‘Blind Tiger’ by Sandra Brown is an action-packed historical fiction with a fascinating female main character

Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown

Exploring the bleak times during Prohibition becomes a thrill-ride in Sandra Brown’s “Blind Tiger.” The story is set right after the “Great War,” and is filled with nonstop action as we meet Laurel Plummer, who ends up in small-town Foley, Texas, after her husband abandons her in his father’s one-room shack. Laurel is left with her sickly, premature newborn, Pearl, in a drafty cabin with no running water or electricity. Laurel, as we come to find out, is a tough character and not one to let a desperate situation keep her down.

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‘A Summer to Remember’ by Erika Montgomery is about the secrets we keep for love

A Summer to Remember by Erika Montgomery

We all have secrets, but the secrets in “A Summer to Remember” by Erika Montgomery are secrets that will rock two families to the core. At the center of the story are Frankie Simon and Louise Chandler, who live on opposite coasts. Frankie is 30 years old and lives in Los Angeles. She runs the memorabilia store her mother started, and she loves the memories that the items she sells evoke from the movies she loved watching with her mother. In Harpswich, Massachusetts, Louise Chandler lives with her physician husband and runs the Stardust Film Festival, one that she had started decades previously with movie star Glory Cartwright. She and her husband, Russ, were Glory’s friends, and her husband grew up in Harpswich with Glory’s movie star husband, Mitch Beckett.

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‘The Tiger Mom’s Tale’ by debut author Lyn Liao Butler is a story of conflicting cultures and the love of family that is at the center of both

The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler

Lyn Liao Butler knows what it’s like to experience conflicting cultures, so the different cultures she depicts in “The Tiger Mom’s Tale” ring true. Butler’s Instagram videos of her parents demonstrating cooking traditional Taiwanese dishes show that while she lives in America, fosters dogs, has a child, and lives the American dream, her roots (her parents) are from Taiwan. Main character Lexa’s roots are American, like her mother’s. But there is also the part of her that is Taiwanese, like the father she didn’t meet until she was eight. And until a traumatic event happened in Taiwan when Lexa was fourteen, she thought that she could straddle both cultures and be lucky enough to be loved by both her American family and her Taiwanese family. We find out that’s not always as easy as one might imagine.

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‘Sunrise by the Sea’ by Jenny Colgan is a sweet return to the oceanside bakery with new characters

Sunrise by the Sea by Jenny Colgan

One of the strengths of Jenny Colgan’s writing is that she creates characters who seem so real and so approachable, we end up feeling as if we know them and are friends with them. In “Sunrise by the Sea,” we return to the tidal island Mount Polbearne, accessible to the mainland Cornwall at low tide only. While we meet Marisa, who has been devastated by the death of her grandfather, we also learn about Polly and Huckle, and how their lives have been changed by having twins.

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‘Sisters of the Resistance’ WWII fiction by Christine Wells is fascinating and engrossing from the first page

Sisters of the Resistance by Christine Wells

“Sisters of the Resistance” is an apt title for this historical fiction that’s partly based on real events and real people and in which women are the main characters. What is unusual about how Christine Wells, the author, chooses to share the events is that the story is told in two different timelines, which is not so unusual, but they are only three years apart. We meet Yvette, the main character, in 1947, as she returns to Paris after the war to testify in the trial of a movie star accused of collaboration with the Nazis and treason. She has not been to Paris nor communicated with her mother and sister since she was smuggled out of France in the final days of the war. Then the action changes to 1944, in the final days of the war.

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‘Spellmaker’ is the thrilling sequel to ‘Spellbreaker’ by Charlie N. Holmberg

Spellmaker by Charlie N. Holmberg

In an alternative Victorian world filled with magic and spellmakers and spellbreakers, “Spellmaker” by Charlie N. Holmberg gives us the conclusion to the story that began when Elsie Camden, a rogue spellbreaker, came into her own in “Spellbreaker.” It is in the first book that while following the orders of a mysterious group pursuing justice and equality, Elsie is trying to remove a spell on the estate of a wealthy duke, and she runs into Bacchus Kelsey, visiting from his plantation in Barbados. Her life changes, and for the first time she questions this anonymous group and their orders. We learn that Elsie had been abandoned by her family as a child and ended up in a workhouse. From there she ended up working for Ogden Cuthbert, a kind artist who has hidden his own magical talent, and who treated her almost like a daughter.

