2020 Book 28: THE LOOK-ALIKE by Erica Spindler

The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler 
ISBN: 9781250083678 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250083685 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250259783 (audiobook – digital)
ASIN: B07T93QNDX  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07SBQDLS4  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 28, 2020 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press



From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?



Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?





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Sienna Scott has spent her entire life dealing with her mother’s mental illness. She doesn’t blame her mother Vivienne for her illness, but she does blame her for not taking her medication on a regular basis or continuing with therapy. After Sienna came upon a murdered body on her college campus ten years ago, her mother’s paranoia became untenable. The solution was to send Sienna overseas to London where her maternal grandmother lived. Sienna lived in Europe peacefully for ten years eventually becoming a Cordon Bleu trained chef. Sienna has faced many fears over the past decade but her final fear is that of returning home and dealing with her mother. She expected to be welcomed home by her half-brother and touchstone, Bradley. He’s happy to see her but not pleased at her permanent return, which raises some questions in Sienna’s mind. Sienna’s mother, Vivienne, is sure that “they” are still out to get Sienna and becomes even more unhinged than she was after the murder a decade earlier. Two good things come out Sienna’s return, her renewed friendship with Randy Clark, a former campus police officer and now town detective, and a burgeoning friendship and romance with her neighbor, Jonathan Hart. However, it quickly becomes apparent that perhaps Vivienne’s paranoia may not be unfounded or is it? Will Sienna be able to discern the truth of what happened 10 years ago before something else or someone else dies?

I usually spend my weekdays visiting with my 85-y.o. mother. It’s up for question as to whether I’m keeping an eye on her or she’s keeping an eye on me, but the one thing we both have gotten used to is spending our afternoons reading. The Look-Alike pulled me in to the point where I didn’t hear the phone ringing or my mother talking to me until after she had called my name several times. (Yes, the story was that engrossing, I didn’t want to set it aside.) I enjoy reading suspense and this well-crafted psychological suspense kept me on tenterhooks. I enjoyed the unexpected twists-and-turns the story took and Ms. Spindler kept me guessing until the bitter end. The characters are realistic and they all seemed to be hiding parts of themselves from each other, and yes that keeps the reader guessing about what’s coming next as well as the action. Although there is violence in the story, hey it starts with a murder, the violence becomes almost secondary to everything else that takes place, such as the theme of dealing with mental illness, the possible hereditary nature of mental illness and the dangling threat of inheriting a mental illness, the destruction wrought by dealing with having a murdered family member, sibling rivalry, friendship, romance, and more. Ms. Spindler packs a lot into this story and although there are only a handful of primary characters, it is a story that seems all-too realistic especially if you’ve had to deal with the fall-out caused by having someone with a chronic mental illness in your family. I’m always eager to read a new story by Ms. Spindler and I feel incredibly fortunate that I was given the opportunity to read a review copy of The Look-Alike. For those of you that enjoy mystery or suspense reads, make sure you grab a copy of The Look-Alike. For those of you looking for an intriguing suspense read with romance elements, get a copy of The Look-Alike to read. And finally, for those of you looking for something a little bit different to read, grab a copy of The Look-Alike, you won’t be disappointed. I enjoyed reading The Look-Alike and will be purchasing a print copy of this book to add to my home library. Who knows, perhaps I’ll even lend it to my 85-y.o. mother to read during one of our afternoon reading sessions.

Happy Reading!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. 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.”

Book Spotlight: BLOWN AWAY by Charlene Johnson






Blown Away
The Crimes of Passion Series Book 2
by Charlene Johnson
Genre: Romantic Suspense



Zack Daniels grew up in a rundown apartment complex off the Las Vegas Strip. At an early age, he learned to protect and support his mother and sister with determination and grit. After his sister is raped by the son of a local Russian mobster and commits suicide, he joins the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police to seek justice for her and to protect the public. 

When a high-profile executive is murdered in his best friend’s hotel, Zack is assigned to track down the killer. The sole witness to the murder is a beautiful high-priced escort. He must let go of his vendetta against his sister’s rapist to work the case. 

Sonnet Banks goes to the wrong hotel room and witnesses a murder. She is stunned. She knows the killer. He’s someone from her past. Someone she hoped to never see again. 

During her police interview, Sonnet tells Zack she doesn’t recognize the killer, but Zack is convinced she’s lying. Zack needs the lovely, evasive woman to tell him what she knows and is willing to use seduction to get it. Yet, was it still seduction when all he could do was think about her? 

Zack Daniels is so hot he makes Sonnet’s knees weak. He checks every box for her. Every box. But even if he wasn’t her protector, she can’t risk getting close to him or anyone. And she can’t tell him the truth. 

After a bold attempt on Sonnet’s life, Zack enlists the help of two close friends and someone completely unexpected to protect her. The countdown to an all-out war looms before them. Would they all survive? Time was running out.  



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Charlene is a Waynesburg, Pennsylvania native. She went to Waynesburg High School and graduated Cum Laude from Waynesburg College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. She currently lives in Sacramento, California where she spent the last 33 years working at Northrop Grumman.
Books have always been her passion. She started reading at an early age and progressed to full-length books by age nine. The first supernatural book series she read was Dark Shadows, and it sparked her interest in all things paranormal, with a spicy touch of romance mixed in for good measure. She also started writing poetry in grade school and continues to do so today.
Being an avid reader, the consummate daydreamer and an incurable romantic with a Cinderella complex, she started creating her own characters and storylines because she realized she had her own stories to tell. 

She is married and has a son, a daughter, and four beautiful grandchildren. 

Besides reading and writing, she also enjoys photography, travel, music, and great movies. 



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Book Spotlight: A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: RICK by Peggy Jaeger






A Pride of Brothers: Rick

by Peggy Jaeger

Genre: Romantic Suspense






Elite bodyguard and P.I. Rick Bannerman’s job is to protect. He doesn’t get emotional with his clients, but when a woman from his past is threatened, his next job becomes personal.

Family lawyer Abigail Laine is the target of a client’s vengeful husband, but refuses Rick’s offer of protection. He walked away from her four years ago, and she swore to forget him.

Now her reluctance to accept his help could cost Abby her life.






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I’m a #contemporaryromance writer who writes #RomComs about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If I can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, I’ve done my job as a writer! 



#Family and #food play huge roles in my stories because I believe there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, I bring all topics of daily life into my stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents I longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through my books, I’ve created the families I wanted as that lonely child.


As a lifelong diarist, I caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit me at peggyjaeger.com where I’m blogging about life, writing, and stuff that makes me go “What??!” daily.



I’m a social media junkie! You can visit me at all these sites below, any day and I’ll probably be there.


Website/Blog * href=”https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peggy-Jaeger-Author/825914814095072″>Facebook * href=”https://twitter.com/peggy_jaeger”>Twitter * href=”https://www.instagram.com/peggyjaeger_author/”>Instagram * href=”https://www.pinterest.com/peggyjaeger/”>Pinterest * href=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDR8RRIlssIyS0FYZWeGqsg/videos”>YouTube * href=”https://www.bookbub.com/authors/peggy-jaeger”>Bookbub * href=”http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0″>Amazon * href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13478796.Peggy_Jaeger”>Goodreads




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Book Spotlight: FLY, FLY AGAIN by Katie Jaffe & Jennifer Lawson

Fly, Fly Again by Katie Jaffe and Jennifer Lawson, illustrated by Tammie Lyon
ISBN: 9781626346345 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781626346352 (ebook)
ASIN: B082347ZYR  (Kindle ebook)
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Release Date: January 7, 2020


Fly, Fly Again is a clever and charming story about Jenny, a child who dreams of flying. After years of tinkering in makeshift laboratories and studying the mechanics of flight with her pet Hawk, Jenny builds a plane—only to crash into the yard of her skateboarding neighbor, Jude, and his pet cheetah. Working with Jude, Jenny successfully learns how to control and fly her plane. This unique story includes lessons about problem-solving, teamwork, and determination as well as family-friendly information about the basics of aeronautical engineering like lift, drift, and more!










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Meet the Authors

KATIE JAFFE is Creative Director and Design Consultant of Aviation for Spectre Air Capital, and has aided in the design of several high-profile aircraft. Currently, she is leading the marketing and design efforts of an overseas airline. She also has a passion for children’s causes, and has committed herself to helping several charities for children around the world. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three children.



JENNIFER LAWSON is a lifelong educator and advocate of the Children’s Literacy Program, Jennifer seeks to bring knowledge to students through creative curriculum and technology on a global level. As Owner and President of Decision Tree Technologies, she is currently endeavoring to teach using technologically advanced solutions that excite today’s students. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family. 







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Book Spotlight: THE REBOUND EFFECT by Linda Griffin





The Rebound Effect 

by Linda Griffin

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Psychological Thriller


Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc

Publication Date: July 15, 2019






In the small town of Cougar, struggling single mother and veterinary assistant Teresa Lansing is still bruised from a failed relationship when Frank McAllister sweeps her off her feet.


Frank is a big-city SWAT officer who moved to Cougar only four months ago. He’s handsome, charming, forceful, very sexy, and a bit mysterious. He had his eye on Teresa even before they met and is pushing for a serious relationship right away.


Teresa finds his intense courtship flattering, and the sex is fabulous, but she doesn’t want her deaf six-year-old son to be hurt again. Her former fiancé cheated on her when he got drunk after being unjustly fired, but he loves her and her son, and the whirlwind romance is complicated by his efforts to win Teresa back.


