The Last Boyfriend

Nora Roberts has another winning romance with the second title in her Inn Boonsboro  trilogy. (The first in the series is The Next Always.)   The Last Boyfriend continues the previous story, with  the Montgomery clan  renovating the old Inn.  The entire community has a stake in the outcome of the success of the Inn. Owen Montgomery is the organizer of the family–running the construction company and keeping the renovation on schedule and under budget. Avery is the owner of the local pizza shop and has been friends with the Montgomery family since childhood. Her first boyfriend was Owen, and they have remained friends ever since. Owen patronizes the restaurant often during the inn construction and finds himself more and more drawn to Avery. Avery is cautious and hesitant to build a romantic relationship with Owen, for fear or ruining their friendship. Past losses make Avery afraid to commit her whole heart, and when a person from her past reappears, she wonders if she can ever fully devote herself to Owen. Filled with likeable and engaging characters, humor and  love and with a friendly ghost added to the plot, The Last Boyfriend is a delightful addition to this series–Book three in the series (The Perfect Hope) will tell the story of Hope and Ryder and is due to be published in November 2012.

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Lucy and her friends have decided to spend graduation night searching for Shadow, the elusive but talented graffiti artist.  Ed and his friends just want to kill time until they can carry out their real plans for the evening.  In the meantime, Ed joins Lucy in her quest, racing to all of Shadow’s artwork while thawing their prickly relationship through their stories and hopes.  Lucy shares her obsession with Shadow and his art, unaware of how close he really is.  Graffiti Moon is a fun young adult novel with great characters and an artistic twist.

The Shoemaker’s Wife: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani

Ciro and Enza, two Italian immigrants, find each other and a future in Adriana Trigiani’s epic historical novel, The Shoemaker’s Wife.  in 1905,  seven year old Ciro and his brother, Eduardo, are left at a convent in Italy by their distraught mother who can nolonger care for her sons.  Her husband had died in America while trying to make a new life for his family.  The nuns become their substitute mothers and Eduardo takes to the religious life, while Ciro wants more from life.  He meets 15 year old Enza when hired to dig the grave of her little sister in a nearby mountain village.  Their attraction for each other during this difficult time begins a love relationship that spans many miles and many years.

Adriana Trigiani spent twenty years writing this story that tells the enchanting love story of her grandparents, who came to America.  The hardships they endure as they search for a way in this country are overcome through their determination to succeed and strength of character.  The historical details of the Metropolitan Opera House in the early twentieth century, and Enza’s relationship with Enrico Caruso for whom she sews costumes and cooks traditional Italian delights add to the delight of this story.

The Proposal by Mary Balogh

Gwendoline, Lady Muir has long been known for her cheerful disposition in spite of her widowed status.  Lord Trentham, Hugo, is a former soldier and grumpy recluse who only emerges once a year to gather with fellow war survivors.  When Gwendoline experiences a moment of vexation, causing her to undertake a more ambitious walk than usual, she trips and badly twists her ankle.  The imposing Hugo is nearby and ignores her protests to scoop her up to carry her back to the manor where he’s visiting.  Their forced companionship leads him to question his original impression of her as a silly, vain woman and leads her to question whether she is really as content with being a widow as she originally thought.  In The Proposal, Balogh creates another sweeping Regency romance that you won’t be able to put down till the very end.

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins has added another delightful romance to her collection of novels such as Catch of the Day and The Next Best Thing.  Her latest, Somebody to Love, tells the story of Parker Welles–a single mother and children’s author whose father, a financial advisor, has provided a life of wealth and luxury. When he is involved in an insider trading deal, he goes to jail, after having bankrupted the family. Parker and her son Nicky are forced to move to a small town in Maine, where a distant relative has left her a dilapidated cottage. James Cahill, her father’s personal attorney, comes to Maine to help fix up the cottage, despite Parker’s hostility towards him. Can they each overcome past disappointments to fine love?   This is a heartwarming story filled with quirky (and some familiar) local characters, witty dialog, humor and likeable characters. Another winner for author Kristan Higgins!

Good Girls Do by Cathie Linz

Librarian Julia Wright has separated herself from her eccentric family in an attempt to have a quiet, responsible, and normal life.  But once Luke Maguire rides up, dressed in black and riding a Harley, Julia’s serenity starts swirling down the drain.  Luke is forced to come back to Serenity Falls due to a clause in his father’s will and resents every minute there, but is starting to wonder if the cute librarian might make his stay a bit more tolerable.   Julia is further troubled by the sudden appearance of the very family she was trying to avoid; a hippie mother and a free-spirited sister who’s most recent business venture leave them stuck asking the responsible Julia to let them move in.

All set in a quirky small town with great secondary characters, Good Girls Do is a delightful story that will keep you laughing and racing to the very end.

The Little Russian by Susan Sherman

>Gritty and atmospheric, The Little Russian, grabbed me and held me in the early twentieth century drama that Jewish Russians experienced.  Vacillating between the horror of pogroms where Jews were massacred, to the lfestyle of a very wealthy grain merchant, we follow the story of Berta Alshonsky.
  As a child, Berta tastes the pleasures of money while staying with wealthy relatives in Moscow. She is sent back to life in the Ukraine, Little Russia, as a grocer’s daughter in a small hamlet when she is no longer needed as a companion to her cousin.   A wealthy grain buyer falls for Berta and life is easy once more until her husband’s secret life as an arms smuggler is revealed.  Berta makes the fateful decision to stay in the Ukraine with her children when her husband flees to America.  The tumultous war time and lost love reminds me of the epic Dr. Zhivago.  Berta’s courage and determination to find her husband are tested in her fight for survival and protection of her children. This first novel for Susan Sherman is an impressive beginning.

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

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Poppy Wyatt has lost it.  In the midst of a hotel fire drill she manages to lose both her family-heirloom engagement ring and her cell phone, causing a near panic until she catches a glimpse of a phone in the trash can.  Finders keepers, right?  Sam Roxton, obnoxious businessman and the owner of the phone disagrees.  Now Poppy is fielding messages and calls from Sam’s business associates and her cranky wedding planner, but still not from all the people who are supposed to be finding her engagement ring.  Add to this juggling act Poppy’s attempt to impress her future in-laws while hiding her loss of ring from them and chaos is the result.  Sam ends up being her conscience and support and forces her to question what’s missing from her relationship with the “perfect” Magnus besides an emerald ring. 

In Kinsella’s classic style of a well-intentioned heroine who just keeps messing up, I’ve Got Your Number will keeping you cringing, laughing, and cheering on Poppy to the very end.

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

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For the past 5000 years, one million souls have inhabited Range, reincarnated in a new body each time they die. Ana is the first newsoul in all that time, and her existence raises questions others don’t want to think about. Her own mother calls her a nosoul and removed her from civilization to raise her in the woods away from people. After years of abuse from a woman who denies her ability to experience emotions, she sets off for the city to search for answers.

Ana is not necessarily welcome in the capital, Heart, either. Her curiosity and impulsive nature don’t endear her to the many people who have lived thousands of years and are unsettled by the change she represents.

One man who finds her fascinating and welcomes change is Sam, the most well-known musician on Range. Her own love of music draws the two of them together, and she enlists him in her mission to find out why she suddenly appeared and what happened to the soul her’s replaced. Others are not as pleased about her rejoining civilization and her search for answers. When she was out of sight, those who were disturbed by her existence could forget about her.

In a hard world filled with dragons, sylph, trolls, centaurs and other dangerous creatures, Ana must also worry about humans who see her as a threat to be eliminated.

Incarnate is Jodi Meadows’ debut novel and the first book in a planned trilogy.

The Wedding Kiss by Hanna Alexander

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A Wedding Kiss can be life-changing.  Keara’s father has just gambled their farm away and gone to jail accused of murder.  In desperation, she approached Elam Jensen with an offer of marriage.  Elam’s wife died of smallpox a year ago, and Keara has been helping take care of his children.  A marriage of convenience becomes much less convenient when Keara and Elam share their first kiss on their wedding day! It becomes more than they expected when  God Shows them what He really  has in store for their lives.  A mysteriously injured visitor shows up unexpectedly on their wedding day.  Will her private battle draw them into deadly danger?
Visit Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in 1901 and discover what excitement and romance await along the White River Hollow.

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas

>In her latest novel Rainshadow Road, Lisa Kleypas mixes romance, love and magic while telling the story of Lucy and Sam. In this sequel to Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, which tells the story of his brother Mark, Sam Nolan works on repairing his old Victorian home and on tending to his vineyard in the San Juan Islands. Lucy is a glass artist, living with her boyfriend Kevin. He informs her that not only does he want to end their relationship, but he has taken up with Lucy’s sister Alice. On a bike ride around the island, an accident forces Lucy to turn to Sam for help. Both of these characters have pasts filled with betrayal and emotional trauma and both are reluctant to rely on anyone again. Their relationship develops slowly and is filled with honesty and sweetness and both must make choices about old patterns and new beginnings–a  touching love story.

Delicacy: a Novel by David Foenkinos

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Heartbreak and humor combine in this wonderfully written novel by French author Foenkinos. Delicacy explores the emotional life of Natalie, a young woman who falls in love and lives the perfect life until her husband is killed in a tragic accident. Natalie’s journey towards healing is told with humor and insight into the difficult process of starting over. The title reflects the sweet and delicate telling of the  unlikely relationship that develops between Natalie and her co-worker Marcus. A touching story, refreshing style and appealing characters along with whimsical footnotes between chapters combine to make Delicacy a novel that is a pleasure to read and savor.

Song of My Heart

>by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Song of My Heart takes us to Kansas in the day of prohibition.  Sadie needs to provide for her family while her step-father is recovering from a mining accident in Indiana.  Cousin Sid encourages Sadie to come to Goldtree, Kansas, to accept a job at the local mercantile.  But, it’s the added bonus of being able to sing in the Opera House that convinces Sadie to take the offer.  Sadie is happy with her new positions in Goldtree until, Asa, the opera house owner, wants her to sing questionable tunes for a new crowd.   Because Sadie doesn’t want to let her family down she feels pressed to do a Asa says.

In the meantime Mayor Hanaman hires Thad, a wanna be preacher, to rouse out the moonshiners before the growing town is brought to ruin.  Of course, Sadie and Thad are attracted to one another, but when Thad hears Sadie practicing bawdy tunes and also appears to be involved in the moonshining business, all romancing is cancelled.

Kim Sawyer brings us another good read you won’t want to miss.

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

>Madame Emma Delagardie has become a poetry heckler.  Augustus Whittlesby thought that he had created the perfect cover when he started using ridiculously effusive poetry to send coded messages back to England from Napoleonic France, until he began experiencing heckling in the form of Emma.  He’s tired of outrageous clothes and being thought of as an idiot.

Emma, an American emigre,  lost her husband four years earlier and has done her best to earn the label of “merry widow.”  But her parties, paste jewels, and ever-flowing champagne are her attempt to cover the grief for a husband that she only came to appreciate when it was too late.

Fate forces Whittlesby to deal with the biggest annoyance in his life when he needs to find a way to get an invitation to Napoleon’s house party and Emma’s commission to write a masque for the occasion is the only possibility.  Spending hours together, writing and laughing, makes both of them wonder if appearances aren’t always what they seem.  Augustus has a difficult time focusing on the mission and begins to question if it is worth the sacrifices he’s made for the good of his country.

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig is another outstanding installment in The Pink Carnation Series, but works on its own just as well.  Rollicking dialogue, humorous espionage, and a delightful romance make for a great read.

  

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

>I must confess, I read One for the Money a few years ago and I didn’t like it. I decided to give Janet Evanovich one more try, though, so I picked up Love in a Nutshell and was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it.

Kate Appleton has had a horrible year. She found out her husband was cheating on her, got a divorce, lost the custody battle over her poodle, and then she lost her job. She really needs a break. Her plan is to fix up her parents’ lake house and turn it into a bed and breakfast. This would be easier if it weren’t in horrible shape and she hadn’t lost most of her savings in the housing market crash when she and her husband’s house lost a lot of its value.

Enter Matt Culhane, owner of a successful restaurant/brewery in town who needs someone to find out who has been sabotaging his business. Matt offers Kate $20,000 to find his saboteur, which she accepts as pretty much her only option for saving the house (did I mention her parents were behind on house payments?).

Kate has a lot on her plate with trying to find out who is sabotaging Matt’s business, meet new friends in Keene’s Harbor, fix up her parents’ house, and try to resist her growing attraction to Matt.