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.  

A Wedding in December

By Sarah Morgan

 

Book Blurb

This funny, charming and heartwarming new Christmas novel is USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan at her festive best! 

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget!

Book Cover and Blurb from Goodreads

My Review

This is one of the funniest stories I have ever read!  Besides humor, the story was heartwarming. Even though it had its ups and downs, I enjoyed every minute of it.  Often, I felt Katie was overbearing, but meeting Jordan, the best man in her sister’s wedding, softened her. Rosie was flighty and let her sister’s doubts sniggle their way into her mind bringing doubts about her upcoming wedding. Then add to the drama of the sisters, their parents, Maggie and Nick, brought their own spectacle to this comical, romantic  Christmas tale.

The characters were well-drawn, and the storyline was fascinating. There were a lot of loose ends, but the author did a wonderful job tying the story together, creating a book worth reading.  I recommend A WEDDING IN DECEMBER to anyone who loves reading about sisters, enjoys humor, and a Christmas romance.

My thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of A WEDDING IN DECEMBER in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author

USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes romance and contemporary women’s fiction and her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe. Sarah lives near London, England, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors.

A WEDDING IN DECEMBER, a fun family drama set around the festive season, is out in the US/Canada Sept 24 and the UK Oct 31.

Author Bio and Photo from Goodreads

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LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK, OHIO

By Serena B. Miller

Blurb

A mysterious outsider casts a long shadow on Ohio’s Amish country. Policewoman Rachel Troyer has always looked after her three elderly Amish aunts, proprietors of a farmhouse inn near Sugarcreek, Ohio. The idyllic town is popular with tourists, who come to sample its famous Amish goods. But one thing is clear to Rachel – Joe Matthews is no tourist. When the bearded stranger lands on her aunts’ doorstep, begging shelter for himself and his young son, Rachel is suspicious. Will she be able to uncover Joe’s secrets despite her aunts’ – and her own – growing affection for him?

(Blurb from Amazon)

My Review

LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK, OHIO isn’t a book I would have chosen myself, but since our book club chose it, I was committed to reading it. I don’t read too many books with a religious tone unless it is subtle. I knew nothing about the Amish. The first couple of chapters were a bit hard for me to get into. The situations were too unbelievable, but as I read more I let go of my preconceived notions and drifted into the lovely setting for the story. As the author researched the Amish in depth, I soon found myself lost in reading about the way of life of these simple, hardworking people. I became engrossed in reading about Joe and Rachel, the aunts, Bobby, Eli, and Joe’s estrangement from his father. The author did a wonderful job developing her characters. I soon had a vested interest in each character and their part in the story. The flow of the story was easy to follow and created a sense of being in the middle of all activity. I could smell Lydia’s pies and breads and taste her butter cookies. I could sense Rachel’s distrust of Joe and at the same time her fascination with him, as well as Joe’s worry over his current path. And then there’s Eli! I absolutely fell in love with him.
If you enjoy a bit of mystery, some romance, and don’t mind learning about a different religious culture, you will love reading LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUGARCREEK, OHIO. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this superbly crafted novel. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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Genre: Historical Fiction, Religion & Spirituality

Biography

I live only a few miles from a flourishing Amish community and am blessed to count many Old Order Amish as friends. Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio is a natural outgrowth of my on-going fascination with these valiant, flawed people who struggle to live their lives according to their interpretation of the Bible. Once, when I apologized for asking so many questions while researching this book, an Amish father told me that I could ask anything I wanted. “Nothing is forbidden,” he said. He told me that he wanted my book to be accurate. I was thrilled when his family read it and gave me their enthusiastic nod of approval.

Our family, however, also lived for many years in Michigan. My father, a sawyer, told me stories he had heard from old timber men who had cut the fabled giant pine in the Saginaw Valley. Visiting museums and reading about the years directly after the Civil War, when Michigan became the lumber capital of the world, became a hobby. I was delighted when Revell Publishing allowed me to revisit that era by writing The Measure of Katie Calloway.

There are many other books on their way—both Amish and historical. Please know that each one is a labor of love from me to you.

To God be all the glory, forever.

(Biography from Goodreads)

The Right Wrong Man

By Pamela Wight

 

Book Blurb

In this page-turning romantic suspense, Meredith Powers’ career as a medical editor seems safe enough as she searches for love with the right man. But she is pulled suddenly from her serene world in Boston to one of intrigue, kidnapping, and murder in the Caribbean.

Meredith’s simple life becomes terribly complicated when she works with an author who drags her into a drug heist. The reappearance of her ex-boyfriend, the D.E.A. agent, and the stunning response from her current accountant boyfriend all lead to complications, danger, and more than a few questions.

Meredith wonders if she really knows the people who surround her in her daily life. Her parents, her best friends, her boss, even her lover. She discovers that almost everyone holds secrets, and the unearthing of those cover-ups lead to mystery and danger that changes everything, and everyone, she thought she knew. (Goodreads)

 

My Review

Everyone looks for the book they can’t put down and THE RIGHT WRONG MAN is one such book.  The story is positively captivating with lots of twists and turns leaving you wondering what will happen next. With elements of romance and suspense combined, this fast-paced novel is a real page-turner.

The characters are fully developed and truly believable.  Though there are multiple characters, each adding to the story, they are all distinguishable and leave no confusion over who is who. Mystery surrounds each of Meredith’s love interests culminating in surprises about each.

If you love a good mystery with romance heavily sprinkled throughout, this book is for you.  There is nothing I didn’t like about THE RIGHT WRONG MAN.  I have no reason not to award this book five stars.

The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

About the Author

Pamela Wight is a successful author of romantic suspense as well as the author of the illustrated children’s book, BIRDS OF PARADISE, enjoyed by readers ages 3 to 93.

Her first book, THE RIGHT WRONG MAN, got rave reviews for taking readers “on an exciting adventure with lots of intrigue, unexpected plot twists, and romance.” A year later, Wight published her second novel, TWIN DESIRES. “Lots of suspense, plot twists, romance, and excellent character development makes this a fun read!”

The gorgeously illustrated BIRDS OF PARADISE has received many enthusiastic reviews: “This creative, compassionate story about birds will inspire children to notice the everyday adventures of backyard birds.”

Pamela earned her Master’s in English from Drew University, continued with postgraduate work at UC Berkeley in publishing, and teaches creative writing classes in Boston and San Francisco.

She lives in the Boston area with her “right man” and hikes the New England trails while concocting her next novel, As Lovely as a Lie. Wight travels frequently to the San Francisco Bay area for additional inspiration. She speaks to book clubs in both locations. (Amazon Author Page)

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The Summer of New Beginnings

By Bette Lee Crosby

Blurb

Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

As Tracy experiences the difficulties of new motherhood, Meghan faces her own struggle: trying not to fall for the stray puppy she rescued. This is no time for attachments—not to the adorable “Sox,” whose owner is bound to turn up any day, and certainly not to the handsome new vet in town. But as the summer unfolds, she discovers that, like Sox, she may need rescuing, too.

As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings.

My Review

Bette Lee Crosby has long been one of my favorite authors.  Her Southern voice comes through in all of her books and lends a believable element to everything she writes.  THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS is no exception.

The main characters all had depth which is what made them so believable. They navigated, each in their own way, through the trials and tribulations of a family who lost their husband and father.  This is the story of Meghan and Tracy and their mother Lila, each taking different directions and ending up at the same place, though stronger and more resilient.  You will fall in love immediately with Megan and Sox, her dog.  Lila adores her family but lacks the strength to pull them together, which is sure to frustrate you.  Tracy’s rebelliousness will have you pulling your hair.

Yes, there is some romance in this story, but it is well balanced with the underlying plot – a story of love and forgiveness, and the importance of family. No, I am not going to discuss the plot except to say that like all of Crosby’s novels, it is well executed and follows in the tradition of her other wonderful books. THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys a cozy story, whether lazing on the beach or at the pool or cuddled up at home in your favorite reading nook.  Anyone who loves a well-crafted book with an expertly developed plot and true-to-life characters you feel you know will love this book.

My thanks to Bette Lee Crosby, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.  I have read nearly all the author’s books and look forward to reading more.  My honest review is my own opinion.

About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby brings the wit and wisdom of her Southern Mama to works of fiction—the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away.

A Note from Bette Lee…

Welcome. I’m delighted that you’ve stopped by for a visit. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to explore my website, browse through my books and get to know a bit more about me.

First off, I’m a Southerner; and Southerners are born storytellers. In the South stories are handed down from one generation to the next, and often told while sitting on the front porch or gathered around a potluck picnic table. With every telling the characters grow bigger, braver and definitely more memorable. So it is with my characters—each one born of a tale that started long ago.

Every writer begins as a reader and this is also true of me. But ignoring the gift of storytelling that my mama passed down, I majored in art and started out as a graphic artist. Fate stepped in and when one of the salesmen said to make up some sell copy for the back of a pantyhose package, I did. Before long I realized my niche was creating images with words rather than pictures and a new career blossomed.

After two decades of writing for business—magazine articles, corporate reports, marketing plans and the like—that storytelling heritage kicked in and I began my first novel. I began writing the story in longhand using sticky notes, cross outs, and asterisks for editing and then handing my messy papers over to my secretary to be typed. (Remember, I studied art, not typing.) Several chapters later, I admitted defeat, bought my first laptop and taught myself to type.

I wrote two full-length novels (which will never see the light of day) before I wrote The Twelfth Child and entered it into the National Pen Women competition as an unpublished manuscript. It won and that tiny taste of success spurred me on to make this a full time career.

Now, I write almost every day and consider myself blessed to be doing this thing that I love so much. I look back and smile thinking if Mama were still here she’d recognize bits and pieces of the stories she once told.

 

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Among the Zinnias

By Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas

 

Book Blurb

Come and travel between the Italian island of Incompresso and the small American town of Robin’s Nest. Experience passion, sorrow, laughter and love in a tale that will hold your heart and spark your desire to know what is happening . . . Among the Zinnias!

Eighty-five-year-old Giovanna Boeri awaits the return of her daughter, Angelina, from America. She cannot understand why Angelina has left their small island when it contains everything anyone would ever want. Giovanna is struggling to care for her ailing husband who is beset by memories of war and murder, one he, himself, has committed but understands too late that it’s his grandson, Rocco, who will pay the price.

As Giovanna comes to terms with her husband’s deteriorating condition, she realizes she can no longer count on him to make decisions, nor can she wait for her own fate to be decided by Angelina.

Angelina, with her husband, Pasquale, is struggling in Robin’s Nest to maintain a pizzeria. Their son, Rocco, has just been released from an Italian prison after having served ten years. Rather than have him return to their small island, they’ve bought the pizzeria in hopes of giving Rocco a new beginning in a new location. The pizzeria is supposed to be their catalyst to a happy life.

But life rarely follows one’s expectations . . .

My Review

The stage is set as Giovanna Boeri watches her daughter Angelina sail from her island home in Italy and return to New Jersey to be with her husband and children. Angelina is torn between remaining with her aging parents and returning to the home she has made in America. The story that follows will keep you turning the pages.

Many personalities were introduced making the characters and their relationships believable.  I could relate to Giovanna and the difficulty of watching her child leave for a distant place.  Her relationship with her husband reminded me of my own grandparents.  Angelina was in a challenging place emotionally, and  I felt a lot of empathy for her as her roles of parent, wife, and daughter sometimes were in conflict, but I loved the way she was able to balance them. From the beginning, Rocco seemed to be a seedy character, and I took an immediate dislike to him, though, by the end of the book, I thought he had redeemed himself.

I’d have liked to have seen the characters of Giovanna, Angelina, and Gina developed a bit more in the beginning. Switching from one to another was confusing until I read enough of the book to get a firm grasp on each.

The author created a storyline that in some form or another has been played out by all those who have immigrated to another country – the quest for acceptance, the heartache of leaving family, finding their niche in their new home, and genuine desire to make it all work.

Once again, Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas has given us an enjoyable, multifaceted story crossing two nationalities to savor.  I would definitely recommend this to any reader who enjoys stories of multi-generational families of another culture.

I was gifted this book in return for my honest review.

About the Author

Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas lives on Long Island with her husband, Nick.  She teaches English to newly immigrated English language learners at her local public school. She is also a speech pathologist working with adults who have brain injury. Although Among the Zinnias was inspired by these two roles, it remains a work of fiction. (Taken from Among the Zinnias)

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Beauty Rising

By Mark Sasse

 

Beauty RisingBook Blurb

“My heart sank. I dumped my father’s ashes in the heart of communist Vietnam – over a thousand miles from the death of his comrades – over a thousand miles from the smile of that girl. How could I have been so stupid?”

Only the bumbling, overweight, thirtyish, stay-at-home Martin Kinney could have mistakenly flubbed his dying father’s request with such gusto. This thousand mile mistake awakens the ghosts of long-held family secrets and puts Martin on a fateful course with an unlikely romantic interest – a young, beautiful, yet troubled Vietnamese woman named My Phuong.

With its cross-cultural setting and unlikely romance, the 61,000 word novel Beauty Rising creates a powerful, unique voice in today’s literature. In a swift-moving, dialogue-driven prose which is funny, honest, tragic and unpredictable, Beauty Rising explores the depths of culture, family, and love as the Vietnam War, a generation removed, continues to hang on the periphery of society, cursing families and causing destruction.

My Review

BEAUTY RISING is both a romance and a historical novel.  Martin, the 30-year-old son of highly dysfunctional parents, is determined to fulfill his father’s death wish – to scatter his ashes near a large protruding rock under two banana trees, by a lake in Vietnam. Martin scatters his dad’s ashes according to his wishes, but soon discovers he took them to the wrong lake, wrong banana trees.  Only the beginning of his bad luck, Martin’s wallet is stolen, and without any money or credit cards, he comes under the wing of a Vietnamese taxi driver and an American English teacher for the remainder of his stay.  After returning home, Martin is unable to forget the beautiful, young woman who he believes stole his wallet.

My Phuong’s life couldn’t get any worse. The daughter of a pastor, My Phuong escaped as the corrupt ruling party arrested her parents and brothers for illegally praying in the open.  After hearing that her parents were dead, she left her home and traveled north.  Reduced to life as a pickpocket, hairdresser, and prostitute, My Phuong flees Vietnam to save her life.

Sasse portrays the two main characters and their emotional struggles with sensitivity. This colorfully written saga of two unfortunate people across the miles from the United States to Vietnam and back, clearly shows the author researched his book in depth.

An emotionally charged story of love, redemption, and heartbreak, BEAUTY RISING is a book you do not want to miss.

About the Author

Mark is a proud Western PA native but has lived most of the last twenty years in Vietnam author photo1and Malaysia. His experiences in Asia have redefined everything including his palate, his outlook on life, and naturally his writing. You can find him most days cruising around Penang Island, eating the local delicacies and taking in the sun and exotic breezes as he looks for interesting places to write.

He has authored four novels with number five and six already somewhere on the horizon. His interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – to culture and language – to history and religion – making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy writing injected with doses of Asian culture, history, adventure, and delightful humor. You never know what you might get when you pick up a Sasse novel.

Besides novel-writing, Sasse is a prolific dramatist, having written and produced more than a dozen full-length dramatic productions. He especially is fond of the short play format and has twice won the Best Script award at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival Penang. His plays and short musicals have also been produced in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, Australia. Performances of his scripts also won Gold and Bronze medals at the Southeast Asian Forensics Competition 2014.

His professional background is as diverse as his writing. He holds Master’s degrees from California State University Dominquez Hills and Azusa Pacific University in Humanities and TESOL respectively. His undergraduate degree was in English, which helped him develop his passion for creative writing. He has extensive experience in teaching English, history, and drama.

On top of all of this, he loves to cook everything from gourmet pizzas, to Mexican, to various Asian dishes. Flavor is the key of both his cooking and his writing. He very much hopes you enjoy the taste. (Biography is from Goodreads.com)

Website: https://www.mwsasse.com/

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Twitter: @sassevn

Amazon Author Page: Mark Sasse Amazon Author Page

 

Waking Amy

By Julieann Dove

Waking AmySynopsis

Amy Whitfield is blindsided when she comes home and finds a note on the fridge from her husband, Wesley, stating that after four years of marriage, he’s leaving her. Amy was in the midst of trying to spice things up, to bring life back to their boring marriage. It seems now that she was too late.

As Amy sits with her head between her knees, trying to figure out what to do next, a call comes from Mercer General Hospital. The ER nurse is telling Amy’s answering machine that Wesley has been in a car accident.

When Amy arrives at the hospital, she finds her husband in a coma. The doctors say there is no sign of brain damage, and Wesley will eventually wake up. Relieved, Amy sees this as her second chance: the chance to get it right this time. To channel the girl Wesley won’t leave when he regains consciousness… She just needs some help to pull it off. After all, she was voted girl most likely to die a virgin in high school.

Amy would never figure on getting that help from Mark Reilly…Wesley’s doctor! He’s a non-committer, too-cute-for-his-own-good bachelor, and completely the guy Amy begins falling for. It’s a race against time to see who wakes up first—Amy or her husband.

Publication date – February 23, 2016

My Review

Amy is walking through life accepting her marriage for what it seems until she finds a note from her husband on the refrigerator door – he’s leaving her.  She can’t envision not being married to him or to living alone and is confident she can make Wesley fall in love her again.  While she is still reeling from the reality of Wesley’s note, she receives a call from the hospital. Wesley was in a terrible accident and is in a coma.

Though the book deals with the reality of Amy’s situation and Wesley’s accident that occurred as he was driving away from her, there is a lot of laugh out loud humor, and it all begins when she meets Wesley’s doctor Mark.

Amy enlists Mark’s help to teach her how to be attractive and sexy so that Wesley will wake up from his coma and realize the mistake he made in leaving her.  When Mark agrees, the fun begins.

In this character-driven story, the author paints Amy as someone who is searching for her own identity. She has always been there doing Wesley’s bidding and accepting their marriage as it was – virtually platonic. Wesley’s departure and his accident, force Amy to take stock of herself.

From the first, I despised Wesley, but because he’s in a coma your knowledge of him is second hand until much later in the book.  However, you will learn enough upfront to dislike him instantly.

Mark is definitely swoon-worthy but has his own problems to overcome.  As the handsome doctor who sleeps with someone different every night, can he convince Amy he’s the one for her?

Dove did a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters. Amy was complex. She was sheltered and unsure of herself, but with the help of other characters, she became strong and self-assured.  The storyline was believable and filled with fresh humor.  A fast-paced story, I read it in one sitting.  Waking Amy is one of those books you can’t put down.  It is contemporary romance, chick-lit, and comedy rolled into one.  If you enjoy any of these genre’s you will enjoy reading Waking Amy.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the AuthorJulieann Dove

Julieann lives in Virginia, yet longs to live everywhere else. It doesn’t come as a surprise that along with her gypsy soul, comes an active imagination. That’s why she loves to write and invent worlds and people, so that she can formulate their happily ever after. Hobbies include cooking new recipes, sewing, and spending time with her cute boyfriend/husband and five fabulous children. Vacations happen in Nantucket or the Carolina beaches—anywhere there is inspiration for her next book. One day she hopes to travel to Italy, drive one of those little cars around the countryside, and speak the language fluently!

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Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-may-2016

 

Not By Design

A Getting To Mr. Right Series

By Carol Balawyder

Not Byy DesignBook Blurb

Not By Design: A Feel Good Novel
In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.
Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.
Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.
Love, friendship, and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

My Review

When I began reading Not By Design, I expected it to be a twist on a traditional romance novel but was delightfully surprised to find it was much more than just a variation of the conventional romance.  Felicity left her father’s company in Montreal and moved to Rome to pursue her career in art causing a rift between Felicity and her father that could not be healed.  While in Rome, she found love and a proposal of marriage, along with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. When Marco, her fiance, learned of her diagnosis, he said, “Arrivederci.” Frightened about what was in store for her in the future, Felicity decided to move back to Montreal where she could have health insurance and be near her life long friends Missi, Suzy, and Campbell. But what frightens her the most is whether or not with her diagnosis, will she ever be able to find true love.

The characters were true to life, and as much as I loved Felicity from the start, I equally disliked Marco.  Felicity had a love-hate relationship with her mother Nicole in the beginning, but I was happy to see some of the walls between them torn down and a much better mother-daughter relationship take hold.  I love characters that serve to lift up a friend or family member. Missi, Suzy, and Campbell convince her to get a puppy and a cane. Her friend Eduardo, who ran an art gallery, and her new found friend Jeff who walked his dog Clyde at the same dog park where Felicity walked her dog Bonnie, all figure into Felicity’s acceptance of her multiple sclerosis and her outlook on the future.

The book was well researched, and the story took us through Felicity’s depression and hopelessness for future happiness to learning to lean on friends for the love and support they so willingly gave, and finally to acceptance of what her life with MS would be, and making the best of it.

I don’t often read a book straight through, but I couldn’t put this one down.  I honestly can’t find anything I didn’t like about it, other than Marco.  It was a heartwarming story of a person learning to accept and live with a debilitating disease.  There is no reason for me to not award Not By Design five stars.

File Size: 2161 KB

Print Length: 164 Pages

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

Publication Date: January 31, 2016

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About the AuthorCarol Balawyder

Carol Balawyder holds an undergraduate degree with a major in English Literature and a graduate degree in Criminology. She has taught English in various colleges in Montreal, Concordia University and Ho Chi Minh University of Technology in Vietnam. During this phase of her teaching career, she developed teaching material including Open For Business (Harper & Row), Windows on Sci-Tech (Thomson Publishing) and Pour Etre Ganganat (Beauchemin Publishers).

In the second half of her teaching career, she taught criminology in Police Technology and Corrections Programs. She helped set up and animate a writing workshop for women in prison and has worked in halfway houses and drug rehab centers.  She has self-published Mourning Has Broken (a memoir on grief) and her Getting to Mr. Right Series. Her short stories have appeared in Room Magazine, The Canadian Anthology of Fiction, Mindful.org, Between the Lines, Carte Blanche and she was given an honorary mention for a play submitted to The Canadian Playwright Competition.

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Website – http://carolbalawyder.com/

Blog- http://carolbalawyder.com/blog/

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​

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Follow Claire on Twitter: @cfullerton3

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

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