Bookish Ramblings: Bookstore Romance Day 2022

Love is In the Air – 2022

It’s time to celebrate love, all shades of love. August 20, 20221, is officially Bookstore Romance Day. This is the fourth year of celebrating romance in fiction. According to the website: “Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for grabbing a good romance book to read (okay, I’m always up for grabbing any good book to read). Contemporary romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, or historical romance, I’m always up for the HEA (happy ever after) or HFN (happy for now). Steamy romance or mild romance, it’s all good. If you’re not a romance reader, I hope my recommendations will help you become a Romancelandia convert.

No list is complete without my all-time favorite author, the incomparable, the Slayer of Words, the Queen…Beverly Jenkins! I’ve repeatedly recommended her books to you in the past and I sincerely hope you’ve taken my recommendations. Where do you start? I suggest beginning with her Blessings series (soon to be a television series [we hope]). This series, inspirational with hints of romance, begins with Bring On the Blessings, A Second Helping, Something Old, Something New, A Wish and a Prayer, Heart of Gold, For Your Love, Stepping to a New Day, Chasing Down a Dream, Second Time Sweeter, and On the Corner of Hope and Main. If you enjoy historical romance, then I encourage you to grab copies of Ms. B’s Indigo and Vivid, especially the 25th-anniversary editions. You definitely don’t want to miss out on her “Women Who Dare” series: Rebel, Wild Rain, and the soon-to-be-released, To Catch a Raven.

If you haven’t read anything by Lyssa Kay Adams, now is a good time to start. The Bromance series features men learning how to be better husbands or significant others by reading romance novels. This is one series you’ll want to read in order, so start with book one, The Bromance Book Club, then on to Undercover Bromance, followed by One Crazy Stupid Bromance, and Isn’t It Bromantic?. Make sure you add A Very Merry Bromance to your list for reading later this year.

Another favorite is Jasmine Guillory and her Wedding Date series. This series includes The Wedding Date, The Proposal (one of my favorites), The Wedding Party, Royal Holiday (another favorite because the main female character is named Vivian!), Party of Two, and While We Were Dating (a new favorite). New additions to Ms. Guillory’s list of works include By The Book, released earlier this year, and Drunk On Love scheduled to be released next month.

I can’t say enough good things about Ayesha at Last and Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin. These are fantastic stories that feature Muslims as the lead characters and have just as much drama and comedy as seen in other romance reads. Come on people, read diversely! Again, I’m not just saying that because I’m a Black Muslim woman from Appalachia or a Muslim Affrilachian, I’m saying that as a Book Diva!

Need more author suggestions, here’s a partial list for you of authors I’ve read and can strongly recommend: S.K. Ali, Sandra Brown, Alyssa Cole, Lori Foster, Linda Howard, Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, Sandra Kitt, Alexa Martin, JJ Murray (only male on this list), Alisha Rai (I have read and can highly recommend the Modern Love series: Girl Gone Viral, The Right Swipe, and First Comes Like), Vanessa Riley, J.D. Robb & Nora Roberts, Farrah Rochon, Juno Rushdan, Sharon Sala, Meg Tilly, Sarah Title, Tia Williams, Lauren Willig (love the Pink Carnation series), and more.

Bookstore Romance Day is also providing a host of virtual events, please click here to learn more. Registration may no longer be available for some events, but you can always watch any missed events on YouTube.

Let’s celebrate romantic love in all its forms, as well as support our beloved romance authors and indie bookstores. Love is Love! I hope you’ll be able to spend some time at your favorite indie bookstore today and treat yourself to a romance book or two.

Bookstore Romance Day heart-shaped logo

I’m super excited and pleased to announce that there are two indie bookstores in West Virginia participating in Bookstore Romance Day this year. I’ll be heading to Booktenders in Barboursville, West Virginia to grab some books. Who knows, I might also buy a few from WordPlay in Wardensville, West Virginia as well.

Happy Reading, y’all!

