Thursday, April 18, 2024

Miss Devon's Choice

Ms. Britton brings us on another adventure of this family. This time it's Rebecca's turn, with a bit of a Beauty and the Beast theme. 

A delightful read of how an arranged marriage can end up with two people falling in love, which I rather thought was quite a rub against the arrangers. Well done Rebecca and Devon! 

Naturally, it isn't all smooth sailing. Though there are boats. And a dog. And Italy. And music. 

There are loveable characters and others you'd like to seen thrown in the nearest dung heap. 

And a few choice kisses, that maybe are against the times, but as a romance reader, I'll allow it. ;) 

Sweet and clean historical you'll enjoy from beginning to end. 


A scarred and lonely viscount and an independent young woman are forced into an arranged marriage. What hope do they have for a happily ever after?

Rebecca Devon lives under the severe eye of her aunt and the iron will of her father. Though she wears what she is told and befriends the people they choose for her, she spends every moment longing to do as she wishes. Knowing freedom will only come through marriage, her hopes for a happy union are stolen away when her father arranges her marriage to a complete stranger.

Christian Hundley, Lord Easton, has learned the hard way that English society won't accept a person who looks or behaves differently than their ideal. He has hidden himself away from scornful eyes for years, until his aging grandfather takes matters in hand and finds Christian a bride. Knowing he must agree to the marriage, Christian shields his heart. If the whole of society cannot accept him, why should his bride?

Rebecca knows she must have love in her life, but Christian is convinced there is nothing so fraught with danger and pain as entrusting one’s heart to another. Rebecca does everything she can to change his mind, but Christian is determined to remain aloof. Can an arranged marriage ever be anything other than a business partnership?

While this is the fifth book in the Regency romance series, Branches of Love, it can be read as a stand-alone romance.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

It Was Always You

Ms. Corry has a wonderful way of presenting teens. 

She isn't afraid to give them hard circumstances or expressive feelings that match the represented demographic. There is great internal and external conflict for the characters to work through, not to mention the use of the fake relationship trope. 

She's great at putting the reader inside their heads and hearts. 

You don't need to read the other books in this series to enjoy this one, but it is better to read them as the other characters show up from book to book. 

What’s the first rule when pretending to date your brother’s best friend? Don’t let feelings get involved.

Sixteen-year-old Lexi Stevens has never been kissed—never even been asked on a date. So when she humiliates herself in front of her crush and her brother’s best friend offers to be her fake boyfriend for the week to make him jealous, she doesn’t know if it’s the stupidest idea ever, or a dream come true.

When Noah Taylor gets kicked out of his house by his abusive stepdad, the last thing he needs is for anyone at school to find out—not even his best friend. But when his new “girlfriend” discovers him sleeping in his car and offers to let him sleep in her closet, he starts to wonder if he’s found someone he can confide in after all.

Pretty soon Noah and Lexi are putting on a big show in front of the whole school while sneaking around behind her overprotective father’s back. It isn’t long before feelings develop and it becomes harder and harder to discern between what’s fake and what’s real.

IT WAS ALWAYS YOU is a standalone novel in The Ridgewater High series. Perfect for readers who enjoy sweet YA romance with ballad-worthy chemistry, passionate kisses and endearing characters.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Finding Freedom: A Cook's Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch

Do not read this book if you're hungry. It's all about food and the woman who cooks it. 

This is a memoir of from childhood to adulthood and everything in between. 

And yet it felt like fiction. 

There were moments when I mentally told the heroine, "Don't do it." or "Go for it!" or "I hope she gets a happy ending or this will be very depressing." 

And then had to remember that people's lives don't always end happily. That's real life. I won't spoil how this woman's life turned out. You'll have to read that for yourself. 

And now, I need to send in my postcard and get lucky enough to win a table at The Lost Kitchen this summer. 

A good thing my book club picked this or I would've missed it. 

*contains swearing*

Long before The Lost Kitchen became a world dining destination with every seating filled the day the reservation book opens each spring, Erin French was a girl roaming barefoot on a 25-acre farm, a teenager falling in love with food while working the line at her dad’s diner and a young woman finding her calling as a professional chef at her tiny restaurant tucked into a 19th century mill. This singular memoir—a classic American story—invites readers to Erin's corner of her beloved Maine to share the real person behind the “girl from Freedom” fairytale, and the not-so-picture-perfect struggles that have taken every ounce of her strength to overcome, and that make Erin’s life triumphant.

Finding Freedom, Erin opens up to the challenges, stumbles, and victories that have led her to the exact place she was ever meant to be, telling stories of multiple rock-bottoms, of darkness and anxiety, of survival as a jobless single mother, of pills that promised release but delivered addiction, of a man who seemed to offer salvation but in the end ripped away her very sense of self. And of the beautiful son who was her guiding light as she slowly rebuilt her personal and culinary life around the solace she found in food—as a source of comfort, a sense of place, as a way of bringing goodness into the world. Erin’s experiences with deep loss and abiding hope, told with both honesty and humor, will resonate with women everywhere who are determined to find their voices, create community, grow stronger and discover their best-selves despite seemingly impossible odds. Set against the backdrop of rural Maine and its lushly intense, bountiful seasons, Erin reveals the passion and courage needed to invent oneself anew, and the poignant, timeless connections between food and generosity, renewal and freedom.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Echoes of Summer

Ms. Bastian puts her tropes to good use in this novel. 

Second chances. Secret Baby. Workplace/Office. Friends to Lovers. 

If you like the romance formula, this one goes by the book, so you'll have a satisfying read. 


When her former boyfriend shows up eight years later, Madison isn’t sure if she’s more relieved or angry he doesn’t recognize her. Especially since she’s forced to work with him for a few months and he has no clue she kept such a huge secret from him.

When Stephen finally realizes Madison is the same girl he knew as Bea from his grandparents’ town, he’s excited to catch up and reminisce about those summers — but she seems cold and wants nothing to do with him.

The truth comes out and he learns he’s the father of a seven-year-old son, throwing him into completely unfamiliar territory as he tries to develop a relationship with his child and attempts to rekindle the romance he’d once shared with Bea.

Can they each overcome their sense of betrayal and learn to be united for the sake of their son, and perhaps find love again?

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Anatomy of Peace

When a friend handed me this book, I thought I would be bored reading a non-fiction book about achieving inner peace. 

I couldn't have been more wrong. 

The authors brilliantly teach their principles through a fictional story. I looked forward to reading a chapter each day over my lunch hour and got grumpy when I had to skip a day because I wanted to see how the characters would respond to the lessons and what I could learn and implement daily. 

The prinicples presented can be life changing if you let them. I certainly see myself and the world around me differently and better. 

If the world could do the same, our hearts would be at peace. 

From the authors of Leadership and Self-Deception (over 2 million copies sold) comes a new edition of this bestseller that has been thoroughly revised to more effectively address the diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges that plague our communities and hinder our organizations.

What if conflicts at home, at work, and in the world stem from the same root cause? What if we systematically misunderstand that cause? And what if, as a result, we unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?

The Anatomy of Peace uses a fictional story of an Arab and a Jew—both of whom lost their fathers at the hands of the other's cousins—to powerfully show readers the way to transform conflict. We learn how they come together, how they help parents and children come together, and how we too can find our way out of the personal, professional, and social conflicts that weigh us down.

The fourth edition includes revisions and new materials and resources that increase its relevance and usefulness at a time of deeply entrenched divisions throughout society. Additionally, it includes new detailed discussions of the pattern of dehumanization that lies at the heart of today's most pressing struggles with prejudice and discrimination—challenges that cannot be solved until the origins of bias and discrimination are properly understood and addressed. The new edition is a unique and vital resource for combatting racism and prejudice in their many manifestations.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Assistant to the Villian

My sister recommended this one, and I'm so happy she did. 

It's wonderful to find a clean story that focuses on the characters while simultaneously being excellent at world building and crafting a romantic thread all at the same time. 

The narrator was a brilliant choice for the story. 

The only thing I got blindsided by was this being the first of a trilogy, though I began to suspect the story would need more than one book as I got to the eighty percent mark. There was simply too much to wrap up and not enough pages/time. 

Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy. 


ASSISTANT WANTEDNotorious, high-ranking villain seeks loyal, levelheaded assistant for unspecified office duties, supporting staff for random mayhem, terror, and other Dark Things In General. Discretion a must. Excellent benefits.

With ailing family to support, Evie Sage's employment status isn't just important, it's vital. So when a mishap with Rennedawn’s most infamous Villain results in a job offer—naturally, she says yes. No job is perfect, of course, but even less so when you develop a teeny crush on your terrifying, temperamental, and undeniably hot boss. 
Don’t find evil so attractive, Evie.

But just when she’s getting used to severed heads suspended from the ceiling and the odd squish of an errant eyeball beneath her heel, Evie suspects this dungeon has a huge rat…and not just the literal kind. Because something rotten is growing in the kingdom of Rennedawn, and someone wants to take the Villain—and his entire nefarious empire—out.

Now Evie must not only resist drooling over her boss but also figure out exactly who is sabotaging his work…and ensure he makes them pay.

After all, a good job is hard to find.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Lessons in Chemistry

This was a book club pick and a worthwhile one. Otherwise, I would've missed it. 

Such a powerhouse female character, who will resonate with women of any age, is our leading lady Elizabeth Zott. 

I loved her outlook on life, her love of Calvin, and watching her carve her path in a time when such a thing was frowned upon. 
I had several moments when I laughed out loud. But I didn't cry. And I did learn about chemsitry, rowing, and how dogs think. 

I listened to the audiobook in four days. It's that good. The narrator is excellent. 

Prepare to have your thoughts challenged and elevated in the best of ways. 


Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an 
average woman. But it's the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America's most beloved cooking show 
Supper at Six. Elizabeth's unusual approach to cooking ("combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride") proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn't just teaching women to cook. She's daring them to change the status quo.

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, 
Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.