A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4


Companion to the Full Tilt series


Heartbreaker Bay series #7

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Spotlight: A Rogue By Night by Kelly Bowen

From the author who Sarah MacLean calls "a charming, clever, and engaging storyteller" comes the next regency romance in the witty and sexy Devils of Dover series!

Publication date: May 28, 2019
Published by: Forever
Genre: historical romance

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Baron. Physician. Smuggler. Sir Harland Hayward is living a double life as an aristocrat by day and a criminal by night. As a doctor, Harland has the perfect cover to appear in odd places in the dead of night, a cover he uses to his advantage to bring in all sorts of illicit cargo from across the English Channel. He's chosen this life to save his family from financial ruin, but he draws the line at taking advantage of the honest and trustworthy Katherine Wright.

Katherine has returned to Dover to find that her family is working for a mysterious new crime boss. Growing up in a family of smugglers, she knows it's only a matter of time before they are caught—and killed. So after her brother is shot, she convinces her family to move away and start over. After they honor their last contract, of course. With her injured brother and elderly father unable to work, Katherine reluctantly steps back into the life she had left behind. And straight into the path of the merciless Harland Hayward.

Purchase your copy now!
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Praise for Kelly Bowen:

"Wonderful! A charming, clever, and engaging storyteller not to be missed."―Sarah MacLean, New York Times bestselling author

"Where have you been all my life, Kelly Bowen? If Julia Quinn, Sarah MacLean, and Lisa Kleypas were to extract their writing DNA, mix it in a blender, and have a love child, Kelly Bowen would be it."―HeroesandHeartbreakers.com

"Top Pick! 4 1/2 stars! What a way to start the Devils of Dover series! Readers will adore the dark playboy and the smart, witty heroine who teaches him a lesson (a la Pretty Woman). This is a book not only to savor, but a keeper that will stay in your heart."―RT Book Reviews on A Duke in the Night

"If you read one historical romance this year, make sure it's this one. I can not wait to see what comes next in this series. Final Grade-A."―Fiction Vixen on A Duke in the Night

"Oh reader, there's so much to love about A Duke in the Night - and this review only scratches the surface. The love story and lovely tribute to early feminism are both fabulous and so well done. Elegant, romantic and engaging, A Duke in the Night is one of the best romance novels of 2018."
―All About Romance on A Duke in the Night


Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She worked her way through her teenage years as a back country trail guide and ranch hand. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly's infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

You can find her on:

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Review: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

A brand new romantic comedy from New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey

Series: Hot and Bothered #1
Publication date: June 11, 2019
Published by: Avon
Genre: contemporary romance, rom-com

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Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World... whatever that means.

Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)

Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there's Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her...

Purchase your copy now
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Praise for Fix Her Up:

“I could not stop smiling. Romantic comedy perfection.”
- Lauren Layne, New York Times bestselling author

“Fix Her Up was a complete, utter, unrelenting delight.”
- Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling author

“Tessa does it again. I laughed, swooned and had to look over my shoulder to make sure no one was reading the sexy scenes with me. Well-written, with great pacing and lovable characters, I absolutely loved everything about Fix Her Up.”
- Mariana Zapata, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“Small-town atmosphere permeates bestseller Bailey’s comedic contemporary... Delightfully intense and creative sex scenes and potent emotions will reward both fans and new readers alike.”
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“a lovable cast of meddling secondary characters... a charming subplot...  The sexual relationship between Travis and Georgie is sizzling, but the emotional journey from fake relationship to true love is just as compelling. Don’t let the cover fool you: This romance is as steamy as it self-empowering.”
- Kirkus Reviews

“Bailey creates fireworks in this steamy novel as Georgie and Travis quickly break their own rules about their fake relationship. The story moves fluidly from one situation to the next, with lots of hot sex in between, and Bailey will keep readers on their toes as the “couple” starts to realize this might be the real thing. Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Helena Hunting.”
- Booklist

“Fix Her Up is (so far) my favorite romance of 2019. The novel features well-drawn protagonists, who are as incredibly likable as they are lovable, and endearing secondary characters that jump off the page and into your heart... an authentic romance with humor, heart, incredible sex, and a refreshing depiction of female friendship. This is a must-read for all romance fans.”
- All About Romance (Desert Isle Keeper)


