Friday, January 18, 2019

What's in the mail

Melissa A:
The Gown by Jennifer Robson from William Morrow (Enter to win a copy!)
Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan from Harlequin (e-book via NetGalley)
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib from St. Martin's Press (e-book via NetGalley)
Trophy Life by Lea Geller from Lake Union (e-book via NetGalley)
The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo from Gallery (e-book via NetGalley)
How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)
Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard by Jamie Raintree from Graydon House (e-book via NetGalley)
Me for You by Lolly Winston from Touchstone (e-book via NetGalley)
Our Life in a Day by Jamie Fewery from Orion (e-book via NetGalley)

Sara:
Last Minute by/from Libby Kirsch (e-book)
Love is Like a Soufflé by Elie Grimes from Sassy Fiction (e-book)
The Right of Way by/from L.B. Lewis (e-book)
One S’more Summer, S’more to Lose, and Love You S’more by Beth Merlin from Kelley and Hall (e-books)

Jami:
Acts of Infidelity by Lena Andersson from Other Press (e-book)

Jami and Tracey:
Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell from Grove (e-book via Netgalley)

Book Review: Hope to Fall

By Sara Steven

Malachy Shevlin, pub owner and thirty-nine year old orphan, believed he was destined to wander through life alone. Just a man and his canine companion, Padraig. Until unexpected news has him leaving behind his home in Dublin and hopping on a plane to America.

When Malachy suddenly finds himself with a woman he didn't know he wanted and a family he never knew he had, he begins to feel something he didn't think possible. Hope.

But is it too late for the grumpy Irishman to have everything he's ever desired? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

One of my favorite book series continues on, with its latest installment proving that the best things come in fours! Malachy’s story was a bit of a surprise, eloquently written and masterfully portrayed. Given his past experiences and what he ends up finding when he reaches America, it was written honestly, no over-the-top overly emotional or melodramatic moments. His reactions and emotions fit perfectly into his character, which made me feel closer to him and want to know more about his story.

Kingsley has a lovely way of creating characters who have flaws you fall in love with. Malachy is all thought, little emotion. He doesn’t want to become invested into anything that equates to an attachment, a defense mechanism he’s cultivated since childhood. You feel for him, yet you yearn for him to grow out of who he is, and the best thing of all? We get to see that, as a reader. But, there are plenty of highs and lows while he’s working on identifying who he really is, where he comes from, and whether forming connections is really worth it, or not.

There is a love story here, not only in the romantic sense, but in the familial sense, too. Having come from a past where I’m not on the best of terms with some of my own family members, living or not, it was a relatable experience, making it easy for me to understand the walls that Malachy has built up around his life, his heart. This makes it harder for him to come terms with his future, and where he ultimately belongs.

I enjoyed Malachy, the romance that blooms in his life, the unexpected shift in his world, one he never saw coming. I also appreciated getting to catch up with so many of my favorite characters from the other books in this series, even Daisies and Devin makes an appearance or two. Malachy is a much-needed voice in the town of River Canyon, the missing puzzle piece that makes the picture whole.

Thanks to Kelsey Kingsley for the book in exchange for an honest review. Hope to Fall can be purchased here.

More by Kelsey Kingsley (Kinney Brothers series):

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Once is not enough for Lori Handeland

We welcome Lori Handeland to CLC today, and we're excited to feature her first women's fiction novel, Just Once. She's here to tell us more about it, as well as some other fun facts about herself.

Lori Handeland is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than 60 published works of fiction to her credit. Her novels, novellas, and short stories span genres from paranormal and urban fantasy to historical romance. After a quarter-century of success and accolades, she began a new chapter in her career. Marking her women’s fiction debut, Just Once (Severn House, January 2019) is a richly layered novel about two women who love the same man, how their lives intertwine, and their journeys of loss, grief, sacrifice, and forgiveness.

Lori sold her first novel, a western historical romance, in 1993. In the 26 years since then, she has written eleven novels in the popular Nightcreature series, five installments in the Phoenix Chronicles, six works of contemporary romance about the Luchettis, a duet of Shakespeare Undead novels, and many more books. Her fiction has won critical acclaim and coveted awards, including two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Paranormal Romance (Blue Moon) and Best Long Contemporary Category Romance (The Mommy Quest), a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance (A Soldier’s Quest), and a National Reader’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal (Hunter’s Moon).

