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.




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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.”

2019 Book 325: THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club, Bromance Book Club #1, by Lyssa Kay Adams 
ISBN: 9781984806093 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984806109 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593151235 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07NKMZVCT  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 5, 2019 
Publisher: Berkley Publishing


The first rule of this book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major-league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner-hero and win back the trust of his wife. 






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Gavin and Thea Scott met in college, had a whirlwind romance, got pregnant, and married in less than three months after meeting. They love one another and their twin daughters, but their marriage is floundering and has been for some time. It doesn’t help that Gavin was recruited to play professional baseball early in their marriage and was absent during Thea’s delivery of the twins, during most of the twin’s early development, etc. Now that Gavin has learned that Thea has been “faking” her orgasms for most of their marriage, he does what most red-blooded, alpha-males do, he gets upset with her and leaves the marital bed. When Thea has had enough, she asks for a divorce and for him to leave their home. It is only then that Gavin realizes he’s done something monumentally stupid and he’s not quite sure how, or even if, he can fix things. Enter his good friends and a few of his teammates, aka the “bromance book club.” Their advice to him is read romance fiction and they start him off with a regency romance. Why this particular book? Primarily because the male character is also having difficulties in his marriage and made a monumentally stupid mistake. Gavin must learn how to court his wife, how to flirt with her, how to romance her, and more importantly, what is important to her, how to listen to her, talk to her, and, if necessary, allow her the space she may need and crave. Can Gavin learn the lessons he needs from romantic fiction in time to save his marriage, especially since Thea has only given him six weeks to do so? Can either of them trust their emotions with one another or will they fall back into their bad habits?

Let me start by saying this one thing, grab yourself a copy of The Bromance Book Club ASAP! I loved this book. I read it in one afternoon and only got up when I received a tornado alert on my phone and had to remove some chairs from my mother’s front porch (darn you high winds for interfering with my reading!!). I enjoyed the friendship between Gavin and his teammates, not to mention the somewhat antagonistic relationship he has with the “Russian” and Mack (fellow members of the Bromance Book Club). Thea has an important backstory that is gradually revealed throughout the book and no, I’m not going to tell you what it is, read the book. Then there’s the antagonistic, mean girl atmosphere between Thea and some of the other team wives. Thea and Gavin have some serious issues and it was interesting to read about how they worked on overcoming them. They are a young couple with small children and seemingly insurmountable problems caused by a lack of communication. Gavin doesn’t want to talk about his problems with his male friends or even with Thea. Thea doesn’t want to talk about their problems with her sister or with Gavin. They are both receiving kindly advice from friends and family but none of these peole are fully aware of the situation between Thea and Gavin or Thea’s backstory. I truly wondered if this couple was ever going to be able to achieve their HEA. If you enjoy reading smart, sassy, steamy romances with a bit of humor and lots of drama then I highly recommend you get a copy of The Bromance Book Club. If you’ve never read a romance written from the perspective of the male suitor, then again I encourage you to grab a copy of The Bromance Book Club. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series as well as much more from this author in the future.


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book 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 317: GLASS SLIPPERS, EVER AFTER, AND ME by Julie Wright



Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me by Julie Wright 
ISBN: 9781629726076 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781629737942 (ebook)
ASIN: B07WC3XMKT  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 21, 2019 
Publisher: Shadow Mountain


Can the fairy tale bring Charlotte the happiness she’s looking for, or was he always there to begin with?
 

A modern, reimagined Cinderella story.

 

When aspiring author Charlotte Kingsley finally gets published, she thinks all her dreams have come true. But the trouble begins when her publicity firm reinvents her quirky online presence into a perfectly curated dream life. Gone are the days of sweatpant posts and ice cream binges with her best friend, Anders, replaced instead with beautiful clothes, orchestrated selfies, and no boyfriend. Only, that carefully curated fairy tale life is ruining her self-esteem and making her feel like a fraud.

When a bestselling author takes Charlotte under her wing—almost like a fairy godmother—she helps Charlotte see the beautiful person she already is and the worth of being authentic. But is it too late to save her relationship with Anders? The clock is quickly ticking towards midnight, and Charlotte must decide between her fairy tale life and the man she loves, before he’s gone forever. 





