Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dreaming In Chocolate
by Susan Bishop Crispell

A story of love, hot chocolate, and one little girl's wish for her mother that will make your heart swell.

At twenty-seven, Penelope Dalton is quickly ticking off items on a bucket list. Only the list isn’t hers. After her eight year-old daughter Ella is given just six months to live thanks to an inoperable brain tumor, Penelope is determined to fill Ella’s remaining days with as many new experiences as she can.

With an endless supply of magical gifts and recipes from the hot chocolate cafĂ© Penelope runs alongside her mother in a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, she is able to give her daughter almost everything she wants. The one sticking point is Ella’s latest addition to her list: get a dad. And not just any dad. Ella has her sights set on Noah Gregory, her biological father and the only person Penelope knows to have proved her true love hot chocolate wrong.

Now Noah’s back in town for a few months—and as charming as ever—and the part of her that dreamed he was her fate in the first place wonders if she made the right decision to keep the truth of their daughter from him. The other, more practical part, is determined to keep him from breaking Ella’s heart too.

But as Ella’s health declines, Penelope must give in to her fate or face a future of regrets. (Overview and picture from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Penelope owns a chocolate shop with an apothecary table.  The table produces chocolate recipes that have magical cures - to fix a broken heart, to make someone tell the truth, to make someone fall in love.  Penelope has turned cynical with regards to the table because she feels it did not make her one wish come true.  Will she get her wish in the end?
What a delightful story.  Who couldn't help but fall in love with Penelope's daughter Ella.  She firmly believes in the magic of the table and refuses to give up hope for hew Mom.  This story had fun characters and was as much about the power of believing as it was about magic.
From St. Martin's Press via Netgalley.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Mitford Murders
Jessica Fellowes

It's 1919, and Louisa Cannon dreams of escaping her life of poverty in London, and most of all her oppressive and dangerous uncle.

Louisa's salvation is a position within the Mitford household at Asthall Manor, in the Oxfordshire countryside. There she will become nurserymaid, chaperone and confidante to the Mitford sisters, especially sixteen-year-old Nancy - an acerbic, bright young woman in love with stories.

But then a nurse - Florence Nightingale Shore, goddaughter of her famous namesake - is killed on a train in broad daylight, and Louisa and Nancy find themselves entangled in the crimes of a murderer who will do anything to hide their secret . . .
(0verview from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I must admit that I initially had a hard time getting involved with this book.  But I'm sure glad I stayed with it because I really ended up liking the characters.

Louisa is just trying to escape an abusive uncle when she gets hired to work as a child nanny for the Mitford family.  While there are several children, she connects with Nancy who is closest to her age.  Together they work to solve the mysterious murder of Florence Nightingale Shore.  The girls get into a few sticky situations, but both are strong willed and pretty darn smart.  With the help of police office Guy Sullivan, they are finally able to figure out the murderer.  It was quite a surprise!

I was thrilled to see this is going to be a series.  What will Louisa get into next?

ARC from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Girlfriend
Michelle Frances

A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she'll wish she'd never told.
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping and chilling debut psychological thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It looks at the potentially charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, which most women can identify with, and locates it in an extreme but believable setting.

Laura has it all. A successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn't had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura's life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she's not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever(overview from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

In this story, it's Laura, Daniel's Mom versus Cherry, Daniel's new girlfriend. Laura and Daniel have a very close relationship. When Cherry first shows up, Laura is excited. But something seems off about Cherry and Laura can't quite figure out why. Cherry was raised on the poorer side of town and has reinvented herself to try and fit in with the rich crowd. Does she love Daniel for himself or for the lifestyle his money allows her to live?

Oh my! This was an exciting read. The power to be the top women in Daniel's life swings like a pendulum between Laura and Cherry. First Cherry seems to hold all the cards, then Laura. Back and forth, back and forth. (Poor Daniel). The questions is - who wins out in the end?

I was very impressed by this first novel from Ms. Frances. I loved the twists and turns as Laura and Cherry try to one up each other. The suspense goes right down to the last page. Bravo!

ARC from Kensington Books via Netgalley.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins welcomes you home in a funny, emotionally charged must-read novel about the complications of life, love and family.
One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.
Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.
With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter — a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was — Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.
But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.

My Thoughts:

This is my first Kristan Higgins read and I absolutely loved it! It's funny and heart-warming. I connected with the main character immediately. She was determined to heal herself both physically and emotionally. I'm always pleased when I find an author who is new to me that I enjoyed this much.

ARC from Harlequin via Netgalley