Ten Things My Husband Hated: A Saffron Sweeting Novel

By Pauline Wiles

 

Book Blurb

Maggie Moone is happily divorced.

And with her talent for fixing things, she’s perfectly content with her mundane life in the sleepy English village of Saffron Sweeting. That is, until one humiliating March evening when she learns everyone else assumes she’d love to mend her broken marriage.

Determined to prove them wrong, Maggie and her friends concoct a list of ten ways to assert her independence and live large. But her mission to move on leads to unexpected encounters, and Maggie soon finds herself mixing business with pleasure. Is the attractive young Irishman just another item on her list, or is he something more?

Before long, unresolved issues from her past begin to clash, and Maggie is forced to wonder if antagonizing her ex-husband was such a stellar idea.

No sooner does she begin to understand what’s important to her, than she stands to lose everything that truly matters.

This is the fourth in the collection of Saffron Sweeting romantic comedies, which can be read in any order. If you like gentle British humour and deliciously resilient heroines, you’ll love Ten Things My Husband Hated.

Book Blurb and Book Cover from Goodreads

 

My Review

There is so much to love about TEN THINGS MY HUSBAND HATED and little, if anything, to dislike.  The “war” between Maggie and Colin is as funny as it is serious.  When Maggie decided to get even by getting under Colin’s skin, things were hilarious, until they weren’t.  Did Maggie’s list cause her to lose someone who meant the world to her or would she be able to redeem herself in the eyes of the one she found she’d fallen for?

Maggie grew from a somewhat flaky, weak person who was still hanging on to her past to a strong, decisive woman who knew what she needed to do to become the new Maggie Moone.  She displayed compassion and forgiveness for her ex and his new wife in place of her feelings of anger and jealousy.  She learned to love for the real reason and when she realized this love, she blossomed.  Maggie went through a lot of pain and a lot of growing up and nearly lost Finn, an earnest young Irishman.  If I had to choose a favorite character it would be Finn.  I loved his choices of what to do on a date.

There were quite a few supporting characters who were all as beautifully fleshed out as the main characters.  The story moved smoothly and kept my interest.  In fact, I couldn’t put this book down.

 

About the Author

British by birth, Pauline Wiles is now a contented resident of California, although she admits to occasional yearnings for afternoon tea and historic homes.

Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Three further romantic comedies set in the same village are now available, along with a free collection of short stories. Pauline has also published Indie with Ease, to help other independent authors conquer stress and boost productivity.

When not writing, Pauline designs and builds simple, stylish websites for other writers and authors. She can also be found running, reading, or searching for her next venue to enjoy tea and a slice of cake.

Author Bio and Photo from Goodreads.

 

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An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for my honest review.  

Dancing to an Irish Reel

By Claire Fullerton

 

Dancing to an Irish ReelBook Blurb

On sabbatical from her job in the LA record business, Hailey Crossan takes a trip to Ireland for the vacation of a lifetime. What she finds is a job offer too good to turn down.

But her life in Ireland comes with one complication—Liam Hennessey. He’s a famous Irish musician whose entire life revolves around performing, so when he meets Hailey, he is so unbalanced at the prospect of love that he can’t decide whether to come closer or run away.

And so begins the push and pull of Hailey and Liam’s attraction. It is a dance enriched by colorful Irish friends who help Hailey navigate her budding romance with Liam in a landscape with more charm and character than any place Hailey ever imagined.

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing

Publication date, March 6, 2015

Page count; 236

Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0990304256

ISBN-13: 978-0990304258

My Review

Dancing to an Irish Reel is written in the first person of Hailey Crossan, the main character.  Hailey arrives in Connemara, Ireland on vacation, but when offered the job of a lifetime at a music company, she extends her vacation. Through Hailey, we learn about the people of Connemara, their language, their country, and their music.

Hailey is a strong person who tends to tell it as she sees it. She is not afraid to explore on her own, or travel by herself.  When she meets Liam Hennesey, an accordion player, she immediately feels an attraction.  Liam has a slow way of pursuing Hailey, but he is definitely interested. However, he seems uncertain of their relationship.  There is a lot of hesitancy and on again, off again in their relationship, and even at the end, we aren’t sure where the relationship will go.

The author is a master at rich description allowing us to immediately feel at home in Connemara.  Her vivid descriptions are what drew me in from the first.  The plot evolves with slowly, leaving us to savor our visit with the land and people of Ireland.

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the AuthorClaire Fullerton in front yard with dogs Dec 28 2011

Claire Fullerton is the author of “Dancing to an Irish Reel” (Literary Fiction) and “A Portal in Time,” (Paranormal Mystery), both from Vinspire Publishing.  She is a 4 time, award-winning essayist, a contributor to magazines (including “Celtic Life International” and “Southern Writers Magazine”) a former newspaper columnist, and a 5-time contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. Claire hails from Memphis, Tennessee and now lives in Malibu, California, with her husband and two German shepherds. She has recently completed her third novel, which is a Southern family saga set in Memphis.

Website

 http://www.clairefullerton.com

Social Media Links

Author Facebook page:  Link​

Dancing to an Irish Reel – Facebook page:    Link​

Dancing to an Irish Reel – Google+ page:  Link

Claire’s blog: Link​​

Follow Claire on Twitter: @cfullerton3

Claire on Pinterest:  Link

Excerpt link http://www.clairefullerton.com/dancing-to-an-irish-reel

Available on: Amazon.com     Amazon.co.uk     Barnes & Noble

 

Butterfly Barn

By Karen Power

Butterfly Barn by Karen Power - Front Book Cover - (2014)Book Blurb

Three women, two continents, one dream

Grace Fitzgerald is about to sign a contract with an American cruise corporation to bring cruise liners into the idyllic coastal town of Bayrush, in Ireland. But her fiancé, Dirk, doesn’t seem to grasp just how important the business is to her. On her way through Dublin Airport, Grace catches a glimpse of Jack Leslie, her first love. He’s married now but he still has the power to turn her knees to jelly. Grace is about to make the biggest decision of her life. Will it be the right one?

Jessie McGrath is happily married to Geoff, and together they run a small equestrian centre on the outskirts of Bayrush. Jessie is finally pregnant with her second child, and life couldn’t be better. Will their dreams come true or will they fall to pieces?

Sophia Wynthrope can’t escape the emptiness of widowhood. After thirty-five years of marriage, New York holds too many memories of her treasured husband. Is she chasing foolish dreams by travelling to Ireland, or can she possibly find the peace she craves in a place called Bayrush.

An unexpected encounter will spark a chain of events that will entwine their lives forever…

  • Contemporary Women’s Fiction
  • Self-published – Comeragh Publishing
  • Book One of the series

 

My Review

Karen Power’s debut novel is a heartwarming story about friendships, family ties, love, loss, and forgiveness. Most of the story takes place in a small coastal town of Bayrush in County Waterford, Ireland.

Grace Fitzgerald has been dating Dirk for three years and he desperately wants to set a date for their wedding.  Grace is holding back, and finally gives in. She can’t seem to be excited about her forthcoming wedding, and wonders if Dirk is truly the one.  She still feels a connection with Jack Leslie, the guy she met twenty years ago.

Jessie is Grace’s best friend and is happily married to Geoff McGrath. Together they run a small equestrian center near Bayrush.  They have a young son Sam, but want more children.  Jessie is pregnant and after a scan Jessie and Geoff learn there is not one baby, but twin boys.  A reason for joy, which is soon dashed as the doctor explains Jessie’s pregnancy is a hydropic pregnancy, and there is a chance she won’t be able to carry the boys to term.

Sophia Wynthrope, a wealthy magazine publisher has recently lost her husband of thirty-five years.  She is struggling with the emptiness she feels since his death, and on a chance meeting with Grace on a plane to New York, decides to return to Ireland to the town of Bayrush, and her newfound friend.

The three characters Grace, Jessie, and Sophia have different problems to work through, but they find their support and friendship with each other provides the impetus to endure.  There is a huge supporting cast of characters, including Dirk, Jack, Geoff, Grace’s sister Kate, and many others, all very likeable and true to life.

The weaving of this many characters into a coherent story is a challenge for any author, but especially so for a debut author.  The author carried it off without faltering and developed a storyline that entwines fact with fiction to create a book you won’t want to end.  Butterfly Barn touched me deeply, especially Jessie’s story.

I won’t go into any more detail about the plot and characters for fear of giving too much of the story away.  It is a beautiful and heartwarming story that is bound to keep your interest throughout.  I hope you will choose to read it. I heartily recommend Butterfly Barn to all readers of contemporary women’s fiction.

I give Butterfly Barn 5 stars.

Butterfly Barn was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest review.

About the AuthorKaren Power (Butterfly Barn) - (2014)

Just to tell you a little about me. I live on a farm in County Waterford, with my husband, two children and our nutty Springer Spaniel called Sam.

I spent many years working in the travel industry where I had many fantastic experiences. For example, little did I know that I would use my boss’s idea to bring cruise liners into Ireland to be the career choice of my lead character, Grace Fitzgerald. That’s the beauty of fiction. People can do and be whoever they want.

Currently, I tutor in adult education delivering a range of modules such as communications, tourism, and personal effectiveness.  My big passion is my work as a voluntary literacy tutor. I truly believe that every person should have the opportunity to read. As a teenager, I travelled the world from the sofa in my living room, immersed in the world of books.

Now I’m embarking on a new adventure into the world of writing by releasing the first novel from the Butterfly Barn Series.

Karen Power can be found at the following links.

Webpage – http://www.karenpowerauthor.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kpowerauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/irishbutterflybarn?fref=ts

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/106353349118481109015/posts

To buy Butterfly Barn

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

A CRY FROM THE DEEP

By Diana Stevan

 

A Cry From the DeepAbout The Book

Despite a near death diving accident years before, Catherine Fitzgerald, an underwater photographer, embarks on a journey to cover the find of the century, one of the lost ships from the Spanish Armada. But before she goes, she buys an antique ring that triggers nightmares and visions of a young woman searching for someone on an old sailing ship caught in a storm. When Catherine sets out to discover the young woman’s identity, she discovers a connection that will change her life forever.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP is a romantic adventure novel, set in Provence, Manhattan and Ireland. Interwoven with this story of love and loss is the drama that takes place in our oceans, where salvagers continue to wreak havoc on the environment and steal cultural treasures. It’s also about fate and the mystery of how we find love and how it finds us.

 My Review

I didn’t know what to expect of A CRY FROM THE DEEP, but soon found I was immersed in a mind-tingling mystery of two different times.  One event occurred in 1878 off the coast of Killybegs, Donegal Bay, Ireland, when Margaret O’Donnell married James Gallagher after his cargo ship the Alice O’Meary returned from India.  Her father gave Margaret her mother’s wedding band to wear.

Fast forward to 2010 in Provence, France.  Catherine Fitzgerald was working in her lavender fields when she received a phone call from her old boss.  He was offering her the opportunity to come back to work as an underwater photographer at National Geographic. She would have to return to New York so her ex-husband could look after their daughter while she photographed the deep-sea dive of an ill-reputed treasure hunter. Her job was to photograph everything during dives and to make sure all recovered items were recorded as required by law.  It was a dangerous job, and she hadn’t been back in the water since she had nearly drowned on another job several years before.

Once in New York, Catherine, with her ex-husband Richard and their daughter Alex toured a street market where Catherine purchased a peculiar gold ring.  Was this ring responsible for the nightmares she started having?

Catherine was to work alongside Daniel Costello, a nautical archeologist, who was a very experienced diver and would ease Catherine back into the deep. Daniel was engaged to be married after the salvage project.

Was there a connection between the event of 1878 and Catherine in 2010?  You’ll just have to read to find out.  No spoilers here.

Stevan created characters and a story that kept me in my chair all day reading A CRY FROM THE DEEP from beginning to end.  The amount of material she researched is mind boggling, but her diligence resulted in a believable story with characters so well developed, I had no trouble visualizing any of them. Before long, I felt I knew everyone personally, and was deeply engrossed in one of the most fascinating tales I’ve ever read.  This book absolutely merits 5 stars.

 About the Author

Diana Stevan

Diana Stevan took many detours to get to the writing phase of her life. After marrying at 19, she received a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics and a Master of Social Work, both with honors, from the University of Manitoba. She moved to B.C. in 1979 with her husband and two children. As a clinical social worker, Diana spent over twenty-five years in the field, working in a variety of settings—psychiatric, child guidance, cancer agency, and private practice.

She’s also worked as a teacher, professional model, actress and a sports writer-broadcaster for CBC television. Writing has been her passion, even though it was relegated to the back seat while her children were young. She’s published fitness and travel articles for newspapers, poetry in the U.K. journal, DREAMCATCHER and a short story in ESCAPE, an anthology published by Peregrin.

Diana has traveled widely and uses her experience to color her stories.

A CRY FROM THE DEEP is her debut novel. She now lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, in beautiful British Columbia.

You can visit her on her website and social media:

http://www.dianastevan.com

https://www.facebook.com/dianastevan.author

https://twitter.com/DianaStevan

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8420679.Diana_Stevan

Chapter Three

It was as if she’d never left. Driving over the Queensboro Bridge with Alex and Richard in his BMW, Catherine feasted on the Manhattan skyline. Even though the absence of the twin towers brought tears to her eyes, the majestic spires of the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings still stirred her like no other buildings could.

Richard glanced at her. “It still haunts, doesn’t it?”

She nodded as she looked again at where the towers once stood. She said nothing more until they’d crossed the bridge and a man yelling at another man on the street got her attention. “Are you still dealing with some of those patients you took on back then?”

“A few are still coming.” He pursed his lips. “I wasn’t much fun, was I?”

She shrugged. “It wasn’t a fun time.” Richard’s sadness over his patients’ misfortunes had crept into their relationship. Like a fog that showed no signs of letting up, a pall had settled over their union, to the point where even lovemaking became a chore. She couldn’t remember when they’d stopped doing it altogether. Instead of sex, they had each gone to bed with a book, as if reading would squash any desire.

They rode the next few blocks in silence. The rush of cars and pedestrians on East 60th and Park Avenue reminded Catherine of a Pollock painting with its kinetic frenzy and streaks of every color. The yellow cabs and street vendors brought back more memories. She remembered the times they had tramped across town to Greenwich Village to hear some jazz musician, or to an art gallery that had sprung up overnight in Chelsea. They’d had their happy moments.

But after her scuba diving accident, everything had changed. She got depressed, and Richard, being a psychiatrist, started treating her like a patient. And even when she decided to see a therapist, he couldn’t keep his hands off. He called her shrink periodically to give his unsolicited opinion until Catherine found out and insisted he stop. That only added to the strain between them. By that time, she was pregnant.

Catherine looked over at Richard. He was focused on driving. He was still a handsome man with his prematurely silver hair and soft blue eyes. And when he smiled, his face shone in a way that made her wonder why she’d ever left. Perhaps they were too much alike. They both needed to be in charge. One thing, though. They had their differences, but they never fought. Instead, they had drifted apart, each trapped in a bubble. It had been no surprise that their divorce turned out to be an amicable one. Richard hated scenes and because of Alex, Catherine was forever grateful.

They had stopped at a light. She said, “How’s the rest of your practice? Still turning heads inside out?”

“Not much has changed. I’ve got the usual assortment of the too thin, too rich, and too…” He glanced back at Alex, whose face was pressed against the side window. “Too forked.”

Catherine said wryly, “Forked?”

“You know what I mean.”

Alex groaned and gave her mother an oh, brother look. Catherine couldn’t help smiling. Alex was at the age where you couldn’t get much past her.

It was too bad she and Richard couldn’t have made it. Especially for Alex’s sake. When Richard had showed up at arrivals to greet them, Alex had run to him shrieking with delight.

He had swung her around and said, “Look at your legs! You’re getting so tall.”

Catherine always got a lump in her throat at these times. She still blamed herself for dragging their daughter so far away. When he had put Alex down, she and Richard had hugged awkwardly, as if they’d never hugged one another before. It was strange how intimate they’d once been. That alone made her wary of any future attachment. You love someone one day, and the next, you’re both strangers.

As they drove on, she was glad that Alex—after taking a recess—was back at entertaining her father with tales of Disney World. Her incessant chattering left little room for small talk or any uncomfortable silence.

Richard turned on to Central Park West, where the traffic had slowed to a crawl. Up ahead, there seemed to be an accident. It was bumper to bumper as one driver after the other swiveled to find an opening. They inched forward. It seemed to take forever before Richard was able to turn left at West 75th Street and then right on Columbus Avenue. It was still slow, but better slow than stuck in the midst of steaming New Yorkers. On the other side of the road, an outdoor flea market, one city block long, was in full swing.

Alex rolled down her window. “Mama, can we stop, please, please, please?”

“Oh, Alex,” said Catherine. It’d been hectic since they’d left Provence and the last thing she wanted was a stop at a crowded marketplace.

“Well…?” asked Richard. “You better make up your minds fast.”

Catherine threw up her hands. Parking was always a headache. “Suit yourself.”

Richard gamely looked for a spot. He could never say no to Alex.

“Looks like you’re going to get your wish,” said Catherine.

“How about I drop you both off, and I’ll come and find you?”

Catherine scanned the throngs weaving past the various stalls and spotted a canopy with lettering: Hats by Helene. She checked her watch and then pointed at the sign. “How about we meet at eleven by that hat table?” Maybe the market wouldn’t be so bad. She could always use another hat.

 ~~~

Catherine and Alex had walked the entire circuit—of antiques, homemade foods, and old photographs of once-famous stars­—before Richard caught up with them at the hat table. Catherine was trying to decide whether to buy a black wool one with a brim and a braided ribbon around the crown. It reminded her of the hat Diane Keaton wore in that Woody Allen picture decades ago. Some things never went out of style.

“Looks good on you.” He smiled approvingly.

“It does, Mama.”

Catherine checked her image in the hand mirror on the table. She liked what she saw and pulled her wallet out from her bag.

Richard took out a roll of bills from his pants pocket. “Let me get it for you.”

“Absolutely not.”

“It’s only a hat, Catherine.”

She hesitated and then said, “If you’re sure.” She grinned as he paid the seller. “Thanks. You’ve always been generous.”

“You’re welcome.” Richard put a hand on Alex’s shoulder. “What about you, cookie? Did you find anything?”

“Yes.” Alex opened a plastic bag she was holding and took out a small stuffed blue and yellow rabbit with a white bow on each ear. “She’s my lucky rabbit foot.”

Richard and Catherine laughed as Alex hopped around holding up her new purchase. Is this what it would’ve been like had she stayed? Would they be this perfect family?

Richard looked at her as if he was thinking the same thing. But maybe the thought was too dangerous, because he said nothing and turned away.

Alex stopped hopping by a booth featuring antique jewelry. She fingered some bracelets and then settled on a blue suede jewelry case with a twirling ballerina inside. Richard came up behind her to see the tiny plastic dancer spin slowly to one of the pieces from The Nutcracker. “Can you make her go faster, Papa?”

While Richard attended to Alex, Catherine admired a display of rings on a black velvet cloth on the same table. The bands were the usual sterling silver, some carved, and some set with turquoise, black onyx, or malachite stones. She tried on several, but nothing seemed special. The vendor, a woman with frizzy, red hair partly covered by a paisley scarf, watched Catherine for a few moments before bending under the table. She brought up a small wooden box and opened it, revealing a slightly tarnished gold ring.

Fascinated by the design—two hands holding a heart—Catherine tried the ring on her right hand. It slid on easily with no room to spare.

“This is nice, huh?” Catherine said to Alex.

“Oh, that’s so cute!”

The redheaded vendor tucked her hair behind her ear. “It’s a Claddagh ring. Very old Irish wedding ring. More than a hundred years old.”

Catherine raised her hand, allowing the sunlight to bathe her fingers. The heart with the crown on top glistened in the light.

“Why don’t you buy it, Mama? It’s so pretty.”

“It’s a wedding ring, Alex. I don’t need a wedding ring.”

The vendor said, “You can buy it for good luck. Everyone needs good luck.”

“But it’s not a good luck ring.”

Alex looked closer at it. “Maybe it is, Mama. I have my rabbit’s foot. You can have a ring.”

Catherine took the gold ring off, and examined the inside of it. There was some kind of hallmark, followed by numbers that were too small to make out. She put it back on the velvet cloth and looked at the others, but her attention kept coming back to the Irish ring. “Can I ask you where you got it?’

The vendor shrugged. “In an estate sale. The guy who died was an Irish immigrant. A fisherman. He apparently found it in a large cod caught off the coast of Ireland.”

“In a fish?”

“That’s what the seller said.”

“Strange.”

Alex screwed up her face in distaste. “Ooo. The fish ate it? Does it still smell?”

Catherine laughed and put the ring up to Alex’s nose.

“It doesn’t,” said Alex, wide-eyed.

Catherine said, “It’s a beautiful ring. How much is it?”

“One hundred and fifty dollars. You won’t find another one like it. It’s a genuine antique. You’re lucky, it already fits. You won’t have to have it sized.”

Richard turned to Catherine. “Do you need another ring?”

She hated when he used that tone. As if she were a child. It was her own fault. She shouldn’t have asked for his opinion. She glanced down at her finger again. “I’ll take it.”

The vendor got a small paper bag from under the table, but Catherine had already slipped the ring on. “It’s okay. I’ll wear it.” She figured she could use some luck.

 

Self-published

Printed by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Charleston, South Carolina.

Distributed by Ingram Book Company

ISBN:     eBook          1-4975-36634

              Paperback   978-1-4975-36630

CIP data on file with The National Library of Canada

Release Date:  October 15, 2014

378 pages

BISAC FIC027000

Now available on Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Kindle, Coho Books, Campbell River, Chapters-Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and Google Books

An e-copy of A CRY FROM THE DEEP was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.