Cover Reveal: Next in Line by Amy Daws

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Falling for your best friend’s little sister hook, line, and sinker.

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Coming December 6!

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What happens when the cute mountain man you made out with in an ice fishing shack turns out to be your brother’s best friend?

A whole lot of awkward, that’s what.

Maggie’s mind is reeling when she discovers the guy she became tangled up with at Marv’s Bait & Tackle isn’t a stranger like she thought.

The big snag: Sam and Maggie’s chemistry is hot enough to melt ice, which makes keeping their secret far more difficult than either expected.

Especially when one of them decides they want this arrangement to be more than just a catch and release.

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Amy Daws is an Amazon Top 25 bestselling author of sexy, contemporary romance novels. She enjoys writing love stories that take place in America, as well as across the pond in England; especially about those footy-playing Harris Brothers of hers. When Amy is not writing in a tire shop waiting room, she’s watching Gilmore Girls, or singing karaoke in the living room with her daughter while Daddy smiles awkwardly from a distance.
For more of Amy’s work, visit: http://www.amydawsauthor.com

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New Release and Review: Before Girl by Kate Canterbary

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She’s the girl next door.
He’s the guy who’s loved her from afar.
They’re in for an unexpected tumble into love.

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Title: Before Girl
Author: Kate Canterbary
Release Date: November 13, 2018

Blurb

She’ll juggle your balls.
For Stella Allesandro, chaos is good. She’s a rising star at a leading sports publicity firm. She’s known throughout the industry as the jock whisperer—the one who can tame the baddest of the bad boys in professional sports without losing her signature smile.

But Cal Hartshorn is an entirely different kind of chaos.

He’ll fix your broken heart.
This ex-Army Ranger and now-famous cardiothoracic surgeon fails at nothing…except talking to a woman he’s adored from afar. Whether on the battlefield or operating room, he’s exacting, precise, and efficient, but all of that crumbles when Stella is in sight.

Cal always knows—and gets—what he wants, and now he wants all of her. His forever girl.

But Stella isn’t convinced she’s anyone’s forever.

Review (2)

Oh my manbrick!!!  Where to start?  If you don’t follow Kate Canterbary on social medial, first of all why not; second, you are missing so much goodness; and third, why the hell not.  The beginnings of this book were posted in early 2016 as just little snippets.  She claims they were a distraction as she was writing other books.  But that’s all we got.  About the equivalent of the first 4 chapters and then she was busy with other projects.  For some of us these characters were like the shy new kids at school.  We were dying of curiosity to know their story, but all they seemed to want to do is to lurk in the corner and watch us.  Hence, the standoff began.  We waited patiently (who am I kidding…try not so patiently) for these characters to speak to Kate again.  I think you could hear a collective roar when we found out this book was officially coming out.  Many of us fell in love with both Cal and Stella with just a few chapters, and we were DYING to know their story.  That’s a lot of buildup, both on the author’s part and the reader’s part.  I wanted this story so bad, but I was a little anxious about it too.  Would I love the rest of their story as much as I loved the snippets?   This book is EVERYTHING I hoped it would be and SO MUCH MORE than I expected!  Cal and Stella are now some of my most favorite characters ever, both individually and as a couple.  This book was well worth the wait.

Cal is shy and awkward; he’s growly and sweet; he’s an alpha male in the most unassuming way; he’s such a contraction of characteristics at times and that it makes him perfect.  Stella is a kick-ass woman; she’s strong and in charge; she handles multiple balls in the air like a pro; she unapologetically knows who she is; she’s also vulnerable and sweet.  She the kind of woman I want to be or at least be friends with.  The two of them together are perfect.  They both understand demanding jobs and accept that about each other. The chemistry is explosive and the heat can burn you from a mile away.

Not only do you get this amazing couple, but you get a plethora of side characters to fall in love with.  If you read Preservation, you will know the dynamics of the Hartshorn/Acevedo/Emmerling friendship.  They are 3 doctors that work at the same hospital and have become a tight knit group.  They love to give each other a hard time and you get lots of that in this book.  You also get a little more of Stremmel, a new doctor that came on the scene in Thresholds.  He’s so grumpy and it’s amazing.  I only hope that we get his story soon.  We also get Stella’s assistant who are like bickering siblings and a problem client that’s more like an overgrown child wanting attention.  The three of them are fascinating.  We also get a mention of a new doctor, that if previous books are any indication, hopefully that Easter egg will be in other books.  Many times a secondary character is just a way to move the story along.  A blip on a radar and someone you don’t think about later.  These secondary characters are definitely no blip.  They grab you by the shirt and scream in your face to pay attention to them.  Even if we only get a small glimpse, they are so intriguing and well written, you want to know more.