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Praise/Endorsements:

“This sweet, heartfelt tale of authentic characters facing intriguing challenges is at once very romantic and charmingly chaste.” –Booklist, starred review

“Wright spins a modern-day and very meta Cinderella tale. This fast-paced, lighthearted romance also carries a moral lesson about falsehoods getting in the way of the quest for true happiness.” –Publishers Weekly
 “Aspiring author Charlotte ‘Lettie’ Kingsley writes fairy tales and hopes to be published. When she gets one more rejection, her feelings of pique lead her to an inspired idea: She’ll write a self-help book called The Cinderella Fiction that will encourage readers to live their best lives. Lettie’s agent has big plans for the book and has created a team to make it a bestseller, including a PR firm that demands a complete makeover for Lettie. From wardrobe to apartment to a new nickname, ‘Char,’ every detail is changed to create an image that inspires admiration and a legion of followers. However, it also means that her real-life relationships are affected, and the new Char is so different from the old Lettie that she’ll have to sift through what she wanted, and what she’s gained, so she can live her own best life, authentically. Wright updates ‘Cinderella’ with a modern twist and smart, satisfying details.” -Kirkus




Charlotte ‘Lettie” Kingsley has always dreamed that she might be able to make it as an author. She’s written eight novels and received over 160 rejections. She truly believed her last novel would be “the one” to get accepted by her dream agent and she’d be on her way to becoming a published author. Her hopes and dreams are dashed when she, once again, receives a rejection letter. After pitching a fit, drowning her sorrows in ice cream and Thai food, Lettie decides to write the anti-novel. She takes three weeks off from her job and writes a nonfiction self-help book entitled The Cinderella Fiction. This isn’t the usual self-help book, but it does focus on being true to oneself, no matter what, and fighting for what you want. This book not only gets accepted by her dream agent, but she also gets a massive contract from a publishing company for the book in mere weeks after she’s submitted it. Lettie’s life is turned upside down because she now has to become the personification of a self-help guru. She hires a PR agent, meets her favorite author who becomes her mentor, and completely reorganizes her life. This wouldn’t ordinarily be a problem since she doesn’t really like her job, her furniture is mostly thrift-store finds, and she’s always been frugal when it comes to buying clothes, etc. Now her social media persona has to match her self-help author persona. She has a boyfriend that she isn’t able to acknowledge publicly, even though that is one of the few relationships in her life that seems to be doing well. She’s also dealing with family issues, namely, her mother doesn’t seem to understand or appreciate what she’s doing or her goals, her stepsister or “sister of the heart” is also struggling with her relationship with Lettie’s mother and wants to move in with Lettie. Most people would think a mega publishing contract for a first-time author, best-selling author as a mentor, and a boyfriend that’s actually a best friend would make for a fairy tale existence, but looks can be deceiving. Lettie has to decide who she is so she can be true to that person whether it’s Lettie or the new “Char” created by the PR firm. Can she be true to her boyfriend Anders, her sister Kat, and her former friends, with all of the changes being asked of her or is this new person a fictional creation no one can live up to? Will Lettie make the right choices about her new dream life versus reality before she possibly loses the love of her life?

I read Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me by Julie Wright in just one afternoon. This was one of those stories that once I started reading, I simply couldn’t stop until the end because I didn’t want to put it down. I enjoyed the characters, especially Lettie, her sister Kat, her boyfriend – Anders, the best-selling author aka fairy godmother – Lillian, and more. There aren’t any bad guys in this story, just people with good intentions gone astray, including Lettie’s mother. The main character is faced with a dilemma that we all must deal with in terms of being authentic in a time when social media doesn’t want to face imperfections. One of the many things I enjoyed about this story, other than the Cinderella retelling, was the family drama, the romance, and the dream-nightmare scenario Lettie faces by having everything she ever wanted coming true. But one of the things I think I enjoyed the most, were the “quotes” from the fake book, The Cinderella Fiction written by the main character. I’ve got to say, I really want to read this fictitious nonfiction book! Ms. Wright has crafted a story that is sweet, wholly realistic, beyond witty, and, yes, romantic. I could go on about this book, but let me just say that if you enjoy well-written contemporary romance with smart and witty dialogue, and realistic scenarios then I highly recommend you grab a copy of Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me to read. If you’re not sure about the romance element, but enjoy reading contemporary stories dealing with family issues, then again, I encourage you to grab a copy of Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me to read. This was a highly enjoyable read for me and I’ll be handing my print copy over to my 84-y.o. mother to read (she read the back cover and has decided it’s her next read). I look forward to reading more from this author in the future and maybe even rereading Glass Slippers, Ever After, and Me.



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+, I also received a free print review copy from the publisher. 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.”




Meet the author


Julie Wright is the author of more than twenty novels, including the Proper Romance® novels Lies Jane Austen Told Me and Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She is a Whitney Award winner and a Crown Heart recipient. She is represented by agent Sara Crowe. She loves reading and writing, playing on the beach or hiking with her husband and kids, and watching her husband make dinner.


Connect with the author via Twitter or her website.




This review and blog tour brought to you via Shadow Mountain Publishing

2018 Book 38: THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
ISBN: 9780399587665 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780399587672 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780525530893 (audiobook)
ASIN: B072LT1XT5 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 30, 2018 
Publisher: Berkley Jove Books


I vow to take thee as my date, to pretend to have and to hold, from rehearsal dinner to reception end, till Sunday do us part.


A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other… 

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want… 



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Alexa Monroe is an accomplished young woman and isn’t really looking for a man or a man bringing complications into her life. She’s a lawyer and the chief of staff for the mayor of Berkeley. Dr. Andrew “Drew” Nichols is a pediatric surgeon from the Los Angeles area (miles away from Berkeley). He’s agreed to be a groomsman in his ex-girlfriend’s wedding and at the last minute, his +1 had to cancel out. After a power outage that strands Alexa and Drew in an elevator and the Fairmont, Alexa unwittingly agrees to become Drew’s date for the weekend. Alexa is not the type of person to make spur of the moment decisions especially about a man she doesn’t know, so her behavior is somewhat shocking to all who know her. But she and Drew connect over the weekend in their “pretend” relationship, so much so that Drew reschedules his flight back to LA after the wedding so he can spend more time with Alexa. What follows is a long-distance relationship that neither one of them saw coming with them hopping planes every weekend to visit one another. In between those weekend visits, they text and text and then text some more. Drew enjoys his time with Alexa and is afraid to put a label on what they have. Alexa isn’t sure where this relationship is going especially since Drew can’t even seem to introduce her to his friend as his girlfriend but simply as “Alexa” and then she learns that he has the annoying habit of politely dropping his “girlfriends” after a two-month run. Is this the end of their relationship since he can’t even admit who she is to his friends? Could they have made their long-distance relationship work without his commitment-phobic issues?

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory was a delightfully fun, sexy, and fast-paced read. It was interesting to read about the relationship dynamic between Alexa and Drew without race being the primary focus (yes, this is an interracial relationship and yes, race is discussed within the story). The story gets sexy and steamy without the author going into graphic detail and there’s plenty of romance without it being over-the-top (such as when Drew gets Alexa sweets for breakfast and makes her coffee just the way she likes it). The Wedding Date also provides political drama (Alexa does work for a politician), medical drama (Drew is a physician), relationship drama, romance, and more. For me, this felt like a  contemporary romance story containing hints of Pride and Prejudice meets Sense & Sensibilities with all of the crossed wires and misunderstandings. I enjoyed the multiple storylines, the characters, and the action and look forward to reading more from Ms. Guillory in the future. If you’re a romance fan, trust me and run out to grab yourself a copy of The Wedding Date to read. 

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the publisher. 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.”


Read an excerpt here.


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The Wedding Date

 The Wedding Date

 The Wedding Date

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2017 Book 439: NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT by Kristan Higgins

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
ISBN: 9781335903358 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488029264 (ebook)
ASIN: B0711QCV3C (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 26, 2017 
Publisher: Harlequin


One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter–a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was–Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.



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Nora Stuart had an idyllic childhood until her father left. Her mother, a reserved Mainer, did her best to raise Nora and her sister Lily, but she worked hard to provide for her daughters and didn’t focus on “emotional” support. Nora was a social pariah in high school, overweight, nerdy, and unpopular while her younger sister was a popular and beloved social butterfly. The only way she could get out of Scupper Island, Maine was to go away to college. Fortunately, a tech multi-millionaire provided a full scholarship to Tufts University for one student each year. This was Nora’s out, even though it meant competition against the “golden boy” of Scupper Island, Luke Fletcher. Once Nora won the scholarship, she was blamed with ruining Luke Fletcher’s life (he got high after losing the scholarship, crashed a vehicle, walked away unscathed while seriously injuring his brother). Her only option, leave home and start college early. College was just what Nora needed. She lost weight, made friends, found her voice and her calling in life, medicine. Becoming a doctor meant Nora stayed in Boston and away from home, causing further rifts between her mother and sister. Now she’s part of a thriving practice in Boston, has a boyfriend, and a loving dog. Getting hit by a van is the final straw that severs her relationship, especially since she overhears her boyfriend trying to make a date while she’s lying on a hospital bed. So much for the boyfriend. Nora decides to return to Scupper Island to recuperate. Returning home to her mother and niece sounded like a good idea until she actually got home, now she has to decide what’s next in her life. Accepting a temporary job as a physician on the island, Nora finds a few new friends and reconnects with old acquaintances, including the brother of her high school nemesis, Sullivan Fletcher, and his daughter. Can she truly begin again or will her past constantly rear its ugly head to interfere with her present and future?

