She insinuates the worst case scenarios and Rachel and Paige immediately worry that Will is getting himself involved with a deceptive manipulator who cannot be trusted. As Jack gets more and more tense they assume he is protecting his younger brother. Little do they know who the real culprits may be. Three couples all searching for the truth collide with this suspenseful and somewhat twisted narrative. Awesome setting and easy, albeit predictable summer thriller.  πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•

Layla

The night the girl who was a terrible dancer stole Leeds heart is the night his life changed forever. While attending her sister’s wedding Layla cannot take her eyes off the most sexy band member she has ever seen. The after party finds them in the pool, drunk and high on their instant chemistry. Their attraction is palpable. From that moment on, they are inseparable. Layla goes back to Nashville with Leeds as they figure out his musical future setting words to his amazing solo work. A simple knock at the door and horrific attack leaves the couple with months of healing both emotionally and physically. Layla, who was more severely injured has a difficult time finding her way back into the arms of the only man she has ever truly loved. The two find themselves back at the B&B where the wedding was held. Maybe returning to where they fell in love will help Layla heal and return her to the fun easy going girl she once was. But the house, now vacant and up for sale just doesn’t feel the same. Layla is not getting better, she is quickly deteriorating. Leeds cannot understand what it is going on. It is as if she is two different people at the same time. He is determined to find a way to help her, no matter the consequences. This thrilling, twisted, unexpected paranormal romance had me on the edge of my seat. It is absolutely unputdownable. A MUST read! πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•πŸ“•

Sunday, July 25, 2021

It Happened One Summer

Spending the night in jail was the straw that broke the camels back. Piper Bellinger’s fancy stepfather could take no more. He knew this Hollywood wild child needed to learn a lesson after her champagne infused wrecking of a trendy hotel roof top party. Piper and her younger sister Hannah are sent to a small fishing town in the Pacific Northwest, Washington. It is where the girls were born and spent their earliest years of which they have little or no memory of their father who died at sea. When their mother remarried they were raised in the lap of luxury in Los Angeles. While Hannah was studious, Piper became the “It” party girl of instagram, gaining a massive following but few real friends. Now, sent to run and live above the ramshackle bar their father owned, the girls are not sure they will survive their three month banishment. That is until Captain Brendan walks through the door. This tall, hunky, bearded man is as crabby as he is handsome. No time for games, Brendan is a hard working no nonsense guy who lives by his own strict rules. The instant he lays eyes on Piper - it is game over. Their immediate chemistry is undeniable and no matter how many excuses they make, the fates have other plans. Steamy summer romance, sisterly love and plenty of hot fisherman, this romcom will have you hooked at hello. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Paper Palace

Elle has spent every summer she can remember at the paper palace, her family’s ramshackle cabins deep in the backwoods of Cape Cod. Now facing midlife, all the choices she has made are colliding at once. Only Jonas knows. Only Jonas has kept the truth hidden from the other members of their families for all these years. Jonas fell in love with Elle when he was an eight year old freckled face little boy. He has never stopped and he never will. As the author flashes back to  their chaotic lives in the seventies, unrelenting parents, replete with adultery and abuse hide behind their bourgeois lifestyle. The author beautifully describes their idyllic surroundings and messy childhoods filled with family drama and decades of deceit. Everyone plays along but early bonds are unbreakable and although Elle is happily married to handsome Peter with three beautiful children, she is haunted by her past. She desperately misses her sister Anna and the life they shared, can never forgive her father and achingly yearns for Jonas. This detailed character driven writing and spectacular family dynamics bring this story to life. It is hard to imagine this is author Miranda Cowley Heller’s first novel.  Wow. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Blush

The Hollander Estates Winery is in trouble. After decades of offering tours and tastings through their gorgeous vineyards on Long Island the business can no longer sustain itself. Leah returns for a summer visit to find her parents and brother have given up all hope of trying to save their family legacy. While still angry she was discouraged from making her own career in the winery, Leah can never forget her childhood growing up on this magnificent land, grapes seemingly running through her veins. Her daughter Sadie suffers writers block as her college thesis is long overdue, and her husband seems to be going through the ups and downs of his own midlife crisis. When Sadie discovers her Grandmother Vivian’s hidden journal she also finds a trove of old trashy novels from decades past by Judith Kranz and Jackie Collins filled with sex, power and lady bosses. Three generations of women struggling to love and live while still being true to themselves. Vivian desperately holds on to her past secrets, Leah can no longer sit back and watch the winery fail and Sadie who doubted her own passion existed falls for the hot vineyard manager. As the grapes ripen throughout the summer so do their ideas. The men need to step back and let the women work their magic. Sweet easy summer novel. Loved the details of vineyard life and winemaking process. Grab a glass of rose and start reading, it must be 5 o’clock somewhere. ⭐⭐⭐

