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  • Tara Sonin 6:00 pm on 2017/12/12 Permalink
    Tags: , a christmas promise, a cold day for murder, a highlander christmas, a kiss for midwinter, a rose in winter, a seduction at christmas, a winter scandal, becca fitzpatrick, bed of roses, biting cold, black ice, boy snow bird, bring me home for christmas, , candace camp, cathy maxwell, , chloe niell, , christmas angel, Cold Mountain, , , dana stabenow, dark celebration, deep kiss of winter, , , elin hilderbrand, elizabeth chadwick, elizabeth essex, , , gaelen foley, , Get a Clue, girls made of snow and glass, grace burrows, , ice, jane villaneuva, , , , , john green maureen johnson, , , , la casey, lady sophie’s christmas wish, lauren myracle, let it snow, , , lord of ice, , , marissa meyer, , , , melissa bashardoust, mercedes lackey, , never love a highlander, , northern lights, once upon a winter’s eve, , , , shadows and lace, , , snow falling, , susan wigs, , , , the bite before christmas, the scandal before christmas, the snow queen, , the winter crown, , the winter sea, , winter fire, winter garden, , winter stroll   

    50 Delightful Winter Romances 

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but with bare trees and freezing temperatures, it can also be pretty bleak. That’s why we’ve got fifty winter romances on tap; so you can spend the long nights with couples falling in love instead of shivering under the covers.

    Devil in Winter, by Lisa Kleypas
    What’s the best way to get away from a conniving family? Marry a notoriously terrible man, of course. But there’s a catch: when she demands that her rake of a husband stay celibate for six months, Evangeline finds his icy exterior thawing enough to let her into his heart.

    Deep Kiss of Winter, by Kresley Cole
    An ice fey, Danii possesses a dangerous ability to cause excruciating pain to anyone not of her kind who touches her skin. But Murdoch, a vampire, is not one to be dissuaded by the cold…especially when his passion for her burns hotter than any flame.

    Once Upon a Winter’s Eve, by Tessa Dare
    This novella stars Violet Winterbottom, who is swept away by a mysterious stranger at the Spindle Cove Christmas Ball, when a man stumbles into the ballroom and collapses. The mysteries surrounding him are numerous, but none more than the heat between them…which Violet will lose forever if she does not figure out who he is, and what he wants, before the sun rises.

    A Kiss For Midwinter, by Courtney Milan
    Christmas is Lydia’s favorite time of year, but even holiday cheer isn’t enough to erase the scourge of an event that could have ruined her reputation. Thankfully, only one other person knows about it: Dr. Jonas Grantham. She would rather forget he existed, but Jonas has other plans: he’s in love with Lydia, and intends to turn all her winters warm for as long as they live.

    A Rose in Winter, by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
    Erienne Fleming’s beauty is legendary in her village of Mawbry. Everyone wants to marry her, but unfortunately, Erienne does not have a choice due to her father’s debt. So when she is married off to the mysterious Lord Saxton, known for his terrible moods and disfigurement from a fire years before—Erienne knows happiness will elude her forever. That is, until she learns his true heart, and finds herself falling for a man she once thought of as a beast. It is at this inopportune moment that a childhood love tempts her away, and Erienne must make a choice.

    The Winter Sea, by Susanna Kearsley
    Carrie is an ambitious author who has her sights set on turning the story of a Jacobite invasion in 1708 into a successful novel. Especially since one of her ancestors lived the event. But Carrie soon finds herself lost in the snowstorm of truth and fiction, where they begin to merge.

    A Christmas Promise, by Mary Balogh
    Ellie and Randolph are meant to be: their perfect match and impending wedding is the perfect balance of wealth and title, and they are destined for a perfect union. Except that Ellie does not love him…and all she wants for Christmas is to marry a man she loves.

    Girls Made of Snow and Glass, by Melissa Bashardoust
    Mina’s life is upended when it is revealed her heart is not human—it is made of glass, and does not beat. Her magical father performed the devastating transformation with a terrible consequence: a glass heart cannot know love. But Mina is determined to know love, and will seduce a king in order to do so…

    Lord of Ice, by Gaelen Foley
    Damien lives alone, haunted by the trauma of war. But when he is named the guardian of a young ward, he is tempted both to re-enter society. Though he may have fallen prey to the chill of war, learning to love again will warm his heart.

    Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish, by Grace Burrows
    Sophie does not treasure her place in society the same way her family does—which is why a few nights alone in an empty mansion sounds like her Christmas wish has come true. But when a snowstorm, an abandoned child, and a brokenhearted man kind enough to offer assistance all conspire to disrupt her plans, she finds herself wishing for something new.

    A Winter Scandal, by Candace Camp
    Thea Bainbridge has always played by the rules of her society—and so when an infant is discovered in her church manger, she knows a man who does not abide them is to blame: Gabriel, the Lord Morecombe. But Gabriel is not afraid of scandal…instead, he finds himself drawn in both by the mystery of the child’s true parentage, and Thea’s determined spirit.

    Never Love a Highlander, by Maya Banks
    Caelen made a terrible mistake, but now he’s making things right: by marrying the bride his older brother jilted to heal the ongoing feud between two Highland clans. Rionna, his bride, may be interested in preserving the peace, but she’s vowed never to give her heart away—especially not to someone cold and guarded like him. But when a mutual enemy threatens their family, Rionna and Caelen unite to defeat it…and in the process, fall in (very, very steamy) love.

    Christmas Angel, by Jo Beverley
    Leander knows women love him. That’s why he wants a convenient marriage, one that will allow him to live life as he chooses—on his terms, and in anyone else’s bed. So when Judith Rossiter, the widow of the late poet Sebastian, decides to marry him to provide for her children, the arrangement couldn’t be more perfect. But she has secrets, and Leander finds himself wanting to uncover them, like plundering a virgin snow…

    The Scandal Before Christmas, by Elizabeth Essex
    Holiday novellas are short, sweet, and have just enough steam to keep you warm in winter. Ian Worth, a soldier, needs to marry before Christmas—days away from his next deployment to sea. So when he decides to marry Anne Lesley, a spinster with no other prospects (so she won’t ask questions), he believes all is well. But a snowstorm means they are trapped together, along with their secrets, and the desire growing between them…

    Bed of Roses, by Nora Roberts
    Nothing more romantic than a winter wedding! Wedding florist Emma has it all: her dream job, dream friends, and a dream love life. What she doesn’t have? One great love…and that’s where Jack comes in. But love isn’t always a bed of roses, even for those in the business of making it beautiful.

    All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire, by Kerrelyn Sparks
    This book combines my favorite things: holiday cheer, and vampires. Toni is on a mission to do the impossible: prove that vampires exist, so she can spring her BFF from a mental institution, where she’s doing a terrible job of convincing people she was attacked by them. So she decides to be a bodyguard for the Undead…never intending to fall in love with Ian, a five-hundred-year old vampire.

    Bring Me Home for Christmas, by Robyn Carr
    Denny broke Becca’s heart three years ago…and then he went off to war. By Christmas this year, she is going to rid her heart of the memories of him by crashing her brother’s hunting trip in search of some distraction (and maybe a tempting guy or two.) But of course, she finds Denny, and the snowstorm between them is even more powerful than the one raging outside.

    A Highlander Christmas, by Janet Chapman
    Camry was a NASA scientist…so why on earth did she leave her job to be a small-town dog-sitter? Only she knows, and she’s determined to keep it that way, by avoiding her family for the holidays. But when her rival, Luke, shows up to bring her home, a battle of the wills erupts between them.

    The Winter King, by C.L. Wilson
    We have reached the fantasy portion of this roundup! This gorgeous romance stars Wynter, a man determined to seek vengeance on a foreign kingdom’s King by marrying his daughter. Khamsin is afraid of marrying the notorious Wintercraig king…but nothing could be worse than her father’s abandonment. And so what starts as an act of revenge soon becomes an act of love—even as evil rises up around them, and a dark magic must be defeated.

    Shield of Winter, by Nalini Singh
    Vasic is a soldier with too much blood on his hands to fathom. Living on the fringes of society, he is drawn back into action to protect people against a deadly virus. Especially Ivy, who is determined to fight back against the contagion—and who gives Vasic something else he is afraid to lose.

    Winter Fire, by Elizabeth Lowell
    Sarah Kennedy needs no one to survive. Not after everything she’s been through. But against the backdrop of the Civil War, she finds herself caring for a wounded Civil War soldier, haunted by a past of his own.