Lori lives in Southern Wisconsin with her husband. In between writing and reading, she enjoys long walks with their rescue mutt, Arnold, and occasional visits from her two grown sons and her perfectly adorable grandson. (Bio adapted from Lori's website.)

Visit Lori online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter



Synopsis:
Imagine having 24 years of your life abruptly erased—by the only man you’ve ever loved. That’s the chilling reality for two women with nothing in common except their intimate connection to Charley Blackwell. His first wife, and “ex” for nearly a quarter century, Frankie Sicari has finally gotten over the pain of Charley’s betrayal and made peace with growing old alone. Over their 23 years of marriage, his second wife, Hannah, has gotten used to Charley’s globe-trotting lifestyle as a photojournalist and his demons.

Life for both women takes a tailspin when Charley returns home from a National Geographic shoot in Africa—not to the D.C. apartment he shares with Hannah but to the house in Milwaukee he shared with Frankie before their divorce. More disturbing, Charley thinks it’s 1989, the last happy year of his and Frankie’s marriage, and has no memory at all of Hannah—a woman he thinks is “cuckoo” for claiming to be his wife.

Driven by three indelible characters, Just Once is a richly layered and deeply affecting novel about sacrifice, grief, forgiveness, and love. 

How did you decide to foray into writing women's fiction, after writing so many paranormal, urban fantasy, and historical romance novels?
It was because I'd written so many novels that I ended up writing Just Once. I'd never believed in writer's block, wouldn't let myself because I had so many stories in my head and, thankfully, contracts to write them.

Then my life went ka-boom. An only child of a now-single mother, when she had serious health issues and multiple surgeries, she needed me and of course I was there. I was also writing back-to-back trilogies for two publishers. I got 'er done, but I gave myself a bad case of fried author brain.

My agent asked me: "What book would you write if you only had one book left to write?"

The idea for Just Once had been swirling in my head for a long time. I'd tried to write it but gotten nowhere. But this time, when words were failing me in romance, they came to me for this book and brought back my love of writing and my need to write. Just Once has been a blessing in many ways.

What is a favorite compliment you've received on your writing?
Some of my favorite compliments are when readers tell me my characters are so real they feel like they know them. (Even the vampires and the werewolves!) Then an author knows she's really done her job.

If Just Once were optioned for film, who would you cast in the leading roles?
I'm thinking Michael Keaton or Dennis Quaid for Charley, Diane Lane or Rene Russo for Frankie and Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Aniston for Hannah.

If we were to visit you in the town where you live, what would be the first thing you would take us to see or do?
Depending upon the time of year, we'd take in a Brewers game, a Bucks game or a Packers game. Not only are the stadiums/arenas works of art but you get to meet tons of people and eat great Wisconsin food--like cheese curds and custard.

What song is currently stuck in your head?
"Bohemian Rhapsody."  I watched the Golden Globes, was thrilled when the movie and Rami Malik won because I loved them both, and now "I see a little silhouetta of a man, scaramouche, scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"

You're welcome.

If you were to empty your purse right now, what is the strangest thing you would find?
Matchbox cars. I always kept a few in my purse when my boys were small to settle them down. Then, when they were grown, my friends were having grandchildren and they came in handy a few times. Now that I have a grandson of my own, I may as well leave them there.

Thanks to Lori for chatting with us and to Jennifer Musico for arranging the interview.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Go-to-Gay: Back to the beginning

We welcome Go-to-Gay Keith Stewart back to CLC today to help us kick off 2019. He has some insight into resolutions and some fun cultural facts to share with everyone. Happy reading!

GOOD INTENTIONS, BAD FOLLOW-THROUGH

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s festivities. I am a sucker for the chance to reflect and renew, to start over, to become a better person. But then, I am also pragmatic. I know how hard it is a person in his forties to change anything about himself, no matter what the reason. What usually happens—it happened again this year—is that on December 30th and 31st, I sit around and contemplate the year that just passed, and then decide on some goals to shoot for in the next three hundred sixty-five days.

Inevitably, I always choose the same thorns that poke me every day of every year. I want to get in shape. I want to make all my writing deadlines. I want to send birthday cards to my friends and family. I want to lose weight.

I don’t have to tell you what happens by the second week of January, do I? I didn’t think so. In case you aren’t sure, I just ate a piece of fried chicken while finishing this post that was due to the editor last week. Sigh. Good intentions, bad follow-through. This year, I decided to look around the globe to see if I could find some other tradition for starting a new year that I could sign up for and keep my promise for longer than ten days. Let’s go!



There is a small town in Peru that hosts the Takanakuy Festival for the new year. During this festival, villagers who have grudges against each other face off in the boxing ring for an actual fist fight which is overseen by local policemen. After the fight is finished, the participants forgive and forget past grievances and start fresh for the year.

While this has its advantages—there is no long-term commitment, you are in and out in one round—it also has many disadvantages, especially for me. I am not really a fighter. Just between us, I am delicate. One good punch on the arm and I would be down for at least a day. Also, I would never forgive the person. I would carry a bigger a grudge than I had going into the rumble. So, I am moving on from Peru.

In Denmark, people save up old, unused plates and crockery throughout the year. Then on New Year’s Eve, they run amok and hurl them at the front doors of people they love. Apparently, waking up to a front porch full of broken glass on the first day of January is a sure sign that you are well-received in Copenhagen.



While that sounds fairly tempting, I don’t ever recall having spare dishes throughout the year to use for this project. Also, the sound of glass shattering is one of my least favorite noises in the world, and I think that hearing dishware chucked against your front door all night would make you think you were living in a real-life “Purge” moment. Sorry, Denmark, I can’t play.

There is a Spanish tradition of stuffing twelve grapes into your mouth as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. If you can fit all twelve in there by the time the countdown is done, you will have success and good fortune throughout the coming year.



OK. Now we are getting somewhere. This is a challenge that has my name written all over it. I have been told my many people I have a big mouth. I think sticking twelve juicy grapes in it would be a breeze. The payoff is good fortune for a year? I’m in!

But wait, we have one more stop on our search.

What’s that, France? You have an easier and more delicious way to ensure good health, wealth, and luck? Eating PANCAKES?!



Leave it to the French to know just how to do it just right. These people know how to live! That settles it. If y’all need me, I’ll be sitting here in a café, with a giant stack of luck-producing goodness and enjoying my 2019!

Bonne année mes amis!

Keith Stewart is the author of Bernadette Peters Hates Me – True Tales of a Delusional Man. A native of Appalachia, he splits his time between his hometown of Hyden and nearby Lexington, Kentucky. His blog is www.astrongmanscupoftea.com. You can find him on Twitter at @Shiglyogly and Facebook at @AMSCOT (A Strong Man’s Cup of Tea). He is a regular contributor to HumorOutcasts.com and the GoodMenProject.com. He lives with his husband, Andy, and their two dogs, Duke and Dudley.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: The Gown

We're pleased to introduce The Gown by Jennifer Robson. It was recently published and is receiving rave reviews. Thanks to William Morrow, we have one copy to give away!

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and Holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

“Marvelous and moving, a vivid portrait of female self-reliance in a world racked by the cost of war.”
—Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Alice Network

“Robson has managed to craft a story that is personal and universal, timely and timeless.”
— Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale

Photo by Natalie Brown
Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and #1 Toronto Globe & Mail bestselling author of Somewhere in France and Goodnight from London. She holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and young children.

With The Gown, Jennifer drew from her academic background, as well as from two years of research, including interviews with the last surviving seamstress who worked on Elizabeth’s gown, Betty Foster, and visits with the master embroiders at Hand & Lock, a bespoke hand embroidery atelier in London. At Hand & Lock, Robson reconstructed one of the distinctive star flower motifs from Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Visit Jennifer online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends January 22nd at midnight EST.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Spotlight and Giveaway: Sophie Last Seen

In Marlene Adelstein’s debut novel, Sophie Last Seen, it is six years after the disappearance of ten year-old Sophie from a shopping mall. Her mother, Jesse, is living in a self-destructive limbo as any sense of closure eludes her. Jesse is observed by her daughter’s best friend, Star, who carries her own secrets about that day. These two wounded souls come together to follow clues left by Sophie in her birding journals hoping to be led to Sophie or answers to her disappearance.


