Friday, September 30, 2022

Book Review: The Three Loves of Sebastian Cooper

By Sara Steven

As friends and family gather for the funeral of charming and charismatic Seb Cooper, three women sit in the congregation, mourning his loss.

First there is Clair, Seb’s wife and partner of twenty years, and mother of his two children. Furious at Seb for dying and leaving their children without a father, Clair isn’t sure of her place, and has been left baffled and bemused by the conflicting stories of Seb’s last days.

Then there’s Desiree, the woman Seb left Clair for. Heartbroken, self-conscious, and wondering if she made a mistake coming today.

And the third and noisiest mourner of all is Noemie – Seb’s lover and the last woman to see him alive.

Three women who loved Seb in their own different ways.

Three women whose lives have now changed forever.

But only one woman knows what really happened at the end…and only one truly had his heart… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

At the start of this book, I questioned why there were three women mourning the loss of Seb. What sort of relationships he must have had in order for that to even occur. As the story unfolds, I began to see just how true-to-life the experiences could be. Coming from my own past that includes happily-ever-afters and broken relationships, I could relate. 

Seb had come from a background of ambiguity and hidden truths. I couldn’t even believe it when a major event within the story reveals just how much of his past hadn’t even been visible to him, which turned into unwanted baggage that carried with him the rest of his life. I felt like that was a real turning point for his marriage with Clair. Later, when Seb connects with Desiree, I could tell that as much as they seemed to be on the same page with what they both wanted/needed from their relationship, there wasn’t enough conversation on the hard-hitting topics that could really make or break a couple. And then there’s Noemie–a real force to be reckoned with. She was the consummate diva and added a healthy dose of drama on every page you found her on.

From chapter to chapter, we go from the past and the relationship Seb is in, to the current and his funeral, where we have a focal point on the characters who had been represented in the past. A nice contrast for then vs. now, so the reader could see just how much had changed and in essence, why the character feels the way they do now or sees the world differently. I felt that the most with Desiree. There were a lot of unrequited goals for her that I felt drawn to, making me really sympathize with her.

Mixed within this emotionally charged read is the mystery of how Seb really died. Sprinkled are snippets of the moments that led to it, seen through the eyes of those who were there as witnesses. I kept going back and forth on whether anyone else should have been held responsible until the very end. It was an intense experience, but one I’m glad to have had.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Zoë Folbigg is the bestselling author of four novels including the chart-topping The Note. She had a broad career in journalism, writing for magazines and newspapers from Cosmopolitan to The Guardian and Sunday Times Style, plus a weekly column in Fabulous magazine. Previously published by Aria, her first book for Boldwood will be published in September 2022. She married Train Man (star of The Note) and lives with him and their children in Hertfordshire.

Visit Zoë online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Double Feature Spotlight and Giveaway: New September Releases!

Today we are pleased to feature two novels that were released this month. Do You Take This Man by Denise Williams published on September 6th and Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo published this week. Thanks to Berkley, we have one copy of each for a lucky reader!

Divorce attorney RJ would never describe herself as romantic. But when she ends up officiating an unplanned wedding for a newly engaged couple in a park, her life is turned upside down. The video of the ceremony goes viral, and she finds herself in the unlikely position of being a sought-after local wedding officiant. Spending her free time overseeing “I dos” isn’t her most strategic career move, but she enjoys it, except for the type A dude-bro wedding planner she’s forced to work with.

Former pro-football event manager Lear is a people person, but after his longtime girlfriend betrayed him, he isn’t looking for love. He knows how to execute events and likes being in control, so working with an opinionated and inflexible officiant who can’t stand him is not high on his list. He’s never had trouble winning people over, but RJ seems immune to his charms.

Surrounded by love at every turn, their physical attraction pulls them together despite their best efforts to stay an arm’s length apart. Lear refuses to get hurt again. RJ refuses to let herself be vulnerable to anyone. But when it comes to happily ever after, their clients might not be the only ones saying “I do.” (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

"If, hypothetically, Denise Williams decided to establish an academy (let’s call it The University of DW) and offered courses on how to write pent-up sexual tension, steamy banter, and enemies to lovers, I would burst into the classroom and yell “TAKE MY MONEY!!” The writing is unmatched, the chemistry is on fire, and Do You Take This Man has one of the steamiest, most addictive, most satisfyingly hard-earned happily-ever-after I’ve read in ages!"
—Ali Hazelwood, New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis

Credit: D&orfs Photography 2019 
Denise Williams wrote her first book in the second grade. I Hate You and its sequel, I Still Hate You, featured a tough, funny heroine, a quirky hero, witty banter, and a dragon. Minus the dragons, these are still the books she likes to write. After penning those early works, she finished second grade and eventually earned a PhD in education, going on to work in higher education. After growing up a military brat around the world and across the country, Denise now lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, son, and two ornery shih tzus who think they own the house.

