Category Archives: William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear

Title: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear
Butternut Lake Series Book Five
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear brings you home to Butternut Lake and a novel filled with irresistible characters who you will want to call your friends.

It’s summertime on Butternut Lake, where the heat of noon is soothed by the cool breezes of the evening, where the pace grows slower, and sometimes, just sometimes, the summer light makes everything clearer…

For the lovely Billy Harper, Butternut Lake is the place she feels most at home, even though lately she feels the only one listening to her is Murphy…her faithful Labrador Retriever. Her teenage son, Luke, has gone from precious to precocious practically overnight. Her friends are wrapped up in their own lives, and Luke’s father, Wesley, disappeared before his son was even born. No wonder she prefers to spend time with a good book, especially ones where everything ends in perfection.

But Billy is about to learn that anything is possible during the heady days of summer. Coming to terms with her past—the death of her father, the arrival of Cal Cooper, a complicated man with a definite interest in Billy, even the return of Wesley, will force her to have a little bit of faith in herself and others…and realize that happiness doesn’t always mean perfection.

Review:

The Light in Summer, the newest addition to Mary McNear’s delightful Butternut Lake series, is another heartwarming novel of family, love and new beginnings. Although this latest release is the fifth in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Single mom and head librarian Billy Harper is going through a bit of rough patch with her thirteen year old son Luke.  The normally co-operative and outgoing teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble and refusing to talk to his mom.  So when Billy meets Cal Cooper at a wedding, she is not sure the timing is right to bring a new man into their lives, but can she ignore the sparks that are flying between them?

After Billy unexpectedly became pregnant just as she finishing high school, her parents were extremely supportive and helpful.  However, five years earlier, Billy knew the time was right for her and Luke to strike out on their own and they moved to Butternut Lake. She and Luke have always been close so she is deeply trouble by the recent changes in her soon and she is at a loss as she tries to bridge the gap between them. Billy has not dated much over the years and she is quite surprised by how much she enjoys spending time with Cal.  The timing is definitely not right for a new relationship but Billy finds Cal much too irresistible to resist.

Cal’s life is in the midst of huge upheaval when he decides to spend the summer in Butternut Lake. He is looking forward to relaxing as he contemplates the next stage in his life.  Like Billy, Cal is not really looking for love but he is quite open to exploring their unexpected attraction. His laidback and easygoing acceptance of the complications in her life is quite refreshing but will their romance last once summer is over?

The Light in Summer is an engrossing, feel-good read that old and new fans of the Butternut Lake series are going to love. The characters are multi-dimensional with realistic strengths and true to life problems to overcome. Butternut Lake is a wonderfully charming community with eclectic yet caring residents.  Cal and Billy are appealing protagonists and their relationship is an absolute joy to watch unfold. Mary McNear continues to keep this wonderful series fresh and inviting with interesting storylines and the introduction of new characters.  Another outstanding visit in Butternut Lake that will leave readers grinning from ear to ear as Cal, Billy and Luke’s story comes to an uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mary McNear, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Butternut Lake Series, The Light in Summer, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction

Review: Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

Title: Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis
Wildstone Series Book One
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes her first women’s fiction novel—an unforgettable story of friendship, love, family, and sisterhood—perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover, Susan Mallery, and Kristan Higgins.

They say life can change in an instant…

After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.

Review:

The first installment in Jill Shalvis’s new Wildstone series, Lost and Found Sisters is a spectacular story that is part women’s fiction, part romance and 100% heartwarming.

Quinn Weller has a fabulous relationship with her parents and a wonderful job she loves as a sous chef.  However, in the two years since her beloved sister Beth’s death, she has been emotionally shut down as she tries to navigate through life without her best friend by her side.  She has not been interested in anyone romantically since she stopped dating her longtime friend Brock Holbrook.  Quinn’s world is turned upside down a second time when lawyer Cliff Porter gives her stunning news that leaves her questioning everything about her life. Quinn makes a snap decision to go to Wildstone, CA in an effort to sort through her confusion.

Mick Hennessey worked hard to leave Wildstone and his controlling father behind once he graduated from high school.  With a successful career and life in San Francisco, he has only returned to his small hometown sporadically over the years. However, after his father’s unexpected death, Mick finds himself traveling back and forth between Wildstone and San Francisco as tries to help his mom deal with her loss.  He is not looking for another complication in his life when he meets Quinn, but there is an incredible amount of chemistry between them that is impossible to resist.

The surprises keep coming once Quinn visits Wildstone but she is extremely conflicted about what to do with the unexpected changes that are occurring in her life. She is understandably upset about a shocking revelation and she is extremely hurt by a lie of omission. Quinn is charmed by Wildstone but she is quite happy with her life in LA. However, she is torn by a decision she needs to make that will have far reaching implications for many other people. Her unanticpated feelings for Mick add to her confusion, but can Quinn bring herself to give up the man who is responsible for bringing her long dormant emotions (and libido) back to life?