This inspiring tale of one woman’s journey in search of the truth about her missing daughter weaves together themes of forgiveness, romance, and acceptance.

Perfect for book clubs, Sophie Last Seen has elements of The Deep End of the Ocean and The Lovely Bones.

"A mother’s psyche edges toward madness as she tries to solve the puzzle of her daughter’s disappearance. A gripping tale of heartbreak and eternal hope."
—Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

About The Author:
After twenty-three years in New York City, working as a film development executive for top Hollywood producers, Marlene Adelstein began earning her living as a freelance editor working on novels and memoirs.

When she’s not reading other people’s manuscripts or writing her own, Marlene can be found walking local trails with her dog. She is partial to chocolate labs and in particular hers, a good-natured girl named Honey, who is never more than a few feet behind her. Comfortable and energized in a big city but preferring to make her home in a small town filled with other writers and artists, Marlene lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley where she loves to listen to the noise of the birds.

Visit Marlene online:
Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Thanks to Suzy Approved Book Tours for including us on Marlene's blog tour. They are giving away one copy of SOPHIE LAST SEEN to a lucky reader! 

Visit all the stops on the tour.


How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

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Giveaway ends January 21st at midnight EST.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: There's Something About a Cowboy


By Sara Steven

Amy Weaver is tired of her dad meddling in her love life. Fed up, she hires an actor to play the part of her fake cowboy fiancé when she goes home for her grandpa’s ninetieth birthday. Sure, Luke Jenkins has got looks, charm, and muscular legs, but this is business, pure and simple. Things are fine and dandy until she finds out he’s a real cowboy, not an actor. Now, she’s stuck between a rock and his chiseled jawline, falling faster than a sack of horseshoes. How the heck is Amy supposed to ignore the sparks between them and stick to her rule of not dating cowboys? All bets are off. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

This was my first experience with a Rich Amooi read, and after reading There's Something About A Cowboy, it won’t be my last! Amooi created characters who are strong and well defined, with quick witted banter that flowed easily between Amy and her potential love interest, Luke. I appreciated that there’d been a deck slightly stacked against them, like with Amy and her age, (she’s in her forties, he’s younger) and the family contention she has, particularly with her father (he wouldn’t want Amy to end up with someone like Luke, not ever). You get the feeling that Amy chose Luke in assisting her with this fraudulent relationship, because in her mind, he will never be more to her than a hired hand. Not to mention her failed relationships with cowboys in the past.

Luke can do no wrong. Give him any job or task, and he rose to the challenge, every single time. I think if there were any complaints that could be made against Cowboy, it would be my need to see him be a bit more fallible. However, there’s something about him that makes you yearn for that type of commitment and dedication in your own life, that there will be someone out there for me who would do anything and everything they can to hold on to me, no matter what the odds are. Luke was that type of man, which makes it even harder for Amy to keep that divide between a business relationship, vs. a personal one.

While Cowboy will appeal to anyone in mostly all of the age demographics, I felt it was targeted more towards those in the slightly older crowd, like me. It was nice to see a strong, sexy female protagonist who isn’t in her twenties, someone I could identify with, could relate to. That it’s possible to still be viable and desirable to someone, even when that someone might be in a different age bracket. I think a person can be much more than the year they were born in, and it’s something Amy has to work on, in order to choose the right path for her, and whether that path includes Luke or not. Either way, it’s not so much on whether she has to rely or depend on Luke, because she can take care of herself. The real question is, is he someone she feels she won’t be able to live without?

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review and for including us on Rich Amooi's blog tour.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK * Amazon AU * Amazon CA

Author Bio:
Fun, Quirky Romantic Comedies from a Guy's Perspective. Rich Amooi is a former radio personality who now writes romantic comedies full-time. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after. Visit Rich on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.




Visit the other stops on the tour:

More by Rich Amooi: