Blog Tour: For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes

Thank you to Carina Press for providing all info and graphics for this post.

For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes is available in eBook and trade paperback on August 31st!

An Entertainment Weekly Best Romance of Summer 2021!

“This book gave me every last one of the Intense Romance Feelings I crave.” —New York Times bestselling author Talia Hibbert

April French doesn’t do relationships and she never asks for more.

A long-standing regular at kink club Frankie’s, she’s kind of seen it all. As a trans woman, she’s used to being the scenic rest stop for others on their way to a happily-ever-after. She knows how desire works, and she keeps hers carefully boxed up to take out on weekends only.

After all, you can’t be let down if you never ask.

Then Dennis Martin walks into Frankie’s, fresh from Seattle and looking a little lost. April just meant to be friendly, but one flirtatious drink turns into one hot night.

When Dennis asks for her number, she gives it to him.

When he asks for her trust, well…that’s a little harder.

And when the desire she thought she had such a firm grip on comes alive with Dennis, April finds herself wanting passion, purpose and commitment.

But when their relationship moves from complicated to impossible, April will have to decide how much she’s willing to want.

Add For the Love of April French to your Goodreads!

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About the Author

Penny Aimes is a trans woman writing contemporary romance about trans women and other people who don’t always find themselves in romance novels.

She was assigned Hoosier at birth but has lived on the east coast and in China before landing in Austin, Texas. She lives in the heart of the music district with her wife and a very small bird with a very loud voice.

Connect with Penny Aimes

Website: https://www.pennyaimes.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/campkilkare 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20930040.Penny_Aimes 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Penny-Aimes/e/B08T6MN8WK 

Excerpt

Read on for an excerpt from For the Love of April French

April French was having what she considered to be a good night. She was lonely and she was horny, but the lovely thing about Frankie’s, even on a Wednesday, was that she was probably not the only one. And the welcome wagon gambit was working. New doms always responded well to a little attention. She wondered how many of the hookups in her limited sexual history it accounted for—post-transition, of course. Her sexual history pre-transition was not only limited but singular.

On second thought, that was a depressing thing to contemplate. She decided to steer her mind back to the present, because her present was damn good-looking. He was Black, looked to be about her age, dark-skinned and tall, with narrow hips and shoulders that were probably narrower than hers, too.

There were clear hints of lean muscle under his suit, and the suit looked expensive. She didn’t really care about the name brand, but she had to admit the cost was reflected in how well it draped his body. He had short-cropped, wiry hair and that sexy kind of two-day stubble thing happening. A reassuring bass voice and an unreadable calm that made his face a handsome mask. The tightly wound dominants were almost always the most fun to see come unraveled with desire.

“So. You can flirt,” she said, trying to keep her voice even despite the smile tugging the corners of her mouth. It wouldn’t do to tip her hand just yet about how attractive he was. “And you wear nice suits. What else should I know about you?”

“Well, I just moved here,” he said. “Which you also knew. My name is Dennis. I came here from Seattle.”

She nodded, as Aerith set down a new Painkiller in front of her. “I’m April. Grow up out there?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “Illinois, actually. Little tiny town.”

“Oh hey,” she said, her smile shifting to be a little less flirtatious and a lot more genuine. It was always a treat to meet someone from the same basic context; someone she could count on to get it. Not that she expected to spend much time talking about growing up in the Midwest, but it was still a nice bonus. “Ohio. I went to school out East, though, and worked there for a while.”

He laughed. “So a lot like me, but in the opposite direction. UC Santa Barbara.”

She bobbed her head. “Wesleyan.”

They exchanged graduation years; she guessed he was probably thirty-five or thirty-four to her thirty-two. “What took you out there?” he asked.

“It was as far away as I could get without driving into the 

ocean,” she said with a laugh. “And they had good financial aid. You?”

“About the same, about the same. Lots of loans, in the end.” She nodded as he went on. “While I was getting my masters, a couple of my friends got a start-up going and brought me in, and we headed up the coast to Seattle.”

“Ooh,” she said. “A techie. I should’ve known.”

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“Well, most of the folks who come here from the West Coast are,” she said. Especially the ones who could afford that suit.

“You’re right, anyway. I was the support team, not the talent, though. My degree’s in technology management.” He sipped. “Start-up life isn’t for the long haul, so I came here to take a job as CTO for a small firm. What about you?” he asked.

She fidgeted with the little straw in her drink, then drew it out. Chomped a cherry deliberately. “Poli-sci major. I don’t use it, though.”

“Hm.” His eyes watched her mouth. Good. “So weird, isn’t Austin where they have that political particle accelerator?”

He was smirking at his pun, and she snorted. “Queeons and Kingons?” At his blank expression, she added, “You don’t read Terry Pratchett, do you?”

He shook his head. “No, I was just teasing.”

Her smile snatched at the corners of her mouth again. “Teasing’s okay.” She was fighting herself not to relax fully into the moment, to keep up her boundaries until they crossed the preliminary hurdles. This might not be anything, yet. But he was cute, and he was funny, and he was—so far—gentle. She thought she could really like this guy. She knew she liked the way his eyes settled on her, the weight his gaze seemed to have.

Buy For the Love of April French by Penny Aimeshttps://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335630995_for-the-love-of-april-french.html

Carina Adores is home to highly romantic contemporary love stories featuring beloved romance tropes, where LGBTQ+ characters find their happily-ever-afters. 

Discover a new Carina Adores book every month!

  • Sailor Proof by Annabeth Albert (coming September 28)
  • Meet Me in Madrid by Verity Lowell (coming October 26)
  • The Life Revamp by Kris Ripper (coming November 30)
  • If You Love Something by Jayce Ellis (coming December 28)
  • D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins (coming January 25)

~Cassie

WWW Wednesday 8.25.21

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and all you need to do to participate is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What have you recently finished?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I meant to have Where I Left Her finished yesterday but this week has been even busier than I was anticipating so I’m getting behind in blog related things. I am so close to being done with it though and I have been hooked on this book since the first chapter. It is a true thriller and after the last book that I read I am really enjoying the pace and constant reveal of information. I will finish this tonight but because we are going out of town tomorrow because my little one is getting another laser treatment on his birthmark I won’t be able to post my review until next week.

I still never got around to finishing Dark Notes and I think I’m 80% done. I plan on reading this in the waiting room Friday so I might finish it or at least come close enough that I can finish it over the weekend. Since I’m not that invested in this romance and it got to the final dramatic moments I kind of lost interest. This will probably be a two star read unless the ending blows me away.

I started reading Nine Perfect Strangers this weekend and I’ve made it to page 173. I’m hoping that I read far enough to cover all of episode 1 of the show which premiered on Hulu today. I think the first four episodes got released today and I definitely didn’t read far enough to cover all of them. But since we are going out of town for a few days maybe I will get some good progress in.

What have you recently finished?

I will have my review up next week for The Guilt Trip. This was a two star read for me and the writing and the narrator of the audiobook are the only reason I made it all the way through.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg

What do you think you’ll read next?

This is another Netgalley book that I meant to read last year and didn’t.

A page-turning novel of suspense about the perfect family, and the perfect lies, by the bestselling author of When I’m Gone and The Waiting Room.

Adopted by her controlling foster mother at the age of eight, twenty-year-old Tara has seen little of the outside world. Lonely, punished for the slightest offense, her only distraction comes from watching the Feely family’s online videos. They’re an affectionate vlogging quintet and an internet sensation. Most important, they are Tara’s mental refuge. Then the opportunity arises for them to be something more. When Tara accepts an internship with the close-knit clan, they’re her escape.

Daring to run away, and defying Mother’s rules, Tara is welcomed into the loving fold. But the more Tara gets to know them, the more she realizes that not everything is as it seems. As secrets slowly surface, the image of the perfect family begins to crack. For Tara, it’s another trap.

To claim a life of her own, she’ll need a new escape plan. Because as the show’s popularity explodes, reaching even more fascinated viewers, Tara can’t shake the feeling that Mother is among their ranks. She’s watching. She’s waiting. She’ll never let her go.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Where I Left Her by Amber Garza

Harlequin Trade Publishing provided me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. My review will be up next week. They also kindly provided all info and graphics.

WHERE I LEFT HER

Author: Amber Garza

ISBN: 9780778332060

Publication Date: August 24, 2021

Publisher: MIRA Books

Book Summary:

From the author of WHEN I WAS YOU comes a spine-tingling new thriller about a mother’s worst nightmare come true, when she goes to pick up her daughter from a sleepover, and she’s nowhere to be found.

Whitney had some misgivings when she dropped her increasingly moody teenage daughter off for a sleepover last night. She’s never met the friend’s parents, and usually she’d go in, but Amelia clearly wasn’t going to let something so humiliating happen, so instead she waved to her daughter before pulling away from the cute little house with the rosebushes in front.

But when she goes back to get her, an elderly couple answers the door–Amelia and her friend are nowhere to be found, and this couple swears she’s at the wrong house. As Whitney searches for Amelia, she uncovers a trail of secrets and lies her daughter has told her–from Finsta accounts to rumors of a secret relationship. Does she really even know this girl she’s raised, and can she find her before it’s too late?

Author Bio: 
Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @ambermg1

Instagram: @AmberGarzaAuthor

Facebook: @AmberGarzaAuthor

Goodreads

Excerpt

1

FRIDAY, 5:00 P.M.

DROP-OFF

WHITNEY WANTED TO get rid of her daughter.

How awful is that?

Not forever, of course, but for the night. She was weary of the sixteen-year-old attitude. The rolling of eyes, stomping of feet, the judging glances and biting remarks.

That’s why she wasn’t paying as much attention as she should’ve been when dropping Amelia off at Lauren’s. Her mind was back in their apartment, her butt planted on the couch, bare feet propped on the table, a pint of ice cream in her lap.

“The destination is on your right.” She turned the steering wheel, following the instructions given by the disembodied voice of the GPS in her daughter’s phone. Amelia held it up, giving the illusion that her palm was talking. The house in front of them was nondescript. A tract home, painted tan with beige trim, a cream door, two large windows overlooking the narrow front walkway. The only thing that set it apart from the others was the row of rosebushes lining the left perimeter of the yard, scarlet red petals and thorny, jagged stems.

Whitney pulled her car over, tires hugging the curb.

Amelia hopped out the minute her mother’s foot pressed down on the brakes, as if she was desperate to be free of her.

“You sure this is her house?” Whitney asked.

Amelia shrugged, glancing down at her phone and then back up. “This is the address she gave me.” Her tone was impatient, irritated. That’s how she’d been lately. Distant and moody. Everything her mom said and did annoyed her.

Originally, she’d planned to walk Amelia up to the front door and meet Lauren’s mom. But on the way over here, Amelia had begged her not to do that, pointing out that she was no longer a little girl.

As much as Whitney hated to admit it, she could see her point. Amelia was sixteen. As soon as she finished her driver’s training and passed her test, she’d be driving on her own and then Whitney wouldn’t even have the option of dropping her off at her friend’s. It was time she learned to let go, loosen the death grip a little.