Fix Her Up (Hot and Hammered #1)Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The rom-com has made a huge comeback and with the increase in popularity, the illustrated cover is literally everywhere you look. I'm a sucker for these adorable covers. I get why they're being used to attract readers in romance, but I believe the cover should be a representation of the inside and I really don't think that's the case with this one. It's even promoted as a rom-com which implies something light and sweet, and again, I don't think that's very fitting. To me this is general contemporary romance with very smutty, erotic parts. I'm not saying it was on the angsty side, or that there wasn't humor, but it was far from what I thought I was getting when I opened it up. Honestly, I came close to quitting in the first half of the book because Travis is exactly the cliche cocky bad boy hero that I dislike. Though I will admit that he worked through his relationship fears in the end and made quite the grand gesture to convince her that he was not only sorry, but committed for good.

Travis was the town hero and always destined for the major leagues. Everyone knew it, and when he finally made it, his popularity only increased in the public eye. Until the injury that robbed him of his hard earned career and left him bitter and angry at the world. He's back home feeling like a failure, wallowing in self-pity. Enter Georgie: his best friend's little sister. Instead of joining his pity party and patting his head, she gives him a dose of tough love.

I enjoyed Georgie from that very first scene. She has spirit and pulls no punches with Travis. However, with her family she struggles to stand up for herself and fails to make them respect her for the intelligent adult she is. They love her, but tend to underestimate her and treat her as if she's a silly child. In fact, in one scene, the whole family is arguing and she tries to interject with her opinion. Only to be shut down by her dad and told to "Let the adults handle this." The woman is 23 years old! You can imagine how embarrassing and frustrating that is. She's the only one who was not allocated a spot in the family company. Instead, she works as a clown entertaining children at birthday parties because she feels as if that's all she'll ever be in their eyes anyway.

    The dismissive texts from her siblings were nothing new. But this desire to prove to them she was a capable adult only grew stronger.

Which brings me to his nickname for her. It's pretty much the worst thing you could possibly come up with for a heroine who is upset about being treated like a child. Yet he calls her baby girl and she melts into a puddle. I never understood what it was that she liked. He would regret when it would slip out, and she even found that sweet.

    “Move up a little, baby girl.” Baby girl. She loved when he called her that. Probably because he winced every single time, like he couldn’t control the endearment.

When it came to Travis, I should have felt sympathetic because of his sudden upturned life. But he was too unlikeable for too long. In the beginning he didn't seem to care about anybody other than himself. Even Georgie's brother is supposedly his best friend yet he showed zero affection to him, never spent time with him, and they had nothing in common. Their friendship just wasn't believable to me. When it came to the heroine, he had to come to terms with the fact that she wasn't the little kid that he remembers when he left town for college. He's dismissive to her kindness to him and selfishly stands her up and breaks a promise to her without even planning to apologize. He did this knowing how much it hurt her when her family was a no-show to the brunch she worked really hard on. He does make amends later, but by that time I think it was a lost cause for me.

The two tropes listed in the synopsis are brother's best friend, and fake relationship. We also had the experienced guy with a reputation and the "good girl" virgin. I wasn't a fan. First of all, when he starts to notice her as a woman (of course only seriously after she ditches her thrift store clothes and dresses in expensive, revealing clothes) she hints that she's inexperienced and he immediately knows she's a virgin. He follows this internal revelation by thinking:

    If he didn't kiss her, someone else would claim that first kiss. No. No, he didn't want that.

So now he's figured out that she has never been kissed? At 23 years old, a virgin is believable though not common. But I must be missing something. There is no way she graduated college and reached that age without EVER kissing anyone. It's really emphasized how she has no knowledge about boyfriends and relationships, and she's never even flirted on the phone. There wasn't actually a plausible reason given for the fact that she's supposedly never interacted with guys at all beyond the "friend zone." Despite this inexperience, she automatically "submits" to his orders in bed and demands rough sex. She begs him to teach her in bed, and repeatedly reassures him that she's fine with a temporary physical relationship that will end when their fake relationship ends in a couple of weeks. This is a guy she crushed on as a kid, fantasized about, and is now growing very adult feelings for him. But she'll take a couple of fake weeks with him.

Later in the book, we delve into why he keeps pushing her so firmly away the second he realizes he shows her affection. When he finally did break himself free from the chains of the past it was a brief moment of self-reflection and abruptly he was ready to enter into a serious relationship with her. There was finally some sweetness at the end, but it was mostly not a romance I would typically read or enjoy. Many will disagree. If you like a domineering, self-absorbed player, this could be just the book you're looking for.



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review: The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe

Silver-tongued lawyer.
Keeper of secrets.
Breaker of hearts.

Series: Uptown Girls #1
Publication date: May 28, 2019
Published by: Avon Romance
Genre: historical romance

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He can solve any problem…

In serving the wealthy power brokers of New York society, Frank Tripp has finally gained the respectability and security his own upbringing lacked. There’s no issue he cannot fix…except for one: the beautiful and reckless daughter of an important client who doesn’t seem to understand the word danger.

She’s not looking for a hero…

Excitement lay just below Forty-Second Street and Mamie Greene is determined to explore all of it—while playing a modern-day Robin Hood along the way. What she doesn’t need is her father’s lawyer dogging her every step and threatening her efforts to help struggling families in the tenements.

However, she doesn’t count on Frank’s persistence…or the sparks that fly between them. When fate upends all her plans, Mamie must decide if she’s willing to risk it all on a rogue…

Purchase your copy now!
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Praise for The Rogue of Fifth Avenue:

“A brilliantly rendered historical setting, vividly drawn and memorable characters, and plenty of smoldering sexual tension that eventually combusts in sexy love scenes add a marvelous sense of zest to the start of Shupe’s Gilded Age-set Uptown Girls series.”
- Kirkus Reviews


Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on instead of attending classes, yet still managed to graduate with a journalism degree. She enjoyed a few years in sports and theater marketing but soon returned to romance by crafting her own racy historical novels.

In 2013 she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. Joanna’s first Gilded Age historical novel, MAGNATE was named one of the Best Books of 2016 by Publishers Weekly, and one of 2016′s top romances by The Washington Post and Kobo.

She currently lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.

You can find her on:
The Rogue of Fifth Avenue (Uptown Girls, #1)The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been wanting to try a Joanna Shupe book ever since her previous Four Hundred series came out. Frank Tripp was a secondary character who now starts out the Uptown Girls with his own book. I've read a lot of historical romances set in the old west, but I can't recall any American Gilded Age romances set in high society. The majority of my reads were set in Victorian or Regency England. For that reason alone I was really curious to see if it would be something that I'd enjoy. And enjoy it I did!! It was refreshingly original, well written, and the time period well researched. I've been reading the genre more years than I'd care to admit, and this brought something fresh to the table I quickly devoured. We saw a strong theme of the contrast between upper and lower class and their quality of life. How the opportunities they were born into, or lack of them influenced the path of their life.

Mamie Greene grew up in an affluent, privileged world. Her father is rich and powerful, and though he loves her, has antiquated views on how much control he should have over his daughters' lives. She may not have wanted for anything financially, or had to fear for her safety, but when it came to love and marriage and the rest of her life, she wanted no part in the set of rules that governed her class. Loveless marriages purely for the sake of appearances, all while seeking affection elsewhere? She'd rather stay on the shelf. Her father is determined to unite her with the son of his friend, and will ruin anyone who dares to stand in his way. She obediently agrees to his arranged marriage in exchange for her sisters' freedom to marry for love. What's not to love about a heroine like that? She's also a bit of a rebel, sneaking out at night to gambling clubs to raise money for the less fortunate.

She doesn't just restrict her fundraising to gambling. She lifts as many fat purses as she can get her hands on-until Frank catches her red handed. Hired by her father to keep her out of trouble, he certainly has his hands full with her. From their very first interaction, you see how strong his attraction is for Mamie, and how much he admires her. Up until now, he's admired her from afar, and traded barbs with her when they came in contact with each other. But there's never really any animosity there. He loves that she speaks her mind. Her wit is as sharp as his and she puts it to good use.

    “I’m quite capable of speaking my own mind.” “So I’m gathering,” he murmured.

Frank grew up in poverty with no prospects in life. His father was an abusive alcoholic, and after years of fear, hunger, and instability, he wanted more. And he was determined to climb the social ladder by whatever means necessary. He finally did earn his law degree, and with some white lies about his past managed to earn partner at a firm that caters to the top echelon of society. Now that he's clawed his way to the top nothing is going to convince him to put his position at risk. His forbidden attraction for brave and ballsy Mamie could bring him total ruin.

    Frank had always kept his career in the forefront of his mind. Success, power and money . . . the New York trifecta. And he’d gained all three. No woman, not even one as intriguing and clever as Mamie Green, would ever jeopardize that.

Frank was always likable, but he really goes through a transformation throughout the book. Mamie brings about some character growth in him: she helps to open his eyes to the life he turned his back on and to show compassion for those who need it most. The murder trial sub-plot was a big way that this came about. Through his efforts to get justice for an abused woman whose rights were violated by crooked cops, he not only gained a new perspective on his career, he uncovered some surprising revelations about his past along the way.

I loved Frank and Mamie together! They had amazing banter and complimented each other perfectly. They also had considerably more steam than I was expecting. Their passion had a lot of friction in the beginning with their battle of the wills, until eventually the spark was struck and there was no going back. Once Frank got to know Mamie, and her predicament regarding her engagement, he had to make a choice. Hold onto everything he always thought he needed, or risk it all for a love he never planned for? Frank is smart as a whip and can solve any problem set in front of him. Once he makes his mind up that he wants something, all bets are off.

I was so thrilled to start this series out at book one! There is a wide array of supporting characters whose stories I can't wait to read. Get in on this series from the ground up, you will find plenty to satisfy in this promising start to the Uptown Girls.



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Review: Bred by Ginger Scott

A coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations

Publication date: May 10, 2019
Series: Standalone
Genre: mature YA 

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My life was irrevocably changed the moment I stepped foot inside Elena Alderman’s grand front doors. A lifeless tomb on the edge of Chicago’s Southside, the Alderman home sat in one of the city’s oldest and wealthiest neighborhoods, and Elena Alderman was the queen.

She was also mad.

Not the kind of madness that’s readily apparent. No, her psychopathy was far more surgical—more…insidious. She was surrounded by beautiful things—most notably her grand piano and her adopted son, Henry.

I fell in love with both.

My gift blossomed when my fingers touched her black and white keys. But my life began when I became haunted by the boy. Henry Alderman was a handsome blend of arrogance and seduction, and as we grew up together, I found it more and more impossible to separate him from my thoughts. I envied his life. I imagined how my name—Lily—would look with his. I became his closest friend…and more. I gave him my kiss, locked away his secrets, and loved him even when it was hard to.

But we were just a game. Elena Alderman made the rules. And when she decided to change them, she broke everything.


Purchase here: Amazon 

About Ginger Scott

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling, Goodreads Choice Award and Rita award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, This Is Falling, Wild Reckless, The Hard Count, Cry Baby and Bred.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for a hella long time. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she's not writing, the odds are high that she's somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork 'em, Devils). 

You can find her on:
BredBred by Ginger Scott
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

    Henry has been bred to win…with room for very little else.

It really guts me to say that I didn't care for this book like I'd anticipated, but I always strive to write an honest review and unfortunately that's how I feel. A modern YA reimagining of the classic Dickens novel, Great Expectations sounded so fresh and exciting. And of course, I'm a big fan of Ginger Scott's writing, so chances were good that this would be a big hit for me. Keep in mind most of my problems were subjective, so you may have a completely different experience. I'm going to skip the plot summary and just explain my personal difficulties with the story.

The love interest Henry Alderman is a troubled kid who lives in a toxic environment. Naturally that has molded him into the kind of person his mentally unstable, manipulative adoptive mother has strived for. Yes, she actually aims to have a cold, calculating son to take over her business when the time comes. She controls every aspect of his life, and removes his personal choices and freedom in pursuit of her end goal. So while I didn't care for Henry's attitude and behavior towards the heroine, I withheld my judgement for the majority of the book as I waited for his character to show signs of growth from his starting point. But I think this was where it went wrong for me. While I understood how he came to be this way since we first met him at the end of junior high school, he stayed consistently subservient to Elena, and remorseless about the often cruel things he did.

    [...] Henry is nothing like me. He’s broken in a different way, and he doesn’t feel things like pressure or guilt. That much I know. He barely feels at all.