I know I’ve mentioned that some of the characters are in other books, but this is a complete standalone.  You do not have to have read any of the other books to thoroughly enjoy this one.  However, I have a feeling that you will want to go read the others after this one.  This book should go immediately to the top of your TBR list.  Wait…that’s not true.  You should stop what you are reading right now and read this book immediately.  Wait….still not true.  You should stop all other reading until you’ve read every single one of Kate Canterbary’s books including this one, at least once.  Yes, this is a book and an author who you will read over and over again.  Once you’ve read them all several times, you’ll want to get the audio books so that you can listen to goodness as well.

Get this book!  Get it now!  If I had won that $1.6 billion lottery I’d be giving everyone this book and all the books from this author.  Everyone needs Kate Canterbary books in their life, and you most especially need Cal and Stella’s story in your life.

 

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Bio

Kate Canterbary doesn’t have it all figured out, but this is what she knows for sure: spicy-ass salsa and tequila solve most problems, living on the ocean–Pacific or Atlantic–is the closest place to perfection, and writing smart, smutty stories is a better than any amount of chocolate. She started out reporting for an indie arts and entertainment newspaper back when people still read newspapers, and she has been writing and surreptitiously interviewing people—be careful sitting down next to her on an airplane—ever since.

Kate lives on the water in New England with Mr. Canterbary and the Little Baby Canterbary, and when she isn’t writing sexy architects, she’s scheduling her days around the region’s best food trucks.

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New Release and Review: Wicked Whiskey Love by Melissa Foster

Today we have the blog tour for Melissa Foster’s Wicked Whiskey Love! Check out this fantastic new contemporary romance and be sure to grab your copy today!

Title: Wicked Whiskey Love

Author: Melissa Foster

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Wicked Whiskey Love:

Fall in love with Bones Whiskey in WICKED WHISKEY LOVE, an emotionally riveting, sexy new standalone romance by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster. A magnificent love story for those who enjoy fiercely loyal and insanely sexy alpha heroes, smart, sassy heroines, families, bikers, babies, and more!

In WICKED WHISKEY LOVE…

After escaping abusive parents and, later, an abusive relationship, Sarah Beckley has spent a lifetime watching snakes shed their skin. With two small children to care for and another on the way, she’s finally found a home in Peaceful Harbor with the brother she hasn’t seen in more than a decade. She’s still searching for her sister, but life is good. If only she could stop thinking about the sinfully sexy doctor/biker who has taken to her children like a loving uncle–and to her like a hungry man.

Trust doesn’t come easily for Sarah, but Bones Whiskey is patient and protective, amazing with her children, and he looks at her like she is the only woman he could ever want–and more. With two little ones underfoot, Sarah expects him to move on quickly, yet with every tender kiss and each trying moment with the children, Bones surprises her. But will the fiercely loyal biker stick around when Sarah’s worst secret is revealed, or will he shed his skin, too?

Review

Every time a new book in this series comes out I need to reiterate the fact that this is my favorite series of Melissa Foster.  The Whiskeys series is more real, more raw, more emotional, more believable.  There is only so much “rich people issues” and maded up problems before it becomes ridiculous.  Give me real life issues with real life situations that people I would know would experience.  That is where you find the real hope in these books and the real HEA.

Sarah has had a rough life.  She has two small children and one on the way.  She’s just trying to survive.  Due to a series of events, she and her children end up being “adopted” by the Whiskeys.  Bones Whiskey has his eyes on her and the kids from the beginning and is their fiercest protector.  He is sexy and sweet; he’s patient and understanding; he’s steadfast and oh so swoony!  But what will have you falling head over heels for him is his interactions with the kids.  My ovaries exploded multiple times in this book.  That alone is enough to read this book, but add in the sexy times, the steaminess, the sweetness and you get a must read book.

For more hot Whiskey love, check out Melissa’s other Whiskey novels.

TRU BLUE

TRULY MADLY WHISKEY

DRIVING WHISKEY WILD

And don’t miss RIVER OF LOVE, the first story in which the Whiskeys were introduced!

The Whiskeys are perfect beach reads with depth of story, strong family ties, and a wealth of emotions. Small town love stories with happily ever afters guaranteed.

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About Melissa Foster:

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women’s fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa’s fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented.

Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole.

Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website.

Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.

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New Release and Review: The Hero and the Hacktivist by Pippa Grant

Title: The Hero and the Hacktivist
Author: Pippa Grant
Genre: Sexy Romantic Comedy 
Release Date: November 9, 2018
Blurb
A SEAL / Best Friend’s Brother / Robin Hood in Cyberspace Romantic Comedy
For anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of an unsolicited dick pic…
He has the muscles of Adonis, an ego bigger than the sun, and a very clear desire to get back in my pants. Which would be fantastic if he weren’t a SEAL and I wasn’t a criminal.
Although, I prefer the term avenger.
I’m a hacktivist, cleaning up the cesspool of cyberspace one scam artist and troll at a time, and I sometimes bend a few rules to get justice done.
He’s a military man with abs of glory, sworn to uphold the letter of the law no matter its shortcomings. And if he’d known who—or what—I was, I doubt he would’ve banged me at my best friend’s wedding reception.
Or come back for more.
Which is why he’s now the only thing standing between me and one very pissed off internet troll who’s figured out where I live.
I’m pretty sure he’ll get me out of this alive—and quite satisfied, thank you very much—but I’m also pretty sure this mission will end with me in handcuffs.
And not the good kind of handcuffs.
The Hero and the Hacktivist is a romping fun romance between a SEAL and a twisted hacker by day, drummer by night, complete with epic klutziness, terrible leg warmers, and an even worse phone virus gone wrong. This romantic comedy stands alone with no cheating or cliffhangers and ends with a fabulously fun happily ever after.
Review

I say this with every review of a Pippa Grant book, but it bears repeating as often as possible.  You NEED this author in your life.  If you read as much as I do, especially in this genre, I’m sure you’ve noticed that sometimes you feel like you are reading the same book over and over.  Well, Pippa Grant is a breath of fresh air when it comes to romantic comedy.  Her sense of humor and imagination amaze me every time.  I want to be friends with her in person just to experience it.

In this book you get to know Rhett and Eloise.  We’ve met both of them in previous books.  Don’t let this discourage you.  This is a true standalone.  We may have seen more of Eloise in previous books, but we know very little about her until this one.  This book is quirky, ridiculous, and hilarious.  It is laugh out loud funny.  It’s also sexy and steamy.  Even though the situations may seem crazy, there is a heartwarming story of friendship, acceptance, trust, and letting others love you.  This couple is perfect for each other.  Their banter and antics are amusing, and their chemistry is hot.  This is a pee-in-your-pants funny, feel good book.  Read this book!  Read this author!

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Author Bio

Pippa Grant is a stay-at-home mom and housewife who loves to escape into sexy, funny stories way more than she likes perpetually cleaning toothpaste out of sinks and off toilet handles. When she’s not reading, writing, sleeping, or trying to prepare her adorable demon spawn to be productive members of society, she’s fantasizing about chocolate chip cookies.



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New Release and Review: Erik by Sawyer Bennett

Erik: An Arizona Vengeance Novel
Sawyer Bennett
Release Date: November 5, 2018

Synopsis:

The Arizona Vengeance are developing a reputation on the ice as one of hockey’s top teams. But one player’s reputation off the ice might just keep him from scoring. . . .

I’m having the time of my life with my new brothers on the Arizona Vengeance. We may be an expansion team, but after notching some big wins, the entire league knows to watch out for Erik Dahlbeck. That’s me.

The only person who doesn’t seem to think I’m so great? Blue Gardner, the hot-as-f*** flight attendant on our team plane. I sure wouldn’t mind joining the mile-high club with her, but besides bringing me lukewarm coffee, she won’t give me the time of day. Whatever I did to rub Blue the wrong way, my teammates think it’s hilarious. After all, we’re used to women flocking to us. #puckbunnies

When I run into Blue back on land, I’m shocked to learn how she spends her time off: taking care of her handicapped brother. There are layers to this girl I never imagined, layers I can’t wait to peel away. And that’s a new feeling for me.

But first I’ve got to find a way to melt that ice-cold stare. Because as much as I try to pretend I don’t care what Blue thinks of me, how can you not care when you’re falling for someone?

The Arizona Vengeance will continue in 2019! CLICK HERE to see the whole series, including preorder links and the brand spanking new cover for Dax (Book #4).

Review:

This is the next installment of the Arizona Vengeance series.  In this book we get to learn about Erik and Blue, both of which made appearances in Bishop.  If you are a fan of Sawyer Bennett then you will not be disappointed.  This book contains everything you love about her and her hockey teams.  If you’ve never read her, then just know that you don’t get much better than her when it comes to sexy hockey players.  I love reading about Erik’s story but I also love that we are getting to learn about all the other players on this hockey team.  I cannot wait for some of their books to come out.

Erik is sexy, sweet, and so swoon-worthy.  He’s been a playboy, but is smitten when the right woman comes along.  There are little gestures in this book that will just have you melting for him.  Blue is trying to juggle responsibilities while trying to right self-perceived wrongs of her past.  She is hesitant on letting Erik in, but he is very persistent.  I love how Erik accepts and embraces both Blue and her brother.

This is an easy and quick read.  There is humor and some tender moments.  It is definitely a sexy book, but it is also one that will just make you feel good.  It is definitely a must read.

 

Purchase Erik:

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About the Author:

Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released multiple books, many of which have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.

A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.

Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active daughter, as well as full-time servant to her adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or even better, both.

Sawyer also writes general and women’s fiction under the pen name S. Bennett and sweet romance under the name Juliette Poe.

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New Release and Review: For Today by B. Cranford

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First comes love. Then comes marriage.
And after that? It doesn’t matter.
As long as they’re together.

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Title: For Today
Series: The Avenue #3
Author: B. Cranford
Release Date: October 29, 2018

Blurb

Seventeen Years Ago. The first time Aaron Andrews saw Simon Foster smile, he knew he was in trouble. He’d never seen anything—or anyone—like the man who’d stolen his favorite seat in his favorite coffee shop.

Six Weeks Ago. The late-night phone call that changed their lives forever was short. Four little words was all it took to set them on a different path—one that included new toys (not that kind), a dose of homophobia (been there), and an appreciation for spandex (though they always appreciated it . . .)

Today. That’s what Aaron and Simon are focused on as they try to plan the best birthday in the history of ever, all for the little boy who has quickly become their world. Even if that means dealing with too-tight costumes, a cape that won’t behave, a meddlesome family . . .

. . . and a past that won’t stay there.

Review (1)

I don’t normally read M/M, but I desperately wanted Aaron and Simon’s story from reading the other books in this series.  This book is everything and more than what I hoped it would be.  The book spans 20 years of their relationship, and what a beautiful journey it is.  This is such a beautiful story of meeting your soul mate and standing beside him through all of life’s ups and downs.  It’s a story of being and accepting who you are.  It’s a story of love, friendship, and family.

In this book you will get a range of emotions.  You’ll laugh at the innuendos, cry at many heart-wrenching and heart-warming  moments, get angry on both Simon’s and Aaron’s behalf, want to hug both of them at their heartbreaks.  Most of all throughout the book you will feel the love, the love of family and the love of a true partner.  Not only will Aaron and Simon give you couple goals, all of the siblings and significant others will give you family goals.  All families should love and accept one another as these siblings.  If you want a beautiful, captivating story about the strong bond of everyday love, then definitely get this book.

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Excerpt

“Are you okay?” Simon asked, reaching over the table and resting a hand on Aaron’s. The contact was literally electric, a shock jolting the visual clear, and Aaron nodded fervently.

“Yeah, sorry, I, ahh . . .” Shit. He trailed off unsure what to say.

“Was it because I said I was glad you were nervous? I only said that because I am too, and didn’t want to be all nervy alone.”

“No, no, I got that. No problem.” He shrugged, feeling like his arms were no longer under his control. “I was thinking about your smile,” he offered his date, wanting to give the man the truth but maybe not the whole truth.

Which was surprising, considering that he was usually all about the overshare.

“In a good way, right? Not in a creepy way?” Simon asked with mock fear on his face, and joined Aaron when he began laughing.

“What, like the Joker?” Aaron asked, thinking of the gruesome, stretched smile of Batman’s foe. “Why so serious, Simon?”

“Well, this night took a turn.”

“Yeah, that’s probably something you should know about me,” Aaron admitted, grimacing a little.

“What do you mean?”

“You might have noticed that, ahh, I have a tendency to, umm, you know, sort of, redirect conversations.”

“To killer clown smiles?”

“Honestly, it’s usually to sex. Or sex-adjacent.”

“Sex-adjacent?” Simon tilted his head with the question, clearly trying to figure out what he was talking about.

“Yeah, like sex jokes. Sex positions. Sex stories.” He tapped the front of his forehead. “I have a dirty mind.”

“I hope you’re not afraid to use it,” Simon countered, making it clear that the idea of Aaron’s dirty mind was not a problem in the slightest.

“I’m usually not. With you, though . . .” He trailed off again, taking a deep breath and committing to what his mind was trying to get his mouth to admit. “With you, I find myself wanting to say different things, in the hopes I won’t scare you off.”

“It takes more than a dirty mind to scare me off someone I like.”

“Such as?”

“Any kind of lair is probably questionable. I mean, no one ever has a good lair; it’s always an evil one. People who hate puppies and like bell peppers are also on the no list.”

“Wait, that’s kind of specific. Hate puppies and like bell peppers? Like, if I hate both, or like both, I’m okay?”

“Huh?”

“What if I love puppies, but also like bell peppers? Does that make me a no? I could learn to hate bell peppers for you.” Aaron opened his eyes with what he hoped was earnestness. Feigned earnestness, though, because he really didn’t like bell peppers.

“Well, if you’re willing to train yourself away from the vegetable that shall not be named—”

“The Voldemort of the vegetable drawer?” Aaron interrupted.

“Yes, exactly. So, if you’re going to commit to hating them, we might be okay.”

Aaron wiped pretend sweat away from his forehead and laughed. “Crisis averted.”

Series

Also Available in The Avenue Series

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#1 About Time

“Such an amazing, beautiful story that captivated us from the very first page. B. Cranford delivered wit, pull-at-your-heart-strings emotions, hot and steamy moments and all the swoony feels. We absolutely adored Ashton and Duncan’s story!”—New York Times Selling Author, Max Monroe

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#2 Because Forever

“I cannot recommend this book enough! Beth does friends-to-lovers in a story filled with so much humor, warmth, reality, and gorgeous true-to-life relationships. Two best friends, a passionate love, an electric, snarky chemistry, and a family that loves and supports each other. Just…..FEELINGS.”—Kathryn Nolan, Author of Strictly Professional

Bio

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B. Cranford is a proud Australian living in the USA, a lover of books, breadsticks and bed, and the mother of two children who are far too similar to their father for her liking. A lifelong reader, she dove into the romance genre on the recommendation of her best friend and hasn’t looked back since. Her debut novel, The Brightest Star, a second chance romance with (she hopes) heart and humor was released on July 13, 2017, which just so happened to be her birthday. Because if you release a book on your birthday, you get twice as much cake, and that can only be a good thing.

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New Release and Review: Genealogy by Mae Wood

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How long would you wait for love?

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Title: Genealogy
Author: Mae Wood
Publisher: Atacama Books
Genre: Romance/Women’s Fiction
Release Date: October 25, 2018

Blurb

Inspired by real, hundred-year-old love letters.

My great-grandmother’s name is bold across the cream envelope, now golden at the seams with age. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen graceful, purposeful handwriting with a fountain pen and not the hasty scrawl of ballpoint.

Alice Hirshhorn, Astoria Hotel, Seattle Washington.

“Letters to Great-grandma Alice,” I say with wonder, tracing my fingers over the faded postmark and foreign stamps.

December 1915. Philippine Islands.

I turn the thick envelope in my palm, slide out the tightly folded pages, and unfold the thin paper, taking care not to tear the letters that were important enough to keep for a century.

My dearest Alice

“Great-grandpa was in the Philippines?” I ask.

“Oh no. Not your great-grandfather,” answers Grammie, her eyes twinkling with her mother’s secrets. “Elliott.”

~~~

At thirty-three and with her future unclear, Ali Waller finds her way home again. A box of long-forgotten love letters written to her great-grandmother holds the unlikely key to Ali finding her new path.

As she tracks down the letter writer and his descendants, Ali learns the magic of love, hope, and resilience.

Told by three characters, and across century and an ocean, Genealogy is an enchanting story about love and loss, taking chances, and embracing the surprises that life brings.

Review (3)

This book is such a beautiful story.  It will take you on a heart-melting and heart-wrenching journey that spans 100 years.  This book is sweet and emotional.  It’s about learning about yourself through your past and learning to live through life’s drastic turns.  It’s about finding love through 100-year-old letters and “letters” of today.

This book is a complete standalone.  It’s also a clean and sweet book.  You won’t have any sexy times, but this book doesn’t need it to captivate you.  It’s sweet, romantic, and an epic love story.  This is the perfect book to share with book clubs, friends, family, everyone.  If you are looking for something different, something that give you hope and teaches you about love and the unpredictability of life, then this book is a must read.  After reading this book I wish I could find some beautiful letters from an ancestor and take a journey in the past.  This story is one to savor.

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Excerpt

Present day – August – Ali

She didn’t want to move, and I didn’t want her to move either. But we were doing it, together. Sifting and sorting. Shredding and donating. Culling a lifetime into piles to be packed and placed into boxes. The lucky things would end up in my grandmother’s new six-hundred-twenty-three square foot assisted-living apartment. The not-so-lucky would end up on a curb.

“These linens,” she said, pointing to the bottom drawer of the sideboard in her formal dining room. “You need them.”

“Grammie, I don’t even have a dining room table,” I said, trucking along in our project to conquer the contents of at least one room this weekend.

“You had one before and you’ll have one again. And these are Irish linen.”

I thought of my tiny kitchen table, covered in discarded mail and unread magazines, not draped in substantial creamy white. She knew I didn’t have the space. I made space for the vintage black satin peep-toe pumps of hers from the fifties and had placed those in the “Ali” pile with a smile, but linens were a different story. The tablecloths were huge. For a table big enough to seat a dozen guests.

“They were Alice’s,” she said.

The trump card played, I bent and pulled them from the low drawer. I was Alice’s namesake, but I’d always gone by Ali because Alice felt formal and traditional, two words that didn’t fit me. She was the great-grandmother who I’d never met, who died a decade before I was born, but whose existence was never far from my mind. “Ali. A-L-I,” I’d explained a million times over my life. “It’s short for Alice. I’m named for my great-grandmother.”

“Well, one good thing is that your monograms match.”

I fingered the tiny beverage napkins, trimmed in hand-tatted lace and embroidered with ALW.

ALW—I smiled. Alice Lenore Wertheimer. Alice Lenora Waller. I was flirting with becoming Alice Waller Sayer, but I was solidly myself at the moment.

“Did she embroider these?” I asked, the old fabric stiff and smooth to the touch.

“I don’t know. I don’t remember my mother doing any needlework, but I suppose all women did back then.”

“True,” I said, flattening out the material with my palm and tugging out a crease. I dragged yet another plastic bin over and began piling the linens in, amazed that they had survived the years.

“The story on one of those tablecloths is that it was a wedding present from some member of the Denny family.”

Ah, an old Seattle story. I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I got one. My ancestors were early settlers of the city and my grandmother carried the banner of native Seattleite proudly, looking down her pioneer nose at the Microsofties and the Californians who had invaded her precious land. And though she’d moved to Kansas City with my grandfather nearly fifty years ago, the city was in her DNA.

I half-listened to her prattle on about some trip to Japan to obtain plants and animals for the Woodland Park Zoo as I examined the linens and placed them in the plastic storage tub.

“Okay,” I said, looking around the room, the sideboard now empty. Something accomplished today, and it made me feel good to have one of the many small tasks that it would take to empty this big house done. I looked at my watch. “I have to leave at three to head back to the hospital, so what can we get done in an hour?”

“One drawer to go,” she said from the dining chair where she’d settled in while I’d knelt in front of the sideboard. “The bottom one.”

Her words made my chest ache but also soothed them. I hated that she was getting confused more often. It reminded me that one day Grammie would be gone, but it also convinced me that we were making the right decision to move her. No more worry about her alone in this big house.

“All done,” I said, pointing to my tub of linens.

“The bottom-bottom one, Ali. The apron is a drawer.”

“I didn’t know that,” I said, feeling sheepish that I’d thought she had been confused. “A secret drawer?”

“That’s the point,” she said. The sideboard had been in this house my entire life and I’d never known that. I tilted my head to look at the piece, not quite believing her. “It’s where your grandpa kept his favorite pistol.”

“Still there?” I said with a smile, reaching down under the lip of the cabinet.

“Well, maybe. It’s been a long time since I dug around in that thing.”

“I’m going to change your name to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” I said, giving the concealed drawer a tug. It didn’t budge. Maybe she was confused after all. “Or Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. But only if we find a Degas or pirate gold.”

“It was a statue of an angel. Leonardo da Vinci,” she corrected me. In and out. Touch and go. Here and there. I was never sure where a conversation would lead us, and based upon the swelling in her extremities, I wasn’t sure today was going to be a good day for coherent conversation. It wasn’t her head so much as her heart that was slowly killing her by refusing to pump. She needed access to round the clock medical care now, not just sitters and family at the house, and we were making that happen although no one was happy about it.

“Oh, that’s right,” I replied, the memories flooding back of the story of a headstrong girl and her younger brother running away to the Met. “What I really remember about that book was them taking a bath in the fountain.” My grandmother and I were very close. The afternoons of my childhood had been spent at her house with my brother and sister. And while my parents were at work, Grammie showered us with troves of books. She was a children’s librarian. Or she had been until she’d gotten married. Because, as she’d explained a million times to me over the years, in those days nice women didn’t work outside the home after they were married, and so she’d retreated to a life of children and tennis and dinner parties.

I gave the drawer another tug and it budged a few inches, but it didn’t slide open.

“Oh, and the sideboard is yours too. No argument. It was—”

“Alice’s?” I guessed as I wiggled the drawer open to find not pieces of eight or a sketch of a ballerina, but more table linens.

“No, her mother’s. You’ll be the fifth generation of women in our family to own it.”
I looked at the dark, heavy Victorian behemoth with new eyes, knowing it was going home with me. And knowing I had nowhere in my tiny, Ikea-furnished apartment to put it, but I spoke the truth: “Thank you. I’ll be a good caretaker.”

“I know you will, sweet pea.”

I looked down at the linens, focusing on the task rather than the meaning of the work I was doing, filling the plastic bin with more ancient fabric than I’d ever begin to use. Under the last tablecloth, I found a small, flat box. The pistol? I recognized the foil-stamped logo. Frederick & Nelson, the grand Seattle department store that now only existed on Grammie’s bad days when she’d ask me or someone else to take her there for lunch.

“Grandpa’s gun?” I asked, setting the box into my lap as I sat on the floor. I lifted the lid.

“Papers,” I said, a little weary at the prospect of spending the last bit of time before I had to leave focused on her reading each paper carefully before deciding whether she could part with it.

My grandmother was a pack rat. I’d recently dropped off two decades of yellow-spined National Geographics at the recycling center and her garage was still stuffed to the gills with boxes of papers. I’d had visions of a huge bonfire while she was at a doctor’s appointment just to speed up the process.

The box resting in my cross-legged lap, I riffled through the contents. “Letters,” I said, pulling one out. At least it wasn’t receipts from the nineteen sixties, though the hospital bill from my mom’s appendicitis at age eight had been a gem. The total bill was a few hundred dollars and Mom had spent three days in a children’s ward. Most of my patients were sent home by the end of the day with a bill in the thousands.

The cream envelope was golden at the seams, the clean, cursive writing enchanting. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen graceful, purposeful handwriting with a fountain pen and not just a hasty scrawl of ballpoint on a scratch pad.

Alice Hirshhorn, the letter’s front proclaimed.

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Bio

Professional sassypants and novelist, Mae Wood has been a bookworm her entire life.

She loves cheeses, complicated crafts that she’ll start but never complete, and puns.

A while ago Mae decided that she needed to give up the fear that she couldn’t write “great literature” and write what she wants to read.

And she wants romance. And laughter. And real life.

She wants heroines who are brave. Brave enough to be themselves and brave enough to fall in love. She wants men who are strong and kind.

Mae is married, and has two darling children and an old dog who naps at her feet while she writes.

Keep in touch with Mae and find bonus content at her website — www.maewood.com

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