2018 Book 269: THE DREAM DAUGHTER by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250087300 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250087324 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427287465 (audiobook)
ASIN: B079DW36TK (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 2, 2018 


From bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes an irresistible new novel.


When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back. 

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget.     



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Caroline “Carly” Sears has already suffered one massive blow in 1970 when she’s informed that her husband was killed in Vietnam. Now, she’s told that the baby she’s carrying has a life-threatening heart condition and will not live more than a few days after being born. Fetal ultrasound is still in its infancy in 1970 and fetal surgery isn’t something that’s even being considered. There’s nothing that medicine at that time can do to heal her unborn child. Fortunately, her brother-in-law has a possible solution to the problem. It’s an off-the-wall bizarre, out-of-this-world, Twilight Zone-esque solution, but a solution nonetheless. The only question now is just how much Carly is willing to trust Hunter and how far she’s willing to go to help her unborn child.  

I found The Dream Daughter to be a fast-paced and enthralling read. I always enjoy reading stories by Diane Chamberlain and this one was quite unexpected in that it threw in a nice little twist, okay several unexpected twists. No, I won’t tell you what those twists were, it is sufficient to say that this is not your typical Diane Chamberlain story but it really works, unexpected twists and all. For much of the story, Carly is like a fish out of water and trying to adapt to the best of her abilities and she has a steep learning curve (trust me, it’ll all make sense when you read the book). Without giving away too many details, there are three separate timelines in this story and they all intersect with Carly as the common factor (again, it’ll make sense when you read the book). I wish I could give you more details but if I did, I’d be giving away too much of the story and I really don’t want to do that. I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, settings, and action in this story. I can also say that if you’re a fan of stories involving time-travel or if you’ve read anything by Ms. Chamberlain in the past, you’ll want to read The Dream Daughter. This story captured the essence of motherhood and just how far mothers are willing to go and what they’re willing to do to protect their children. The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain is going on my list of recommended reads from 2018 (this has been an amazing reading year!).

Disclaimer:  I received a free print copy from the publisher as well as a digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the



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2017 Book 331: THE STOLEN MARRIAGE by Diane Chamberlain

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250087270 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250087294 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427289407 (audiobook)
ASIN: B06XKJVT8D (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 3, 2017 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press



In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on. 

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?   


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Tess DeMello has only wanted two things in life: to become a nurse and to marry the love of her life. When her fiance is away for months on end working on the polio epidemic, Tess travels to Washington D.C. with a childhood friend. Who knew that one weekend away from home would change her life forever in The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain.

Theresa “Tess” DeMello has always been a good Italian Catholic girl. She loves and respects her mother. She’s studying hard to become a nurse and considers herself fortunate to be engaged to marry the love of her life, the son of her next-door neighbors. Her fiance is a pediatric physician, Vincent Russo, and is called away from Maryland to work on the polio epidemic in Illinois and it doesn’t seem like he’s ever going to make it back home. In an effort to take Tess’s mind off of her studies and absent fiance, her friend Gina talks her into taking a weekend trip from Baltimore to Washington D.C. Gina and Tess stay in a tourist home and meet two visiting businessmen in the home upon their arrival. A simple dinner with these men turns into something that soon devastates all of Tess’s future plans. After being kicked out of her childhood home by her mother, Tess leaves Baltimore for a new life in Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new life is anything but idyllic and soon tragedy strikes her new family. When polio strikes Hickory, Tess does the only thing she knows how to do and pitches in along with the other townsfolk to combat this scourge. Tess is willing to make a go of her marriage but it seems as if her husband has secrets he isn’t willing to share even with his wife. Can their marriage survive secrets and tragedy after tragedy?

I found The Stolen Marriage to be a fast-paced and haunting read. Ms. Chamberlain finds interesting historical tidbits, such as the town of Hickory NC and their ability to build a hospital to treat polio in less 100 hours (yes it’s a real town and yes they pulled together to fight polio), and build a heartwarming and often heart-wrenching story around that historical fact. I enjoyed all of the drama and tension within the story, between Tess and her husband Henry, between Tess and her mother-in-law, between Tess and the societal norms of Hickory NC that were foisted upon her after her marriage to Henry, the racial tension of the time, the fight to battle polio, and more. Yes, there’s quite a bit happening in this story, but it all works and works quite well. I liked all of the characters, even Henry with all of his issues and man does he have issues (read the book to find out more). For those of you that have read anything by Ms. Chamberlain in the past, I won’t have to tell you to grab a copy of The Stolen Marriage because you probably already have it. For those of you that haven’t read anything by this author, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of The Stolen Marriage to read ASAP. It’s been a few weeks since I read The Stolen Marriage and I still can’t get it out of my mind. I look forward to rereading The Stolen Marriage as well as any future writings by Ms. Chamberlain. 


Disclaimer: I received a free digital advance reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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The Stolen Marriage: A Novel

The Stolen Marriage: A Novel

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The Stolen Marriage

2015 Book 315: PRETENDING TO DANCE by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN: 9781250010742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250010735 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781427261991 (audiobook)
ASIN: B00V3ABTLU (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.

As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she’s kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.

Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn’t know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.

Told with Diane Chamberlain’s compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.   



Molly Arnette has been married to Aidan James for ten years. Both are lawyers with Molly practicing Family Law and Aidan currently teaching Immigration Law at a local university. Unable to have children of their own, they have decided to adopt. One of the things Molly and Aidan pride themselves on is their ability to discuss anything and everything. But in preparing their adoption file, Molly begins to remember the summer her father died and worries that the lies she’s told to Aidan and the adoption agency may destroy her chance at having a family in Diane Chamberlain’s latest, Pretending to Dance.

Molly Arnette grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Her father, Graham, was a psychologist specializing in “pretend” therapy, based on the idea that “if you pretend you’re the sort of person you want to be, you will gradually become that person.” He also suffered from a debilitating form of MS. Molly’s “mother” or adoptive mother, Nora, is a pharmacist. Molly’s birth mother, Amalia, lives on family land and teaches Molly to dance. The summer Molly turned fourteen was a summer to remember for a variety of reasons: her first romance, befriending Stacy Bateman, helping her father with his last book, her father’s book tour, attending the New Kids on the Block concert, learning the truth about her birth and adoption, and her father’s death (or murder, in her mind). Now Molly is thirty-eight years old and has limited contact with her family in North Carolina. She’s told Aidan and the adoption agency that her parents are deceased, but that’s not exactly true. The process of adoption, especially an open adoption, is something that she likes on paper but is somewhat wary given her own experiences. The further along Molly and Aiden get in the adoption process, the more stressed Molly becomes. She knows that just because she’s been pretending to be an orphan won’t make it true. Can she ever tell Aidan the truth about her background without it destroying her marriage? Will an adoptive mother ever choose them and bless them with a child? And will Molly ever truly learn the truth about her father’s death?

I found Pretending to Dance to be a quick and engaging read. Molly’s story is told by alternating between her life in 2014 and the summer of 1990. Ms. Chamberlain has provided the reader with an amazing glimpse into the life and mind of Molly Arnette as both a fourteen-year-old and as a thirty-eight-year-old. The more we learn about the fourteen-year-old Molly, the easier it is to understand the thoughts and actions of the thirty-eight-year-old Molly. Adoption can be a wonderful process for the adoptive parents and child, and an equally hard and grief-imposing process for the birth mother. Open adoption is one way to minimize the harshness and grief for the birth mother by permitting her to continue to be a part of her child’s life. I can understand why Molly had qualms about open adoption, even if she hadn’t lived with it as a child. The adoptive mother may always wonder if she will lose her child’s love and affection to its birth mother as if it is a competition rather than a new way to build a family. Added into these issues Molly is having with open adoption is the fact that she’s been contacted by a cousin about her birth mother and her declining health. The overwhelming idea that I took away from reading this book is that it isn’t possible to pretend away our past no matter how much we lie to ourselves or want it to go away. There are a lot of issues raised in Pretending to Dance: the ever-changing definition of family, adoption, the possibility of false memories, teenage angst and drama, the impact of living with a chronic and debilitating illness, lies, and secrets. Does Molly ever come to grips with her past? Does she reveal the truth to Aidan? Will they be chosen by a birth mother and finally be able to start a family? For the answer to these questions and more, you’ll need to grab a copy of Pretending to Dance and read it to find out.

















Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Book 258: NECESSARY LIES Review

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN:  9781250010698 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781250010704 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00C74VCMM (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 3, 2013 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed. She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband. But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed. Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy. Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?



Ivy Hart is only fifteen years old, but for the past two years of her life she’s had to take care of her older sister, Mary Ella, her grandmother – Nonnie, and her sister’s son, Baby William. She’s also had to help take care of the house, work in the tobacco fields, and attend school. Even with all she does, her family has very little to survive on. Her grandmother has high blood pressure and diabetes, her sister is most like mildly mentally retarded, her two-year-old nephew only says a few words, and she suffers from epilepsy. Ivy’s father died when she was five and shortly after that her mother was admitted to a local mental hospital for viciously attacking a local woman. The only thing good is Ivy’s life is her friendship/romance with Henry Allen, the son of the farmer that owns their home and the tobacco farm. She and Henry Allen dream of leaving North Carolina and heading out West to California. 

Jane Forrester is an idealist and decades ahead of her time. She’s a new graduate from college, a newlywed and a new hire in the North Carolina Department of Public Welfare as a social worker. In the South of 1962 it isn’t seemly for the wife of doctor to work as social worker and Jane’s husband feels she should be dedicating her time and energy to charitable work and their new home. Before she even starts work her job is a bone of contention between the newlyweds, but her husband reluctantly agrees that she can give it a try. Jane isn’t ignorant of poverty or despair but she’s never seen up close and personal, and the few weeks on the job teach her that very few in her department see their “clients” as human beings with needs, dreams and desires. These are just people that need to be subjected to more rules and regulations to keep them subjugated. One such rule that Jane has problems with is the principle of “eugenics” or sterilization that the department feels is a way to curb “certain people” from procreating. Regrettably, Ivy Hart fits the criteria for inclusion in this program and her grandmother and the local visiting nurse agree. Only Jane is willing to question the program and the way her department makes decisions for these people without any thought or regard to their own desires or dreams. Needless to say, Jane’s attitude causes a lot of problems within her department and with her husband.

Ms. Chamberlain has crafted an intense story that provides a glimpse into our not-so-distant history with the eugenics program and its guidelines in the state of North Carolina. By having a person of authority, Jane Forrester, interact with people affected by the program, Mary Ella and Ivy, Ms. Chamberlain has provided a voice to the dissent against this program and the adverse affects the program caused. Although this is a highly emotional tale, I found it to be an interesting and fast read. After awhile it felt like I was witnessing people from the past rather than reading about fictional characters. There’s a lot of drama and sadness in Necessary Lies, but there’s also love, hope and perseverance. Ms. Chamberlain doesn’t sugarcoat the adversities faced by Ivy Hunt or any of her neighbors. The picture provided of the poverty and despair isn’t harsh or overly ugly but presented in a truthful and respectful manner. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Necessary Lies and can highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys reading fiction based on true historical events.

Click here to read an excerpt from Necessary Lies.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Also available as an Audiobook at Downpour.com

Book 124: THE FIRST LIE Review

The First Lie by Diane Chamberlain
ISBN:  9781466839403 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00BCFXDBK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


An e-original short story that sets the stage for bestselling author Diane Chamberlain’s upcoming novel Necessary Lies (September 2013).

The First Lie gives readers an early glimpse into the life of thirteen-year-old Ivy Hart. It’s 1958 in rural North Carolina, where Ivy lives with her grandmother and sister on a tobacco farm. As tenant farmers, Ivy and her family don’t have much freedom, though she and her best friend, Henry, often sneak away in search of adventure…and their truest selves. But life on the farm takes a turn when Ivy’s teenage sister gives birth—all the while maintaining her silence about the baby’s father. Soon Ivy finds herself navigating the space between adolescence and adulthood as she tries to unravel a dark web of family secrets and make sense of her ever-evolving life in the segregated South. 


We meet Ivy Hart as she’s riding her bike back from a late-night meeting with her friend, Henry Gardiner (playing with a Ouija board in the local church). Thirteen-year-old Ivy lives in a tenant farm house with her fifteen-year-old sister, Mary Ella, and her grandmother Nonnie in Grace County, North Carolina. Ivy and Mary Ella’s mother has been institutionalized for more than ten years at a mental facility, Dix Hospital. Mary Ella is the prettier of the two sisters, and is pregnant. When Mary Ella goes into early labor, Nonnie makes Ivy call the social worker and arrangements are made for Mary Ella to be taken to the closest hospital. She delivers her baby, a boy she names William, and then has surgery to “remove her appendix.” Ivy knows that there is something strange going on with her sister and between her grandmother and Mrs. Werkman, the social worker. Will Ivy be tainted with her sister’s pregnancy out-of-wedlock? Will she figure out the truth about Mary Ella’s surgery? I can’t wait to read more about Ivy and Mary Ella in Necessary Lies, coming out this September. 


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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