And then there’s the matter of the bodies buried at Big Devil Creek…








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I was born and raised in San Diego, California and earned a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. I began my career as a reference and collection development librarian in the Art and Music Section of the San Diego Public Library and then transferred to the Literature and Languages Section, where I had the pleasure of managing the Central Library’s Fiction collection and initiating fiction order lists for the entire library system. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s–reading, writing, and research–I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel.
My earliest ambition was to be a “book maker” and I wrote my first story, “Judy and the Fairies,” with a plot stolen from a comic book, at the age of six. I broke into print in college with a story in the San Diego State University literary journal, The Phoenix, but most of my magazine publications came after I left the library to spend more time on my writing.


My stories have been published in numerous journals, including Eclectica, The Binnacle, The Nassau Review, Orbis, Thema Literary Journal, and forthcoming in Avalon Literary Review, and in the anthologies Short Story America, Vol. 2 and The Captive and the Dead. Four stories, including two as yet unpublished, received honorable mention in the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction contests.



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2020 Book 5: YOU WERE THERE TOO by Colleen Oakley



You Were There Too  by Colleen Oakley 
ISBN: 9781984806468 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984806475 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593151150 (audiobook – digital)
ASIN: B07RLY8RM6  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07QPKR9YH  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 7, 2020 
Publisher: Berkley


Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and the man fate has chosen for her in a novel that reminds us that the best life is one led by the heart.

Mia Graydon’s life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too — unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of them, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he’s been dreaming of her too.

Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question—what if?





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Mia and Dr. Harrison Graydon seem to have the perfect marriage. They’ve been married for a number of years and the only true tragedy they’ve had to deal with are several miscarriages. They’ve recently relocated from Philadelphia to a small, rural town and Harrison is working at a local hospital. Mia is still focused on her art work, but has yet to find a job. They’re both looking forward to having a child as Mia is currently pregnant. Then tragedy strikes again and Mia has another miscarriage. Mia is emotionally distraught over losing another baby and eagerly latches onto her OB/GYN’s advice to see a specialist for an evaluation. It’s at that point that Mia and Harrison encounter their first true marital hurdle. Harrison is at a point where he wants to give up on the notion of having kids and Mia wants to continue no matter what. While Mia is dealing with the emotional overload from the miscarriage and Harrison’s apparent change of mind in terms of having a child, she also runs into her “dream man.” Oliver is someone that Mia has dreamt about for a number of years and to finally see him in this small town makes her begin to question everything. When Harrison takes Mia over to dinner at Oliver’s sister’s house, things get even more strange because Oliver indicates that he has been dreaming about Mia for quite sometime as well. As Oliver and Mia explore the possible meaning of their linked dreams, Mia and Harrison begin to pull apart. Are Oliver and Mia meant to be together or is it supposed to be Harrison and Mia?

I’ve only read one other book by Colleen Oakley, but I enjoyed it so much that when I had the opportunity to read and review You Were There Too, I jumped at the chance. I’m so glad I did! This is not your typical romance story, nor is it a typical story of two married people growing apart. What it is about is growth in relationships, self-discovery, and change. I enjoyed all of the characters and especially the interactions between Mia and Harrison, Mia and Oliver, and Mia and her girlfriend Raya. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mia’s sister’s name was Vivian. (Hey, I love finding my name in fiction as long as the character isn’t a homicidal maniac!) Yes, there’s a lot going on in this story, marital stress, work-related stress, the stress from having a miscarriage, the stress from not finding a job, the stress from not having your art appreciated or sold… basically a lot of normal adult stress. There’s also a lot of joy, joy found from being with family, friends, and lovers/mates. There’s also sadness, some from the miscarriage and some from a totally unexpected twist near the end of the story (and no, I won’t tell you what it is, read it for yourself!). You Were There Too is a story about love, family, friendship, marriage, joy, heartbreak, and above all, possibilities. For those of you that have read anything by Ms. Oakley in the past, I probably don’t have to tell you to add this book to your TBR list, but I will anyway. For those of you looking for realistic fiction that incorporates family dynamics, marital life, bits of romance, and more, then I urge you to add this to your TBR list. Something tells me that this is one of those books that I’ll be rereading in the near future. I enjoyed reading You Were There Too and I only hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Happy Reading!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. 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.”

Book Showcase: THE LITTLE BOOKSHOP ON THE SEINE by Rebecca Raisin



Little Bookshop on the Seine, Little Paris Collection #1/The Bookshop #2, by Rebecca Raisin
ISBN: 9781335012500 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9781488056628 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488207891 (audiobook – digital)
ISBN: 9781094097404 (audiobook – MP3 on CD)
ASIN: B07Z43QL3Q  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07QV8YWLK (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  HQN Books
Release Date: January 7, 2020


It’s The Holiday on the Champs-Élysées in a great big love letter to Paris, charming old bookstores and happily-ever-afters!

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true. 






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Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER ONE
October



With a heavy heart I placed the sign in the display window. 

All books 50% off.

If things didn’t pick up soon, it would read Closing down sale. The thought alone was enough to make me shiver. The autumnal sky was awash with purples and smudges of orange, as I stepped outside to survey the display window from the sidewalk. 