Mick also finds himself standing at an unexpected crossroad.  He is extremely satisfied with his life in San Francisco but he is also quite dismayed to discover his hometown is slowly dying.  As he sorts through the detritus of his dad’s life, Mick is surprised by his new perspective on his childhood and a new understanding of his father.  Despite the fact he was not looking for love, Mick is comfortable with his new relationship with Quinn and he is willing to give her the time and space she needs to figure out her life. However, his patience has limits and their future together is far from certain.

Lost and Found Sisters is a breathtaking journey of healing, new beginnings and love. Jill Shalvis brings the town and its inhabitants vibrantly to life. The characters are incredibly appealing as they navigate their way through the unexpected twists and turns.  I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this charming first installment in the Wildwood series to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Jill Shalvis, Lost and Found Sisters, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Wildstone Series, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction

Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Title: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical, Fiction
Length: 528 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Review:

Featuring factual information about World War I and World War II, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is an enthralling novel about the real life network of women spies.

In 1947, nineteen year old Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair has a “Little Problem” that her mother is taking her to Switzerland to fix. On a stopover in England, Charlie takes a detour to try and locate her cousin, Rose Fournier, who disappeared from Nazi occupied France in 1944. Charlie hopes to enlist the help of Evelyn “Eve” Gardiner but the hard drinking recluse is initially unwilling to aid her on her search. Eve’s interest is piqued once she realizes Rose is connected to a French restaurant owner named René, a name that she recognizes from her distant past.  Accompanied by Eve’s driver, Finn Kilgore, the trio quickly embarks on a journey that will hopefully end in redemption but could possibly result in might end in heartbreak.

Until deciding to search for Rose, Charlie has always gone along with her  parents’ plans for her with only a few minor rebellions. Despite her above average intelligence, she is expected to come back from college with a fiancé not a degree. However, after her family suffers a tragic loss, Charlie falls into a depression which leads to very uncharacteristic behavior, an out of wedlock pregnancy and no husband on the horizon. Her decision to find Rose is, in her mind, her last chance for redemption and Charlie refuses to believe that her search for her cousin might not provide her the answer she is hoping for.

Eve is battling plenty of demons of her own and she wants nothing more than to be left alone to drink her problems away. However, once she hears the name René and his connection to a restuarant, nothing will stop her from finding him and she agrees to use her contacts to help Charlie search for Rose.  Eve has a very good reason to find René but she will have to confront the very heartbreaking memories of her past during their quest.

Effortlessly weaving back and forth in time, The Alice Network is a poignant novel that does not downplay the horrors of war or its aftermath. Kate Quinn’s impeccable research brings both time periods and the various settings vibrantly to life. Historically accurate events and people are seamlessly combined with the fictional elements which results in a richly detailed and engrossing story that is impossible to put down. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this incredibly fascinating and emotionally compelling novel.

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Filed under Fiction, Historical, Historical (40s), Kate Quinn, Rated B+, Review, The Alice Network, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day

Title: The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

From the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother’s desperate search for a lost boy.

Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.

Review:

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day is an intriguing mystery about a missing young boy.

Anna Winger is a handwriting analyst who assists federal and local law enforcement with a variety of cases. When two year old Aidan Ransey goes missing, she is asked to aid Sheriff Russ Keller with the investigation. Keller reluctantly turns documents relevant to kidnapping over to Anna but the two continue to clash over his lack of cooperation with her requests. Anna is also growing increasingly concerned over her thirteen year old son Joshua’s increasingly troubling behavior.  When Joshua  begins asking difficult questions that she is reluctant to answer, Anna eventually has no choice but to face the past she has been running from for over thirteen years.

Anna was forced to make a rather decision years earlier which has resulted in an itinerant, solitary lifestyle for her and Joshua.  Having recently relocated to Parks, Indiana, Anna is already second guessing whether or not she made the right choice to settle in the small town. Seriously lacking the anonymity she desperately needs to feel safe, the missing person’s case attracts far more attention that she desires. She is also rather troubled by the parallels between herself and Aidan’s mom, Leila Ransey.  She is already struggling to maintain her objectivity as she examines the documents associated with the disappearance when she meets Aidan’s father, Bo. Their encounters bring back unpleasant memories of her own past and Anna continues to worry about whether or not she can remain impartial during the investigation.

Adding to Anna’s discomfort is Sheriff Keller’s skepticism about the veracity of handwriting analysis. His office is on the periphery of the investigation but he continues to follow leads in an effort to locate the missing boy.  A shocking murder adds another complication to the case and Keller reluctantly continues to seek assistance from Anna as they recover documents that are pertinent to the investigation. Their interactions continue to be a little adversarial as Anna offers her expert opinion on the evidence he provides for her analysis.

