Book Talk Tuesday: ON SECOND THOUGHT

I’m in love with Kristan Higgins. I’ve said it before, but she is an amazing writer with wonderful stories.

Which is why I was so disappointed by last year’s IF YOU ONLY KNEW, Higgins’ first foray into women’s fiction from romance, her wheelhouse. It was okay, but I’m trying to only review books that either I a) really love or b) received to review.

So I was reluctant to try ON SECOND THOUGHT which came out recently. I still love Kristan Higgins. I still love her romance. I just wasn’t sure I was going to love her women’s fiction.

ostTurns out I had nothing to worry about.

ON SECOND THOUGHT is the story of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. They are actually half-sisters, born more than a couple of years apart.

When the book opens, both girls are in happy relationships. Kate is nearly forty and a newlywed who’d given up dating and trying to find her soul mate.

Ainsley has been with Eric since she was 21. She’s supported him through his career and through chemo.

Kate is suddenly widowed and Ainsley is suddenly single. They are both shocked and grieving and can’t believe what has just happened.

I loved the relationship between the sisters, and how it grew. Kate has always been more reserved while Ainsley is like a Labrador Retriever puppy. They learn to appreciate each other and their different approaches to life. Both women also get to know themselves better.

The story asks hard questions, like if you knew you’d be widowed after 96 days of marriage, would you remain single and never risk your heartbreak? Would you pour yourself into a selfish jerk if you’d been able to see his true self? And can you risk your heart a second time?

I’m so glad I risked my heart on Higgins’ second women’s fiction book. I loved it!

 

Book Talk Tuesday: 7 by Jen Hatmaker

I feel like I’m always a little behind the rest of the world.

I definitely got to the Jen Hatmaker party a little late, but I’m having a great time now that I’m here.

I recently finished 7, her book about simplifying life.

Really good.

Just what I needed to hear at that point.

7Basically, Jen took 7 areas of her life and pared them down to 7 essentials. She did each area for a month. Some of the practices made their way into her life permanently, others were for that month only.

The areas included food, clothing, possessions, waste, spending, media, and stress. For the month on food, she chose seven items and ate those exclusively for the month. In other chapters, sometimes she was limited to seven items, or she removed seven items, or instituted seven practices.

I’m trying to pare down my own excess in areas and the book helped me look at that and see that it’s doable and may not be quite as painful as I think.

Jen’s writing style is just like her on Facebook and live. She is herself. Warm. Funny. Engaging.

I got a lot out of this book and highly recommend it for anyone curious about how to get out from under the stuff that we, as prosperous and blessed Americans, accumulate as if there was a prize at the end.

Book Talk Tuesday: WILD MONTANA SKIES

I snagged an advance copy of Susan May Warren’s newest. I loved her Deep Haven books and her Christiansen Family series. I was very disappointed when the series ended and I had no more to look forward to. And I was a little trepidatious to sample her new series.

What if I didn’t like it? What if it wasn’t the same? Silly, I know. Of course it’s going to be different. But come on, not like a Susan May Warren book?? Get real, Carrie.

WMSkies-CoverThe new series is called Montana Rescue. It’s about  Search and Rescue group in Montana, near Glacier National Park. And once I started WILD MONTANA SKIES I couldn’t put it down.

Kacey Fairing is on leave from her army job as a helicopter pilot. She’s come back to her Montana hometown to reconnect with her teenage daughter. She never expected to see Benjamin King there. He’s been off in Nashville, building a big music career.

The story is about Ben and Kacey finding their way back to each other after thirteen years apart. Both have misconceptions and mistakes to sort out.

The book opens with the local town being threatened by flash floods. Kacey and Ben have to work together immediately. The secondary stories are compelling as well.

At times, it felt like the book started in the middle of the story, but the backstory was layered in nicely. There are a lot of characters and I did sometimes get them confused, but I was able to sort out who was important to the story. And who will likely be getting their own book soon.

There’s lots of action (Search and Rescue! in Montana!) and plenty of emotion (star-crossed lovers!).

I loved it and now I can barely the Christiansens. Ingrid who? Deep Haven where?

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.


I received a free Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in return for a honest review. Done and done.

Book Talk Tuesday: A HERO TO HOLD

hero

A HERO TO HOLD by Sheri Humphreys is amazing.

Sheri is a friend and critique group member, a fellow Elnora workshop alum, and a damn good writer.

So while I may rave about this book, it’s not because I know the author. Or at least not only because I know her. This is a seriously good book.

From the back cover:

Viscountess Charlotte Haliday has lost her illusions. Scandal took her position in society and the husband she thought she loved, and his mysterious murder followed shortly thereafter. But now is the time to return to London, time to find whatever small portion of happiness remains to her.

The first step will be proving she is her own person, unafraid of the lies and deceit that came before. Then she will defy her father and all others who try to steal her independence. Never again will Charlotte have a husband or seek the perfect marriage of her best friend Jane, but perhaps she will dare the wrath of the gossip-mongers and indulge her tiniest desire. To do so will bring her face to face with a stranger in an alcove. It will lead to learning Mr. David Scott is not only a war hero soon to be awarded the Victoria Cross, but also the most formidable man she has ever met. Broken in every way except the ones that count, he just might make her believe in love. And only she can show him that he is not alone.

A HERO TO HOLD is the first book I remember reading with a physically disabled hero, confined to a wheelchair. But make no mistake, David Scott is a hero in every way. His injury and disability do not detract from his strength and charm. Lady Charlotte is strong and determined not to let scandal and widowhood define her. Together, they ignite the pages.

And to prove that while I may be prejudiced, Kirkus Reviews agrees with me:

“Humphreys’ exceptional debut utterly stuns with its professional style, natural dialogue, and extensive research.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Do yourself a favor and grab this one!

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Behold, Here’s Poison

Georgette Heyer pretty much invented the historical romance story, in particular the Regency romance.

Only Jane Austen could argue with that.

Beautiful woman in medieval dress winking

Heyer died in 1974 but her books continue to be published, read, and loved.

Many contemporary romance writers point to Heyer when asked who was their first romance novelist.

She also wrote traditional “fair play” mysteries, in the style of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.

I was given a couple of her books by a friend who recently discovered her. I enjoyed them!

BHPThey are definitely indicative of the era they were written in. Readers then were far more patient with description and details than contemporary readers are. But the stories are still good and stand the test of time.

Behold, Here’s Poison is the story of the murder of a disagreeable man. No one is really sorry he’s dead but there’s no reason to suspect foul play. Until his sister, the equally disagreeable Mrs. Lupton, insists on an autopsy and it’s discovered Mr. Matthews was indeed poisoned.

Suspicion swings between household members. His spinster sister who kept house for him, and insisted she didn’t really mind. His widowed sister-in-law who so appreciated his care for her and her children. His nephew was being threatened with being shipped off to South America. The niece he forbade to marry her fiance, the doctor next door. The doctor himself. His other nephew, the heir. There is no shortage of suspects.

The clues are sprinkled fairly, there are plenty of red herrings, enough to keep the story interesting and the reader guessing, but not so many that the solution is unfair.

If you’re tired of contemporary romances or mysteries with their sex and/or violence, and are looking for something different, something “old school,” give Georgette Heyer a try. You just may like her!

Book Talk Tuesday: An Elegant Facade

An Elegant Facade by Kristi Ann Hunter.

I’m going to have to stop saying I don’t really read Historical much. I’m reading more of it and loving it!

elegant facadeI absolutely adored this book.

At the beginning, I wondered how the author was going to get her hero and heroine to their happily ever after, since they were so different. But she skillfully showed their growth until I (and they) knew they were perfect together.
Lady Georgina has a secret and in an attempt to keep it to herself has hatched a plan to marry well. Very well.

Unfortunately, there are only a few dukes and earls suitable. And the first two had to go and fall in love with someone else. Lady Georgina is getting desperate.
Colin McCrae is a businessman, fully aware that he is considered far beneath the peers in society, but perfectly acceptable to do business with while making them money. He’s drawn into his friends’ family drama and is thrown together with the spoiled and bratty Lady Georgina. Or so he thinks of her. Until he begins to see the young woman behind the desperate hunt for a husband.
Reading the first book in the Hawthorne House series would be helpful but not required to enjoy this one. I can hardly wait to see who’s next up in the series.

I received a free copy of this book from Baker House, in return for a honest review. I honestly loved this book!

I was privileged to be in the room when Kristi Ann Hunter won a RITA® award from Romance Writers of America® for her first novel in this series, A Noble Masquerade. It may have been the first but I predict it won’t be the last.

Book Talk Tuesday: Arsenic with Austen

Arsenic with Austen is the first in a new series, Crime with the Classics from author Katherine Bolger Hyde and Minotaur Books.

I’m a sucker for a good mystery. Add a small town, some books, tea, and cats, and I’m all in.
Arsenic-with-Austen-bookArsenic with Austen did not disappoint!

A traditional “fair play” mystery with clues and red herrings, it kept me guessing until the end, just the way I like it.

Emily has inherited an old mansion from her aunt and decides to live there and turn it into a writers’ retreat. Along the way though, she begins to suspect her aunt did not die naturally. Add in Emily’s teenage love, Luke, and then a second chance at romance arrives. The fact that Luke is a law enforcement professional just adds to the complications.

I loved this one and hope Hyde is able to keep this series going all the way to Zapped with Zola!