The Personal Librarian

Belle da Costa Greene is working as a librarian at Princeton University. A lovely young woman, she spends her days surrounded by books and rare manuscripts, history and art - passions since she was ten years old. In 1905, a student with whom she had become quite friendly refers Belle for a job as directress of his uncle’s private library. Working closely with the most powerful financier on Wall Street, J.P. Morgan himself, changes Belle’s future and that of her entire family forever. Beautiful, intelligent and trusted, she literally becomes the belle of the ball, securing world wide treasure’s helping create one of the preeminent collections in the world. Rubbing shoulders with famous art dealers and gallerists unsuspecting of Belle’s flirty manipulations, she becomes one of the most successful businesswomen of her time. But there is one thing Belle is hiding. Behind the silk curtains she is part of an African American family that has passed as white. As Belle’s father spent his life advocating for equal rights, her mother secretly and slowly changed the family’s name and history to reflect Portuguese descent and smudged their lineage just enough to quiet any rumors. As the sole support of the family, Belle became expert at hiding her own identity, for she knew deep in her heart that Mr. Morgan would not be able to overlook his racial prejudice. It became Belle’s lifelong mission to bury her secret while securing the future for The Morgan Library. Historical fiction at its very best, this magnificent novel brings the past roaring back to life. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Anchored Hearts

Alejandro Miranda left Key West with a dream of becoming a famous photographer. And he did. He has traveled all over the world winning awards and magazine covers. After an accident Alejandro has returned to his big Cuban family in the small island town where he grew up. Mother coddles his every need but his papi has never forgiven him for leaving the family restaurant business which is struggling. Anamaria Navarro was Alejandro’s highschool girlfriend and her heart was broken in the aftermath of his departure. For all of his success Alejandro feels deep regret to have hurt the people he loves most in the world. As a firefighter and fitness instructor Ana agrees to help stretch and strengthen his injured leg and their chemistry is undeniable. As their busybody mothers cannot resist pushing them together every chance they get this romance takes some unexpected turns. #2 is her Keys to Love series, once again Patricia Oliveras delivers some hot romance in the Keys! ⭐⭐⭐

The Paris Library

Beautiful and smart Odile Souchet is excited to begin her very first job as a librarian at the American Library in Paris. It is 1939 and as the world around her is crumbling, the beautiful sanctuary of books keeps her spirit and faith in mankind alive. Her father thinks she should be home and married, her twin brother Remy goes off to war and Odile begins a romance with a handsome French policeman. As Paris falls to the Nazi’s this group of dedicated librarians fight back the only way they know how - with books. They deliver books to those no longer able to enter the library. A deal is made with the inspector to protect the books as libraries throughout Europe are looted and destroyed. Books are delivered to soldiers in hospitals and even shipped to the front lines. It is often the only bright light as food becomes scarce and dangerous checkpoints restrain every move they make. In 1983 Odile is a widow living in a small town in Montana. For many years her reserved French manner has kept neighbors at a distance. Across the way young Lily is desperately trying to survive an awkward stage of adolescence and seeks an unexpected friendship with Odile. She wants to learn French and ultimately discovers the truth of Odile’s difficult past. Based on actual events and alternating chapters between the past and present, The Paris Library is a passionate portrait of family, friendship and the unmistakable connection that books bring into our lives. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Layover

Ava is about to board her last trip of a decade long flight attendant career. Although traveling the world has been an exciting dream job, Ava has long craved some kind of stability in her life and Alexander is offering it on a silver platter. Ava’s handsome uptight lawyer fiancΓ© wants to give her his world, albeit on his terms, she must stop flying. A gorgeous condo, brand new car and fancy dinner with his parents has become all Ava can see on her life’s horizon. The crew on this last overnight trip to Belize include the quirky sexpot Gen and unimaginably handsome Jack. An unexpected layover lengthens their overnight in this tropical paradise. Starting off as obnoxious banter Ava and Jack cannot deny the instant chemistry that draws them together. As conversations with Alexander leave their relationship dangling through the weekend, Jack’s innocent touch sends her heart spinning out of control.  Ava must decide if the safe choice is always the right choice. Romance and humor on these sandy beaches will have you laughing out loud while reaching for that frosty Pina Colada you’ve been craving. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Plot

