Monday, May 17, 2021

BLOG TOUR - Local Woman Missing


DESCRIPTION
:

People don't just disappear without a trace…

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.

Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they'll find…

In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.


BUY LINKS:
Target | Walmart | Indigo | AppleBooks |  Google Play


MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   Local Woman Missing
Author:  Mary Kubica
Publisher:  Park Row
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   352
Date of Publication:   May 18, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

In this thrilling story that flows rapidly between past and present from eleven years previously and to the present. As the story opens we read of more than one person being held captive. Conditions are deplorable to say the least. As the story begins to shift there are central characters that have a voice, Kate, Meredith and Leo. How each of them are impacted in this gripping story is seen through the pages of this book. There are other characters in this story that bear mentioning, and they are Delilah and Shelby. How do they connect to one another?

We will start with Shelby. She is a young mother who disappears one day. As per the norm in cases like Shelby's, her husband Jason is instantly viewed as a suspect. However, Shelby is not the only one gone missing. There is Meredith ad her daughter Delilah. Her husband Josh and their son Leo are devastated. They are not the only ones affected. Neighbors Bea and Kate become frantic. One of them goes to extreme measures to try and put all of the pieces together from both disappearances.

Mary Kubica has written a compelling and detailed story that kept me on the edge of my seat. As one who enjoys putting jigsaw puzzles together, that is what this book felt like to me. There are some twists in this book that I cannot mention as they would be spoilers, but I got a feeling like a wrench was thrown into things with the almost unbelievable conclusion, thus leaving me scratching my head trying to sort things out. My kind of book for sure!

Many thanks to Park Row and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.  


Please enjoy the following excerpt:
MEREDITH

11 YEARS BEFORE

March

The text comes from a number I don’t know. It’s a 630 area code. Local. I’m in the bathroom with Leo as he soaks in the tub. He has his bath toys lined up on the edge of it and they’re taking turns swan diving into the now-lukewarm water. It used to be hot, too hot for Leo to get into. But he’s been in there for thirty minutes now playing with his octopus, his whale, his fish. He’s having a ball.

Meanwhile I’ve lost track of time. I have a client in the early stages of labor. We’re texting. Her husband wants to take her to the hospital. She thinks it’s too soon. Her contractions are six and a half minutes apart. She’s absolutely correct. It’s too soon. The hospital would just send her home, which is frustrating, not to mention a huge inconvenience for women in labor. And anyway, why labor at the hospital when you can labor in the comfort of your own home? First-time fathers always get skittish. It does their wives no good. By the time I get to them, more times than not, the woman in labor is the more calm of the two. I have to focus my attention on pacifying a nervous husband. It’s not what they’re paying me for.

I tell Leo one more minute until I shampoo his hair, and then fire off a quick text, suggesting my client have a snack to keep her energy up, herself nourished. I recommend a nap, if her body will let her. The night ahead will be long for all of us. Childbirth, especially when it comes to first-time moms, is a marathon, not a sprint.

Josh is home. He’s in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner while Delilah plays. Delilah’s due up next in the tub. By the time I leave, the bedtime ritual will be done or nearly done. I feel good about that, hating the times I leave Josh alone with so much to do.

I draw up my text and then hit Send. The reply is immediate, that all too familiar ping that comes to me at all hours of the day or night.

I glance down at the phone in my hand, expecting it’s my client with some conditioned reply. Thx.

Instead: I know what you did. I hope you die.

Beside the text is a picture of a grayish skull with large, black eye sockets and teeth. The symbol of death.

My muscles tense. My heart quickens. I feel thrown off. The small bathroom feels suddenly, overwhelmingly, oppressive. It’s steamy, moist, hot. I drop down to the toilet and have a seat on the lid. My pulse is loud, audible in my own ears. I stare at the words before me, wondering if I’ve misread. Certainly I’ve misread. Leo is asking, “Is it a minute, Mommy?” I hear his little voice, muff led by the ringing in my ears. But I’m so thrown by the cutthroat text that I can’t speak.

I glance at the phone again. I haven’t misread.

The text is not from my client in labor. It’s not from any client of mine whose name and number is stored in my phone. As far as I can tell, it’s not from anyone I know.

A wrong number, then, I think. Someone sent this to me by accident. It has to be. My first thought is to delete it, to pretend this never happened. To make it disappear. Out of sight, out of mind.

But then I think of whoever sent it just sending it again or sending something worse. I can’t imagine anything worse.

I decide to reply. I’m careful to keep it to the point, to not sound too judgy or fault-finding because maybe the intended recipient really did do something awful—stole money from a children’s cancer charity—and the text isn’t as egregious as it looks at first glance.

I text: You have the wrong number.

The response is quick.

I hope you rot in hell, Meredith.

The phone slips from my hand. I yelp. The phone lands on the navy blue bath mat, which absorbs the sound of its fall.

Meredith.

Whoever is sending these texts knows my name. The texts are meant for me.

A second later Josh knocks on the bathroom door. I spring from the toilet seat, and stretch down for the phone. The phone has fallen facedown. I turn it over. The text is still there on the screen, staring back at me.

Josh doesn’t wait to be let in. He opens the door and steps right inside. I slide the phone into the back pocket of my jeans before Josh has a chance to see.

“Hey,” he says, “how about you save some water for the fish.”

Leo complains to Josh that he is cold. “Well, let’s get you out of the bath,” Josh says, stretching down to help him out of the water.

“I need to wash him still,” I admit. Before me, Leo’s teeth chatter. There are goose bumps on his arm that I hadn’t noticed before. He is cold, and I feel suddenly guilty, though it’s mired in confusion and fear. I hadn’t been paying any attention to Leo. There is bathwater spilled all over the floor, but his hair is still bone-dry.

“You haven’t washed him?” Josh asks, and I know what he’s thinking: that in the time it took him to clear the kitchen table, wash pots and pans and wipe down the sinks, I did nothing. He isn’t angry or accusatory about it. Josh isn’t the type to get angry.

“I have a client in labor,” I say by means of explanation. “She keeps texting,” I say, telling Josh that I was just about to wash Leo. I drop to my knees beside the tub. I reach for the shampoo. In the back pocket of my jeans, the phone again pings. This time, I ignore it. I don’t want Josh to know what’s happening, not until I get a handle on it for myself.

Josh asks, “Aren’t you going to get that?” I say that it can wait. I focus on Leo, on scrubbing the shampoo onto his hair, but I’m anxious. I move too fast so that the shampoo suds get in his eye. I see it happening, but all I can think to do is wipe it from his forehead with my own soapy hands. It doesn’t help. It makes it worse.

Leo complains. Leo isn’t much of a complainer. He’s an easygoing kid. “Ow,” is all that he says, his tiny wet hands going to his eyes, though shampoo in the eye burns like hell.

“Does that sting, baby?” I ask, feeling contrite. But I’m bursting with nervous energy. There’s only one thought racing through my mind. I hope you rot in hell, Meredith.

Who would have sent that, and why? Whoever it is knows me. They know my name. They’re mad at me for something I’ve done. Mad enough to wish me dead. I don’t know anyone like that. I can’t think of anything I’ve done to upset someone enough that they’d want me dead.

I grab the wet washcloth draped over the edge of the tub. I try handing it to Leo, so that he can press it to his own eyes. But my hands shake as I do. I wind up dropping the washcloth into the bath. The tepid water rises up and splashes him in the eyes. This time he cries.

“Oh, buddy,” I say, “I’m so sorry, it slipped.”

But as I try again to grab it from the water and hand it to him, I drop the washcloth for a second time. I leave it where it is, letting Leo fish it out of the water and wipe his eyes for himself. Meanwhile Josh stands two feet behind, watching.

My phone pings again. Josh says, “Someone is really dying to talk to you.”

Dying. It’s all that I hear.

My back is to Josh, thank God. He can’t see the look on my face when he says it.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Your client,” Josh says. I turn to him. He motions to my phone jutting out of my back pocket. “She really needs you. You should take it, Mer,” he says softly, accommodatingly, and only then do I think about my client in labor and feel guilty. What if it is her? What if her contractions are coming more quickly now and she does need me?

Josh says, “I can finish up with Leo while you get ready to go,” and I acquiesce, because I need to get out of here. I need to know if the texts coming to my phone are from my client or if they’re coming from someone else.

I rise up from the floor. I scoot past Josh in the door, brushing against him. His hand closes around my upper arm as I do, and he draws me in for a hug. “Everything okay?” he asks, and I say yes, fine, sounding too chipper even to my own ears. Everything is not okay.

“I’m just thinking about my client,” I say. “She’s had a stillbirth before, at thirty-two weeks. She never thought she’d get this far. Can you imagine that? Losing a baby at thirty-two weeks?”

Josh says no. His eyes move to Leo and he looks saddened by it. I feel guilty for the lie. It’s not this client but another who lost a baby at thirty-two weeks. When she told me about it, I was completely torn up. It took everything in me not to cry as she described for me the moment the doctor told her her baby didn’t have a heartbeat. Labor was later induced, and she had to push her dead baby out with only her mother by her side. Her husband was deployed at the time. After, she was snowed under by guilt. Was it her fault the baby died? A thousand times I held her hand and told her no. I’m not sure she ever believed me.

My lie has the desired effect. Josh stands down, and asks if I need help with anything before I leave. I say no, that I’m just going to change my clothes and go.

I step out of the bathroom. In the bedroom, I close the door. I grab my scrub bottoms and a long-sleeved T-shirt from my drawer. I lay them on the bed, but before I get dressed, I pull my phone out of my pocket. I take a deep breath and hold it in, summoning the courage to look. I wonder what waits there. More nasty threats? My heart hammers inside me. My knees shake.

I take a look. There are two messages waiting for me.

The first: Water broke. Contractions 5 min apart.

And then: Heading to hospital.—M.

I release my pent-up breath. The texts are from my client’s husband, sent from her phone. My legs nearly give in relief, and I drop down to the edge of the bed, forcing myself to breathe. I inhale long and deep. I hold it in until my lungs become uncomfortable. When I breathe out, I try and force away the tension.

But I can’t sit long because my client is advancing quickly. I need to go.

Excerpted from Local Woman Missing @ 2021 by Mary Kyrychenko, used with permission by Park Row Books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, and THE OTHER MRS. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel THE OTHER MRS. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week, Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles, Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more. Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times). LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is her seventh novel.

Social Links:
Website: https://marykubica.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaryKubicaAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryKubica
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marykubica
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7392948.Mary_Kubica

Sunday, May 16, 2021

BLOG TOUR - A Good Mother


DESCRIPTION
:

A gripping page turner about two young mothers, one grisly murder, and the lengths both women will go in the name of their children.

When young decorated combat veteran Travis Hollis is found stabbed through the heart at a U.S. Army base in Germany, there is no doubt that his wife, Luz, is to blame. But was it an act of self defense? A frenzied attempt to save her infant daughter from domestic abuse? Or the cold blood murder of an innocent man?

As the case heads to trial in Los Angeles, hard-charging attorney Abby Rosenberg is eager to return from maternity leave—and her quickly fracturing home life—to take the case and defend Luz. Abby, a new mother herself, is committed to ensuring Luz avoids prison and retains custody of her daughter. But as the evidence stacks up against Luz, Abby realizes the task proves far more difficult than she suspected – especially when she has to battle for control over the case with her co-counsel, whose dark absorption with Luz only complicates matters further.

As the trial careens toward an outcome no one expects, readers will find themselves in the seat of the jurors, forced to answer the question - what does it mean to be a good mother? A good lawyer? And who is the real monster?


BUY LINKS:


MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   A Good Mother
Author:  Lara Bazelon
Publisher:  Hanover Square Press
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   368
Date of Publication:   May 11, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

Luz killed her husband. Of that there is no doubt. She called the police herself and was found cradling his dying body. She maintains that she had no choice. Either it was self defense or him or their infant daughter. Or both. In either case, she killed him. 

 Abby is a public defender on maternity leave. However, she not only barrels through every obstacle in her path to take the case, she is determined to win right from the start - and all bets are off. In ways that could easily be called unethical, she begins a path of making it so that Luz stays out of prison and with her infant daughter. Part of Abby's reason for fighting for Luz is that they are both young mothers. Is that bond enough for Abby to sweep clear facts under the rug, even niggling doubts of Luz's innocence?

This story definitely would qualify as having unreliable narrators. It doesn't matter whether the reader is considering Luz and her story, and Abby and her methods. In either case, both women prove distasteful almost from the very beginning. However, this is a courtroom drama and that in itself was rather intriguing. But it was more than that. Abby's relationship with the father of her baby is also pivotal as to how this story moves. As a mother, I don't know if I could have left my very young child to spend unending hours, days and weeks defending someone that I didn't even trust, and at great cost. Watching that drama in Abby's personal life unfold was just as interesting as watching Abby desperately try and get Luz a verdict of innocence.

While I did remain intrigued while reading this courtroom thriller, especially as it unfolded as disturbing facts were revealed, the ending definitely shocked me. As a reader not all that familiar with the legal system, watching Abby and others in the course of this story really shook my faith in a system that is part of the fabric and foundation of this uncertain world in which we live.

Many thanks to Hanover Square Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:
Saturday, October 14, 2006

2:51 a.m.

Ramstein Air Base

Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany

“Front desk, Sergeant Jamison.”

“He was too big. I couldn’t get him off me. He told me I was going to die—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am?”

“[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, where are you?”

“1074-B Arizona Circle. Call an ambulance. I need—”

“Okay, okay. I’ve got the EMT on the other line and the ambulance en route. Where are you hurt?”

“Not me—”

“Ma’am, is that—is that a baby crying? Is that your baby?”

“[unintelligible]”

“Did he hurt the baby?”

“She’s—[unintelligible]—the other room. He was going to [unintelligible]”

“Okay, I reported the break-in. We are dispatching—security forces have been dispatched. Where is he now?”“[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, where is the intruder now?”

“He was stabbed. Oh, Jesus, oh, Jesus—[unintelligible]”

“What is the nature of the injury?”

“There’s so much blood—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, I can’t—I’m having trouble understanding you. I need for you to calm down so I can tell these guys what’s going on.”

“[unintelligible]”

“Where is he stabbed?”

“In his chest. He’s losing all of his blood.”

“The EMT is en route now.”

“[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, could the intruder hurt you or the baby? Are you still in danger?”

“He’s not—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am—”

“—an intruder. He’s— It’s Staff Sergeant—[unintelligible]”

“I’m having a hard time understanding you, ma’am. Take a breath. Take a breath.”

“Staff Sergeant Travis Hollis—”

“The intruder is—he’s—he’s military?”

“He’s my husband. He was stabbed. I stabbed him—[unintelligible]”

“Ma’am, ma’am, are you still there?”

“Travis, baby, don’t die on me. Please, don’t die.”

Excerpted from A Good Mother by Lara Bazelon, Copyright © 2021 by Lara Bazelon. Published by Hanover Square Press.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lara Bazelon is an attorney, journalist, MacDowell Fellow, former public defender, and professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, where she holds the Phillip and Muriel C. Barnett Chair in Trial Advocacy. She is also the author of Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction, as well as the upcoming nonfiction book, Ambitious Like a Mother: Women, Ambition, and Motherhood, and her writing has been published widely in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, The Washington Post, and many others.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Author website: https://larabazelon.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/larabazelon
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/larabazelon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/larabazelon

Saturday, May 15, 2021

BLOG TOUR - New Girl in Little Cove

Title
:   New Girl in Little Cove
Author:  Damhnait Monaghan
Publisher:  Graydon House
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   336
Date of Publication:   May 11, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:


Take a literary trip to Newfoundland: the island of the world’s friendliest people, the setting for the award-winning musical Come From Away, and home of the delightfully quirky and irresistibly charming debut, NEW GIRL IN LITTLE COVE (May 11; $16.99; Graydon House Books) by Damhnait Monaghan! 


After being utterly scandalized by the abrupt departure of their school’s only French teacher (she ran off with a priest!) the highly Catholic, very tiny town of Little Cove, Newfoundland needs someone who doesn’t rock the boat. Enter mainlander Rachel O’Brien —technically a Catholic (baptized!), technically a teacher (unused honors degree!)— who is so desperate to leave her old life behind, she doesn’t bother to learn the (allegedly English) local dialect. Stuck on an island she’s never known surrounded by a people and culture she barely understands, Rachel struggles to feel at home. Only the intervention of her crotchety landlady, a handsome fellow teacher, and the Holy Dusters – the local women who hook rugs and clean the church – will assure Rachel’s salvation in this little island community.

BUY LINKS:


MY THOUGHTS:
 
After experiencing some upheaval in her life, Rachel needs a job. When she accepts a job at a Catholic school she knows she is short on some of the requirements, but she is determined to squeeze herself in the position. The challenges are there right from the start. For one thing, although she has a degree, she hardly has any teaching experience. What is more is that she has not practiced her faith in quite some time, thus that aspect of her new environment might be more than she is prepared to deal with.

Some other things on Rachel's plate are the students. Some simply are not into learning French. Also, considering the location, their English keeps throwing her for a loop. For all of these, and even more reasons, Rachel questions the one-year commitment she has made to the job. 

There are some things about the little town that proved appealing, one is the lovely culture in a place where time almost stood still. I loved the little nuances that made that place so unique, and it felt very special. For Rachel, fellow teacher Doug Bishop was one to watch, because she found herself more than drawn to him. As this heartwarming story progressed, Rachel found herself under sharp scrutiny at her new job, so remembering that her commitment is only for a year keeps her rooted for the time being.

I loved this story. In fact, I would love to go to Newfoundland, the location where the little town was in this book. The dialogue was great as the author used the language and accents so well in her writing that I could almost hear the characters speaking in my head. I also loved how Rachel not only sought to fit in, but learned many lessons along the way, including that proper English does not mark one's intelligence. Not only did Rachel learn a lot of new terms, readers can as well with the glossary that is included in this book. 

I am so glad for the love, friendship and other lessons that this book provided, and I loved how this lovely story came to a close, leaving me with a very warm feeling. 

Many thanks to Graydon House and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.




Please enjoy the following excerpt:
1

September 1985

Little Cove: Population 389

The battered sign came into view as my car crested a hill on the gravel road. Only 389 people? Damn. I pulled over and got out of the car, inhaling the moist air. Empty boats tilted against the wind in the bay below. A big church dominated the valley, beside which squatted a low, red building, its windows dark, like a row of rotten teeth. This was likely St. Jude’s, where tomorrow I would begin my teaching career.

“You lost?”

I whirled around. A gaunt man, about sixty, straddled a bike beside me. He wore denim overalls and his white hair was combed neatly back from his forehead.

“Car broke down?” he continued.

“No,” I said. “I’m just … ” My voice trailed off. I could hardly confide my second thoughts to this stranger. “…admiring the view.”

He looked past me at the flinty mist now spilling across the bay. A soft rain began to fall, causing my carefully straightened hair to twist and curl like a mass of dark slugs.

“Might want to save that for a fine day,” he said. His accent was strong, but lilting. “It’s right mauzy today.”

“Mossy?”

“Mauzy.” He gestured at the air around him. Then he folded his arms across his chest and gave me a once-over. “Now then,” he said. “What’s a young one like you doing out this way?”

“I’m not that young,” I shot back. “I’m the new French teacher out here.”

A smile softened his wrinkled face. “Down from Canada, hey?”

As far as I knew, Newfoundland was still part of Canada, but I nodded.

“Phonse Flynn,” he said, holding out a callused hand. “I’m the janitor over to St. Jude’s.”

“Rachel,” I said. “Rachel O’Brien.”

“I knows you’re staying with Lucille,” he said. “I’ll show you where she’s at.”

With an agility that belied his age, he dismounted and gently lowered his bike to the ground. Then he pointed across the bay. “Lucille’s place is over there, luh.”

Above a sagging wharf, I saw a path that cut through the rocky landscape towards a smattering of houses. I’d been intrigued at the prospect of a boarding house; it sounded Dickensian. Now I was uneasy. What if it was awful?

“What about your bike?” I asked, as Phonse was now standing by the passenger-side door of my car.

“Ah, sure it’s grand here,” he said. “I’ll come back for it by and by.”

“Aren’t you going to lock it?”

I thought of all the orphaned bike wheels locked to racks in Toronto, their frames long since ripped away. Jake had been livid when his racing bike was stolen. Not that I was thinking about Jake. I absolutely was not.

“No need to lock anything ’round here,” said Phonse.

I fumbled with my car keys, embarrassed to have locked the car from habit.

“Need some help?”

“The lock’s a bit stiff,” I said. “I’ll get used to it.”

Phonse waited while I jiggled in vain. Then he walked around and held out his hand. I gave him the key, he stuck it in and the knob on the inside of the car door popped up immediately.

“Handyman, see,” he said. “Wants a bit of oil, I allows. But like I said, no need to lock ’er. Anyway, with that colour, who’d steal it?” I had purchased the car over the phone, partly for its price, partly for its colour. Green had been Dad’s favourite colour, and when the salesman said mountain green, I’d imagined a dark, verdant shade. Instead, with its scattered rust garnishes, the car looked like a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Still, it would fit right in. I eyeballed the houses as we drove along: garish orange, lime green, blinding yellow. Maybe there had been a sale on paint.

As we passed the church, Phonse blessed himself, fingers moving from forehead to chest, then on to each shoulder. I kept both hands firmly on the steering wheel.

“Where’s the main part of Little Cove?” I asked.

“You’re looking at it.”

There was nothing but a gas station and a takeout called MJ’s, where a clump of teenagers was gathered outside, smoking. A tall, dark-haired boy pointed at my car and they all turned to stare. A girl in a lumber jacket raised her hand. I waved back before I realized she was giving me the finger. Embarrassed, I peeked sideways at Phonse. If he’d noticed, he didn’t let on.

Although Phonse was passenger to my driver, I found myself thinking of Matthew Cuthbert driving Anne Shirley through Avonlea en route to Green Gables. Not that I’d be assigning romantic names to these landmarks. Anne’s “Snow Queen” cherry tree and “Lake of Shining Waters” were nowhere to be seen. It was more like Stunted Fir Tree and Sea of Grey Mist. And I wasn’t a complete orphan; it merely felt that way.

At the top of a hill, Phonse pointed to a narrow dirt driveway on the right. “In there, luh.”

I parked in front of a small violet house encircled by a crooked wooden fence. A rusty oil tank leaned into the house, as if seeking shelter. When I got out, my nose wrinkled at the fishy smell. Phonse joined me at the back of the car and reached into the trunk for my suitcases.

