Amy Garvey

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At the heart of every small town is a community—neighbors who have watered each other’s plants for years, friends who have grown up together and family businesses that have proudly hung signs on Main Street. These three romance novels capture the homespun charm of creaky porch swings, bake sales and softball games, as well as the sweet thrill of falling in love with the whole town watching—and usually cheering.

SWEET SUMMER NIGHTS 
Moonlight on Butternut Lake by Mary McNear is the next entry in the best-selling and emotionally rich Butternut Lake series, and it’s a nuanced story of healing and second chances. Badly injured in a car accident, Reid Ford retreats to his brother’s cabin at the lake, still confined to a wheelchair and struggling to recover physically and mentally. Mila Jones is the home health aide hired to care for Reid, but Mila is fighting her own battle—on the run from her abusive husband, moving to Butternut Lake is just the first step in her plan to make a new life for herself.

As the story opens, Reid is gruff and resentful but proud, and Mila is skittish and fragile but determined to make a better life for herself. From the beginning, they’re wary of each other—Mila is intimidated by Reid’s stubborn temper, and Reid is startled to find that the pretty aide has a surprisingly strong spine. But as the summer blooms around them, the walls they’ve built start to come down—and the tight-knit community serves to rehabilitate them both in different ways.  

Love is the last thing on Reid and Mila’s mind when the book begins, which makes their tentatively growing friendship sweetly satisfying. Workaholic Reid is surprised to find himself thinking about a relationship rather than a quick fling, and Mila is stunned to learn than she can still trust—both herself and others—at all. Suffused with all the magic of firefly-lit summer nights, this entry in the series is especially heartwarming.

A NOVEL LOVE
Emma Cane’s Ever After at Sweetheart Ranch is the next book in her popular Valentine Valley series, and it’s as warm and welcoming as spring itself. Cane writes extended family well, and the novel includes many characters readers have already met while it explores the story of a writer and a rancher who make an unlikely but wonderful couple.

Lyndsay De Luca is a dedicated schoolteacher who plays trumpet in a jazz band and writes fiction in her spare time—a true geek, in Lyndsay’s own words. Will Sweet is her polar opposite, a cowboy who thrives on Colorado’s wealth of outdoor activity and has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, at least briefly. More than their temperaments stand between them, though. Will was in love with Lyndsay’s best friend, until an accident took her far too early. And Lyndsay’s mortified to realize shortly before her first book is due to come out that her hero bears an overwhelming resemblance to Will.

For Lyndsay, it’s going to be hard enough to publically own up to the steamy book simply because of her job, and she can’t imagine what will happen if Will finds out he was the inspiration for the swaggering, sexy hero of her book. In Cane’s hands, the story plays out with humor and compassion as Lyndsay learns the real thing might be better than the fantasy, and Will discovers that love is a risk worth taking more than once. 

LISTEN TO YOUR HEART
An ex-con and a waitress find everything they didn’t know they were looking for in The Closer You Come, by longtime paranormal romance favorite Gena Showalter. This novel is the second in her first-ever contemporary series and follows the Original Heartbreakers, three men raised as foster brothers who settle in quiet Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, for a fresh start.

Showalter hits the mark with this series. Newly out of prison, Jase Hollister is a deliciously hot bad boy with the kind of emotional wounds that will melt even the hardest heart. Brook Lynn is scrappy, stubborn and struggling not only to make ends meet but to keep her wild sister, Jessie Kay, in check. Jase and Brook Lynn meet when she finds her reckless sister in Jase’s bedroom, and the sparks never stop flying.

Showalter takes a refreshingly straightforward approach to Jase’s history and Brook Lynn’s struggles, including the implants she needs to modulate her hearing. Showalter’s gift for snappy, realistic dialogue and electric sexual tension are on full display here, and the community spirit that helps to bring the couple together makes this book everything a small-town romance should be. The next book in the series promises to be just as satisfying—and sexy.

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

At the heart of every small town is a community—neighbors who have watered each other’s plants for years, friends who have grown up together and family businesses that have proudly hung signs on Main Street. These three romance novels capture the homespun charm of creaky porch swings, bake sales and softball games, as well as the sweet thrill of falling in love with the whole town watching—and usually cheering.
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Elizabeth Hoyt is one of the hottest authors in romance today, and the eighth book in her Maiden Lane series captures every tender, charming reason for her popularity. Dearest Rogue is a sexy, sweet and emotionally satisfying historical read. 

Lady Phoebe Batten is exactly like other young society women, excepting one small difference—she’s blind. In her opinion, a lack of sight shouldn’t preclude an active social life, or even a romance, although she knows the latter is not very likely. Her brother, however, does not believe she can lead a normal life, and he worries about her physical safety. As a duke’s sister, and a wealthy one at that, she is a vulnerable target for all kinds of criminals. That’s precisely why her protective sibling has hired an armed escort to accompany her everywhere. And unfortunately for freedom-loving Phoebe, her bodyguard follows her brother’s strict orders to the letter. 

Once a respected officer with the King’s dragoons, Captain James Trevillion is far from the average bodyguard. But when a serious injury left lasting damage to his leg, Trevillion wasn’t fit for a soldier’s duties any longer. Protecting one young woman from danger is hardly the kind of challenge he once faced in service to the king, but Trevillion finds himself facing another kind of challenge with Phoebe—caring for her in ways that are not simply professional. 

There is a gently contentious dynamic between the two: Phoebe chafes at what she believes is Trevillion’s stodgy adherence to duty, and Trevillion, although enchanted with Phoebe’s spirit, is also uncomfortably aware of the difference in their stations. But everything changes when Phoebe is nearly kidnapped. Trevillion may not be the soldier he once was, but as he gallops away from the attackers with his charge nestled in front of him, he vows that Phoebe will come to no harm on his watch. And for Phoebe, held close in his strong arms, her escort suddenly becomes more than a stubborn obstacle to her freedom. 

Sight is a powerful metaphor in this romance; Trevillion is amazed by how deeply Phoebe can see into him, even blind, and Phoebe is amazed to find that there is more to her bodyguard than his job, and that true passion is hidden behind the solemn mask of duty. The real triumph here is independence, however, as both Phoebe and Trevillion find the courage to fight for their desires and map their future on their own terms. The fact that being together gives them the strength to find their individual voices is simply the icing on a very delightful cake. 

Dearest Rogue is everything the reader of a Regency historical wants; it’s funny, fast-paced and has plenty of historical flavor and a romance that develops as naturally as a flower opening in the sun. Fans of the Maiden Lane series will cheer for this couple.  

 

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

Elizabeth Hoyt is one of romance’s hottest authors right now, and the eighth book in her Maiden Lane series captures every tender, charming reason for her popularity. Dearest Rogue is a sexy, sweet and emotionally satisfying historical read.
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“Time is precious. Waste it wisely.” Haddie Montgomery can’t forget those words after her beloved sister dies, but she can’t get far enough past her grief to think about anything more than the next moment. In K. Bromberg’s Slow Burn, burying the pain of loss in a whirl of high spirits, stiff drinks and hot sex is Haddie’s modus operandiat least at first.   

That’s how Haddie winds up in bed with Beckett Daniels, the gorgeous, laid-back guy she met through her best friend. He’s Country to her City, the kind of well-mannered, boy-next-door type she’s always ignored in favor of the reckless bad boys who inevitably wind up breaking her heart. But one night with Becks, as Haddie calls him, is far from the no-strings fling Haddie was looking for, because afterward, she can’t get him out of her head.

Beckett is no better off, and Bromberg gives a look at the male’s point of view by offering him a few first-person chapters. The technique brings both voices vividly to life and allows the reader to see just how much blonde, bubbly Haddie has affected Becks, who suspects from the start that something serious is lurking under her party-girl facade. 

But what begins as a sexy romp—and continues that way, given the chemistry between Haddie and Becks—develops into something deeper early on. Bromberg isn’t afraid to address the kind of sobering issues that young women face, even if Haddie is. Haddie rarely thinks farther than the quick remedy of sensation—which sex with Becks admirably fulfills—to blot out worry and grief. It’s a time-honored panacea, but one that only works for so long.

Thinking past the present moment will only lead to acknowledging just how much can be lost.

And Becks is what Haddie calls a “forever” kind of guy. The kind who might want more than one steamy night between the sheets and who will expect a little more emotional honesty than “make me feel good.” But Haddie can’t do forever, not when both her mother and sister have been claimed by breast cancer. Thinking past the present moment will only lead to acknowledging just how much can be lost. In Haddie’s mind, “caring leads to devastation.” 

Bromberg gives Haddie’s voice plenty of humor and snark, but the brave face Haddie puts on every day masks real fear. And when Haddie herself is faced with a frightening diagnosis, she’s forced to face her future—and how she wants to spend it.

The romance serves up the physical intimacy between Haddie and Becks with lots of spice, but it never shortchanges the true emotion that underlies their developing relationship. In the end, Slow Burn is a perfect balance of heat and heart, and another fantastic addition to Bromberg’s Driven series.

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

“Time is precious. Waste it wisely.” Haddie Montgomery can’t forget those words after her beloved sister dies, but she can’t get far enough past her grief to think about anything more than the next moment. In K. Bromberg’s Slow Burn, burying the pain of loss in a whirl of high spirits, stiff drinks and hot sex is Haddie’s modus operandi—at least at first.
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Dani Pettrey is back with the fifth heart-pounding installment of her Alaskan Courage series, Sabotaged. Once again, the close-knit McKenna clan joins forces in the face of danger, trusting in God to give them the strength to survive.

Set against the excitement of the Iditarod—the storied long-distance sled dog race run from Anchorage to Nome every year since 1973—Pettrey’s latest novel focuses on blond, brawny Reef McKenna, the black sheep of the family and prim and proper Kirra Jacobs, a veterinarian and the owner of a shelter for rescued sled dogs. As volunteers on the Iditarod search and rescue team, they’ve been paired to watch for mushers who are lagging or in trouble. And Reef, who has witnessed the romantic developments of his siblings, wonders if his family has something to do with team assignments—he and Kirra might be an improbable couple, but the attraction between them sparkles like new-fallen snow.

“Improbable” is an understatement, at least as the story opens. Kirra is an only child whose parents have fled Alaska for warmer climes, leaving Kirra to nurse a deep emotional wound that sets her apart from the easy camaraderie of the McKennas. Reef, on the other hand, is an adrenaline junkie who thrives on thrills, especially when they keep him from looking too hard at the choices he’s made in his life. Complete opposites, their only real connection comes from their love of the Alaskan landscape and the winter sports that keep them outside in the bracing air.

 Faced with a matter of life and death, Kirra and Reef are forced to work together, discarding their old perceptions of each other as they begin to discover the people they truly are. 

But as each of them will learn, God has another plan for them, one that draws them together in ways neither ever could have imagined, forcing them to rely on each other to survive. Just days into the race, Kirra realizes her uncle is hours past the time he should have arrived at the nearest checkpoint, and she sets out to find him. Reef has no intention of letting her go it alone, but when they reach what Kirra knows is one of Uncle Frank’s favorite resting spots, they’re shocked to discover that the situation is more serious than they’d imagined.

Men have kidnapped Frank’s daughter, Meg—Kirra’s cousin—and are holding her hostage until Frank completes a task for them. Desperate to save his child’s life, Frank is willing to do whatever he has to, even if the consequences are dire for the Alaskan wilderness. That leaves Kirra determined to find her cousin before Frank reaches the finish line in Nome and Reef vowing to help her every step of the way.

Packed with scenes featuring the extended McKenna clan, the story rushes on as breathlessly as the race itself, but action and excitement are only part of the plot. Faced with a matter of life and death, Kirra and Reef are forced to work together, discarding their old perceptions of each other as they begin to discover the people they truly are. And both of them rely on their relationship with God to navigate both the storm-swept trail and their own feelings.

As the conclusion to the Alaskan Courage series, Sabotaged is a breathtaking read and a satisfying goodbye to a beloved cast of characters. Readers are sure to be excited for Pettrey’s new series.           

Dani Pettrey is back with the fifth heart-pounding installment of her Alaskan Courage series, Sabotaged. Once again, the close-knit McKenna clan joins forces in the face of danger, trusting in God to give them the strength to survive.
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Tracy Solheim begins her Second Chances series with Back to Before, a multi-layered romance set in the aptly named town of Chances Inlet, North Carolina. A coastal community with charm to spare and the kind of small-town dynamics that mean gossip is a simple fact of life, Chances Inlet is home to the McAllister clan and the historic house that Gavin McAllister is renovating for a reality show.

The house itself is ripe for another shot at a source of happiness. Built in 1820 for an Englishman’s bride who died en route to America, its magnificence has suffered from years of neglect. Its restoration is the center around which all of the characters revolve, in one way or another, and those characters create a richly detailed, intergenerational cast.

First is Gavin, an architect whose dreams of a big-city career in New York have been put on hold while he salvages the family construction business from disaster after his father’s death. Then there’s Ginger Walsh, a dancer whose dreams of a life as a ballerina were derailed by an accident, and whose part in a popular soap opera has townspeople convinced she’s just as conniving and bratty as her soap character. She’s in Chances Inlet strictly to earn some cash as a production assistant on the renovation reality show, and she’s counting down the days till she can leave.

The way Gavin and Ginger fall for each other—and what happens after they do—makes Back to Before as refreshing as the North Carolina surf.

Gavin and Ginger make a truly unlikely couple, but from the day they first meet, the attraction between them sizzles. Gavin’s not looking for love—his fiancée dumped him days before their wedding earlier in the year—and Ginger’s unsure about tangling with the “star” of the show, but as circumstances force them together again and again, the heat crackling between them is hard to deny. But could it be more? Solheim does a great job creating characters with realistic goals as well as obstacles, and Gavin and Ginger’s status as a couple is never a foregone conclusion. 

The same realism gives great texture to the supporting characters. Gavin’s mother, Patricia, is enjoying running an inn, but she feels guilty about her romance with the new sheriff after so many years as her husband’s wife. A born mother, she also takes in “strays” like Cassidy Burroughs, a goth teen from a trailer park with attitude to spare who needs a chance to make friends. Lori Hunt, one of Patricia’s employees at the inn, is clearly hiding from something or someone in her past. Even Diesel Gold, the reality show’s inexperienced producer, is licking his wounds and hoping to finally make his father proud. 

Gavin and Ginger are the funny and flirty focus of the book. The way they fall for each other—and what happens after they do—makes Back to Before as refreshing as the North Carolina surf, and just as rewarding.  

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

Tracy Solheim begins her Second Chances series with Back to Before, a multi-layered romance set in the aptly named town of Chances Inlet, North Carolina. A coastal community with charm to spare and the kind of small-town dynamics that mean gossip is a simple fact of life, Chances Inlet is home to the McAllister clan and the historic house that Gavin McAllister is renovating for a reality show.
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There is nothing like a Regency romance novel when you are in need of proper manners, steaming cups of tea and English village intrigue. Julie Klassen delivers just that with The Secret of Pembrooke Park, a thought-provoking novel that explores the definition of treasure—in God’s eyes and in man’s. Klassen has combined all kinds of reader-favorite elements in this mystery romance, including a grand estate, inscrutable villagers, a family tragedy and the first sweet buds of a love story.

Abigail Foster is partly to blame for her father’s investment misfortune, but she is determined to salvage something of a normal life for her parents and sister, Louisa, even if it means selling their home and moving elsewhere. A letter about a distant relative’s estate, Pembrooke Park, seems like a godsend, but it comes with several strange stipulations.

Abigail is the older sister, as well as the plain, practical one, and she is willing to face any challenge to keep her family happy. While her mother takes Louisa off to London for her first season, Abigail is left to organize the move to Pembrooke Park, where they must stay for at least a year with an already hired staff. It is an uncommon offer, but Abigail convinces her father to take it—even after learning the house has been left completely untouched for 18 years.

The mystery deepens upon arrival. Rumors of a hidden treasure in the house abound, and Abigail begins to receive strange letters from a woman recounting her own experience at the Park years before. Ominous noises, secretive staff and fleeting, hooded figures all add to the mystery and keep Abigail on her toes as she tries to uncover the truth behind her new home.

Complicating matters further is the presence of Will Chapman, the local curate and the son of a man who worked faithfully for Robert Pembrooke. Will is friendly and helpful, and he is just as interested in Abigail as she is in him. In the first weeks of the Fosters’ residence at Pembrooke Park, Abigail is drawn to the intriguing young man time and again. Yet Abigail remains focused on not only solving the mystery surrounding the house and its former residents, but also proving her worth to her family by finding the hidden treasure.

The result is a satisfying story that unfolds at a mild pace, giving Abigail plenty of time to reflect on the Bible lessons that Will imparts each week. Klassen’s message of the meaning of treasure is both sweet and valuable, especially for modern readers, and romance abounds among the many characters. The Secret of Pembrooke Park is a gem for Regency and inspirational readers alike.            

 

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

There’s nothing like a Regency romance novel when you’re in need of proper manners, steaming cups of tea and English village intrigue. Julie Klassen delivers just that with The Secret of Pembrooke Park, a thought-provoking novel that explores the definition of treasure—in God’s eyes and in man’s.
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A sobbing 4-year-old bride. A disinterested 12-year-old groom. Married in a rural Indian village 20 years ago at the behest of a tyrannical grandfather, this couple doesn’t seem destined for a happily ever after. That is, unless you ask Mili Rathod, the irrepressible heroine of Sonali Dev’s charming debut novel, A Bollywood Affair.

Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death, Mili grows up believing that her husband, Virat, who’s gone on to become an air force pilot, will come back for her one day. In the meantime, she’s determined to become the perfect wife, even if it means stretching the truth a little bit for her naani, who doesn’t quite understand the point of a university education for a young married woman. When Mili has a chance to attend a women’s studies program in the U.S., she takes it, determined to better the lives of Indian women even as she fantasizes about the delicious meals she’ll make for Virat one day.

Mili is a delightful contradiction, even to herself. Raised with the most traditional values, she nonetheless helps her American-born Indian roommate, Ridhi, elope with the man she loves, despite the bride’s family’s disapproval. Love trumps everything in Mili’s mind, even tradition. Dev writes, “If Ridhi was lucky enough to be loved back, Mili would do everything in her power to make sure it didn’t slip through Ridhi’s fingers.” Mili ardently believes in true love, and nothing hurts more than the suspicion that Virat does not love her the way she has come to love him, even from afar.

Mili and Samir are richly drawn, and Indian culture in its many shapes, sizes and colors provides gorgeous detail. 

However, Virat has no intention of finding Mili—as far as he knows, the wedding wasn’t legal; his mother filed papers annulling it shortly after the ceremony, and quickly spirited him and his brother, Samir, away from their controlling grandfather. What’s more, Virat is married to the woman of his dreams, and she is carrying his child. When a letter from Mili arrives, explaining her whereabouts and asking when she can expect her husband to come for her, Virat is shocked—but his brother Samir is suspicious. Samir is a successful Bollywood writer and director with movie-star looks that women melt for, and he’s sure he knows a gold-digger when he sees one. He’s determined to track Mili down himself and persuade her to sign the divorce papers.

The frothy fun of Bollywood films kicks in when Mili and Samir meet. Half-truths and misunderstandings build alongside a unique friendship that makes each of them question what they want from life—and from love. Samir is a Mumbai ladies’ man who has rarely been refused, while Mili’s rural upbringing lives on in her dreams and everyday habits. They come from completely different worlds within India, but as they get to know each other, they discover that they have much more in common than they expected—even if that complicates matters a whole lot more than Samir intended.

Dev, who has written about art, architecture and movies for Indian publications, along with scripts for Indian movies and television, skillfully contrasts the pros and cons of traditional cultural roles and expectations, as well as the bonds of blood and chosen family. Mili and Samir are richly drawn, and Indian culture in its many shapes, sizes and colors provides gorgeous detail. A Bollywood Affair is a fun, funny and surprisingly touching first novel. Dev delivers a love story that could have come straight from Indian cinema, and it's one that readers everywhere will adore.  

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

A sobbing 4-year-old bride. A disinterested 12-year-old groom. Married in a rural Indian village 20 years ago at the behest of a tyrannical grandfather, this couple doesn’t seem destined for a happily ever after. That is, unless you ask Mili Rathod, the irrepressible heroine of Sonali Dev’s charming debut novel, A Bollywood Affair.

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Graveyards and corpses don’t usually scream romance, but Brenda Novak uses them to perfect effect in her new historical romance, A Matter of Grave Concern. Action, mystery and fascinating historical tidbits are combined in this story of unlikely—and deliciously lusty—love.

Abigail Hale is the daughter of a surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine in 1830s London, where the study of anatomy is hampered by a sufficient lack of cadavers. Out of this need, the grim industry of stealing corpses from their graves to sell to medical schools is born. Abby abhors the practice as much as anyone, but she’s also relentlessly practical—without those bodies, her father’s school will not survive.

Her father knows that Abby is fascinated by medicine—although no  medical school would accept a young woman—but he does not know that Abby has taken it upon herself to procure corpses. Her father’s ignorance is unfortunate, because Abby is in far over her head when Jack Hurtsill’s “London Supply Company” arrives with the body she requested.

Maximilian Wilder’s aristocratic good looks and crisp speech set him apart from the typical “sack ’em up” man, but his story of gambling debts is enough to convince Jack Hurtsill that he’s in it solely for the money. However, Max is really on the trail of his missing half sister Madeline, who was last seen in Jack’s company. When Jack turns up with a still-warm dead body that’s clearly never seen a grave, Max’s suspicions about Madeline’s fate seem justified—in the absence of convenient corpses, are Jack’s men committing murder to provide cadavers?

A Matter of Grave Concern makes a suitably creepy read for the Halloween season.

To keep Abby safe from harm at the hands of the body snatchers, Max “claims” her as his share of the spoils, keeping her locked in his room. Their plan is predictably compromised by the attraction between them, but Novak keeps their interactions fresh and fun with Abby’s curiosity about anatomy and Max’s willingness to let her explore.

Novak’s London is satisfyingly foggy and grim, and the stern realities of life in 1830 are never brushed off. The class differences between Abby and Max provide a sadly realistic obstacle to their love, and the standard expectations of a woman of the era are plainly laid out. Despite her spirit, smarts and sensibility, Abby does not have many options in life without a man’s protection.

Romance veteran Novak keeps the plot twists coming until the very end. A Matter of Grave Concern makes a suitably creepy read for the Halloween season, with a resolution that’s fanciful in the delightful way of the best romances.  

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

Graveyards and corpses don’t usually scream romance, but Brenda Novak uses them to perfect effect in her new historical romance, A Matter of Grave Concern. Action, mystery and fascinating historical tidbits are combined in this story of unlikely—and deliciously lusty—love.

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Donna Kauffman takes on the theme of second chances in her satisfying new novel, Sandpiper Island, the third entry in her Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series. The result is an emotionally rich story that delivers a beautifully researched natural setting, as well as a romance.  

Delia O’Reilly has lived her whole life in the Cove, and her diner is a local hub of gossip, community and Delia’s delicious home-style cooking. More than that, it’s her bedrock. With her parents, brother and grandmother gone, Delia’s alone in the world aside from the friends and locals who have given her a place in their hearts. Now wealthy Brooks Winstock is poised to take the diner away from her, using a forgotten loophole to claim her scenic spot on the harbor for the yacht club he plans to build. Delia’s independence and resilience are legendary, but even she’s unprepared to have her entire life swept out from under her.

Years ago, Ford Maddox, then an Army Ranger, accompanied home the body of Delia’s brother, who was killed in the line of duty. But when the grim realities of military life began to gnaw at his soul, he retired to the Cove, finding comfort in coastal Maine’s majestic natural beauty—and its isolation. Now committed to an off-the-grid life, he studies the migratory patterns of various nesting populations around Sandpiper Island, just off the coast. He can handle feathered and flippered creatures just fine, but people. . . not so much.

 Learning to love, as they find out, involves being able to accept care and concern—as well as give it

But in the lovingly imagined, tight-knit community of Blueberry Cove, no one is truly alone. Ford’s sister, Grace, who moved to the Cove to renew her connection with her long-estranged brother, is also Delia’s friend—and Grace is determined help the people she cares about find happiness. With a little prodding and gentle persuasion, Ford leaves his island to find out how he can help the woman he’s never forgotten hold onto her beloved diner.

Grace’s attempt to reconnect with her brother is just one example of the second chances Kauffman offers in the novel, but Delia and Ford provide the theme’s foundation. Though linked by their mourning of Delia’s brother and the one breathtaking night of solace and passion they shared years ago, neither of them has attempted to make anything more of their relationship. Now, both have to wonder why they have never pushed their relationship farther, when the attraction and understanding between them runs so much deeper than the physical.

There’s true emotional meat to this story—both Delia and Ford are past forty, dealing not only with the choices they’ve made along the way, but the repercussions of lives lived mostly independently. Learning to love, as they find out, involves being able to accept care and concern—as well as give it—and the chance to build something together is a revelation for both of them. As usual, Kauffman’s love scenes are joyously steamy, and her dialogue is refreshingly realistic. Sandpiper Island is another keeper from an author who continues to deliver year after year. 

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

Donna Kauffman takes on the theme of second chances in her satisfying new novel, Sandpiper Island, the third entry in her Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series. The result is an emotionally rich story that delivers a beautifully researched natural setting, as well as a romance.
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Once you find true love, life is supposed to lead into a happily ever after—at least that’s what the fairy tales promise. But real life and love come with the risk of real loss, as Holly Jefferson learns just six months after her wedding. Since You’ve Been Gone is a truly bittersweet story about a second chance at love, a novel by turns charming, funny, inexpressibly sad and finally, hopeful.  

Two years after her husband Charlie’s death in an accident, Holly Jefferson is still dreaming about him—vivid, intimate dreams that become painful when she wakes to remember she’s alone. She’s carrying on as well as she can, running her bake shop, Cake, but everyone in Holly’s life agrees “as well as she can” isn’t really well enough. When she’s not working, she’s hiding out in the house she and Charlie never got to finish renovating, with their dog, Dave. The cottage is half-completed—whole rooms abandoned, undecorated and even unheated—a sad testament to the state of her life.

A single order changes everything unexpectedly. In one of the novel’s many funny scenes, Holly delivers a cake shaped like a certain part of the male anatomy to the wealthy, eccentric property baron Fergal Argyll. As infamous as Fergal’s hard-drinking, kilt-wearing antics are, his son Ciaran’s reputation as a ladies’ man is even more celebrated. Unless you’re Holly, of course, and have very little idea who either man is.

Knight’s novel explores the tender, often uncomfortable territory of life post-loss.

Knight paints a comfortably realistic picture of Holly’s life. Like any woman reeling from a loss, she’s happier replaying her own memories than she is reading the local gossip pages, but she’s also a survivor who accepts her responsibilities. Her sister is about to have her first child, which Holly is genuinely excited about, and her business partner—and her continually on-the-fritz delivery van—provide necessary reminders of life beyond her home. But Holly is uncertain that she will ever venture beyond the small world she’s managed to reconstruct. That is, until gorgeous, unattached Ciaran takes an interest in her.

Less of an “opposites attract” story than one about the very real scars most people carry in the name of love, Knight’s novel explores the tender, often uncomfortable territory of life post-loss. Is falling in love again OK—Or even possible? Can you learn to trust again when you’ve been betrayed in the most painful way? How do you honor someone’s memory without getting stuck in the past? Ciaran is the last man Holly would expect to find her attractive, but Holly is everything Ciaran’s been looking for, even if he didn’t realize it—honest, sensible, realistic, yet undoubtedly romantic about the idea of two people joining their lives forever.

Knight’s characters are all nicely rounded—Holly’s sister Martha and business partner Jesse have their own agendas even in their devotion to Holly, and Ciaran’s father is developed with remarkable sympathy and insight. As Holly begins to understand that her happiness doesn’t have to end with Charlie’s death, her struggle to accept what she wants from Ciaran—and from her life—is deftly rendered. More than a romance, Since You’ve Been Gone is a novel about loss and letting go, but also about the way love can live on when you let it.

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

Once you find true love, life is supposed to lead into a happily ever after—at least that’s what the fairy tales promise. But real life and love come with the risk of real loss, as Holly Jefferson learns just six months after her wedding.  Since You’ve Been Gone is a truly bittersweet story about a second chance at love, a debut novel by turns charming, funny, inexpressibly sad, and finally, hopeful.  

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Nothing says summer like a grand old house on the ocean and family reunited for a season of memories, both old and new. The second book of Mary Alice Monroe’s Lowcountry Summer Trilogy delivers just that, continuing the story of Marietta Muir—otherwise known as Mamaw—and her three granddaughters, who have gathered together at Sea Breeze, the family home on Sullivan Island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.

Together with Lucille, who is now more friend than housekeeper after fifty years, Mamaw is determined to straighten out Dora, Carson and Harper (each named for a famous Southern writer) before she finally puts Sea Breeze on the market. But her granddaughters are as individual as the shells on the beach; they are half sisters each with a different mother and a shared father, Mamaw’s now deceased son Parker. The only thing these women have shared, aside from Muir blood, is the summers they spent as children together at Sea Breeze. And as Mamaw heads into the twilight of her years, she wants to ensure that the bonds between her “summer girls” are as strong as sisters’ should be.

It’s a big task, and Monroe deftly explores the unique problems each woman faces. Carson is out of work and out of money; Harper has all the money in the world and no one to love; and Dora is facing a divorce, the sale of her home and an autistic son who challenges what she knows about parenting every day. These are modern women addressing the prickly questions of identity and purpose in today’s world, a world very different from the one their grandmother knew as a young bride.

Is there room in her life for a new relationship? Is there room in her heart for much more than weariness? 

All of the characters undergo changes during the course of the book, but in this second volume of the trilogy the spotlight is definitely on Dora. Raised in strict Southern tradition—think cotillions, sororities, big weddings and the Junior League—Dora faces a confusing period of self-evaluation as her marriage collapses. Her stately Charleston home will have to be sold—her husband’s already moved into a condo—and her entire way of life has been called into question. Her clear-cut job as a homemaker may have expanded when she turned to homeschooling to meet her autistic son's needs, but neither of those roles draws an income. On top of it all, a health scare reminds her of the fragility of her own existence and prompts her to undertake a new routine to drop some pounds and regain her energy and strength.

Is there room in her life for a new relationship? Is there room in her heart for much more than weariness? It’s a question Dora must explore as an old boyfriend resurfaces, reawakening parts of herself she thought long buried. Her sisters and Mamaw are there to encourage her, of course, but Dora handles her budding relationship with Devlin Cassell with refreshing independence as she navigates body-image demons, the truth about her own needs and what place a man should be given in her life.

The novel builds to a literally thunderous conclusion as a tropical storm heads toward Charleston and each of the women stands at a crossroads in her life—and a new sorrow is waiting with the dawn. Written with convincing Southern charm and thoughtfulness, The Summer Wind explores the bonds of sisterhood and the challenges of modern womanhood with warmth and genuine affection.
             

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

Nothing says summer like a grand old house on the ocean and family reunited for a season of memories, both old and new. The second book of Mary Alice Monroe’s Lowcountry Summer Trilogy delivers just that, continuing the story of Marietta Muir—otherwise known as Mamaw—and her three granddaughters, who have gathered together at Sea Breeze, the family home on Sullivan Island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.

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