2021 Book 283: THE VANISHED DAYS by Susanna Kearsley

The Vanished Days, The Scottish Series, by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN-10: 1492650161 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781492650164 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781728249582 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781492650171 (ebook)
ASIN: B08XM9QJ6T (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: October 5, 2021

I’ve loved every one of Susanna’s books! She has bedrock research and a butterfly’s delicate touch with characters–sure recipe for historical fiction that sucks you in and won’t let go!–DIANA GABALDON, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Outlander

From international bestselling author Susanna Kearsley comes a historical tale of intrigue and revolution in Scotland, where the exile of King James brought plots, machinations, suspicion and untold bravery to light. An investigation of a young widow’s secrets by a man who’s far from objective, leads to a multi-layered tale of adventure, endurance, romance…and the courage to hope.

In the autumn of 1707, old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England. At the same time, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to bring the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger.

Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun paying out money sent up from London to settle the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier–an ill-fated venture that left Scotland all but bankrupt.

When the young widow of a Darien sailor comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged. One of the men assigned to investigate has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are blinding him to the truth.

The Vanished Days is a prequel and companion novel to The Winter Sea, with action that overlaps some of the action in that book. The Vanished Days goes back in time to the 1680s and introduces the reader to the Moray and Graeme families.

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Imagine Scotland in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Now imagine being a young girl, Lilias “Lily” Aitcheson, whose parents have both died and you’ve been sent to work for an area family by her stepmother (no, she’s not an evil stepmother, she’s just struggling to survive with two young children at home). Now imagine that this girl has spent a number of years being treated as an equal to this family’s daughter, but when she hits puberty, the man she’s thought of as a surrogate father makes untoward advances and gives her extra money. This child has grown up hearing about women who take money for sex and these women aren’t treated well by society. The child’s only recourse, or so she feels, is to runaway. She is taken in by another family in a nearby town, but this household is just as corrupt but in a different way. The “father” expects his “children” to participate in various criminal enterprises and the “wife” is a woman who takes money for sex. Lily has a deep fondness for her adoptive brothers and mother, so she makes do of a bad situation. Years later, Lily is reported to be the widow of one James Graeme, is attempting to claim his wages, but the marriage license is suspect. As a favor to a friend, Sergeant Williamson and others are tasked with investigating the claim of this widow. Is it possible for this investigation to uncover the truth considering the “witnesses” to the marriage license are all deceased? Is it possible for the investigation to continue given that Sergeant Williamson has a marked attraction for the lovely widow? Will Lily be branded a liar and a possible forger?

I’ve read everything written by Susanna Kearsley and was quite happy when given the opportunity to read The Vanished Days. I love her incorporation of history with the story (I’ve learned quite a bit about the Jacobites from her books). The characters are always intriguing and realistically flawed in some way. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m reading about fictional characters from 300 years ago, I’m invested in their lives and everything that is occurring within the story. This book was no exception. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the story was narrated from a male character’s perspective. The Vanished Days includes tidbits from American as well as Scottish history. There seem to be multiple story lines happening and it isn’t until the very end that everything becomes clear and the twist is revealed (and it’s a great twist – you’ll have to read the book to discover more). This story deals with politics, treason, crime, child labor, child abuse (in the form of molestation and forced participation in criminal enterprises), emotional abuse, romance, how far one is willing to go to protect loved ones, regrets over days past, and more. One theme that seems to be prevalent is that family isn’t always the one we’re born into but the one we make for ourselves. For those of you that have read anything by Susanna Kearsley in the past, I’m sure this book is already on your TBR list. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I suggest you put this on your TBR list ASAP. For those of you that aren’t sure about historical fiction, I suggest you grab a copy of The Vanished Days as well as the sequel The Winter Sea. Together or solo, these books make for great reading. Personally, I can’t wait to reread both The Vanished Days and The Winter Sea. I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Vanished Days as much as I did.

Happy Reading, y’all!

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.”

2015 Book 318: NAMED OF THE DRAGON by Susanna Kearsley

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN: 9781402258640 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781402258657 (ebook)
ASIN: B00VGY4RA8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 6, 2015 (Originally published in 1997)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark


The invitation to spend Christmas in Angle, on the Pembrokeshire coast, is one that Lyn Ravenshaw is only too happy to accept. To escape London and the pressures of her literary agency is temptation enough, but the prospect of meeting Booker Prize nominee James Swift – conveniently in search of an agent – is the deciding factor. On holiday she encounters the disturbing Elen Vaughan, recently widowed and with an eight-month-old son whose paternity is a subject for local gossip. Elen’s baby arouses painful memories of Lyn’s own dead child/ and strange, haunting dreams, in which a young woman in blue repeatedly tries to hand over her child to Lyn for safekeeping.

Who is the father of Elen’s baby? What is the eerie, monstrous creature of Elen’s dreams that tries to ensnare her son, and what makes her so sure that Lyn has been sent to protect him?  As she begins to untangle the truth behind the stories, the secret she discovers leads Lyn to an encounter with the past that will change her life forever.

Lynette Ravenshaw is a widowed literary agent in London, presumed to still be grieving the loss of her son during childbirth. At the request of one of the authors she represents, Bridget Cooper, she decides to head to Wales for the Christmas holidays. They will be staying with an award-nominated author looking for a new agent. What she doesn’t know is that Bridget is looking to seduce a local playwright and only wants Lyn to accompany her for the express purposes of keeping company with their host in Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley.

Bridget Cooper is a popular author with a reputation of being difficult. Lynette, or Lyn, has been Bridget’s agent for four years, and although she finds Bridget taxing at times she actually likes her. It is primarily for this reason that she decides to forego her family’s Christmas in Canada and travels to Wales for the holiday with Bridget. Unbeknownst to either of them, the next door neighbor to their host is also widowed and with an infant son. Elen Vaughan might be considered flighty or taken with flights of fancy, but she thinks she’s heard the voice of Merlin and dreams that the “white dragon” from the local tower is after her son. Being exposed to an infant is difficult enough for Lyn, but her dreams seem to be mirrors of Elen’s dreams. Is this the reason that Elen has latched onto Lyn as the one meant to save her son? 

Named of the Dragon is a reprint of an older title by Ms. Kearsley and I’m glad it’s back in print. This particular story takes elements of Arthurian legend and Merlin’s prophecies, mixed with the history of the Tudor family, specifically Henry VII, into a modern story of a fatherless son, a whimsical mother sworn to protect her child, and the mystery surrounding his paternity. Added into the mix is the friendship between Lyn and the local playwright, Bridget’s quest to seduce the local playwright, and the author hosting their holiday visit plans to romance Bridget. Yes, it does sound deliciously twisted, but Ms. Kearsley takes these twists and provides a delightful story that borders on being gothic. I found this to be a fast-paced read and was only slowed down by several severe migraine headaches. (I hated putting Named of the Dragon aside, but since it was difficult to hold my head upright I allowed the migraine to override my reading preference.) I enjoyed the history, folklore, and legends provided in the story, as well as the romance and intrigue. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Kearsley then Named of the Dragon is a good place to start. If you’ve read any of her current works, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Named of the Dragon. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, I look forward to reading more from Ms. Kearsley in the future. 

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

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The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN:  9781402258619 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781402258626 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00F8HUAFA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 1, 2014 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that’s Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a “treasure of great price.” And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

The town of Chinon, France is mired in legend and mystery. The mystery surrounds the disappearance of a treasure hidden by Queen Isabelle in 1205. There’s also a local legend centering on another Isabelle from World War II. Emily Braden isn’t really hung up on legend or mystery, but she looks forward to the opportunity to spend some time in Chinon with her cousin Henry—her unreliable, but completely lovable cousin. Heedless to any nay-sayers, Emily sets off for a well-deserved break from her tedious and boring life. Of course, Henry is nowhere to be found upon Emily’s arrival in France, and thus begins Emily’s step into intrigue that goes back more than seven centuries.

The Splendour Falls is actually a reprint and was originally published in the mid-1990s. Unlike some of Ms. Kearsley’s later this books, The Splendour Falls is a more straightforward contemporary romantic suspense story with bits of history interspersed throughout the story. Emily comes across as rather staid in the first part of the story, but she quickly becomes less-restrained as she interacts with characters in Chinon, including other guests at the hotel, hotel employees, and town residents. The interactions between Emily, the flirtatious and outgoing Lazarus brothers, the mysterious and reserved violinist Neil Grantham, and the fun-loving Lucie and her father, Monsieur Armand Valcourt adds interesting layers to the story. As Emily becomes more settled in Chinon and with her new acquaintances, she also becomes more mired in the current intrigues happening in the shadows. Can Emily unravel the mysteries of Chinon and find her cousin before it’s too late?

I actually read The Splendour Falls in late December 2013. It was one of the last books I read during that year. I found The Splendour Falls to be a fast-paced read that had moments of humor, as well as intrigue mixed in with the history, suspense, and romance. I enjoyed the characters, historical aspects of the story, and the action. If you enjoy romantic suspense that blends history with contemporary action and a hit of the gothic, then you’ll definitely want to put The Splendour Falls on your reading list. Have you already read it? Please let us know what you thought about it.

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

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Book 160: THE FIREBIRD Review

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
ISBN:  9781402276637 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781451673845 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009RXJONA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird—the mythical creature from an old Russian fable.

Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna into the past who leads her on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.

Nicola Marter doesn’t consider her talent at psychometry a gift. This is partially due to her grandfather’s constant warnings about revealing her gift to others. However, as a student, she did make an attempt to learn more about controlling her talent before giving up. When an older woman arrives at the gallery where Nicola works, she tells the story of a small wooden carving, a family heirloom, reportedly given to an ancestor by Tsarina Catherine of Russia. Regrettably she doesn’t have documentation to support the family legend. After handling the object Nicola is assured of the woman’s story but isn’t sure how the gallery can help without proper paper documentation. This woman, her story and the information Nicola learns from touching the object peaks Nicola’s interest in learning more and wanting to help. Is it possible she can found some documentation to support the woman’s claim?

The Firebird is a fascinating blend of contemporary and historical fiction with paranormal elements. Once Nicola decides to try and help the gallery’s potential client, she realizes she needs help and seeks the assistance of Rob McMorran, an outstanding psychic she knew from her college days. With Rob’s assistance, Nicola is able to trace the history of the original recipient of the Firebird, Anna. Nicola and Rob are able to track Anna from Scotland to Belgium and finally to Russia. Anna was born into the Moray family, but due to her family’s Jacobite leanings, she is trusted to friends of the family to raise as a foster daughter. She lives in Scotland for almost seven years before she is forced to flee to a convent in Ypres, Belgium in the company of Colonel Graeme and Captain Jamieson. She resides in the convent for one year before being forced to flee once again and this time winds up in Russia as Anna Jamieson, the ward of Admiral Thomas Gordon. Ms. Kearsley provides the reader with details of the Jacobite cause and its supporters in Scotland, as well as expatriates in Belgium and Russia. Anna’s life is revealed in vignettes as Rob and Nicola search for places she lived and visited. Anna’s life is one filled with love and courage but no true family.  As Nicola and Rob work to piece together the puzzle of Anna’s life, Nicola realizes that she actually has more control over her talents than she initially thought. The Firebird is a well-crafted story that incorporates tales of love, courage, and self-confidence in both Nicola and Anna’s lives. If you’re looking for something a little different to read, then you may want to add The Firebird to your reading list.

Read an excerpt here

I read The Firebird as the July selection for the She Reads online book club. For more information on She Reads, please visit: The book was from my personal digital book collection.
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