Visit Denise online:

Dunni hasn’t seen her high school boyfriend, Obinna, since she left Nigeria to attend college in America. Before their devastating separation, they vowed to find their way back to each other one day.

Twelve years later, and their vow is a thing of the past. Dunni works as a geneticist in Seattle and is engaged to a man she doesn’t love but one her parents approve of. Her future is laid out for her, and everything is going according to plan until she returns to Nigeria for a friend’s wedding and runs into Obinna. The shy, awkward boy she loved as a teenager is now a sophisticated, confident man. Things have changed, but there’s still an undeniable connection between them.

As they rediscover each other, their days filled with desire and passion, Dunni is reminded of the beautiful future she once planned with Obinna. But when devastating secrets are revealed and the reckless actions of their past bring new challenges, she’s left questioning everything, including if the love that consumed her as a teenager is still worth holding on to. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

“A sumptuous. evocative and heartfelt second-chance romance. Jane Igharo writes beautifully, and you can't help but be immersed in the romance, the culture and the richly-drawn setting of Lagos, Nigeria, and root for Obinna and Dunni as they find their way to each other.”
—Lauren Ho, author of Lucie Yi Is Not A Romantic and Last Tang Standing

Credit: Borada Photography
Jane Abieyuwa Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada at the age of twelve. She has a journalism degree from the University of Toronto and works as a communications specialist and voice over actress in Ontario, Canada. She writes about strong, audacious, beautifully flawed Nigerian women much like the ones in her life.

Visit Jane 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

Giveaway ends October 5th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Julie Stone rocks our a book giveaway

We're pleased to welcome Julie Stone to CLC today. Her latest rom com, He's with the Band, sounds like such a fun read and we're loving the cover too. Julie is here to tell us more about it and she has a copy to give away!

Julie Stone was born a child of the seventies, complete with rainbow shirts, roller skates and magic rocks. All that whim and whimsy ushered her into the wonderful world of being a teenager in the eighties, something she has a hard time letting go of most days. She grew up watching John Hughes movies, pegging her jeans, and avidly reading everything Judy Blume and Sweet Valley High.

Alas, she had to leave it all behind and become an adult. Graduating from the University of Iowa where, along with a degree in English, she also earned herself a husband and embarked on all of the regular, boring grown up things that come with age. Until the magical world of motherhood brought along a new chapter of joy, terror and sleepless nights.  But also, nap time. Suddenly there was occasion to go back to her creative calling and write. Through raising two kids, several moves around the Midwest, those stories and that keyboard kept her company and kept her relatively sane. (Depending on who you ask.)

Now settled back in her home state, she writes Rom-Coms with a more mature heroine, because Happily-Ever-Afters shouldn’t have an expiration date.  Always a fan of big hair and an even bigger fan of Eighties music, she is currently working her way through a bucket list of reunion tours. (Bio courtesy of Julie's website.)

Visit Julie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

After twenty-three years of marriage to an utter jackass and beige décor as far as the eye can see, Campbell Cavett is now divorced. Officially. But how did she lose herself for all these years? Somehow she went from being a bold, starry-eyed young groupie who followed Golden Tiger on tour to…snapping photos of snot-nosed kids for their Pinterest moms at the local Portrait Hut.

But she takes her Divorce Party one bottle of Pinot Grigio too far and wakes to discover she’s quit her boring-ass job, arranged to sell her house, and has tickets to the Golden Tiger reunion show. Which is exactly when fate and Campbell decide it’s time to pick up where she left off all those years ago.

Now Campbell’s on tour as the official photographer of her favorite band and living the life she’s always dreamed. But backstage access means that she’s about to discover a whole lot. Not just about herself, but about a blast from her past who looks way hotter than he has any right to twenty-plus years later. Plus there’s that mind-blowing secret Golden Tiger’s been hiding from everyone. They say time can heal anything. But is six weeks on the road enough to truly start fresh? (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Grab your favorite concert T-shirt and go on tour with this fun, second-chance romance!" 
--Jennifer Shirk, Author of Romancing His Rival

What is a favorite compliment you have received on your writing?    
For He's with the Band, I had a reader tell me she wanted to be friends with Campbell. That she was so real to her that she could picture their friendship. That was a really nice thing to hear.  Also, my writing is entertaining. That the stories were engrossing enough to take them away a bit. Oh, and that they laughed. I love to hear that! My whole life I've thought I was funny, which can sometimes be a sure sign that you aren't. So, that was a nice one. 

