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Review & Blog Tour: Return to the Beach House

Return to the Beach House

Return to the Beach House

by Georgia Bockhoven
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
387 pages
Genre: women’s fiction
3.5 / 5

Summary

Over the course of one year, in a charming cottage by the sea, eight people will discover love and remembrance, reconciliation and reunion, beginnings and endings in this unforgettable sequel to Georgia Bockoven’s The Beach House and Another Summer.

Alison arrives at the beach house in June to spend a month with her restless grandson before he leaves for his freshman year in college. Over a decade before, Alison lost her beloved husband, and has faced life alone ever since. Now she discovers a new life, and possible new love.

August brings together four college friends facing a milestone. Across summer’s final days, they share laughter, tears, and love—revealing long-held secrets and creating new and even more powerful bonds.

World-class wildlife photographer, Matthew, and award-winning war photographer, Lindsey, arrive at the beach house in January, each harboring the very real fear that it will mark the end of their decade-long love affair. Alone in the house’s warm peace, they will be forced to truly look at who they are and what they want, discovering surprising truths that will change their lives forever.

Review

The beach, as my grandmother used to say, cures what ails you. That certainly is the case for the eight people who stay at Bockhoven’s beach house.

The strongest, least emotionally manipulative, story of the bunch is the first one, belonging to Allison and Christopher. She’s reeling from her husband and son’s deaths, even though it occurred over a dozen years earlier. When she realizes that her attempts to ensure that the memories of her husband and son stay strong in Christopher’s mind have in fact hurt him, it is a heartbreaking scene indeed. The used car salesman she meets (who, by the way, defies all stereotypes about used car salesmen) presents a perfect foil: he, too, lost a spouse, but his approach to widow(er)hood is different from Allison’s.

The dynamics in the first story are interesting and emotionally intense. Christopher is trying to find himself beyond the shadows of two dead men he never really knew, and Allison is trying to be the faithful spouse in the face of increasing loneliness.

We also meet Grace in this story, the teenage girl next door who helps “manage” the beach house for its owner. She’s also searching, but hers is based in fear of being left.

It’s a well written, engrossing story.

Then comes the second story, which, while entertaining, is way too pat. The four friends who reunite are each hiding something (of course they are), but the bonds of friendship help them regain their trust of one another. Each of the women has her own voice, and the struggles each face ring true. I enjoyed when there was friction because, let’s face it, you put four women together, and there will be friction. Bockhoven understands her characters and lets us get to know them.

What stops me from enjoying this one as much as the first story is its ending. The tension builds and builds, and then it just sort of falls flat.

The third story … oy vey.

Matt and Lindsey’s relationship will make you wonder why they’re together and what they see in each other. They are together so infrequently that their hold on each other must be intense, right? Yet they each keep HUGE information from the other. I just did not understand that at all. The ending almost seems discordant compared to the emotional toll their story casts over us.

This third story was not my favorite.

But the first one? I loved it. The second one, too, is enjoyable. I just didn’t care for the third.


About the AuthorGeorgia Bockoven

Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author who began writing fiction after a successful career as a freelance journalist and photographer. Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide. The mother of two, she resides in Northern California with her husband, John.

 

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Blog Tour: Outside In

OI-Cover-192x300

Outside In
by Doug Cooper
Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press
253 pages
Genre: literature 
4.5 / 5

 

They (whoever “they” are) say that teaching is a calling. I’m sure “they” would also say that learning is a calling.

I mean, let’s face it. No one really enjoys learning life’s tough lessons, do they?

In the case of Brad Shepherd, those lessons come especially brutally, even if most of that brutality is self-inflicted.

Brad has been forced to take a “leave of absence” from his job as a middle school math teacher (oh, the horror … faithful readers, indulge me with this aside: surely one of Dante’s rings of hell is teaching middle school math), and in an act of delayed adolescence / screw you, Mom and Dad / you want a leave of absence, I will give you a leave of absence, Brad hits the road to Put-in-Bay, Ohio, an island in the middle of Lake Erie.

Brad’s parents think he’s running away from his problems, and perhaps he is. But really, it’s more that Brad is running to himself, whomever that may be.

Once on the island, he meets a motley crew of drug dealers, hot women, bisexuals, drunk bartenders, and philosophical guitar players. Brad avails himself of each and every one, frequently winding up in a drug haze that disguises the pain he feels. In the book’s Q&A, Doug Cooper draws a parallel between Outside In and Catcher in the Rye, and the comparisons are strong indeed when it comes to Brad’s drug and alcohol usage. At one point, a character points out to him that his mistress is cocaine, a fact Brad refutes.

But it’s true. Brad just isn’t ready to face it at that point.

(When he is, Cooper astutely creates the struggle Brad undergoes to regain his sobriety as one that is challenging, full of fits and starts.)

Through the drugs, booze, and sex, Brad remains a man in search of his identity. Who is he if he can’t teach? Can he still teach? Does he even want to?

Just as his students must do, Brad must learn his lessons, often the hardest way possible. He needs to learn to trust his heart, both romantically and intellectually, and he has to make peace with his parents. He also needs to learn to be his own man and not the mistress of pharmaceuticals and alcohol, as the case may be.

Not to make this novel sound bleak. It is not at all. There are some richly comic moments, and Cooper knows when we need them. Just when Brad begins to feel overwhelmed, something funny occurs to give us a break from Brad’s overwhelming sadness. Yes, he appears happy, but he, like Holden Caulfield, is lost. Whereas Holden tries to find himself in New York City, though, Brad searches in Put-in-Bay.

It is not accidental, I am sure, that Brad’s last name is Shepherd. He is the guide and comfort to others, just as he needs guidance and comfort. He’s a teacher at heart, and there are times he teaches his new friends. Like his middle schoolers, his friends occasionally don’t listen to him; they sometimes take precarious, threatening risks.

And then the teacher becomes the student, and in those moments, we wish the best for Brad Shepherd.

You will not want to say goodbye to him, but Cooper knows how to end Brad’s story. The best writers don’t give readers what they want, they give readers what they need.

Links:Cooper.Douglas.A

Amazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/Outside-In-Doug-Cooper/dp/1626340048

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17355767-outside-in

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/trubelo/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ByCooper

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ByCoop

Author’s page: http://bycooper.com/


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Blog Tour: On the Rocks

On the RocksOn the Rocks
by Erin Duffy
Published by William Morrow
322 pages
Genre: women’s fiction; chick lit 
4 / 5
Imagine this: you are shopping for your wedding gown, and as you stand in a Vera Wang confection (your dream dress!), sipping on complimentary Champagne, your best friend and Maid of Honor happens to check Facebook.

And discovers that your fiancé considers himself to be no longer in a relationship.

Such is the nightmare that Abby faces in the opening pages of this book.

She reacts the way most of us would: she digs into pints of Ben & Jerry’s and soothes her aching heart with ice cream and self-pity. When six months passes and she has progressed onto no new stage of grief, best friend Grace drags her by the scruff of the neck and hauls her out to a rental cottage to spend the summer near a Rhode Island beach.

Abby’s summer of self-discovery is as rocky as they come. She doesn’t want to go, even if she realizes that Grace has a point. Abby likes feeling sorry for herself; she enjoys the sadness that comes from her broken heart. Ben, the ex-fiancé, texts her occasionally, and Abby jumps at those texts like a dog to a bone. How self-flagellating can you get?

Grace knows, though, that Abby needs to remove herself from memories of Ben and to create new ones. In doing so, Abby will prepare her heart for a new romance, perhaps even with someone she meets in Rhode Island. Not that Grace is much of an expert in the ways of love, mind you. Grace’s boyfriend has a wife of his own, rendering Grace one of those women who thinks her lover will forsake his marriage and commit to her.

And so Abby heads to Rhode Island, where she first meets one of Grace’s co-workers, and then begins meeting others. She goes on dates, she makes new friends, she winds up enjoying herself, which surprises her most of all.

She also – more importantly – learns to be her own person, something that Grace observes. Can Grace apply these lessons to her own life?

This is a wonderful story of friendship, first and foremost. Yes, Grace has little romantic interludes, but it turns out that Whitney Houston had it right: the greatest love of all is learning to love yourself.

You will enjoy meeting all of the quirky characters in this book, but most of all, you will enjoy tagging along on Abby and Grace’s voyages of self-realization. We want them to be happy, internally more than anything. Erin Duffy knows this, and she crafts characters who seem like us, like our friends, like people we know and are. By rooting for them, we root for ourselves.

 

Links Erin Duffy

 

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Fixed on You

FIXEDONYOUblogtour

Fixed On You (Book 1)
by Laurelin Paige
Published by Laurelin Paige
228 pages
Genre: romance; New Adult 
4 / 5

Summary
Stalking and restraining orders are a thing of Alayna Wither’s past. With her MBA newly in hand, she has her future figured out—move up at the nightclub she works at and stay away from any guy who might trigger her obsessive love disorder. A perfect plan.

But what Alayna didn’t figure on is Hudson Pierce, the new owner of the nightclub. He’s smart, rich, and gorgeous—the kind of guy Alayna knows to stay away from if she wants to keep her past tendencies in check. Except, Hudson’s fixed his sights on her. He wants her in his bed and makes no secret of it.

Avoiding him isn’t an option after he offers a business proposition she can’t turn down and she’s drawn further into his universe, unable to resist his gravitational pull. When she learns Hudson has a dark history of his own, she realizes too late that she’s fallen for the worst man she could possibly get involved with. Or maybe their less than ideal pasts give them an opportunity to heal each other and finally find the love their lives have been missing.

My Review
There are different types of addictions.

There are the ones we all know about – alcohol, drugs, gambling – and then there are those we hear 17828418about and think, “Oh, yeah. That’s an addiction too.” Eating too much or shopping or eating too little.

But what about an addiction to being addicted?

On the heels of earning her MBA, hopeful nightclub manager Alayna meets Hudson Pierce (oh, that name), the piercingly (GET IT??) hot, gorgeous, and sexually compelling owner of the nightclub Alayna hopes to manage.

Hudson wants to hire Alayna (aka Laynie) to help him throw his mother off the scent of a forced marriage of sorts between Hudson and his childhood friend. Laynie agrees – Hudson will pay her enough to wipe away her student loans – but she’s worried. Laynie, you see, is easily addicted to the menfolk. She has a tendency to obsess over the guys she dates, to the point that she has restraining orders against her.

And if ever there was a man to whom she could become addicted, it’s Hudson Pierce.

I’m sure you think you know how this will end.

Given that it’s the first in a trilogy, though, you may be surprised.

What I enjoyed about this book – aside from the scorching headboard rockin’ that I will discuss in a moment – is how evenly matched Laynie and Hudson are. They each bring certain compulsions to the romantic table, and despite Hudson’s immense wealth, he never comes across as if he’s got all the advantages to her disadvantages. They seem well matched. It’s a nice departure from the Dominant Man and Submissive Woman thing that can permeate erotica these days.

Instead, we have two people who are fairly close in age and even closer in spirit. However much she may care for Hudson, Laynie does not roll over and let him take command. She fights for herself and what’s best for her.

Yes, Hudson repeatedly tells us that he’s “dominant” and has a “dominant” personality. In this post-Fifty Shades apocalypse, when we see the word “dominant,” we think of belts and red rooms. Laurelin Paige never quite takes us there; instead, Hudson’s dominance is largely personality-driven.

That isn’t to say that the sexy times are wanting. Strap on your vibrators, girls, because Paige delivers some hot headboard rockin’. If the story and characters don’t inspire you to check out the rest of the series, the horizontal hula-ing sure will.
About the Author
Laurelin Paige is the NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Mad Men and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Adam Levine.

Buy Links
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17828418-fixed-on-you
Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Fixed-You-Laurelin-Paige-ebook/dp/B00IFVAAGA
B&Nhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fixed-on-you-laurelin-paige/1115288520?ean=9780991379637
iTuneshttps://itunes.apple.com/us/book/fixed-on-you/id820484086?mt=11

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Blog Tour: The Publicist

 

Book 1_2_The Publicist Shelf Life Christina George

 About the books …

The Publicist (Book 1)

Behind every book, there’s always more to the story.

Can one woman change an age-old institution like publishing? Probably not, but Kate Mitchell sure wants to try. As a publicist with a large, respected New York publishing house, Kate finds herself at the mercy of a broken publishing system, books that don’t always sell (at all) and author egos that are often, well, as big as the island of Manhattan.

Enter the star Editor, MacDermott Ellis. Tall, handsome, charismatic, married, and ready to save the day. Kate wants to do the right thing but her hormones seem to be driving her decisions. Then there’s Allan Lavigne, once a revered author, now as forgotten as yesterday’s news; and his nephew Nick, who wants to sweep Kate away from New York for another coast, California.

As Kate tries to navigate the landmine of publicity, the over-the-top author expectations, and the careful dance of “I’m sorry, your book isn’t on the bestseller list this week”, she also finds authors who are painfully overlooked by a publisher wanting more sex, more celebrities, and more scandal.

The Publicist: Book 2

The story only an insider could tell.

Publishing: An industry of out-of-control of egos, unrealistic expectations, and books with the shelf life of milk.

This is Kate’s world, but for how long?

When one of Kate Mitchell’s star authors is carted away in handcuffs, she thinks it’s only the beginning of her troubles. As her world crumbles around her, Kate desperately looks for anyone to hold onto but finds that happy endings are truly works of fiction. When her career and love affair hit their expiration date, Kate sets off on a new adventure….

Starting over in California is easy, but Kate soon learns that leaving her old life behind isn’t. Nicholas Lavigne is eager to help her forget, but two things still own her heart, the dream of discovering the next great American novel, and MacDermott Ellis.

As Kate tries to rebuild her life she finds a surprising gift that reboots her career in a new and unexpected direction. Suddenly her name becomes synonymous with one of the biggest bestsellers publishing has seen in ages and she’s welcomed back with open arms. At the height of her success the ghosts of her past come back to remind her of the world she’d been trying to forget and the man who never let go of her heart.

 MY REVIEW

These books, faithful readers, are delicious. And oh, how I enjoyed them.

The first one introduces us to Kate and Mac. He’s married, she isn’t, and he is her professional superior. Yes, Mac’s marriage has been in a bit of a dormant state for about ten years, and, yes, Mac seeks “friendship” where he can find it. But that cold, sterile marriage of his isn’t going anywhere, and he makes that clear to all of his paramours.

Kate has been too busy building her career to dally in significant romances, and she has not had much social interaction with Mac. When they do begin professionally colliding, though, certain physical, certain personal collisions are close behind.

And as a connoisseur of hot headboard rockin’, I can say that we are THRILLED that Kate and Mac collide.

Naturally, things don’t go as smoothly as we’d like. There is the whole Mac-is-married thing, and then there is the whole Kate-is-an-independent-woman thing.

In the second book, just as the romance starts to intensify, some publishing intrigue begins hovering around. Kate has concerns about one of the authors her company wants to publicize, but she has no proof. Just a sort of premonition. Her friendship with the nephew of a client also begins to take a more romantic turn, largely because Mac is, you know, married and all.

There are times when you will want Kate with the other guy, just because, as Mac himself points out, that guy can fully be with her and give her the future she deserves. What about love – true, abiding, passionate, LOVE? Does Kate feel that for the other guy? She sure feels it for Mac.

Again, the hot headboard rockin’ scorches.

One of the reasons I enjoyed these books so much is that I flat out love Kate and Mac. Yes, they occasionally infuriate me, but they’re so real that you will think you must know them. Their faults are real and accessible, and their love is real and understandable. Sure, we don’t applaud infidelity, but Mac is just so yummy. So, so yummy.

Grab these books and read them. There is a third one coming, and its focus appears to be on a character other than Kate and Mac. That’s fine, actually. I want to imagine their future on my own.

Christina GeorgeAbout the Author

I’ve worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn’t. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, hell it’s more fun to guess, right? I continue to work in publicity and help authors because at the end of the day I do love books, I love publishing, and I love authors. I hope you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as I enjoyed creating it.  Have fun reading Kate’s posts!

Links

Website: http://www.thepublicistnovel.com
Twitter: @publicistgal
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kate.mitchell.528316
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r90INxcl1bc

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Blog Tour: Under a Silent Moon

Under a Silent MoonUnder a Silent Moon
by Elizabeth Haynes
Published by Harper
373 pages
Genre: mystery 
Thanks to the publisher for the preview
4.5 / 5

 

Gird your loins, faithful readers (literally – gird them), because this mystery will throw you in a martini shaker and jumble you up.

In a good way.

Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith is charged with investigating the murder of Polly, a young, vivacious woman working at a local horse farm.

Oh, sure, she was sleeping with most of the town. In fact, you sort of get the impression that Louisa is the only one who didn’t have sex with the deceased. Polly, you see, is non-discriminatory when it comes to the sexy times. Male? Female? Doesn’t matter. All you’ve got to be is open to having some fun.

As Louisa’s investigation delves into the crime, she discovers that Polly might have had a few people who weren’t too thrilled with her. Jealous spouses, hurt exes, and even a crime lord – any of them had a reason to do Polly in.

Assisting Louisa are two men, each as intrigued with Louisa as they are the murder: Andy, an investigator Louisa has worked with and with whom she had a fling – and would have continued having said fling, except for Andy being married and all, and Jason, a Canadian assigned to help analyze data and information. Lou is drawn to Jason, and even still a bit drawn to Andy.

Her investigation begins to uncover that there is a whole lot of spanky panky going on in the tiny little village of Morden, and Polly might have been involved. But is sex a reason to kill someone?

This is a delicious mystery, taking you from interrogation rooms to bedrooms. There is sex, there is murder, and there is even some human trafficking.

If it sounds like too much is going on, that is not the case at all. Haynes’ pacing is brisk and uncomplicated; the novel unfolds over the course of six days, and Haynes keeps us on task by using military time to check in with what’s happening and when. There are a lot of characters, but each has his or her own persona. You won’t get people confused.

Louisa’s love life is not the focal point, but it does play a role in the story. Louisa was hurt by Andy, and she’s a bit worried that she could be hurt by Jason. Is he all he appears to be, or will he disappoint her too? Jason is the least developed character here, and I suspect that’s largely on purpose. We are meant to wonder along with Louisa about him. We don’t want her to wind up in another Andy situation. Ah, Andy. He’s … interesting. He’s an unrepentant cheater, and he manages to justify his infidelity with all the aplomb of a seven-year-old sneaking a cookie when Mommy isn’t looking.

As for whodunit, let’s just say that hints are dropped, so while you may not be stunned at the “who,” the “why” might surprise you.

I enjoyed this book and could not put it down.

LINKS:Elizabeth Haynes

 

 

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Blog Tour: The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend

ttbThe Time Traveler’s Boyfriend
by Annabelle Costa
Published by Dev Love Press
250 pages
Genre: chick lit; romance 
Thanks to the publisher for the preview
4 / 5

 

Claudia and Adam have been dating for a year, and given that she’s in her mid thirties, the deafening sound of a clock ticking has become the soundtrack of her life. It doesn’t help that Claudia’s parents routinely ask her when she’s getting married.

The only person, in fact, who is not all that keen on discussing the matter is Adam.

It turns out that Adam had a true love who broke his heart in the years before he and Claudia met. So let’s just say that Adam is a wee tad reluctant to commit.

He likes inventing things, and when one of his projects turns out to be a time machine, he convinces Claudia to go back and prevent The Accident.

You see, Adam is disabled, having been hit by a car. He wants Claudia to return to the time he got hit and stop it from happening. He also hopes that her doing so will prevent him from having his heart broken.

There is a sweetness to this book that is almost difficult to quantify. Claudia wants to get married, yet she finds herself wondering if Adam really is future husband material. He gave her diamond earrings instead of a diamond ring, and he keeps saying he isn’t ready. Claudia isn’t so sure she wants to wait around for him to be ready, either. When he asks her to travel back in time, though, she finds herself agreeing. She’d do anything for him; well, she would time travel for him. But will she wait for him to be ready?

Adam is completely lovable. Yes, we understand that he was burned – and burned badly, it appears – by his ex flame. As much as we empathize with the heartbreak, we understand even more his desire to be rid of the wheelchair and disability. If it can be fixed, then why not try?

All the while, you will find yourself hoping that these two stay together. You can almost forget that Adam is wheelchair bound, and you can see why Claudia loves him so much. Why is he drawn to her? Well, that’s not so easy to understand. She loves him, and she doesn’t seem put off by his disability. She loves him for him, and I suppose that’s a powerful aphrodisiac.

And speaking of aphrodisiacs, yes, there is some headboard rockin’. It’s fairly mild, but Costa wants you to know that a disability does not equate to not being able to be a lover.

This is a quick, sweet read that will have you chuckle out loud and perhaps even shed a tear. It’s fun and heartwarming, and you will enjoy it.

Want to know more?

You can read the first chapter – FOR FREE! – right hereanniefixed

About the Author

Annabelle Costa is a teacher who writes in her free time.  She enjoys the wounded hero genre, involving male love interests with physical disabilities, who don’t follow the typical Hollywood perception of sexy.

 

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