Now That You Mention It was a fast-paced and enjoyable read. Although there is romance and an HEA (happy-ever-after), the primary focus of the story is Nora and her constant before and afters. Before and after her father left. Before and after she won the scholarship. Before and after she was attacked. Before and after she left her boyfriend. Before and after she returns to Maine. The reader witnesses Nora’s emotional growth as well as her relationship development, both the romantic and nonromantic kind. I enjoyed all of the characters in this story, especially Nora’s mother, her niece Poe, Sully and Audrey, Ziaowen, and her lovable dog, Boomer. There are sad events within the story, such as Nora’s sister being jailed, her father’s disappearance, her brutal attack, etc., but Nora finds that she is stronger than she thinks with each event. Don’t think Now That You Mention It is all sorrow and romance, it isn’t, there’s also lots of humor (all I can say is you should look forward to reading the scene with the ham dinner), a bungled dinner party scene, and more. If you’re looking for a romantic read that provides something a little different to start off your reading this year, look no further and grab a copy of Now That You Mention It to read.


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book 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.”



Read an excerpt here.


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Now That You Mention It: A Novel

Now That You Mention It: A Novel

Now That You Mention It

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Now That You Mention It

Book 30: WHAT HAPPENED TO HANNAH Review

What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas
ISBN: 978-0-06-208478-1
Publication date: February 7, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

As a teenager, Hannah Benson’s one chance to save herself was to run away. As the years have passed, she’s never looked back, not even to find out what happened to the mother and sister she left behind. Now, twenty years later, the past comes calling when her hometown sheriff, Grady Steadman — Hannah’s sweetheart in high school — delivers some life-changing news: her mother and sister are dead, leaving her guardian of her fifteen-year-old niece.

Returning home to bitter memories and devastating secrets, Hannah must find a way to make this new challenge work without ruining lives — or destroying her own sanity. And when her painful memories of this small town become mingled with the new, happier moments she’s creating with her niece — and the rekindled feelings she has for Grady — Hannah is faced with the most difficult challenge yet.


Hannah has spent the past twenty years trying to forget her past, specifically the emotional, verbal and physical abuse from her father. The only good she left behind was her sister, Ruth, and her boyfriend, Grady. It wasn’t easy, but Hannah has made something of herself with the help of her surrogate father, Joe Levitz. Joe was her father, mentor and friend and it was with his help that she became an insurance agent and agency owner. Now the time has come for Hannah to face her past and return home to the memories left behind and a niece she’s never known.

Grady Steadman, indeed, the entire town, knew that Karl Benson and his family were different. The adults suspected abuse, but nothing was ever done. As a result, Hannah often went to school with bruises from “falls” and even broken bones. Most of the town had assumed that Karl had killed Hannah as she disappeared on the night of the worst beating yet, but since a body had never been found again nothing was done. But Karl is dead, Ruth is dead, even Hannah’s mother is dead and there’s no family member left to take care of fifteen-year-old Anna but her aunt. 

Hannah’s return is anything but triumphant and she can’t wait to leave Clearfield once again. She doesn’t know the first thing about being a parent, even a surrogate parent and isn’t sure her niece will even like her. Fortunately Hannah, and her niece Anna, learn to like, respect then love one another. Misunderstanding and mistakes are made but they both have much to learn about each other.

What Happened to Hannah discusses some weighty issues, such as child abuse, spousal abuse, and even the possibility of child molestation. Ms. McComas doesn’t gloss over these issues and treats them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Although Hannah and Grady have feelings for one another, Grady knows that Hannah is still hiding something. Until she can trust him fully, he isn’t willing to turn custody of Anna over to her. I found all of the characters, especially Hannah, Anna, and Grady’s daughter Lucy to be likeable, if not lovable, and all too realistic. Grady and Joe provide the much needed male counterparts to these strong females. They aren’t overly protective or domineering and seemed to provide the masculine perspective and counterpoint of view. What Happened to Hannah has romance, drama, as well as teenage and adult angst tempered with humor and sensitivity. This may not be an easy read for some because of the issues discussed, but it is definitely worth reading. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher. 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 208: THE BREVITY OF ROSES Review

Jalal Vaziri has spent his life running away from his problems. He left his parents and siblings in Seattle, moving cross-country to New York to escape family pressure to join the family business. He then leaves New York and moved to California when he decided he didn’t like his job and where his life was heading. The Brevity of Roses by Linda Cassidy Lewis explores Jalal’s motivations and shows that you can’t run away from love or reality no matter how hard you try.

When we first meet Jalal he is hung over in NYC and wondering why he’s continuing down such a destructive path. He doesn’t like his job or where he’s heading so he drives cross-country to California and focuses on his more artistic side as a poet. Jalal knows, or thinks he knows, that he’s a disappointment to his father so he keeps his visits to family as brief and far apart as possible. He also knows that although he is content with his life he isn’t really happy until he walks into a restaurant and meets a woman.

Meredith is an older woman and a widow. She immediately notices Jalal as he enters the restaurant and stares, although she felt she was being circumspect in her observations. What follows is a whirlwind romance with Jalal all but moving in to her home. He cooks for her, he pampers her and she adores him. She even teaches him about gardening and tending her beloved roses. Their relationship has its ups and downs but eventually they marry and have several wonderful years together.

Jalal doesn’t seem to recover from the loss of Meredith and seems to marking time only, until he meets Renee. Renee is a younger woman with an old soul. She has been through a lot in her young years and has a unique perspective on life. As she and Jalal build a friendship, she forces Jalal to revive and rejoin the human race. Can she force Jalal to see that just as the life of roses is brief, so can opportunities to enjoy life and love before it is too late?

Ms. Lewis has provided a tender and thought-provoking look at life, chance, and love. Jalal seems to spend his time presuming what motivates others and often getting it wrong. As an older woman, Meredith was able to change his point of view on some things. As the younger woman, Renee is able to change his point of view on other things, most likely because of her youth, vibrancy and life experiences. Perhaps the primary thought underscored in The Brevity of Roses is don’t assume anything, enjoy life and love wherever you may find it, because you never know when it may be gone. Although romance is at the forefront of this story it provides so much more, because in many ways it is a coming of age story for Jalal. The reader is afforded the opportunity to see him grow and develop from a man in his early thirties to age forty. Yes, in some ways he is overly spoiled, but he isn’t obnoxiously spoiled just incredibly naive in some ways. I enjoyed seeing him grow and the different dynamics of his relationships with Meredith and Renee. (To read chapter one and two of this book, please visit the author’s website at: http://lindacassidylewis.com/brevity-of-roses/)

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. 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 206: TWILIGHT FULFILLED Review

The father of the vampire race has been resurrected with the hopes that he’ll be able to save the vahmpeers or vampires. But Utanapushtim, or Utana – an ancient Sumerian king, has been buried for five thousand years and believes that if he kills all of the vampires he’ll finally be able to rest and end the punishment of the gods. The only thing standing in his way is Brigit Poe in Twilight Fulfilled by Maggie Shayne.


Brigit has grown up believing that her gift reflects her dark nature and is destructive. She is able to kill with laser-like precision. Her twin brother James or J.W. has been gifted with healing. But James can no longer heal because after raising Utana, his gift of healing was absorbed by Utana. Since both Brigit and James aren’t wholly human nor wholly vampire, they don’t suffer many of the same limitations as true vampires. Brigit is off to hunt down Utana and kill him in order to save the few remaining vampires in the US. 

Utana has a lot to learn about this modern world. He also has a lot to learn about modern women. Brigit impresses him with her skills and fortitude. Brigit also has a lot to learn about Utana. She comes to understand that he is not the bogeyman her people believe him to be. She also knows that he is being used by the government in their efforts to eradicate the vampire problem. If that isn’t enough to deal with, the government is also secretly holding all of “the chosen” (those with the Belladonna antigen in their blood and capable of becoming vampire) hostage in a secure, central location under the guise of protecting them from harm. Both Utana and Brigit realize that this is an elaborate trap to attract the remaining vampires and kill them all at once. Will she and Utana be able to stop the government before it’s too late? Will she be able to convince the remaining vampires that Utana isn’t their enemy before they carry out their plan to bury him again?

When I first started reading Twilight Fulfilled, I immediately thought “oh no, another vampire series.” Admittedly I hadn’t read any of the preceding books but I had grown weary of the entire vampire-paranormal scenario. Although Twilight Fulfilled used elements seen in other stories (the Blade III movie sees the father of vampires being resurrected with hopes of saving if not strengthening the vampire race), the story reads as original and refreshing. Brigit is a strong and formidable woman with a certain frailty that she fights hard to shield. Brigit and Utana complement one another as a couple and help each other overcome their weaknesses and shortsightedness. I’m sure reading the previous books in this series may have helped to better understand the vampire family dynamics, but it is possible to read this without any prior series knowledge. Ms. Shayne has provided a fast-paced, paranormal romance that enchants from beginning to end.

Disclaimer: I received this book free for review purposes from 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.”