I love time travel/time slip romance novels like Outlander and The Winter Sea and while this is a teen novel I was drawn to pick it up because of theI love time travel/time slip romance novels like Outlander and The Winter Sea and while this is a teen novel I was drawn to pick it up because of the time travel storyline.
Initially I found Cass to be annoying. She is pretty whiny at the beginning of the book and sulks around like a petulant child because her mother and stepfather are forcing her to spend the summer with them at a beach house. Once she meets Lawrence however, things start to change for the better. On the night of a party her parents are hosting, Cass escapes to the beach where she runs into Lawrence only he insists that the beach house is his uncle's and that she is trespassing on his family's land. They don't exactly hit it off at first but she sees him again on the beach and they figure out the truth. He is from 1925 and somehow their lives and timelines are connected by the beach. When something strange happens in her time line, Cass realizes that by meeting Lawrence, they have changed the future. Could it also have endangered Lawrence's life?
Lawrence is fascinated by Cass, a girl unlike the boring society beauties his family pushes him towards. He doesn't have much choice in his life. His family is wealthy and they expect him to follow his father's footsteps to Harvard and then a career in law but Lawrence wants to write poetry. Cass inspires him to be true to himself. Their romance happens pretty quickly but the story line kind of works that way.
Cass becomes a nicer person as she spends more time with Lawrence but she has to sneak around to see him, telling her family that she has taken up running on the beach. Her parents are kind people and her relationship with her little brother (what we see of it anyway) is sweet. Lawrence's family is not as nice as his uncle Ned (whom he is staying with for the summer) is a bossy and status-obsessed businessman. There are also a couple of other secondary characters that aren't that well developed like Fay, Lawrence's would-be 1925 love interest and Brandon, the annoying boy interested in Cass.
The time travel setup works with some suspension of disbelief. The phenomena that allows Lawrence and Cass's worlds to intersect is explained a little bit at the end. Overall I liked this novel though it definitely has some flaws. While Cass could have been a more likable protagonist than she was and I would have liked more character development I thought the story was entertaining and the writing had this sweet, almost wistful quality to it at times. The mystery element and trying to figure out what would happen kept me turning the pages. I think readers who like that concept of star-crossed love across time might like this one. ...more
I wanted to read this book because it was described as "Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights". While I am not a football fan, I am a fan of JI wanted to read this book because it was described as "Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights". While I am not a football fan, I am a fan of Jane Austen's novels as is the protagonist Devon. She often thinks of how the characters would behave in her situation or what they would say. Throughout the novel she is reading Jane Austen books. Although First & Then isn't a retelling of any of Jane Austen's novels, it pays homage to them in spirit.
Devon is a senior in high school and facing the decision of what school she wants to go to but she hasn't put much effort into the process. Instead she's been busy enjoying high school life and spending time with her best friend Cas. Then Devon's family takes in her cousin Foster when his mother abandons him. She is initially resentful of this and thinks of Foster as a nerd she wants to distance herself from. That's kind of hard to do when they are in the same P.E. class. Football star Ezra Lynley is also in her P.E. class and he doesn't make the best impression on Devon though Foster thinks the world of him. When Foster shows promise as a kicker, he is asked to try out for the JV football team and Ezra agrees to help him to Devon's surprise.
Devon is a fun protagonist though her attitude towards Foster isn't that great at first. She loves literature, particularly Jane Austen which made me like her more. I felt sorry for her a little too as Cas seemed to be her whole world and he didn't return her feelings for him. Thankfully even though she didn't go looking for friendship, she does make some other friends. She also grows to care about Foster and she starts to see him as her little brother. Her relationship with Ezra improves too as she gets to know him though his secretive nature is certainly challenging.
Football is an important part of the novel but to my relief it didn't get too technical. Ezra, Cas and Foster all play on the team. Devon even starts covering the football games as an assistant to the sports photographer (she gets to hold the camera bag). I actually enjoyed reading about the team and how Foster and Ezra bonded over football. Poor Foster has had a rough life so it was nice to see him make a new friend and find someone to look up to.
The romance between Ezra and Devon reminded me of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice a little bit (as it is supposed to) but I was glad that it wasn't a retelling. Especially with Cas. He could have been a jerk but he was a nice guy (albeit with flaws). The romance was also not in-your-face. The novel allows for more personal growth of the characters and friendships and family relationships as well.
Overall I thought this was a fantastic book that I think would appeal to readers who like contemporary fiction by authors like Sarah Dessen, Jessi Kirby, Jenny Han and Emery Lord. I definitely plan to keep an eye out for the author's next book. ...more
Ria is known as an ice princess because she keeps everyone at arm's length whether on set or in her personal life. She has carefully crafted this persRia is known as an ice princess because she keeps everyone at arm's length whether on set or in her personal life. She has carefully crafted this persona to protect herself and keep people from prying into her life. Ria has a dark past and her career would be destroyed if it came to light. When a momentary slip leads to blackmail from a paparazzo, Ria goes home to Chicago using her cousin's wedding as an excuse. She is glad to see her family but not to be near Vikram Jathar again. Vikram is her cousin Nikhil's best friend and the three of them were friends though Nikhil doesn't know that Vikram and Ria fell in love as teens.
Vikram is not happy to see Ria either. He has a lot of anger and hurt to deal with and makes things very hard for Ria with his cruel behavior and comments. As they are forced to be civil and spend more time together because of wedding duties, things start to thaw and old feelings begin to resurface but Ria doesn't know if she can trust Vikram and stop running from the past.
I liked Ria and felt really bad for her. She has been through a lot of horrible things both in her childhood and later on as a young adult. Ria's first instinct is to run but she does care deeply about her family especially her aunt and uncle who were like parents to her and Nikhil who was like a brother. I had a harder time liking Vikram because of the way he treated Ria. Though I understood the reason for his anger, it took awhile to warm up to his character until he stopped being so unkind. I also didn't like how much Ria still wanted him even while he was being a jerk. It was like her hormones had no control where he was concerned.
Thankfully things got better as the story unfolded and Vikram started seeing the real Ria and not the version he was mad at. The two have great chemistry and in the end I was rooting for them to work through their issues. I also enjoyed the descriptions of food and Indian culture and the little bit of Bollywood that we got to see. The secondary characters were a lot of fun, especially the aunties. Overall I liked this contemporary romance with a Bollywood flavor. It had some good character development especially for Ria. I think readers who like contemporary romance and authors like Shobhan Bantwal and Anjali Banerjee would enjoy The Bollywood Bride....more
This is the final book in the Whiskey Creek series and readers finally get to see Kyle get a happy ending and overcome his longtime feelings for ex-giThis is the final book in the Whiskey Creek series and readers finally get to see Kyle get a happy ending and overcome his longtime feelings for ex-girlfriend and sister-in-law Olivia. When Lourdes Bennett rents a home from him for Christmas, Kyle is drawn to her but she is involved with someone else. Things get a little more complicated when the heat doesn't work in the rental property so Lourdes has to move in with Kyle and then her relationship starts having trouble. Kyle is a nice guy, perhaps too nice to his ex-wife Noelle (Olivia's messed up sister). For years Noelle has had her claws in him and manipulated him to giving her what she wants to keep the peace. Kyle will have to break free of Noelle and his past with Olivia if he wants a chance with Lourdes.
Lourdes is struggling with her career and trying to write a new album while fighting her feelings for Kyle. A romance with him would be a bad idea since she knows she'll have to leave in the end. Lourdes and Kyle both have obstacles to overcome and they also have to try to keep her presence in town a secret. I liked this Christmas and country music themed romance. While some of the other titles in the series definitely packed more of an emotional punch, A Winter Wedding is a pleasant quick read with likable characters and even a little bit of suspense. It wraps up the series nicely though I think readers could read it as a standalone (I'd recommend at least reading the e-book novella When We Touch which introduces Olivia, Noelle and Kyle first). ...more
Maddy hasn't been outside her home since she was a baby. She has SCID (Severe Combined Immunodificiency) so her house has an air lock and her4.5 stars
Maddy hasn't been outside her home since she was a baby. She has SCID (Severe Combined Immunodificiency) so her house has an air lock and her mom and nurse would have to go through an hour long decontamination every time they left and returned. It's a repetitive and lonely life but she loves rereading her favorite books, playing games with her mom and taking classes online, especially architecture. Her routine life gets disrupted when Olly moves in next door.
Olly has challenges of his own, namely an abusive dad. He first sees Maddy through her window but he is intrigued by her and they become friends online and later in person in spite of the risks and with the careful observation of decontamination and a "stay on the other side of the room" rule that you know will be broken eventually.
I loved Maddy as a character. She has a unique perspective on the world because of the isolated way she was raised. She is smart, sweet and funny and she doesn't let her disease defeat her. I also liked that she is part Japanese and part African American. I wanted her to find a way to be with Olly and experience life and get some kind of happy ending. Olly is a nice guy. He cares about his mom and sister and tries to protect his mom from his dad. He is also concerned about Maddy and wants to make sure he doesn't cause her to get sick even though he wants to be near her.
The chapters are short and fast paced. Maddy and Olly's friendship and developing romance are documented through IMs, Maddy's diary entries, and lists among other things. There are also cute book reviews written by Maddy and diagrams she draws such as her research on how to kiss. I think this adds to the story and makes it more entertaining. It also showcases Maddy's quirky character perfectly.
Everything, Everything is being touted as a novel for fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park and I'd have to agree. The book does remind me a little bit of both books while being original at the same time. I thought it was a really sweet and touching story. It isn't as sad as The Fault in Our Stars and the ending is definitely uplifting like Eleanor and Park. I think readers who enjoyed those books or are fans of contemporary teen authors like Jessi Kirby, Morgan Matson and Cammie McGovern would love this. Everything, Everything is an excellent debut novel and I look forward to seeing what Nicola Yoon writes next. ...more
I was sold on this book because of the setting. Rome is on my bucket list of places to see. I also watched Roman Holiday once years ago and I liked itI was sold on this book because of the setting. Rome is on my bucket list of places to see. I also watched Roman Holiday once years ago and I liked it so I was curious to see what a modern version would be like.
Amelia is an up and coming actress and playing Princess Ann in Roman Holiday is the chance of a lifetime. Her boyfriend doesn't feel the same way about her acting career. He is eager for her to settle down with him and maybe just act a couple of times a year but Amelia doesn't want to leave Hollywood. This kind of echoes Audrey Hepburn's own story as she was engaged at the time she was making Roman Holiday and her fiance wasn't completely supportive (as revealed in the letters Amelia finds).
After a grueling event where she is grilled by the press, a slightly drunk Amelia sneaks out of her hotel wearing a maid's uniform. It is then that she first runs into Philip, a journalist desperate for a story that will help his career so he can pay back his father. Of course Philip thinks she is a maid but he soon stumbles on the truth but pretends to go along with Amelia's charade as they keep meeting. He hopes to get an exclusive story (his editor's plan is much more dastardly than the one portrayed in the film) and Amelia keeps her secret not yet ready to share the truth.
The other important character is Sophie, a real life princess hiding out in Rome. Amelia and Sophie become fast friends when Amelia helps her out of a sticky situation. In return Sophie helps Amelia to prepare for her part as Princess Ann and the two explore the city and discuss relationship woes. Sophie is expected to marry a prince but she falls in love with a doctor she meets in Rome. While Amelia represents a modern Audrey Hepburn, Sophie is a modern version of Princess Ann, the heroine of Roman Holiday.
While I liked Amelia and Sophie, I didn't really buy into the love story between Amelia and Phillip. I also think he comes across as less likable than Joe Bradley, his film counterpart played by Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. In the film Joe is charming and even though he wants to get a story it is also really obvious that he cares about the princess. Unfortunately it doesn't translate as well to the modern character. Phillip is motivated by his need to pay back his dad and to get his career back on track but I didn't feel much sympathy for him. It doesn't help matters that his editor expects him to get Amelia to fall in love with him and accept his proposal without revealing the truth of her identity to create the ultimate scoop.
I loved the setting of the novel though at times the description of the tourist sites took on the feel of reading a guide book and the descriptions of the food became too much. Who really tells people everything they want to order at a restaurant when they make plans to go there? I normally love food descriptions but this didn't feel natural in the story and it happened far too many times. Aside from those little issues and the problems with the Amelia-Phillip relationship, I did enjoy Rome in Love, mostly because of the insight it gave us into Audrey Hepburn's life and the making of the film. The letters that Amelia found were very interesting and really felt like things Audrey would have said. I would have loved it if the author had chosen to write a historical novel about Audrey and the making of the film instead of a modern retelling.
Overall I liked the book in spite of its flaws and I think fans of Roman Holiday would enjoy the parts about Audrey Hepburn as well. It made me decide to watch Roman Holiday again. I appreciated the movie even more based on what I learned while reading the book! ...more
Nithya meets James in class when he helps her out after she forgets a major assignment and again when he rescues her from a scary near date-rape scenaNithya meets James in class when he helps her out after she forgets a major assignment and again when he rescues her from a scary near date-rape scenario at a party later that night. James is the kind of guy that her parents would want for her except for the fact that he isn't Indian. At first she does her best to ignore her attraction but the more time they spend together the harder she falls for him. Unfortunately Nithya's parents expect her to have an arranged marriage and her mother already has the perfect candidate in mind, the son of one of her friends and someone Nithya herself hits it off with when they meet at a wedding. Nithya has to decide between two good guys and two ways of life and the decision isn't easy.
I wanted to read this because of the subject of arranged marriage and because Nithya is the daughter of immigrants trying to balance her family's traditions with the American way of life. I found Nithya easy to relate to. I loved how close she is to her family and how important they are to her. I really appreciated the respect she shows for her parents and their beliefs even when they didn't quite align with her own. Rather than just complaining that they are old fashioned and out of touch, she understands where they are coming from and hates the thought of disappointing them.
Nithya and James's relationship has its ups and downs especially as she is torn between Indian culture and American culture. She is of both worlds and not sure yet how to work that out in her relationship. She really cares about James but she knows that her parents and relatives wouldn't approve because he isn't Indian. James is actually a really nice guy. He is smart, respects Nithya and his family is very important to him. It is hard for James to understand Nithya's reluctance to come clean with her family and she hurts him by being on the fence about their relationship. He is from a loving family like Nithya but he and his siblings have more breathing room to make their own choices and their own mistakes.
I thought the author did a really good job of portraying the challenges that Nithya and James have to face as a couple from two very different backgrounds. Nithya's parents could have come across as controlling or rigidly strict but instead they are shown to be two people who love their daughter very much but have differing world views and expectations. Their belief is that arranged marriage is how it's always been done so why break the system? The author does bring up a good point about the importance of shared culture and shared experience as a bond in a marriage relationship and how when two people marry, it isn't just the couple but also their families and extended relatives who are brought together.
Something else I liked about the book was that it explores Nithya's career and college struggles. Nithya has always been a good student and hard worker. She has put a lot of effort in pursuing her dream to become a doctor. Now it is time to take MCATs and go through difficult interview process to get into medical school and it definitely puts pressure and stress on her in addition to what she is already feeling over her hidden romance.
Overall I really liked this new adult novel. There wasn't any drawn out angst or drama and I think it was pretty realistically and thoughtfully written. I should note that while this book is new adult, in being true to Nithya's beliefs and the way she was raised, the romance isn't as steamy as what readers might expect from the genre. I really liked Nithya and I wish this book had been around when I was in college or during my teen years! I could really relate to the struggles Nithya had with trying to be an adult with her own beliefs while also respecting her parents and their traditions. I would suggest this book to readers who like multicultural romance novels, new adult novels without the angst and melodrama, and fans of authors like Anjali Banerjee. ...more
The story begins with Vanessa and her fiancé Ted trying to decide where they want to hold their destination wedding. Vanessa is an EMT and Ted is a veThe story begins with Vanessa and her fiancé Ted trying to decide where they want to hold their destination wedding. Vanessa is an EMT and Ted is a very practical doctor who wants to get married in Destin, Florida in April since there will be a medical conference going on at the same time. Vanessa balks at returning to Destin since that is the area where she lived when she met her ex-husband Logan. She is convinced she is over him and it's all water under the bridge but when she arrives in Destin and sees him face to face she realizes how wrong she was. She is so certain that drama-free Ted is the guy for her but circumstances keep bringing her and Logan together again and again. Could God be trying to get her attention? In between the current storyline with Logan and Vanessa dealing with issues in their personal lives and the threat of a hurricane are snippets of their past--how they met, became a couple, and got married as teens before everything fell apart. I liked how Vanessa and Logan were presented as two imperfect people and how the difficulties in their marriage and their current relationships were examined. Both characters still have some growing up to do especially when it comes to confronting their past mistakes and how they've dealt with problems.
Vanessa has been influenced by her childhood of constantly moving around and not being able to form lasting relationships with people because of that. She doesn't have many deep relationships because of that. She likes being with Ted because he is uncomplicated and they both are dedicated to the medical profession. She doesn't really have any friends though as she has learned to not get too attached. Even though she no longer has to pick up and move all the time she doesn't have any friends in Colorado so when she has to come up with a maid of honor she asks Mindy, a friend from her senior year of high school even though they haven't been in touch (Vanessa's fault). Fortunately Mindy proves to be a good friend even now and helps her navigate both wedding planning and running into Logan again.
Logan's career as a storm chaser may be coming to an end after he made a big mistake that nearly cost the life of his friend and teammate Max. Even though Max and the other team members don't blame him he can't get past his guilt and secretly plans to walk away from the team. Fortunately Logan has some really good friends in his teammates and they are very upfront about calling him out when he needs it. Like Mindy, Logan's friends serve as a voice of reason and honesty. Logan has some issues with communication that he has to work on and that was part of the breakdown of his marriage with Vanessa along with his single-minded focus on his career.