The pacing of the novel is somewhat slow as Anna becomes increasingly introspective during the investigation. Her self-confidence is gradually undetermined as she juggles her professional duties with the increasingly tense situation with Joshua. Completely out of her depth as she deals with her suddenly tumultuous relationship with Joshua, Anna is stunned when he takes matters into his own hands after she fails to give him the answers he desperately needs.  With nowhere else to turn, Anna is forced to return to the place where her life went so tragically wrong but will she find what she is searching for?

With an unusual premise and a unique lead protagonist, The Day I Died is a compelling mystery with plenty of twists and turns. Despite the suspense surrounding Aidan’s disappearance, the storyline quickly becomes bogged down in the secrets of Anna’s past. However, the various story arcs finally come together in a rather unexpected (and far too coincidental) manner. Lori Rader-Day brings the novel to an action-filled conclusion that neatly ties up all of the loose ends.

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Filed under Contemporary, Lori Rader-Day, Mystery, Rated C+, Review, Suspense, The Day I Died, William Morrow Paperbacks

Review: The Odds of You and Me by Cecilia Galante

Title: The Odds of You and Me by Cecilia Galante
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

In the vein of Meg Donohue and Sarah Jio, Cecilia Galante’s second novel delivers the powerful story of one young woman who’s faced with an impossible choice—one that could have her making the biggest mistake of her life.

Thirteen days. That’s all Bernadette, “Bird,” Sincavage has left to go until she’s done with her probation and can be free again. Free from making payments to the supermarket she wrote bad checks to. Free from living at home with her overzealous mother who’s constantly nagging her about attending church again. Free to give her four-year-old son, Angus, the normal life he deserves. Her impending freedom and move to Moon Lake, where she’s plunked down a deposit on a brand new apartment, is so close she can almost taste it. What trouble could she possibly get into in just thirteen days?

But trouble does follow in the form of James Rittenhouse—someone she worked with a few years ago. At first, Bird is stunned to see James make the evening news when he’s arrested for assaulting someone in a local bar. But that’s nothing compared to the shock she gets when she discovers James hiding out in an abandoned church choir loft. Somehow he escaped police custody, broke his leg, and got his hand on a gun, which he’s now pointing at her.

Although Bird doesn’t tell anyone she saw James, there’s no way she’s helping him. She can’t screw up her probation or her second chance for a new future. And she has her son’s welfare to think about. Still. If only she could stop thinking about the terrified look in James’ eyes and the fact that he’s hurt. If only she could forget that once, long ago, James helped her out, and she owes him a debt like no other.

Will Bird jeopardize her future for someone who helped her out in the past? A past that holds secrets she’s not quite sure she’s ready to face? Or will she turn a blind eye and learn to live with the consequences?

Review:

The Odds of You and Me by Cecilia Galante is a compelling novel about a woman caught between doing what is best  for herself and her young son and her loyalty to someone from her past.

Bernadette “Bird” Connolly has finally made her final restitution payment and she is making plans for her and her son Angus’s future.   Staying out of trouble should not be any problem until her probation ends in two weeks, but when she agrees to run an errand for her mom, she makes a startling discovery that could jeopardize all of her plans.  Bird is stunned to find her former co-worker, James Rittenhouse, hiding in the church choir’s loft.  James has recently been arrested for a bar fight that left his victim in critical condition and while he en route to jail, he somehow managed to escape.  Why would Bird jeopardize everything she has worked  for to help someone she has not seen in over five years?

After her beloved father’s death when she was a teenager, Bird lost her faith, hooked up with the wrong crowd and barely graduated from high school.  Moving out as soon she graduated, she began working at a local restaurant and entered into an ill-advised relationship with her manager.  Her unexpected friendship with James during this tumultuous time is a bright spot that gives Bird reason to hope for a better future.  But an unplanned pregnancy turns her world upside down and after Bird is arrested for writing bad checks, she has no choice but to move back in with her mother and work with her cleaning houses.  Their relationship remains tense as Bird tries to put her life back together.

Although their time in each other’s life was brief, Bird’s friendship with James was quite meaningful.  She knows that she is taking a huge risk by helping him after he escapes from police custody but she is unable to report him to the authorities nor can she turn her back on him. As the two friends become reacquainted, Bird is stunned by James’ revelations about the bar fight that landed him in so much trouble and after learning the truth, she becomes more determined than before to help him.  Bird devises an ill-conceived plan to provide James with a safe place to hide while he decides what to do next, but time is not on their side.  Is Bird prepared for the consequences if she caught aiding and abetting a fugitive?

The Odds of You and Me by Cecilia Galante is a captivating story of healing for Bird as she is finally comes to terms with her heartbreaking past.  Although her decision to help James is initially unfathomable, her reasons become clear as she reflects on their friendship and the events leading up to their final encounter  years earlier.  Bird’s life is forever altered by the few short, yet meaningful days she spends with James following his escape.

I highly recommend this touching novel to readers of women’s fiction.

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Filed under Cecilia Galante, Contemporary, Rated B, Review, The Odds of You and Me, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction

Review: Just Fine with Caroline by Annie England Noblin

Title: Just Fine with Caroline by Annie England Noblin
Cold River Series Book One
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Summary:

From the author of Sit! Stay! Speak! comes a tender, terrific novel complete with long-buried secrets, a three-legged pot belly pig, and an irresistible dog—an unforgettable story about love, friendship, and community. Perfect for fans of Mary Kay Andrews and Mary Alice Monroe.

Caroline O’Connor never dreamed she’d be back home in Cold River, Missouri, the Ozark Mountain town where everyone is ‘up your business.’…they mean well as they drive you crazy. She thought she’d left town for good, but now she’s back, helping to care for her New York born mother—struck with Alzheimer’s, and prone to saying and doing anything—and her father, the beloved local doctor frustrated he can’t cure his own wife.

As for Caroline, she’s doing ‘just fine’ coping with her parents, her brazen cousin Ava Dawn’s marital disasters, her mostly-deaf dog…and with Noah Cranwell, far-flung relative of a local family mostly infamous for running moonshine, an ex-veteran who’s come to Cold River with troubles of his own.

Caroline believes she knows everything about Cold River and the people who live in its hills and hollers … but sometimes life’s greatest surprises happen closest to home

Review:

Annie England Noblin’s delightful Cold River series is off to wonderful beginning with the first installment, Just Fine with Caroline.  This absolutely marvelous novel is a poignant but uplifting story that I highly recommend to readers of contemporary women’s fiction.

Caroline O’Connor left college before obtaining her degree to move back to her small hometown nestled in the Missouri Ozarks to help care for her mother after she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  During the summer months, she runs her mom’s bait shop in addition to caring for her mom.  This summer is a little livelier than usual due to the unexpected arrival of Noah Cranwell, who plans to reopen his family’s store, the return of Caroline’s ex-boyfriend, Reese Graham and her cousin Ava Dawn’s impending divorce.  Despite living in a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business, the Cranwell family remains a bit of a mystery and Caroline is stunned to discover her family is harboring a shocking secret as well.

Caroline is struggling with the reality of her mom’s worsening condition while feeling like her life is in limbo.  While she does not begrudge assisting her parents’ through this difficult time, she cannot help but feel like she is waiting for her own life to begin.  At the same time, Caroline is a little frustrated with her emotionally distant father who is not handling his wife’s diagnosis very well.  Not exactly content with the status quo, Caroline just  sort of drifts through her days until she meets Noah.  She  is quite drawn to him but will their burgeoning relationship survive once Caroline learns the truth about a long held family secret?

After several years in the military, Noah is finally ready to put down roots. He is soon caught up in renovating his family’s long closed business while at the same time reconnecting with his grandfather.  He is just as surprised as Caroline by their mutual attraction and although there is tension between their families, they enjoy getting to know one another.  However, secrets do not always remain hidden and Caroline feels betrayed by him once her family’s secret is revealed.  Is their fragile relationship strong enough to withstand this stunning setback?

A secondary story arc featuring Ava Dawn’s decision to leave her abusive husband, Roy, provides added depth to the main storyline.  Her troubled marriage has to be the worst kept secret in town and although she has left Roy numerous times in the past, this time Ava Dawn is serious about divorcing him.  Further complicating the situation is her involvement with a popular church and its minister, Brother Haiden Crow.  Unlike Caroline who does not trust Brother Crow, Ava Dawn hangs on his word  but does her involvement with him go beyond spiritual guidance?

Just Fine with Caroline is an incredibly moving novel that delves into the complicated dynamics of family relationships. Caroline’s heartbreak over losing her mother to the vagaries of Alzheimer’s Disease is realistically portrayed and will definitely resonate with readers whose lives have been affected by the ravages of the disease.  The romance between Caroline and Noah is sweet yet steamy but misunderstandings and lack of communication threaten to derail their relationship at the first hint of trouble.  he Missouri Ozarks serve as the perfect backdrop for this marvelous story and Annie England Noblin brings the town of Cold River and its inhabitants vividly to life. An absolutely charming first installment in a promising new series that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.

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Filed under Annie England Noblin, Cold River Series, Contemporary, Just Fine with Caroline, Rated B+, Review, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction