Summer Book Club Selections

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

Summer Collage 2

Summer has always been synonymous with reading. Those long, lazy days with book in hand feel so decadent. There is a certain giddy delight that comes with reading outside, a sense that time has been suspended, that everything is on hold, breath held in honor of the stories unfolding before us. We try to capture that joy every time we choose our book club selections but we reach a little harder at this time of year because we want you to be carried away, transported, even if you can’t go away for vacation. We want you to feel as though you’ve been somewhere else. That is what summer is about, after all. So, for our summer book club selections, we’ve chosen three very different, captivating novels. Over the next few months you will survive a plane crash, take an epic Southern road trip all the way to Graceland, and fall in love in old New York. That, my friends, is a summer worth talking about!

Enjoy! And let us know if you plan to read any (or, hopefully, all!) of these novels between now and August!


Before the FallBEFORE THE FALL by Noah Hawley

From the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics’ Choice, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo comes the thriller of the year.

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

Read an excerpt of BEFORE THE FALL here.


Las Ride to GracelandLAST RIDE TO GRACELAND by Kim Wright

Lauded for her “astute and engrossing” (People) writing style imbued with “originality galore” (RT Book Reviews), Kim Wright channels the best of Jennifer Weiner and Sarah Pekkanen in this delightful novel of self-discovery on the open road as one woman sets out for Graceland hoping to answer the question: Is Elvis Presley her father?

Blues musician Cory Ainsworth is barely scraping by after her mother’s death when she discovers a priceless piece of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia hidden away in a shed out back of the family’s coastal South Carolina home: Elvis Presley’s Stutz Blackhawk, its interior a time capsule of the singer’s last day on earth.

A backup singer for the King, Cory’s mother Honey was at Graceland the day Elvis died. She quickly returned home to Beaufort and married her high school sweetheart. Yearning to uncover the secrets of her mother’s past—and possibly her own identity—Cory decides to drive the car back to Memphis and turn it over to Elvis’s estate, retracing the exact route her mother took thirty-seven years earlier. As she winds her way through the sprawling deep south with its quaint towns and long stretches of open road, the burning question in Cory’s mind—who is my father?—takes a backseat to the truth she learns about her complicated mother, the minister’s daughter who spent a lifetime struggling to conceal the consequences of a single year of rebellion.

Read an excerpt of LAST RIDE TO GRACELAND here.


The Fifth Avenue Artists SocietyTHE FIFTH AVENUE ARTIST’S SOCIETY by Joy Calloway

The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four artistic sisters in a family living in genteel poverty, knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, the boy next door and her first love.

When Charlie proposes instead to a woman from a wealthy family, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and turns their story into fiction, obsessively rewriting a better ending. Though she works with newfound intensity, literary success eludes her—until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s writer friend John Hopper’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Among painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under the handsome, enigmatic John’s increasingly romantic attentions.

Just as she and her siblings have become swept up in the society, though, Charlie throws himself back into her path, and Ginny learns that the salon’s bright lights may be obscuring some dark shadows. Torn between two worlds that aren’t quite as she’d imagined them, Ginny will realize how high the stakes are for her family, her writing, and her chance at love.



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Book, Meet Book

These two books must meet because they’re both about a disturbing event told in a compelling way. What do you think? Are you going to read one or– like us– both??


All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

It begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, struggles to pretend this horrific event did not touch her carefully constructed world.

As Tom and Charlotte seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.


The Last Good GirlThe Last Good Girl by Allison Leotta

It was her word against his…until she disappeared.

Emily Shapiro has gone missing. A freshman at a Michigan university, Emily was last seen leaving a bar near Beta Psi, a prestigious and secretive fraternity. The main suspect is Dylan Highsmith, the son of one of the most powerful politicians in the state. At first, the only clue is pieced-together surveillance footage of Emily leaving the bar that night…and Dylan running down the street after her.

When prosecutor Anna Curtis discovers a video diary Emily kept during her first few months at college, it exposes the history Emily had with Dylan: she accused him of rape before disappearing. Anna is horrified to discover that Dylan’s frat is known on campus as the “rape factory.”

The case soon gets media attention and support from Title IX activists across the country, but Anna’s investigation hits a wall. Anna has to find something, anything she can use to discover Emily alive. But without a body or any physical evidence, she’s under threat from people who tell her to stop before she ruins the name of an innocent young man.

Inspired by real-life stories, The Last Good Girl shines a light on campus rape and the powerful emotional dynamics that affect the families of the men and women on both sides.

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#READ Savannah, Featuring Liane Moriarty

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

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For the last few months we have been quietly working on the second annual #READ event held in partnership with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. And while many of the details are still in flux, we are beyond delighted to announce that #1 New York Times bestselling author, Liane Moriarty, will be our keynote author this year!

Liane is on a limited US tour this fall for her new novel TRULY MADLY GUILTY and will only be visiting ten cities, with Savannah being her only stop in the South. So if you’ve ever wanted to shake her hand and tell her how late you stayed up reading BIG LITTLE LIES or THE HUSBAND’S SECRET, now is your chance! You likely won’t have another opportunity to meet her this year.

Here are a few things important details:

#READSavannah will be at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto on Sunday, September 18th. Because the event is held in partnership with the annual SIBA trade show, the hotel fills up quickly. We will be posting information about overflow hotels, book club activities, and dining options soon.

There are only 200 tickets available, and we expect them to sell out quickly. So grab your book club and register soon. Today if possible.

Ticket prices are $45 for the panels and keynote only OR $55 for panels, keynote, and lunch with all the featured authors, including Liane.

You can register here.

There’s much more to come but we hope to see you in Savannah! In the meantime, here’s a bit about Liane’s new novel:

Liane Moriaty Collage

The new novel from Liane Moriarty, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot, about how sometimes we don’t appreciate how extraordinary our ordinary lives are until it’s too late.

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.


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But When, The Moment That Changes Everything

Today’s post by New York Times bestselling author, Michelle Gable | @MGableWriter

Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Michelle Gable to share a bit about her new novel, I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!


Michelle GableA college student named Pru Valentine is reeling from the death of her fiancé in the Vietnam War. She stumbles upon an advertisement seeking a helpmeet for a cultured, older woman in the U.K., the only requirement “a love of literature and the English countryside.” The girl decides it’s the perfect salve for her splintered heart.

But when Pru shows up in Oxfordshire she is greeted by a maniacal, half-nude, gun-toting harpy. Pru’s new home, a so-called estate, is a sprawling, dilapidated, Grey Gardens-style manse replete with chickens, dead cats in the icebox, and gaping holes in the floor. Townsfolk say the battle-ax is the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough. Pru has a hard time believing it, at least until a handsome, rakish biographer bumbles into town looking for a story.

Thirty years later, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess will take her from Virginia to the decrepit English home and eventually to Paris, where answers will be found at last.

As with my first novel, I’ll See You in Paris is based on a true story. The Duchess of Marlborough was born Gladys Deacon and lived a glittering, glorious life in the ballrooms of London and salons of Paris. She was considered the most beautiful–and tempestuous–woman to exist. She once wore the Hope Diamond and, they say, could’ve prevented WWI.

The Dazzling Miss Deacon wed for the first (and only) time at age forty, joining her life with that of the Duke of Marlborough, her best friend’s former husband. When the Duke died in the late 1930s, the Duchess disappeared from her palace and turned up in a broken-down home at almost a century old. The woman’s “missing years” intrigued me more than her gilded lifestyle and it was in trying to imagine how she must’ve appeared, and what strangers might’ve thought, that inspired my “but when.”


I'll See You In ParisThree women, born generations apart.
One mysterious book that threads their lives together.
A journey of love, discovery, and truth…

I’ll See You in Paris is based on the real life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, a woman whose life was so rich and storied it could fill several books. Nearly a century after Gladys’s heyday, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a dilapidated manse kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately, to Paris, where answers will be found at last. In the end, she not only solves the riddle of the Duchess but also uncovers the missing pieces in her own life.

At once a great love story and literary mystery, I’ll See You in Paris will entertain and delight, with an unexpected ending that will leave readers satisfied and eager for Gable’s next novel.

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Book, Meet Book: Two Novels About Lost Loves

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Sometimes we find novels that just have a certain connection– so much so we feel they must meet each other (and you!) right away! These two novels are about lost loves… that might not stay that way.


One True LovesOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.


Everything We KeepEverything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

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Our Pre-Summer Thriller Roundup

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start stocking your beach bags with page turners so riveting you’ll forget to reapply sunscreen. We’re getting your list started with a bang today– better stock up on aloe while you’re at it!


Dont You cryDon’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.


woman with a secretWoman With A Secret by Sophie Hannah

Traffic on Elmhirst Road has come to a halt. The police are stopping cars, searching for something. Nicki Clements waits patiently, until she glimpses a face she hoped she’d never see again. It’s him—and he’s the cop checking each car. Desperate to avoid him, she makes a panicky U-turn and escapes.

But Nicki’s peculiar behavior did not go unnoticed, and now the police have summoned her for questioning. A resident of Elmhirst Road has been murdered—a controversial newspaper columnist named Damon Blundy. The detectives begin peppering her with questions. Why was she seen fleeing the scene? What is her connection to the victim? Why was the knife that killed him used in such a peculiar way? Why were the words “HE IS NO LESS DEAD” painted on the wall of Blundy’s study—and what do they signify?

One simple answer could clear her. But she can’t explain why she fled Elmhirst Road that day without revealing the secret that could ruin her.

Nicki isn’t guilty of murder. But she’s far from innocent. . . .


the other widowThe Other Widow by Susan Crawford

Everybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs . . .

It isn’t safe. That’s what Joe tells her when he ends their affair—moments before their car skids off an icy road in a blinding snowstorm and hits a tree. Desperate to keep her life intact—her job, her husband, and her precious daughter, Lily—Dorrie will do everything she can to protect herself, even if it means walking away from the wreckage. Dorrie has always been a good actress, pretending to be someone else: the dutiful daughter, the satisfied wife, the woman who can handle anything. Now she’s going to put on the most challenging performance of her life. But details about the accident leave her feeling uneasy and afraid. Why didn’t Joe’s airbag work? Why was his car door open before the EMTs arrived? And now suddenly someone is calling her from her dead lover’s burner phone. . . .

Joe’s death has left his wife in free fall as well. Karen knew Joe was cheating—she found some suspicious e-mails. Trying to cope with grief is devastating enough without the constant fear that has overtaken her—this feeling she can’t shake that someone is watching her. And with Joe gone and the kids grown, she’s vulnerable . . . and on her own.

Insurance investigator Maggie Devlin is suspicious of the latest claim that’s landed on her desk—a man dying on an icy road shortly after buying a lucrative life insurance policy. Maggie doesn’t believe in coincidences. The former cop knows that things—and people—are never what they seem to be.

As the fates of these three women become more tightly entwined, layers of lies and deception begin to peel away, pushing them dangerously to the edge . . . closer to each other . . . to a terrifying truth . . . to a shocking end.


I let you goI Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh

On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street . . .

I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.


The Girl From HomeeThe Girl From Home by Adam Mitzner

Jonathan Caine is a true master of the universe—a currency wizard with a trophy wife, a penthouse condo with a view of the Statue of Liberty, and the desire for more—when his world comes crashing down, spiraling him into a relentless fall from grace. Devastated, Jonathan returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father and attend his twenty-fifth high school reunion, where he becomes reacquainted with former prom queen Jacqueline Williams. Back in the day, Jackie didn’t even know Jonathan existed. Now she is intrigued by the man he has become. But their budding relationship has problems, not the least of which is Jackie’s jealous and abusive husband. Jonathan is determined to learn from his mistakes, but is he capable of complete transformation? Or will a shocking temptation test his desire for redemption beyond anything he could have imagined?


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Book, Meet Book

Today we continue our “Book, Meet Book” series and introduce two novels to each other– and to you guys– because we think they have some things in common and would make a good match. Today’s books feature single parents, new places, and unexpected love. Will you add one– or both– to your “Want To Read” list? Let us know!


Stepping Into a New DayStepping to a New Day by Beverly Jenkins

In Henry Adams, Kansas, you can’t start over without stirring things up . . .

Many a good woman has had to leave a no-good man, but how many of them took a back-seat to his 600-lb. hog? On her own for the first time, Genevieve Gibbs is ecstatic, even if certain people preferred the doormat version of Ms. Gibbs. Finding someone who appreciates the “new” her has only just hit Gen’s to-do list when T.C. Barbour appears in her life.

A tiny Kansas town is a far cry from his native Oakland, California, but it’s just the change T. C. needs. While helping his divorced nephew acclimate to single fatherhood, T. C. lands a gig driving a limo for the most powerful woman in Henry Adams. It’s a great way to meet people—and one in particular has already made the job worthwhile. All it takes is a short trip from the airport for Genevieve to snag T.C.’s attention for good.

But it wouldn’t be Henry Adams without adding more drama to the mix. When Gen’s ex Riley returns with his hog in tow, it sets off a chain of events that can ruin everything—unless the residents pull together once again to save the day.


The Summer of MeThe Summer of Me by Angela Benson

As a single mother, Destiny makes sacrifices for her children—including saying goodbye for the summer so they can spend time with their father and stepmother. Though she’ll miss them with all her heart, the time alone gives her an opportunity to address her own needs, like finish getting her college degree. But Destiny’s friends think her summer should include some romance.

Destiny doesn’t want to be set up…until she meets Daniel. The handsome, warm and charming pastor soon sweeps Destiny off her feet. But is romance what she really wants? Or needs?

As the days pass, Destiny will make new discoveries—about herself, the man she’s fallen for, and the people around her. And she’ll face challenging choices. But most of all, she’ll grow in ways she never imagined, learning unexpected lessons about trust, forgiveness, and the price of motherhood…and truly become the woman she wants to be.

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The Lighter Side of Spring

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

Whether laugh out loud funny or just plain heartwarming, these recent releases focus on the lighter side of life– and spring is the perfect time for lightening things up!


Wedding GirlWedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

You’ve Got Mail meets Julie & Julia in the new foodie fiction from the author of Recipe for Disaster.

Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…

Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch…


Rejected WritersThe Rejected Writer’s Book Club by Suzanne Kelvin

Librarian Janet Johnson is puzzled when she is invited—and practically dragged—to her first meeting of the Rejected Writers’ Book Club. This quirky group of women would much rather celebrate one another’s rejected manuscripts over cups of tea and slices of lemon cake than actually publish a book. But good friends are exactly what Janet needs after moving to the small town of Southlea Bay, Washington. Just as the ladies are about to raise a teacup to their five hundredth rejection letter, they receive bad news that could destroy one member’s reputation—and disband the group forever. To save the club, Janet joins her fellow writers on a wild road trip to San Francisco in search of the local publisher who holds the key to a long-buried secret. As they race to the finish line, they’ll face their fears—landslides, haunted houses, handsome strangers, ungrateful children—and have the time of their lives.


Where We FallWhere We Fall by Rochelle Weinstein

By all accounts, Abby Holden has it all. She’s the mother of a beautiful teenager and the wife of a beloved high school football coach. And all it took to achieve her charmed life was her greatest act of betrayal.

Coach Ryan can coax his team to victory, but he can’t seem to make his wife, Abby, happy. Her struggles with depression have marred their marriage and taken a toll on their daughter, Juliana. Although this isn’t the life he’s dreamed of, he’s determined to heal the rifts in his family.

Chasing waterfalls and documenting their beauty has led photographer Lauren Sheppard all around the world. Now it has brought her back home to the mountains of North Carolina—back to the scene of her devastating heartbreak.

For the first time in seventeen years, a trio of once-inseparable friends find themselves confronting past loves, hurts, and the rapid rush of a current that still pulls them together…


Will YouWill You Won’t You Want Me? by Nora Zelevansky

Marjorie Plum never meant to peak in high school. She was Queen Bee. Now, 10 years later, she’s lost her sparkle. At her bleakest moment, she’s surprised by renewed interest from a questionable childhood crush, and the bickering with her cranky boss–at a potentially game-changing new job–grows increasingly like flirtatious banter. Suddenly, she’s faced with a choice between the life she always dreamed of and one she never thought to imagine. With the help of a precocious 11-year-old tutee, who unknowingly becomes the Ghost of Marjorie Past, and a musician roommate, who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama, Marjorie struggles with the ultimate question: Who does she want to be? Nora Zelevansky’s Will You Won’t You Want Me? is a funny, often surprising, novel about growing up when you are already supposed to be grown.


The ONe that Got AwayThe One That Got Away by Leigh Himes

Meet Abbey Lahey . . .

Overworked mom. Underappreciated publicist. Frazzled wife of an out-of-work landscaper. A woman desperately in need of a vacation from life–and who is about to get one, thanks to an unexpected tumble down a Nordstrom escalator.

Meet Abbey van Holt . . .

The woman whose life Abbey suddenly finds herself inhabiting when she wakes up. Married to handsome congressional candidate Alex van Holt. Living in a lavish penthouse. Wearing ball gowns and being feted by the crème of Philadelphia society. Luxuriating in the kind of fourteen-karat lifestyle she’s only read about in the pages of Town & Country.

The woman Abbey might have been . . . if she had said yes to a date with Alex van Holt all those years ago.

In the tradition of the romantic comedy Sliding Doors and Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World, Leigh Himes’s irresistible debut novel tells the funny and touching story of an ordinary woman offered an extraordinary opportunity to reboot her life, explore the road not taken, and ultimately, find her true self–whoever that may be.

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But When: A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock

Today’s post by Amber Brock | @AmberBrockWrites

Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Amber Brock to share a bit about her new novel, A FINE IMITATION in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!


Amber Brock -- photo credit Nina Parker

Amber Brock — photo credit Nina Parker

My novel, A Fine Imitation, is the story of two crucial moments in socialite Vera Bellington’s life—the first crossroads comes when she is a junior at Vassar in 1913, and the second is in 1923, when she’s living in the most luxurious penthouse in Manhattan, the Angelus, in an unhappy marriage. As a college student, she’s considering the immediate choices her future offers. She’s torn between the enticing possibilities college has opened up for her and the role prescribed for her by society. Ten years later, she is locked in a cycle of pointless social engagements, suffocating under her overbearing mother’s close watch, and slowly coming to the realization that the life she’s living is not one she would have chosen for herself.  She’s been playing the role of dutiful daughter and happy wife for too long, and she at last begins to admit to herself that the part she’s playing has brought her only misery.

Vera gets two “but when” moments, both of which involve free-spirited artists who cause her to question the life dictated by her place in society. In 1913, the turning point is a night out on the town with her friend Bea Stillman. When Vera agrees to sneak out with Bea, she sets in motion a chain of events that lead to more broken hearts than just Vera’s own. In 1923, still haunted by the choices she made in the fallout after that night, Vera meets a handsome, mysterious artist who brings up the same choice between her heart and her reputation. Emil Hallan, much like Bea did ten years before, pushes her to challenge the things she’s blindly accepted. In doing so, Vera reaches deep inside to find the college girl who once had hope about her circumstances and choices. But with that hope comes painful memories, and before she can claim a new life, she must confront the mistakes of her past.

Vera’s “but when” moment in 1923 doesn’t come with easy answers. Though she’s falling in love with Emil, she knows he’s hiding his true identity. His secrets could ruin her if she decides to follow her heart. And while the life she’s trapped in at the top of the Angelus building does offer comfort and security, it means remaining in a marriage with a man who will never really be her partner. Still, even if the choices aren’t easy, Vera begins to realize that simply having choices at all helps her find a new strength. Ultimately, that strength has the potential to save her.


A Fine Imitation jacketSet in the glamorous 1920s, A Fine Imitation is an intoxicating debut that sweeps readers into a privileged Manhattan socialite’s restless life and the affair with a mysterious painter that upends her world, flashing back to her years at Vassar and the friendship that brought her to the brink of ruin.

Vera Bellington has beauty, pedigree, and a penthouse at The Angelus–the most coveted address on Park Avenue. But behind the sparkling social whirl, Vera is living a life of quiet desperation. Her days are an unbroken loop of empty, champagne-soaked socializing, while her nights are silent and cold, spent waiting alone in her cavernous apartment for a husband who seldom comes home.

Then Emil Hallan arrives at The Angelus to paint a mural above its glittering subterranean pool. The handsome French artist moves into the building, shrouds his work in secrecy, and piques Vera’s curiosity, especially when the painter keeps dodging questions about his past. Is he the man he claims to be? Even as she finds herself increasingly drawn to Hallan’s warmth and passion, Vera can’t suppress her suspicions. After all, she has plenty of secrets, too–and some of them involve art forgers like her bold, artistically talented former friend, Bea, who years ago, at Vassar, brought Vera to the brink of catastrophe and social exile.

When the dangerous mysteries of Emil’s past are revealed, Vera faces an impossible choice–whether to cling to her familiar world of privilege and propriety or to risk her future with the enigmatic man who has taken her heart. A Fine Imitation explores what happens when we realize that the life we’ve always led is not the life we want to have.

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“But When” The Moment That Changes Everything

Today’s post by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Yona Zeldis McDonough to share a bit about her new novel, THE HOUSE ON PRIMROSE POND in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!


head shotSusannah Gilmore, the protagonist of my seventh novel, The House on Primrose Pond, is determined to start over. After her husband is tragically killed in a bicycle accident, she packs up her two teen-aged kids and moves to Eastwood, New Hampshire, to take up residence in a house on a pond that her parents left to her.

But when she arrives, Susannah’s forward-thrust is derailed by the love letter that she finds tucked in a volume of poetry up in the attic. The letter is written to her mother—but it’s quite clear that the handwriting is not her father’s. So instead of moving ahead with her life, Susannah finds herself yanked back into the past, searching the house and property for other clues to her mother’s long-held secret. She extends her search by scoping out various men her mother knew, wondering which, if any, could be the man she is looking for, the man who will finally unravel the mystery that was her mother. In the process, she reconnects with Corbin Bailey, sexy guy who was the out-of-reach older brother of the boy she dated the one summer she spent on the pond. Is she ready to fall in love again? And if she is, is Corbin the one?

The next but when moment occurs when she decides to switch gears professionally. Instead of pursuing the minor European aristocrats who generally populate the historical novels she writes, Susannah decides to work on the tragic story of Ruth Blay, who, in 1768, was the last woman hanged in the state of New Hampshire. Blay, who was unmarried, was accused of killing her newborn baby girl. She maintained her innocence throughout her trial but was eventually found guilty of what was then a capital offense: concealing the birth of illegitimate child. She mounted the gallows on December 31, before a restless crowd in what is now Portsmouth’s South Cemetery. Although Susannah is fascinated by what she has learned, her editor is less keen on the idea and so Susannah must convince her that Ruth’s story is one worth telling.   The convergence of past and present, the themes of guilt, innocence and ultimately redemption are what bring this novel together and I hope my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed the writing of it.


2_HouseonPrimrose_4_withpeople-1A compelling novel about one woman’s search for the truth from the author of You Were Meant For Me.
After suffering a sudden, traumatic loss, historical novelist Susannah Gilmore decides to uproot her life—and the lives of her two children—and leave their beloved Brooklyn for the little town of Eastwood, New Hampshire.

While the trio adjusts to their new surroundings, Susannah is captivated by an unexpected find in her late parents’ home: an unsigned love note addressed to her mother, in handwriting that is most definitely not her father’s.

Reeling from the thought that she never really knew her mother, Susannah finds mysteries everywhere she looks: in her daughter’s friendship with an older neighbor, in a charismatic local man to whom she’s powerfully drawn, and in an eighteenth century crime she’s researching for her next book. Compelled to dig into her mother’s past, Susannah discovers even more secrets, ones that surpass any fiction she could ever put to paper…

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