The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

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4-Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Four women wonder who the presumably single woman is who moves onto their family-friendly Pleasant Court street. And why does she feel comfortable speaking to them so familiarly almost immediately, as though she’s known them all for years? Perplexed, they watch Isabelle, wondering what her intentions are. Essie’s mother has misgivings about the mysterious neighbor from the start. She’s different from their little clan, and vague about her background, so why did she move from Sydney to Melbourne and into their neighborhood?

Each of the three families on Pleasant Court has its own secrets and insecurities that tidily remain hidden within the confines of their own homes, while outside appearances paint a very different, more pristine picture. They’re keeping secrets from their families, and secrets from their neighbors. But the women are slowly becoming unhinged by the various complexities affecting their lives. Fran is trying to run from her problems—literally; subconsciously burning through the fear and regret that prods her every day. Essie is detaching from her familial obligations; her husband and mother worrying about her, especially since her frightful episode a few years back. In their minds she’s fragile and unstable. Ange’s guilty conscience is eating her alive, even though she is the one everybody envies—the one with the great career, gorgeous husband, immaculate home and well-mannered kids. Little do they all know that Ange is insecure about said husband whom she can never seem to track down, and who gives her a niggling feeling about his activities when he’s not at home. What is everyone hiding, and who is the stranger on Pleasant Court?

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I like the way The Family Next Door starts out mellow, builds, and then reaches a crescendo. But after that it ends rather abruptly. The psychological buildup was intense, but the end result was tamer than I’d anticipated in some instances. Specifically when it came to the enigmatic neighbor. I think there could have been a little bit more dramatic effect in some cases. However, the story advanced forward easily overall, and I was eager to turn pages. But as far as the conclusion goes, I wanted just a bit more. Other than that it really was a great read. The way and time in which secrets were revealed was excellent. Each revelation came when I wasn’t expecting it and I was blown away by how the author executed those parts. It was very well done. I would definitely recommend this book.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an E-ARC of this book, in exchange I have provided an honest review.

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The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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After devouring Now That You Mention It recently, and loving it, I felt compelled to squeeze in another book by Kristan Higgins. So I went with the first book in her Blue Heron series, The Best Man.  She’s two for two now folks.  I loved this book too!  It’s more romance than women’s fiction, but equally enjoyable. Here’s a little glimpse into the plot…

Faith Holland’s fiancée, Jeremy Lyon, dumped her at the altar, and Faith blames his best man, Levi Cooper, for the breakup. To escape the humiliation of her failed nuptials, Faith flees to California intending to stay until the gossip subsides. Three years later her sister, Honor, calls her home to help out with a situation involving their dad. It won’t be easy facing the pity that well-intentioned friends will dole out, but Faith is looking forward to returning home to her family, their vineyard and Jeremy. Jeremy?! Besides, as an architectural landscaper she can do some renovation work on the family’s old barn and acquire other projects that will keep her occupied. She’ll need the distraction since she still loves Jeremy despite what he did to her. But wouldn’t you know it, the first person she runs into when she gets back to her hometown is Levi, now the police chief of Manningsport. She still hates him, and is forthcoming about her feelings towards him. He’s never seemed to like Faith and judging from his reactions to her arrival that hasn’t much changed. He is ruggedly handsome though, she can’t deny that. And when Faith finds herself in need of assistance on more than one occasion, it’s Levi who comes to her rescue. Might their hostilities be masking something that they’ve both been unwilling to confront for many years?

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Ahh….the enemies to lovers trope. I loved it!! There were so many great things about this book: watching the romance develop, the fully fleshed-out characters, the humor, the secret that Faith carries and how it affects her life with her family, her relationship with Jeremy, Faith’s adorable dog, Blue, and the surprise visitor who shows up in Manningsport and threatens to destroy everything. It all kept the plot moving. I enjoyed every component of the story. Kristan Higgins’s stories are like a jigsaw puzzle; a lot of little pieces that need to come together to form a complete picture. How she manages to reconstruct those pieces so effectively is what has me coming back for more.

The Best Man will make you laugh (I cracked up at the ladies’ verbal jabs at poor Levi), it will make you sad, it will have you rooting for the underdog. But in the end you will feel gratified that you’ve spent time with the Blue Heron family of characters. Definitely recommended for lovers of romance.

Are you a fan of Kristan Higgins?  What do you think of her books. Please share. I’d love to hear what you think. And thanks, as always, for visiting. Have a great day!!

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Throwback Thursday – The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

3CD4CC19-0762-495B-B2A2-A7110029C80CThrowback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.


Why I chose this book:

Who could resist that beautiful cover? Reviews on this book are mixed, but to me The Little Paris Bookshop was profoundly introspective. I stopped to ponder many times while reading it. Made up of a host of eccentric characters, I felt as though I was being taken on an adventure ride each time I began reading. This book stayed with me long after it was over. See my full review here.

There was a uniqueness about The Little Paris Bookshop that made it a favorite. The nature of it was unlike anything I’d ever read before, and I remember I kept thinking ….

I really enjoyed this book. It had a mysterious quality that intrigued me. It still holds a place on my bookshelf, and I remember it fondly.


Have you read The Little Paris Bookshop? What did you think?  I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thank you for reading. Have a happy day!

Éclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫—3.5 Stars

Winnie Johnson has just inherited a vintage ambulance and a brown and white tabby cat, Lovey, from her elderly deceased neighbor, and friend, Gertrude. This is not what Winnie was hoping for, and she realizes that her bakery, Delectable Delights, won’t be salvaged financially after all. The increase in rent on the bakery by her landlord is too much for her to keep it running. When her neighbor, Bridget, unwittingly gives Winnie the idea for her emergency dessert squad service, things begin looking up. Using the ambulance to get delectable desserts with whimsical names like NEVER GIVE UPside Down cake, into the hands of people who are experiencing varying situations in life, can be a real hit. But in the midst of all the excitement with her new business, a dear friend on Winnie’s street is murdered, smothered with a pillow in his home, and Winnie feels an obligation to help find out who killed him so that her elderly friends on Serenity Lane can sleep better at night.

The Emergency Dessert Squad is a fun idea and it made me chuckle thinking about the ambulance coming to the rescue of people going through rough times and needing a sweets fix. There are desserts for celebrations too and that’s how Winnie meets a potential beau, Jay Morgan, a man who is not put off by her choice of friends. Winnie is an interesting character in that she’s a young woman but prefers elderly companionship. Her best friend, Reneé, and the men she usually meets have a difficult time understanding this. But Winnie doesn’t care. She loves the older ones who’ve embraced her and made her feel welcome in Silver Lake. I loved this aspect of Winnie’s personality. She readily defends her senior friends and lets her male acquaintances know that they can take a hike if they can’t understand why she prefers them as friends. Lovey the cat is a hilarious animal character in the book. She’s friendly with most people, but no matter what Winnie does to warm up to her, Lovey responds with an audible hiss. One wonders why Gertrude entrusted the cat’s care to Winnie.

Overall, I liked this cozy. Although at times I felt like the dessert squad and Winnie’s love life overshadowed the murder mystery in the book, it was still pretty good. I personally didn’t think the murderer was too hard to figure out, likely because there weren’t a whole lot of suspects, but it was still entertaining finding out the person’s motivation behind the killing. The audio narrator did a good job with the book. It took me a little time to warm up to her voice for some unknown reason, but once I did I determined she was okay.

Thank you, Tantor Media, for a free audio download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Have you read any books by Laura Bradford? What did you think dear readers? Have a wonderful day!!

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins – **TOP PICK**

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-Stars

First I want to say that Kristan Higgins is hilarious. I spit out my drink more than once while reading this book. Hysterical. Her witty internal dialogue cracked me up too.

This was my first Kristan Higgins book and it was amazing. If it’s any indication of how well written her other books are, then she’s a new favorite author.

Here’s a little synopsis…

Poor Nora Stuart. Growing up her life was tragic for so many reasons, so she immersed herself in academics, determined to excel and thus win the coveted Perez scholarship to Tufts University, wherein she’d be gone from the town that ignored and taunted her. If that weren’t enough, she finds herself the most hated citizen of her native Scupper Island, Maine, through no fault of her own. But she eventually got her life together and became an attractive, successful doctor with a swoon-worthy boyfriend, great friends and an apartment she loved. Things were going great in her adult life until a “big bad event” happened and turned her safe, comfortable little world upside down. In addition, Nora has been devastated by her boyfriend, Bobby, when she overhears him talking about their imminent breakup while flirting with a colleague as Nora lay semi-conscious in the ER after being hit by a van. Hurt (both mentally and physically) and discouraged, she immediately ends the relationship and takes a trip back to Scupper Island, where her mother still lives, and where the folks still remember what happened to make her the most hated citizen there. Nora plans to convalesce on the island while attempting to forge a bond with her taciturn, stoic mother. Nora’s beloved father left their family when she was a young girl, never to be heard from again, and she hopes to get information that will lead to his whereabouts after all of these years, and hopefully come to finally understand from her mother why he left. Her teenage niece, Poe, lives with Nora’s mother, since Nora’s sister, Lily, is in jail. Poe isn’t the least bit enthused about her aunt’s visit. Undeterred, Nora presses on, determined not to allow her niece or her sister, who has made it clear that she’s not interested in hearing from her, or Scupper Island’s residents, further ruin her stint there. Can Nora find her true self and the love, acceptance, security and happiness she so desperately craves?

The highly-developed characters, which is what I loved most about this book, along with the vivid scenes bring this story to life in a way that will make it dwell indelibly in your memory-bank long after you’ve finished reading it. It was poignant, yet simultaneously humorous, suspenseful, and emotional. There was a bit of zany romance too. It seemed to have a little of everything, and it all fit together perfectly. Kristan Higgins is one hip lady, and she writes in a way that anyone, regardless of background, could easily relate to her storytelling. It was unputdownable and never dragged. I highly recommend it.

Thank you so much, Netgalley, and HQN Books, for a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

Have you read any books by Kristan Higgins? What did you think? Thanks, as always, for visiting. And have a wonderful day!

The Wife Between Us

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 3.5 stars

I will dispense with summarizing the plot on this one because it’s too difficult to do without spoilers.

My initial reaction to this book was confusion when I first started reading it, yet I was also intrigued. I was intent on figuring out what was truly taking place with a wife, a husband and a mistress, since the back of the book said this:

WHEN YOU READ THIS BOOK, YOU WILL MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement—a woman who is about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume you know the anatomy of the relationships. Assume nothing.——————

So I did. I assumed nothing. I dismissed from my little brain what appeared to be the obvious and waited patiently to understand what was really going on with these three characters; and I waited….and waited….. And there lies the challenge I had with this book. It peaked and then waned. I felt like not much was happening in the middle and I was getting too easily distracted away from continuing on with it. By this time I was feeling like….

At one point I put it down to start another book, but I continued on with this one and eventually finished it. In the end, I didn’t feel that the main character’s actions were enough to carry this book. Perhaps more involvement from secondary characters or external factors would have made it more exciting?? I don’t really know. It was enticing in some ways at times, but not enough to make me long to pick up where I left off until maybe the last seventy pages or so. And by then I just wanted to know what the supposed surprises would be. There were a few clever twists, but unfortunately the greatest twists took too long to be revealed and I had a feeling of too little, too late.

Overall, The Wife Between Us had wonderful potential, with a few great twists, but to me it was a little disjointed. Had the execution been different I think I would have enjoyed it more. The conclusion didn’t quite compensate for the lead-up. The authors used a fair amount of subterfuge to set things in motion, but by the time I got to the end I felt a little cheated. Apparently from the ratings I am not in the majority as to my feelings about this book, so maybe it just wasn’t for me. Please don’t let my review stop you from giving this book a try since so many others seemed to enjoy it.

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for a complimentary copy of The Wife Between Us in exchange for an honest review which I have given. Until next time. Thank you for reading.