General Fiction

#BookReview
What Happens in Paradise
by Elin Hilderbrand @elinhilderbrand
@littlebrown @HBGCanada

#BookReview What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand @elinhilderbrand @littlebrown @HBGCanadaTitle: What Happens in Paradise

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Series: Paradise #2

Published by: Little Brown and Company on October 8, 2019

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Pages: 432

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: HBG Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

Synopsis:

Secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight, in the follow-up to national bestseller Winter in Paradise

A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death – of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

Lush with the tropical details, romance, and drama that made Winter in Paradise a national bestseller, What Happens in Paradise is another immensely satisfying page-turner from one of American’s most beloved and engaging storytellers.


Review:

Escapist, addictive, and downright enthralling!

In this latest novel in the Paradise series, What Happens in Paradise, we head back to the idyllic island of St. John and into the lives of the Steele family who after the turbulent events triggered by the death of the patriarch in the first novel begin to accept, heal, move on, take chances, forge new friendships, and find new love even while the underlying feelings of dread still linger.

The writing is smooth and seamless. The characters are hesitant, multilayered, and intriguing. And the plot is an alluring tale of life, loss, heartbreak, friendship, family, coming-of-age, secrets, deception, corruption, and new beginnings.

Overall, What Happens in Paradise is a heartwarming, mysterious, romantic, domestic drama that keeps you engaged and invested from start to finish and with its beautiful infusions of island living and tantalizing cliffhanger ending it will undoubtedly leave you eager for more and counting down the days until the third and final novel in this trilogy becomes available.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                           

 

 

Thank you to HBG Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand is a mother of three, an avid runner, reader, and traveler, and the author of twenty-three novels. She grew up outside Philadelphia, and has lived on Nantucket for more than twenty years.

#BookReview
The Reckless Oath We Made
by Bryn Greenwood @bryngreenwood @PenguinRandomCA @PutnamBooks

#BookReview The Reckless Oath We Made by Bryn Greenwood @bryngreenwood @PenguinRandomCA @PutnamBooksTitle: The Reckless Oath We Made

Author: Bryn Greenwood

Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons on August 20, 2019

Genres: General Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Pages: 448

Format: Hardcover

Source: Penguin Random House Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A provocative love story between a tough Kansas woman on a crooked path to redemption and the unlikeliest of champions, from the New York Times bestselling author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.

Zee is nobody’s fairy tale princess. Almost six-foot, with a redhead’s temper and a shattered hip, she has a long list of worries: never-ending bills, her beautiful, gullible sister, her five-year-old nephew, her housebound mother, and her drug-dealing boss.

Zee may not be a princess, but Gentry is an actual knight, complete with sword, armor, and a code of honor. Two years ago the voices he hears called him to be Zee’s champion. Both shy and autistic, he’s barely spoken to her since, but he has kept watch, ready to come to her aid.

When an abduction tears Zee’s family apart, she turns to the last person she ever imagined–Gentry–and sets in motion a chain of events that will not only change both of their lives, but bind them to one another forever.


Review:

Heart-tugging, unconventional, and gritty!

The Reckless Oath We Made is an incredibly raw, moving novel about life in small-town Kansas where making ends meet is hard, responsibility weighs heavy, and loyalty, innocence, and love comes in many different forms.

The writing style is unique, with the narration being a mixture of contemporary and Middle English. The characters are tormented, fragile, and opportunistic. And the plot takes us on an emotional rollercoaster ride full of life, love, violence, tension, special needs, incarceration, ignorance, injustice, death, loss and selfless heroism. 

The Reckless Oath We Made is a very complex, intriguing, tragic romance that highlights just how powerful and personally destructive a solemn promise can be. It grips you from the very first page and leaves your heart bleeding for every single character, even the ones who at times are truly difficult to even like.  

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Bryn Greenwood

BRYN GREENWOOD is a fourth-generation Kansan and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer. She is the author of the NYT bestseller All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. The Reckless Oath We Made is her fourth novel from Putnam. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Photograph courtesy of Goodreads Author Page.

