A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4

THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT by Emma Scott

Companion to the Full Tilt series

MEMPHIS by Ginger Scott

A standalone sports romance

UNWRITTEN by Jen Frederick

Woodlands series #5

Cross My Heart by L.H. Cosway

Hearts series #5.75

MOONSHADOW by Thea Harrison

Moonshadow series #1

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Release Day Launch: Peony Red by J. Lynn Bailey

It’s release day for J. Lynn Bailey’s PEONY RED. Check it out and grab your copy today!

Title: Peony Red

Author: J. Lynn Bailey

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Peony Red:

Alex Fisher hasn’t been able to find her stride since the death of her husband three years ago. She’s out of a job, out of time, and running on fumes. So, when she receives two postcards from Granite Harbor, Maine, inviting her for a visit, she takes it as a sign for a start fresh. For game warden Eli Young, life is simpler when he’s exploring the back roads of Maine. In the north woods, he doesn’t have to deal with town politics or his soon-to-be ex-wife. When Alex makes Eli an offer he can’t refuse, he should say no. He should walk away. Except he can’t. Something about her leaves him tangled. A dark storm is brewing in the small coastal town, and everyone is on edge when word spreads quickly about a young woman who has gone missing. When a picture of Alex shows up at a gruesome scene, no one is prepared for what will happen next. Eli wants to save Alex, but she has to save herself. The question isn’t, Can she? It’s, Will she?  

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Exclusive Excerpt:

PEONY RED
J. LYNN BAILEY
EXCERPT

Eli scoots closer, his look hooded. “Get under the covers.”

I obey. I know what he needs because I feel the same carnal need. Maybe we should just have sex, and all this would go away. I want him to slide on top of me, and I want to feel him between my legs.

Hesitantly, with the blanket between us, he carefully brushes the strands of my hair out of my face and then slides his hand down my neck. My body is fully aware of his presence, and I want nothing more than to feel him.

My breathing quickens.

With a layer of feathers between his hand and my body, his hand grazes over my breasts, my nipples knowing full well the seriousness of this situation as they tingle and expand, creating an ache.

His hand slides down across my stomach, and his eyes ask if this is all right.

I know this is not Kyle but Eli. Someone new. The only other man I’ve allowed to touch me like this. The feathers provide the buffer that I think we both need.

My lips part, and I lick them because they, too, desperately need attention. My legs fall to the sides, providing Eli with space that he needs and me with more want.

I need to resist him.
I need not to want him.
I need to gain clarity in my mind of what this looks like, this situation we’re both agreeing to, but I can’t. Because all I see is his face, which is full of concern, but I think it’s also something he can’t stop.

Eli’s hand stops right before he reaches the center of my body, the part that has only been claimed by Kyle. It isn’t because Eli wants to; it’s because he has to.

“I can’t do this with you, Alex.”


 

About the Author:

 
 Lynn Bailey has loved to write since she learned to read, around the second grade. When she isn't running after her children, watching COPS, or on the hunt for her next Laffy Taffy joke, you can probably find her holed up in her writing room feverishly working on her next book. She lives in Northern California with her family.

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Enter J. Lynn’s Giveaway:


Review: When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath



Synopsis

Gillie Trewlove knows what a stranger's kindness can mean, having been abandoned on a doorstep as a baby and raised by the woman who found her there. So, when suddenly faced with a soul in need at her door—or the alleyway by her tavern—Gillie doesn't hesitate. But he's no infant. He's a grievously injured, distractingly handsome gentleman who doesn't belong in Whitechapel, much less recuperating in Gillie's bed.

Being left at the altar is humiliating; being rescued from thugs by a woman—albeit a brave and beautiful one—is the pièce de résistance to the Duke of Thornley's extraordinarily bad day. After nursing him back from the brink, Gillie agrees to help him comb London's darker corners for his wayward bride. But every moment together is edged with desire and has Thorne rethinking his choice of wife. Yet Gillie knows the aristocracy would never accept a duchess born in sin. Thorne, however, is determined to prove to her that no obstacle is insurmountable when a duke loves a woman.


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OTHER TITLES IN THE SERIES

Beyond Scandal and Desire (Sins for All Seasons, #1)Book 1: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Avon Romance

At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .

Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .

As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.

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The Scoundrel in Her Bed (Sins for All Seasons, #3)Book 3: The Scoundrel in Her Bed by Lorraine Heath
Release date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: Avon Romance

The bastard son of a nobleman, Finn Trewlove was a shameful secret raised by a stranger. As Finn came of age he had secrets, too--the clandestine nights spent with an earl’s daughter. But her promise of forever ended in betrayal.

Driven by a past that haunts her, Lady Lavinia Kent seeks redemption in London’s underworld, engaged in a daring cause inspired by the young man to whom she gave her innocence, and who then proved himself a scoundrel by abandoning her.

When their paths cross again, they can’t deny the yearning and desire that still burns. As they discover the truth behind the deceptions that tore them apart, Finn and Lavinia must fight to reclaim what they’ve lost, no matter how dangerous—because love is worth the risk….

Purchase 


About the Author:

Lorraine Heath has always had a soft spot for emotional love stories. No doubt because growing up, watching movies with her mom, she was taught that the best movies "won't half make you cry."

She is the daughter of a British beauty (her mom won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor® during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero--Joker on the original Batman TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her "dual" nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan, and she enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.

When she received her BA degree in psychology from the University of Texas, she had no idea she had gained a foundation that would help her to create believable characters—characters that are often described as “real people.” Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today, Waldenbooks, and most recently, the New York Times.


REVIEW


When a Duke Loves a Woman (Sins for All Seasons, #2)When a Duke Loves a Woman by Lorraine Heath

Series: Sins for All Seasons #2
Release date: August 21, 2018
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 4 stars



    He’d kissed women before, lots of women, all sorts of women, but it had never felt as though any of them had reached deep within him and caressed his soul.

I was so excited to start the second installment in the Sins for all Seasons series after reading and loving the first book, Beyond Scandal and Desire. This is the story of Gillie, one of six illegitimate siblings who were raised by Ettie Trewlove. Besides the youngest, Fancy, they were all aristocratic children born on the wrong side of the blanket and discarded on her doorstep. Despite society's unfair prejudice against them, they have all grown to be a tight-knit family who are reasonably well adjusted and successful in their own right.

Gillie was a fascinating heroine who unlike most other women of her time wants nothing to do with love and marriage. She's completely independent, and focused on making The Mermaid and Unicorn tavern in Whitechapel a success. If she were to marry, the business she built with her blood, sweat, and tears would be handed over to her husband. How could she possibly desire such a thing? No, she was just fine living by her rules, since the rules and opinions of society had never been in her favor anyway.

    It hurt too much to care. She knew her limits, knew her path. It didn’t involve marriage, children, or love.

On top of that, she was taught growing up to guard herself from men and be wary of their intentions. Dressing in men's clothes, cutting her hair short, and binding her breasts, she learned to make herself blend into the background and avoid drawing attention to herself. Too many women had fallen prey to their passion, and she had no desire to repeat past mistakes and create a child who would be ostracized by polite society like her family had been.

Another thing I loved about her was her unpredictability. She was a study in contradictions. Growing up in the seedy side of town, saw things in her tavern that ladies couldn't even imagine, and because of that understands human nature at a deeper level than most ladies. At the same time, she's utterly inexperienced with men, to the point where she fears allowing anyone to get close. She knows the mechanics and facts of sex, but she's never even been kissed at almost thirty years old. She wouldn't think twice about throwing a punch in a bar brawl to break it up, or bluntly speaking her mind, but her tough exterior hides a woman who has no faith in her own desirability and confidence in her worth.

    For all her boldness, there was still a part of her that believed she deserved being left on a doorstep; buried deep within her was a little girl who wanted to believe she was a princess. He intended to treat her as though she were a queen.

Then there's her whimsical side verses her practical side. She daydreamed as a child that she was a princess, and loves mermaids and unicorns. Yet, in her life, her head has always ruled over her heart. Gillie is a true three dimensional character who's strong, yet just vulnerable enough to capture readers' hearts.

The book begins with a twist on the classic hero rescues the heroine trope which I really enjoyed. In this case, Thorne has been set upon by thugs, and could have lost his life if not for Gillie's quick intervention. After dragging him up to her apartment, she spends time caring for him and fighting some very unfamiliar feelings of attraction. Thorne goes in and out of consciousness, but even in his weakened state, he's drawn to her just as much. I found his insta-lust/attraction to be a little on the unbelievable side to be honest.

First of all, he was in her neighborhood searching for his bride who left him at the altar. Secondly, he's had a massive amount of blood loss and life threatening injuries. I couldn't help but feel that it was far-fetched for him to be mooning over another woman, and even responding physically in those circumstances as he was laying in bed so weak. I had a hard time connecting to them as a couple in the first half of the book partly because of feeling like their attraction was so abrupt and rushed.

The whole period where they spent time getting to know one another was in the search for his missing bride. As she assisted him through her neighborhood, there was a LOT of internal dialogue on his part where he compared her to Lavinia. Even though it was always in favor of Gillie, after a point it started to grate on my nerves. Yes, it helped to establish that he had no feelings of love for Lavinia, and that he was sadly lacking knowledge about her, but it didn't endear me to Gillie and Thorne's romance.

Thorne was an easy hero to love, and refreshing in that he wasn't your typical brooding or alpha type. He was much more open and warm, and from the very beginning, he admired Gillie's independence and differences. And though he was a Duke (and a cousin to the Queen herself!) he never looked down his nose at her, or anyone else in the working class. In fact, he admires them, and even rolled up his sleeves to help work in the tavern when she's shorthanded.

The greatest roadblock for Thorne was understanding and identifying the love he had for Gillie. Growing up with such cold parents, he has never been exposed to true romantic love. His father was a philanderer, and his mother was vicious and bitter because of it. There was never any parental affection doted on him from either of them, only expectations of his responsibility as the future Duke.

When he came to realize his growing feelings for the woman he admired so deeply, he didn't hesitate to try to introduce her to his world. Gillie was sure that like the Unicorn and Mermaid, they were destined to live in different worlds never to cross, but he was determined to convince her otherwise. She was strong, intelligent, and the bravest woman he ever met. All he had to do was convince her that she was the perfect candidate to step into the roll of duchess without having to let go of her dreams. The second half really picked up for me, and I was really invested in them finding a way to come together despite his mother and snobby society's expectations.

Though I didn't love this one quite as much as the first book, I still thoroughly enjoyed seeing these two find their way to each other. Thorne was a man who didn't know how to love, and Gillie didn't want to fall in love. However, they grew, changed, and by the end, understood themselves and one another better than they ever had before.

I'm so looking forward to reading Finn and Lavinia's story, The Scoundrel in Her Bed . Lavinia really intrigued me in this book, so I was excited to see that she would be paired with Gillie's brother Finn! I'll be counting down the days until February.


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Monday, August 13, 2018

Release Day Blast: Fauxmance by L.H. Cosway



We're celebrating the release of Fauxmance by L.H. Cosway! Don't forget to one-click today!


Title: Fauxmance
Age Group: Adult
Release Date: August 13, 2018
Book Description:
In this era of social media, we all pretend.
We pretend to be prettier, happier, more confident versions of ourselves, but not Ellen Grant. She takes it to a whole other level and pretends to be someone else entirely. Adopting the persona of a woman far more interesting is the only way she can break free of the socially awkward, romantically inept girl she really is.

And it’s all going swimmingly until she catches the eye of a man at her local coffee shop. Julian Fairchild has been noticing her for a while and he’s fascinated. Little does he know, the woman he thinks he’s obsessed with is a fake.

It’s not long before the jig is up, and Julian discovers Ellen’s true identity. However, he has a proposition. If she really wants to pretend, he can introduce her to a world where she can be anyone she wants. Ellen is intrigued by the prospect, and, blind to the nature of Julian’s profession as a male escort, closes her eyes and lets him lead the way.

Can Ellen keep her feelings in check while discovering a new world of thrills and excitement? And will Julian let it show that he isn’t entertaining Ellen purely out of the goodness of his heart?

Fauxmance is a standalone contemporary romance featuring characters first seen in L.H. Cosway’s Showmance.




