Category Archives: Women’s Fiction

Review: Amazing Gracie by Laura Drake

Title: Amazing Gracie by Laura Drake
Publisher: Gramarye Media/The Story Plant
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 273 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author


CJ has returned from war. But she has not left the war behind. The one bright spot in her life is her nine-year-old sister, Amazing Gracie, or Mazey, as CJ knows her. Mazey is brilliant, curious, and innocent, but she’s carrying burdens of her own, including a deep desire to meet the father she’s never known.

When CJ heads off on a cross-country motorcycle trip to visit the homes of her fallen friends, Mazey somehow convinces CJ to let her tag along. It isn’t the journey CJ expected, but it is the journey she needs. Contending with her demons, confronting her past, and facing her future, CJ comes to terms with choices she couldn’t have anticipated. And when Mazey’s quest takes a surprising turn, both CJ and Mazey discover that this road trip has been headed to an undisclosed destination all along.

A story of family in all its incarnations, Amazing Gracie is a deeply felt excursion presented by a writer of rare warmth.


Laura Drake’s Amazing Gracie tugs on the heartstrings from the novel’s touching beginning to its emotional ending.

CJ Maxwell might be home from war, but it continues to loom largely as she tries to honor those close to her who did not make it home. Her first stateside stop is to see her beloved nine-year-old sister Amazing Gracie aka Mazey. CJ’s plans take an unexpected turn as she brings Mazey with her aafter discovering their mom Patsy refuses to put her sister’s needs about her own

Mazey and CJ may have been raised under the same conditions but they are as different as night and day. Mazey is very intelligent, a bit naïve and relentlessly positive. CJ’s outlook on life is somewhat grim as she wrestles with a heart-rending tragedy from war. Together, they set out on a cross-country journey that is life-alterin

Amazing Gracie is a thoughtful and sensitive portrayal of the aftermath of war.  CJ and Mazey are vibrant three-dimensional characters with realistic issues to resolve. The motorcycle trip’s various settings are well-drawn and easily capture the imagination.  Mazey’s story arc resolution and CJ’s character development and subsequent realizations will bring readers to tears as Laura Drake skillfully guides this heartfelt novel a triumphant conclusion.

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Filed under Amazing Gracie, Contemporary, Laura Drake, Rated B+, Review, The Story Plant, Women's Fiction

Review: The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander

Title: The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 326 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A heartwarming literary-themed novel about a woman who turns an ordinary red phone box into the littlest library in England and brings together a struggling town.

A little red telephone box full of stories, a chance to change her life…

Jess Metcalf is perfectly content with her quiet, predictable life. But when her beloved grandmother passes away and she loses her job at the local library, Jess’ life is turned upside down.

Determined to pick up the pieces, Jess decides it’s time for a new beginning. Unable to part with her grandmother’s cherished books, she packs them all up and moves to a tiny cottage in the English countryside. To her surprise, Jess discovers that she’s now the owner of an old red phone box that was left on the property. Missing her job at the local library, Jess decides to give back to her new community—using her grandmother’s collection to turn the ordinary phone box into the littlest library in England.

It’s not long before the books are borrowed and begin to work their literary magic—bringing the villagers together… and managing to draw Jess’ grumpy but handsome neighbor out of his shell.

Maybe it’s finally time for Jess to follow her heart, let go of her old life, and make the village her home? But will she be able to take the leap?


Set in a darling English village, The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander is a charming novel of new beginnings.

Following upending life events, Jess Metcalf impulsively purchases a cute cottage in a rural village. She is nervous but determined to make the most of her move. Her closest neighbors are grouchy single dad, Aiden Foxworthy and his twelve-year-old daughter Maisie. Unlike her usually cautiousness, Jess begins to make friends and puts down roots in the community. But will an unexpected development threaten her newfound happiness?

Jess is still mourning the loss her grandmother Mimi. However, after the lending library in the phone booth is open, she finds signs of Mimi that comfort her and other community members. Jess is delighted by her new friendships with retired Diana and overwhelmed mum Becky. Her acquaintance with Aiden is off to a rocky beginning but sparks begin to fly when they spend time together. But Aidan’s life is somewhat complicated so is there any chance of a future together?

The Littlest Library is an uplifting novel with a wonderful sense of community. Jess is a wonderful lead character but she is emotionally guarded.  The secondary cast of characters are electic yet immensely appealing. The storyline is engaging with realistic issues for Jess to overcome. Jess and Aidan’s understated romance is sweet but strewn with seemingly impossible obstacles. The rural village springs vividly to life and adds another dimension to the unfolding story. Although Jess’s eventual quandary is predictable this does not lessen overall enjoyment of  this sparkling novel by Poppy Alexander.

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Filed under Avon, Contemporary, Poppy Alexander, Rated B, Review, The Littlest Library, Women's Fiction

Review: Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs

Title: Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs
Bella Vista Chronicles Book Four
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


The New York Times bestselling author of The Lost and Found Bookstore returns to Perdita Street with a can’t-miss tale of friendship, hardship, redemption, and love between a San Francisco baker and a barbecue master from Texas.

Jerome “Sugar” Barnes learned the art of baking in his grandma’s bakery, also called Sugar, on historic Perdita Street in San Francisco. He supplies baked goods to the Lost and Found Bookshop across the street.

When the restaurant that shares his commercial kitchen loses its longtime tenant, a newcomer moves in: Margot Salton, a barbecue master from Texas.

Margot isn’t exactly on the run, but she needs a fresh start. She’s taken care of herself her whole life, pulling herself up by her fingernails to recover from trauma, and her dream has been to open a restaurant somewhere far, far from Texas. The shared kitchen with Jerome Sugar’s bakery is the perfect setup: a state-of-the-art kitchen and a vibrant neighborhood popular with tourists and locals.

Margot instantly takes to Jerome’s grandmother, the lively, opinionated Ida, and the older woman proves to be a good mentor. Margot thinks Jerome is gorgeous, and despite their different backgrounds their attraction is powerful–even though Jerome worries that Margot will simply move on from him once she’s found some peace and stability. But just as she starts to relax into a happy new future, Margot’s past in Texas comes back to haunt her…


Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs is a thought-provoking novel that is quite heartwarming.

Margot Salton is a Texas transplant whose move to San Francisco follows a traumatic event that still haunts her. Her dream of opening a BBQ restaurant has just come true and she cannot wait to open her doors. Margot shares a kitchen with Sugar, the bakery next door, which is a family-owned business run by the owner’s son, Jerome. Their blossoming friendship soon turns much deeper, but Margot has valid concerns about how Jerome will react once she reveals the secrets of her past.

Margot is young but her life has been anything but easy. After her mother’s untimely death while Margot is still a teenager, she is on her own as she plans her future. After meeting the town’s golden boy, her life is turned upside down. While already facing an uphill battle against corruption, Margot is soon facing an incredibly difficult decision that is heart-wrenching.

Jerome is divorced with two young sons. He is drawn to Margot right from the beginning but he has reservations about getting involved with a younger woman.  As they decide to explore their burgeoning feelings, will unexpected complications destroy their chance for a future together?

Sugar and Salt is a captivating novel that is heartfelt and engaging. Margot is an admirable young woman who has overcome incredible odds in her young life. Jerome has nothing but respect for Margot as she builds her business. Their friendship is sweet and provides a solid foundation for their burgeoning romance. The storyline is well-executed and touches on relevant social issues such as inequities in the justice system.  Susan Wiggs deftly handles sensitive subject matter with sensitivity and brings this fourth installment in the Bella Vista Chronicles series to a deeply affecting conclusion.

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Filed under Bella Vista Chronicles, Contemporary, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Salt and Sugar, Susan Wiggs, William Morrow, Women's Fiction

Review: Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins

Title: Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins comes a funny and surprising new novel about second chances–and why the lies we tell ourselves are the most dangerous.

Lillie Silva knew life as an empty nester would be hard after her only child left for college, but when her husband abruptly dumps her for another woman just as her son leaves, her world comes crashing down. Besides the fact that this announcement is a complete surprise (to say the least), what shocks Lillie most is that she isn’t…heartbroken. She’s furious.

Lillie has loved her life on Cape Cod, but as a mother, wife and nurse-midwife, she’s used to caring for other people…not taking care of herself. Now, alone for the first time in her life, she finds herself going a little rogue. Is it over the top to crash her ex-husband’s wedding, dressed like the angel of death? Sure! Should she release a skunk into his perfect new home? Probably not! But it beats staying home and moping.

She finds an unexpected ally in her glamorous sister, with whom she’s had a tense relationship all these years. And an unexpected babysitter in of all people Ben Hallowell, the driver in a car accident that nearly killed Lillie 20 years ago. And then there’s Ophelia, her ex-husband’s oddly lost niece, who could really use a friend.

It’s the end of Lillie’s life as she knew it. But sometimes the perfect next chapter surprises you…out of the clear blue sky.


Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins is a poignant, humorous and uplifting novel of new beginnings.

Lillie Silva is not looking foraward to her empty nest when her son, Dylan leaves for college. But she has a plan that she hopes will ease her into her new life. She has arranged for a vacation for her and her husband, Brad. When he asks her out to dinner, Lillie plans to surprise her husband with the trip. Instead, she receives the shock of her life when Brad tells her he has met someone else and he wants a divorce. Lillie puts on happy face as she and Brad pretend nothing is wrong between them until Dylan leaves for college. Although Lillie wants nothing more than to try to fix her marriage, Brad is resolute. With their divorce and his upcoming second marriage moving at breakneck speed, Lillie gets a little revenge as she tries to adjust to her new life.

Lillie is a nurse midwife and she loves her job. She never imagined herself as a single woman and she is having trouble adjusting to living alone. Lillie veers between anger and grief as Brad turns into someone she barely recognizes. With her stoic yet loving father and her sister Hannah’s support, she moves through the grief she feels over the end of her marriage.

Lillie also unexpectedly renews her friendship with Ben Hallowell. When she was younger, Ben was a bit of a fixture in her house since he worked with her dad on his fishing boat. They lost touch before Lillie left for college and now her dad’s retired, Ben now owns his mentor’s fishing boat. Lillie discovers a lot about herself and Ben as they get to know one another again.

Out of the Clear Blue Sky is a thought-provoking novel that touches on a number of topics that are relatable. Lillie is a vibrantly developed character who is flawed but is also stronger than she knows. Dylan is a well-mannered caring young man and he is quite supportive of his mom. Ben is a steady presence who has changed a lot in the intervening years since they last saw one another. Lillie handles her heartbreak in some not so mature ways but those occasions are funny and quite memorable. As she settles into her post-divorce life, she comes to terms with past losses and life-altering events. The plot is multi-layered and  Kristan Higgins brings this captivating novel to a highly satisfying conclusion.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Kristin Hannah, Out of the Clear Blue Sky, Rated B+, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery

Title: The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 435 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery—a story of friends who become family, giving each other courage to start over…

When fate brings three strangers to a charming space for lease on the California coast, the Boardwalk Bookshop is born. Part bookstore, part gift shop, part bakery, it’s a dream come true for Bree, Mikki and Ashley. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are…not.

Bree, wounded by brilliant but cold parents and her late husband’s ultimate betrayal, has sworn to protect her heart at all costs. Even from Ashley’s brother, a writer and adventurer who has inspired millions. He’s the first man to see past Bree’s barricades to her true self, which terrifies her. Mikki has this divorce thing all figured out—somehow, she’s stayed friends with her ex and her in-laws…until a new man changes how everyone looks at her, and how she sees herself. Meanwhile, Ashley discovers that the love of her life never intends to marry. Can she live without being a wife if it means she can have everything else she’s ever wanted?

At sunset every Friday on the beach in front of the Boardwalk Bookshop, the three friends share a champagne toast. As their bond grows closer, they challenge one another to become the best versions of themselves in this heartachingly beautiful story of friendship, sisterhood and the transformative power of love.


The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery is an uplifting novel of friendship, new beginnings and love.

Bree Larton, Mikki Bartholomew and Ashely Burton are complete strangers when they meet while looking at a vacant beachfront property. Since none of the women can afford the business space on their own, they rent it together and soon become close friends. Bree owns a thriving bookshop but she is not a fan of authors. Mikki is a divorced mom of two who owns a successful gift shop. Ashley owns a popular bakery and she is in a loving relationship with her boyfriend Seth. All three support each other as they undergo unexpected changes in their personal lives.

Despite becoming friends with Mikki and Ashley, Bree does not talk much about her personal life or her past. She does not have any interest in a relationship so she is surprised when by her growing friendship with popular author Harding Burton. He also runs a non-profit with his friend Dave.  Bree does not want to become romantically entangled with Harding, but will he slip past her formidable defenses?

Mikki’s divorce from her ex-husband Perry was amicable and they have successfully co-parented their now teenage children. Mikki is also still good friends with her in-laws and she and Perry still keep to a few routines from their married days. With encouragement from Bree and Ashley, she makes one last effort with a dating app. Mikki is thrilled with her new romance but is she ready to move on from her former husband?

Ashley and Seth are deeply in love but an unanticipated revelation throws their romance into turmoil. Their very different viewpoints leave her reeling and wondering how they will break their impasse.  Ashely is also surprised by which of their friends she turns to for assistance. This unforeseen turn of events turns out to be life changing for both women but will they figure out how to solve the issues that are troubling them?

The Boardwalk Bookshop is a delightfully charming novel that is quite captivating. The characters are wonderfully life-like with realistic flaws. Their respective problems are relatable with no easy solutions. Bree’s wounds are deep and she is emotionally closed off. Mikki’s comfortable life is shaken by her inability to clearly see how complacent she has become. Ashley must make a difficult choice that she is finding impossible to make. With Bree, Mikki and Ashely’s futures hanging in the balance, Susan Mallery brings this heartwarming novel to an immensely gratifying conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Boardwalk Bookshop, Women's Fiction

Review: What Remains True by Nancy Naigle

Title: What Remains True by Nancy Naigle
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 332 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


An uplifting novel about three months that may change three lives—and lead to love—from USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle

Working at a little shop on Main Street in a small town is exactly the break that executive Merry Anna Foster needs following her divorce. She’s made a bet with her ex-husband that she can live on the amount of money she’s giving him in alimony. If she can do it, then Kevin will have to stop complaining and leave her alone. But after three months of this new life, will she even want to leave Antler Creek?

Adam Locklear, bull rider and owner of the local feedstore, is having the best year of his rodeo career. He’s also a bit distracted by the pretty new neighbor living in his old bunkhouse. But Adam has no time for matters of the heart. He’s got his future all mapped out, and that future doesn’t involve a woman just yet. It doesn’t involve parenting a little girl either. However, Carly Fowler still suddenly leaves five-year-old Zan—the daughter Adam didn’t know he had—in his care.

Is it possible that the future holds a life even better than what Merry Anna and Adam had each dreamed of? One that includes both tenderness and even love—not just for each other but for Zan too.


What Remains True by Nancy Naigle is a sweet, wholesome romance with a lovely undercurrent of faith.

Merry Anna Foster is post-divorce and unexpectedly finding herself loving the small town she impulsively settled in after a brief stop. She is making wonderful friendships and finding personal satisfaction with her retail sales position in a local business. Merry Anna is not looking for romance but she is discovering love has a way of finding her despite her initial lack of interest.

Adam Locklear is a bull rider who is having the best season of his career. He is single-mindedly focused on winning the gold buckle at the looming championship finals. Not wanting any distractions, Adam is avoiding personal entanglements. He is very surprised by his inability to stop thinking about Merry Anna. Misunderstandings plague the couple when their friendship gradually turns to romance.

What Remains True is a sparkling romance with an idyllic setting. Merry Anna and Adam are vibrant characters whose personal baggage threatens to derail their burgeoning relationship. Both characters undergo realistic growth as their feelings for one another deepen. The secondary cast of characters is absolutely delightful. The storyline is engaging and moves at an even pace. Despite late in the story conflict,  Nancy Naigle brings this captivating novel to a heartfelt conclusion.


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Filed under Contemporary, Nancy Naigle, Rated B+, Review, WaterBrook, What Remains True, Women's Fiction