Jacob Finch Bonner had a best selling book. A long time ago. His second didn’t go so well and his third - virtually unknown. Jake finds himself teaching and writing on the side. If he is truthful with himself, he hasn’t actually written in years. Starting another semester at a bottom of the barrel MFA program Jake is surrounded by all types. The students who have zero talent but a lot of enthusiasm, the students who can write but have no structure and then the ones like Evan Parker, a man/child that is so arrogant, so full of himself and his guaranteed stardom, Jake silently has to laugh. Never going to happen, kid. A few years later, literally just getting by, Jake finds out that Evan has died. An unexplained overdose. As far as Jake knows, his bestseller never got written or published. But Jake remembers the plot Evan detailed and it was truly one of a kind. Now that this can of words has opened Jake sits down at his laptop and the best story of his life pours out of him. Within months it is Jake that is the star. Back on top again, he cannot believe his good fortune. With the truth always looming in the background of his joy, Jake is never quite 100% happy. As if he wished it into happening, Jake receives the dreaded email. A simple one liner. You are a thief. And that is the end of his new beginning and the beginning of his end. This twisted thriller had me on the edge of my seat for the entire reading. A book within a book, it is the perfect figure out summer read! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

You Never Forget Your First

Carved in the history books as The Father of His Country, General George Washington played a critical role during the Revolutionary War, Constitutional Convention and for two terms as the first President of the United States. Most people don’t know that he was raised by a struggling single mother, his teeth weren’t wooden, and he lost more battles than he won. While sharing an array of shocking and remarkable facts about George Washington this author inserts humor and wit to help us visualize George, the man. A tall and handsome fellow, faithful to his mother Mary, started off as a surveyor and received his military training during the French and Indian War. He miraculously survived smallpox, malaria (6 times!), diphtheria, tuberculosis, dysentery and pneumonia living a full life until 67. A leader, survivor and our President, this brazen biography is not your every day cup of tea but an alternative view of his life. Controversial it may be but as George himself - never really said - “I cannot tell a lie …” and I liked it!⭐⭐⭐

America's Daughter

Addie Valencourt and her twin brother have never left each other’s side for their entire lives. Thick as thieves, they get into all sorts of mischief together. In 1773 as war is brewing in Boston they sneak out to witness the Boston Tea Party and quickly realize things will never be the same again. Adrian cannot resist joining the Rebels to fight the British while the women painfully step aside feeling helpless. Addie’s English born, Loyalist father has raised and educated his smart independent children to think for themselves. Although he loves them dearly, he could never separate himself from the Crown. When her brothers and (secret) childhood crush Silas meet up to aide General Washington, there is no turning back for these determined brave men. From the wide acre plantations of Virginia to the crowded streets of New York and Boston, America’s dramatic fight for independence is filled with epic battles and Revolutionary romance that light up the summer sky! ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Lizzie & Dante

Lizzie Delford arrives on the quaint island of Elba with her novelist ex-fiance´ and his famous boyfriend (a little confusing at first). She is a Shakespearian professor and sadly her days are numbered. Lizzie is sick and hope has all but drained from her life. Lizzie was invited on this exotic adventure to assist with details on a new Romeo and Juliet production and could not resist the chance to escape the sticky streets of NY for the green hills and sunshine. Filled with celebrities and wealthy yachters, Lizzie searches for privacy to read and nap at her leisure. On the beach she is quickly befriended by an adorable dog Lily, who wants nothing more than a cuddle. Initially annoyed when the owner disrupts her solitude, this handsome Italian chef cannot be resisted. Quickly offering her and her friends a meal at his restaurant, Lizzie falls in love with his easy going manner, feisty daughter and zest for life that has her stomach doing backflips. Something she hasn’t felt since beginning the drugs, chemo and surgery. Wanting to treasure every moment of this delicious romance, Lizzie keeps her secrets hidden. But as Dante has most unexpectedly stolen her heart she cannot find the words that will most certainly break his own. Loved the Italian setting, quirky characters and easy writing. Most likely meant to give the reader grateful perspective - it was still quite difficult to get lost in finding love during terminal illness. Your call.  ⭐⭐⭐

Love For beginners

The morning Emma Harris crossed a busy street with a semi hidden stop sign was the last day of life as she knew it, commonly known as BC - Before Coma. Eventually waking and surviving a multitude of complicated painful surgeries, Emma reenters the real world. Still a little shaky she was a miracle walking on her own when the experts doubted she ever would stroll these streets again. Her evil, albeit sexy, physical therapist had a lot to do with that. Simon pushed and pushed and pushed some more. Combined with Emma’s determination she exceeded everyones expectations. But a year is a long time and while she has lost her job, best friend and fiancΓ© (to the ex best friend) starting over as Emma 2.0 is a pretty scary endeavor. Once again, Simon to the rescue, finding Emma the perfect apartment and always supporting her decisions, no questions asked - that is until the day feelings surface that Emma hasn’t faced in a long time. When the two continue their standard therapy routine the sudden electricity between them is undeniable, the fire in her belly is real and the crush on Simon she has suppressed will no longer be still. My first Jill Shalvis, but not my last - this adorable summer romance (very much reminding me of How to Walk Away) was an easy, breezy day at the beach. ⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Special Place For Women

