Beach House for Rent

Beach House for Rent
Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

The Windfall

The Windfall
The Windfall by Diksha Basu

Saturday, July 22, 2017

SATURDAY SERIES SPOTLIGHT: Mr. Churchill's Secretary By Susan Elia MacNeal

Welcome to The Book Review's SATURDAY'S SERIES SPOTLIGHT !!

What is a series spotlight, you ask?

I am always starting a new book series, but I also have a habit of starting long running series, which means I get to hunt down all the volumes, hoping to read them from start to finish.  This means I get to enjoy older books that are a new discovery for me.  Unfortunately, older =books don't get the same interest as new releases, which means my readers may be missing out on some really great books.

So, each Saturday, I will feature a book from a series I am working my through them. Mostly, I  will highlight a long running series, but I will also feature new ones too, and keep you posted on the latest installments.



The first book in the series is:



For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne PerryMr. Churchill’s Secretary captures the drama of an era of unprecedented challenge—and the greatness that rose to meet it.

London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character,  Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.



Mr. Churchill's Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery, #1)Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal is a 2012 Bantam publication.

I enjoyed this first book in the Maggie Hope series.

Set in Britain, just as the country enters the second world war, Maggie Hope is asked to work as a secretary for Prime Minister Churchill.

Maggie had arrived in Britain to sell the old Victorian house she inherited from her grandmother, but ended up living in the home with an eclectic group of roommates.

Although with her incredible mathematical abilities, she is very over qualified for her new job, as a woman, she finds herself relegated to taking dictation, but before long, Maggie begins to decipher codes, while also inadvertently discovering a shocking family secret.

Before she knows it, she is helping to flush out a spy, and doing a little investigative work concerning her own family, which is somehow connected. When all is said and done, Maggie’s life will have taken a turn into a new and unchartered course, not only with her career, but in her personal life, as well.

This novel is, of course, a mix of fact and fiction. There are ‘real life’ characters in the story, but it is not intended to be taken too literally.

I liked Maggie, who is a person well ahead of her time, is quick on her feet, and very smart, which earns her the respect of her male friends and colleagues, albeit, grudgingly at times.

The plot moves along a quick pace, but the characters have time to develop, which is especially important in the a ‘first in a series’ novel.

There were several ‘whiplash’ twists and surprises I never saw coming, which I loved, plus, I liked the tone of the story, which includes some interesting dialogue and political debate, a mountain of intrigue, with a little bit of romance blended in for good measure.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started this book, but this series starter, was interesting enough, and the spy angle was a nice surprise. Overall, I think the series got off onto solid footing, so I’ve queued up the next three books from the library.



New York Times-bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of the Maggie Hope Mystery series from Bantam/Random House. She is the winner of the Barry Award, and her books have been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Agatha, Thriller, and Dilys Awards.

The first novel in the series is Mr. Churchill's Secretary. It won the Barry Award and was nominated for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Mystery Readers International's Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel. It was also nominated for the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's 2013 Dilys Award for "the mystery title of the year that booksellers have most enjoyed hand-selling," Mr. Churchill's Secretary was also declared one of Suspense Magazine's Best Debut of 2012, Deadly Pleasures's Best Paperback Original of 2012, and chosen as one of Target's "Emerging Authors" series. 

The sequel, Princess Elizabeth's Spy, was a New York Times bestseller and chosen by as "Mystery of the Week" and one of "7 Compulsively Readable Mysteries (for the Crazy-Smart Reader)," as well as Tagret's "Emerging Authors" series. It was nominated for the Macavity Award's Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award.

His Majesty's Hope made the New York Times- and USA Today-bestseller lists and was chosen as one of Target's Emerging Author Series.

Books #4, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent, will be published in spring of 2014.

Susan graduated cum laude from Wellesley College, with departmental honors in English Literature and credits from cross-registered classes at MIT. She attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Harvard University.

Her first job was as an intern at Random House for then-publisher Harold Evans, before moving her way up the editorial ladder at Viking/Penguin and McGraw-Hill, then becoming an associate editor at Dance Magazine.

Her writing has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Time Out New York, Time Out London, Publishers Weekly, Dance Magazine, and various publications of New York City Ballet. She's also the author of two non-fiction books and a professional editor.

Friday, July 21, 2017

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty - Feature and Review


Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. 

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.



What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What Alice Forgot by Lianne Moriarty is a 2010 PanMacMillian Australia publication.

With so many books out there, there is bound to be an author that slips by unnoticed, and for me, sadly, Lianne Moriarty falls into that category.

I knew her books were well received and popular, but I could never seem to find the time to fit one into my schedule. But, my local overdrive library heavily promotes her books, so finally, I took the plunge and put a couple of them on hold.

This book turned out to be an excellent introduction to this author’s work and I can certainly see why her books are well liked. I absorbed this story like a sponge, savoring every nuance and subtlety.

It was a coincidence, this book has an underlying Mother’s day theme, so it was fitting I found myself reading it this week. The story centers around Alice, a woman on the cusp of her fortieth birthday, who takes a serious tumble, and hits her head hard enough to cause severe memory loss… ten years of lost memories to be exact.

Alice believes it is 1998, while in reality it’s 2008. A lot can happen in ten years, and for Alice it’s confusing, heartbreaking, scary, and sad.

Also contributing to the story is Alice’s sister, Elisabeth and her adopted grandmother, each realizing, via Alice’s switch back to 1998, how they have lost their way or let time slip away from them.

Amnesia plots are tricky in many aspects, but this story has a definite whimsical quality to it, despite the heavy issues at hand, and was handled adeptly.

Alice and Nick are on the brink of divorce, but why? A tragedy has occurred, but what happened? Will Alice get her memory back? If she does, will she change or go back to being her old self again?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to go back in time and basically get a do-over? What changes would you make? Were you a better person back then than you are now, or vice versa?

It’s so easy to allow our careers, and other outside forces, to take over, slowly infiltrating our lives, changing us and bending us until we lose sight of our true goals and priorities. If we were given the opportunity to see ourselves a decade into the future, would we like the people we became? Would be proud of our accomplishments, or would we feel sad by the way we traded love and relationships off for money, houses, and careers or allowed others to interfere or invade the goodness we had? Would we regret our choices?

This story will challenge you to take a good hard look at your life and the choices you have made. Don’t forget the things that matter most, like your marriage, your children, and your family. Friendships are important and work is a huge part of our lives, but they shouldn’t be the most important thing, nor should they become an undue influence on our relationships or personality.

Many will see themselves in this story in one form or another, and can relate to busy, busy, busy lives, the irritants that pop up in married life, the ups and downs, the resentments that can settle in, the trite grudges, the awkwardness of coping with friends who split up and feeling loyalties divided, or maybe from having to compete with a friend for your spouse’s attention, with jealousy rearing its ugly head as a result. How common is Alice and Nick’s story?

But, Alice is not the only one who has gone through incredible changes. Her sister’s struggles with fertility have left a mark on her, which has changed her personality and the dynamic of her own marriage. My heart went out to her, but I’m happy she considered all her options and was so proud of how she persevered in the end.

The other story regarding Alice and Elizabeth’s adopted grandmother was also poignant and sweet, but I do wish we had been given more one on one conversations with her, instead of merely reading her thoughts via letters written to an old beau who died many years ago.

Overall, this is a unique and thought provoking story, and perhaps a cautionary one too, but one that is full of second changes and hope that left me feeling at peace now that all is as if should be. I am really excited about this author now and have already queued up another of her novels.



Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of six internationally best-selling novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers: The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies.

The Husband's Secret has sold over three million copies worldwide, was a no. 1 UK bestseller, an Amazon Best Book of 2013 and will be translated into over 40 languages. CBS Films has acquired the film rights. 

With the launch of her novel, Big Little Lies, which has sold over one million copies in the US alone, Liane became the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. An HBO series based on the book is currently in production with Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley playing the three lead roles.

Liane’s newest novel, Truly Madly Guilty, will be released in July 2016. 

Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. You can find more at and

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware- Feature and Review

From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10 comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister...

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


MY REVIEW: The Lying GameThe Lying Game by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware is a 2017 Gallery Scout publication.

This latest thriller, by Ruth Ware, is an all- consuming, riveting tale, full of mind games and edgy suspense.

Isabel, Kate, Fatima, and Thea became fast friends while attending Salten boarding school, as teenagers. They began ‘the lying game’ to liven up their stay at the school, garnering them a terrible reputation on campus. But, ironically, their practice of lying came in handy, when they found themselves involved in a scandal that forced them out of the school.

Now, as adults, the women have moved on with their lives the best way they can, but they all live in fear of the day they will be summoned back to Salten to answer for their crimes. That day has finally arrived. Isabel, Fatima and Thea all receive a text message from Kate-

‘I need you.’

This story is moody and atmospheric, with a heavy feeling of foreboding percolating in the background. Ware had me on edge right from the start and kept me there until I crossed the finish line.

The consequences of lying are numerous, and we all know that lies cultivate more lies. It’s a vicious cycle. But, it’s especially brutal for Isabel, Kate, Thea, and Fatima, who have all lived with their lies, precariously balanced on a precipice, knowing their dark secret could be discovered at any moment. When it looks like their worst fears are about to be realized, it forces them to polish up their lying skills once again… only this time, it’s not a game.

‘When you define yourself by walls, who’s in, who’s out. The people on the other side of the wall become, not just them, but THEM. The outsiders. The opposition. The enemy.’

Isabel is the narrator of this story, and gives an accounting of the girl’s pasts, and the events of the present that brought them back together after all these years.

“What am I coming to? I am as bad as Kate, haunted by ghosts of the past. But, I remember lying here, one night, long ago, and I have that feeling again, of the record skipping in its groove, tracing and retracing the same voices and tracks.”

With her stable home life at stake, Isabel has a great deal to lose if the truth were ever exposed.
But, all the characters are complex and flawed, nervous, and jumpy, and under an equal amount of pressure. But, with their reputations preceding them, it is impossible to completely trust any of them.

“A wall, after all, isn’t just about keeping others out. It can also be for trapping people inside.’

I enjoyed the setting in this one, the guessing game, the dramas, confessions, and the surprising twists, all of which are important for any psychological thriller, but this book almost has a Gothic undertone, which of course, I found very appealing.

The suspense is mostly derived from the foreshadowing of doom, and is much more psychological than thriller, if that makes sense. Ware’s style, after only two novels, won her the moniker of ‘the Agatha Christie of our time’, but, this one may seem like a kinder, gentler version of Ware, who seems to have altered her style of writing just a little bit with this one.

This one is not quite as gritty as her previous novels have been, but I liked the more in -depth characterizations and the clever way she creates long lasting suspense that hangs in the air like a mist that refuses to burn off, becoming murkier and more intense as the story proceeds. But, never fear, there are still lots of surprises and twists that will catch you off guard.

Overall, this is another very solid performance from Ware, and I enjoyed this one, especially appreciating the tone, which is very much the style of suspense I enjoy most.



Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer, and is the internationally bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and the forthcoming The Lying Game (July 2017). She is married with two small children. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter @RuthWareWriter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe- Feature and Review


New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe returns to her beloved Isle of Palms to tell the poignant, charming story of two women, one summer, and one very special beach house.

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Wyatt for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, an young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.



Beach House for Rent (The Beach House, #4)Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe is a 2017 Gallery Books publication.

I’ve been dying to sink my teeth into this latest installment in the ‘Beach House’ series by Mary Alice Monroe!

I’ve never been disappointed by one of MAM’s novels, but this one is especially poignant and is simply storytelling at its finest.

Once again, we return to the magical beach house filled with special memories of Lovie, Cara’s mother, who stubbornly refused to sell it, eventually handing it down to her daughter. Over the years, Cara’s often overbearing and obnoxious brother, Palmer, has pushed her to sell the prime location, but Cara has firmly refused him.

However, dark and ominous financial clouds are gathering over Cara and her husband, Brett, which makes selling the house very tempting, indeed.

Yet, Cara stands firm against Palmer’s aggressive, hard sell, and declares the house is for rent. She just never thought she would find a renter so fast…

Heather has been commissioned to do bird sketches to be used as models for United States postage stamps!! While she is very excited about this honor, her extreme social anxiety, and panic disorder keep her from living life to its fullest. To top it off, her father recently remarried- to a much younger woman, who does not want Heather living at home any longer.

So, her father gently nudges Heather out of the nest by renting her Cara’s beach house for the summer. This will give Heather time to work with her birds, get her job done, and maybe learn to live on her own- at least for the summer.

But, when a horrific and cruel twist of fate occurs, Cara finds she really needs to recover in the peace and comfort she can only find at the beach house. However, with Heather living in the house for the summer, Cara must make a compromise that will suit them both, which soon becomes the foundation for a very special bond between these two unlikely friends.

I always find myself totally wrapped up in the drama, love, laughter, and friendship exhibited in this series.

The characters are so real, they feel like people you would meet anywhere, or that you might know personally, which makes their stories feel so real, raw, and emotional.

I really took to Heather right away, understanding what it is like to live with a disorder few people understand, and are so quick to make judgements about. The more I learned about her, the more I liked her. She made so much progress, and Bo was a big part of her journey. But, what really sold me on her character was the way she took Cara in her arms and became a rock for her, even though Cara wasn’t having any of it in the beginning.

( I found her jealousy of Heather both amusing and curious- but it eventually it all becomes very clear what is bothering Cara)

But, Cara’s story is the one that was the hardest to go through emotionally. Her fiftieth birthday has her taking stock of her life and her future, as she realizes that something is missing, something that has her feeling restless, and keeps her from feeling completely content. She’s been struggling to help Brett keep his business afloat, living out his dreams and passions while hers have all but disappeared.

I think many people wake up at some point and realize that life’s twists and turns took them onto paths they weren’t expecting. While they may have found more happiness because of those surprising developments, it may also mean one's dreams were placed on hold or never realized.

For Cara her hopes for motherhood were dashed,and she had also left her high- powered career behind to make a life with Brett, so she ended up working at a ‘job’ helping to make ends meet, but did not find it all that fulfilling.

So, in part, Cara’s story is about her journey toward the discovery of her one true passion, even at this stage in her life. We all need something we are passionate about to keep us focused and centered no matter what other ups and downs, triumphs and failures, life throws onto our path. Of course, the story is also one of friendship and loyalty, about helping people through difficult periods, and coming together in times of need.

This is a wonderful, heartwarming story, and it had the same effect on me as comfort food might, or chicken soup for the soul or something. I absolutely need these types of stories to lose myself in, to take me away from the world’s hardness for a while. No matter what, I always feel better after reading one of MAM’s novels.

One more thought, before I finish- I can’t write a review about this series, without mentioning the ecology and animals the author weaves into her stories, which educates, but also serves as a reminder, that we are responsible for the well being of birds, and all beach life and aquatic creatures, no matter how superior you may feel, or how entitled you may feel about using the beach for your own enjoyment.

As always, I came away from this story feeling humbled and deeply satisfied. Another outstanding job by this author! I do hope, like Cara promised, she will be back soon!



Mary Alice Monroe is known for her intimate portrayals of women's lives and keen eye to setting. Monroe brings to life the many colorful people and the compelling story layers of her home--Charleston and the the beaches of the lowcountry. 

Mary Alice Monroe's books have achieved several best seller lists including the New York Times, SIBA, and USA Today. Mary Alice has received numerous awards, including the 2014 SC Book Festival Award for Excellence in Writing, the 2015 SW Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, The RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. She serves on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and the Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Her children's books received several awards, including the ASPCA Henry Bergh award. 

Her recent novel is the final book in a trilogy set in the lowcountry: THE SUMMER GIRLS, THE SUMMER WIND, and THE SUMMER'S END. Her next novel, A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING, continuing the popular series, will be released in May 2016. Monroe's novel, THE BEACH HOUSE, will be made into a Hallmark film starring Andie MacDowell.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Leavers by Lisa Ko- Feature and Review


One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away--and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.



The LeaversThe Leavers by Lisa Ko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Leavers by Lisa Ko is a 2017 Algonquin Books publication.

Timely, heartbreaking, and emotional.

Polly immigrates to the US from China and is raising her young son Deming, living with her boyfriend, Leon, his sister, Vivian, and her son, Michael. But, one day, after an argument, Polly leaves for work and disappears.

With no blood relatives, Deming finds himself at the mercy of Vivian, who says she can’t afford to keep him. However, he does end up in a good home, with Kay and Peter, an educated couple who try their best to offer him a better life.

After his adoption, Kay and Peter change his name to Daniel, completing his transformation into their environment. But, all the while, his mother’s fate haunts him. Had she simply abandoned him or did something terrible happen to her?

There are many books about mothers and daughters, a relationship often fraught with various juxtapositions, but a bond between a mother and her son, is something we should explore and cheer on more often.

In this case, Deming never knew his father, so his mother was his whole world. He struggles to adapt to his new life, bowing under pressure, developing a gambling problem, but finding relief through music.

I don’t think it’s rocket science to conclude that Deming/Daniel’s unrest, his inability to settle in and focus is wrapped up in his lack of closure concerning his mother, and his struggle with the two sides of him, with his peace of mind remaining elusive.

But, by the second part of the story, I began to understand there was more going on that what appears on the surface, shifting the focus onto the broken immigration system, giving Polly a chance to tell her side of the story. She too, struggles with a duality, trying to meld her past self with the woman and the life she has now.

Kay and Peter are do gooders, patting themselves on the back for giving Daniel a new life when a younger child was what they would have preferred. Not only that, they project their ideals and perhaps unrealistic expectations onto Daniel, unable to understand his seeming lack of ambition.