    Dark Celebration, by Christine Feehan
    The Carpathian series continues with this Christmas tale starring Mikhail, the Prince of his kind, who is determined to protect them from extinction. But when his enemies target his wife and daughter, he is forced to turn to tactics unthinkable to him before in order to keep them safe.

    Chasing Christmas Eve, by Jill Shalvis
    It’s never too early for holiday cheer…but Colbie Albright is feeling anything but cheery when she show up in the Bay Area after escaping New York and her fame as a renowned YA author. And when she ends up literally underwater and is saved by Spencer Baldwin, she wants what she knows she shouldn’t have…and come Christmas, she’ll have to go back to her old life.

    Merry and Bright, by Debbie Macomber
    Debbie Macomber returns with a Christmas story just hot enough to lift your spirits as the weather grows colder. She tells the story of Merry Smith, who is living the life she wants—family, career, and holiday cheer. But her mother decides to meddle and give her the gift she won’t give herself: a social life, with prospective matches galore! And while what Merry finds in the online dating world makes her happy indeed, will the fantasy come crashing down when reality sets in?

    A Seduction at Christmas, by Cathy Maxwell
    Fiona has learned the hard way what lengths she’ll sink to in order to save herself…even if it means taking down a rake of a Duke. Posing as his ward, Fiona does her best to get the better of a man who has spent his life distrusting women…but in this steamy tale, even he cannot help but fall prey to her charms.

    Let it Snow, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
    Another winter-themed anthology with beautiful YA stories about a Christmas Eve snowstorm that turns the lives of three teens into a magical night of love.

    Wintersong, by S. Jae-Jones
    The Goblin King steals Liesl’s sister, drawing her into the strange and magical world of the Underground in order to save her. This YA novel is rife with gorgeous descriptions, forbidden romance, and the devastation surrounding what happens when a girl is torn between family and fate.

    Ice, by Linda Howard
    I love a good military thriller…especially one starring a guy good enough to make sure his dad’s neighbor is safe during an ice storm. Except Gabriel is not that guy; he doesn’t even LIKE Lolly, the neighbor he finds himself having to rescue from masked strangers in her window. United against a mysterious enemy, determined to survive the storm, Gabriel and Lolly make their way to safety, and to steamy romance.

    Get a Clue, by Jill Shalvis
    Breanne has been jilted, so getting snowed in on the honeymoon she should have had sounds like exactly what would happen to her. But when she discovers her room—the last room in the lodge—is already occupied by a very cute, very cynical cop, they strike a bargain to share the room.

    Northern Lights, by Nora Roberts
    Nate Burke got burned watching his police partner die, and so he chooses to start over in Alaska, prepared to endure the cold weather. In a town called Lunacy, what else could he expect but to have an affair with a pilot named Meg…while stalking a murderer on the loose that only he can track down.

    The Bite Before Christmas, by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost
    This book has multiple stories for the price of one! An anthology focused on Yuletide romance starring immortals from both of these authors’ bestselling series, you’re in for a bloody sexy read.

    Frozen, by L.A. Casey
    Neala and Darcy have a love-hate relationship for the ages. But when they both wind up at the toy store determined to buy the last toy in stock, their battle of wills…and sexual tension…burns brighter than a Christmas tree.

    Shadows and Lace, by Teresa Medeiros
    Rowena has been gambled into service for a mysterious—and potentially murderous—knight. Little does she know that her situation has been his ploy all along in a quest for vengeance. This pawn does not expect to love her captor, and the knight never expected to desire his pawn…

    Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
    One of the most beautiful and devastating historical novels in modern times, Cold Mountain tells the story of a couple torn apart by the Civil War. Inman, a Confederate soldier, is determined to trek across the mountains to return home to Ada, the woman he loves. But home is not the same place it was when he left it, and danger abounds as Ada discovers the lengths she will go to in order to survive without him.

    Winter Stroll, by Elin Hilderbrand
    The Quinn family returns in this novel full of holiday hope and laughter…that is, until a series of unexpected guests show up at the Winter Street Inn and throw a few wrenches in the romances everyone thought were going so well.

    Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah
    Russia is known as a cold place, especially during World War II. In this romance that spans time and space between 1941 and 2000, the story of a mother’s determination to survive a war transforms her relationship with her estranged daughters.

    Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
    This paranormal YA novel has serious swoons! The heartbreaking love story of Grace—a girl fascinated by the wolves who live in her backyard, and Sam, a human boy cursed to change with the cold—is dark, romantic, and perfect for chilly nights.

    Winter, by Marissa Meyer
    This sci-fi epic tells the story of a Princess named Winter who dares to fall in love with a palace guard in defiance of her stepmother. A revolution brims beneath the surface and she must decide whether to team up with a group of brave girls to fight—even if it means losing the man she loves.

    Snow Falling, by Jane Villanueva
    I’m super excited about this winter romance—because it’s the “book-within-the-TV-show from the CW’s hit show Jane the Virgin! In Miami at the turn of the 20th century, a girl named Josephine believes her life is perfect: she has a good job at a hotel, and has just gotten engaged…but then a mysterious railroad tycoon shows up to disturb all her plans.

    A Cold Day for Murder, by Dana Stabenow
    A classic detective story that takes place in the Alaskan north. Kate has left the D.A.’s office for a return to her job as a cop…and when a ranger goes missing, she’s the only one brave enough to face the cold.

    Black Ice, by Becca Fitzpatrick
    The classic snowstorm thriller gets a YA twist: Britt is ready to hike the Teton Range, but then her ex-boyfriend shows up. The ex-boyfriend she can’t stop thinking about. The one she gets separated from by a snowstorm…only to be taken hostage, at which point she can only hope that he still loves her enough to find her.

    A Breath of Snow and Ashes, by Diana Gabaldon
    So, since this is the 6th book in the Outlander series, I’d recommend reading the other books first…but the title is so wintery, I couldn’t resist including it! (Mild spoilers ahead.) This installment of the epic romance finds Jamie and Claire on the verge of the American Revolution, and worried about whether they will survive the battle to come.

    Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi
    A fairytale retelling like no other. In 1953, Boy travels to a small town and marries a local man, becoming stepmother to his beautiful daughter, Snow. But Boy’s growing hatred towards Snow only increases when her baby, Bird, is born dark-skinned, revealing her husband’s family as African Americans passing for white.

    Snowfall at Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs
    Sophie travels to dangerous places to help those in need—but after surviving a terrible trauma, she returns home to Willow Lake. She’s spent enough time saving others; now it’s time to save herself. And what she finds does exactly that: a love with Noah, the local vet, who ignites a passion within her she never thought she’d feel again.

    Biting Cold, by Chloe Neill
    Imagine being turned into a vampire without your consent…that’s what happened to Merit. But she’s made lemonade out of a dark situation, turning her position into one of power, tracking down a supernatural creature with the goal of causing havoc.

    Cold-Hearted Rake, by Lisa Kleypas
    Devon Ravenel is a rake, and proud of it—he wants no other responsibilities than figuring out which woman to charm that week. But when he finds himself responsible for the fates of three young girls after inheriting their father’s earldom—and one of them, in particular, who beguiles and tempts him—he knows it’s time for his cold heart to let in a little warmth.

    The Snow Queen, by Mercedes Lackey
    A queen with a heart of ice is accused of attacking innocent people, and in response she decides to journey through her kingdom of winter to find the imposter responsible for damaging her reputation.

    The Winter Crown, by Elizabeth Chadwick
    Fans of the classic movie Lion in Winter will love this historical novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Frustrated with her role as mother, isolated from her husband, and tempted by the promise of power, Eleanor makes a dangerous choice to defy her King and seize power for herself.

    Marrying Winterbourne, by Lisa Kleypas
    Ambition can turn the heart cold, which is what has happened to Rhys Winterborne; a common-born man who has risen to success. So when he decides he must bed Helen Revanel, he is unprepared to be met with ice. Helen finds herself tempted by Rhys’ passion and looks, but when an enemy threatens their growing love, she finds herself willing to risk it all to keep it.

    The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin
    Okay, I admit it: this one is kind of a joke. Winter has come, but will The Winds of Winter ever be published?? Only time will tell, and we all know Westerosi winters are long.

    What winter romances do you love?

    The post 50 Delightful Winter Romances appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Sarah Skilton 9:00 am on 2017/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , elin hilderbrand, , , fresh complaint: stories, , hiddensee: a tale of the once and future nutcracker, , , manhattan beach, mark helprin, , paris in the present tense, rules of magic, , the stolen marriage, Tom Hanks, uncommon type: some stories, , winter solstice   

    October’s Best New Fiction 

    If you’re in the mood for spooky witches this fall, Alice Hoffman’s Rules of Magic—a prequel to Practical Magic—delivers chills, thrills, and sibling strife. October also brings mystical retellings of the Nutcracker and Cinderella; two historicals set in North Carolina; and Jennifer Egan’s first novel since A Visit From the Goon Squad won the PulitzerRounding out the list are two short story collections. The first is by Jeffrey (Middlesex) Eugenides, and the second introduces us to a little-known, up-and-comer by the name of Tom Hanks.

    Uncommon Type: Some Stories, by Tom Hanks
    Whichever role you most associate with Hanks—boy who wishes himself Big; perpetually annoyed women’s softball coach; partner to Hooch—cast it aside and prepare for a new one: short story author. With 17 tales to choose from, one of which concerns showbiz life, and all of which involve typewriters (the actor’s a fan), this collection of character-driven and nostalgic stories will charm Hank’s acting fans and avid readers alike. Whet your appetite with Hanks’ 2014 piece from the New Yorker.

    Fairytale, by Danielle Steel
    If fairytale updates and mash-ups are your jam, add this to your stack, ASAP: a modern retelling of Cinderella, set in a Napa Valley winery called Chateau Joy. Tragic Parental Deaths? Check. Evil, mesmerizing stepparent (in this case a Parisian countess)? Check. Handsome prince and fairy godmother? Absolutely. Add a Harvest Ball, plenty of Steel’s trademark romance, and a dash of magic and you’ll never want to leave Chateau Joy behind. Within the story’s Cinderella roots, Steel brings her own unexpected twists to a classic story. 

    Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, by Gregory Maguire
    The author of the bestselling book and Broadway smash Wicked invites you to take a fresh look at the Nutcracker in this “double origin” story of the famous wooden toy and its creator, Drosselmeier. Who is Klara’s mysterious godfather, born a German peasant and seemingly fated to provide her with the sensational trinket? And what dark enchantment did he experience in his youth? Combining myths and historical legends, and written in the style of a Brothers Grimm tale, Hiddensee promises to delight and intrigue.

    Winter Solstice, by Elin Hilderbrand
    The fourth in her heart-and-hearth-warming “Winter” series, which are always set in Nantucket at Christmas, Solstice treats us to a reunion with the eggnog-guzzling Quinn family (patriarch Kelley, who owns the Winter Street Inn, and his four grown children). Each of them need help with romantic, business, or military entanglements. This year, heavy issues rise to the surface, from PTSD to hospice care and late-in-life regret. But with patience, love, and the bonds of family, the Quinns will pull each other through the tough times in this touching story.

    Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan
    After winning the Pulitzer Prize for A Visit From the Good Squad (2010), Egan’s highly anticipated follow-up appears to be less experimental than her previous works, but just as moving. Set in New York City during the Depression and World War II, Manhattan Beach follows the struggles of Anna Kerrigan, first as an adolescent accompanying her father on a desperate job-seeking mission, and later at 19, after her father has disappeared and Anna is charged with supporting her sister and mother by working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard as its sole female diver. A chance encounter with her father’s mobster boss begins to shed light on the truth about Anna’s dad. You may want to have tissues on hand for this detail-rich, feminist historical, which has already been long-listed for the National Book Award.

    Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman
    In this illuminating, entertaining prequel to Hoffman’s bestselling Practical Magic (also a 1998 film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock), readers will learn what it was like for witchy sisters Franny and Bridget (Jet) Owens to grow up in 1950s/1960s New York City with a frustratingly strict mother (understandable, given the family curse: any man who falls in love with an Owens woman will meet a gruesome end). In Rules, we meet a charming younger brother, Vincent, who also grows up ignoring Mom’s warnings, with far-reaching consequences. Will any of the rules-averse siblings figure out a way to outwit their fates? If you loved the adolescent longings and heartaches of Hoffman’s poignant, private school-set River King, you’ll especially appreciate this coming-of-age tale.

    Fresh Complaint: Stories, by Jeffrey Eugenides
    The first short story collection from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Middlesex, Fresh Complaint depicts several relationships prior to implosion, including that of a young Indian-American woman who plans to ditch her arranged marriage; a poet-turned-criminal; and a friendship affected by dementia. Fans of The Marriage Plot will enjoy spending time with lovelorn Mitchell Grammaticus as he travels to Thailand in the story “Air Mail,” and there’s also a check-in with Dr. Luce of Middlesex fame, who throws himself into the study of intersex conditions after losing a patient to suicide. Written between the years of 1980-2017, this collection showcases Eugenides’ incredible ability to empathize with and write about people from atypical backgrounds.

    The Last Ballad, by Wiley Cash
    Juggling a 70-hour, night-shift work week at a textile mill (for which she’s paid crushingly low wages), marital abandonment, and four children who need feeding, Ella May Wiggins finds herself in the middle of a union dispute in 1929 North Carolina. The idea of a living wage, equal pay for equal work, and a 5-day work week sounds like a fantasy to her and her friends. Rather than give a speech, Ella May composes a song during a rally, a way to give voice to herself and the other workers. She and her cohorts are branded communists, but their devotion to creating a world worth living in for their children is especially prescient today, and the fact that it’s based on a true story is inspiring.

    The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain
    Bestseller Chamberlain’s latest concerns an aspiring nurse trapped in a marriage-of-convenience in a small North Carolina town where she is disliked and mistrusted. It’s 1943, and Tess’s life just took a hard left: Impregnated by a man not her fiancée, she casts off her dream of a medical career alongside her true love and moves away with Henry, the baby’s father, who is uninterested in Tess’s potential. It soon becomes clear Henry is hiding things from Tess. With the polio epidemic in full swing, Tess gets a chance to use her nursing skills at last, but the home front remains as unsettling and mysterious as ever in this suspense-filled, World War II-era tale.

    Paris in the Present Tense, by Mark Helprin
    74-year-old Jules Lacour, a teacher at the Sorbonne reeling from his wife’s death and inaccurately believing himself a failure, thinks it’s about time he left behind the earthly plane as well. But his leukemia-ridden baby grandson needs him to find the money for treatment, and he hasn’t yet made peace with the tragic, seminal events in his life, including the deaths of his family members in the Holocaust. Perhaps there is yet time to play the cello, fall in love again, and save the day, if he’s willing to take a few risks. Paris looks to be invigorating and haunting read.

    What new fiction are you excited to read this month?

    The post October’s Best New Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Tara Sonin 1:00 pm on 2016/06/09 Permalink
    Tags: elin hilderbrand, here's to us, , , the perfect summer read   

    Elin Hilderbrand’s Here’s to Us Is the Perfect Summer Read 

    Elin Hilderbrand’s Here’s to Us centers around the death of Deacon Thorpe, a famous celebrity chef who leaves behind a lifetime of secrets and pain. But while Deacon took up the spotlight for most of his life, in the aftermath of his sudden and tragic death, it is his wives and children who must grapple with his loss—and with each other, as they all travel to the Nantucket house for one final goodbye.

    First and foremost, I fell in love with all of these characters, as did the famed chef. Hilderbrand has drawn complex and charismatic women who are all so different from one another, save one common flaw: they all loved Deacon Thorpe. Laurel, his first wife, high-school-sweetheart, and mother of his first child, Hayes; the girl who saved him from the misery and loneliness of high school without his parents after they both abandoned him. Belinda, the movie star who gave him his first taste of fame and fortune—and with whom he adopted Angie, who would one day become his right hand in the kitchen. And Scarlett, the nanny who cared for Angie while he was married to Belinda and who became his eventual third and final wife.

    Needless to say, these women are not happy about the prospect of enduring one another’s company at the Nantucket house, a place they individually lay emotional claim to but technically, all three of them now own. In the wake of Deacon’s death, his best friend Buck has realized that Deacon’s crushing debt, drug and alcohol abuse, and philandering has left behind one big problem: even though he left the house to all three women, there’s no money left, and save a miracle, it’ll be repossessed.

    The perfect mingling of forward action (Laurel’s attraction to Buck; Angie’s torment over a married lover and temptation for a man she meets on the island; Hayes’ struggles with addiction) with excerpts from the past (how Deacon made his name; how he and Belinda first met; he and Laurel’s reconnection after their divorce) make for an engrossing read, as each chapter contains more revelations than the one before. Every character has demons to wrestle and feels, in their own way, responsible for Deacon’s death. Had Laurel and Deacon gotten back together after his divorce from Belinda, would he have lost his way? Had Hayes not asked his father for money to support his own habit, would Deacon have been able to keep afloat?

    These questions echo the ones we all ask ourselves in moments of doubt—but Hilderbrand balances the tenor of tragedy with sweetness and humor, in the form of recipes from Deacon himself, sprinkled throughout the text like his memory. If you’re a foodie, you’ll find your mouth watering with some of the descriptions of perfect summer meals like clams casino dip (the dish that made Deacon famous), shellfish stew, berry crumble, and more.

    Here’s to Us grapples with issues such as parental abandonment, infidelity, infertility, adoption, addiction, race, and more, with depth and ease. By the end of the novel, the characters we have come to love get their Happily Ever Afters, but not in the way they first envisioned them when their stories began. The lesson is clear: Deacon’s greatest dish was not his clams casino, nor his time on television, nor his famous friends. It was the love he had for other people, especially his children. Determined to forge a legacy for himself that was different from that of his father, the man who left him, Deacon gave everything he had to his children—and it is for them that the beautiful house on Nantucket, the one place they all felt at home, must be saved.

    Fans of delectable summer reads and romances with a touch of tragedy will love this latest Hildebrand novel, a perfect companion for a sunny summer morning and a bowl of something sweet.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 3:30 pm on 2014/06/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , anne river siddons, , , dorthea benton frank, elin hilderbrand, , , , , save the date, , , summer romance, the girls of august, ,   

    6 Perfect Beach Reads 

    The Matchmaker

    The books we read while relaxing during the summer months will always have a special place in our hearts—not only do we get to enjoy them, but it’s often in a dazzling new setting, whether it’s the beach, the mountains, or a folding chair on the front porch now that there’s a perfect breeze. It’s important to make sure you’re tossing the perfect book (along with the right SPF) into your summer bag, so we’ve selected a handful of our favorite upcoming beach reads for you to choose from. We think you’ll love digging into the latest books by these fabulous authors almost as much as you love digging your toes into the sand.

    The Matchmaker, by Elin Hilderbrand
    You’ll have trouble putting down this sweet, engaging book, even if your piña colada glass is empty and you desperately need to reapply sunscreen. The Matchmaker tells the engaging story of Dabney Kimball Beech, a born-and-raised Nantucket girl who has been responsible for 42 happy relationships and has an unerring sense of which couples will last, and which aren’t right for each other at all. Happily married and ensconced in her safe, sheltered life on the island, Dabney has no regrets about never having left Nantucket. But when the long lost love of her life (and father of her daughter) Clendenin Hughes shows up after a 27-year absence, Dabney’s world is turned upside-down. And when misfortune strikes, she has to decide whether Clen offers a daring second chance she’s willing to take. Hilderbrand’s lilting prose and picturesque descriptions will immerse you in this lovely, heartfelt story.

    The Hurricane Sisters, by Dorthea Benton Frank
    Let this cozy, thoughtful summer read transport you to the beautiful Carolina Lowcountry, where three generations of women in the Waters family—from twenty-something, head-in-the-clouds aspiring artist Ashley, to her troubled mother, Liz, to feisty family matriarch, eighty-year-old Maisie—are about to experience an emotional turbulence that will shake loose long-buried secrets, testing the bonds of love and loyalty. With a vibrant cast of characters and plenty of humorous touches to temper the difficult times, this book will make you feel like summer has truly begun.

    Save the Date, by Mary Kay Andrews
    Andrews’ latest fun, fizzy read features Cara Kryzik, a down on her luck Savannah wedding florist. Thanks to a nasty divorce, Cara now turns a jaded eye toward the idea of true love, which leaves her just a teensy bit at cross-purposes with the industry she works in. Fortunately, Cara may have just booked the ultimate wedding gig—the one that’s going to get her back on her feet and help her pay back the enormous loan she took from her father, who’s getting impatient. Unfortunately, all is not rosy in the wedding’s tumultuous party (for one thing, the best man has inadvertently dognapped Cara’s beloved Goldendoodle, Poppy). Save the Date is a rollicking read, particularly for those who enjoy weddings, cleverly drawn, relatable characters, and Goldendoodles—and I think that might just be all of us.

    Nantucket Sisters, by Nancy Thayer
    Maggie and Emily meet on the beaches of Nantucket as girls, and although the two are from very different walks of life—Emily is a “summer person,” while Maggie lives on the island year round—they’re soon inseparable. Although the two plan to remain lifelong friends, as they grow older and begin to make their own ways in the world, their relationship faces many challenges—perhaps none more devastating than the charming Wall Street trader Cameron Chadwick, whose presence in both of their lives threatens to drive them apart forever.

    All Fall Down, by Jennifer Weiner

    On the surface, Allison Weiss is enviable in many ways. After all, she has a good-looking husband, a sweet young daughter, a flourishing career, and a large house in the suburbs—what more can you ask for? But Allison’s also got her share of troubles: her daughter acts out, her husband acts distant, and her aging parents are taking up more and more of her time and energy. She begins to find that the painkillers she’s been prescribed help take the edge off of life just a little—and is that really such a bad thing? Before long, though, Allison can no longer hide her drug habit, and she learns that rehab isn’t just for wayward starlets and derelicts. With her customary humor and insight, Weiner takes an edgy look at a difficult subject: the life of a woman who has everything under control…until she begins to lose control of everything.

    The Girls of August, by Anne River Siddons
    For years, four good friends have made a point of keeping in touch by spending a week together at the beach every August. A ritual that was begun years ago when their husbands were in medical school, it has become a cherished a way for the far-flung but still close friends to stay connected—until the tragic death of one of the women in a car accident upsets the balance, and the custom falls by the wayside. Several years pass before a new marriage brings the women back together, and they vow to renew the tradition, gathering on an isolated island off the coast of South Carolina with a new member in tow—Baby. The youngest of the four by far, Baby’s immature behavior rankles the rest of the group, but it is the hugely shifting dynamics among the longtime friends that offers the biggest challenge of all. No one writes more eloquently about the complex undercurrents among a group of female friends quite like Siddons—and the beautiful island location will have you feeling like your feet are buried in the sand.  (Available for hardcover and NOOK July 8)

    What books are going in your beach bag this summer?

  • Joel Cunningham 5:00 pm on 2014/06/19 Permalink
    Tags: elin hilderbrand, eric gansworth, if i ever get out of here, jellicoe road, lone survivor, marcus luttrell, mark owen, melinda marchetta, , no easy day, , saving ceecee honeycutt, , , , , , , the secret life of bees, ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Outsiders, The Secret Life of Bees, Lone Survivor, or The Matchmaker 

    wtrn061914[1]The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, has won admirers and courted controversy for its frank depiction of the inner workings of the mind of a teenage boy living a hardscrabble life on a Native American reservation and trying to fit in at an all-white school. (Unsurprisingly, he thinks about sex. A lot.) If you are looking for another book that explores similar experiences but charts its own course, Eric Gansworth’s If I Ever Get Out of Here tells the story of a young Native American boy who befriends a white kid but struggles with the undeniable socioeconomic divide that separates them.

    The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, is a stone-cold classic of hyper-concentrated teenage angst that still endures despite its 1950s setting. (Stay, gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.)  Though few books could hope to compare, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road, an Australian-set YA novel about a turf war between the townies and students from a nearby military academy, is a similarly affecting story of confused, youthful rebellion.

    If you enjoyed the Southern-fried atmosphere, memorable characters, and historical resonance of The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, you’ll want to read Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. After her mother is killed by an ice cream truck, 12-year-old CeeCee is sent to live in Savannah with her crazy old aunt (the best kind!). The town is filled with colorful eccentrics, but Georgia in 1967 has a darker side as well—though Hoffman never allows the racial tension to overpower what is, essentially, a feel-good ode to a bygone era.

    Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell, the basis for the recent motion picture of the same name, is the harrowing tale of a routine mission in Afghanistan in 2005 that went horribly awry for a team of U.S. Navy SEALs. For another riveting example of the risks taken by these elite soldiers, there’s Mark Owen’s No Easy Day, a detailed account of the mission that targeted Osama bin Laden.

    With The Matchmaker, best-selling author Elin Hilderbrand offers the perfect romantic escape for summer, the story of a woman with an almost supernatural ability to spark romances between others—who never got over her own lost love from the distant past. It’s a good match for fans of The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks’ unabashed tearjerker about a romance that refuses to die, no matter what life throws at it, or how many years have passed.

    What are you reading?

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