“Gentle Jaysus in the garden,” he grunted. “What have you got in here at all? Bricks?” He lurched ahead of me towards the house, refusing my offer of help.

The contents of my suitcases had to last me the entire year; now I was second-guessing my choices. My swimsuit and goggles? I wouldn’t be doing lengths in the ocean. I looked at the mud clinging to my sneakers and regretted the suede dress boots nestled in tissue paper. But I knew some of my decisions had been right: a raincoat, my portable cassette player, stacks of homemade tapes, my hair straighteners and a slew of books.

When Phonse reached the door, he pushed it open, calling, “Lucille? I got the new teacher here. I expect she’s wore out from the journey.” As he heaved my bags inside, a stout woman in a floral apron and slippers appeared: Lucille Hanrahan, my boarding house lady.

“Phonse, my son, bring them bags upstairs for me now,” she said.

I said I would take them but Lucille shooed me into the hall, practically flapping her tea towel at me. “No, girl,” she said. “You must be dropping, all the way down from Canada. Let’s get some grub in you before you goes over to the school to see Mr. Donovan.”

Patrick Donovan, the school principal, had interviewed me over the phone. I was eager to meet him.

“Oh, did he call?” I asked.

“No.”

Lucille smoothed her apron over her belly, then called up the stairs to ask Phonse if he wanted a cup of tea. There was a slow beat of heavy boots coming down. “I’ll not stop this time,” said Phonse. “But Lucille, that fence needs seeing to.”

Lucille batted her hand at him. “Go way with you,” she said. “It’s been falling down these twenty years or more.” But as she showed him out, they talked about possible repairs, the two of them standing outside, pointing and gesturing, oblivious to the falling rain.

A lump of mud fell from my sneaker, and I sat down on the bottom step to remove my shoes. When Lucille returned, she grabbed the pair, clacked them together outside the door to remove the remaining mud, then lined them up beside a pair of sturdy ankle boots.

I followed her down the hall to the kitchen, counting the curlers that dotted her head, pink outposts in a field of black and grey.

“Sit down over there, luh,” she said, gesturing towards a table and chairs shoved against the back window. I winced at her voice; it sounded like the classic two-pack-a-day rasp.

The fog had thickened, so nothing was visible outside; it was like watching static on TV. There were scattered cigarette burns on the vinyl tablecloth and worn patches on the linoleum floor. A religious calendar hung on the wall, a big red circle around today’s date. September’s pin-up was Mary, her veil the exact colour of Lucille’s house. I was deep in Catholic territory, all right. I hoped I could still pass for one.

Excerpted from New Girl in Little Cove by Damhnait Monaghan, Copyright © 2021 by Damhnait Monaghan Published by Graydon House Books

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DAMHNAIT MONAGHAN was once a mainlander who taught in a small fishing village in Newfoundland. A former teacher and lawyer, Monaghan has almost sixty publication credits, including flash fiction, creative non-fiction, and short stories. Her short prose has won or placed in various writing competitions and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, and Best Microfictions. New Girl in Little Cove placed in the top six from more than 350 entries in the 2019 International Caledonia Novel Award.

Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @Downith
Instagram: @Downith1
Facebook: @AuthorDMonaghan
Goodreads

Friday, May 14, 2021

BLOG TOUR - The Clover Girls


DESCRIPTION
:

As comforting and familiar as a favorite sweater, Viola Shipman's novels never fail to deliver a heartfelt story of friendship and familty, encapsulating summer memories in every page. Fans of Dorthea Benton Frank and Nancy Thayer will love this new story about three childhood friends approaching middle age, determined to rediscover the dreams that made them special as campers in 1985.

Elizabeth, Veronica, Rachel and Emily met at Camp Birchwood as girls in 1985, where they called themselves The Clover Girls (after their cabin name). The years following that magical summer pulled them in very different directions and, now approaching middle age, the women are facing new challenges: the inevitable physical changes that come with aging, feeling invisible to society, disinterested husbands, surley teens, and losing their sense of self.

Then, Elizabeth, Veronica and Rachel each receive a letter from Emily – she has cancer and, knowing it’s terminal, reaches out to the girls who were her best friends once upon a time and implores them to reunite at Camp Birchwood to scatter her ashes. When the three meet at the property for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, another letter from Emily awaits, explaining that she has purchased the abandoned camp, and now it belongs to them – at Emily’s urging, they must spend a week together remembering the dreams they’d put aside, and find a way to become the women they always swore they’d grow up to be. Through flashbacks to their youthful summer, we see the four friends then and now, rebuilding their lives, flipping a middle finger to society's disdain for aging women, and with a renewed purpose to find themselves again.


BUY LINKS:

MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   The Clover Girls
Author:  Viola Shipman
Publisher:  Graydon House
Genre:   Women's Fictuib
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   416
Date of Publication:   May 18, 2021
My Rating:     5 Stars

Elizabeth. Veronica. Emily. Rachel. - Yes, E V E R. Meeting for the first time at camp, they discover a four-leaf clover. These four become fast friends - perhaps friends forever. They became known at the camp, as campers, then counselors - as The Clover Girls.

How did these four become so close then go thirty years without ever seeing each other again? What happened that they are now in each other's lives once more?

Sadly, Elizabeth (Liz), Veronica (V) and Rachel each receive a letter from Emily. The news is heartbreaking - despite the decades that have flowed by. Emily has passed away and has last wishes that involve Liz, V and Rachel. She wants the three of them to meet up at Camp Birchwood, spread her ashes and spend a week together to iron out the differences that drove them all apart.

Liz, V and Rachel could not be more different as adults. Their lives have all taken different directions and spending a week in close quarters presents more than one challenge. The question that begs an answer is this: Are friendships meant to last forever? More importantly: Can what they lost be repaired and made even stronger, even though they no longer have Emily?