While, Kay and Peter aren’t necessarily bad people, they aren’t exactly warm and fuzzy either, and although they do put some effort into making him feel more comfortable in his mostly white surroundings, they are perhaps a little credulous.

So, ultimately, there really are no bad guys, per se, except for struggles and consequences faced by immigrants, which of course makes this story especially poignant and relevant in this moment in time.

There are some parts in the book that went on too long or went into too much detail, especially since it didn’t exactly add a lot to the relevance of the situation, and bordered on ‘filler’, but that’s really just a minor blip when compared with what I took away from the story.

The novel is partly a mystery, since we have no idea what has become of Polly after her vanishing act, but it is mostly a story about the bond between a mother and son, the cause of the heartbreaking rip in their relationship, the resulting fall out, and the struggle to find one’s true identity.



I'm the author of THE LEAVERS, a novel that won the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Set in New York and China, THE LEAVERS follows one young man's search for his mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant who disappears when he's 11 years old, after which he is adopted by a white family. It's the story of one mother and her son: what brings them together and takes them apart. Learn more about me and my writing at

Monday, July 17, 2017

Say Yes to the Scot: A Highland Wedding Box Set by Lecia Cornwall, Anna Harrington, May McGoldrick, Sabrina York- Feature and Review


You are formally invited to the Highland wedding event of the year. These four lasses are about to meet their matches in an original digital anthology featuring stories from New York Timesand USA Today bestselling author Sabrina York, Lecia Cornwall, Anna Harrington, and May McGoldrick.

How a Lass Wed a Highlander by Lecia Cornwall
In this retelling of The Princess and The Pea, Laird Alex Munro of Culmore has just five weeks to find a bride and marry her...or else the clan will be cursed with ill luck. Cait MacLeod finds herself caught in a clan feud, and when she tries to stop a deadly raid, she ends up as Alex Munro’s prisoner. With timing running out, is this couple meant to be?

A Match Made in Heather by Anna Harrington
She was the laird's daughter. He was nothing more than a penniless, nameless Scot with nothing to offer but his heart. Fate tore them apart, but now he's back in her life with status, money and a title. Can they let go of past hurts and find love?

A Midsummer Wedding by May McGoldrick
Their marriage was two decades in the making. The young, educated woman and her highland, pirate husband, betrothed when they were still children. But on the day of their wedding, Elizabeth Hay and Alexander Macpherson are in for a surprise.

The Scot Says I Do by Sabrina York
Catherine Ross's world is turned upside down when her brother gambles away every penny they own. But to make matters worse? He’s lost everything to none other than Duncan Mackay, the rugged Scot who Catherine loved for years--but he never noticed her, and now she positively loathes him. But her brother’s in danger of going to Newgate, and the despicable Duncan has a plan– she can claim back the money and save her brother. If she marries him…



Say Yes to the Scot: A Highland Wedding Box SetSay Yes to the Scot: A Highland Wedding Box Set by Lecia Cornwall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Say Yes to the Scot: A Highland Wedding Box Set by Lecia Cornwall, Anna Harrington, May McGoldrick, Sabrina York is a 2017 Swerve publication.

The right historical romance combination at just the right time!

Some of my book buddies, and review or blog followers, have probably wondered why I have been reading far fewer historical romance novels this year.

There are many reasons, and I won’t get into all of them here, but I have been on a romance novel diet, in general, for some months, but that is especially true for historical romance.

I am sorry to say, I never went through withdrawals, or developed uncontrollable cravings. Well, okay, I did a few times, but not for anything new. I have been reading older romances, here and there, but, maybe the ‘everything in moderation’ slogan applies to romance genres as well, at least for me.

However, I do have a massive pile of historical romance novels in my TBR pile, so I plucked this one out for several reasons, the main one being it was not a Regency. This collection of short stories is based around Scotland and I never seem to grow weary of Highlanders.

Also, the fact that this is an anthology also appealed to me because I wouldn't have to commit to a full length historical, meaning no rich, cholesterol laden meal. Instead, I could enjoy smaller portions, and still feel satisfied.

Every story featured in this anthology was good, but, for the sake of time, I am going to review only one of them:

A Match Made in Heather by Anna Harrington

This is the second story in the anthology and is centered around Arabel, the daughter of a laird and Garrick, who has no wealth, or title. The two fell in love, but were torn apart by family obligations and potential scandal.

Ten years later, the two are forced together again because of a most unusual will. But, Arabel is engaged to be married and Garrick is still holding hard to his resentments, determined to exact revenge for everything Arabel’s family put him through.

I’ve always been a sucker for ‘second chance at love’ stories, so this one stood out from the others included in this anthology.

There is so much emotion, heartbreak, tension and suspense packed into this short story!! I was on the edge of my seat wondering if these two wonderful people, who were so obviously meant for one another, would be able to put the past behind them and make a future together.

I found myself completely immersed in the drama, angst and romance, which is something I have really struggled to experience in historical romance for a while now.

So, thankfully, this story reminded me that complete abstinence is not necessary and that it is okay to indulge in sweets once in a while without ruining your diet.

The first book featured in the collection, ‘How a Lass Wed a Highlander’ by Lecia Cornwall is my runner up. I love ‘The Princess and the Pea’, so I enjoyed this retelling of that classic.

Overall, this is a very solid collection of short stories/ novellas. As far as I can tell, none of these stories are connected to a series, all of them are stand-alone, and there are no sneaky reissues.

I enjoyed reading one story in between my other books, which gave me a chance to enjoy the genre in small doses, which is still working out better for me, I think. But, I also see myself slowly adding more historical romances back into the mix, especially if I can find some as wonderful as these are!!



May McGoldrick
USA Today Bestselling Author
(a.k.a. Nikoo & Jim McGoldrick) 

USA Today Bestselling Authors Nikoo and Jim wrote their first May McGoldrick romance using historical figures that Jim researched while earning a PhD in sixteenth-century Scottish and English literature. Nikoo, a mechanical engineer, is a born storyteller. She is all about characters and feeling. Jim is about action and sense of place. Together, they have crafted over forty fast-paced, conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under the pseudonyms May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey.

Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous romances. Her titles range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance in historical, contemporary and fantasy sub-genres. Represented by Nicole Rescinti at the Seymour Agency.

2017 Rita Nominee for Susana and the Scot

Lecia Cornwall lives and writes in Calgary, Canada in the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies, with five cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate lab, and one very patient husband. She's hard at work on her next book. Come visit Lecia at, or drop her a line at

I fell in love with historical romances and all things Regency--and especially all those dashing Regency heroes--while living in England, where I spent most of my time reading Jane Austen and getting lost in London (especially the getting lost part). I have traveled around the world, both as a tourist and as a volunteer with children's organizations in Peru, Ecuador, France, Italy, Thailand, and Mexico. In addition to being an avid traveler, I love to hike and fly airplanes, adore all things chocolate and coffee, and am a Doctor Who fanatic (everyone says my house *is* bigger on the inside!). I am a terrible cook who hopes to one day use my oven for something other than shoe storage, and in my spare time, I enjoy trying not to kill off innocent rose bushes in my garden. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe- Feature and Review


The Bluestocking 
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.

The Rake 
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.

Neighbors for years, they've been at each other's throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?



My Lady, My Lord (Twist, #1)My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Lady, My Lord by Katherine Ashe is a 2014 by Billet- Doux Books.

I grabbed this book when it was on sale at Amazon without reading the synopsis first. I love Katherine Ashe, so I knew I would like the book, but I was delightfully surprised by how clever this plot is, and love how the author took a tried and true trope and turned it into a charming fantasy.

Corinna is a bluestocking whose life is filled with her Salons, books and art. Ian is a notorious Rake, a man Corinna has a long history with. The two dislike each other and can’t get along for five minutes without an argument erupting.

But when their bodies are switched, each one gets a healthy lesson in humility and a grudging respect begins to grow between them when they are forced to help each other in very significant ways. Is it possible they could actually learn to like each other… maybe even stop lying to themselves about the reason they always seem to clash?

I haven’t had so much fun reading a regency period historical romance in a very long time. I literally laughed out loud a time or two, and instantly fell under the magical spell of this story. Katherine Ashe has a wonderful imagination and this story shows off her writing skill quite nicely.

The story is beautifully paced, with sticky situations handled with grace and aplomb. I loved the characters and the incredibly sharp and witty banter between them. The atmosphere is light, whimsical, and thoroughly enchanting.



KATHARINE ASHE is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances reviewers call "intensely lush" and "sensationally intelligent," including her acclaimed Devil's Duke Series, and My Lady, My Lord and How to Marry a Highlander, 2015 and 2014 finalists for the romance industry's most prestigious award, the RITA®.

Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about her books, please visit her at

If you would like to receive e-news announcements about Katharine's books and appearances, join Katharine's e-news list. To subscribe, copy and paste this URL into your browser's address window: