The Lighter Side of Summer

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

You’ve told us in the past that from time to time you just really need a lighter book– one that brings hope, that makes you smile, that helps you forget your troubles for a while. We’ve tried to share a few new titles that will do just that today. Happy (literally!) reading!


Mystic SummerMystic Summer by Hannah McKinnon

A chance run-in with a college boyfriend puts a young woman’s picture-perfect life in perspective in this warm-hearted and lyrical novel—from the author of The Lake Season.

Since finishing graduate school, Maggie Griffin has worked hard to build an enviable life in Boston. She’s an elementary school teacher in a tony Boston suburb, a devoted sister, and a loving aunt. With her childhood best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her own relationship blossoming, this is the summer she has been waiting for.

But when Maggie’s career is suddenly in jeopardy, her life begins to unravel. Stricken, Maggie returns home to seaside Mystic, Connecticut, where she expects to find comfort in family and familiarity. Instead, she runs into Cameron Wilder, a young man from her past who has also returned home, and whose life has taken a turn that puts Maggie’s city struggles in harsh perspective. When tragedy strikes for Cameron, Maggie is faced with big decisions as she weighs what matters most and strives to stay true to the person she’s become.

Set against the gorgeous backdrop of a New England summer when past and present collide, Mystic Summer is a gorgeous novel about looking back, moving forward, and the beauty that blooms when fate intervenes.


Now and then friendsNow and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt

Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they’ve also grown apart…

After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—inclulding the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .

A lifetime of drifting in other people’s currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.

Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .


One less problem without youOne Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison

Meet Prinny, Chelsea and Diana. Prinny is the owner of Cosmos, a shop that sells crystals, potions, candles, and hope. It’s also a place where no one turns down a little extra-special cocktail that can work as a romance potion or heal a broken heart. But Prinny is in love with her married lawyer and she’ll need nothing short of magic to forget about him.

Chelsea works as a living statue at tourist sites around Washington, DC. It’s a thankless job, but it helps pay the rent. That, and her part-time job at Cosmos. As her dream of becoming a successful actress starts to seem more remote and the possibility of being a permanently struggling one seems more realistic, Chelsea begins to wonder: at one point do you give up on your dreams? And will love ever be in the cards for her?

Diana Tiesman is married to Leif, a charismatic man who isn’t faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana just can’t let him go. She knows the only way she can truly breakaway is if she leaves and goes where he will never think to follow. So she ends up at Cosmos with Leif’s stepsister, where she makes her homemade teas and tinctures as she figures out whether she’d rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.

In Beth Harbison’s One Less Problem Without You, three women suddenly find themselves together at their own very different crossroads. It will take hope, love, strength and a little bit of magic for them to find their way together.


Once Upon a WineOnce Upon A Wine by Beth Kendrick

Cammie Breyer needs a big glass of cabernet—her restaurant failed and her chef boyfriend left for a hotter kitchen. Just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, her Aunt Ginger calls with a surprise. She’s bought a vineyard—in Delaware. At Ginger’s command, Cammie returns to Black Dog Bay, the seaside town where she spent her childhood summers with her aunt and her cousin, Kat.

The three women reunite, determined to succeed. There’s only one little problem: None of them knows the first thing about wine making. And it turns out, owning a vineyard isn’t all wine and roses. It’s dirt, sweat, and desperation. Every day brings financial pitfalls, unruly tourists, romantic dilemmas, and second thoughts. But even as they struggle, they cultivate hidden talents and new passions. While the grapes ripen under the summer sun, Cammie discovers that love, like wine, is layered, complex, delicious, and worth waiting for…


Santorini SunsetsSantorini Sunsets by Anita Hughes

Brigit Palmer is thrilled to be on the Greek Island of Santorini. She’s here for her wedding to Hollywood heart-throb Blake Crawford, one of America’s most eligible bachelors. Brigit’s parents have rented a villa, and soon guests will arrive from all over the world for the intimate ceremony. Brigit is a New York socialite, and she’s just given up her position at a Manhattan law firm to run her father’s philanthropic foundation. Things are finally falling into place. Love, career, family. Everything is going so well…until she steps into the garden and sees her ex-husband Nathaniel hiding in the rose bushes.

Nathaniel, a failed novelist, announces that Blake sold the rights to the wedding to HELLO! Magazine for two million dollars (donated to charity), and he is the reporter assigned to write the story. Everyone expects Brigit to have her happily ever after, her mother who taught her how to lead the perfect lifestyle, her younger sister Daisy who impatiently wishes for her own love story, and of course her fiancée. Things are supposed to work out for them. But when Brigit discovers an unsettling secret about Blake, she questions everything she’s ever believed about love, and wonders if she’s not better off alone.

Told in Anita Hughes’ spectacularly descriptive prose, Santorini Sunsets is a story about family bonds, first loves, and the question of when to let go and when to hang on as tight as you can.


The Space Between SistersThe Space Between Sisters by Mary McNear

In THE SPACE BETWEEN SISTERS, sisters Win and Poppy could not be more different. Organized and responsible Win plans her life with care. Poppy is impulsive and undependable, leaving others to pick up the pieces of her life. Despite their differences, they share memories of the idyllic childhood summers they spent together on the shores of Butternut Lake. Now, thirteen years later, Win has taken refuge on Butternut Lake while recovering from a personal tragedy, settling into a predictable and quiet life.

Then one night, Poppy unexpectedly shows up on her sister’s doorstep with her suitcases, a cat, and a mysterious man in tow. Although Win loves her beautiful sister, she wasn’t expecting her to move in for the summer. They begin to relive the joys of Butternut Lake, but their blissful nostalgia soon gives way to conflict, and painful memories and buried secrets threaten to tear the sisters apart. As the waning days of summer get shorter, past secrets are revealed, new love is found, and the ties between the sisters are tested like never before… all on the serene shores of Butternut Lake.

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This Summer Take a Trip… Back in Time (A Historical Fiction Roundup)

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

We’ve gathered together some lovely historical novels that reimagine times and events gone by– but not so far gone that you can’t experience them all over again this summer through these compelling stories.


The Tumbling Turner SistersThe Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay

For fans of Orphan Train and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, a compelling historical novel from “one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library Journal). Set against the turbulent backdrop of American Vaudeville, four sisters embark on an unexpected adventure—and a last-ditch effort to save their family.

In 1919, the Turner sisters and their parents are barely scraping by. Their father is a low-paid boot-stitcher in Johnson City, New York, and the family is always one paycheck away from eviction. When their father’s hand is crushed and he can no longer work, their irrepressible mother decides that the vaudeville stage is their best—and only—chance for survival.

Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.


When We Meet AgainWhen We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel

Emily Emerson is used to being alone; her dad ran out on the family when she was a just a kid, her mom died when she was seventeen, and her beloved grandmother has just passed away as well. But when she’s laid off from her reporting job, she finds herself completely at sea…until the day she receives a beautiful, haunting painting of a young woman standing at the edge of a sugarcane field under a violet sky. That woman is recognizable as her grandmother—and the painting arrived with no identification other than a handwritten note saying, “He always loved her.”

Emily is hungry for roots and family, so she begins to dig. And as she does, she uncovers a fascinating era in American history. Her trail leads her to the POW internment camps of Florida, where German prisoners worked for American farmers…and sometimes fell in love with American women. But how does this all connect to the painting? The answer to that question will take Emily on a road that leads from the sweltering Everglades to Munich, Germany and back to the Atlanta art scene before she’s done.

Along the way, she finds herself tempted to tear down her carefully tended walls at last; she’s seeing another side of her father, and a new angle on her painful family history. But she still has secrets, ones she’s been keeping locked inside for years. Will this journey bring her the strength to confront them at last?


The Woman in the PhotoThe Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan

In this compulsively-readable historical novel, from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of two young women—one in America’s Gilded Age, one in scrappy modern-day California—whose lives are linked by a single tragic afternoon in history.

1888: Elizabeth Haberlin, of the Pittsburgh Haberlins, spends every summer with her family on a beautiful lake in an exclusive club. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains above the working class community of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the private retreat is patronized by society’s elite. Elizabeth summers with Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks, following the rigid etiquette of her class. But Elizabeth is blessed (cursed) with a mind of her own. Case in point: her friendship with Eugene Eggar, a Johnstown steel mill worker. And when Elizabeth discovers that the club’s poorly maintained dam is about to burst and send 20 million tons of water careening down the mountain, she risks all to warn Eugene and the townspeople in the lake’s deadly shadow.

Present day: On her eighteenth birthday, genetic information from Lee Parker’s closed adoption is unlocked. She also sees an old photograph of a genetic relative—a 19th Century woman with hair and eyes likes hers—standing in a pile of rubble from an ecological disaster next to none other than Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross. Determined to identify the woman in the photo and unearth the mystery of that captured moment, Lee digs into history. Her journey takes her from California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, from her present financial woes to her past of privilege, from the daily grind to an epic disaster. Once Lee’s heroic DNA is revealed, will she decide to forge a new fate?


The Royal NannyThe Royal Nanny by Karen Harper

Based on a seldom-told true story, this novel is perfect for everyone who is fascinated by Britain’s royal family—a behind the scenes look into the nurseries of little princes and the foibles of big princes.

April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York. She is excited, exhausted—and about to meet royalty. . . .

So begins the unforgettable story of Charlotte Bill, who would care for a generation of royals as their parents never could. Neither Charlotte—LaLa, as her charges dub her—nor anyone else can predict that eldest sons David and Bertie will each one day be king. LaLa knows only that these children, and the four who swiftly follow, need her steadfast loyalty and unconditional affection.

But the greatest impact on Charlotte’s life is made by a mere bud on the family tree: a misunderstood soul who will one day be known as the Lost Prince. Young Prince John needs all of Lala’s love—the kind of love his parents won’t…or can’t…show him.

From Britain’s old wealth to the glittering excesses of Tsarist Russia; from country cottages to royal yachts, and from nursery to ballroom, Charlotte Bill witnesses history. The Royal Nanny is a seamless blend of fact and fiction—an intensely intimate, yet epic tale spanning decades, continents, and divides that only love can cross.



Letters to the LostLetters to the Lost (now out in paperback!) by Iona Gray

Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly vacant old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can’t help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time.

In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable attraction that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival are one in five. In the midst of such uncertainty, the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope – inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime – will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life in this powerfully moving novel.

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What We’re Into, July Edition

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon


Marybeth Whalen

In our house July is the one full month of summer we get. Ie, school doesn’t encroach on any of our July days like it does in June and August. This month we’ve soaked up every hot day of it. For me that has meant:


Adding this to my choice of nail polish for what my mom has always called “Summer Toes.” It has made my homemade pedicure last so much longer and look so much nicer. I’m not sure why it took me so long in life to figure this out, but it did. My mother taught me never to go out of the house with flip flops on without toenail polish, and considering I wear flip flops pretty much every day in summer, toenail polish is de riguer. (She also taught me not to go out of the house without “my lips on,” which, if you’re not in the south, means without wearing lipstick or at least some colored gloss.) #hometraining

IMG_0499My daughter and I found these headbands while meandering through the Sunset Beach Waterfront Market one sunny vacation morning. We each bought one and I promptly wore it the rest of the vacation. It covers a multitude of hair sins and is now the first thing I reach for when I need to run out somewhere quickly. After vacation I decided I needed more of these, and was so happy she had an Etsy shop so I could get some other colors. #tiedyedfashionista

I may have gone overboard with my Sherlock obsession after our family decided to rewatch the entire series again. (This trailer (and the ensuing excitement) might’ve been instrumental in that decision.) One night my husband and I had too much fun downloading different Sherlock ringtones via iTunes and assigning them to different people. My favorite? Moriarty saying, “And honey you should see me in a crown.” I can hardly wait for my phone to ring or to receive a text. And that’s saying something. #Sherlockseason42017

July has been a fun month of travel and relaxation, sun and water, and all the bounty of summer fruits and veggies. Lots of grilling. Lots of friends. Lots of goodness. #pleasesummerdontgo


Ariel Lawhon

Summer is always short for us. My kids get out of school at the end of May and they go back the first week of August. So we get exactly two months to stay up late, sleep in, and bask in the lazy heat of summer. This summer we’ve made the most of every single day. A few of my favorite things this month have been:

Ari2 Collage

Movies in the back yard. We didn’t go on vacation this year. But we did make one really fun splurge: we bought a movie projector and my husband made a huge (and I do mean huge) screen so we could watch movies in the back yard. The neighbors know that they have an open invitation to bring a chair and popcorn over when they see the screen go up. It has been a delight to sit under the stars and watch our favorite movies and we’ll continue this tradition for many years to come.

Peaches. Summer isn’t summer to me without a ripe juicy peach. I’ve been buying them from the local farmers market and we’ve gone through bushels. I’ve made a few peach cobblers, but to be honest, I prefer them fresh and will be somewhat heartbroken when peach season is over.

Tacos. Listen, I’m not even going to be humble about this: I make a damn fine taco. And even though they are labor intensive and heat up the kitchen almost beyond bearing, I’ve made them over and over the last two months for friends and family. My two specialties are the traditional beef taco with all the fixin’s and fish tacos with mango salsa and cumin-lime vinaigrette. There are, simply, no words for the goodness.

Rain. I grew up in the desert and even though I haven’t lived there in decades I do remember the summer monsoons that swept across northern New Mexico most afternoons. I remember the thunder and lightning and the smell of rain. I remember the gully washers and how they came out of nowhere and were gone before you could even enjoy them. I loved it then and I love it now and even though I live in place where it rains quite often, I never grow tired of it. I still stand at the window and watch. I still soak it in. There are few things as refreshing to me as a summer rain.

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Author to Author Interview: Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson, Part Two

Today’s post by Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson | @AlixRickloff and @JenniferRobsonR

We’re delighted to bring you part two of our interview with Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson as they discuss their new novels, SECRETS OF NANREATH HALL and MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS. You can read part one here.


Jennifer: I was really impressed by your mastery of period detail in “Secrets of Nanreath Hall”, and all the more so because it’s such a departure for you. What drew you to the twentieth century and the crucible of its world wars as a setting?

Alix: My interest in WWII began while I was in college. I watched Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver and was forever hooked on the time period. But for twenty plus years and nine plus books, it remained merely a side interest until a recent conversation with my agent during which she asked the fateful question; “What do you really want to write about?” Suddenly, I was confronted with all sorts of exciting possibilities in genres and settings I’d never considered. As authors we thrive on tension, drama, and conflict to shape our stories. And there are few decades more loaded with all three than those surrounding WWI and WWII. Those years were the fault lines between old values and new when the world was reshaping itself in violent ways and ordinary people were caught up in the struggle to, not only survive, but find their place within a changing social landscape. Both Kitty and Anna are at the mercy of these tumultuous events. Coming from the closeted life of an aristocrat, Kitty fights against expectations of class and gender when it comes to following her dreams while her daughter Anna, as a VAD nurse in a military hospital, confronts both the immediate cost of war as well as the aftermath of her mother’s fateful choices.

Jennifer: It’s been a few months since I gobbled up my advance copy of “Secrets of Nanreath Hall” and I am eager for more from you! Can you tell me anything about your next book?

Alix: Not much as I only just turned it into my editor, but I can tell you it’s loosely connected to the first book, though there’s no need to have read the first one to pick up the second. Lucy Stanhope is the spoiled daughter of an ex-pat socialite living in Singapore. Due to a scandal, she’s sent home to England in disgrace just ahead of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Japan’s entrance into the war. Unhappy and alone, she befriends a young evacuee and the very unlikely pair end up running away to London in search of his mother. In essence, it’s sort of a buddy road-trip book set against the backdrop of the WWII British home front. I had a blast writing both Lucy and her twelve year old delinquent sidekick in crime, Bill (any resemblance to my own son are merely coincidence) and can’t wait to hear what readers think.


Secrets of Nanreath HallThis incredible debut historical novel—in the tradition of Beatriz Williams and Jennifer Robson—tells the fascinating story of a young mother who flees her home on the rocky cliffs of Cornwall and the daughter who finds her way back, seeking answers.

Cornwall, 1940. Back in England after the harrowing evacuation at Dunkirk, WWII Red Cross nurse Anna Trenowyth is shocked to learn her adoptive parents Graham and Prue Handley have been killed in an air raid. She desperately needs their advice as she’s been assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home—Nanreath Hall. Anna was just six-years-old when her mother, Lady Katherine Trenowyth, died. All she has left are vague memories that tease her with clues she can’t unravel. Anna’s assignment to Nanreath Hall could be the chance for her to finally become acquainted with the family she’s never known—and to unbury the truth and secrets surrounding her past.

Cornwall, 1913. In the luxury of pre-WWI England, Lady Katherine Trenowyth is expected to do nothing more than make a smart marriage and have a respectable life. When Simon Halliday, a bohemian painter, enters her world, Katherine begins to question the future that was so carefully laid out for her. Her choices begin to lead her away from the stability of her home and family toward a wild existence of life, art, and love. But as everything begins to fall apart, Katherine finds herself destitute and alone.

As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she discovers herself at the center of old heartbreaks and unbearable tragedies, leaving her to decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth…and if the family she’s discovered is one she can keep.

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Book, Meet Book

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

When life gives you lemons… write a novel about it! It should be evident why we felt that today’s books should meet asap!


The Memory of LemonThe Memory of Lemon by Judith Fertig

The author of The Cake Therapist returns with another sweet and emotional tale featuring Neely, the baker with a knack for finding exactly the right flavor for any occasion…

A crisp tang of citrus that is at once poignant and familiar, sharpening the senses and opening the mind to possibilities once known and long forgotten…

Claire “Neely” Davis is no ordinary pastry chef. Her flavor combinations aren’t just a product of a well-honed palate: she can “taste” people’s emotions, sensing the ingredients that will touch her customers’ souls. Her gift has never failed her—until she meets a free-spirited bride-to-be and her overbearing society mother. The two are unable to agree on a single wedding detail, and their bickering leaves Neely’s intuition frustratingly silent—right when she needs it most.

Between trying to navigate a divorce, explore a new relationship, and handle the reappearance of her long-absent father, Neely is struggling to make sense of her own conflicting emotions, much less those of her hard-to-please bride. But as she embarks on a flavorful quest to craft the perfect wedding celebration, she’ll uncover a family history that sheds light on both the missing ingredients and her own problems—and illustrates how the sweet and sour in life often combine to make the most delicious memories…


Luck Love and Lemon PieLove, Luck and Lemon Pie by Amy Reichert

From the author of the “clever, creative, and sweetly delicious” (Kirkus Reviews) The Coincidence of Coconut Cake comes a novel about a frustrated wife and mother who hatches a scheme to reignite her marriage—and risks everything in a gamble she hopes is a sure bet.

When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.

Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.

After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

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Author to Author Interview: Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson

Today’s post by Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson | @AlixRickloff and @JenniferRobsonR

We’re delighted to visit with Alix Rickloff and Jennifer Robson today as they discuss their new novels, SECRETS OF NANREATH HALL and MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS. We’ll be back with part two of this interview on Thursday. Until then, enjoy!


Alix: I started life as a European history major so, to me, research is half the fun of writing the book. I don’t know how many times I fell down the rabbit hole in search of some obscure tidbit only to surface hours later wondering where my writing day had gone. Old Pathé newsreels were the worst. They sucked me in every time. Did you ever experience that thrill of the hunt when you were researching Moonlight Over Paris? Was there one resource you found more tempting—and more dangerous to your word count—than others?

Jennifer: I sympathize—that happens to me every time I’m in the middle of researching a book, and it can come as an awful shock to discover that I’ve frittered away an entire day chasing down details that don’t seem to have any relevance to the book I’m writing. The thing is—and it’s taken me a while to figure it out—sometimes it’s those very same discursions that lead me to something unexpected and useful. When I was in the very early stages of researching Moonlight Over Paris, I stumbled across a photograph of an incredibly lifelike painted eye-patch that appeared to have been made to cover a missing eye. It led me to the American Red Cross Studio for Portrait Masks, which I’d never heard of before; I had (wrongly) assumed that such work was confined to the studio of Francis Derwent Wood in England. A week later, after chasing down and devouring every bit of information I could find on the people who worked at the Paris-based studio and the masks they created for disfigured soldiers, I reluctantly had to admit that I couldn’t use it in my work in progress, mainly because the dates didn’t line up with my heroine’s timeline. So I set my notes aside—and then, months later, realized that the studio would make the perfect setting for my contribution to Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War. If only every fall down the rabbit hole were as useful!

Alix: As a reader, I love series that allow me to revisit a beloved world and find out what has become of my favorite characters. While your books aren’t what I would define as a strict series, they are connected. Are any of the characters from Moonlight Over Paris or your earlier books still clamoring for a story of their own?

Jennifer: I would say that most of them are! In my books I try very hard to create secondary characters who feel as real and complete as the central figures in the narrative, to the extent that I create and fill out “Proust Questionnaires” for everyone with a significant role. Readers may never know that Helena’s friend Mathilde considers a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens with her daughter to be her greatest joy, but my knowing such a thing helps me to shape her character and ensure she remains true to it over the course of the book. It also means that she, and most of the supporting cast in my books, feel very really to me—so much so that I can imagine entire books for most of them. If I had to choose which one among them would get a book of his or her own, I think it would be Etienne, Helena’s friend in Moonlight Over Paris. He was a great artist, so life likely took him all sorts of interesting places, but he was also a gay man, which would have placed him in terrible peril if he were still in Europe at the outbreak of the Second World War. Perhaps I will just have to write him into one of my WW2-era books, the first of which I’ve just completed, and answer my questions about him that way!


Moonlight Over ParisAn aristocratic young woman leaves the sheltered world of London to find adventure, passion, and independence in 1920s Paris in this mesmerizing story from the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over.

Spring, 1924

Recovering from a broken wartime engagement and a serious illness that left her near death, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr vows that for once she will live life on her own terms. Breaking free from the stifling social constraints of the aristocratic society in which she was raised, she travels to France to stay with her free spirited aunt. For one year, she will simply be Miss Parr. She will explore the picturesque streets of Paris, meet people who know nothing of her past—and pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

A few years after the Great War’s end, the City of Light is a bohemian paradise teeming with actors, painters, writers, and a lively coterie of American expatriates who welcome Helena into their romantic and exciting circle. Among them is Sam Howard, an irascible and infuriatingly honest correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Dangerously attractive and deeply scarred by the horror and carnage of the war, Sam is unlike any man she has ever encountered. He calls her Ellie, sees her as no one has before, and offers her a glimpse of a future that is both irresistible and impossible.

As Paris rises phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, so too does Helena. Though she’s shed her old self, she’s still uncertain of what she will become and where she belongs. But is she strong enough to completely let go of the past and follow her heart, no matter where it leads her?

Artfully capturing the Lost Generation and their enchanting city, Moonlight Over Paris is the spellbinding story of one young woman’s journey to find herself, and claim the life—and love—she truly wants.

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Book, Meet Book

Today we’re introducing two books to each other– and to you– that are both examples of the best in women’s fiction by authors at the top of their game. Both books have a little suspense and a lot of emotion. Meet these books today, then add them to your TBR list!


The Perfect NeighborsThe Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

How well do you ever really know the family next door?

Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.


In Twenty YearsIn Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

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Add a Little Chill to Your Summer With These Thrillers

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

There’s just something about summer that makes me want a big stack of page-turning thrillers at the ready. If you feel the same then today is YOUR day. We’ve got your stack right here!


The American GirlThe American Girl by Kate Horsley

From a bright new talent comes a riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident, and the journalist determined to break the story and uncover the dark secrets a small town is hiding.

On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.

Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly.

As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?

Told from the alternating perspectives of Molly, as she’s drawn inexorably closer to the truth, and Quinn’s blog entries tracing the events that led to her accident, The American Girl is a deliciously creepy, contemporary, twisting mystery leading to a shocking conclusion.


The Woman in Cabin 10The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.


Under the HarrowUnder The Harrow by Flynn Berry

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.


Wilde LakeWilde Lake by Laura Lippman

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected state’s attorney representing suburban Maryland—including the famous planned community of Columbia, created to be a utopia of racial and economic equality. Prosecuting a controversial case involving a disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death, the fiercely ambitious Lu is determined to avoid the traps that have destroyed other competitive, successful women. She’s going to play it smart to win this case—and win big—cementing her political future.

But her intensive preparation for trial unexpectedly dredges up painful recollections of another crime—the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man’s life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Justice was done. Or was it? Did the events of 1980 happen as she remembers them? She was only a child then. What details didn’t she know?

As she plunges deeper into the past, Lu is forced to face a troubling reality. The legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. But what happens when she realizes that, for the first time, she doesn’t want to know the whole truth?


Little Girl GoneLittle Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt

On a frozen night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.

But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . .


 A Game for all the familyA Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah

Pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, a woman must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life in this dazzling standalone psychological thriller with an unforgettable ending from the New York Times bestselling author of Woman with a Secret and The Monogram Murders.

You thought you knew who you were. A stranger knows better.

You’ve left the city—and the career that nearly destroyed you—for a fresh start on the coast. But trouble begins when your daughter withdraws, after her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school.

You beg the principal to reconsider, only to be told that George hasn’t been expelled. Because there is, and was, no George.

Who is lying? Who is real? Who is in danger? Who is in control? As you search for answers, the anonymous calls begin—a stranger, who insists that you and she share a traumatic past and a guilty secret. And then the caller threatens your life. . . .

This is Justine’s story. This is Justine’s family. This is Justine’s game. But it could be yours.


Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by BA Paris

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

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Finding Time For Our Friends: Guest Post by Erin Duffy

Today’s post by Erin Duffy

Today we bring you novelist Erin Duffy. This post hit home with both Ariel and I who, though we don’t live near each other and only see each other maybe twice a year, cherish our funny texts, phone conversations shared over top of screaming children in the background, and those rare times when we’re actually together and can not stop talking because we have so much to make up for. So, here’s to girlfriends, and to the books that remind us just how valuable they are. Read on…

Erin Duffy Author Photo Credit Elena Seibert (1)FINDING TIME FOR OUR FRIENDS

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I don’t trust girls who don’t have girlfriends. I’m sorry. I just don’t. If we meet and you tell me that you don’t have any girlfriends, you can bet that I’m operating under the assumption that you’re either half-alien or that there’s something seriously wrong with you.

I love my friends. I cherish them. I don’t have any sisters and without them I don’t know how I’d have made it through junior high, or high school, or college, or my twenties. Now that I think about it, I’ve needed them desperately throughout my thirties, too.

You get where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing: maintaining adult friendships isn’t easy. We are busy women. I don’t know a single woman who has an abundance of free time on her hands. Everyone I know is either working like a lunatic, or taking care of lunatic children, or working like a lunatic while also taking care of lunatic children. It’s hard to schedule lunches, or dinners, or even phone calls in the middle of the week when 90% of the time everyone, this author included, is so tired by 7:00 P.M. that it takes herculean strength not to face plant into a bowl of pasta before Alex Trebek throws out the final Jeopardy question. It’s not easy to keep in touch in a meaningful way, but really good friends will understand that sometimes text messages, or pictures on Instagram will have to be enough. We are busy women. We are doing the best that we can.

Those quick connections will have to be enough until you and your besties are able to steal away for a weekend together––which is what I did this past spring. My girlfriends and I spent the first two hours catching up on the basics: jobs, husbands, relationships, kids, and the rest of it pretending like none of those things existed. Forty-eight hours on a beach with them was all I needed to completely recharge my oh-so-very-drained battery, and tap into a part of myself I’d forgotten existed. Girlfriends are awesome like that. We made tentative plans to do it again next year, and I hope that we can make that happen. If not, no biggie! We all understand that leaving real life isn’t easy. We are busy women. We are also best friends.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had challenging friendships, or that there haven’t been people who’ve gotten lost along the way. (No plug intended)! A few years ago, I had a difficult conversation with a then close friend who’d become a major source of stress in my life. Originally, I’d wanted us to work through our problems. Then she uttered two little words that all but caused me to choke on my latte, “You’ve changed.”

I’ve changed? Since when? The nineties? Thank God! I’m proud to say that I’m nowhere near as stupid as I used to be. A friendship that expects, or demands, that you never grow, is one that you can do without. At least, that’s how I felt about it, and it’s why I haven’t spoken to her since. I beat myself up over the end of our friendship for a long time. I wondered if I should’ve done something differently. Then I realized that it was okay to let her go.

We are busy women. We are allowed to decide who we want to be without anyone else’s expectations holding us back. I have a girlfriend who used to shop with me at Banana Republic suddenly decide she only wanted to speak Spanish and dance in underground Dominican clubs in the East Village. Good for her! I hope she learns to salsa with the best of them, but we probably won’t hang out on weekends quite as much because I don’t speak Spanish and I definitely don’t dance. We now have very different definitions about what makes a fun Saturday and that’s totally fine. I’m happy she’s happy with her life. I don’t think she owes anyone an apology for becoming the woman she wanted to be.  She certainly does not owe one to me.

We have to be smart with how we allocate our spare time, and we have to be forgiving of our friends who have very little of it. I don’t need to talk to my girlfriends every day, though I certainly wish that I could. I know that if I send a text asking, ‘are you free?’ I’ll get a response. It’ll go something like this: “I’m running around like crazy, but I’m here if you need me.”  We are busy women, but we will always make time for our girlfriends.

That’s how we know who they are.


LostAlongtheWayhcA fresh, funny, and insightful novel about what it really means to be “friends forever” from the acclaimed author of Bond Girl and On the Rocks.

All through childhood and adolescence, Jane, Cara, and Meg swore their friendship would stand the test of time. Nothing would come between them, they pledged. But once they hit their twenties, life got more complicated and the BFFs began to grow distant. When Jane eloped with her slick, wealthy new boyfriend and didn’t invite her oldest friends to the ceremony, the small cracks and fissures in their once rock-solid relationship became a chasm that tore them apart.

Ten years later, when her husband is arrested and publically shamed for defrauding his clients, Jane realizes her life among the one percent was a sham. Penniless and desperate, deserted by the high-society crowd who turn their surgically perfected noses up at her, she comes crawling back to her childhood friends seeking forgiveness. But Cara and Meg have troubles of their own. One of them is trapped in a bad marriage with an abusive husband, while the other can’t have the one thing she desperately wants: a baby. Yet as much as they’d love to see Jane get her long overdue comeuppance, Cara and Meg won’t abandon their old friend in her time of need.

The story of three friends who find themselves on a laugh-out-loud life adventure, Lost Along the Wayilluminates the moments that make us, the betrayals that break us, and the power of love that helps us forgive even the most painful hurts.

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Quick Lit For July

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen and Ariel Lawhon | @MarybethWhalen and @ArielLawhon

It’s that time again– time to join Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit roundup in which we share quick reviews of what we’ve been reading. There’s never been a better time to read than summer– and our lists this month show it!

What Marybeth is reading…

Quick Lit 2

The Girls by Emma Cline: This book was disturbing. And not for the faint of heart. So if you pick it up, do so with that in mind. But if you’re at all interested in Charles Manson and the girls who followed him, or if you– like me– have been enjoying Aquarius starring David Duchovny, I do recommend it. Not only for the fascinating retelling of what could’ve happened, or how it could’ve been back then (though Cline changes the name of the hypnotic, charismatic leader so she’s not claiming it is Manson– if you know the history, the story is very, very similar) but for the writing itself. This will end up being one of my best books of the year– not because it was uplifting and made me feel wonderful about the human race– but because I appreciated what the author accomplished in writing it.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott: I’ve read most all of Megan Abbott’s books and I raced through this one just as I’ve raced through her others. This one, set in the world of gymnastics, is about a mysterious death and exactly what happened– and why. But more than the mystery, this is a stark look at the world of competitive girls’ gymnastics, and what can happen when parents– with the best of intentions– get overly invested. I found that part even more compelling than the mystery itself. Plus, Abbott is just so good at rendering the teenage girl on the page.

Here’s To Us by Elin Hildebrand: My summer is not complete without an Elin Hilderbrand novel, so of course I dove into this one as soon as it hit the shelves. While this will not go down as my most favorite of hers ever (that title belongs to Summerland), it was a fun read and the continual food mentions kept me perpetually hungry. No one writes food like Elin Hilderbrand.

The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell: I read this in four days. It kept me turning pages and wondering just what the truth was about the situation– with lots of red herrings to keep me guessing. I found the resolution satisfying but the final scene still niggles at me a bit. Not sure why. If you read it and agree, message me and we can talk!

Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner: This is not out yet, but I snagged an early copy and then quickly tore through it. I have read every single one of her books so it was so fun for me to read more about her life and writing. I appreciated her honesty, her humor, and her willingness to share herself with those of us who’ve read and loved her work. Well done! If you, too, are a fan put this on your radar (0ut October 11, 2016)


What Ariel is reading….

Quick Lit 1

The Expats by Chris Pavone.  It’s a really great, smart thriller by a new-to-me author. My agent raved about this book recently and she has great taste so I picked up a copy and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s one of those books where you feel like the author has been reading your mail. The book is told from a woman’s point of view–often something male writers don’t pull off well–but he absolutely nails the voice and the inner dialogue and fears that are common to women. Highly recommended so far.

The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore. This book is 650+ pages and covers three hundred years of Romanov history. It’s fascinating and comprehensive and surprisingly very readable. Technically this is for research but I’m enjoying it so much it doesn’t feel like work. Always a good thing!

And…that’s it. I’m doing a little experiment at the moment where I’m limiting myself to reading one book for pleasure and one book for work and no more. I’ve have a terrible habit of starting so many books that I don’t finish any. So this allows me to be more focused and more productive. It’s working great so far!

What are you reading this week?


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