#BookReview
Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones
@amylaurajones @McClellandBooks @PenguinRandomCA

#BookReview Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones @amylaurajones @McClellandBooks @PenguinRandomCATitle: Every Little Piece of Me

Author: Amy Jones

Published by: McClelland & Stewart on June 4, 2019

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Penguin Random House Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of We’re All in This Together comes a novel about family, friendship, fame, and the cost of living in the public eye — because when everyone suddenly knows your name, it’s easy to forget who you really are.

“The first time they met, Mags saved Ava’s life. The second time they met, Ava saved Mags’s.”
Ava Hart is the most reluctant cast member of a reality TV show based on her big city family’s (mostly staged) efforts to run a B&B in small-town Nova Scotia. Every family has its problems, but Ava has grown up seeing her family’s every up and down broadcast on national television, after the show becomes an unexpected success for reasons that will take a heavy toll on the Harts.

Mags Kovach is the charismatic lead singer of a struggling Halifax rock band hoping to be the Next Big Thing. For years she’s managed to contain her demons and navigate the uglier aspects of being a woman in the music world, but after a devastating loss, she turns her anger on the only person she can: herself.

As their private tragedies continue to set social media and tabloid headlines on fire, their every move subjected to an endless stream of public commentary, it will be their unexpected friendship that will save them. They will push back against the roles they’ve been forced to play, and take back control of something they thought they’d lost forever — the right to their own stories.


Review:

Pensive, sharp, and tragic!

Every Little Piece of Me is a character-driven, gritty tale that follows two women, unlikely friends, Mags and Ava, as they each struggle to find some semblance of control, meaning, and love in a life littered with abandonment, self-destruction, and relentless scrutiny.

The prose is pithy and effective. The characters are young, damaged, lonely, and vulnerable. And the plot is a realistic, moving story about familial drama, exploitation, loneliness, self-preservation, coming-of-age, and the unrelenting pressure of fame and fortune.

Overall, Every Little Piece of Me is a sensitive, heartwrenching, timely tale that does a remarkable job of highlighting the detrimental effects of reality tv and technology on the human psyche and reminds us that even in this high-tech, digital world we still have an innate requirement for kindness, interaction, companionship, intimacy, and love that’s created and nurtured offline.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                    

 

 

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Amy Jones

AMY JONES's first novel, We're All in This Together, was a national bestseller, won the Northern Lit Award, and was a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Her debut collection of stories, What Boys Like, won the Metcalf-Rooke Award and was a finalist for the ReLit Award. She won the 2006 CBC Literary Prize for Short Fiction, was a finalist for the 2005 Bronwen Wallace Award, and is a graduate of the Optional Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Her fiction has appeared in Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Stories. Originally from Halifax, she lived in Thunder Bay for many years before moving to Toronto.

Photo by Ali Eisner.

#BookReview
Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
@elinhilderbrand @littlebrown

#BookReview Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand @elinhilderbrand @littlebrownTitle: Summer of '69

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Published by: Little Brown and Company on June 18, 2019

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Little Brown and Company, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It’s 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha’s Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

In her first “historical novel,” rich with the details of an era that shaped both a country and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again proves her title as queen of the summer novel.


Review:

Relevant, vivid, and absorbing!

Summer of ’69 is a nostalgic, domestic tale that takes us back to the idyllic island of Nantucket during a year when Vietnam was still raging, and Apollo 11 was finally going to put men on the moon, and into the lives of the blended Foley-Levin family as they navigate a summer of revelations, change, and new additions.

The writing is expressive and polished. The characters are genuine, troubled, and sympathetic. And the spirited plot is a delightful mix of summer fun, heartbreak, coming-of-age, secrets, wartime worries, adultery, racial segregation, women’s rights, and fresh starts.

Overall, Summer of ’69 is once again a beguiling, heartfelt, must-read summer tale by Hilderbrand that highlights the power of family and reminds us that even though we’ve come so far, in some respects we still have a long way to go.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                           

 

 

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand is a mother of three, an avid runner, reader, and traveler, and the author of twenty-three novels. She grew up outside Philadelphia, and has lived on Nantucket for more than twenty years.

#BookReview
The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley
@marissastapley @SimonSchusterCA

#BookReview The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley @marissastapley @SimonSchusterCATitle: The Last Resort

Author: Marissa Stapley

Published by: Simon & Schuster Canada on June 18, 2018

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, General Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the “last resort” offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.

Johanna and Ben have a marriage that looks perfect on the surface, but in reality, they don’t know each other at all. Shell and Colin fight constantly: after all, Colin is a workaholic, and Shell always comes second to his job as an executive at a powerful mining company. But what has really torn them apart is too devastating to talk about. When both couples begin Harmony’s intensive therapy program, it becomes clear that Harmony is not all it seems—and neither are Miles and Grace themselves. What are they hiding, and what price will these couples pay for finding out?

As a deadly tropical storm descends on the coast, trapping the hosts and the guests on the resort, secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and not one single person—or their marriage—will remain unchanged by what follows.


Review:

Sinuous, compelling, and timely!

The Last Resort is an ominous, character-driven novel that takes us to the idyllic Harmony Resort where the illustrious marriage counsellors Miles and Grace Markell are once again ready to help another group of struggling couples find their way back to each other. But like most things involving money, power, and privilege everything is not always as it seems, and hidden away behind those polished, flawless exteriors lies an abundance of lies, secrets, adultery, greed, abuse, subjugation, and manipulation.

The prose is tight and intense. The characters are troubled, deceptive, and vulnerable. And the plot, including all the subplots, keep you engrossed from start to finish with a multitude of twists, turns, obsession, deception, jealousy, familial drama, revelations, violence, and murder.

Overall, The Last Resort is an atmospheric, intricately woven, engrossing mystery by Stapley that is highly entertaining and devilishly satisfying.

 

This book is available now. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                   

 

 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

 

About Marissa Stapley

Marissa Stapley is the Globe and Mail bestselling author of the novel Mating for Life, and the forthcoming Things to Do When It’s Raining. She writes the commercial fiction review column “Shelf Love” for the Globe and Mail, reports on books and culture for the Toronto Star, and lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

#BlogTour #BookReview
The Best of Crimes by K.C. Maher
@kcmaher3 @RedDoorBooks #thebestofcrimes

#BlogTour #BookReview The Best of Crimes by K.C. Maher @kcmaher3 @RedDoorBooks #thebestofcrimesTitle: The Best of Crimes

Author: K.C. Maher

Published by: RedDoor Publishing on May 9, 2019

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: RedDoor Publishing

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Walter, a child prodigy who now works on Wall Street, considers himself a father figure to Amanda, his daughter’s best friend and only child of a neglectful single mother. But when he loses his job after the 2008 financial crisis and his materialistic wife leaves him, taking their daughter, his relationship with Amanda enters a precarious new stage.

Walter struggles to give her the affection and guidance she needs, without succumbing to her budding sexuality. In the year before she enters high school, these two lonely souls will transform each other as Walter breaks out of his emotional shell, and Amanda blossoms into adolescence.

In a world that has always failed to protect its most vulnerable, The Best of Crimes is a new narrative and an unconventional love story that will challenge your perception of right and wrong.


Review:

Unsettling, thought-provoking, and controversial!

The Best of Crimes is a fascinating, pensive tale that takes you into the life of Walter Mitchell, a thirty-three-year-old prodigy who finds himself struggling to control his strong, inappropriate, emotional attachment to his daughter’s thirteen-year-old best friend.

The prose is fluid and precise. The characters are lonely, vulnerable, and sympathetic. And the plot chronologically unfolds into a tempestuous journey of love, life, heartbreak, infidelity, familial dynamics, psychological conflict, and forbidden love.

Ultimately, The Best of Crimes is a unique, intriguing, beautifully written tale by Maher that sensitively explores the ethical and moral fine line between right and wrong, and does an exceptional job of posing the question does intention make someone guilty of a crime even if a crime is not actually committed.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.

 

 

Thank you to RedDoor Publishing and K.C. Maher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About K.C. Maher

K.C. Maher’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals including Ascent, Black Warrior Review, Confrontation, Cottonwood, Gargoyle, and The View From Here. Her work has reached short-list status in various contests, including the Iowa School of Letters Award and Drue Heinz Literature Prize. The is her debut novel. She is mother to two children and lives in New York City with her husband.

 

 

 

For more information on Red Door Publishing visit them at:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

#BookReview
Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner
@JamieLBrenner @littlebrown

#BookReview Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner @JamieLBrenner @littlebrownTitle: Drawing Home

Author: Jamie Brenner

Published by: Little Brown and Company on May 7, 2019

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 368

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Little Brown and Company, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

An unexpected inheritance, a promise broken, and four lives changed forever: the newest page-turner from USA Today bestselling author Jamie Brenner.

Summer has started in idyllic Sag Harbor, and for Emma Mapson that means greeting guests at the front desk of The American Hotel. But when one of the town’s most famous residents, artist Henry Wyatt, dies suddenly, Emma learns he has mysteriously left his waterfront home – a self-designed masterpiece filled with his work – to her teenage daughter, Penny.

Back in Manhattan, legendary art patron Bea Winstead’s grief at her lifelong friend and former business partner Henry’s passing turns to outrage at the news of his shocking bequest. How did these unknown locals get their hands on the estate? Bea, with her devoted assistant Kyle in tow, descends on Sag Harbor determined to reclaim the house and preserve Henry’s legacy.

While Emma fights to defend her daughter’s inheritance, Bea discovers that Henry left a treasure trove of sketches scattered around town. With Penny’s reluctant help, Bea pieces them together to find a story hidden in plain sight: an illustration of their shared history with an unexpected twist that will change all of their lives.

Drawn together in their battle for the house, Emma and Bea are forced to confront the past while facing a future that challenges everything they believe about love, fate, and family.


Review:

Heart-tugging, tender, and sincere!

Drawing Home is an uplifting, engaging tale that takes us to Sag Harbor and into the life of Emma Mapson as she juggles all sorts of highs and lows, including single motherhood, an unexpected inheritance left to her teenage daughter, an ex who suddenly reappears out of nowhere, and an elderly woman determined to contest the final wishes of her oldest friend.

The prose is immersive and expressive. The characters are well-drawn, troubled, likeable, and genuine. And the plot is a wonderful mix of life, loss, forgiveness, grief, love, familial drama, friendship, community, contentment, coming-of-age, and art.

Overall, Drawing Home is another lighthearted, beautiful, beach read by Brenner that mixes a side of mystery with her innate ability to delve into all the psychological and emotional entanglements found in nuclear families.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                             

 

 

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Jamie Brenner

Jamie Brenner was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia but has called New York City her home for the past twenty years. She graduated from George Washington University with a degree in literature and spent her career in publishing before becoming an author herself. Her books include The Gin Lovers, The Wedding Sisters. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two daughters.

#BookReview
Normal People by Sally Rooney
#sallyrooney @HogarthBooks @PenguinRandomCA

#BookReview Normal People by Sally Rooney #sallyrooney @HogarthBooks @PenguinRandomCATitle: Normal People

Author: Sally Rooney

Published by: Hogarth on April 16, 2019

Genres: General Fiction

Pages: 288

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Penguin Random House Canada

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Connell Waldron is one of the most popular boys in his small-town high school–he is a star of the football team, an excellent student, and never wanting for attention from girls. The one thing he doesn’t have is money. Marianne Sheridan, a classmate of Connell’s, has the opposite problem. Marianne is plain-looking, odd, and stubborn, and while her family is well-off, she has no friends to speak of. There is, however, a deep and undeniable connection between the two teenagers, one that develops into a secret relationship.

Everything changes when both Connell and Marianne are accepted to Trinity College. Suddenly Marianne is well-liked and elegant, holding court with her intellectual friends while Connell hangs at the sidelines, not quite as fluent in language of the elite. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle each other, falling in and out of romance but never straying far from where they started. And as Marianne experiments with an increasingly dangerous string of boyfriends, Connell must decide how far he is willing to go to save his oldest friend.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a novel that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the inescapable challenges of family and friendships. Normal People is a book that you will read in one sitting, and then immediately share with your friends.


Review:

Fresh, intense, and intimate!

Normal People is a character-driven, classic, coming-of-age story involving the clever, wealthy Marianne and the intelligent, working-class Connell as they embark on an enduring love affair littered with misunderstandings, betrayals, overreactions, and, ultimately, broken hearts.

The prose is evocative and controlled. The characters, including the damaged, lonely protagonists, are young, innocent, and vulnerable. And the tightly crafted, witty plot unfolds chronologically seamlessly unravelling all the motivations, actions, personalities, desires, needs, and complex relationships within it.

Overall, Normal People is a sensitive, adept, passionate tale that does a remarkable job of highlighting all the universal struggles of growing up, acquiring self-confidence, forging friendships, experiencing love and lust for the first time, and feeling entitled to be loved.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                        

 

 

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sally Rooney

Sally Rooney was born in the west of Ireland in 1991. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta and The London Review of Books. Winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2017, she is the author of Conversations with Friends and the editor of the Irish literary journal The Stinging Fly.

#BookReview
Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard
by Jamie Raintree @jamieraintree @GraydonHouse @HarlequinBooks

#BookReview Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard by Jamie Raintree @jamieraintree @GraydonHouse @HarlequinBooksTitle: Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard

Author: Jamie Raintree

Published by: Graydon House on March 26, 2019

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 368

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Harlequin Books

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The follow-up to Raintree’s sparkling debut Perfectly Undone, MIDNIGHT AT THE WANDERING VINEYARD brilliantly meshes the provocative relationship fiction of Jennifer Weiner with the nuanced family dynamics of Karen White in this story of a young woman who reconnects with her estranged best friend to complete their teenage bucket list, but the man who came between them years ago reappears to challenge their bond once again.

A young woman at a crossroads in her life returns home to her family’s vineyard in California when tragedy strikes and reconnects with her estranged childhood best friend. They decide to complete the bucket list they created the summer they were 18, the summer that saw their friendship torn apart. But when the man who came between them all those years ago reappears, it challenges their fragile new bond and pushes each woman to confront past hurts and buried truths.


Review:

Evocative, affecting, and heartfelt!

Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard is a heartwarming, touching story that immerses you in a tale about confronting the past, taking risks, being true to one’s self, following your heart, and the importance of never losing sight of your own wants, needs, and dreams.

The writing is vivid and impassioned. The characters are flawed, genuine, and endearing, And the plot is an exceptionally absorbing tale about life, loss, heartbreak, forgiveness, friendship, family, community, courage, happiness, and unconditional love.

Overall, Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard is an uplifting, emotive, alluring story by Raintree that reminds us that everyone that enters our lives, no matter the length of time, shapes and defines us. It is beautifully written, lushly depicted and like a good wine should definitely be savoured.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Jamie Raintree

Jamie Raintree is voracious student of life, which is why she became a writer, where she could put all that acquired information to good use. She is a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. She also teaches writers about business and productivity. Since the setting is always an important part of her books, she is happy to call the Rocky Mountains of Northern Colorado her home and inspiration.

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt
The Military Wife by Laura Trentham
@LauraTrentham @StMartinsPress

#BlogTour #BookReview #Excerpt The Military Wife by Laura Trentham @LauraTrentham @StMartinsPressTitle: The Military Wife

Author: Laura Trentham

Series: A Heart of a Hero #1

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on February 5, 2019

Genres: Women's Fiction, General Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

Synopsis:

An emotionally layered novel about family, loss and what it means to be a military wife.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children under foot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.

In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?


Review:

Absorbing, moving, and incredibly uplifting!

The Military Wife is a tender, heartfelt story that delves not only into the emotional and psychological struggles and hardships of being part of the military and the effects they have on both the enlisted themselves and their loved ones, but also the patience, understanding, support, and trust required to maintain a relationship and individuality under those conditions.

The prose is effortless and well turned. The characters are scarred, genuine, and endearing. And the story is a mesmerizing tale about life, loss, love, forgiveness, grief, familial drama, friendship, community, courage, resilience, and moving on.

Overall, The Military Wife is a beautifully written tale with a lovely mix of hope, grit, emotion, and romance that exceeded my expectations. It’s an impressive start to the “A Heart of a Hero” series and I can’t wait for the publication of book #2.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

EXCERPT:

Chapter 1

Present Day

Winters in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, were temperamental. The sunshine and a temperate southerly breeze that started a day could turn into biting, salt-tinged snow flurries by afternoon. But one thing Harper Lee Wilcox could count on was that winter along the Outer Banks was quiet.

The bustle and hum and weekly rotation of tourists that marked the summer months settled into a winter melancholy that Harper enjoyed. Well, perhaps not enjoyed in the traditional sense . . . more like she enjoyed surrendering to the melancholy. In fact, her mother may have accused her of wallowing in it once or twice or a hundred times.

In the winter, she didn’t have to smile and pretend her life was great. Not that it was bad. Lots of people had it worse. Much worse. In fact, parts of her life were fabulous. Almost five, her son was happy and healthy and smart. Her mother’s strength and support were unwavering and had bolstered her through the worst time of her life. Her friends were amazing.

That was the real issue. In the craziness of the summer season, she forgot to be sad. Her husband, Noah, had been gone five years; the same amount of time they’d been married. Soon the years separating them would outnumber the years they’d been together. The thought was sobering and only intensified the need to keep a sacred place in her heart waiting and empty. Her secret memorial.

She parked the sensible sedan Noah had bought her soon after they married under her childhood home. Even though they were inland, the stilts were a common architectural feature up and down the Outer Banks.

Juggling her laptop and purse, Harper pushed open the front door and stacked her things to the side. “I’m home!”

A little body careened down the steps and crashed into her legs. She returned the ferocious hug. Her pregnancy was the only thing that had kept her going those first weeks after she’d opened her front door to the Navy chaplain.

“How was preschool? Did you like the pasta salad I packed for your lunch?”

“It made me toot and everyone laughed, even the girls. Can you pack it for me again tomorrow?”

“Ben! You shouldn’t wantto toot.” Laughter ruined the admonishing tone she was going for.

As Harper’s mom said time and again, the kid was a hoot and a half. He might have Harper’s brown wavy hair, but he had Noah’s spirit and mannerisms and humor. Ben approached everything with an optimism Harper had lost or perhaps had never been gifted with from the start. He was a blessing Harper sometimes wondered if she deserved.

“Where’s Yaya?” She ruffled his unruly hair.

Of course, her mom had picked an unconventional name. “Grandmother” was too old-fashioned and pedestrian. Since she’d retired from the library, she had cast off any semblance of normalcy and embraced an inner spirit that was a throwback to 1960s bra burners and Woodstock.

“Upstairs painting.” Ben slipped his hand into Harper’s and tugged her toward the kitchen. Bright red and orange and blue paint smeared the back of his hand and arm like a rainbow. At least, her mom had put him in old clothes. “Yaya gave me my own canvas and let me paint whatever I wanted.”

“And what did you paint?” Harper prayed it wasn’t a nude study, which was the homework assignment from her mom’s community college class.

“I drew Daddy in heaven. I used allthe colors.” The matter-of-factness of his tone clawed at her heart.

No child should have to grow up only knowing their father through pictures and stories. Her own father had been absent because of divorce and disinterest. He’d sent his court-ordered child support payments regularly until she turned eighteen but rarely visited or shown any curiosity about her. It had hurt until teenaged resentment scarred over the wound.

Noah would have made a great dad. The best. That he never got the chance piled more regrets and what-ifs onto her winter inspired melancholy.

“I’m sure he would have loved your painting.” Luckily, Ben didn’t notice her choked-up reply.

He went to the cabinet, pulled out white bread and crunchy peanut butter, and proceeded to make two sandwiches. It was their afternoon routine. Someday he would outgrow it. Outgrow her and become a man like his daddy.

She poured him a glass of milk, and they ate their sandwiches, talking about how the rest of his day went—outside of his epic toots. His world was small and safe and she wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Her mom breezed into the kitchen, her still-thick but graying brown hair twisted into a messy bun, a thin paintbrush holding it in place. Slim and attractive, she wore paint-splattered jeans and a long-sleeve T-shirt that read: I make AARP look good. Harper pinched her lips together to stifle a grin.

“How’s your assignment coming along?” Harper asked.

“I’m having a hard time with proportions. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure my man’s you-know-what shouldn’t hang down to his kneecaps.”

Harper shot a glance toward Ben, who had moved to the floor of the den to play with LEGOs. As crazy as her mom drove her, she was and would always be Harper’s rock. The irony wasn’t lost on her. As hard as she’d worked to get out of Kitty Hawk and out of her mother’s reach when she was young, she’d never regretted coming home.

“It’s been a while for me, too, but that’s not how I remember them, either.”

“A pity for us both.” Her mother pulled a jar of olives out of the fridge and proceeded to make martinis—shaken, not stirred. She raised her eyebrows, and Harper answered the unspoken question with a nod. Her mom poured and plopped an extra olive in Harper’s. “How was work?”

Harper handled bookkeeping and taxes for a number of local businesses, but a good number closed up shop in the winter. “Routine. Quiet.”

“Exactly like your life.”

Harper sputtered on her first sip. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I hate seeing you mope around all winter.” Her mom poked at the olive in her drink with a toothpick and looked toward Ben, dropping her voice. “He’s been gone five years, sweetheart, and you haven’t gone on so much as a date.”

“That’s not true. I went to lunch with Whit a few weeks ago.”

“He was trying to sell you life insurance. Doesn’t count.”

Harper huffed and covered her discomfort by taking another sip. “What about you? You never date.”

 “True, but your father ruined me on relationships. I have trust issues. You and Noah, on the other hand, seemed to get along fine. Or am I wrong?”

“You’re not.” Another sip of the martini grew the tingly warmth in her stomach. Their marriage hadn’t been completely without conflict, but what relationship was? As she looked back on their fights, they seemed juvenile and unimportant. It was easier to remember the good times. And there were so many to choose from.

She touched the empty finger on her left hand. The ring occupied her jewelry box and had for three years. But, occasionally, her finger would ache with phantom pains as if it were missing a vital organ.

“You’re young. Find another good man. Or forget the man, just find something you’re passionate about.”

“I’m happy right where I am.” Harper hammered up her defenses as if preparing for a hurricane.

“Don’t mistake comfort for happiness. You’re comfortable here. Too comfortable. But you’re not happy.”

 “God, Mom, why are you Dr. Phil–ing me all of sudden? Are you wanting me and Ben to move out or something?” Her voice sailed high and Ben looked over at them, his eyes wide, clutching his LEGO robot so tightly its head fell off.

“You and Ben are welcome to stay and take care of me in my old age.” Her mom shifted toward the den. “You hear that, honey? I want you to stay forever.”

Ben gave them an eye-crinkling smile that reminded her so much of Noah her insides squirmed, and she killed the rest of her drink. She was so careful not to show how lonely she sometimes felt in front of Ben.

“Harper.” Her mom’s chiding tone reminded her so much of her own childhood, she glanced up instinctively. Her mom took her hand, and her hazel eyes matched the ones that stared back at Harper in the mirror. “You’re marking time in Kitty Hawk. Find something that excites you again. Don’t let Ben—or Noah— be your excuse.”

Harper looked to her son. His chubby fingers fit the small LEGO pieces together turning the robot into a house. She had built her life brick by brick adding pieces and colors, expanding, taking pride, until one horrible day she’d stopped. Maybe her mom was right. Was it time to build something new?

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Laura Trentham

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

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