About the author:


L.H. Cosway lives in Dublin, Ireland. Her inspiration to write comes from music. Her favourite things in life include writing stories, vintage clothing, dark cabaret music, food, musical comedy, and of course, books. She thinks that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories. L.H. is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Social Media Links:FB: www.facebook.com/LHCosway
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LHCosway
Instagram: www.instagram.com/l.h.cosway
Website: www.lhcoswayauthor.com
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lhcosway13/

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Book Spotlght: The Highland Chieftain by Amy Jarecki



Fans of “romance à la Outlander” (RT Book Reviews), will love this sexy, action-packed Scottish historical as a battle-hardened Highlander will fight with all he has to save the woman he loves–even if she can never love him back.



Title: The Highland Chieftain
Series: Lords of the Highlands #4
Author: Amy Jarecki
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Historical / Scottish
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Forever Romance

Synopsis

He is the last man she would ever marry…
After being unceremoniously jilted by her betrothed, Lady Mairi MacKenzie is humiliated and heartbroken – but she’s not desperate. As the daughter of an earl, she won’t give her hand to just anyone, and she definitely isn’t swayed by a last-minute proposal from Laird Duncan MacRae. The powerful clan chieftain may be disarmingly handsome and charming, but he’s not a nobleman. Mairi doesn’t want his pity or his charity – even though his dark smoldering gaze makes her melt with desire.

She is the only woman he could ever love…
Dunn may be a battle-hardened clansman, but he’s always had a soft spot for Mairi. For years, she tormented him with flirtation – only to reject him. But he’s not giving up. When Mairi is attacked by redcoats, Dunn goes after the woman he loves. Through brute strength and fierce action, he will protect her life at any cost. But to win her heart, he will have to show her the tenderness in his own.


PURCHASE LINKS


Praise for the Highland Chieftain

A "fast-paced, expertly crafted romance."―Publishers Weekly

"I enjoyed every minute of this story. Duncan was just so swoony, heroic, tender, and manly. ... There was a ton of action to keep your excitement heightened, but there was also a lot of heat between these characters as well. ...I highly recommend you get your hands on [it], especially if you are a fan of historical fiction because some of these characters are based upon real people. Overall, The Highland Chieftain was a smoking romance that was both endearing and sexy! I loved it!!"―The Genre Minx



Other books in the Lords of the Highlands series:
The Highland Duke


The Highland Commander

 

The Highland Guardian



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Award winning and bestselling author, Amy Jarecki likes to grab life, latch on, and reach for the stars. She’s married to a mountain-biking pharmacist and has put four kids through college. She studies karate, ballet, yoga, and often you’ll find her hiking Utah’s Santa Clara Hills. Reinventing herself a number of times, Amy sang and danced with the Follies, was a ballet dancer, a plant manager, and an accountant for Arnott’s Biscuits in Australia. After earning her MBA from Heroit-Watt University in Scotland, she dove into the world of Scottish historical romance and hasn’t returned. Become a part of her world and learn more about Amy’s books on amyjarecki.com!

Spotlight: Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton




Vampire hunter Anita Blake has managed to overcome everything she faces. But this time there's a monster that even she doesn't know how to fight...



Title: Serpentine
Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #26
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release date: August 7, 2019



Synopsis

A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita's fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it's the first trip she gets to take with wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it's not all fun and games and bachelor parties...

In this tropical paradise Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowout within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse--her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There's a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that's rendering those around her helpless in its thrall. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret--if she survives at all, that is...





Praise for Laurell K. Hamilton and the Anita Blake Novels

“Hamilton remains one of the most inventive and exciting writers in the paranormal field.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris

“If you’ve never read this series, I highly recommend/strongly suggest having the Anita Blake experience. Vampires, zombies, and shifters, oh my! And trust me, these are not your daughter’s vampires.”—Literati Book Reviews

“A sex-positive, kick-ass female protagonist.”—Starburst

“Number one New York Times bestseller Hamilton is still thrilling fans...with her amazing multifaceted characters and intricate multilayered world, a mix of erotic romance, crime drama, and paranormal/fantasy fiction. Her descriptive prose is gritty and raw, with a mosaic of humor and horror to tell this complex, well-detailed story. But it’s her enigmatic stable of stars that continues to shine, managing their improbable interpersonal relationship dynamics.”—Library Journal



Purchase here:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks 

New to the series? Check out Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1) where it all started! 


Anita Blake is small, dark, and dangerous. Her turf is the city of St. Louis. Her job: re-animating the dead and killing the undead who take things too far. But when the city’s most powerful vampire asks her to solve a series of vicious slayings, Anita must confront her greatest fear—her undeniable attraction to master vampire Jean-Claude, one of the creatures she is sworn to destroy...

Purchase here: 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Laurell K. Hamilton is one of the leading writers of paranormal fiction. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, Hamilton writes the popular Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels and the Meredith Gentry series. She is also the creator of a bestselling comic book series based on her Anita Blake novels and published by Marvel Comics. Hamilton is a full-time writer and lives in the suburbs of St. Louis with her family.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cover Reveal: Love Sincerely Yours by Sara Ney & Meghan Quinn

A sexy, smart, and heart-swooning romance about a girl who has nothing to lose when it comes to flirting with her boss.

This seductive contemporary romance from bestselling authors Meghan Quinn and Sara Ney will keep you on the edge of your seat as you fall in love with the first novel from this dynamic duo releasing October 9th!


     

Dear Mister...**strike out** no, too formal.
Hey there sweet cheeks *strike out* no, too forward.  

To whom it may concern,

Full disclosure; before we move forward with this email, I would like it to be known that I have consumed an adequate amount of alcoholic beverages to intoxicate myself tonight. Three margaritas, two shots, and one beer—because it was free. I think it’s important to be open and honest with your co-workers, don’t you? So here I am, being honest. Drunk but honest. Or just drunk with lust? You decide. I like you so much it’s clouding my judgment and making me do things I never would sober.

Like write this letter.

I have a hopeless, foolish, schoolgirl crush on you when you are the last person on earth I should be falling for. Did you know people around the office call you a sadist? An egomaniac. An insensitive, arrogant prick. Your bark is worse then your bite, and you don’t scare me. The fact is, I’d love that bite of yours to nip at my bare skin while we’re both wearing nothing but sheets. For once I want you to look at me as more than one of your employees.

And as long as we're being honest, that navy blue suit you wear? With the crisp white shirt? It really makes me want to loosen your tie and show you who’s boss.

 Love,
 Sincerely,
 Yours.  

PRE-ORDER NOW

AMAZON | AMAZON UK | AMAZON AU | B&N | iBooks to come

** KU NOT AVAILABLE WITH THIS RELEASES **

     

 

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte's, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British. She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog. 

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Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped. 

 Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking. 

 Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley



SYNOPSIS:

"The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren't such easy things to keep."
It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.

Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page.


Purchase here:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LVn3N8
B&N: https://bit.ly/2viLytB

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times, USA Today, and Globe and Mail bestselling author Susanna Kearsley is a former museum curator who loves restoring the lost voices of real people to the page, interweaving romance and historical intrigue with modern adventure.

Her books, published in translation in more than 20 countries, have won the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize, RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, a RITA Award, and National Readers’ Choice Awards, and have finaled for the UK’s Romantic Novel of the Year and the Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.

She lives near Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


REVIEW

BellewetherBellewether by Susanna Kearsley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars







    The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew within its walls as long as it stayed standing; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren’t such easy things to keep.

Charlotte "Charlie" Van Hoek is the new curator at the Wilde family museum at Snug Cove, and stumbles upon a love story in the Wilde family that ends abruptly in tragedy. She's never been one to believe in ghosts, but rumor has it that one has been spotted wandering the property in despair. Gossip, or a heartbroken soul unable to be at peace after a tragic end?

Whatever the case may be, she thinks it could be a great story to research while she organizes the restoration of the Wildes' home. Along the way, she meets Sam, the contractor in charge with a soft heart and a sensitive soul. He's a quiet man, but strong and dependable. The kind of man that cares and looks out for you if you're in his small inner circle. Their friendship flourished gradually, and eventually bloomed into love. It was most definitely a slow burn, and very much in the background of the overall plot. The main focus was Charlie's investigation of the Wilde family, and her challenges with her own family.

Coming back to the town where her family originated from is painful for more reasons than one. The loss of her father and brother back to back, followed by assuming responsibility for her brother's daughter Rachel completely shook up her world. She's still trying to settle all the pieces back into some sort of order. Then there's the fact that the grandmother that she's never met lives in town. The grandmother who disowned her father after he became a Vietnam war draft dodger and split town.

There's a lot of buried bitterness and hurt, compounded by pieces of history that were hidden from her most of her life. Even if her grandmother were to reach out to her, would she even deserve her time after she turned her back on them and refused contact? Charlie deals with a lot of inner turmoil as she tries to be there for Rachel, prove herself at work, and make sense of her feelings for the man who is her rock through it all.

Bellewether is a ghost story at heart, but not quite in the way you anticipate when you pick it up. Throughout the entire book you're wondering if the ending you think you know will come to light, and hoping it isn't the more time you spend with Lydia and the rest of the Wildes. I loved that about it. The plot is chock full of pre-revolution history in finely researched detail, and wonderfully character driven. Admittedly, it took me a big chunk of the book until I was firmly sucked in and reading at a fast pace. Because of the depth of the family history that's being introduced, it takes a while to fully entrench yourself. But it's so worth it when you do, and I'm so happy that I pushed through the first half.

There are actually three alternating first person POVs, Jean-Phillipe and Lydia in the past, in addition to Charlie's in the present. One thing I really loved was the chapter transitions. As we moved from the past to the present, or vise versa, the two characters on different timelines would be experiencing or feeling similar things. Charlie would be at the cove enjoying the sun on her face and the breeze blowing through her hair. Contemplating a sailboat as it glided past her. Then we'd flip to Lydia who'd be watching the boats go by at sunrise worrying over her family. It kind of brought home the fact that even though we feel so separated from those who lived in other eras, we all share the same threads of humanity. Clothing, culture, and technology may change, but our internal struggle and basic human experiences are the common thread that continue to tie us together.

One really unique thing about the past storyline was the fact that Lydia and Jean-Pierre didn't speak the same language. At first it confused me because I wondered how in the world these two people who were on opposite sides of the war, with a language barrier between them on top of it would grow to care about each other. I admit, I was doubtful. But I ended up really loving that about these two, and I felt like it ended up being one of the most romantic and unique things about them.

Their feelings didn't grow purely out of each other's physical appearance. In fact, it took quite some time before Lydia could even see anything other than an Acadian French soldier who fought against her brother with their enemy. Getting inside both of their heads from the first person POV really helped us understand how they studied one another. How they discovered each other's quirks, strengths, weaknesses, and hearts through the long months of transition while he stayed in her home. Words aren't needed when actions can be quietly observed to reveal the true character of a person.

    Wars lay easier upon the conscience, Lydia decided, when you could not see the faces of the people you were fighting. And it was vastly easier to hate a man when you’d not learned his Christian name, or pried into his private thoughts and learned that he was human.

I personally was more drawn to the historical set of characters. Lydia's struggle to keep the peace between her brothers, and fill the space that her mother left when she passed away made me sympathize. There's a feeling that the entire family is on the cusp of some very drastic changes. That the peace they share in those moments is ephemeral, as if it's about to slip through their fingers never to return again. Of course there is some tension over Lydia's budding romance because we don't know how or if tragedy will strike.

The Wilde family was extremely well developed with a broad family tree that I would love to continue learning about. Lydia's brother Benjamin was a privateer and hero of the revolution, and we learned just enough of his life to leave me very curious and intrigued. I really hope there will be a full length story there for us in the future! The author's skill in drawing me into that time period with her vivid and lush writing compensated for the reading pace that lagged at times. And she more than made up for it in the chapters leading up to the resolution. I couldn't speed through them fast enough, as I was desperate to discover if there would be a HEA. I did feel as if the romance between Sam and Charley could have given me a little more to savor between them, but overall the originality and mystery of Bellewether won me over. This is only my second read by Susanna Kearsley, but it certainly won't be my last.


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