Instead of following her daughter, Whitney stayed inside the car, watching through the smudged glass of the passenger-side window. Amelia’s dark hair swished down her spine as she sped to the front door. When she reached it, she readjusted the blue overnight bag that was secured on her shoulder while lifting her other hand to knock.

Lauren appeared in the doorway, flashing a smile at Amelia. She wore a pink headband that made her look much younger than seventeen. Amelia peered over her shoulder before stepping forward, her lips curling at the corners as she threw her mom another wave. It was the largest grin Whitney had gotten in days, and she welcomed it, grabbed hold of it and then gave it back.

After watching them both disappear inside, Whitney pulled away from the curb. Without even looking in the rearview mirror, she sped toward her night of freedom, dreaming of a couch to herself and a movie Amelia couldn’t make fun of.

SATURDAY, 10:00 A.M.

SEVENTEEN HOURS AFTER DROP-OFF

Whitney had been up for hours, and still hadn’t heard from Amelia. Last night was restful. Quiet. Peaceful. All the things Whitney had wanted it to be. Much needed. But this morning she was suffering from a serious case of mom guilt. She missed her daughter. Was anxious for her to come home, attitude and all. Unlocking her phone, she shot her a quick text: Ready for me to pick you up?

Even after several minutes, no response came. Not that she was shocked. When Amelia had friends over, they stayed up all night giggling and talking. No matter how many times Whitney would remind them to keep it down, within minutes their muffled voices would return, drifting through the adjoining bedroom wall. Most likely, she’d done the same at Lauren’s and they were both still asleep.

The house smelled like Saturday morning—coffee, creamer, maple syrup.

French toast had been a weekend tradition for years. When Amelia was little, she’d wake up early and bound into her mom’s bedroom, eager for breakfast. But lately it seemed Whitney ate alone more often than not. Even when Amelia was home, there was no guarantee she’d join her. Amelia lived in her room, earbuds perpetually plugged in her ears, as if she’d grown another extremity. Still, Whitney couldn’t bring herself to stop the tradition altogether. The French toast would get eaten, even if it took a couple of days. Whitney didn’t mind leftovers, anyway. Not that she had many this morning. She’d gone for an extra-long jog and had been ravenous.

After cleaning up the kitchen, Whitney went back into her phone and clicked on the Snapchat app. Amelia may have been quiet around the house lately, but she had no problem sharing her life with the rest of the world. Whitney expected to be greeted by smiling selfies of her and Lauren, maybe some photos of the food they were eating, proof to all the other teenagers on social media that they were having a blast on their Friday night together. But nothing had been posted on her story in the last twenty-four hours.

With slick fingertips, Whitney closed out of Snapchat and checked Instagram. Nothing there either. A chill brushed over her neck, causing the hairs to stand on end. She shook the feeling away with an abrupt jerk of her head. Whitney had always been like this. Anxious. A worrier, especially when it came to Amelia. Perpetually thinking the worst. Amelia hated it. So had her ex-husband. It was one of the many things they fought about. And it was probably one of many reasons why Dan had ended up marrying that sunny, smiling, high-pitched preschool teacher. If Whitney had to take a guess, she’d say there were no skeletons in Miss Karen’s closet. No past indiscretions she was afraid of coming to light. No monsters from her past lurking around the corner.

No secret buried inside, so deep the roots had become invisible.

When Dan married Karen, Whitney remembered thinking how he had succeeded in finding someone completely opposite from her, just like he said he would. It didn’t take him long either. He’d met Karen less than a year after they’d split up. He and Karen were friends for a while, and then dated for several years before marrying.

That was how he always defended it.

We were friends first.

We took it slow.

But that was never the point. He should have made Amelia his priority. Whitney hadn’t dated at all while Amelia was growing up—she’d only started within the last couple of years. Once Amelia hit high school and started having a life of her own, Whitney figured it was time she did too.

Leaning against the counter, she stared out the kitchen window. There wasn’t a view. The window overlooked the apartment across the way. A man stood in his kitchen, his back to Whitney as he drank coffee. His build vaguely reminded Whitney of Jay, and it made her smile.

Going into her last text thread with him, she typed, I miss you.

Then she bit her lip. Too forward? Too soon?

They’d been dating for a couple of months, and he’d only been on an overnight business trip. He was returning later today. She didn’t want to come on too strong.

Backspace. Delete. She tried again: Hope your trip was good.

Too formal?

Whitney paused, thinking.

Why am I making this so hard?

She really liked Jay. That was the problem. He was the first guy in a long time she felt hopeful about. Usually by month two of dating someone, the red flags popped up and her interest waned. That hadn’t happened yet with Jay.

Turns out, she didn’t need to stress over what to text. Jay beat her to it.

Boarding the plane now. Will call you when I’m back, he texted.

Sounds good, she responded.

It was 10:30. There were a million things on the agenda today and waiting around for Amelia wasn’t one of them.

After hitting the grocery store and Target, Whitney swung by Lauren’s, using the memory of how they’d gotten there yesterday as her guide. It was a little tricky, since she hadn’t paid enough attention to Amelia’s directions yesterday, but after a few minutes of circling the neighborhood, she came upon a familiar street and turned on it. A couple of houses in, she recognized the rosebushes.

It had been well over an hour since she’d sent the last text to Amelia. Although there hadn’t been any response yet, Whitney was sure she was up by now. Probably hoping to buy more time with her friend.

Whitney had gotten Amelia a bag of gummy worms. She pulled it out of one of the grocery bags. It crinkled as she set it on the passenger seat. Amelia probably wouldn’t even eat them. Certainly, they didn’t fit within the parameters of her latest diet, but, still, Whitney couldn’t resist. Whitney’s habit of picking up treats at the store had started back when Amelia was a toddler, when she’d surprised her with a bag of cookies one afternoon when picking her up from preschool. Whitney would never forget how wide Amelia’s eyes got, how broad her smile became as she clutched the little bag. A lot of things may have changed between them over the past few years, but Whitney didn’t want that to be one of them.

After getting out of the car, she slipped the key ring around her finger and walked up the front walkway, flip-flops slapping on the pavement. It was a warm, spring day. Kids played outside a few houses down. A lawnmower kicked on. A couple rode their bikes past, bright neon helmets bouncing up and down like beach balls bobbing in the waves. Amelia used to love to ride bikes. For a while, it had been a weekend tradition. Whitney couldn’t remember the last time they’d hit the trails together, but she made a note to ask her about it. Most likely her answer would be a big resounding no, coupled with the same cringey, horrified look she had whenever Whitney suggested they hang out. Still, it was worth a shot. Sometimes Amelia surprised her with a yes, reminding Whitney of the girl she used to be before the teenage monster took over.

When Whitney reached the door, she lifted her hand to knock the same way she’d watched Amelia do the day before. A minute passed and no one answered. That funny feeling returned, but she shoved it down, feeling silly.

She knocked again, this time so hard it stung her knuckles. The girls were probably listening to music or something. Or maybe they were in the backyard. It was a nice day. Ears perked, she listened for the sound of her daughter’s voice or of music playing inside. Hearing neither of those, she frowned.

Finally, Whitney caught the hint of footsteps inside.

The door creaked open, an older woman peering out, eyebrows raised. She looked to be in her late sixties, maybe early seventies.

Whitney was taken aback. She’d never met Lauren’s mom, but there was no way this was her. Maybe Lauren’s grandparents lived with them. Recently, Whitney had watched a news report about how the cost of living had gone up, causing multigenerational homes to become a growing trend. And Lauren had mentioned that her parents were divorced. Whitney knew firsthand how financially taxing it was to raise a child alone.

“Hi, I’m Whitney. Amelia’s mom.” Smiling, Whitney jutted out her hand.

But the elderly woman just stared at it, not saying a word. She glanced over her shoulder where a man around her same age stood. He furrowed his brows and stepped forward. Whitney’s body tensed.

Maybe she’s got dementia or Alzheimer’s or something. Whitney caught the old man’s eyes. “Hi, I’m Amelia’s mom. She spent the night here.”

“Nope. Not here.” Shaking his head, he came closer. “You must have the wrong house. They all kinda look the same in this neighborhood.”

Whitney glanced around. Hadn’t she thought the same thing yesterday? She must’ve turned down the wrong street or something.

Face warming, she backed away from the door. “I’m so sorry to have bothered you.”

“No bother at all,” the man said, and the woman offered a kind smile.

Whitney turned on her heels and made her way back to the car. She turned on the ignition and pulled away from the curb. The couple had already disappeared inside. Whitney drove to the main street and turned right. When she came up on another street, she turned onto it. The man was right. There were lots of houses that looked like theirs. She pulled up in front of one, scanning the yard.

Nope. No roses.

That’s what had set the other house apart. The one she dropped Amelia off at.

She moved farther down the street, carefully looking to the right and to the left, searching for a one-story house, roses lining the perimeter. Coming up empty, she swung the car around. Maybe her mistake had been turning right at the main street.

Backtracking, this time Whitney turned left.

This street was almost identical to the other two she’d just been down. Same tract homes. Manicured lawns. Shuttered windows. A sea of tan paint and beige trim. The odd red door or colorful lawn art. But, again, no roses. At least, not in the correct spot.

Turning onto another street, she finally found it. The simple house. The roses lining the side.

After parking in front, she leaped out and hurried to the front door. It was answered after only a couple of knocks.

She gasped, taking in the elderly man standing in the doorway. The same one she’d just spoken to a few moments ago.

Oh, my God.

She’d ended up right back where she’d started. As she backed away from the door, apologizing profusely, she took in the shuttered windows, the manicured lawn, the roses lining the perimeter of the yard. Peering back at her car, she envisioned Amelia in the front seat holding her phone, the voice of the GPS speaking in her palm.

There was almost no doubt in Whitney’s mind—this was where she’d left her.
Excerpted from Where I Left Her by Amber Garza, Copyright © 2021 by Amber Garza. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Buy Links: 

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Powell’s 

~Cassie

On My Radar: September 2021

I can’t believe that next month it will be Fall! And to help usher in Fall there are a ton of great new releases that I’m excited about. I love a variety of genres so these lists are always huge. Some of them I will be buying once they are released, some I will get through my library, a few I have review copies for and others I will just be keeping my eye out for when I’m out shopping. Although, next month I might be able to just fill up my Scribd list with a lot of these so we will see how that goes.

September 2

How well do you know the woman next door? 

When Stina and Jack move to an old rural cottage, they’re hoping for a fresh start. Their new home is run-down compared to their neighbour’s, but generous Mrs Barley quickly becomes a friend.  

Until Stina sees a mysterious figure in the widow’s garden, and her happy new life begins to unravel. And when she hears strange noises in the night, she is forced to question if Mrs Barley is what she seems. 

Why do the other villagers whisper about her? Why is she so eager to help the couple? And what is she hiding in her picture-perfect home? 

A haunting, twisty story about the power of secrets and rumours, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key and Lucy Atkins’s Magpie Lane

September 7

Two best friends say I do to living together, for better or worse, in this bold women’s fiction novel from Alexa Martin.

Jude Andrews is famous. Well, at least on Instagram. Her brand is clean eating, good vibes, Pilates, and casually looking like a sun-kissed goddess. In real life, however, she’s a total disaster. She has a strained relationship with her fame-hungry mom and her latest bad decision emptied out her entire savings account.

Lauren Turner had a plan: graduate medical school and become the top surgeon in the country. But when she became unexpectedly pregnant, those plans changed. And when her fiancé left her, they changed again. Now navigating the new world of coparenting, mom groups, and dating, she decides to launch a mommy podcast with all the advice she wishes someone had given her.

Jude and Lauren don’t have much in common, but maybe that’s why they’ve been best friends since the third grade. Through ups and downs, they’ve been by each other’s sides. But now? They’re broke, single, and do the only thing that makes sense–move in together, just like they talked about when they were teenagers. Except when they were younger, the plan didn’t include a five-year-old daughter and more baggage than their new townhouse can hold.

Beautiful World, Where Are You is a new novel by Sally Rooney, the bestselling author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Alice, a novelist, meets Felix, who works in a warehouse, and asks him if he’d like to travel to Rome with her. In Dublin, her best friend, Eileen, is getting over a break-up and slips back into flirting with Simon, a man she has known since childhood. Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon are still young—but life is catching up with them. They desire each other, they delude each other, they get together, they break apart. They have sex, they worry about sex, they worry about their friendships and the world they live in. Are they standing in the last lighted room before the darkness, bearing witness to something? Will they find a way to believe in a beautiful world?

*No synopsis since this is a sequel and I don’t want to spoil anything.

From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hands sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope: 

The Holy Grail.

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Nevernight Chronicle, Jay Kristoff, comes the first book of an astonishing illustrated dark fantasy saga.

Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a leggings-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.

Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.

When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.

Never Saw Me Coming is a compulsive, voice-driven thriller by an exciting new voice in fiction, that will keep you pinned to the page and rooting for a would-be killer.

Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one’s unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do?

London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted “just” three things in life:

1. Acclaim as an artist.
2. A noble cause.
3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman.

Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions….

When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.

But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything—as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.

In this relentlessly twisty literary thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight, a desperate intervention brings together a group of college friends 10 years after graduation—a reunion marked by lies, betrayal, and murder.

Everyone has those friends. Doesn’t matter how long it’s been, or how badly they’ve occasionally behaved, or how late it is when that call finally comes—you show up. No questions asked.

Honestly, that’s how the five of us ended up here in the Catskills. We did have the best of intentions. Especially after what happened to Alice all those years ago, we can’t bear to think of losing anyone else. In fact, we’ll do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ll go so much farther than we ever thought we would.  

In the end, maybe that’s what caught up with us. That, and the fact that we’re such a complicated group—so much history and so many big personalities. Secrets, too, that can slip out at the most inopportune moments. Of course, we love each other despite all of those things. We love each other no matter what.

There’s something so beautiful about that kind of unconditional love. It can turn ugly, though. Or maybe that’s just us. After all, we’ve already been through so much together. And we have so very much to hide. 

A teen girl disappears from her small town deep in the bayou, where magic festers beneath the surface of the swamp like water rot, in this chilling debut supernatural thriller for fans of Natasha Preston, Karen McManus, and Rory Power.

La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.

This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World–and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.

Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something – her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.

When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou – a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history – Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent–and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

Antiquarian bookseller Jenna Quinn sleuths again when a pair of glass bookends puts an end to a librarian’s life, in this second installment of Laura Gail Black’s cozy series. 

The quaint warehouse district of Hokes Folly, NC, is hopping despite the drizzly November chill. The occasion? The mountain town’s beloved antiquarian bookstore, Twice Upon a Time, is throwing a bash for its grand reopening. But bookseller Jenna Quinn’s peace of mind is shattered when the local library’s Director of Antique Books turns up dead in the parking lot–his head bashed in by a glittering pair of vintage glass bookends.

As they examine the murder scene, Jenna and her police detective boyfriend happen upon the only witness–the victim’s dog, who flees the scene leaving a trail of bloody footprints behind. If only dogs could speak, Jenna might be able to make quick work of the murder case and get back to stocking her bookcases.

Alas, finding the killer won’t be so easy, even though this is not Jenna’s first murder investigation–indeed, she inherited Twice Upon a Time from her slain uncle. The suspect list is voluminous–the late librarian had not-so-friendly run-ins with numerous guests–but suspicion eventually centers on three unsavory individuals who left the party shortly before the victim did.

Now, Jenna must edit her inventory of suspects from three names to one, before the bloodthirsty bookend-wielder becomes the author of Jenna’s demise.

September 8

My family gathers around the large oak table in our beautifully renovated home. I’ve put on a dress and lit candles, and there’s a wonderful aroma coming from the dinner you’ve so lovingly prepared. I feel your hand squeeze mine as you top up my glass and ask about my day as a doctor in our small town. It’s the perfect domestic scene, except for one tiny fact: I think my husband is dead, and you are just another patient of mine…

I had no choice but to let you in. If I laugh at your jokes and run my fingers through your hair, maybe I can delete the photos on your phone and find the truth about the night I can’t remember, just before my husband left on the trip he never returned from. Perhaps my son and I will have a chance at a normal life again.

But as I carefully piece together the shards of what really happened that fateful night, only one thing can possibly be true: everyone is lying, even me…

From May Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love–but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit–beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

September 13

She thought it was love.

Rose Romanov is a mafia princess, and everything that entails. Violently over-protective parents. A giant extended family, all ready to kill anyone who looks at her wrong. Learning to run a business that isn’t exactly on the right side of the law. So, naturally, when she meets a nice guy who isn’t in the life, she falls hard… Right up until the she discovers her new boyfriend isn’t a civilian at all.

But he betrayed her.

When Dante Verducci was sent on an undercover mission to evaluate the Romanov family for weakness, he never expected to have an instant connection with their unlikely heir. There’s something fierce and feral about Rose that calls to him. They’re alike, even if they’re both lying to each other during the months they date. Before he could figure out a new plan, Rose finds out who he really is, dumps him, and immediately enters an engagement with the heir of a rival family. Yeah, no, that’s not going to work for Dante.

Now he’ll do anything to reclaim her. Even go to war.

September 14

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Liane Moriarty comes a novel that looks at marriage, siblings, and how the people we love the most can hurt us the deepest

The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parentsdon’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time. Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask
questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa — the “Waldorf of Harlem” — and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share
of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for
all your quality home furniture needs?

“Alexis Daria’s A Lot Like Adiós is a charming, sexy spitfire of a novel! Between Mich and Gabe’s crackling dialogue and their palpable yearning, I fell hard and fast for this book, racing through its pages until I finally closed it with an overflowing heart and a deep happy sigh. Romance readers, this is your new favorite book!” –Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation

The national bestselling author of You Had Me at Hola returns with a seductive second-chance romance about a commitment-phobic Latina and her childhood best friend who has finally returned home.

Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.

After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.

It’s been a long time.

Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.

I’ve missed you.

Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface, and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?

The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

The next thrilling standalone novel by USA Today bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret. 

Her own. 

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth? 

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

September 16

Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation.

Summer 1958—a string of murders plagues the Midwest. The victims are found in their cars and in their homes—even in their beds—their bodies drained, but with no blood anywhere. 

September 19- the Carlson family is slaughtered in their Minnesota farmhouse, and the case gets its first lead: 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene. She is covered in blood from head to toe, and at first she’s mistaken for a survivor. But not a drop of the blood is hers.

Michael Jensen, son of the local sheriff, yearns to become a journalist and escape his small-town. He never imagined that the biggest story in the country would fall into his lap, or that he would be pulled into the investigation, when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. 

As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

September 21

Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy with TJ Klune’s signature “quirk and charm” (PW) about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with.

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.

Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.

When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.

Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.

As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.

As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.

From internationally bestselling authors James Murray and Darren Wearmouth comes The Stowaway, a suspenseful masterpiece that leaves a cruise ship stranded at sea with a serial killer hiding aboard… 

Two years ago, Maria Fontana was the deciding vote on a jury that set alleged serial killer Wyatt Butler free. Now, she and her family are enjoying vacation on a two week long transatlantic cruise. But when passengers are discovered brutally murdered in a similar way to Butler’s ritualistic MO, the ship goes on lockdown. Maria, one of only twelve people in the world with intimate knowledge of the case, faces a perilous ticking clock. Is it a copycat? Or is she trapped on board with the bloodthirsty maniac she chose to set free?

September 28

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

In GREAT SCOT by Suzanne Enoch, Jane Bansil knows she will never have a fairy-tale life. But even at three-and-thirty and well past marriageable age, though, she has to admit that the architect the MacTaggerts have hired could turn even a confirmed spinster’s head.

In CHRISTMAS AT DEWBERRY HOLLOW by Amelia Grey, Isabelle Reed has no plans to ever fall in love. Certainly not with Gate, a man who doesn’t live in Dewberry Hollow. She will fulfill her duty and help him keep his promise to have his ill grandfather back in London in time for Christmas dinner. The last thing Isabelle wants is for Gate to take her heart with him when he goes.

In MY MISTLETOE BEAU by Anna Bennett, Miss Eva Tiding is determined to cheer her widowed father with the perfect Christmas gift. Even if it means breaking into the home of the rakish earl who swindled Papa out of his pocket watch and pretending to date the earl for the Christmas season.

The first in a new regency romance series about two feuding families and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

Maddie Montgomery’s family is in debt, and her hope rests on the rival Davies clan missing their yearly “pledge of goodwill,” ceding the land that separates their estates. With Maddie’s teenage nemesis, Gryffud “Gryff” Davies, Earl of Powys, away, hope is in reach.

But then, Gryff shows up and is stunned that the tomboy he once teased is now a woman. When Gryff and Maddie discover contraband on their land, they realize it can benefit both families. But they’ve also uncovered a dangerous plot, and they need to work together to get out alive. Soon, their hatred for each other starts to feel more like attraction.

Kate Bateman brings crackling banter, steamy romance, and a dash of adventure into the first book in the Ruthless Rivals series.

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…

Recent Kindle Haul Part 8

I’m back with yet another post on my quest of getting caught up with all my Kindle purchases. We are currently halfway through my July purchases and I hope that I will be caught up soon so I’m going to keep chipping away on it every Sunday and I will eventually get there!

Shy, Fantasy Event Planner, Ricca Munroe has never been lucky in love, so when the latest in a long line of Mr. Oh So Wrongs publicly dumps her, she focuses on her career. All she has to do to land the job of a lifetime is work side-by-side with the one man who can break her heart. 

Beckett Mills has never been in love. Personal entanglements are a recipe for disaster—that is until one kiss from Ricca Munroe changes everything. Beckett needs this job to fulfill a promise he made. All he has to do is resist the seductive charms of his best friend. 

Can Ricca come out of her shell to land her dream job and the love of her life? Can Beckett trust himself enough to actually fall in love and still keep the promise he made? Warning: 

Sexy, sass talking women will make you laugh, cry and want a pair of killer footwear.

Both of them loved him. One of them killed him . . .

Louise has had to watch her husband, Andrew, start a new family in the four years since he left her. The ‘other woman’ is now his wife – but Louise isn’t ready to let Caz enjoy the life that was once hers, or to let go of the man she still loves.

As Louise starts to dig into Caz’s past, the two women’s pretence of civility starts to slip. But in trying to undermine each other, they discover more about the man they both married.

And when Andrew is murdered at a family party, both women are found standing over the body.

And when Andrew is murdered during the anniversary celebrations, both women are found standing over the body.
It’s always the wife. But which one?

The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938:
 The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. 
London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before. 
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? 
Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.

New York Times bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in this standalone fantasy.

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

A woman in the business of love that’s never been in a real relationship.

Check. That’s me. Nessa Night. 

Now I know what you’re thinking. That sounds like a stripper name. 

Hold up. Let me explain.

It’s my radio talk-show name. My incognito way of helping the world love deeper and more often. 

Though my love life is like a ten-year-old fall leaf trapped between the pages of an old journal. #dramatic

I’m short. Curvy. Average at best. 

And I’m a fraud. 

For all the advice I give on the air, I have zero experience to back it up. I’m eternally single. Forever alone.

And the only man I’ve ever caught feelings for is one of my callers: Mr No Name.

Much to my surprise, he’s not unknown at all.

The grandson of the great Jack Daniels is my caller, and worse? He’s my brother’s best friend from high school. 

Only one way to right these increasingly awkward wrongs. 

High school reunion time. He wants in, and I want a date who looks like him. 

The only thing off is his advice about love. It’s from Nessa night. Me!

And if he swoons over her (me!) one more time, I’ll have to give in and tell him. 

Besides, I’m in the business of love. 

If I don’t got this, who does? *Gulp*

In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.

Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.

Fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl will find Reconstructing Amelia just as gripping and surprising.

In a quiet house on a quiet street Frank and Julia are having an affair. Not your ordinary affair. For Frank it began with his own insatiable sexual appetite, a mysterious lacquered box- and then an unhinged voyage through a netherworld of imaginable pleasures and unimaginable horror… Now Frank – or what is left of Frank – waits in an empty room. All he wants is to live as he was before. All Julia can do is bring him her unfulfilled passions… and a little flesh and blood…

Taylor Hughes is a rule follower, no detail ever goes overlooked. That attention to detail is imperative in every aspect of her life, especially her job as an event planner 

Rule One: The client is always right. 
Rule Two: Make it magical. 
Rule Three: Go the extra mile for any guest. 
Rule Four: Never take anything from an event. (Note: that includes any treats.) 

When Hunter Divers, the sexy bartender, handed her a whiskey sour and a ride back to her apartment she forgets all about her rules for one night of recklessness. 

What happens when her lapse in judgment leaves her with a keepsake from that night?

Navy SEAL Boone Rudman and his friends are ready to make their mark by creating a sustainable community that can be replicated anywhere in the world. But they need land, so when Martin Fulsom, iconic leader of the Fulsom Foundation, offers them Westfield, an uninhabited ranch in Chance Creek, Montana, they take it sight unseen—and agree to Fulsom’s condition that they document their progress on a reality television show. Building a working community will be hard enough, but Boone’s got another problem. Fulsom expects families—not single men—to make up the population of the new town. Now Boone’s got to find a wife, fast, before he loses his funding, and his dream. So when he arrives at Westfield to find it already occupied by Riley Eaton, the woman he thought he’d lost forever, he wonders if fate itself has provided him with an answer. 

Riley Eaton’s played by the rules all her life, but it hasn’t gotten her anywhere. Now she’s out of work and no closer to being a full-time artist–or meeting a man and starting a family. Never happier than when she’s buried in a Jane Austen novel, she knows she’s not the only woman longing for a simpler, more beautiful life—one that allows time for art, literature and music. When she discovers her friends are in the same frame of mind, she throws caution to the wind and invites them to Westfield, the ranch her uncle inherited long ago, but has never lived in. Equipped with a key and a standing invitation to stay there whenever she likes, she heads to Chance Creek and gives up all things twenty-first century in order to take a six-month Jane-Austen style vacation. Westfield is perfect for Regency living with its wide lawns, extensive gardens and large ballroom. But when sexy, stubborn Boone shows up with plans to build a hyper-modern sustainable community on the ranch, it’s clear her Regency paradise is over before it even began. 

Now Boone has thirty days to marry Riley or lose the ranch to developers, and Riley has to decide whether to marry Boone or say good-bye to Westfield–and her Jane Austen life–forever. 

Can they overcome their prejudices to help each other? Or will their pride destroy both their futures? 

The bestselling author of ‘Damaged’ tells the true story of Donna, who came into foster care aged ten, having been abused, victimised and rejected by her family.

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy is a meditation on the destabilizing and destructive power of beauty, drawing together Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe, twin avatars of female fascination separated by millennia but united in mythopoeic force. Norma Jeane Baker was staged in the spring of 2019 at The Shed’s Griffin Theater in New York, starring actor Ben Whishaw and soprano Renée Fleming and directed by Katie Mitchell.

I’VE OFFICIALLY SCREWED THE POOCH. 

I mean, not literally, because that would be disgusting. But I did break one of the cardinal rules of Bro Code, which is equally appalling. You see, I fell in love with my best friend’s sister after he explicitly forbid me to go near her. As if that weren’t bad enough, I went ahead and married her while sh*tfaced in Vegas. 

I know that I should get an annulment and forget the whole thing ever happened, despite the fact that our wedding night was the hottest thing I’ve ever experienced. 

The last thing I should do is go back for seconds. 

Or thirds. 

Or…you get the point. 

And what I definitely shouldn’t do, is say f*ck the consequences and give this marriage a real shot. 

But here’s the problem with that: I’m pretty sure that Charlotte Harris is the one. And if that’s the case, nothing is going to keep me away from her. Not even her brother. 

*Deal Makers is filled with lots of laughs, drunken shenanigans, and a sexy romance. It is the third installment in the Dealing With Love series but each one can be read as a standalone.

Everyone has a secret. For some, it’s worth dying to protect. For others, it’s worth killing.

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town – and desperate for some kid-free conversation – she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others’ marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

A taut, locked room mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, One Little Secret promises to keep readers eyes glued to the pages and debating the blinders that we all put on in the service of politeness.

The man made my life pure hell in high school. 
But that was years ago. And we’re both all grown up now. 
He’s hotter than sin and has a smile that leaves me and my friends panting for his attention. 
It’s spring break and I need time with the girls on the beach. Florida should do the trick. 
Never in a million years did I expect Hudson Philips to be there. 
Memories of him bullying and teasing me mercilessly roll through me in waves, but we’re not kids anymore, and those aren’t the only waves he’s making. 
He’s damned determined to get back into my good graces, and he’s working every angle possible to make sure it happens. 
As hard as I try to deny him, he quickly becomes the only thing I can think about. 
But the minute I let down my guard, he puts his up again. He’s not looking for a long-term love affair. 
I wish he were, but for now, I simply want him to touch me again.

Stand-alone Whisper Lake romance, complete with HEA–and plenty of heat, humor, and heart along the way! 

Jessa Meyers never let herself think about forever before her heart transplant. When you don’t think you’ll have a future, it’s too painful to plan for one. But now that the stunning, blue-eyed beauty isn’t “the sick girl” anymore, she’s determined to dream big and make those dreams come true. 

Only one problem: every time she tries to dream up her “forever,” all she can seem to think about is Ethan Steele. 

Ethan Steele knows that loving Jessa is a probably a losing proposition. She’s made it clear again and again over the years that she doesn’t want his attention. 

Only one problem: that’s not what her eyes say each and every time they meet his. 

The sexy, brooding U.S. Marshall knows that a plan is the clearest path to success, and he has one: convince her to be his fake girlfriend for the summer. 

What could go wrong? 

18+

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she s safe. 

Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding where small revelations continuously change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel’s characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.

A Harvard freshman becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother’s suicide. Then she starts hearing voices.

Cadence Archer arrives on Harvard’s campus desperate to understand why her brother, Eric, a genius who developed paranoid schizophrenia took his own life there the year before. Losing Eric has left a black hole in Cady’s life, and while her decision to follow in her brother’s footsteps threatens to break her family apart, she is haunted by questions of what she might have missed. And there’s only one place to find answers.

As Cady struggles under the enormous pressure at Harvard, she investigates her brother’s final year, armed only with a blue notebook of Eric’s cryptic scribblings. She knew he had been struggling with paranoia, delusions, and illusory enemies—but what tipped him over the edge? With her suspicions mounting, Cady herself begins to hear voices, seemingly belonging to three ghosts who walked the university’s hallowed halls—or huddled in its slave quarters. Among them is a person whose name has been buried for centuries, and another whose name mankind will never forget.

Does she share Eric’s illness, or is she tapping into something else? Cady doesn’t know how or why these ghosts are contacting her, but as she is drawn deeper into their worlds, she believes they’re moving her closer to the truth about Eric, even as keeping them secret isolates her further. Will listening to these voices lead her to the one voice she craves—her brother’s—or will she follow them down a path to her own destruction?

A daring novel that made Christine Angot one of the most controversial figures in contemporary France recounts the narrator’s incestuous relationship with her father. Tess Lewis’s forceful translation brings into English this audacious novel of taboo.

The narrator is falling out from a torrential relationship with another woman. Delirious with love and yearning, her thoughts grow increasingly cyclical and wild, until exposing the trauma lying behind her pain. With the intimacy offered by a confession, the narrator embarks on a psychoanalysis of herself, giving the reader entry into her tangled experiences with homosexuality, paranoia, and, at the core of it all, incest. In a masterful translation from the French by Tess Lewis, Christine Angot’s Incestaudaciously confronts its readers with one of our greatest taboos.

Come for the cozy, stay for the thrill of it The first in a brand new series: A Gluten Free Mystery Mona Reilly is preparing for the grand opening of Jammin’ Honey, a local Jam and Honey shop, in the small town of Magnolia Falls. Her best friend, Vicki, supplies the shop with honey and homemade lotions, candles and royal jelly. While Mona and Vicki are off taste testing the gluten-free catering the shop mysterious burns down. When a body is recovered from the fire, Vicki’s brother, incidentally the most handsome cop Mona has ever laid eyes on, is assigned to the case. Everyone in town has a motive and it’s up to Mona to solve this sticky situation.

Our entire world has been turned upside down after a few nights of passion. 

Love is in the air, commitments are being made, careers are being abandoned—nothing is easy. Except our sexual chemistry. Which is off-the-charts hot. But is it JUST chemistry, or is it more? We both want it to be more, but the question is, which one of us is going to be the first to risk heartbreak in order to find out? We both have dark pasts that are holding us back and may keep us from true happiness.

Intense sexual connection is easy…love, commitment, and figuring out the future? Well…that’s a whole lot harder. 

And it’s twice as hard when you’re twins.

USA Today Bestselling Author, Lexy Timms, weaves a story of betrayal, deceit, and risking it all for love. 

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.  

On her wedding day, Ava finds her fiancée messing around with his best man’s wife. Stranded at the altar, she manages to collect herself. Humiliated and angry, she decides to go on her honeymoon—alone. It’s already paid for, so why not. She swears off rich men for the rest of her life. 