Jillian Beckley is a journalist out of work. After spending every waking moment of the last few years taking care of her mother and writing for a NY newspaper, she needs the next big story to get back in the game. Jillian attends her best friend’s restaurant opening. Raf has recently become the “it” chef of the city and the room is filled with the less than 1%. When she is introduced to a gorgeous girl boss - her plans spiral into place. Supposedly, there is all female club rumored to be exclusive and powerful with a scandalous mayoral election in their wake. Journalist Jillian cannot resist and decides to infiltrate this club and write a piece that will set her career on fire. Encouraged by her ex-editor and with Raf’s much needed fake boyfriend support Jillian is off on her mission. Surprised at first by the astrology these women swear by, Jillian is further shocked when she learns the inner circle is filled with magic potions and outrageous spells. The deeper she dives, the more confusing her already messy world becomes. It is hard to tell if her feelings for Raf and danger lurking at her door are real or imagined. Romance, witchery and a little bit of figure it out - I could not put down this surprisingly entertaining novel. Highly recommend this wholly original breath of fresh air. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, June 12, 2021

I Take You

Lily Wilder is a gorgeous bad ass lawyer at a top firm in New York City. People outside of her close knit family do not fully grasp what makes Lily tick. She is an impulsive flirt and unconventional opponent. Women point fingers, men would like to put her in her place but Lily pretty much does whatever Lily wants. When she meets Will, a handsome, sexy archeologist who works in the museum, it is lust at first sight. Never fully focused on marriage before, Lily cannot resist when her romantic heartthrob pops the big question. Off to Key West they fly, Lily’s hometown that she hasn’t visited for the last 14 years - a mystery in itself that slowly unravels. With one week until their nuptials, Lily and Will must arrange last minute details with their peculiar wedding planner and greet their guests for the big day. Her mother, feisty grandmother and two stepmothers have got their knickers in a twist begging Lily to call off this complicated tryst before the truth is revealed. Off the wall humor traipsing through the sandy beaches of Key West. I breezed through fast paced rom-com laughing all the way. Boozy scandalous scenarios had the majority of reviewers condemning Lily’s amoral attitude to fidelity. I say just kick back with a margarita and enjoy it for the outrageous fiction that it is. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island

There is a very small island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay called Frick Island. Very few people have heard of it, even less visit. But for those that live on Frick Island, it is their own private world, and they have no desire to change a thing. Anders Caldwell is a recent college grad and one of the few that knows exactly what he wants from life. He has dreamed of journalism, being a writer/reporter and maybe with a little bit of Clark Kent magic he could change the world. As a rookie at a small paper, Anders is sent to cover local news that often feels mundane but he never imagined that when he is sent to Frick Island to cover the annual Cake Walk his entire life is about to change forever. It is there he meets Piper Parrish. If you believe in love at first sight, then this is most definitely the case. The problem is Piper is married. The scary part is her husband doesn’t actually exist and Anders cannot understand why the entire island is playing along. As he is drawn to the island and its quirky cast of characters Anders feels a story taking root. It may be that the island is slowly disappearing due to climate change, but more pressing is the feeling that something sinister is going on. Resolved to bring life to his withering podcast What the Frick? - this ace reporter is intent on discovering the truth no matter what it takes. Delightful, enjoyable easy read filled with a great cast of characters. This one is perfect for a day at the beach!  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Malibu Rising

In the 1950’s Malibu was nothing but a sleepy beach town. June worked in her parents small fish restaurant. She dreamed of a bigger better life, one where she was not wiping down tables and serving up fried clams and French fries. The day Mick Riva entered her life that was all about to change. A few years older and dangerously handsome, Mick swept June off her feet with dreams of life as the wife of the famous singer he was destined to become. June ate it up and was married and pregnant quicker than she thought possible. Mick’s dreams did come true - the ones of fame and fortune - but their marriage was an awful rollercoaster leaving June struggling with four children and a drinking problem. Flash forward, it is 1983 and Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit are beautiful, world renowned and throwing the biggest party of the summer. Nina, the eldest hosts this annual bash fascinating the entire town and Hollywood scene. Anyone who is anyone wants a coveted invite. As the chapters flash between the present day of the party and a past these siblings often try to forget, the infamous aura of their father Mick shadows their every move. Great writing, cool characters and depth of treasured sibling bonds, this book had me glued to my chair for the first 50%. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. Probably an editing issue, it got messy, brought in too many unnecessary characters late in the game and I was patiently waiting to get off this ride. So unexpectedly mediocre after the incredible Daisy Jones. ⭐⭐⭐