Star-shaped leaves crunched underfoot. I forced a smile. A sale wouldn’t hurt, and maybe it’d take the bookshop figures from the red into the black—which I so desperately needed. My rent had been hiked up. The owner of the building, a sharp-featured, silver-tongued, forty-something man, had put the pressure on me lately—to pay more, to declutter the shop, claiming the haphazard stacks of books were a fire risk. The additional rent stretched the budget to breaking level. Something had to change.

The phone shrilled, and a grin split my face. It could only be Ridge at this time of the morning. Even after being together almost a year his name still provoked a giggle. It suited him though, the veritable man mountain he was. I’d since met his mom, a sweet, well-spoken lady, who claimed in dulcet tones, that she chose his name well before his famous namesake in The Bold and the Beautiful. In fact, she was adamant about it, and said the TV character Ridge was no match for her son. I had to agree. Sure, they both had chiseled movie star cheekbones, and an intense gaze that made many a woman swoon, but my guy was more than just the sum of his parts—I loved him for his mind, as much as his clichéd six-pack, and broody hotness. And even better, he loved me for me.

He was the hero in my own real-life love story, and due back from Canada the next day. It’d been weeks since I’d seen him, and I ached for him in a way that made me blush.

I dashed inside, and answered the phone, breathlessly. “The Bookshop on the Corner.”

“That’s the voice I know and love,” he said in his rich, husky tone. My heart fluttered, picturing him at the end of the line, his jet-black hair and flirty blue eyes. He simply had to flick me a look loaded with suggestion, and I’d be jelly-legged and lovestruck.

“What are you wearing?” he said.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” I held back a laugh, eager to drag it out. So far our relationship had been more long-distance than anticipated, as he flew around the world reporting on location. The stints apart left an ache in my heart, a numbness to my days. Luckily I had my books, and a sweeping romance or two helped keep the loneliness at bay.

“Tell me or I’ll be forced to Skype you and see for myself.”

Glancing down at my outfit, I grimaced: black tights, a black pencil skirt, and a pilled blue knit sweater, all as old as the hills of Ashford. Not exactly the type of answer Ridge was waiting for, or the way I wanted him to picture me, after so many weeks apart. “Those stockings you like, and…”

His voice returned with a growl. “Those stockings? With the little suspenders?”

I sat back into the chair behind the counter, fussing with my bangs. “The very same.”

He groaned. “You’re killing me. Take a photo…”

“There’s no need. If you’re good, I’ll wear the red ones tomorrow night.” I grinned wickedly. Our reunions were always passionate affairs; he was a hands-on type of guy. Lucky for him, because it took a certain type of man to drag me from the pages of my books. When he was home we didn’t surface until one of us had to go to work. Loving Ridge had been a revelation, especially in the bedroom, where he took things achingly slow, drawing out every second. I flushed with desire for him.

There was a muffled voice and the low buzz of phones ringing. Ridge mumbled to someone before saying, “About tomorrow…” He petered out, regret in each syllable.

I closed my eyes. “You’re not coming, are you?” I tried not to sigh, but it spilled out regardless. The lure of a bigger, better story was too much for him to resist, and lately the gaps between our visits grew wider. I understood his work was important, but I wanted him all to myself. A permanent fixture in the small town I lived in.

He tutted. “I’m sorry, baby. There’s a story breaking in Indonesia, and I have to go. It’ll only be for a week or two, and then I’ll take some time off.”

Outside, leaves fluttered slowly from the oak tree, swaying softly, until they fell to the ground. I wasn’t the nagging girlfriend sort—times like this though, I was tempted to be. Ridge had said the very same thing the last three times he’d canceled a visit. But invariably someone would call and ask Ridge to head to the next location; any time off would be cut short.

“I understand,” I said, trying to keep my voice bright. Sometimes I felt like I played a never-ending waiting game. Would it always be like this? “Just so you know, I have a very hot date this afternoon.”

He gasped. “You better be talking about a fictional date.” His tone was playful, but underneath there was a touch of jealousy to it. Maybe it was just as hard on him, being apart.

“One very hot book boyfriend…though not as delectable as my real boyfriend—but a stand-in, until he returns.”

“Well, he better not keep you up half the night, or he’ll have me to answer to,” he faux threatened, and then said more seriously, “Things will slow down, Sarah. I want to be with you so much my soul hurts. But right now, while I’m freelance, I have to take whatever comes my way.”

“I know. I just feel a bit lost sometimes. Like someone’s hit pause, and I’m frozen on the spot.” I bit my lip, trying to work out how to explain it. “It’s not just missing you—I do understand about your job—it’s…everything. The bookshop sales dwindling, the rent jacked up, everyone going on about their business, while I’m still the same old Sarah.”

I’d been at this very crossroad when I’d met Ridge, and he’d swept me off my feet, like the ultimate romance hero. For a while that had been enough. After all, wasn’t love always the answer? Romance aside, life was a little stagnant, and I knew it was because of my fear of change. It wasn’t so much that I had to step from behind the covers of my books, rather plunge, perhaps. Take life by the scruff of the neck and shake it. But how?

“You’ve had a rough few weeks. That’s all. I’ll be back soon, and I’m sure there’s something I can do to make you forget everything…”

My belly flip-flopped at the thought. He would make me forget everything that was outside that bedroom door, but then he’d leave and it would all tumble back.

What exactly was I searching for? My friends were getting married and having babies. Buying houses and redecorating. Starting businesses. My life had stalled. I was an introvert, happiest hiding in the shadows of my shop, reading romances to laze the day away, between serving the odd customer or two—yet, it wasn’t enough. In small-town Connecticut, there wasn’t a lot to do. And life here—calm, peaceful—was fine, but that’s just it, fine wasn’t enough anymore. I had this fear that life was passing me by because I was too timid to take the reins.

It was too hazy a notion of what I was trying to say, even to me. Instead of lumping Ridge with it, I changed tack. “I hope you know, you’re not leaving the house when you get home. Phones will be switched to silent, computers forgotten, and the only time we’re leaving the comfort of bed is when I need sustenance.” A good romp around the bedroom would suffice until I could pinpoint what it was that I wanted.

“How about I sort out the sustenance?” he said, his voice heavy with desire. “And then we’ll never have to leave.”

“Promises, promises,” I said, my breath hitching. I hoped this flash of longing would never wane, the sweet torture of anticipation.

“I have to go, baby. I’ll call you tonight if it’s not too late once I’m in.”

“Definitely call tonight! Otherwise, I can’t guarantee the book boyfriend won’t steal your girlfriend. He’s pretty hot, I’ll have you know.”

“Why am I jealous of a fictional character?” He laughed, a low, sexy sound. “OK, tonight. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

He hung up, leaving me dazed, and a touch lonely knowing that I wouldn’t see him the next day as planned.

I tried to shake the image of Ridge from my mind. If anyone walked in, they’d see the warm blush of my cheeks, and know exactly what I was thinking. Damn the man for being so attractive, and so effortlessly sexy.

Shortly, the sleepy town of Ashford would wake under the gauzy light of October skies. Signs would be flipped to open, stoops swept, locals would amble down the road. Some would step into the bookshop and out of the cold, and spend their morning with hands wrapped around a mug of steaming hot tea, and reading in any one of the cozy nooks around the labyrinth-like shop.

I loved having a place for customers to languish. Comfort was key, and if you had a good book and a hot drink, what else could you possibly need to make your day any brighter? Throw rugs and cushions were littered around seating areas. Coats would be swiftly hung on hooks, a chair found, knitted blankets pulled across knees, and their next hour or two spent, in the most relaxing of ways.

I wandered around the shop, feather duster in hand, tickling the covers, waking them from slumber. I’m sure as soon as my back was turned, the books wiggled and winked at one another, as if they were eager for the day to begin, for fingers of hazy sunlight to filter through and land on them like spotlights, as if saying, here’s the book for you.

Imagine if I had to close up for good, like so many other shops had in recent times? It pained me to think people were missing out on the real-life bookshop experience. Wasn’t it much better when you could step into a dimly lit space, and eke your way around searching for the right novel? You could run a fingertip along the spines, smell that glorious old book scent, flick them open, and unbend a dog-eared page. Read someone else’s notes in the margin, or a highlighted passage, and see why that sentence or metaphor had dazzled the previous owner.

Secondhand books had so much life in them. They’d lived, sometimes in many homes, or maybe just one. They’d been on airplanes, traveled to sunny beaches, or crowded into a backpack and taken high up a mountain where the air thinned.

Some had been held aloft tepid rose-scented baths, and thickened and warped with moisture. Others had childlike scrawls on the acknowledgment page, little fingers looking for a blank space to leave their mark. Then there were the pristine novels, ones that had been read carefully, bookmarks used, almost like their owner barely pried the pages open so loath were they to damage their treasure.

I loved them all.



Excerpt from The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin. Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Raisin. Published by HQN Books. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.




Meet the author



Rebecca Raisin is the author of several novels, including the beloved Little Paris series and the Gingerbread Café trilogy, and her short stories have been published in various anthologies and fiction magazines. You can follow Rebecca on Facebook and at http://www.rebeccaraisin.com




Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, Instagram, and Goodreads

Book Showcase: GOOD GIRLS LIE by JT Ellison



Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison
ISBN: 9780778330776 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780778309185 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781488023569 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488206696 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07P5FRJFR (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07L7B1P3Z (Kindle edition)
Publisher:  MIRA Books
Release Date: December 30, 2019


Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.






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Read an Excerpt


1
THE HANGING



The girl’s body dangles from the tall iron gates guarding the school’s entrance. A closer examination shows the ends of a red silk tie peeking out like a cardinal on a winter branch, forcing her neck into a brutal angle. She wears her graduation robe and multicolored stole as if knowing she’ll never see the achievement. It rained overnight and the thin robe clings to her body, dew sparkling on the edges. The last tendrils of dawn’s fog laze about her legs, which are five feet from the ground.

There is no breeze, no birds singing or squirrels industriously gathering for the long winter ahead, no cars passing along the street, only the cool, misty morning air and the gentle metallic creaking of the gates under the weight of the dead girl. She is suspended in midair, her back to the street, her face hidden behind a curtain of dirty, wet hair, dark from the rains. 

Because of the damage to her face, it will take them some time to officially identify her. In the beginning, it isn’t even clear she attends the school, despite wearing The Goode School robes. 

But she does. 

The fingerprints will prove it. Of course, there are a few people who know exactly who is hanging from the school’s gates. Know who, and know why. But they will never tell. As word spreads of the apparent suicide, The Goode School’s all-female student body begin to gather, paying silent, terrified homage to their fallen compatriot. The gates are closed and locked—as they always are overnight—buttressed on either side by an ivy-covered, ten-foot-high, redbrick wall, but it tapers off into a knee-wall near the back entrance to the school parking lot, and so is escapable by foot. The girls of Goode silently filter out from the dorms, around the end of Old West Hall and Old East Hall to Front Street—the main street of Marchburg, the small Virginia town housing the elite prep school—and take up their positions in front of the gate in a wedge of crying, scared, worried young women who glance over shoulders looking for the one who is missing from their ranks. To reassure themselves this isn’t their friend, their sister, their roommate. 

Another girl joins them, but no one notices she comes from the opposite direction, from town. She was not behind the redbrick wall. 

Whispers rise from the small crowd, nothing loud enough to be overheard but forming a single question.

Who is it? Who?

A solitary siren pierces the morning air, the sound bleeding upward from the bottom of the hill, a rising crescendo. Someone has called the sheriff. 

Goode perches like a gargoyle above the city’s small downtown, huddles behind its ivy-covered brick wall. The campus is flanked by two blocks of restaurants, bars, and necessary shops. The school’s buildings are tied together with trolleys—enclosed glass-and-wood bridges that make it easy for the girls to move from building to building in climate-controlled comfort. It is quiet, dignified, isolated. As are the girls who attend the school; serious, studious. Good. Goode girls are always good. They go on to great things. 

The headmistress, or dean, as she prefers to call herself, Ford Julianne Westhaven, great-granddaughter several times removed from the founder of The Goode School, arrives in a flurry, her driver, Rumi, braking the family Bentley with a screech one hundred feet away from the gates. The crowd in the street blocks the car and, for a moment, the sight of the dangling girl. No one stops to think about why the dean might be off campus this early in the morning. Not yet, anyway. 

Dean Westhaven rushes out of the back of the dove-gray car and runs to the crowd, her face white, lips pressed firmly together, eyes roving. It is a look all the girls at Goode recognize and shrink from. 

The dean’s irritability is legendary, outweighed only by her kindness. It is said she alone approves every application to the school, that she chooses the Goode girls by hand for their intelligence, their character. Her say is final. Absolute. But for all her goodness, her compassion, her kindness, Dean Westhaven has a temper. 

She begins to gather the girls into groups, small knots of natural blondes and brunettes and redheads, no fantastical dye allowed. Some shiver in oversize school sweatshirts and running shorts, some are still in their pajamas. The dean is looking for the chick missing from her flock. She casts occasional glances over her shoulder at the grim scene behind her. She, too, is unsure of the identity of the body, or so it seems. Perhaps she simply doesn’t want to acknowledge the truth. 

The siren grows to an earsplitting shriek and dies midrange, a soprano newly castrated. The deputies from the sheriff’s office have arrived, the sheriff hot on their heels. Within moments, they cordon off the gates, move the students back, away, away. One approaches the body, cataloging; another begins taking discreet photographs, a macabre paparazzi. 

They speak to Dean Westhaven, who quietly, breathlessly, admits she hasn’t approached the body and has no idea who it might be. 

She is lying, though. She knows. Of course, she knows. It was inevitable. 

The sheriff, six sturdy feet of muscle and sinew, approaches the gate and takes a few shots with his iPhone. He reaches for the foot of the dead girl and slowly, slowly turns her around. 

The eerie morning silence is broken by the words, soft and gasping, murmurs moving sinuously through the crowd of girls, their feet shuffling in the morning chill, the fog’s tendrils disappearing from around the posts. 

They say her name, an unbroken chain of accusation and misery. 

Ash. 

Ash.

Ash.




2
THE LIES



There are truths, and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened, which is where you and I will meet. My truth is your lie, and my lie is your truth, and there is a vast expanse between them. 

Take, for example, Ash Carlisle. 

Six feet tall, glowing skin, a sheaf of blond hair in a ponytail. She wears black jeans with rips in the knees and a loose greenand-white plaid button-down with white Adidas Stan Smiths; casual, efficient travel clothes. A waiter delivers a fresh cup of tea to her nest in the British Airways first-class lounge, and when she smiles her thanks, he nearly drops his tray—so pure and happy is that smile. The smile of an innocent. 

Or not so innocent? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. Soon. 

She’s perfected that smile, by the way. Practiced it. Stood in the dingy bathroom of the flat on Broad Street and watched herself in the mirror, lips pulling back from her teeth over and over and over again until it becomes natural, until her eyes sparkle and deep dimples appear in her cheeks. It is a full-toothed smile, her teeth straight and blindingly white, and when combined with the china-blue eyes and naturally streaked blond hair, it is devastating. 

Isn’t this what a sociopath does? Work on their camouflage? What better disguise is there than an open, thankful, gracious smile? It’s an exceptionally dangerous tool, in the right hands. 

And how does a young sociopath end up flying first class, you might ask? You’ll be assuming her family comes from money, naturally, but let me assure you, this isn’t the case. Not at all. Not really. Not anymore. 

No, the dean of the school sent the ticket.

Why? 

Because Ash Carlisle leads a charmed life, and somehow managed to hoodwink the dean into not only paying her way but paying for her studies this first term, as well. A full scholarship, based on her exemplary intellect, prodigy piano playing, and sudden, extraordinary need. Such a shame she lost her parents so unexpectedly. 

Yes, Ash is smart. Smart and beautiful and talented, and capable of murder. Don’t think for a moment she’s not. Don’t let her fool you. 

Sipping the tea, she types and thinks, stops to chew on a nail, then reads it again. The essay she is obsessing over gained her access to the prestigious, elite school she is shipping off to. The challenges ahead—transferring to a new school, especially one as impossible to get into as The Goode School—frighten her, excite her, make her more determined than ever to get away from Oxford, from her past. 

A new life. A new beginning. A new chapter for Ash. 

But can you ever escape your past? 

Ash sets down the tea, and I can tell she is worrying again about fitting in. Marchburg, Virginia—population five hundred on a normal summer day, which expands to seven hundred once the students arrive for term—is a long way from Oxford, England. She worries about fitting in with the daughters of the DC elite—daughters of senators and congressmen and ambassadors and reporters and the just plain filthy rich. She can rely on her looks—she knows how pretty she is, isn’t vain about it, exactly, but knows she’s more than acceptable on the looks scale—and on her intelligence, her exceptional smarts. Some would say cunning, but I think this is a disservice to her. She’s both booksmart and street-smart, the rarest of combinations. Despite her concerns, if she sticks to the story, she will fit in with no issues. 

The only strike against her, of course, is me, but no one knows about me. 

No one can ever know about me.



Excerpt from Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison.  Copyright © 2019 by J.T. Ellison. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.




Meet the author

Krista Lee Photography

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 20 novels, and the EMMY-award winning co-host of A WORD ON WORDS, Nashville’s premier literary show. With millions of books in print, her work has won critical acclaim, prestigious awards, and has been published in 26 countries. Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband and twin kittens.



Connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, her website, InstagramBookBub,  and Goodreads


Meet the author in person during her book tour:


2019 Book 392: SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age  by Kiley Reid 
ISBN: 9780525541905 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780525541929 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593107065 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07RLSB7QV  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07QLJ7VTN (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 31, 2019 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons


A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown-up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.





Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N NOOK Book  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Books-A-Million eBook  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  




Emira Tucker is a twenty-five-year-old Black female struggling to determine what she wants from life. She has successfully completed college and has her undergraduate degree, but she’s at a stage in her life where she simply can’t decide what comes next other than it should be a full-time job with benefits. She’s currently biding her time by babysitting for one family and typing at a political party office. Although she’s able to pay her bills, she’s struggling to make it from month-to-month. The one overriding joy in her life is her three-year-old charge, Briar Chamberlain. Briar is inquisitive in a very unique manner and a toddler that seems to be struggling with the notion that she’s no longer the light of her mother’s life since her baby sister arrived. One night while out celebrating a girlfriend’s birthday, Emira receives a somewhat frantic call from Alix Chamberlain to please come over and take Briar out of the home while the police arrive to investigate an incident of vandalism. Emira takes young Briar to a local market so that Briar can spend time looking at the nuts, teas, and displays. All is well until a market security officer approaches Emira and questions her authority to be out with Briar. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on one’s perspective, another shopper witnesses this so-called “intervention” and records the episode on his phone. One phone call later, Peter Chamberlain arrives at the store, confirms that Emira is their childcare provider, and yes she had permission to take Briar out of the home. Emira doesn’t want the video released and presumably receives the only copy of the recording as the gentleman in the store deletes it from his phone. After a serendipitous meeting on the train a few days later, Emira reconnects with this gentleman and they begin dating. Fast forward a few months and Emira learns that her new boyfriend, Kelley Copeland, had actually dated her boss, Alix Chamberlain, back in high school. Their relationship did not end well. Kelley warns Emira about Alix. Alix warns Emira about Kelley. And then the video is released and Emira’s life is forever changed. Who released the video and what was their motivation? Is Kelley as bad as Alix suggested or perhaps it’s Alix that has major issues?

You know you’re reading a really good book when you don’t want to put it down for any reason. I began reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid early in the day and was very upset when life interrupted my reading. Okay, not life necessarily, it was a bad migraine and an asthma attack necessitating a visit to my local urgent care, but I digress. In an era when overt racism is on the rise and we hear way too many stories about people being assaulted (verbally and otherwise) because of “living while Black” (driving while Black, studying while Black, shopping while Black, reading while Black, napping while Black, eating out while Black, etc.) in the news and on social media, Such a Fun Age touched a nerve. As an older Black female, I empathized with Emira and wanted to shield her from the overwhelming notion of “I know what’s best for you” advice she received from both Alix and Kelley. Alix seemed to go out of her way trying to insinuate herself into Emira’s life, even spying on her via checking her text messages and emails. (Side note, just in case you couldn’t tell, both Kelley and Alix are white.) This isn’t a lighthearted read, although there are moments that are touching and brought a smile to this reader’s face. I loved reading about Emira and Briar’s interactions and those were often the most touching. I enjoyed meeting Emira’s friends and support system, but wish I could have learned more about Zara, Shaunie, and Josefina. Such a Fun Age touches on so many issues that it would be impossible to discuss them all but privilege, race, racism, friendship, family and interpersonal relationships, interracial relationships, self-awareness, and self-development are some of the major themes. I found this story to be both heart-warming and thought-provoking and I highly recommend it to readers of all genres. I enjoyed Such a Fun Age and look forward to reading more from this author in the future. (Seriously, add this book to your TBR list then grab a copy ASAP!)



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. 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.”

2019 Book 384: HUSBAND MATERIAL by Emily Belden



Husband Material  by Emily Belden 
ISBN: 9781525805981 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488028571 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488206955 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07S38J7LP (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07KN7MJ42 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 30, 2019 
Publisher: Graydon House


Sometimes love is unpredictable…

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook  


Charlotte Rosen comes across as a strong, successful, and confident woman. A successful career woman proud of her accomplishments in the growing field of social media analytics. A woman who knows what she wants from life. These are all partial truths. Charlotte is successful in her career but she isn’t overly confident with her job or social life. She comes across as aloof when she’s actually somewhat of an introvert and closes herself off to protect her emotions. She has a roommate, but she doesn’t really share all that much with her. She has a “bestie” at work, but only shares work-related materials with her. Charlotte is looking for love and marriage and has created an app to help her determine the compatibility of any “match” she receives from online dating services. She’s confident in the app’s predictability but has yet to meet someone that fulfills her requirements. Well, she had met someone years ago. She had actually married that someone, but sadly, he had died after only one year of marriage. Charlotte has been a widow for five years and the only people that know are those from before she started a new life and job, her former in-laws, and her parents. Then a bombshell is dropped on Charlotte, figuratively speaking. She unexpectedly receives the urn containing her deceased husband’s cremains due to a fire at the cemetery. Charlotte’s emotions are in a serious state of flux. Her roommate is shocked to learn of Charlotte’s prior marriage. Charlotte’s mother-in-law wants to “repossess” the urn, and her employer has given her a forced two-week break as a result of her emotional state. The only good thing to come from this disastrous situation is that Charlotte has reconnected with an old friend, actually her deceased husband’s best friend, Dr. Brian Jackson. The friendship quickly develops into something a bit more and just when Charlotte thinks her life is getting back on track, she is thrown by several huge secrets. 

Husband Material is actually the first book I’ve read by Emily Belden (trust me, it won’t be the last), and one that I enjoyed from beginning to end. If anything, this was one story that I didn’t want to end simply because I enjoyed the interactions between Charlotte and her roommate Casey, Charlotte and Brian, and even the interactions between Charlotte and her former mother-in-law. I found the characters, action, and settings to be highly realistic and plausible. Charlotte isn’t a self-absorbed person, just someone afraid of being hurt and emotionally closed-off due to the untimely death of her husband. Yes, she wants to move on, but she has relegated everything in the present to an if this-then that scenario. She’s comfortable coding and has made every attempt to live her life by that binary code without thought about the limitations or repercussions toward herself or others. The primary lesson learned is the life and love can be unpredictable, unmanageable, and wholly unexpected. Although Husband Material is a romance, there are quite a lot of things going on in this story such as self-awareness, self-growth, grief management, and more. Although Husband Material deals with some heavy themes, this isn’t a dark and dour read. Okay, it’s not a light and fluffy read either, but it is an intriguing look at grief, recovery, and starting anew with a decidedly romantic bent. There are parts of the story that made me smile, parts that made me laugh, and parts that made me empathize with the sadness of the main character. If you’re looking for something a little different to read to wrap up your yearly reading or to begin the new year, I encourage you to grab a copy of Husband Material by Emily Belden. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy 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.”