The hunk offering scuba lessons seems the perfect distraction. Short term. No Strings. 

Why shouldn’t she spend her honeymoon making love? It may not be with her husband, but then again, she isn’t wearing a ring. 

Wet & Wild Series 
Stormy Love 
Savage Love 
Secure Love

Note: This story does end on a cliff hanger. It’s part 1 of a 3 book series.

Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move. Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of 17, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in Southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of Trace Italian – a text-based, roleplaying game played through the mail – Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America. Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.

Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean’s life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy.

Treasure, secrets and a legacy built on love… 
Needing a break from her troubled brother, a summer spent living in and researching a historic stagecoach house on the Turner Creek Ranch sounds heavenly to history teacher Melody Chandler. The ranch is owned by three brothers and she accepts the job offer from the eldest brother. She doesn’t realize until she’s already settled into the house for the summer that cowboy Seth Turner does not want her there meddling into the families past and demands that she leave. Melody can’t help but wonder what the handsome cowboy has to hide and she’s not leaving since her contract is with Seth’s brother? 

Seth Turner manages the families ranch and isn’t happy about his brother hiring the pretty history teacher to dig into their past. But when Melody discovers a treasure map and a Texas legend they join together to find the secret treasure. Soon they are drawn together but Melody has secrets of her own that may threaten to tear them apart? 

This is a Texas matchmakers story that has it all, romance, treasure hunt and a pumpkin chunking feud between the folks of Mule Hollow that will have you laughing and loving this book. 

This book touches the heart and the funny bone. 

Welcome to the Turner Creek Ranch where the legacy of love lives strong.

Edgar Award Finalist: The terrifying true story of savage murders, a terrorized midwestern town, and the serial killer who could have lived next door 

 In 1967, during the time of peace, free love, and hitchhiking, nineteen-year-old Mary Terese Fleszar was last seen alive walking home to her apartment in Ypsilanti, Michigan. One month later, her naked body—stabbed over thirty times and missing both feet and a forearm—was discovered, partially buried, on an abandoned farm. A year later, the body of twenty-year-old Joan Schell was found, similarly violated. Southeastern Michigan was terrorized by something it had never experienced before: a serial killer. Over the next two years, five more bodies were uncovered around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan. All the victims were tortured and mutilated. All were female students.

After multiple failed investigations, a chance sighting finally led to a suspect. On the surface, John Norman Collins was an all-American boy—a fraternity member studying elementary education at Eastern Michigan University. But Collins wasn’t all that he seemed. His female friends described him as aggressive and short tempered. And in August 1970, Collins, the “Ypsilanti Ripper,” was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole.

Written by the coauthor of The French ConnectionThe Michigan Murders delivers a harrowing depiction of the savage murders that tormented a small midwestern town.

Ginger knows that practical choices guarantee a stable life, which is why she chose a career as an office manager. Her job provides a steady paycheck, but it also has her snoozing at her desk. She wishes she’d pursued her passion for interior decorating rather than business.

She’s also trying to forget Greg Shaffer—the gorgeous emergency room doctor she met at a dance club last month. Her dad was an emergency room doctor and the stress of the job turned him into a raging alcoholic, which didn’t exactly create happy childhood memories.

Ginger believes donating her decorating services to her friend’s charity auction is the perfect fix for both her problems. She’ll get a break from the daily grind, get her creative juices flowing, and stay so busy she’ll finally forget about Greg.

But then Greg ends up buying the condo right above her. Even worse, he deliberately wins the bid on her auction item. Greg seems determined to prove to Ginger that practicality has nothing on passion. And as Ginger brings beauty into Greg’s world, how can she possibly resist the beauty he brings to hers?

~Cassie

Stitching Saturday 8.21.21

I’m back for the first time in practically a month to do another Stitching Saturday post. I have quite a few projects to update you on and a few new starts. I found out in late July that there is an event in the cross stitch world called “arbitrary August” which means everything you work on is randomly chosen for you. Well, I already do that everyday since I use the tiny decisions app every morning to figure out what I’m going to focus on for the day. But I was inspired after watching Needlecraft Dani to throw in some randomly chosen starts during August. Since I work on both knitting and cross stitch I decided that I would get to have a new start after I worked on my cross stitch projects three times. So the morning after my third cross stitch project I spin a wheel comprised of most of the charts that I currently own and have a new start.

WIPS

My six month old kitten, Simba, decided to “help” me take the pictures for this post and I don’t take the best pictures usually but these were taken as quick as possible since he was very interested in putting everything in his mouth. I will include a picture of him at the end so you can see how beautiful he is! Since it has been so long since I posted one of these I will only be sharing pictures of my progress unless I have something that I want to share with you about it.

I ran out of a yarn I needed for the blanket I’m knitting in the mornings so I made this my morning project after I finished Spooky House (which I will share next week) and I worked on this until I received the yarn in the mail.

Every time this one comes up it is always a day with hardly any time for stitching.

I decided to restart this one since I last shared it. I was originally stitching it on a 10 count fabric and I wasn’t enjoying stitching on it or the way it was looking. I’m now stitching it on a 14ct Aida and I’m liking it a lot more.

This project never photographs well. The fabric is a bright blue and the colors are all more vibrant than it shows up.

This is my new knitting start for August and it took me a while to figure out what yarn I wanted to use for this one. I decided to go with an oatmeal Lettlopi yarn and I can’t wait to actually start this.

I am doing each block as an ornament and I’m almost done with the first block. I wasn’t going to stitch the square border around each one but I think it might make it look nicer to do it so we will see if I end up putting it in the next time I work on this.

My first full coverage piece! I barely made a start on it because I was experimenting with whether I wanted to stitch 2 over 2, 1 over 2 or 1 over 1 and I ultimately decided I liked 1 over 1 the best on this 28ct Cashel linen.

I completely frogged out the bat that I had started on the left because I was using a thicker dmc floss and I wasn’t liking how it was stitching up. I’m happy that I have made it over to the witch and I hope next time I work on this to also make a start on the house.

This was another new start this month. I want to stitch pretty much everything in this magazine so I plan to go through this magazine in order until I have stitched everything. You can’t see it too well in this picture but I’m stitching the tiny broomstick brigade pattern towards the bottom of the cover. This is also the first time I’m stitching on 36ct and I caught on a lot faster to working with it then I thought I would so I’m pretty pleased with myself.

Rectangular Colorblock Bias blanket by Purl Soho

I love this blanket so much and I’m so proud of how it is turning out. I might have to place another yarn order for the current color that I am on but I’m going to wait until I get to the end of my ball and then measure it to see how much more I need. This blanket is huge and pretty much everyone in my family wants their own so as soon as I finish this one I will be casting on another one for my niece. This is my current morning stitch until it is finished (or I’m waiting for yarn to work on it) so I will finish this next month.

My second full coverage! I’m stitching this with 2 threads on 18ct easy grid Aida. I realized that we had an old kindle fire that my youngest was previously using as a tablet before he got his iPad and so I asked my husband to put pattern keeper on it and it was a lot of fun stitching with it. It is pretty similar to the Silk app which is an IOS app and I wish they could just make the both of them cross compatible. This project was added to my wheel for my July new start and it finally came up this week!

This was my new start yesterday and he is so small that I am confident that I can have him done by Thanksgiving. Which might give me the motivation I need to spend a day or weekend fully finishing some pieces.

This is a freebie that comes with the Bless this Farm pattern by Stitching with the Housewives

This is my project for today so the only new progress I have made so far is the white in the cow. I plan on finishing my audiobook tonight and working on this.

Some notes: The Oslo hat that I was knitting for my husband got completely frogged and I have bought new yarn to make him a Buffalo Bills inspired beanie. I also have a few Bills patches saved on Etsy that I will be buying to put on the hat when it’s done. I’m also knitting on a Christmas present for my mom and she sometimes reads my blog so I won’t be sharing it to keep it a surprise. I will share my new August cross stitch and diamond painting starts next week.

~Cassie

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder By T.A. Willberg

Thank you to Park Row and Netgalley for gifting me a review copy in exchange for my honest review.

Publication Date: December 29, 2020

Publisher: Park Row

Pages: 336

Genre: Mystery; Historical

Rating: 4/5

This adventure filled mystery centers around Marion Lane who is a first year private detective apprentice at a secretive underground station. The book begins with a secretary at the agency, Mrs. White, being murdered and since this is a secret agency, we quickly learn that the list of suspects can be narrowed down to only people who work at the agency. At first, the murder doesn’t concern Marion much since she has a lot of work on her plate along with family drama to contend with. But when her mentor is framed for the murder she has no choice but to try to figure out who murdered Mrs. White.

Willberg has created a distinctive world set in the late 1950’s that is filled with technology and an interesting group of characters. I did find this story to be a bit slippery when it came to nailing down the details of the world and characters. It took quite a large chunk of the book for me to feel like I had a firm grasp on who some of these characters were. The more we learn about the world and get to know people more the more I enjoyed the story. And the story was a thrilling one involving some spooky details, nefarious characters and long held secrets.

I got strong Harry Potter vibes from this story since it is a pretty self contained building that Marion and her fellow apprentices are working at, as well as some other minor plot lines that occur. A big difference is that our characters are all adults and there is relatively low drama amongst them. I also loved all the Clue vibes (they even play Cluedo at one point!) and I think Willberg did a great job using these familiar tropes in a unique way.

I feel like this book, being the first in the series, really cemented the core of the world and the characters who fill it and the next book will just build on it. Which, I’m hoping means that I will find the next one easier to jump into since I did struggle quite a bit with the beginning of this book. If this book sounds like something you would enjoy then I do recommend you pick it up and try not to get discouraged by the rather slow beginning. It took me switching to an audiobook version for me to get past the first few chapters and I really enjoyed the narrator so I also recommend reading this book that way.

~Cassie

WWW Wednesday 8.18.21

This weekly meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and all you need to do to participate is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What have you recently finished reading?
  • What do you think you will read next?

What are you currently reading?

I have been wanting to read a Pam Godwin book for the longest time and when I was looking for a book to read on my Kindle before bed she popped into my head. Dark Notes is the first Godwin book that I bought so it seemed like the best place to start. It is a dark sub/dom romance between a 17 year old student and her 27 year old teacher. I only have a few chapters left and I have to say this isn’t my favorite forbidden romance that I have read. I do feel for Ivory and she has been through so many heartbreaking things but I can’t quite connect with the romance. This will probably be a three star read for me depending on the ending.

My plan was to have finished Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by now but I didn’t read that much over the weekend since it was the last weekend before my older boys went back to school. I only have 50 minutes of the audiobook left and I’m curious about what’s going to happen since the big mystery was just solved. My guess is that it is setting up the next book in the series which comes out next year.

What have you recently finished?

Such a Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass

What do you think you’ll read next?

Since I haven’t finished Marion Lane I haven’t had a chance to start this but I’m hoping to do so tonight.

~Cassie

Recent Kindle Haul Part 7

I missed posting this on Sunday since it was the last day before my older boys went back to school full time. At least one of them as always been home with me and their younger brother since March 2020 so I wanted to dedicate my weekend to them. But I’m excited to continue on with this Kindle haul series because I have only bought five Kindle books this month! I did get quite a few more free books but do those really count? Before you think that my addiction to books has waned I should tell you that when I see a book for sale on Kindle I look up on Scribd or Audible to see if I have access to the audiobook first and then add it to my list. So my Kindle obsession has now turned into an audiobook obsession.

On Friday night in the clay fields of Bethel Creek, seventeen-year-old Daniel Reyes is found brutally attacked and left for dead. 
On Saturday morning, Cora Maxwell finds her teenage son’s clothes covered in blood.
A small town torn apart by a horrific hate crime. 
An investigative reporter hell bent on finding the truth. 
A mother’s worst nightmare.

What really happened to the Reyes boy?

In the heart-stopping and timely suspense novel, Secrets Mothers Keep, widow and mother Cora Maxwell faces the hardest decision of her life.
In a world where there are few second chances, do you grant one to your child?
And if so… what is the cost?


Haunting truths resurface from the depths of the past in this unputdownable mystery

When her old family friend Eddie asks her to write his memoirs, little does journalist Dora Lewis know he has a bag full of secrets to unburden. All of them dangerous.

So dangerous, in fact, that Eddie is murdered.

Dora wants to get to the truth, but all she has to go on is a set of cassette tapes that Eddie left hidden for only her to find.

Piece by piece she must put the puzzle of his life together. But as the picture takes shape, Dora realises that she too is in danger.

The same people are gunning for her, and they have a very special reason to.

Justice for Eddie won’t just mean going up against powerful and dangerous people. It will mean confronting the truth of Dora’s own past.

BLUE HOLLOW is a totally gripping standalone novel by Cheryl Rees-Price, bestselling author of the DI Winter Meadows crime fiction series.

Hello rock? Meet hard place.
This time, I’m in deep. My only defense is that it all happened in a moment of weakness. I’d literally just wiped a Ben & Jerry’s stain from my three day old t-shirt (that I’d slept in, of course), turned the corner, and almost face planted into my ex’s chest. I had three days worth of dry shampoo in my hair since I’d been too depressed to wash it, a hole in my leggings, and a seriously crushed ego.
Here’s where the story takes a turn, though.
As I looked him over, standing arm and arm with the woman he left me for (who looked perfect, by the way) I opened my mouth, and told the biggest lie in the history of lies.
Mouth, insert foot.
Why I chose to pretend that I have a new boyfriend is beyond me. Why I chose to say that my new boyfriend is Adrian Malone, all star quarterback of the Minnesota Saints, is something that I may never understand. The man is a legend, devilishly handsome and rumored to have a really big, ah…heart, so he’s quite obviously out of my league.
But I’m a woman scorned, and desperate for revenge, so basically, one way or another, I’m going to make my lie come true.
After a brief stint in jail (not my most shining moment) I finally manage to meet the guy. And when he agrees to go along with my plan, I’m more than ready to bring my ex to his knees.
Adrian has a set of rules that I must follow, but I’m willing to do just about anything these days, if it means getting revenge.
What I didn’t plan on though, was breaking every damn rule.
And opening up my heart to be broken all over again.

Jules is recovering from a recent failure when her mysterious uncle makes her an offer she can’t refuse: restore his bed and breakfast the Briar Rose. 

When Jules inherits the Briar Rose bed and breakfast from her strange and mysterious uncle, she thinks it will be the opportunity of a lifetime for her and her husband, Paul. But Jules and Paul soon discover that the Briar Rose holds many secrets: one of them about the murders that took place a year prior, when two of the guests never checked out.

Sometimes the only way to salvation… is to take a leap of faith.

What would you do if you had no place to go and no one you could trust?

“The lyrics are about you, Lena,” he confessed, and I watched his mouth as the tip of his tongue moistened his lips before he leaned his head down. Then those beautiful lips were on mine, soft, tender at first, then his tongue glided over my lips, breaking the seal. My pulse throbbed and quickened as his tongue swirled around mine. Taking and controlling, and… and I wanted this, needed his touch. I went limp in his embrace, and the heat rose under my skin, my body vibrated against his strong powerful one. Was this really happening?”

Jackson Beaumont prides himself on being a nature-loving, guitar-strumming, carefree sort of guy. When the mysterious Lena Benton walks into his bar looking scared and defeated, it’s not something he can ignore. He’s immediately consumed by concern for her and driven by his desire to help. She’s just so beautiful. So wounded. 

After being shuffled from one foster home to another growing up, Lena Benton dreamt of finding her prince charming. When the captivating Troy Harington sweeps her off her feet shortly after high school graduation, she’s certain she’s found her happiness. Unfortunately, Troy’s true colors surface shortly after their marriage and things turn ugly. Lena only has one choice. She has to leave him. She has to run… 

Lena’s escape has brought her to Jackson, and he clearly wants to be there for her, but can she trust anyone again after what she’s gone through? And will Jackson be able to help her heal without losing his heart?

18+ due to sexual content and mature subject matter.

Others. They walk among us. Observing. 

Set in contemporary Moscow, where shape shifters, vampires, and street-sorcerers linger in the shadows, Night Watch is the first book of the hyper-imaginative fantasy pentalogy from best-selling Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko. 

This epic saga chronicles the eternal war of the “Others,” an ancient race of humans with supernatural powers who must swear allegiance to either the Dark or the Light. The agents of the Dark – the Night Watch – oversee nocturnal activity, while the agents of the Light keep watch over the day. For a thousand years both sides have maintained a precarious balance of power, but an ancient prophecy has decreed that a supreme Other will one day emerge, threatening to tip the scales. Now, that day has arrived. When a mid-level Night Watch agent named Anton stumbles upon a cursed young woman – an uninitiated Other with magnificent potential – both sides prepare for a battle that could lay waste to the entire city, possible the world. With language that throbs like darkly humorous hard-rock lyrics about blood and power, freedom and responsibility, Night Watch is a chilling, cutting-edge thriller, a pulse-pounding ride of fusion fiction that will leave you breathless for the next instalment.

A one-night stand prequel romance to USA Today bestselling author K.A. Linde’s Wright with Benefits… 

I can’t tear my eyes away from the stranger.

He’s too hot for this small town. Too polished for this seedy bar. And a hundred percent my type. Tall, dark, and handsome in a suit with brooding eyes that say he’d lay waste to my body. And I’d let him.

Our connection is immediate. The desire is blatant. I’ve never felt anything like it.

Then I make the mistake of a lifetime: I let him walk out.

I’m still kicking myself when I show up to my best friend’s Wright family pool party. I walk outside and stop dead.

He’s here.

And he’s a Wright cousin.

My best friend’s brothers are off limits, but she never said anything about her cousin.

The sorcerer Alder fears sleep. He dreams of the land of death, of his wife who died young and longs to return to him so much that she kissed him across the low stone wall that separates our world from the Dry Land-where the grass is withered, the stars never move, and lovers pass without knowing each other. The dead are pulling Alder to them at night. Through him they may free themselves and invade Earthsea.

Alder seeks advice from Ged, once Archmage. Ged tells him to go to Tenar, Tehanu, and the young king at Havnor. They are joined by amber-eyed Irian, a fierce dragon able to assume the shape of a woman.

The threat can be confronted only in the Immanent Grove on Roke, the holiest place in the world, and there the king, hero, sage, wizard, and dragon make a last stand.

Le Guin combines her magical fantasy with a profoundly human, earthly, humble touch.

Lucas Corso is a book detective, a middle-aged mercenary hired to hunt down rare editions for wealthy and unscrupulous clients. When a well-known bibliophile is found dead, leaving behind part of the original manuscript of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, Corso is brought in to authenticate the fragment. He is soon drawn into a swirling plot involving devil worship, occult practices, and swashbuckling derring-do among a cast of characters bearing a suspicious resemblance to those of Dumas’s masterpiece. Aided by a mysterious beauty named for a Conan Doyle heroine, Corso travels from Madrid to Toledo to Paris on the killer’s trail in this twisty intellectual romp through the book world

Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.

A local island B&B owner hates the swanky high-rise hotel down the beach…but not the billionaire who owns it. Can she deal with strange summer weather, tourists, and falling in love?

Stacey Stapleton owns the premier bed and breakfast on Hawaii’s big island, and she’s not happy about the new twenty-eight story monstrosity disguised as a luxury resort just down the beach. When she books a night to find out what the rooms at Sweet Breeze are like, she’s impressed with the amenities, the view of the bay…and the tall, dark, and handsome room service attendants. 

But she’s sworn off men and is focused on her own B&B, her Women’s Beach Club of friends, and living up to her grandfather’s legacy. 

Fisher DuPont is the billionaire owner of Sweet Breeze, his first solo business venture since finally leaving his father’s company, and he’s been moving through each department as an undercover boss. So he’s the one behind the room service cart when Stacey opens the door. When he runs into the sassy, gorgeous redhead three more times that day, he takes it as a sign to get to know her better–and reveal his true identity. 

As Stacey and Fisher spend more time together, she learns he’s absolutely brilliant, unusually kind, and incredibly hardworking. He’s impressed by her grace under pressure and dedication to clients, friends, and family when a storm hits the island. Can Stacey and Fisher leave their past heartaches where they belong to build a new future together?

Escape to Getaway Bay and join the Clean Billionaire Beach Club for some seriously sweet romance. 

Each book can be read as a standalone, with a happily-ever-after ending, and clean, sweet-without-losing-the-heat romance! 

He told her once he wasn’t interested in dating her if they weren’t exclusive. She’s a former racecar driver just trying to find the right man for her at 200 miles per hour. Can Oakley slow down enough to have a relationship with Ranger, or will they both be left lonely this Christmas?

Ranger Glover has worked at Shiloh Ridge Ranch his entire life. In his spare time, he’s secretly developed an app for the cowboys around Three Rivers to share their experiences with everything from restaurants to events so they can all impress the women they like with their dating abilities. Too bad he hasn’t been able to truly benefit from Two Cents in his own love life.

When he runs into a sobbing Oakley Hatch after an evening out, the chemistry and attraction between them is just as explosive as it’s always been. She asks him for a ride home, and Ranger finds he can’t say no to that.

He has told her no before, when he learned she was dating multiple men at the same time. He didn’t want to be one of them, and he told the gorgeous brunette no.

Oakley Hatch has won more Grand Prixs and amassed a huge fortune from her time on the Formula One racing circuit. She can strap into a racecar and drive over two hundred miles an hour. That didn’t scare her. Not having Ranger Glover does. So does telling him what kind of person she’d been while racing cars, as it wasn’t anyone to be proud of.

She’s ended all of her relationships to try to get back on Ranger’s good side, and when he learns that, he immediately asks her out. A date with him is all Oakley wants, and as their relationship speeds forward, all of her secrets come tumbling out.

Ranger handles them like a champ…but he doesn’t tell her anything about Two Cents. When she finds out he’s been keeping something from her, the betrayal cuts deep—and throws her right back into her past. Can Ranger and Oakley find common ground this Christmas? Or will there simply be too much horsepower in her blood to make their relationship work?

First, she tampered with my pickle.
Then, she got us both kicked off a cooking show.

Now, we’re fake engaged.
Sit back, friends, this is one crazy tale of treachery and pickle juice.

Anthony:
All right. Here’s how it went.
My pickle went viral. Millions saw it. Thousands ate it.

Hold up, pervs. Let me backtrack.

I invented a very spicy pickle made with ghost peppers. One bite and you’ll swear someone stuffed a hot coal in your mouth. It’s extremely popular in pranks.

I’m in the middle of filming with a prominent cooking show when in walks Little Miss Perfect Pants from a rival deli to insist she has improvements for my pickle.

It all goes downhill from there.

Magnolia:
Read the reviews and weep, Anthony Pickle.
I got the best of you on reality TV.
You got me back with a very public kiss.

After your new deli poached on my territory, I swore to hate you. But every time those smoky eyes meet mine, I melt a little.

Cheesy, right?

By the time you’ve kissed me, I already know I’m in deep.
But then you propose?

How am I supposed to keep faking it when every swoon is real?
___
Spicy Pickle is a romantic comedy about a culinary feud, potent pickle juice, and the most not-fakefake love story in the history of reality TV.

He’s her knight in shining armor. Only she’s no damsel in distress.

Wyatt
I’m a self-made billionaire with a soft spot for damsels in distress, so when I move to the quirky lakeside community of Summerdale, I immediately zero in on the woman I most want to…ahem, rescue. Only the stubborn woman refuses to cooperate.

Sydney
When Satan, aka Wyatt Winters, moves to town, I do my best to be welcoming. After all, I’m the owner of the historic restaurant and bar that he keeps showing up at, despite criticizing nearly everything about it. Deep breath. I might’ve lost my cool and made a rude gesture in his direction. And told him off. How was I to know he was considering investing in my place?

Did I mention I’m in debt up to my eyeballs and every bank has turned me down?

Still, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell I’d ever work with him. Or admit he fires me up in every way.

And then a snowstorm traps us together and—

I’m melting.

This romantic comedy stands alone with a swoonworthy happy-ever-after! No cliffhangers.

NOTE: A portion of Fetching’s book sales will go to Pets for Vets, a nonprofit that trains shelter dogs to be therapy companions for military veterans with PTSD.

I hooked up with my temporary roommate. Now I’ll do anything to claim her for good.

I’m Noah Weston. For a decade, I’ve quarterbacked America’s most iconic football team and plowed my way through women. Now I’m transitioning from star player to retired jock—with a cloud of allegation hanging over my head. So I’m escaping to the private ocean-front paradise I bought for peace and quiet. What I get instead is stubborn, snarky, wild, lights-my-blood-on-fire Harlow Reed. Since she just left a relationship in a hugely viral way, she should be the last woman I’m seen with.

On second thought, we can help each other…

I need a steady, supportive “girlfriend” for the court of public opinion, not entanglements. Harlow is merely looking for nonstop sweaty sex and screaming orgasms that wring pleasure from her oh-so-luscious body. Three months—that’s how long it should take for us both to scratch this itch and leave our respective scandals behind. But the more I know this woman, the less I can picture my life without her. And when I’m forced to choose, I’ll realize I don’t merely want her in my bed or need her for a ruse. I more than love her enough to do whatever it takes to make her mine for good.

Reed Family Reckoning: Siblings

A bookstore, a grumpy newspaper woman, and a murder. Quiet St. Marin’s has just gotten a little more lively . . . and a little less alive.

All Harvey Beckett wants to do is read books, help the residents of St. Marin’s find the perfect book for that moment, and snuggle with her hound dog Mayhem. But when the small, waterside town’s newest resident discovers the body of the community’s persnickety reporter in her bookshop storeroom on opening day, Harvey finds herself bound and determined to figure out the crime. Her task won’t be easy, though, since the town is flooded with visitors for the first annual Harriet Tubman Festival to honor the community’s most famous resident. Plus, a quiet but charming mechanic named Daniel isn’t helping with her concentration at all.

Publishable By Death is the first book in the St. Marin’s Cozy Mystery Series by ACF. Bookens.

Cleopatra Paige hates one thing in this world — just one — and his name is Zachariah Prince.

In grade school, he pulled at her pigtails. In middle school, he spread false rumors about her. And in high school, he ruined her prom. 

She hates that his smirks are unfairly sexy. And she definitely loathes that his dark eyes seem to follow her everywhere. Sometimes, even in her dreams. 

It doesn’t matter that he’s rich and popular or that he lives in a freaking mansion full of butlers and maids. He’s rude and arrogant, and she wants to stay as far away from him as possible. 

But unfortunately for Cleo, she lives in the same freaking mansion as Zach. 

Only he’s the prince and she’s the lowly maid who serves him.

Financial Times and Irish Times Best Book of 2020

Detective Inspector St. John Strafford has been summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family.

The year is 1957 and the Catholic Church rules Ireland with an iron fist. Strafford—flinty, visibly Protestant, and determined to identify the murderer—faces obstruction at every turn, from the heavily accumulating snow to the culture of silence in this tight-knit community. As he delves further, he learns the Osbornes are not at all what they seem. And when his own deputy goes missing, Strafford must work to unravel the ever-expanding mystery before the community’s secrets, like the snowfall itself, threatens to obliterate everything.

The incomparable Booker Prize winner’s next great crime novel – the story of a family whose secrets resurface when a parish priest is found murdered in their ancestral home.

It’s true. I’m not what most people would call “pretty” and, well, high school was rough. Fast forward ten years and life is good…

Until a bunch of jerks think it’s hilarious to put the “butterface” (AKA me) on a wedding Kiss Cam with the hottest guy ever—and that old humiliation hits hard.

I recognize him immediately. The sexiest cop in Waterbury and totally out of my league.

But then he kisses me. And we totally forget the room, the crowd, everything.

Then he tells everyone we’ve been dating for months.

Soon everything starts to feel too real, from adorable fights over “necessary” tools to fix my broken porch to surviving a free-for-all dinner with his six siblings to picking up where our last kiss left off.

But there’s something he’s not telling me about why he’s really hanging around, and I’m pretty sure it has to do with my mob-connected brothers.

Because this is not a make-over story, and Cinderella is only a fairy tale…

Suspended from duty, Detective Frølich is working as a private investigator, when his girlfriend’s colleague asks for his help with a female asylum seeker, who the authorities are about to deport. She claims to have a sister in Norway, and fears that returning to her home country will mean instant death. Frølich quickly discovers the whereabouts of the young woman’s sister, but things become increasingly complex when she denies having a sibling, and Frølich is threatened off the case by the police. As the body count rises, it becomes clear that the answers lie in an old investigation, and the mysterious sister, who is now on the run. A dark, chilling and up-to-the-minute Nordic Noir thriller, Sister is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a moving tragedy at its heart, cementing Kjell Ola Dahl as one of the greatest crime writers of our generation.

A dark secret, a secluded island, and nowhere to run.

When author Daisy Dawkins hits a wall of writer’s block, she seeks out a retreat at the infamous Coyote Island, home of the reclusive publishing guru Greg Bregoli. Upon her arrival at Bregoli Estate, strange things begin happening to Daisy, but none of the other writers seem to notice the estate’s odder qualities. Before long, Daisy is caught between two worlds, the living… and the dead.

~Cassie

Blog Tour: Such A Good Wife By Seraphina Nova Glass

Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. They also provided all info and graphics.

SUCH A GOOD WIFE

Author: Seraphina Nova Glass

ISBN: 9781525896019

Publication Date: August 10, 2021

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Book Summary:

From the author of Someone’s Listening comes another thriller that will leave you breathless, about a housewife implicated in a murder investigation, perfect for fans of The Last House Guest and Someone We Know.

Melanie Hale has the perfect life. Her husband, Collin, is a loving and supportive partner and she loves their small-town home just outside of New Orleans. She doesn’t mind (too much) that she’s given up her career dreams to care for her two beautiful children. It’s all worth it.

So why, when she joins a writers’ group for fledgling novelists, does she embark on a steamy affair with Luke, a local bestselling author who gives a talk during the group? Why does she go back to Luke again and again, when she knows it’s wrong?

And then Luke is found dead, and Mel knows she was the last person to see him alive. Now, she not only has to keep the affair a secret, but somehow avoid being implicated in Luke’s death. But who would want to kill him? And if Mel finds the truth, will she be next? What follows is a sinister cat-and-mouse game that will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

Review

When I was reading Glass’s biography I wasn’t surprised to see that she is a playwright because this book felt like it could have been broken down into three acts. And each act was more intense and dramatic than the last. There is a lot that happens in this book and there are major trigger warnings for physical abuse and allusions to rape. Our main character, Mel, also has a son with autism and while I can’t speak to how well that it is portrayed, I did appreciate how Glass normalized it. The gist of the story is made up of a lot of the familiar bones of a domestic thriller but this one really ratchets up the theatrics.

At first, this book felt like it was going to be the typical domestic thriller where our main character is disillusioned with the drudgery of family life and strays and whoops someone is murdered and she is trying to protect her secrets. This book is definitely all of that but the inclusion of the sensational moments kept me not only interested but also trying to figure out how exactly Mel was going to get out of her situation unscathed. I did figure out one part of the ending but I was really wanting it to happen so it actually made me enjoy the book more. The other part of the ending I was completely shocked by and I will probably remember this ending for a very long time. It is over the top and probably belongs in a Lifetime movie but it did wrap things up in a conclusive way. I did have a few issues with this book. Mel isn’t always the most likable character and at times she can be annoying with how paranoid she is. She is also very judgmental of other people which is eye roll inducing considering what she is doing to her family. There were also a few tendrils of story that just felt like they got dropped and left in an unsatisfying way.

While this wasn’t a perfect read for me, I still had a lot of fun reading it and reveling in all the drama. If you are a big fan of domestic thrillers then this is one that you should put at the top of your list. This would also make a fantastic weekend read since it builds so richly to such a volatile ending.

Author Bio: 

Seraphina Nova Glass is a professor and playwright-in-residence at the University of Texas, Arlington, where she teaches film studies and playwriting. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Smith College, and she’s also a screenwriter and award-winning playwright. Seraphina has traveled the world using theatre and film as a teaching tool, living in South Africa, Guam and Kenya as a volunteer teacher, AIDS relief worker, and documentary filmmaker.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @SeraphinaNova

Facebook: Seraphina Nova Glass: Author

Goodreads

Excerpt

Two

Before

I can pinpoint the day that set everything in motion. Gillian Baker, one block over, holds a book club at her house once a week. Reluctantly, and at her insistence, I finally decided to join. I squeezed a cylinder of cookie dough out of its plastic tube, cut it into disks and put a tray of the artificial-tasting dough in the oven so I had something to bring and pass off as my own. Collin thought the book club idea was great and might inspire me. I told him it’s just a kid-free night for the neighborhood wives so they can drink wine and make vapid, uninformed comments on great literature, but he still thought I would be in my element and should give it a try.

I was going to be a scholar once upon a time, but I dropped out of my master’s program when we learned about Bennett’s condition. I wasn’t forced to stay home, but we decided it made sense. It was for the best, and even better than a degree, because I could write books from home and still pursue that dream. What a gift! All the time in the world to write the great American novel. Except I haven’t written any books, have I? What the hell do I really have to say anyway? Life has gone out of its way to ignore me in many regards. Shelby Fitch two doors down was in the peace corps in freaking Guatemala for two years before she married into this neighborhood. She should write the book.

What will my topics be? “Mom cleans up kid’s barf during carpool.”

“Mom waits half a day for dishwasher repair guy, and guess what? He never shows.”

“Mom tries a Peppa Pig cake recipe from Pinterest, but it looks like deranged farm swine with a phallic nose and makes son cry.” I have nothing to say. The other day I thought I’d get serious again and try to really sit and brainstorm some ideas. I ended up watching videos of people getting hurt on backyard trampolines and a solid hour of baby goats jumping around in onesies. So, I guess maybe at least getting my mind back into the literary world can’t hurt.

At my dressing table, I pulled my hair back and slipped on some dangly earrings. It was my first time out of yoga pants that week, and it felt nice. I applied lip gloss and pressed my lips together; I could hear the chaos begin in the background. The oven was beeping nonstop, beckoning Collin to take out the premade dinner he’d been heating up for the kids, but he was arguing with Ben about a video game he refused to turn off. He still had to make a plate for Claire and help the kids with homework after dinner, and Ralph, our elderly basset hound, was barking excessively at something outside, raising the tension in the room. I felt guilty leaving, but when I appeared in the front hall in a sundress, Collin lit up and gave me a kiss, telling me he had it under control. I knew he ultimately did. It’s not rocket science, it’s just exhausting and emotionally bloodsucking, and he’d already had a twelve-hour day of anxiety at work.

I kissed the top of Ben’s head and said goodbye to Rachel, who was paying no attention, and then I walked out the front door. I carried the plate of cookies and a copy of The Catcher in the Rye as I walked across the street. They were trying too hard, trying to be literary. Why not just choose Fifty Shades or a cozy mystery? When Rachel had to read this book for English, she called it a turd with covers. I, on the other hand, spent hours making meticulous notes so I could be sure to make comments that were sharp and poignant. I rehearse them in my head as I walk.

I was the last to arrive; there were a few other moms from the block already there. We all did the obligatory cheek kisses. Gillian’s living room looked like she was hosting a dinner party rather than a book club. Chardonnay was chilling in ice on the kitchen island next to a spread of food that could have come from a Vegas buffet. I wished I could hide my pathetic tube cookies.

“Wow, Gill. Did you do all this?” I asked, impressed.

“Oh, hell no. Are you kidding? It’s catered, silly.”

I can’t believe she’s had her book club catered. Everyone has wine and something fancy on a toothpick in their hands. She put my sad cookies next to the beautiful chiffon cake on the island, and I was mortified. There was cling wrap over them for God’s sake—on a Spider-Man paper plate left over from Ben’s last birthday. Kill me.

She poured me a glass, pretending not to think anything of my trashy offering, and I walked carefully over her white rug as we made our way into the sitting room. Of course she has a “sitting room.” It’s a bright space in the front of the house with vaulted ceilings and a blingy chandelier. We all perched on the edges of pale furniture. I never did quite know how to feel about these women. They’ve welcomed me so warmly, but they sometimes seem like a foreign species to me. Yes, I live in this neighborhood too, but it’s because of Collin’s success, not anything I’ve done. I guess they can probably say the same. I still feel sort of like an imposter. I don’t lean into it the way they seem to.

I didn’t intend to stay home, of course, but I still feel like I was destined for a career, never dependent on anyone else. It’s not that I feel dependent on Collin. That’s not the right word. What we have is ours. The way I contribute is something he could never handle, but I guess I don’t take it for granted the way they seem to. Gillian was constantly remodeling her house and upgrading things that you’d think it impossible to upgrade. She had a stunning outdoor kitchen next to a pool that appears damn near Olympic-sized. It was even highlighted in the local home tour magazine. One day she gutted the whole thing because she wanted the pool to be teardrop-shaped instead. And here I am using Groupons for my facials.

Even that sounds indulgent. Facials. I grew up in a doublewide trailer in Lafayette with a mother who worked the night shift at the hospital and an alcoholic father who spent his days quiet and glassy-eyed on the front porch, staring at some invisible thing, lost in another time. It will never feel right to buy five-hundred-dollar shoes or drive a luxury car, although I’d never want to lose the safety of it and I’m grateful my children will never have to struggle the way I did. This comfort is for them. This safety is for them. That’s the bottom line, so I brushed away the negative thoughts.

Tammy commented on Gillian’s bracelet. She held Gillian’s wrist, examining it. Everyone oohed and aahed as Gillian explained that it was an early birthday gift from Robert and she had to get it insured. I have never understood charm bracelets. An ugly soccer ball hangs off of her silver chain, but I made my face look delighted along with the others. After we settled in, I assumed the small talk was over and we’d dig into a great piece of literature. Kid-free, wine-lubricated, I was ready.

“Oh my God, you guys, did you see Bethany Burena at Leah’s wedding?” Karen asked. There was mocking laughter. I’d been at that wedding, but I didn’t know what they were referring to, so I stayed quiet. Liz chimed in.

“God, it looked like someone stuffed a couple honey-baked hams into the back of her dress.”

“And the worst part is she did that on purpose,” Tammy said, placing her glass of wine on an end table so she could use her hands to talk. “That ain’t too much buttercream, y’all!” Then she held her hands to her mouth and pretended to whisper sideways. “Although did you see her shoveling it in at the cake table?”

“She had those babies implanted,” Karen agreed.

“No!” Gillian gasped.

“Yep. Ass implants. Ass-plants.” Everyone roared with laughter. I forced a chuckle so I didn’t stand out. I hated these people, I realized right in that moment. I longed to leave. I could fake a headache, or check in at home and say there’s a problem with Ben, I thought. Why didn’t I? Why do I need their approval? Karen kept the gossip going.

“That’s not as bad as Alice. She brought the guy who cleans her pool to the wedding!

“What do you mean?” Liz asked.

“As a date.”

“No!”

“Scandal much?” Tammy was delighted she had everyone in hysterics.

“Alice Berg?” I asked, not understanding the social sin she’d committed. “Isn’t she single—like, divorced, I thought.”

“Yeah, but she brought The. Pool. Guy. Sad.”

“So sad,” Karen echoed.

“Desperate,” Liz added. She noticed the book in my hands. “What’s that?”

“What do you mean? It’s the book,” I said with a lighthearted scoff.

“Oh, Mel. I’m so sorry I didn’t mention it, I guess I thought everyone just sort of got it—especially since the book was something so random,” Gillian said.

“Got what?”

“We don’t, like, read it. We just need an excuse to get rid of the kids and hubbies for one night. I think we deserve at least that?” she said, glancing around for allies.

“Damn right we do.” Liz held her wine up and gulped it down, a sort of toast to herself. “You didn’t read it, did you?” I didn’t answer. I felt like an idiot. I was joking when I said it was an excuse to drink and have a night away. I was at least half joking. I thought that I may have found a few kindred spirits, perhaps—that they were at least making a half-assed attempt at self-betterment.

“I just skimmed it,” I said.

I was probably visibly blushing, so I picked a strawberry carved into a rose shape from the table and picked at it.

“Mel has a master’s in literature. Did y’all know that?” Gillian said, maybe in an attempt to redeem herself from indirectly embarrassing me.

“Oh my gosh, smarty-smart pants. Look at you.” Karen swatted my leg and smiled, supportively. I wanted the attention off me as soon as possible, so I didn’t correct her and say that it was creative writing…and that I never finished the degree.

“You should give me the name of your caterer,” I said, picking up a skewer of chicken and taking a bite. “I was gonna do a thing for Collin’s birthday. Maybe a trip, but if we stay in town we’ll have people to the house.” The subject is officially changed. Her eyes lit up.

“Oh my gosh, I have their card. I told them they should pay me for how many referrals I’m getting for them. Their almond torte is totally to die for. Seriously. If you don’t do a cake, maybe mini tortes.”

“Oh, cute!” Liz said.

We talked about mini tortes, whose phone carrier is the worst, Karen’s daughter’s (nonexistent) modeling career and Botox for the next two hours until I walked home unsteadily with my plate of cookies that Gillian gracefully sent home with me. I had to laugh a little at the idea that they met weekly, like they’d read that much. Made sense now. I tossed The Catcher in the Rye in Brianna Cunningham’s garbage can, which she’d failed to pull back into the garage (Tammy actually made mention of that particular oversight earlier in the evening), and I didn’t know if the crushing disappointment of the evening was worse than going back home to Claire’s bedpan and the mounting stress of teen angst and Ben’s moods. I wished I could just sit in the Cunninghams’ yard, drunk for a little while, but someone would see, and it would be discussed at some other neighbor’s book club.

The temperate dusk air was dense with mosquitoes and the chatter of crickets. I took my time walking back. When I approached our house, I saw Collin in an orange rectangle of warm kitchen light. He was washing dishes, sort of, but mostly looking past the kitchen island at the TV in the living room. I concentrated on appearing more sober than I was as I entered the kitchen. I sat at the table, pulling off my shoes, and he offered me a glass of wine.

“No, thanks.” I got up and filled a plastic Bob the Builder cup under the tap, then sat on a counter stool. He pulled one up next to me.

“Was it fun?” he asked, hopefully, wanting me to find an outlet—some joy in my life while things are so tough. I didn’t know if I should tell him the truth or make him happy, so I went down the middle.

“It was okay.”

“Just okay?”

“Eh. Not exactly the literary minds I was hoping to connect with.”

“I’m sorry.” He squeezed my hand. “I took Ben to pick out a new chapter book at Classics tonight.”

“Oh fun. What did he pick out?” I asked, thinking Collin was changing the subject.

He handed me a little postcard advert. “There’s a writers’ group starting next week.”

I looked over the glossy square and it had details welcoming any local writers to join the weekly Thursday group to workshop their writing. Before I could dismiss the assertion that I’m a “writer,” he pointed to the bullet point that stated “all levels welcome.” It was so incredibly sweet that he brought this for me, not only to encourage me in pursuing something I care about, but was also willing to hold down the fort every Thursday. I kissed him.

“That’s very thoughtful of you.”

“But?” he asked, anticipating a “no,” but I didn’t have a reason to say no. I mean, except that I had no writing to present to the group. I could write a critical essay on The Catcher in the Rye. That was about it. It sounded thrilling though. Maybe some accountability and pressure would be just what I needed. I glanced past Collin into the living room and saw Bennett asleep in front of WWE SmackDown! on the TV. I gave Collin a look.

“Well, he’s asleep, isn’t he?” he defended himself. Ismiled and shook my head, pressing my thumb into the crumbs on his plate and tasting the remnants of the cookies I left behind for the kids to eat.

“I guess I can try it,” I said, standing and rinsing the plate. Words I’d give anything to take back.

Excerpted from Such A Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass, Copyright © 2021 by Seraphina Nova Glass. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Buy Links: 

BookShop.org

Harlequin 

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Powell’s 

~Cassie