The romance is very slow burn. If you're looking for that type of romance, this could very well be the perfect read for you. The first 70% or so of the book is Lily and Henry growing up together, their school interactions, and in my opinion a pretty unhealthy friendship. Henry goes beyond insensitive and often humiliates or hurts her, but she continues to make excuses for him and forgive despite his lack of compassion.

    He isn’t sorry. He’s never really sorry about anything. That’s the man he’s becoming, and I hate that I still like him so much.

There were a couple points where she distanced herself from him out of hurt and realizing that he couldn't return her romantic feelings, but as soon as he crooked his finger at her, she would be drawn back in. There was a lot of back and forth between them. He'd soften a little, she'd get her hopes up for more, and then eventual disappointment. One or the other would get pushed away, only for the cycle to begin again. So when she finally did break his resistance and they started their romantic relationship so far into the book, I wasn't rooting for them. I actually felt as if she was being foolish and setting herself up for heartbreak. Even with almost only 10% of the story left, Henry was writing himself notes to remind himself to stay faithful to her while they were separated. That didn't really inspire confidence in his ability to now make mature, empathetic choices.

Henry failed to fight for Lily when it came to Elena. For their right to be together. There was no sacrifice on his part which is what someone does if they are truly in love. His obedience to Elena was only changed when outside forces intervened, and that was pretty disappointing. That would have raised my opinion of him greatly if he had refused to allow her abuse to continue, because really, he didn't even want any part of the company she planned to pass down to him. So what exactly did he have to lose?

Lily for the most part was a likable character, though she often made immature choices and let her emotions get the better of her. The influence of Elena and the privileged attitudes she was immersed in had a negative effect on her at times. This, along with other things I mentioned align with things that were inspired by the original characters they were modeled after, but in this modern setting I guess it didn't translate well for me personally. Henry is like the spoiled and cold Estella, Elena is the eccentric, insane Mrs. Havisham, and Lily is the enamored Pip who strives hard to improve himself. One thing I will say is that I didn't see the twist coming at the end, and it made me hate Elena even more which I didn't think was possible. Just when you thought she couldn't sink any lower, she proved you wrong.

To sum things up, I think fans of the original classic will find more to enjoy here, or people who are looking for an angsty slow-burn teen romance. It wasn't the perfect fit for me, but I remain a loyal Ginger Scott fan and look forward to what she has to offer next.



Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review: A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum

For fans of All the Light We Cannot See and The Women in the Castle comes a riveting literary novel that is at once an epic love story and a heart-pounding journey across WWI-era Russia, about an ambitious young doctor and her scientist brother in a race against Einstein to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Publication date: May 14, 2019
Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: historical fiction, literary 

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In Russia, in the summer of 1914, as war with Germany looms and the Czar's army tightens its grip on the local Jewish community, Miri Abramov and her brilliant physicist brother, Vanya, are facing an impossible decision. Since their parents drowned fleeing to America, Miri and Vanya have been raised by their babushka, a famous matchmaker who has taught them to protect themselves at all costs: to fight, to kill if necessary, and always to have an escape plan. But now, with fierce, headstrong Miri on the verge of becoming one of Russia's only female surgeons, and Vanya hoping to solve the final puzzles of Einstein's elusive theory of relativity, can they bear to leave the homeland that has given them so much?

Before they have time to make their choice, war is declared and Vanya goes missing, along with Miri's fiancé. Miri braves the firing squad to go looking for them both. As the eclipse that will change history darkens skies across Russia, not only the safety of Miri's own family but the future of science itself hangs in the balance.

Grounded in real history -- and inspired by the solar eclipse of 1914 -- A Bend in the Stars offers a heartstopping account of modern science's greatest race amidst the chaos of World War I, and a love story as epic as the railways crossing Russia.

Purchase your copy now!
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"A rousing debut. . . Fans of Kristin Hannah will enjoy Barenbaum’s exhilarating tale."

"A romantic adventure with a neatly dovetailed ending that will appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah and Pam Jenoff." -BOOKLIST

"A Bend in the Stars is a vivid and wrenching debut, full not only with the darkness of history but also with hope — a literary saga for fans of The Invisible Bridge and All the Light We Cannot See. Love and war and Relativity weave together seamlessly, and we're left understanding that there's more than one way for the universe to bend."

"A sweeping epic that transports the reader into another era, even as the struggles of its characters feel powerfully modern and timely."

"With the timelessness of a folk tale, the twists and turns of an adventure story, and the pleasures of a science thriller, A Bend in the Stars both fills the reader's heart and keeps it beating fast. This novel's strong gravitational pull draws you powerfully alongside Miri and Vanya in their harrowing quests, and its emotional payoff makes you never want to let them go."

A riveting and deftly-plotted novel that leads us through the twisted labyrinths of Riga, hurtles us atop a pile of crates on a train rumbling toward Kiev, and illuminates how the violence of history and the thrill of scientific discovery unfold in startling simultaneity.

"Rachel Barenbaum's A Bend in the Stars is a beautiful thrill ride steeped in the history of Czarist Russia, from its poverty-ridden shtetls to its roaring trains, and the awesome lure of science. This is a book of history rewritten, dreams realized, and justice served-a book about relativity, war, hatred, and the weight of our assumptions and our great loves."

"I loved this so much. The comparison to Dr. Zhivago, one of my favorite movies, to Einstein is perfect. A love triangle, a solar eclipse, the Czar and everyone trying to just survive, A Bend in the Stars is a terrific literary saga for those readers of All the Light You Cannot See and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena."


Rachel Barenbaum is a graduate of Grub Street's Novel Incubator program. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor, before moving to the New Hampshire woods to write. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB in Literature and Philosophy from Harvard College. A Bend in the Stars is her first novel.

You can find her on:
Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads


A Bend in the StarsA Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A Bend in the Stars is a sweeping epic portrait of the devastation and desperation of war. This story does not read like it came from a novice writer, far from it. If I hadn't known this was a debut novel beforehand, I would have expected this kind of talent from a seasoned author with years of honing their craft under their belt. Once I got past situating myself in the beginning, I was flying through the book for the majority of its 464 pages. That's no mean feat. With every gasp that escaped these characters, every fearful thundering heartbeat, I was standing next to them in solidarity.

Miri and Vanya Abramov have already suffered great loss and injustice by the year 1914. Their parents died attempting to make it to America for the family, and since then tensions have escalated to the point of war. As Jews living in pre-war Russia, beatings and murder are occurrences that could happen without warning on any given day. There is no such thing as safety, and they've learned to live their lives as if walking on eggshells. To survive the constant abuse and discrimination and get by one day at a time. The siblings are both brilliant in their own right: Vanya is a professor of physics, Miri a doctor who has just been approved to become one of the first few female surgeons to practice in her country. But however much they excel, there are always those who wish to abuse their position of power to prevent them from succeeding.

Vanya idolizes Albert Einstein and has even corresponded with him once over his theory of relativity. He is consumed with the idea of proving his theory and making a huge difference in the world through scientific discovery. The upcoming total solar eclipse is his chance to make that contribution, and at the same time gain entry into America. If he can meet with the American journeying there to take photographs of the rare event, a position at Harvard will be assured. That will mean safety and freedom for his family unlike anything they've experienced before. Unfortunately the timing of WW1 breaking out is cataclysmic for his plans. But he's determined to succeed and begins a perilous, life or death journey fraught with danger.

The historical detail was very well researched, and rich with detail without being too indulgent. I never felt as if it was at the expense of a well paced plot. We alternated between brother and sister until they finally intertwine towards the end near the final climax. Fact and fiction were perfectly woven together to create a war novel unlike any I've read before. There was love amid the madness: unequivocal love for family, and another love story that seemed doomed to end in tragedy in one way or another. Why? Because Miri is engaged, suddenly there is another love interest, and at any moment any one of them could die at the hands of a multitude of people hunting them. I'm not a huge fan of love triangles, and this one was no different but those are my personal preferences. I felt almost guilty for taking off a half star because the quality of the writing was so good. So gripping. This romance fell in a grey area for me because of the extreme circumstances that influenced the decisions made. Still there was some disappointment involved, but not enough to detract much from my love of the overall story.

The flash forward to the year 2000 brought everything to a close so poignantly and tied all the loose ends together crisply. Rachel Barenbaum is a new talent to watch. After her sparkling debut, I'm a firm fan that will be following her work in the future. Not to be missed!