How are you similar to or different from Campbell? 
Similar-I absolutely love live music. I think that is what we have most in common.  That strong sense of nostalgia she has, is something that has always been a part of me.  I have a ridiculous memory of my teenage years. I'm the queen of "remember when."   And to some degree, her feeling invisible. I think that is something all women struggle with as we reach a certain age. Who am I at this stage of my life? That bit of her taking stock and figuring out what is important now, at this age as opposed to who she was when she was twenty. Different-I actually have my dream job-and a life I love: husband, kids, cats. I didn't have to go out on the road to find it. Though, I would 100% become a groupie for a rock band if the opportunity presented itself.  

If He's with the Band were made into a movie, who would you cast in the leading roles? 
Oh, this is such a good question! The book clubs that I have done always talk about this. I would love to see Leslie Mann as Campbell. Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be a great Vince. Kate Beckinsale as Marissa. And the guys of Golden Tiger? That one I still go around with. Obviously Davis has to be pretty, not handsome. I'd love to hear what your readers think on that one. I was picturing Brett Michaels while I wrote it. 

Who is your all-time favorite band?  
Bon Jovi without hesitation. I love their old stuff and their new. I saw them on the last tour (twice :) ) and they are still putting on a great show. Those songs, man, they take me right back to so many good times. I love when music can do that. It's like comfort food. I love how Jon Bon Jovi does such good work in his community with Soul Kitchen. 

What is the last movie you saw that you would recommend?
I absolutely loved Maverick-it was so nostalgic of the original Top Gun for me (are you sensing a theme?). They did a great job tying the two together, I thought-the music especially and some of the big scenic shots. It made me re-watch Top Gun when I got home.  I also loved the new Downton Abbey. And I just re-watched Sleepless in Seattle-cannot beat an old school Rom-Com. 

With October around the corner, tell us your favorite Halloween tradition. 
I grew up in a small town so I was pretty lucky as far as getting free roaming Trick-or-Treating. And it was the 70s so things were just not as big of a production. We just threw on our costumes and hit the streets. I also loved that Halloween dances in the 80s were similar no muss no fuss. No one was trying to be a "Sexy" anything.  We just threw together a costume out of what we had. I remember going as a sailor with actual culottes one year. And there is nothing sexy about those, especially when you are wearing an actual sailor cap.  When my kids were little, Halloween was their favorite holiday and the dads would take the kids and the moms would sit in each cul-de-sac at bonfires and hand out the candy. I loved that, too. Now we mostly watch a scary movie, which I do enjoy. 

Thanks to Julie for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

Giveaway ends October 3rd at midnight EST.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Book Review: Dog Friendly

By Sara Steven

A burned-out veterinarian takes a much-needed beach vacation, where a charming surfer makes waves in her love life, and a unique foster pup renews her passion for her work.

Exhausted veterinarian Morgan Pearce is feeling overworked and under-thanked, so when two favorite clients ask her to watch their special needs senior dog in their Nantucket home, she jumps at the chance for a summer break. She hopes her time on the island will be a reset from the stress of her everyday life, but her chill vacation vibe takes a hit when she gets roped into fostering a challenging, anxious dog and helping plan the local rescue group's glittery annual fundraiser.

Her trip starts to feel more like a vacation when Morgan begins falling for Nathan Keating, an irresistible entrepreneur who thinks every problem can be solved on a surfboard. Just as the summer is shaping up to be the magical refresh she needs, thanks to a fling that feels like the beginning of something real and Hudson, the foster dog who reminds her how much she loves her job, a visit from her estranged brother and the discovery of who Nathan really is changes everything. Morgan finds herself at a crossroads, trying to determine if mistakes from the past must define the future, or if she should forgive, forget, and grab hold of a chance to finally rescue herself. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Much like the last book I read by Schade (Lost, Found and Forever, reviewed here), it doesn’t pay to judge a book by its adorable cover. Foster dog Hudson is a great addition and plays a prominent role, but the major focus is on Morgan and highlighting on the highs and lows that can come from being a veterinarian. I had no idea of the stress or how under-thanked people in that profession can feel. It was eye-opening. It made sense that Morgan feels the need to take a break by going to Nantucket, but it’s also apparent that no matter where she goes, the stressors of her life follow her, and she has to find a way to work through that. 

It was interesting how her own feelings of anxiety are mirrored within Hudson, and vice versa. The relationship between the two was nothing short of beautiful, a means in not only healing him, but in working towards healing herself, too. Nathan happens by chance, and I liked that his peaceful, relaxed nature calms Morgan, bringing her out of her shell and helping her to find herself again. So much of life for Morgan seems to be a sense of obligation–it’s hard to find joy in your profession when the people you work for don’t appreciate you. I could tell that she still feels so much passion for animals, but not for the bureaucracy that comes with it. 

I was completely blindsided by Nathan. The synopsis indicates that Morgan finds out who Nathan really is, and when that happened, I was blown away! I guess I didn’t connect those dots fast enough, but I completely understood where both characters stand and the fallout that comes from it. I kept hoping that it could be something that Morgan could “get over,” but it’s not easy to get over such traumatic hurts. 

Dog Friendly is a cute read about adorable dogs–hence the title, I imagine. But it really is so much more than that. There was deep romance and friendship, familial ties, and strong emotional experiences that delved into some really tough subjects I didn’t expect, but it made the story that much richer and expansive. It was a definite five-star read!

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Friday, September 23, 2022

Book Review: Anyone for Seconds?

By Becky Gulc

‘Life has been going downhill for ex-TV chef Lizzie Partridge ever since she famously ended her career by throwing a chocolate mousse at the couch pilot of Midlands This Morning.

The nest is empty, her lover has fled and Nigella and Jamie have the cookery scene sewn up. Can things get any worse? To avoid finding out Lizzie runs away, from the unpaid gas bill and the mouse under the sink. And in wet and wintry Aberystwyth she experiences a brush with her past and a glimmer of new prospects.

Her nephew, formerly an odious little tyke, has grown up and blossomed. He has a girlfriend who’s a TV producer and she has plans. Is Lizzie’s luck about to change?’ (Synopsis courtesy of Laurie's website.)

Anyone for Seconds? is a sequel to Laurie Graham’s previous novel Perfect Meringues, which was published way back in 1996, a book which in Laurie’s own words focused on ‘the HRT-fuelled rant of a middle-aged single mother (Lizzie Partridge), set in the world of TV cook shows’ (Perfect Meringues - Laurie Graham). Anyone for Seconds? brings us up to date with how life is treating Lizzie. 

I haven’t read Perfect Meringues and I did wonder if it would make any difference to my enjoyment of this book, but thankfully it didn’t. I suppose it’s a book I may not have chosen of my own accord had I not been sent it for review because of this being a sequel, but it absolutely didn’t matter and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Lizzie is feeling unwanted and unneeded when we join her, hence her disappearing off to Wales without telling a soul. Her daughter doesn’t need her anymore; she’s no longer with her ex Tom; her Mum doesn’t need her thanks to her ‘perfect’ brother who takes her of all her needs; her career has flatlined and her best friend is too busy for her. She hopes her trip makes people sit up and take notice that she’s not around, not available, only it doesn’t! The trip does lead to some bizarre and fun adventures for Lizzie though!

This was a fantastic light read, which is just so funny, Lizzie is a proper character who reminded me a lot of my late Grandma! Lizzie tells it how it is, she’s direct, says what she’s thinking; she is living life to the fullest and is vibrant and vulnerable at the same time. She was a joy to spend time with! 

I guess I don’t often read novels with older main characters (mid-sixties) and it was different in that respect and broke the stereotypes we see with older characters in many novels. Lizzie’s age was irrelevant, she is as old as she feels, the same for all of us! Like all of us, she can also still be childish (hence rushing off to Aberystwyth to see if anyone misses her!). Her love life is certainly eventful. 

I enjoyed how every area of life Lizzie was frustrated with when we first meet her was tackled during the novel, even if not resolved. The story with her Mum and brother was particularly moving in terms of how that unravelled, yet the wit remained throughout. 

Overall I’d say this is a great witty book with a strong central character and I will certainly be trying to get hold of Perfect Meringues to spend some time with Lizzie and find out exactly what went on to end her career! 

Thanks to Quercus for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Jamie Beck has got what it a book giveaway

Today we welcome Jamie Beck back to CLC. She was here about a year ago and the time has just flown by! Her latest novel, Take It from Me, sounds really interesting and we look forward to checking it out. She's here to tell us more about it and thanks to BookSparks, we have THREE copies to give away!

Jamie Beck is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author whose realistic and heartwarming stories have sold multimillions of copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner. Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah and dancing around the kitchen while cooking. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family. Fans can get exclusive excerpts and inside scoops and be eligible for birthday-gift drawings by subscribing to her newsletter

Visit Jamie online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram


Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy’s gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious—a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross—a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights—just moved in next door.

The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer’s block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy’s “helpful” advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she’s torn about profiting off her neighbor’s goodwill—especially when Wendy’s matchmaking actually pans out—but Harper’s novel is practically writing itself.

Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy’s and Harper’s futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

“[Jamie Beck delivers] an observant and compassionate story about the power of women’s friendship to challenge and change us.” 
—Virginia Kantra, author of Meg & Jo

“Clever, insightful, and brimming with empathy, Take It from Me is Jamie Beck at her best. The story of two very different neighbors closely guarding secrets who have more in common than either woman can imagine, Beck’s latest novel is a potent reminder that we are able to know the interior lives of those we care about—if only we can find the courage to ask.” 
—Camille Pagán, bestselling author of This Won’t End Well

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing Take It from Me?
The biggest challenge I faced involved writing somewhat exaggerated characters with a bit of wry humor, which was different from all my prior work. My need to stretch into new territory grew out of feeling “trapped” by the pandemic. Giving myself this challenge was a mental way of breaking free! Another challenge involved the research around kleptomania and the OCD umbrella of issues.

Whenever I include a mental health issue in a book, I feel a huge responsibility to depict it accurately, and to make sure the character is more than simply that one thing. While I have some experience with family members with OCD, kleptomania is wholly new to me, and there isn’t a ton of data on that particular condition, which researchers say is because the people who live with it often feel too much shame to seek help. The biggest rewards have been seeing early readers remark about how they enjoyed the character development and the unlikely friendship, and the compliments received from the sensitivity reader my publisher hired, who commended my portrayal of the mental health issues in the story. 

How is Wendy similar to or different from you?
Wendy is similar to me in age (I’m slightly older), in being a stay-at-home-mom and recent empty-nester, and in the way she worries about the happiness of the people she loves. This book is also set in my town, so her “ordinary world” is very familiar. She’s different from me in that I do not have a significant mental health issue, I do not meddle in other people’s lives (unless invited in), and I found a second career that fulfilled me without needing a lot of nudging. 

If Take It from Me were made into a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack?
This is an impossible question because I love music and could take days to compile the perfect soundtrack. Off the top of my head, here are three songs that speak to the heart of the matters examined in the book:
Coldplay’s "Trouble" (because of the character’s secrets);
U2’s "Song for Someone" (because of the self-doubt both characters suffer); and
The Beatles "With a Little Help from My Friends" (because, despite their differences, Wendy and Harper show up for each other when it counts).

What is the last book you read that you would recommend?

Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons in Chemistry. This original novel (and confident debut) features a quirky, memorable protagonist (Elizabeth Zott) and a hilarious dog’s point-of-view. It’s a feminist story with so much heart and humor, you will whip through its 400 pages in no time at all. And as a woman who butted against patriarchal structures in my former career (a lawyer), I could wholly relate to EZ’s frustration. 

What is your favorite thing to do in the fall?
Fall is my favorite season. Who doesn’t welcome crisp, dry weather, and the return to jeans, sweaters, and boots? Living in New England, I’m lucky to enjoy the colorful canopies overhead and the joy of kids and dogs jumping gleefully into raked piles of dried leaves. My husband and I like to take long walks or hikes with our dog, Mo, which are always better (less muggy and buggy) in autumn, too. Finally, fall marks the return of hot pots of soup on the stove.

If we were to visit you right now, what would you take us to see?
If you came to Connecticut, I would first ask about your interests before planning an itinerary. That said, options would include: a quick train ride to Manhattan to sight-see (museums, parks, landmarks, Broadway), a trip up the Connecticut Coast to visit several quaint towns, including Mystic and its renowned aquarium, and, if you are very adventuresome, a drive up to Vermont to antique shop, enjoy great cheese and maple syrup, and hike segments of the Appalachian Trail. 

Thanks to Jamie for visiting with us and to BookSparks for sharing her book with our readers.

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

Giveaway ends September 28th at midnight EST.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Book Review: Just Date and See

By Sara Steven

Billie is looking forward to a quiet, man-free Christmas. It’s just a shame her family doesn't feel the same way…

With a house full of unexpected (and unwanted) guests, Billie needs to find the perfect escape to get away from the chaos.

So when her dating app recommends a week of singles nights in her area, Billie decides that braving these events has to be better than making conversation with her dad’s new wife, dealing with her mum's mid-life crisis or witnessing her sister flirting with her insufferably arrogant next-door neighbour.

While this is definitely not the festive season she had planned, between disco bowling and boozy bingo, little does Billie know that she may find love this year after all - she'll just have to date and see… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

It’s nearly the holiday season for a funny romance caper! And Just Date and See is the perfect romance caper. In the beginning, Billie wants nothing more than to have a stress-free, drama-free Christmas. But plans quickly change, all against her original wishes. I could totally relate to the way she feels, having had my own last-minute changes to my own holiday plans, where a quiet night at home turns into so much more than I bargained for. Yet, there is often so much more to learn from that kind of experience, and the same can be said for Billie and what is thrown her way. I’d say that you can’t make this stuff up, but obviously you can, and it was brilliant!

Billie’s unexpectedly full house prompts her to find a way to escape it–leading her to dating events that really push her outside of her comfort zone. MacIntosh has a knack for creating characters who are often pushed beyond their limits, and Billie’s experiences didn’t disappoint. The majority of them lead her to some wacky and insane scenarios, one of my favorites being the restaurant scene where she moves back and forth from one table of guests to another, with neither table knowing about the other table. It felt very Mrs. Doubtfire without the costume changes, but it was just as funny.

By the time the holidays arrive, the reader hits the pinnacle of chaos and drama. Billie gets a lot more than she bargained for with surprise guests and connective relationships that she never even knew could be possible. I was just as flabbergasted as she was. But maybe she can turn things around? You never know for sure which way it might go or what the ending might be, which made the experience even more fun. 

With unique characters and even more unique situations, Just Date and See couldn’t have been a more enjoyable, fun experience. A definite five-star read!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Portia MacIntosh is the bestselling author of over 20 romantic comedy novels. From disastrous dates to destination weddings, Portia’s romcoms are the perfect way to escape from day to day life, visiting sunny beaches in the summer and snowy villages at Christmas time. Whether it’s southern Italy or the Yorkshire coast, Portia’s stories are the holiday you’re craving, conveniently packed in between the pages.

Formerly a journalist, Portia has left the city, swapping the music biz for the moors, to live the (not so) quiet life with her husband and her dog in Yorkshire.

Visit Portia online:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Lynda Cohen Loigman's latest a book giveaway

Photo by Randi Childs
We're so pleased to have Lynda Cohen Loigman back at CLC today to celebrate the publication of her latest novel, The Matchmaker's Gift. Taking place between two different time periods, this novel is an unforgettable treat. Melissa said it is one of her 2022 favorites. Check out her review. Lynda is here to talk about this novel and has one copy to share with a lucky reader!

Lynda recently published a short story for Heartbeat, so definitely check that out as well!

Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, MA. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. Her debut novel, Two-Family House, was a USA Today bestseller and a nominee for the Goodreads 2016 Choice Awards in Historical Fiction.

Her second novel, The Wartime Sisters, was selected as a Woman’s World Book Club pick and a Best Book of 2019 by Real Simple Magazine. The Matchmakers Gift is her third novel. (Bio courtesy of Lynda's website.)

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Even as a child in 1910, Sara Glikman knows her gift: she is a maker of matches and a seeker of soulmates. But among the pushcart-crowded streets of New York’s Lower East Side, Sara’s vocation is dominated by devout older men―men who see a talented female matchmaker as a dangerous threat to their traditions and livelihood. After making matches in secret for more than a decade, Sara must fight to take her rightful place among her peers, and to demand the recognition she deserves.

Two generations later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, is a successful Manhattan divorce attorney, representing the city’s wealthiest clients. When her beloved Grandma Sara dies, Abby inherits her collection of handwritten journals recording the details of Sara’s matches. But among the faded volumes, Abby finds more questions than answers. Why did Abby’s grandmother leave this library to her and what did she hope Abby would discover within its pages? Why does the work Abby once found so compelling suddenly feel inconsequential and flawed? Is Abby willing to sacrifice the career she’s worked so hard for in order to keep her grandmother’s mysterious promise to a stranger? And is there really such a thing as love at first sight?
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Loigman brilliantly illuminates the struggle of two women, generations apart, torn between society’s traditions and expectations and their own personal fulfillment. The novel bubbles with romance and love matches, yet the joys of early infatuation are deftly layered over an exquisite exploration of grief. Glorious and powerful."
––Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Lions of Fifth Avenue

"Combining authentic historical fiction with mystery and a touch of romance, Loigman artfully reminds us that the past is never far, the present is a gift and the future is ours for the making. The Matchmaker’s Gift is timely and timeless, and readers should make time for this original and touching story about the things that matter most."
––Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman With The Blue Star

"Loigman once again taps into her exquisite ability to create rich characters that take us into the past while at the same time telling a universal story about destiny, family, and being authentic. I got lost equally in the stories of both Sara and Abby and was charmed by their connection to each other as well as to their craft. With her trademark ability to spin a tale and the heart with which she does it, Loigman has provided her readers with a story they won’t soon forget."
––Susie Orman Schnall, author of We Came Here to Shine

What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing The Matchmaker's Gift?
Writing this novel was an escape for me during the first year of Covid. I am incredibly proud of the fact that I wrote the most joyful book of my career during such a dark time in our collective history. The writing was its own reward—it was a balm for my soul in the middle of so much loss. In terms of challenges, this was my first dual timeline story, and I didn’t realize how much work that would be. It was essentially writing two separate stories, and I had to pay a lot of attention to the arc of each main character. I wrote the book in the order that you read it, so I was constantly weaving together the timelines and that was sometimes headache-inducing!
Who do you relate to more, Sara or Abby?

This is a tough one. I should relate to Abby more. Like Abby, I was working as a young lawyer in 1994. I never worked on divorce cases, but I did work on a few prenuptial agreements. In fact, I worked on one for a well-known artist who was marrying a model, and I based a little bit of my story on some of those encounters. In truth, however, I probably relate more to Sara. I’m not as self-assured as she is, but now that I have reached my fifties, I am starting to develop some of the confidence that eluded me when I was younger. I admire the way Sara cares for her family and the way she shows interest in the lives of everyone around her. She uses he gift to make connections, and that’s something I love about her.
If The Matchmaker's Gift were made into a movie, what are some songs you would include on the soundtrack? 
Ace of Base’s "The Sign" for sure. It’s perfect for Abby’s timeline, and it was a big hit in 1994. And then for Sara’s timeline, probably the Cole Porter song "True Love." It’s the sweetest song. Bing Crosby sings it in the movie High Society, and it makes me cry every time I hear it.
Which TV series are you currently binge watching?

I am watching Bad Sisters, which is full of intense character studies. And, of course, season two of Indian Matchmaking! I can’t wait for the new season of the Great British Bake Off.
What is your favorite thing about the upcoming Jewish holiday season?
The timing of the holidays is tricky this year because my book comes out a week before Rosh Hashanah. Honestly, I love everything about the Jewish holidays—the sense of renewal and hope, the fact that a new year is beginning, and the idea that we can ask for forgiveness and start fresh. I also love making apple cake from my mother’s old recipe.
Have you ever been a matchmaker for anyone? 
I’ve definitely set people up before, but none of my set-ups have ever turned into lasting relationships. My husband and I were set up on a blind date though, so I have definitely benefited from the process!

Thanks to Lynda for visiting with us and for sharing her book with our readers.

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

Giveaway ends September 27th at midnight EST.

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Monday, September 19, 2022

Book Review: The Rise

By Sara Steven

When we bury our secrets, they always come back to haunt us...

Their rise was meteoric.

Only a few years before, they had been three friends from Glasgow, trying to survive in a world of danger and dysfunction.

Suddenly they were thrust on to the world’s biggest stage, accepting an Oscar in front of the watching world.

That night was the beginning of their careers. But it was the end of their friendships.

Over the next twenty years, Mirren McLean would become one of the most powerful writers in the industry.

Zander Leith would break box-office records as cinema’s most in-demand action hero.

And Davie Johnson would break the bank, raking in millions as producer of some of the biggest shows on TV.

For two decades they didn’t speak, driven apart by a horrific secret.

Until now…

Their past is coming back to bite them, and they have to decide whether to run, hide, or fight.

Because when you rise to the top, there’s always someone who wants to see you fall… (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Reading The Rise felt like watching an exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary detailing the dark side of Hollywood, and I was 100% invested! I appreciated that each main character had their own tale to tell, giving us a viewpoint into the lives that Davie, Mirren and Zander lead two decades after their friendship disbanded. It was also helpful to have past flashbacks, providing a lot more background into the circumstances surrounding the reasons behind the three of them going their own separate ways. I would read a chapter and tell myself I needed to take a break to tend to other things, but then I’d plow through one more chapter…and then another…it really was that riveting!

I’m not always a big fan of celebrity name-dropping unless it’s done right, and it worked so well here. It felt like Zander fit right in with other A-listers, and that Davie is a household name, and Mirren is a bestselling author. The pages dripped with Tinseltown and the type of drama one can only expect from Hollywood, all of it believable. Yet everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s within the humble roots in Glasgow that the foundation is set for what that will eventually mean for the three of them. As painful as it could be at times to read about the experiences suffered, I was drawn into that 80s world, rooting for the successes I knew were on the horizon. Mourning the loss of innocence.

The writing style flowed so easily, with an acerbic quality that really matched the eras and the characters. It was also a unique touch to add song titles to the start of every chapter, setting the tone for what was to come. No one broke character–Davie is the loveable everyman whose survival tactics involve being exactly who each and every person expects him to be, molding and bending to fit society’s needs, while Zander knows just how to stand and cock his head on the red carpet, hand in pocket, the perfect grin meant to capture hearts. Mirren has proven herself as one of the top writers in her field, fully aware of what it means to live in Tinseltown, but she thinks she’s so far above it, even though she’s not. When they are thrust into having to relive their past and the buried secrets that none of them want brought to light, the newfound layers of their youth is then added on to their current personas, changing them but never changing the core of who they are.    

I had no choice but to be sucked into The Rise, and I’m glad for it. What a crazy, wild five-star ride!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Shari Low and Ross King MBE is a writing partnership forged in a friendship of over thirty years. Scottish author Shari is the bestselling writer of over thirty novels including bestsellers My One Month Marriage, One Summer Sunrise, and The Story of our Secrets. Los-Angeles-based Ross King is a four times news Emmy award-winning TV and radio host, actor, producer, writer and performer, and is currently the Los Angeles correspondent for ITV’s Lorraine and Good Morning Britain. They are publishing their Hollywood thriller trilogy with Boldwood, starting with The Rise.

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Friday, September 16, 2022

What's in the (e)mail


Not That Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams from St. Martin's Press (NetGalley)
Chick Magnet by Emma Barry from Kaye Publicity (print)
The New Person by Loretta Nyhan from Lake Union (NetGalley)
Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner from St. Martin's Press (NetGalley)
The Rom-Com Agenda by Jayne Denker from St. Martin's Press (print)
Never Meant to Meet You by Alli Frank and Asha Youmans from Over the River PR (NetGalley)
Pets of Park Avenue by Stefanie London from Harlequin (NetGalley)
Typecast by Andrea J. Stein from Girl Friday Productions (print)
The Second You're Single by Cara Tanamachi from St. Martin's Press (print)
Suffer! by A.C. Sloan from BooksGoSocial (NetGalley)
Miranda Writes by Gail Ward Olmsted from Black Rose Writing (NetGalley)
Speechless by Lindsey Lanza from Victory Editing (NetGalley)
Autumn Sky by/from Jenna Starly (ebook)
Always the Almost by Edward Underhill from St. Martin's Press (NetGalley)
The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel from Atria (NetGalley)
No More Secrets by Kerry Lonsdale from Lake Union (NetGalley)
The Circus Train by Amita Parikh from Putnam (NetGalley)
A Wish for Winter by Viola Shipman from Harlequin (NetGalley)

The Girl I Used To Be by Debbie Howells by/from Rachel's Random Resources (NetGalley)
It Could Happen by Melissa Baldwin from Rachel's Random Resources (ebook)
How I'll Kill You by Ren DeStefano from Berkley (NetGalley)
The Sporty One by Melanie Chisholm from Grand Central Publishing (print)

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz from Emi Battaglia PR (ebook)

The Woman with the Cure by Lynn Cullen from Berkley (NetGalley)
City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita from Berkley (NetGalley)
The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch from Berkley (NetGalley)

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Book Review: This is Us


By Sara Steven

Stella fell in love with Simon hard and fast. He was everything she wanted in a husband, and he seemed to feel the same way about her. More than a decade of marriage later, life is sweet. They have three much-wanted children, a successful business, and a comfortable London home. What more could Stella possibly want?

But then, out of the blue, Simon is gone. Vanished. No one knows where he’s gone or why.

Now Stella, with the help of her friends and family, has to pick up the pieces of her and her children’s life, all the while wondering what she missed. Was her husband who he said he was, and can she trust her own memories of their life together? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

What do you do when someone you love walks away and never returns? I couldn’t even fathom that scenario. The heart wrenching emotion and deep struggle while Stella tries to put the pieces together not only for herself but for her children, too, had been perfectly portrayed. And the even bigger question– Why– loomed over my head just as much as it hung over Stella’s. There are so many unanswered questions, and the only person who has the answers is Simon.

The string unravels bit by bit. Abandoning your family can be an unforgivable thing, but the author raises the stakes a little at a time, adding even more layers to Simon’s indiscretions. It allowed for Stella’s optimism to shine through, ever sure that holding onto hope would mean something. I think what I loved the most about Stella’s character and This Is Us in general was the fact that yes, hope is an amazing thing. But it can also be a fluid thing. Where hope comes from and the capacity in which it’s used can change depending on how it’s needed, and Stella opens her eyes to that. For her, hope is found within survival and resilience. 

There is a major scene towards the end of the book that felt like Stella’s last stand. I loved it! It was a moment I had been yearning for, and it did not disappoint. The moments leading up to that and the arsenal Stella ends up with could only be described as genius. As much as Simon tried not to leave any sort of footprint in his own life, it was inevitable and it was a scenario that paid off for both Stella and those involved. Central to everything had been the incredible friendships Stella had forged over the years, relationships that end up becoming serious lifelines for her during the most chaotic time in her life. It was its own special foundation.

This Is Us highlighted one woman’s journey into finding a way towards familial peace, in whatever capacity that might be– a worthy five-star experience for me. 

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links: 
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Helen McGinn is a much-loved wine expert on TV and in print and an international wine judge. She spent ten years as a supermarket buyer sourcing wines around the world before setting up her award-winning blog (and now best-selling wine book) The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. She is the drinks writer for the Daily Mail and regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen and This Morning. Helen lives in the New Forest.

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