I don't read many Christian fiction novels these days but I decided to give this a try because I enjoyed one of her other novels and the premise reminded me a bit of Sweet Home Alabama, one of my favorite romantic comedies. The novel may not have had much in the way of comedy but I liked the journey that Logan and Vanessa went through to get back to a point where they could be together again. I do think that the happy ending was a little rushed. I would have liked it more if they had spent more time getting reacquainted with their grown up selves because people do change from who they are as teens. I wanted to see more proof that they worked through their past issues and how they'd handle things differently in the present relationship. Overall though I thought it was a good contemporary romance with a likable hero and heroine and secondary characters and a positive message about marriage. I would suggest this book to readers who like contemporary Christian romance and fans of authors like Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter and Susan May Warren....more
A number of years ago I read and loved Driftwood Summer (also by Patti Callahan Henry), a book about three estranged sisters trying to save a bookstorA number of years ago I read and loved Driftwood Summer (also by Patti Callahan Henry), a book about three estranged sisters trying to save a bookstore. Since then I've been meaning to read more of the author's work. When I saw this title, my interest was piqued by the premise. Unfortunately it did not quite live up to my high expectations.
I was under the impression that Ella's husband was dead but under different circumstances from her tragically romantic story she spins for Hunter. We learn at the beginning of the novel that he is actually alive, having dumped her for her best friend's sister. They also happens to live in the same town. I am mentioning these minor spoilers (really this is all revealed at the beginning) because I found it hard to believe that Ella thought she'd be able to get away with lying to Hunter about her husband's story. Still I felt really sorry for Ella. She loses everything and has to live in the same town with her cheating spouse and his new girlfriend and painful memories. She also hopes that somehow he will come to his senses and return to her. I can understand what led her to lie to Hunter and why she is drawn to him as someone who doesn't know the whole pathetic story of her life.
Hunter's real name is Blake (his last name is Hunter). He is struggling to come up with a good story and while he hunts for one, he lies and tells the people he meets that he is working on a book about coastal towns. This gives him a way to connect with Ella under the guise of her acting as his tour guide in the town. He is also hiding from his own personal issues-a messy divorce (he cheated) and a difficult relationship with his teenage daughter who is understandably angry with him.
I found Hunter/Blake to be hard to like as a hero. I thought he wasn't good enough for Ella which kind of soured me on the romance aspect of the novel. While I felt sympathetic towards Ella and wanted her to find happiness and some peace (and let go of her delusions about her husband) I didn't want her to end up with Blake. I did like how Ella grew as a person through her friendship with her feisty elderly neighbor, Mimi and the way she learned to stand her ground. She even found a way to mend fences with her best friend who truly was sorry about the mess with her sister and Emma's husband.
If the novel had given us a hero that was truly worthy of the heroine, I would have enjoyed it so much more. Instead I felt a little disappointed in the end. While this book didn't quite work for me, I wouldn't say it was bad. I may not have cared much for the hero but that doesn't mean that other readers would feel the same way. I did enjoy the setting and the characters of Ella and Mimi in particular. I think readers who like Nancy Thayer's novels might appreciate this one too. ...more
You've Got Mail is one of my favorite romantic comedies. I also loved The Shop Around the Corner, the classic Jimmy Stewart film that inspired it andYou've Got Mail is one of my favorite romantic comedies. I also loved The Shop Around the Corner, the classic Jimmy Stewart film that inspired it and I liked the novel How to Eat a Cupcake so when I saw the description for this book, I knew I had to read it. I also kind of had high expectations for it and thankfully The Coincidence of Coconut Cake delivered.
Lou is finally realizing her dream of owning her own restaurant. It's even in the black even though they aren't making that much money but she is optimistic and she has the love and support of a great staff and a sweet elderly couple who eat there every week. She's engaged to Devlin Pontillier, a handsome and powerful attorney and life couldn't seem to be better. On the morning of Devlin's birthday Lou bakes him an amazing coconut cake and takes it to his apartment to surprise him. Unfortunately it is she who is surprised when she finds he is not alone. Later that same day Al visits her restaurant to review it for his column and he is less than impressed by the service and the underdone food so he gives Louella's a very critical review even though he usually visits a restaurant more than once before writing about it.
When Al sees Lou at the pub, he is happy to see the pretty stranger he glimpsed once before when she was carrying a coconut cake, never realizing she is the owner of the restaurant he critiqued. They strike up a conversation about food (agreeing not to talk about work) and as Lou shows him around Milwaukee, he starts to feel differently about the city and about Lou. He is attracted to her but she is determined to maintain a friendship as she is dealing with her pain over Devlin's betrayal and her struggling restaurant. Gradually she starts to fall for him too.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a delightful contemporary romance. I loved the food descriptions and the way the author brings the setting to life so well. Lou and Al are both very likable protagonists and I enjoyed the development of their relationship and the resolution after the truth is revealed. Even though Al starts out as a negative food critic, popular for his brutally honest reviews of bad restaurants, he starts to change after spending time with Lou and starting to appreciate the city more. Lou has some self esteem issues that she has to work through. She is confident in her abilities as a cook but dating someone like Devlin really damaged her self image and her faith in her dreams. With the help of Al and her friends she begins to see the truth about herself and Devlin and to see how Al truly loves her.
Overall I found myself charmed by this book and the characters and the sweet love story. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake would be perfect for foodies and fans of romantic comedies. ...more
Beach Town is a contemporary novel about the movie making business and life in a small town that is struggling to survive economic hardship. Mary KayBeach Town is a contemporary novel about the movie making business and life in a small town that is struggling to survive economic hardship. Mary Kay Andrews writes with her signature blend of romance, Southern settings and detailed description, in this case of what it's like to work on a movie set.
Greer is the third generation in her family to be in the movie business. Her grandmother acted in films while her mom was on the small screen and her dad was a stunt car driver. She is very devoted to her career and to her grandmother who is all she has left since her mom died and her dad is no longer in the picture. She loves her job even though her career took a hit with a disaster on her last film set. Now she is desperate to salvage things by finding the perfect spot to film Beach Town. While she has found an ideal location in Cypress Key, the mayor has other ideas. Eventually Greer prevails on him to at least allow the shoot to happen even if he still hasn't consented to their plan to blow up the old casino. Eb cares a lot about his town and he has his own plans for renovating the casino and turning it into a community center. Unfortunately the building is in really bad shape and it will take a lot of money to fix it. He is determined to try though in spite of the odds.
While Eb and Greer's chemistry is immediate they start off on the wrong foot with Greer assuming he is just a janitor at the motel she is staying and Eb thinking she is a spoiled brat. Their further altercations over the movie make things even more difficult but the reader knows that eventually they will work things out. The journey to get to that point however is far from smooth. Issues with town politics, trouble on the set with a bratty entitled star and drunk script writer and family drama for Eb and Greer add to the complications.
I've become a fan of Mary Kay Andrews's novels. I liked Greer and Eb as the protagonists and the setting. The details of the movie industry were really interesting to me too. I like how Andrews always gives her protagonists interesting jobs. I also liked some of the colorful secondary characters like Eb's aunt Ginny, his teenage niece Allie and the wisecracking police chief, Arnelle. They made Cypress Key sound like a fun place to take a vacation. Greer's dad also seemed like a hoot and I loved that he owned a "General Lee" from his time working on The Dukes of Hazzard.
If you are looking for something light with some humor, romance and small town Southern charm, pick up Beach Town. It is the perfect summertime read....more
Letters to the Lost is a dual narrative set in 2011 and the 1940s. It tells the story of Jess, a singer who gets mixed up with the wrong sort of man aLetters to the Lost is a dual narrative set in 2011 and the 1940s. It tells the story of Jess, a singer who gets mixed up with the wrong sort of man and Stella, a foundling who considers herself fortunate to be getting married so she will finally have a home and family of her own. Jess steals some money from her horrid boyfriend before making her daring escape but it isn't enough to survive on for long and she is injured so she holes up in an abandoned cottage. Inside she finds a letter addressed to Mrs. S. Thorne and at first she has no intention of opening it but it is marked "Urgent" and it looks like the home's owner hasn't been there in some time so she goes ahead and reads it. What she finds is a letter from Dan, an elderly American man who is trying to connect with his lost love, Stella. When Jess finds a box of old letters written from Dan to Stella during the war, she decides to write to Dan and help him find Stella. Stella's marriage to Reverend Thorne isn't exactly what she'd hoped for. During their courtship, Charles was kind and attentive and although there wasn't passion, she thought it was enough to build on. Unfortunately things become difficult and no matter how Stella tries to reach him, he is cold and distant. When war breaks out, Charles is quick to enlist as a chaplain, leaving Stella behind even though he wasn't required to go. Stella's only solace is her friendship with Nancy, who has always been more wild and daring. At Nancy's invitation, Stella decides to go out dancing and that night she meets Dan. The relationship between Stella and Dan is at first a friendship. They meet a few times before Dan leaves town and then write letters back and forth. Dan encourages Stella when she is feeling blue and she lifts his spirits by writing of the little things going on in her town which gives him comfort and reminds him what he is fighting for. Inevitably they fall in love and begin to plan a way to be together and for Stella to leave Charles. Jess in the meantime is struggling to survive in the cottage without electricity and heat and meager supplies. It is there that she meets Will Holt, a probate researcher. Will is looking for any remaining relatives of the late owner of the cottage. Jess's mission to find Stella is somehow connected to Will's own search and as they both get caught up in Stella and Dan's story, they also begin to care about each other.
Letters to the Lost appealed to me on many different levels because of the setting and the characters and wanting to know what happened to them. I love historical fiction so reading about life during WWII was interesting though I've read several novels set in that time and dealing with similar struggles. The love between Stella and Dan was touching and reminded me of a Nicholas Sparks novel (in a good way). Normally I do not like books with adulterous affairs but in some instances (where the husband is horrid and the wife is trapped in the marriage) it makes it more acceptable to me. I just felt so bad for Stella and her circumstances. She was so full of love to give and the people in her life were not that great. Even her best friend is pretty selfish and at times it is like Stella is so isolated. The townspeople have expectations of her to lead by example as a pastor's wife and her husband was so remote even when he was actually at home. I could see why Dan's warmth and caring stole her heart even though she tried to resist her attraction to him and save her marriage.
Although I think the historical story grabbed my attention more, I also surprisingly enjoyed the modern story line with Jess and Will although their romance didn't have the same strength as Dan and Stella's. Jess and Stella have some similarities in what they've gone through so I was rooting for both couples to have a happy ending. I also liked following along with Jess to figure out what happened to Stella and seeing how Stella's story affected Jess and gave her strength to start over.
My one complaint is that the character of Charles Thorne becomes something of a caricature and Nancy sort of fades from the picture. I would have liked it if Thorne's character had more depth and his motivations were explored. Nancy was never a favorite of mine but she served as a vehicle to bring Stella and Dan together among other things.
Overall I'd say this debut is a winner. It reminded me favorably of the novels of Sarah Jio, who often writes stories with dual time periods like The Violets of March. I was also reminded of the new novel by Sara Gruen, At the Water's Edge and That Summer by Lauren Willig. I think fans of Nicholas Sparks would enjoy the romantic elements as well. I think the novel would also be a great selection for book discussion groups. If you like historical fiction, romance and stories set in both modern and historic time periods, you should check out Letters to the Lost. ...more
I mostly loved the Pushing the Limits series so I wanted to check out this first book in McGarry's new Thunder Road series. What I liked were the mainI mostly loved the Pushing the Limits series so I wanted to check out this first book in McGarry's new Thunder Road series. What I liked were the main characters, Emily and Oz. Unfortunately the adults in the book were really immature and secretive. Of course without all the secrets there might not be a book but it really drove me crazy when they wouldn't be open with Emily about why she was in danger or her past history with her dad and his family. Something else that also bothered me was the treatment of women by the club. Although they were more respectful (according to Oz) compared to the other motorcycle club mentioned in the book, I thought it was still kind of a misogynistic society where women were viewed as belonging to the members. Their nickname of "old ladies" and the wall of bras really got my hackles up. I think I would have liked it more if women were allowed to be members of the club and treated more equally.
As I mentioned above, I liked Emily. She is smart and driven and she has plans for her life. It really turns her world upside down to find out that her mom hasn't been entirely truthful about the past. Spending time with her dad's family is eye opening and she does have the chance to explore new experiences and learn new things about herself. First she has to overcome her anger and her doubts and prejudices. I also liked Oz. His dream has always been to be a member of Reign of Terror and to work for their security company like his father. Unfortunately he messes up when he is supposed to be protecting Emily so he has to work hard to regain her dad's trust. He initially doesn't like Emily and blames her for causing her grandmother Olivia to suffer more. Olivia has cancer and has longed for a renewed relationship with her granddaughter. She has also been like a second mom to Oz. As Oz and Emily spend more time together they begin to fall in love and Oz also starts to rethink some things about the club and his future.
Overall I liked this book but didn't love it. The main characters kept me invested in the story line and while I guessed part of the big secret early on, I still wanted to know how things turned out. It was a quick read and a page turner especially towards the end. What disappointed me was the behavior of the adults--both Emily's mom and stepfather and her dad and the other adults in the club. They were pretty controlling of Emily and lying to her which wasn't cool with me. A lot of heartache could have been saved by their being more open and honest. I also found the club's treatment of women to be a little controlling and borderline offensive. I've read paranormal romance novels with werewolf packs that behaved in a similar manner and if readers like that sort of strong Alpha male thing, this might appeal to them more than it did with me.
While I liked Emily and Oz, I am not yet fully committed to reading the rest of the series though there are some characters I want to know more about like Violet and Chevy. Just because this book didn't quite work for me does not mean that it won't be a good fit for other readers. Perhaps I am more sensitive about certain things. I think teens who have enjoyed McGarry's other books and authors like Simone Elkeles and Jennifer Echols will like this even with its flaws. The forbidden romance between Oz and Emily is definitely an appeal factor. Also fans of Sons of Anarchy might have a better appreciation of Nowhere But Here than I did....more
Amber Sterlington is considered the most beautiful girl of the London Season. Any time she enters a room, the men all take notice (as do the jealous yAmber Sterlington is considered the most beautiful girl of the London Season. Any time she enters a room, the men all take notice (as do the jealous young women). She isn't a very kind or sincere person. She continually outshines her younger sister Darra whom she forces to go with her to balls even if Darra isn't feeling well just so she has someone to talk to since she lacks female friendship. This is the person that Thomas Richards first encounters. He finds himself strongly attracted to her but when he witnesses her character, he determines to try to forget her.
Amber is on a path to a successful marriage that would please her status conscious family when she begins to lose her looks. After the truth comes out in a very embarrassing way, she is banished to the countryside with only a maid for company. It is here that Amber realizes the truth about herself and how she has behaved.
I initially found Amber hard to like. Even after her health condition became apparent she still is very class conscious and snobby. Her poor maid Suzanne had to put up with a lot but Suzanne is a kind and caring person and chooses to stick with Amber anyway. Thankfully the time in Yorkshire and her reduced circumstances cause Amber to change her ways. She starts to see Suzanne as a real person and to become a more genuine and kind person herself. When Amber no longer has her looks to hide behind she spends her time developing her character instead.
Thomas Richards is a really kind man. While he is initially drawn to Amber because of her looks, he is also looking for a wife with a good character. When he accidentally finds her living in a cottage near his lands, he decides to befriend her as he sees that she has changed. She is living under an assumed name as a widow, a conceit that allows her to protect her privacy and her family's reputation. She doesn't know that Thomas knows who she really is. It is nice to see them develop a friendship and genuine feelings for each other. She has to let go of her own fears and understand that Thomas could love her as she is even though she no longer finds herself attractive.
I really enjoyed this novel and the way it explored the idea of beauty and acceptance and character versus social standing. Amber grows a lot as a character over the course of the book. She has a lot of lessons to learn about herself and what she has always been taught to believe is important. I also liked all the historical details of the Regency setting. Usually Regency romances focus on the pretty dresses and the balls but because Amber is living in exile in genteel poverty, we get to see the nitty gritty details of daily living, similar to what is described in Longbourn by Jo Baker. The eventual romantic relationship is "clean" and sweet and well developed. While it is not Christian fiction, there are some mentions of God and faith and prayer. I think readers who like Christian historical fiction would enjoy this too as well as those who like Regency romance without any racy scenes.
So many times a romance novel features a stunningly beautiful and physically and internally flawless heroine that it made me take note that Amber is imperfect. She struggled with self esteem issues relating to her looks the same way many women do. I was glad that Josi Kilpack chose to write about a female character who initially had seemingly physical perfection and lots of inner flaws and then develop her into someone with outward "imperfections" and a beautiful heart.
Note: There are some minor spoilers below regarding Amber's condition. Amazon mentions it in their description of the book but Goodreads and Barnes and Noble do not so I chose not to include it in the main part of my review. If you don't mind knowing, read ahead. It isn't kept a secret for long in the book and is part of the reason I really wanted to read it and I hope you will too.
(view spoiler)[I wanted to read this book because I've enjoyed the other titles in the "Proper Romance" line and I found out it dealt with alopecia areata, a kind of hair loss that I also have (but not the same extent that Amber has). I didn't realize there are three different kinds of alopecia areata. The kind I have occurs in circular patches of hair loss. Alopecia totalis is the loss of all hair on the head and alopecia universalis is the loss of all hair on the body.
Modern people have treatments like injections available to them and for me that has helped in the past with some regrowth. Unfortunately for Amber those treatments didn't exist in her day. While hair sometimes grows back, sometimes it doesn't. There is some description of the treatment used in Regency times and it is horrifying. While wigs are a possibility, they aren't perfect.
I liked the portrayal of hair loss and its effects on the protagonist's view of herself. Although Amber is rather conceited about her looks, hair is considered a woman's "crowning glory" and the author explores what it is like to lose that. People may be more understanding in today's society but not necessarily. Amber's parents ship her off to hide so they don't have to face embarrassment themselves and so it won't harm Darra's chances for marriage. Amber herself chooses to stay secluded from her neighbors in Yorkshire. It takes a long time for her to find acceptance within herself and to dare to stop hiding. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more