Friday, April 3, 2020

Book Review: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain


Book Review

Big Lies in a Small Town


Diane Chamberlain


Book Description:

North Carolina, 2018:
Morgan Christopher's life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will get her released from prison immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to be free, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940:
Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and in great need of work, she accepts. But what she doesn't expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?


Buy Now:



My 5-Star Review:

An amazing story written by a talented author. Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain takes the reader on a journey through time between 1940 and today. When Morgan Christopher is released from jail to restore an old mural, she is confused as to why she was chosen. And after she sees how damaged the mural is, she wonders how she will do a good job of it with her limited talent of restoration. But others are depending on her to not only finish it, but finish it on time. And as she works on it, she becomes intrigued by the original artist, Anna Dale, who’d created the mural in 1940. Her interest soon becomes an obsession to learn what had become of the artist after tragedy had befallen both her and the small town.

Just like the mural, this story is full of layers about the small town of Edenton, North Carolina and its inhabitants. Mystery, murder, and a touch of a love story all combine to create a story that you just can’t put down. Those who love a good duel-timeline historical novel will love this book.



About the Author:

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole.

Please visit Diane's website at www.dianechamberlain.com for her event schedule and for more information on her newest novel, Big Lies in a Small Town, as well as a complete list of her books.



Thursday, March 19, 2020

Finding Libbie ~ Returning March 23, 2020


FINDING LIBBIE
Re-Release!


I'm so excited to share that my novel 
FINDING LIBBIE 
has been returned to me from my publisher and I will be republishing it on March 23, 2020. 
It will be the same beautiful story with a brand new cover designed by Deborah at Tugboat Design. 






Audiobook will be available soon.

Finding Libbie is also available in Kindle Unlimited.



Historical Women's Fiction
Publish Date: 3/23/2020


Book Description:

A love so strong that decades couldn’t tear it apart.


Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother’s closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.
In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie’s well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack’s working-class family and his chosen career as a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie’s mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.

Now that Emily’s mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple’s fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Book Review: The Chocolatier by Jan Moran


Book Review

The Chocolatier


Jan Moran


Book Description:

A young widow. A husband she thought she knew. On the picturesque Italian coast of Amalfi lies a chocolatier's destiny...

San Francisco, 1953: Heartbroken over the mysterious death of her husband, Celina Savoia, a second-generation chocolatière, resolves to take their young son to Italy's shimmering Amalfi coast to introduce him to his father's family. Just as she embarks on a magical, romantic life of making chocolate by the sea surrounded by a loving family, she begins to suspect that her husband had a dark secret--forged in the final days of WWII--that could destroy the relationships she's come to cherish.

While a second chance at love is tempting, the mystery of her husband's true identity thwarts her efforts. Challenged to pursue the truth or lose the life and those she's come to love, Celina and her late husband's brother, Lauro, must trace the past to a remote, Peruvian cocoa region to face the deceit that threatens to shatter their lives.


Buy now:





My 5-Star Review:

Family secrets, romance, and mystery abound in THE CHOCOLATIER, a beautifully written novel by Jan Moran.

When Celina, a young widow with a son, decides to go to Italy to meet her deceased husband’s family for the first time, she has no idea what secrets she is about to uncover. She is welcomed by her husband’s parents, but his brother is leery of her, believing she may be a fraud wanting to claim money from the family fortune. In truth, she has no idea of the lies she’s been told or the secrets that her deceased husband held.

THE CHOCOLATIER takes you on a journey from San Francisco to the beautiful coast of Italy in the years after WWII. You fall in love with Celina and her son as you learn of her past as well as her love affair with her husband. And when she finally makes the decision to meet her deceased husband’s family, you hope for only the best outcome for her. But there is so much more happening below the surface, as you learn hidden truths along the way with Celina. Beautifully written, mesmerizing. Those who love novels by Danielle Steel or Kristin Hannah will enjoy this story.  


About the Author:

Jan Moran is a Rizzoli bestselling and award-winning author who lives near the beach in southern California. She writes stylish, emotionally rich contemporary and historical women's fiction, including The Winemakers and Scent of Triumph from St. Martin's Press. The Midwest Book Review and Kirkus have recommended her books, calling her heroines strong, complex, and resourceful. Visit her at www.janmoran.com and join her reader's club.

Her books are also translated into German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Dutch, Polish, Turkish, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, and other languages. She studied writing at the UCLA Writers Program, sailed on Semester at Sea, and graduated from the University of Texas and Harvard Business School.


Friday, February 28, 2020

New Cover ~ Sara's Promise!


New cover alert!

I'm so excited to share that there is a brand new gorgeous cover for an old favorite:

Sara's Promise


I just love this new cover created by
Deborah at Tugboat Design.

If you haven't already read this 
heartfelt story,
I hope you will give it a try. 


Book Description:

Do you believe in soul mates?

William Grafton had the perfect life with his lovely wife, Sara, and two wonderful children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara died suddenly, leaving him alone to raise his children and wonder how he would ever get through life without his soul mate. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of his late wife, yet he’s drawn to her. But after a few strange occurrences, he begins to wonder–are these just coincidences or has his Sara come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman?  

Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn't know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence, or by Sara keeping her promise.

Buy now on Amazon:




What readers are saying about Sara's Promise:

"With a realistic cast of characters who come alive and jump off the pages; a richly detailed and descriptive setting along the Oregon seaside; and a simply inspirational storyline that will have the reader experiencing the full gamut of emotions, Sara's Promise is a tenderhearted story of love that will touch your heart and soul, and will resonate with you long after the last page has been read." ~ Kathleen Higgins-Anderson - Jersey Girl Book Reviews

"Sara's Promise is a wonderful story that I just got lost in. Deanna writes such warm, beautiful words that makes one just keep reading and reading. I did not want to put the book down, I did not want to leave Sara's world." ~ The Book Bag – Susan Schliecher

"A rather charming love story, which should appeal to incurable romantics in search of a pleasant diversion. ~ Catherine Langrehr, IndieReader


I hope you'll give Sara's Promise a try. :)


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Book Review: And They Called it Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Book Review


And They Called it Camelot:

A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

 Stephanie Marie Thornton


Book Description:

An intimate portrait of the life of Jackie O…
 
Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.
 
But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.


Historical Fiction
Publish Date: March 10, 2020



My 5-Star Review:

Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was known as a beautiful, educated woman full of grace, dignity, and most of all, who had the strength to survive. From her upbringing in a broken home with a harsh mother, to the debutante, horsewoman, and journalist, the woman who would be known as Jackie married into American royalty when she married Jack Kennedy. What she didn’t know was how that life would take her on a journey of severe heartache, and she’d need all her strength to carry on.

And They Called It Camelot is a wonderful historical novel that follows the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy from her meeting with John F. Kennedy and beyond. The reader sees it all in through Jackie’s eyes; her thoughts and feelings throughout the highs and lows of her first marriage, her heartaches, and her triumphs. Through it all, she displays a strength that helps her carry on for herself, and her children. A well-written and intriguing novel that doesn’t whitewash anything about the lives of the Kennedys. I believe anyone who enjoys historical fiction will enjoy this novel.



About the Author:

Stephanie Marie Thornton is the USA Today bestselling author of American Princess and a high school history teacher. She lives in Alaska with her husband and daughter.


Book Review: Eighty and Out by Kim Cano

Book Review

Eighty and Out


Kim Cano


 
Back in the 1950s, when my younger sister Jeannie and I were kids, we made a pact not to live past age 80.
 
We'd seen our Aunt Violet waiting to die in the nursing home, and we decided that wouldn't happen to us. We'd live life to the fullest and go out on our own terms.
 
Little did we know what fate had in store for us.



Buy on Amazon:




My 5-Star Review:

Growing up in the 1950s, Louise and her little sister, Jeannie lived the typical family life with their parents in the busy city of Chicago. But Louise always dreamed of living on a ranch in the southwest and owning horses. She knew that was her destiny. One of the most dreaded things Louise had to do was visit her Aunt Violet in the nursing home. While she thought her aunt was nice, she hated the smell and seeing all the older people just waiting to die. She and Jeannie made a pact: They would live their lives to the fullest and go out on their own terms at eighty. But life doesn’t always go exactly as planned.

Eighty and Out is a well-written novel with interesting characters and a unique storyline. The story begins with the girls as children and follows them throughout their lives. We experience their highs and lows, joyful times, heartaches, and disappointments. Dreams change and sometimes hope fades, but Louise stays strong through it all. It is a heartfelt story that readers of women’s fiction novels are sure to enjoy.



About the Author:

Kim Cano is the author of four women's fiction novels: A Widow Redefined, On The Inside, Eighty and Out, and His Secret Life. Kim has also written a short story collection called For Animal Lovers. 10% of the sale price of that book is donated to the ASPCA® to help homeless pets.

Kim wrote a contemporary romance called My Dream Man under the pen name Marie Solka.

Kim lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and cat.

Visit Kim's website to learn more and sign up to be notified of new releases: www.kimcano.com



You might also enjoy A WIDOW REDEFINED by Kim Cano. Read my review here.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

First Chapter Reveal: Under the Apple Blossoms

Hello everyone!

The release of my romance novel, 

UNDER THE APPLE BLOSSOMS,

 the 4th book in the Lake Harriet Series, 

is coming up quick! 

I can't wait for you to read this sweet romance featuring 
Debbie Adams from Deb's Bridal Boutique
and a new character, Marc Bennett. 

In anticipation of the release, I'd like to share the
first chapter.

Enjoy!


Under the Apple Blossoms

A Lake Harriet Novel

Deanna Lynn Setten

Book Description:

Sometimes the only one standing in the way of your happiness is you.

Debbie Adams has never thought of herself as beautiful or witty. Her short, curvy stature has always made her feel self-conscious. As the owner of Deb’s Bridal Boutique near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, Debbie runs the business she’d inherited after her mother’s death. But owning a bridal shop has never been her dream—it had been her mother’s. And as the years go by, Debbie sees friends and neighbors pairing off and building a future while her life remains stagnant. Then, one March day, frantic to get in shape before a friend’s wedding, Debbie forces herself to go biking. As she rides along the icy lake path, she’s startled by a runner and slips and falls. Regaining her bearings, she looks up into a pair of warm, brown eyes and the most handsome face she’s ever seen. Could this tall, extremely fit, and good-looking man be her destiny?

Marc Bennett’s life is amazing. He owns a chain of fitness centers around the Twin Cities and lives in a beautiful mansion that overlooks Lake Harriet. The only thing missing from his life is a wonderful woman to share it with. Not that he’s lacking in applicants for the position. He’s a handsome man with a warm, caring personality, and women flock to him. But at thirty-six, he’s had the shallow relationships, and he’s not in a hurry to commit to anyone. Then one crisp, spring day, as he’s running the lake path with his dog, Bernie, he literally crashes into a woman on a bike. As he attempts to help her up, he finds himself looking into the most beautiful pair of blue eyes. Eyes he can’t seem to get out of his mind.

Release Date: March 17, 2020


Preorder now:


Coming soon to:

Paperback 
Audiobook


Chapter One


Debbie Adams’s leg muscles strained as she pedaled her bicycle through her neighborhood toward the trails at Lake Harriet. It was the second week in March, and snow still edged the sidewalks and covered lawns, and the temperature was a chilly forty-one degrees. Despite the weather, she couldn’t put off exercise any longer. Rain or snow, cold or heat, she had to lose ten pounds by early summer.

Debbie glanced up at the gray sky and frowned, then looked into the blanket-lined basket attached to the handlebars. Nestled under the fleece was her sweet little dog, Chloe.
“The weatherman promised sunshine today,” Debbie complained. “Why are they always wrong?”

Chloe snuggled deeper into the blanket and only stared at Debbie.

“I know, I know. It’s cold. But I have to start sometime,” Debbie said. She probably shouldn’t have brought her little Maltese along for the ride, but Chloe went everywhere with her. The fluffy white dog was her companion at home, at her shop, Deb’s Bridal Boutique, and just about everywhere else she went. But dragging her out on this ridiculous attempt to burn calories riding a bike may have been a foolish idea. It’s definitely feeling like a stupid idea, Debbie thought as her thigh muscles burned. I should have bought an exercise bike instead and stayed inside the warmth of my house. But she knew that hadn’t been an option. She earned enough from her business to keep a roof over her head and pay for necessities, but not for extravagant items like exercise equipment. That’s why she now found herself on her twenty-year-old bike, pedaling through the wet and sometimes icy streets.

By the time she reached the path around the still-frozen lake, her face stung from the crisp air, and her muscles burned. She was bundled up in sweats, a bulky jacket, gloves, and a stocking cap that covered her thick, sandy-blond hair. But her face felt like a frozen popsicle, and her blue eyes watered.

“We’ve made it this far,” she said determinedly, glancing down at Chloe. “We can make it around the lake.” She grit her teeth. “Maybe.” 

As Debbie looked up again, she saw something coming right at her. The bike hit an icy patch and slid, and she screamed as she lost control and the bike hit the ground.

***

Marc Bennett stared in horror as he watched the bundled-up person on the rickety bicycle nearly run into him. He quickly darted out of the way, tugging Bernie’s leash hard so the dog wouldn’t get hit either. Marc had been running along the path with Bernie as he did most days throughout the year, his earbuds blaring music. When he’d glanced up, there was the bike, nearly on top of him.

The bike hit an icy spot and slid out of control, causing the rider and bicycle to skid and fall near a bush at the edge of the trail. Marc instantly ran into action, hurrying toward the person lying on the sidewalk.

“I’m so sorry! Are you okay? I didn’t see you coming at me,” he blurted out, kneeling beside the person. He heard a groan, then the bundle of clothing turned its head, and big, watery blue eyes fringed in thick lashes stared up at him. Marc was stunned for a moment. They were the most beautiful, expressive eyes he’d ever seen. He hadn’t been expecting the bundle of clothes to be a woman.

She groaned again.

Marc flew into action. “I’m so sorry. Let me help you up.” He reached for her arm.
The woman slowly unfolded and got to her knees. It was at that moment that Bernie decided to help too.

“Ack!” she yelled. “What’s that? A bear?” She fell back against the ground again.

Marc chuckled. “Bernie? No, he’s a dog. He’s a Burmese Mountain Dog, so he’s big.” Marc reached for the woman’s arms. He grabbed a handful of her coat and helped pull her up to her feet. Well, at least he thought she was on her feet. Her entire height only came up to his chest.

The woman stared at her bike in dismay. “The tire’s bent!” she cried, sounding exasperated. “How will I ever ride it home?”

“I’m sure we can fix it,” Marc said optimistically, although he didn’t really believe he could. She needs a new bicycle. This one’s shot.

The woman stared up at him, tears freezing on her cheeks. His first instinct was to wrap his arms around her padded body and comfort her, but he refrained from doing so. That might make matters worse. Suddenly, he saw her eyes grow wide with terror.

“Chloe! Oh, my God! I forgot about Chloe!” she screamed. She fell to her knees again and pulled at the blanket inside the basket on the bike.

“Chloe? Who’s that?” Marc asked, trying to understand what she was looking for.

“My dog! She was in the basket. The fall would have killed her!” She crawled around the wet sidewalk, searching for her dog. “Chloe! Chloe!” she called frantically.

Marc began searching too. He wasn’t sure what kind of dog he was looking for. He ran to the other side of the bush, followed by Bernie. As the big dog stuck his nose into the bush, a high-pitched bark came from inside it. Bernie pushed in deeper.

“Stop him! He’s hurting my dog!” the women yelled. She reached inside and pulled out a small puff of fur. Glaring at Marc, she hugged her dog close. “Your dog tried to kill Chloe!”

Marc stared at her in disbelief. “Dog? That’s a dog?”

The woman stood up taller, well, at least as tall as she could, and glowered at him. “Of course she’s a dog. What else would she be?”

The situation was so ridiculous that laughter overcame Marc. “I’m sorry, lady. But that’s a puffball.” He pointed to Bernie. “This is a dog.”

What little of the woman’s face he could see between the scarf and the stocking cap turned red with anger. “No. He’s a monster. And he was attacking poor Chloe!”

Marc sobered. “Bernie is big, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly, let alone your little powder puff. He’s a gentle giant.” To prove Marc’s point, Bernie sat there innocently watching them.

The woman looked as if she were going to argue with him, but then her face crumpled, and tears began to fall again. “I knew I shouldn’t have tried biking today. It’s all useless. I’m never going to lose weight anyway. And now my bike’s ruined and I almost killed my dog. I give up.” She sulked over to a bench beside the trail and sat as best she could in all the clothes she was wearing.

Marc watched, his heart going out to her. He followed her to the bench. “It wasn’t a bad idea; it’s just a little early to be on this trail with a bike. Wait another month, and the ice will be gone.”

“I don’t have a month!” she wailed, hugging her dog tighter. “I need to lose weight now! For once in my life, I want to look good for a friend’s wedding. I’m always the short, chubby one around all the tall, slender girls. I’m tired of being fat.” She rubbed away her tears with the sleeve of her jacket.

Marc sat down beside her. “There’s nothing you can do about being the short one,” he said, giving her a friendly smile. “And, well, I can’t tell with all the clothes you’re wearing, but I’m sure you’re not fat. You’re probably just out of shape. A little muscle-toning and you’ll feel better.”

The woman stopped crying and stared at him, looking insulted. “You don’t know anything about me.”

“I’m sorry. I’m not trying to insult you.” He reached into the pocket of his sleek workout jacket and pulled out a business card. “I’m a trainer at a gym. I work with people, helping them get into shape.” He handed her the card.

“Oh.” She stared at it. “Fit in 20. Isn’t that a big chain of gyms around the Twin Cities?”

Marc grinned. “Yes, it is. I mainly work at the one on the Nicolette Mall. It’s not too far from here.”

She stared at the card again as she hugged Chloe. Marc saw the dog’s eyes watching him, and it made him smile. He reached out his gloved hand. “I’m Marc Bennett. And I’m sorry I made you fall down.”

Debbie shook his hand. “I’m Debbie. Debbie Adams. I’m sorry I almost ran into you.”

He smiled wider, and she gave him a slight grin.

“It’s nice to meet you, Debbie.”

She nodded, then glanced toward her bike. “I’d better start pushing that home. It’s going to take a while.” She stood and walked toward the bike.

“My car is just across the street. Why don’t you let me drive you and your bike home? Do you live nearby?”

She eyed him suspiciously. “It’s a few blocks away, but I’ll be fine.”

Marc picked up the bike, and Debbie placed Chloe into the basket, fluffing the blanket around her. The dog stared at her with worried eyes.

“I won’t drop you again. I promise,” Debbie told Chloe. She took the handlebars from Marc and pushed the bike a few steps. The tire wobbled and turned with difficulty.

“Please let me help you,” Marc said. “I promise, I’m not a serial killer. I’ll drive you home, safe and sound.”

Debbie stared up at him and looked as if she’d dissolve into tears again. “Okay. Thank you.”

Marc smiled and took ahold of the bike, leading her to his car with Bernie following dutifully behind them.



You can see the entire series on Amazon

The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews