The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

9781982112295_7b330Review originally appeared in Library Journal, July 2019.

Alternating between the vineyards of war-torn 1940s France and present day, the lives of Ines and Michel, newlywed owners of the famed champagne house, Maison Chauveau, and the head winemaker’s Jewish wife, Celine Laurent, are forever altered. As Germans are pillaging homes and sending Jews to prison camps, a frightened Celine draws nearer to Michel for protection, thereby pushing Ines into the arms of another and setting off a chain of dangerous betrayal. The labyrinths of wine cellars beneath Chauveau conceal not only champagne from the Germans, but resistance weapons, Jewish refugees, and forbidden love affairs. Presently, Liv, 41, unemployed and newly divorced after 12 years and many unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy, abruptly departs for Paris with her 99-year old Grandmother Edith, a loving woman, both stylish and eccentric. Unsure of Edith’s motives, Liv questions Edith’s connection to Chauveau and Reims. Readers learn Edith’s painful secrets, and will appreciate the importance of family legacy and the passionate venture of champagne making. Unfolding in multiple viewpoints, the writing is atmospheric and rich, showcasing heavily researched topics of champagne making and French resistance efforts. VERDICT: Harmel’s touching story of love and loss in World War II France will appeal to fans of Pam Jenoff and Kate Quinn.

Manhattan by Kandi Steiner

Manhattan - RB banner.jpg

copy-of-manhattan-cover-finalLibrarian Laura’s Review of Manhattan

Manhattan is #3 in the Becker Brother series by Kandi Steiner. If you like small-towns, Southern gentleman, friends-to-lovers romance, whiskey, and angst, this is definitely the series for you!

Mikey Becker and Kylie Nelson have been best friends since they were eight. Mikey lost his father in a mysterious fire at Scooter Whiskey Distillery and Kylie lost her mother after a very quick illness the same year. Sharing a painful, but unshakeable bond, Mikey and Ky were inseparable all through the awkwardness of puberty and right up until Bailey came along and became Mikey’s girl. For two years while Mikey swooned over and made plans with Bailey, Kylie stood by him as his best friend, even though she loved him so much more than that. Beautiful, charming Mikey is aloof to her feelings for him and never did realize what was right in front of him all along. Now they have graduated from high school and Mikey is still reeling from the loss of Bailey. She left for Nashville to pursue her music career, leaving him in the dust, despite all of their plans to pursue music together in Nashville. Kylie is planning on a gap year, as a way to honor her late mother. As if Kylie’s heart could break into any more pieces, a down-in-the-dumps Mikey announces his plan to move to New York and start over fresh in the city of opportunity. Kylie is crushed. What kind of future in Stratford will she have without Mikey? But instead of letting him go without a fight, she devises a last ditch effort to get him to stay – by showing him everything Stratford has to offer him. Two months to prove to Mikey that he can find happiness again in Stratford, if only he will let the painful past with Bailey go and let himself truly live again. It doesn’t take long for Mikey to figure out that it’s not so much Stratford that could change his mind, but Kylie. However, the road to happiness for the youngest Becker brother and his lifelong best friend is not as smooth as they imagined. I promise you’ll love this story. I couldn’t put it down – finishing over half of it in one sitting. I can’t wait for the final Becker brothers story to release! Kandi Steiner is the queen of angsty romance and small-town, slow-burn romance.

Thank you so much to Social Butterfly PR for providing me with a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

 About the Book

The fire… the guitar… THE FEELS!

Everyone knows not to fall in love with your best friend. But when your best friend is Michael Becker, it’s impossible not to.

He’s everything our town knows a Becker brother to be: devastatingly handsome, charming as a thief, and the icing on the cake — a sentimental musician who’s never without his guitar.

And he was mine. At least, that’s what I’d convinced myself.

Our bond was born in elementary school, strengthened by circumstance and the promise to always be there for each other, no matter what. And the best thing about my life was being friends with Michael Becker.

Until it was the worst.

I watched him fall in love with someone else, and helped patch him back up when she left him behind. But when he drops the bomb that he’s moving to New York, I realize it’s my last chance to tell him how I feel. And I ask him to make one more promise.

One summer. One list of adventures to remind him that our small town has more to offer than memories of the girl who left him behind. One last chance to tell him I’m in love with him.

And I’m just dumb enough to believe that maybe he could love me, too.

You’ll love this book if you love:

➔ small town romance

➔ country romance

➔ summer romance

➔ romantic mystery

➔ friends-to-lovers

➔ slow burn

➔ angst

Download your copy today or read FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2M8G0dD

Amazon Worldwide: mybook.to/ManhattanKS

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2ONdVZA

About Kandi:

Kandi Steiner is a bestselling author and whiskey connoisseur living in Tampa, FL. Best known for writing “emotional rollercoaster” stories, she loves bringing flawed characters to life and writing about real, raw romance — in all its forms. No two Kandi Steiner books are the same, and if you’re a lover of angsty, emotional, and inspirational reads, she’s your gal.

An alumna of the University of Central Florida, Kandi graduated with a double major in Creative Writing and Advertising/PR with a minor in Women’s Studies. She started writing back in the 4th grade after reading the first Harry Potter installment. In 6th grade, she wrote and edited her own newspaper and distributed to her classmates. Eventually, the principal caught on and the newspaper was quickly halted, though Kandi tried fighting for her “freedom of press.” She took particular interest in writing romance after college, as she has always been a diehard hopeless romantic, and likes to highlight all the challenges of love as well as the triumphs.

When Kandi isn’t writing, you can find her reading books of all kinds, talking with her extremely vocal cat, and spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys live music, traveling, anything heavy in carbs, beach days, movie marathons, craft beer and sweet wine — not necessarily in that order.

Connect with Kandi:

Mailing List: bit.ly/NewsletterKS

Facebook: facebook.com/kandisteiner

Facebook Reader Group: (Kandiland): facebook.com/groups/kandischasers

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kandisteiner

Twitter: twitter.com/kandisteiner

Pinterest: pinterest.com/kandicoffman

Website: www.kandisteiner.com

Kandi Steiner may be coming to a city near you! Check out her “events” tab to see all the signings she’s attending in the near future:

www.kandisteiner.com/events

Kind of Cursed by Stephanie Fournet

KINDOFCURSED_BlogTour

48754850._SY475_

Librarian Laura’s Review

This is a sweet new multicultural romantic comedy that will cause you to both laugh & swoon. I loved it!

Twenty-four year old Millie Delacroix has her hands full. Five months ago, her parents were killed in a freak accident, leaving her in charge of her three siblings: teenage twins Harry and Mattie, and 8 year old Emmett. Millie has worked hard to become a respected veterinarian. And now she has to work even harder to keep things in order in her family home, as well. In an effort to bring some change and joy into their home, Millie pursues her late mother’s plans to remodel the family kitchen. Enter the tall, dark, and handsome Mexican-American contractor, Luc Valencia. Luc doesn’t stand a chance with feisty, red-headed Millie and her no-nonsense, but playful attitude. As things heat up between Luc and Millie, two problems arise. One – the curse (kind of). The women in Millie’s family are highly subject to pregnancy, regardless of any type of preventative measures they take. Case in point: her little brother Emmet who came along 5 years after her father’s vasectomy. Birth control just doesn’t seem to work for them. As such, Millie has sworn off men and relationships, especially since the most recent one with Carter ended so painfully. Her life of celibacy all sort of goes to pot when sexy Luc starts demolishing her kitchen. (I could totally insert wickedly hilarious tool and hammer puns here!)

Problem number two is that Millie is Luc’s client. Luc’s father worked so hard to build a respectable business in America, and he doesn’t want to do anything to seem unprofessional or give the business a bad name. And his Papi doesn’t take too kindly to him finding a white girl to date, either. Despite all the obstacles in the way of true happiness for Luc and Millie, there’s no denying their attraction and Luc’s genuine love and care for Millie and her siblings.  I won’t let you know how the story ends, of course, because that would be a spoiler. You’ll just have to read it and find out for yourselves. I promise you’ll enjoy it!

Thank you to the author for providing me with an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links

KIND OF CURSED is a brand new, romantic comedy by Stephanie Fournet

PURCHASE NOW:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/KOCKindle

Apple: http://bit.ly/KOCApple

Nook: http://bit.ly/KOCNook

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/KOCSmash

Kobo: http://bit.ly/KOCKobo

Purchase in Paperback: http://bit.ly/KOCPaper

About the Author

Stephanie Fournet, Amazon bestselling author of FALL SEMESTER, LEGACY, BUTTERFLY GINGER, LEAVE A MARK, YOU FIRST, DRIVE, SHELTER, and SOMEONE LIKE ME, lives in Lafayette, Louisiana—not far from the Saint Streets where her novels are set. She shares her home with her husband John and their needy dogs Gladys and Mabel, and sometimes their daughter Hannah even comes home from college to visit them. When she isn’t writing romance novels, Stephanie is usually helping students get into college, setting up a tent in the woods, or running. She loves hearing from fans so you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or message her on Goodreads.

Website: http://www.stephaniefournet.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.fournet

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/stephanie_fournet/

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2suNg7N

Twitter: https://twitter.com/stephanie4net

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/stephanie-fournet

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Dif9Xt

The Perfect Date by Evelyn Lozada

imagesOriginally published in Library Journal, March 22, 2019.

Young Puerto Rican single mom, Angel Gomez, is almost through nursing school, while bartending at a high end club, the Peacock, in the evenings to pay the bills. Pregnant at 15, she then lost her mother at age 17, giving Angel an independent, tough exterior. Her older, brassy neighbor Gabriella, a hair salon owner, helps take care of 7 year old Jose, a mixed race boy with asthma who loves baseball. Yankees star pitcher, Caleb “Duke” Lewis, is having ankle pain after a scandalous bar fight which left his best friend dead. He begins secretly coming to Angel’s clinic to receive treatment from the shady attending doctor. The handsome black baseball player is cocky, proposing that beautiful Angel pretend to be his girlfriend for the media to keep attention off of his injury, hoping he’ll get contracted for another season. Meanwhile, Angel is dealing with sexual harassment at both of her jobs, while Duke has financial trouble. The title is a bit misleading; as the characters never really have a perfect date, only attend a party together that ends with quite the unpleasant surprise. Told in alternating point of view, the story is full of diverse characters, but it’s also overfilled with subplots, choppy narrative, and the ending is tied up in a predictable bow. VERDICT: Recommended for strictly additional purchase as this contemporary romance novel has far less plausibility and actual romance than others of its genre.

Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman

9781911508304_fea99Originally published in School Library Journal, February 2019.

Gr 9 & Up: Readman’s debut novel unfolds in 1950’s Scotland, weaving together mystery and magical realism surrounding two young girls on a remote island. Lorrie’s family moved from England to help her aging grandfather, Grumps, in the family whiskey distillery. At once intrigued by her shy next door neighbor, Sylvie, whose life seems fairly uneventful due to her mother’s extreme rules. Sylvie is fascinated by kisses, keeping a secret scrapbook from her protective, prying mother. An unlikely friendship between the two young girls develops, providing a bit of happiness for each, though their family lives are far from happy. As Lorrie and Sylvie spend more time together, it becomes apparent that Sylvie and her mother are hiding a secret. Strange occurrences like Lorrie’s father’s disappearance and a miraculous healing of a young boy involved in an accident leave Lorrie and the town wondering about the friendly, yet strange Sylvie. VERDICT: Readers will enjoy the unique plot and vividly drawn characters of this atmospheric, coming of age story, though pacing is slow at times.

The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross

9780316476867_f37acOriginally published in Library Journal, October 15, 2018.

In her third novel, Ross (What Was MineMaking It) weaves a tale of the wealthy Hollingworth family and a secret that spans five generations. Rich historical details bring time periods to life from early 1900 wartime to the Great Depression and all the way up to September 11, 2001. Bridey, age 16, leaves Ireland with her sweetheart, Thom, hoping to marry in America. Thom perishes of ship fever, leaving her alone and pregnant. She gives the infant up for adoption, working in a factory until she meets Sarah Hollingworth and becomes a maid at the family’s lavish estate in Wellington, CT. Sarah, who lost her mother at age 12 and then took care of her siblings, marries Edmund, but is unable to have children of her own. Readers will come to know the infant as Vincent and follow him until his adult years. Vincent’s granddaughter, Emma, loses her own father when the twin towers collapse, a repeating pattern of tragedy for the Hollingworth family. Family drama unfolds in alternating viewpoints; the characters are linked across time periods, as they navigate poverty, loss, loneliness, and heartbreak. VERDICT: Fans of historical sagas will enjoy this dramatic tale.

The Magnificent Life of Esme Wells by Adrienne Sharp

9780062684837_af68f

Review originally appeared in Library Journal, January 2018.

Young Esme Silver was born in pre-WWII Hollywood to Dina Wells, a 16-year old wanna-be actress star with the right looks, but very little talent. Her father, “Magic Ike,” gambler and small-time crook, spends his days at the horse track, dragging “Baby E” along as he makes one poor decision after another. Though she had little formal education and an unconventional childhood, Esme is street smart, tough, and resilient. After battling severe depression, Dina passes away in unfortunate, sudden circumstances. Ike then follows Benny Siegel to Las Vegas to start up the Flamingo hotel and casino. Esme, a knockout like her mother, is soon a showgirl in post-war Vegas. Using her looks and body, Esme, 18, becomes romantically involved with rich, casino boss Nate Stein, a ruthless man in his fifties. Esme secures a position as a burlesque dancer, using Stein and his money to keep her father in a job, but she doesn’t realize how deep Stein and his wealth penetrate every pore of sin city until it’s too late. The ending is unsettling, leaving readers unsure where 21 year old Esme will end up. Esme’s story shows a little known side of Vegas, that of a showgirl trying to earn a living in a city where everyone is out for themselves. VERDICT: Sharp’s coming-of-age tale paints a unique, detailed picture of both the 1940’s Hollywood movie industry and 1950’s Vegas and the difficult, often violent lives of mobsters, casino bosses, and showgirls living in the city of bright lights. (Publication date 4/10/18)