In this touching story of forgiveness, these three friends deal with the combination of pain and forgiveness. The story also teaches that money, power and success do not measure happiness. The story is told in two timelines - during their years at camp and how they recall events of those years. Not only do we get each of their viewpoints in this emotional story, but we get that of Emily's by means of letters that the girls read throughout the story. In fact, some of these letters from Emily literally had me in tears.

When I stopped and remember that the author, Viola Shipman, is the pen name for Wade Rouse, I became floored. His ability to write female characters, their emotions, and how they broke apart and what brought them back together was absolutely amazing. I previously read The Heirloom Garden by him. Now I have to read more!

Many thanks to Graydon House and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:
SUMMER 2021

VERONICA

Grocery List

Milk (Oat, coconut, soy)
Fizzy water (cherry, lime, watermelon, mixed berry)
Chips (lentil, quinoa, kale, beet)
Cereal (Kashi, steel-cut oats, NO GMOs! VERY IMPORTANT!)

Whatever happened to one kind of milk from a cow, one kind of water from a faucet and one kind of chip from a potato?

My teenage children are seated on opposite ends of the massive, modern, original Milo Baughman circular sofa that David and I ordered for our new midcentury house in Los Angeles. Ashley and Tyler are juggling drinks while pecking at their cells, and it takes every fiber of my soul not to come unglued. This is the most expensive piece of furniture I have ever purchased in my life. More expensive even than my first two years of college tuition plus my first car, a red Reliant K-car that would stall at stoplights.

I still don’t know what the K stood for, I think. Krappy?

That was a time, long ago, when that type of negative thought would never have entered my mind, when the K would have stood only for Konfident, Kool or Kick-Ass. But that was a different world, another time, another life and place.

Another me.

Another V.

I steady my pen at the top of a pad of paper emblazoned with the logo of my husband’s architectural firm, David Berzini & Associates.

Los Angeles is the latest stop for us. My family has hopscotched the world more than a military brat as David’s architectural career has exploded. He is now one of the world’s preeminent architects. David studied under and worked with some of the most famous midcentury modern architects—Albert Frey, William Krisel, Donald Wexler—and has now taken over their mantles, especially as the appreciation for and popularity of midcentury modern architecture has grown. Now he is working on a stunning new public library in LA that will be his legacy.

I glance up from my pad. A selection of magazines—Architectural Digest, Vogue, W—are artfully strewn across a brutalist coffee table. The beautiful models stare back at me.

That was my legacy.

“Mom, can I get something to eat?”

This is now my legacy.

I glance at my children. Everything old has come back en vogue. Ashley is wearing the same sort of high-waisted jeans that I once wore and modeled in the ’80s, and Tyler’s hair—razored high by a barber and slicked back into a big black pompadour—looks a lot like a style I sported for a Robert Palmer video when every woman wanted to look like a Nagel woman.

Yes, everything has made a comeback.

Except me.

I look at my list.

And carbs.

My kids, like my husband, have never met a Pop-Tart, a box of Cap’n Crunch, a Jeno’s Pizza Roll or a Ding Dong. My entire family resembles long-limb ponies, ready to race. I grew up when the foundation of a food pyramid was a Twinkie.

I again put pen to paper, and in my own secret code I write the letter L above the first letter of my husband’s name. If someone happened to glance at the paper, they would simply think I had been doodling. But I know what “LD” means, and it will remind me once I get to the store.

Little Debbies.

You know, I actually hide these around our new home, which isn’t easy since the entire space is so sleek and minimal, and hiding space is at a premium. It took a lot of effort, but I, too, used to be as sleek and minimal as this house, as angular and arresting as its architecture. Anything out of place in our butterfly-roofed home located in the Bird Streets high above Sunset Strip—where the streets are named after orioles and nightingales, and Hollywood stars reside—is conspicuous.

Even now, on yet another perfect day in LA, where the sunshine makes everything look lazily beautiful and dipped in glitter, I can see a layer of dust on the terrazzo floors. Although a maid comes twice a week, the dust, smog and ash from nonstop fires in LA—carried by hot, dry Santa Ana winds—coat everything. And David notices everything.

Swiffers, I write on the pad, before outlining “LD” with my pen.

David hates that I have gained weight. He is embarrassed I have gained weight.

Or is just my imagination? Am I the one who is embarrassed by who I’ve become?

David never says anything to me, but he attends more and more galas alone, saying I need to watch the kids even though they no longer need a babysitter and that it’s better for their stability if one parent is with them. But I know the truth.

What did he expect would happen to my body after two children and endless moves? What did he expect would happen after losing my career, identity and self-esteem? It’s so ironic, because I’m not angry at him or my life. I’m just…

“Why don’t you just put all of that in the notes on your phone?”

“Or just ask the refrigerator to remember?”

“Yeah, Mom,” my kids say at the same time.

I look over at them. They have my beauty and David’s drive. Ash and Ty lift their eyes from their phones just long enough to roll their eyes at me, in that way that teens do, the way teens always have, in that there-couldn’t-be-a-more-lame-uncool-human-in-the-world-than-you-Mom way. And it’s always followed by “the sigh.”

“I like to do it this way,” I say.

“NO ONE writes anything anymore,” Ashley says.

“NO ONE, Mom!” Tyler echoes.

“Cursive is dead, Mom,” Ashley says. “Get with the times.”

I stare at my children. They are often the sweetest kids in the world, but every so often their evil twins emerge, the ones with forked tongues and acerbic words.

Did they get that from me? Or their father? Or is it just the way kids are today?

The sun shifts, and the reflection of water from the pool dances on the white walls, making it look as if we are living in an aquarium. I glance down the long hallway where the pool is reflecting, the place David has allowed me to have my only “clutter”: a corridor of old photos, a room of heirlooms.

My life flashes before me: our family in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York at the holidays, eating colorful French macarons at a cafĂ© in Paris, lying out on Barcelona’s beaches, and fishing with my parents at their summer cottage on Lake Michigan. And then, in the ultimate juxtaposition, there is an old photo of me, teenage me, in a bikini at Lake Birchwood hanging directly next to an old Sports Illustrated cover of me. In it, I am posing by the ocean where I met David. I am crouched on the beach like a tiger ready to pounce. That was my signature pose, you know, the one I invented that all the other models stole, the Tiger Pose.

I was one of the one-name girls back then: Madonna, Iman, Cher, V. All I needed was a single letter to identify myself. Now V has Vanished. I have one name.

“Mom!”

“Lunch. Please!”

My eyes wander back to our pool. I would be mortified to wear a bikini today. I am not what most people would deem overweight. But I have a paunch, my thighs are jellied and my chin is starting to have a best friend. It was that photo in all of the gossip magazines a year or so ago that did it to me. Paparazzi shot me downing an ice cream cone while putting gas in my car. I had shuttled the kids around all day in 110-degree heat, and I was wearing a billowy caftan. I looked bigger than my SUV. And the headlines:

Voluminous!

V has Vanished Inside This Woman!

If you saw me in person, you’d likely say I’m a narcissist or being way too hard on myself, but it’s as hard to hide fifteen pounds in LA as it is to hide an extra throw pillow in this house. I get Botox and fillers and do all the things I can to maintain my looks, but I am terrified to go to the gym here. I am mortified to look for a dress in a city where a size two is considered obese. The gossip rags are just waiting for me to move.

My eyes wander back to the photos.

I no longer have an identity.

I no longer have friends.

“Earth to Mom? Can you make me some lunch?” Tyler looks at me. “Then I need to go to Justin’s.”

“And you have to drive me to Lily’s at four, remember?”

I shudder. A two-mile drive in LA takes two hours.

“Mom?”

Ashley looks at me.

There is a way that your children and husband look at you—or rather don’t look at you at a certain point in your life—not to mention kids in the street, young women shopping, men in restaurants, David’s colleagues, happy families in the grocery.

They look through you. Like you’re a window.

It’s as if women over forty were never young, smart, fashionable, cool…were never like them, never had hopes, dreams and acres of life ahead of them.

What is with American society today?

Why, when women reach a “certain age,” do we become ghosts? Strike that. That’s not an accurate analogy: that would imply that we actually invoke a mood, a scare, a feeling of some sort. That we have a personality. I could once hold up a bag of potato chips, eat one, lick my fingers and sell a million bags of junk food for a company. Now I’m not even memorable enough to be a ghost. This model has become a prop. A piece of furniture. Not like the stylish one my kids are stretched out on, but the reliable, sturdy, ever-present, department store kind, devoid of any depth or substance, one without feeling, attractiveness or sexuality. I am just here. Like the air. Necessary to survive, but something no one sees or notices.

I used to be noticed. I used to be seen. Desired. Admired. Wanted.

I was the ringleader of friends, the one who called the shots. Now, I am Uber driver, Shipt delivery, human Roomba and in-home Grubhub, products I once would have sold rather than used.

I take a deep breath and note a few more grocery items on my antiquated written list and stand to make my kids lunch.

They are teen health nuts, already obsessed with every bite they consume. Does it have GMOs? What is the protein-to-carb differential?

Did I do this to them? I don’t think so.

Even as a model, I ate pizza, but that’s back in the day when a curve was sexy and a bikini needed to be filled out. I pull out some spicy tuna sushi rolls I picked up at Gelson’s and arrange them on a platter. I wash and chop some berries and place them in a bowl. I watch my kids fill their plates. Ashley is a cheerleader and wannabe actress, and Tyler is a skateboarding, creative techy applying to UCLA to study film and directing. Ashley wants to go to Northwestern to major in drama. They will both be going to specialty camps later this summer, Ashley for cheerleading and acting, Tyler for filmmaking and to boost his SAT scores. My eyes drift back to my photo wall, and I smile. They will not, however, spend their days simply having fun, singing camp songs, engaging in color wars, shooting archery, splashing in a cold lake, roasting marshmallows and making friends. A kid’s life today, especially here in LA, is a competition, and the competition starts early.

There is a rustling noise outside, and Ashley tosses her plate onto the sofa and rushes to the door. In LA, even the postal workers are hot, literally and figuratively, and our mailman looks like Zac Efron. She returns a few seconds later, fanning herself dramatically with the mail.

“You’re going to be a great actress,” I say with a laugh. Ashley starts to toss the mail onto the counter, but I stop her. “Leave the mail in the organizer for your dad.”

Yes, even the mail has its own home in our home.

“Hey, you got a letter,” she says.

“Who writes letters anymore?” Tyler asks.

“Old people,” Ashley says. The two laugh.

I take a seat at the original Saarinen tulip table and study the envelope. There is no return address. I feel the envelope. It’s bulky. I open it and begin to read a handwritten letter:

Dear V:

How are you? I’m sorry it’s been a while since we’ve talked. You’ve been busy, I’ve been busy. Remember when we were just a bunk away? We could lean our heads over the side and share our darkest secrets. Those were the good ol’ days, weren’t they? When we were innocent. When we were as tight as the clover that grew together in the patch that wound to the lake.

How long has it been since you talked to Rach and Liz? Over 30 years? I guess that first four-leaf clover I found wasn’t so lucky after all, was it? Oh, you and Rach have had such success, but are you happy, V? Deep down? Achingly happy? I don’t believe in my heart that you are. I don’t think Rach and Liz are either. How do I know? Friend’s intuition.

I used to hate myself for telling everyone what happened our last summer together. It was like dominoes falling after that, one secret after the next revealed, the facade of our friendship ripped apart, just like tearing the fourth leaf off that clover I still have pressed in my scrapbook. But I hate secrets. They only tear us apart. Keep us from becoming who we need to become. The dark keeps things from growing. The light is what creates the clover.

Out the cabin door went all of our luck, and then—leaf by leaf—our faith in each other, followed by any hope we might have had in our friendship and, finally, any love that remained was replaced by hatred, then a dull ache, and then nothing at all. That’s the worst thing, isn’t it, V? To feel nothing at all?

Much of my life has been filled with regret, and that’s just an awful way to live. I’m trying to make amends for that before it’s too late. I’m trying to be the friend I should have been. I was once the glue that held us all together. Then I was scissors that tore us all apart. Aren’t friends supposed to be there for one another, no matter what? You weren’t just beautiful, V, you were confident, so funny and full of life. More than anything, you radiated light, like the lake at sunset. And that’s how I will always remember you.

I’ve sent similar letters to Rach and Liz. I stayed in touch with Liz…and Rach…well, you know Rach. For some reason, you all forgave me, but not each other. I guess because I was just an innocent bystander to all the hurt. My only remaining hope is that you will all forgive one another at some point, because you changed my life and you changed each other’s lives. And I know that you all need one another now more than ever. We found each other for a reason. We need to find each other again.

Let me get to the point, dear V. Just picture me leaning my head over the bunk and telling you my deepest secret.

By the time you receive this, I’ll be dead…

My hand begins to shake, which releases the contents still remaining in the envelope. A pressed four-leaf clover and a few old Polaroid pictures scatter onto the tabletop. Without warning, I groan.

“Are you okay, Mom?” Tyler asks without looking back.

“Who’s that from?” Ashley asks, still staring at her phone.

“A friend,” I manage to mumble.

“Cool,” Ashley says. “You need friends. You don’t have any except for that one girl from camp.” She stops. “Emily, right?”

The photos lying on the marble tabletop are of the four of us at camp, laughing, singing, holding hands. We are so, so young, and I wonder what happened to the girls we used to be. I stare at a photo of Em and me lying under a camp blanket in the same bunk. That’s when I realize the photo is sitting on top of something. I move the picture and smile.

A friendship pin stares at me, E-V-E-R shining in a sea of green beads.

I look up, and water is reflecting through the clerestory windows of our home, and suddenly every one of those little openings is like a scrapbook to my life, and I can see it flash—at camp and after—in front of me in bursts of light.

Why did I betray my friends?

Why did I give up my identity so easily?

Why am I richer than I ever dreamed and yet feel so empty and lost?

Oh, Em.

I blink, my eyes blur, and that’s when I realize it’s not the pool reflecting in the windows, it’s my own tears. I’m crying. And I cannot stop.

Suddenly, I stand, throw open the patio doors and jump into the pool, screaming as I sink. I look up, and my children are yelling.

“Mom! Are you okay?”

I wave at them, and their bodies relax.

“I’m fine,” I lie when I come to the surface. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

They look at each other and shrug, before heading back inside.

At least, I think, they finally see me.

I take a deep breath and go down once more. Underwater, I can hear my heart drum loudly in my ears. It’s drumming in such perfect rhythm that I know immediately the tune my soul is playing. I can hear it as if it were just yesterday.

Boom, didi, boom, boom… Booooom.

Excerpted from The Clover Girls by Viola Shipman, Copyright © 2021 by Viola Shipman. Published by Graydon House Books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Viola Shipman is the pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother's name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his writing. Rouse is the author of The Summer Cottage, as well as The Charm Bracelet and The Hope Chest which have been translated into more than a dozen languages and become international bestsellers. He lives in Saugatuck, Michigan and Palm Springs, California, and has written for People, Coastal Living, Good Housekeeping, and Taste of Home, along with other publications, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

BLOG TOUR - Isabelle and Alexander


DESCRIPTION
:

Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father's coal mines with Alexander Osgood's prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander's wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife's unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn't bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle's opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.


ADVANCE PRAISE


  • "Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them."— Library Journal


  • "Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England."— Foreword Reviews


  • "Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson's debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart."— Booklist



MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   Isabelle and Alexander
Author:  Rebecca Anderson
Publisher:  Shadow Mountain
Genre:   Historical Romance
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   324
Date of Publication:   May 4, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

Isabelle Rackham will not allow herself to be disillusioned. She knows her marriage is not even close to a love match. However, she accepts it and facings an unemotional, business-minded husband every day. However, she longs for more - even if it is a glance, a touch.. But, it is not to be. Perhaps she will have a child and the void in her life can at least be filled in a bit.

Alexander knows that Isabelle is unhappy, but he is reticent, holding his thoughts and emotions close to the vest. However, he is a good man and does have an idea. He writes her a note and offers her to accompany him on a trip to his country estate. Has the window of opportunity opened for the pair of them?

Before much progress can be made, Alexander suffers a tragic accident that leaves him completely disabled. Isabelle is bound by duty, although certainly not by love, and she takes on the task of caring for Alexander while he begins the long road to recovery.

This is how things take a turn in this tragic story. Communication lines are open, and this starts to show a major difference between Isabelle and Alexander. As a reader, I could see how easily it was for her to love and how she did care for Alexander from the very beginning. I enjoyed watching Alexander thaw towards his wife, even though the tragedy of his injuries.

This touching story by Rebecca Anderson was evenly balanced with characters that warmed your heart and one or two that were really unlikable. This balance made an already good story even better. Although Ms. Anderson is new to me, she has definitely found a new fan, leaving me eager to see what else she has in store for her readers.

Many thanks to Shadow Mountain, NetGalley and Austenrose for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel. 

High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM  | GOODREADS