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‘Legacy’ by Nora Roberts is the story of strong women and the men who love them — and a lunatic poet with murderous intent

Legacy by Nora Roberts

In “Legacy,” author Nora Roberts takes us on an epic journey into the life of Adrian Rizzo. We meet Adrian at the tender age of seven when she first meets the man who is her biological father. He’s angry, drunk, and crazy and tries to kill her. He ends up dying. We learn a lot about Lina, Adrian’s mother, and how she started a fitness empire through determination and hard work. We see the town, Traveler’s Creek, where Lina grew up and where her parents still run the family business, Rizzo’s Italian Restaurant. They live in a beautiful house on a hill with gardens and mountains in the distance. It’s beautiful, and it’s where Adrian spends the summer after the horrific event with her father. It’s that summer that she makes friends in town, including her first best friend, Maya. Her grandparents teach her to cook, and how to pick herbs and vegetables in the garden. It’s that summer that causes Adrian to grow roots in the small town, and it becomes home. It’s not, however, her mother’s home or where her mother feels comfortable. Her mother couldn’t wait to leave Traveler’s Creek behind, and she hasn’t looked back since.

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‘The Newcomer’ by Mary Kay Andrews brings Florida, small beachfront motels, and a mystery to brighten our summer reading

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the queen of writing mysteries that take us to the South and often to the beach. In “The Newcomer,” we travel from New York to Treasure Island, Florida, a small beachside town near St. Petersburg. When Letty grabs her niece and flees the city, she heads south. In the bottom of her sister’s go-bag is an article, “Florida’s Hidden Gems: Four Family Motels You’ll Want to Discover,” and one in particular is circled, The Murmuring Surf Motel. That’s where Letty and Maya go because Letty is determined to fulfill the promise she made her sister. Her sister had worried that her ex-boyfriend would kill her. She made Letty promise that if anything happened to her, Letty would take the go-bag and Maya and flee.

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‘The Seat Filler’ by Sariah Wilson is a charming modern romance

seat filler

“The Seat Filler” by Sariah Wilson hit the spot after giving up on an overly wordy, tediously description-filled narrative that had been sent to me. I picked up this romance and within a few pages, I cared more about Juliet Nolan, the main character, than I had after reading more than 100 pages of the other book. While this is a light read, it’s cute and engaging. And there are dogs — plenty of dogs.

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‘Band of Sisters’ by Lauren Willig is a stunning story, based on real history, of a group of intrepid women during WWI

Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig

One of the hallmarks of good literature is a story in which things — and people — are not as they appear. In “Band of Sisters,” author Lauren Willig effectively accomplishes this and more: she writes about women who are not as they appear, but she additionally writes about the horrors of war using real history about a group of women alumni from Smith College. In other words, the devastation we see in the pages of the book is exactly as it appears, and her gripping historical novel is filled with incredible real tales of heroism and valor alongside examples of the worst behavior of which humans are capable — all carefully researched. The totality of her work is a story that is fascinating and inspiring as it makes us consider not only a global war, with its allies and enemies, but smaller bonds as well, such as friendship and family.

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‘Sweetshop of Dreams: A Novel in Recipes’ by Jenny Colgan is as sweet as candy

Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan

Most of Jenny Colgan’s novels have a few things in common: feisty, determined women who need a change of scenery, a business in need of help, fabulous out-of-the way locations in UK or Scotland or the islands north of UK, and men who aren’t typical romance heroes. “Sweetshop of Dreams: A Novel in Recipes” doesn’t disappoint.

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‘It Had to Be You’ by Georgia Clark is a romance with heart and something for everyone

It Had to Be You by Georgia Clark

In “It Had to Be You,” Georgia Clark doesn’t just give us one romantic tale; she provides us with five different stories, all woven together beautifully, of love lost, love found, and love deferred. They all center around Liv Goldenhorn, whose husband and business partner Eliot, has a heart attack in the arms of another woman. To make matters even worse, he leaves his half of their wedding planning business to this “other” woman. Savannah, from Kentucky, shows up in their New York office, which also happens to be the home Liv shares with her young son, to claim her share. We are privy to Liv’s grief and her anger at learning how Eliot betrayed her. We also are there as she moves past her grief to try to resurrect her business with the help of Savannah.

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