A Mother Like Mine by Kate Hewitt

MotherLikeMine

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

Abby Rhodes has returned to the home of her youth, her grandmother’s little flat in Hartley-by-the-Sea, a lovely coastal village in the Lake District, with her 3-year old son, Noah, in tow. Mary, who raised Abby since the age of 2, has suffered a heart attack.  Since Abby needed somewhere to go after abandoning her veterinary education in Liverpool due to unforeseen circumstances, returning to Hartley-by-the-Sea to help manage the family’s beach café with her grandmother became a feasible option. Two years later Abby is finally feeling settled when her estranged mother shows up and announces that she’s moving in. Abby is not in the least bit amused by her mother’s sudden arrival and pronouncement that she’ll be staying on indefinitely. Laura Rhodes took off when Abby was a toddler, rarely returning to visit.  As a result, Abby feels no real connection or attachment to her mother, and her attitude towards Laura clearly reflects her feelings.

But when Abby observes the interaction between her mother and grandmother, she discerns that their dynamic is much the same as what exists between herself and Laura.  Why is there so much resentment in their family?  In small doses Abby begins to question Laura about events in her mother’s life, and her answers cause Abby to rethink the assumptions she’s made about her mother, and her grandmother.  Both women submit to learning more about one another when tragedy strikes and Laura comes through for her daughter in ways she could never have imagined.  Carefully concealed within the mysterious layers of her mother’s rigid facade are compassion and decency—characteristics that Abby didn’t know her mother possessed. Nevertheless, Abby interacts cautiously with her, defenses always up, afraid that her mother will leave her again.  Abby is clearly suffering from abandonment issues, and she wants to protect Noah from the disappointment and pain that Laura caused her when she fled motherhood. Of course Noah views his “nana” in a benevolent manner, as a young child would, oblivious to the flaws that caused the rift between Laura and his mother.

But when circumstances necessitate that Laura and Abby align themselves to handle matters relating to the future of the beach café, Abby can’t deny Laura’s practical business sense and keen judgment. Soon, mother and daughter are collaborating on ideas about changes to the tired looking beach café, and as they share space together more regularly, the negative, pre-conceived ideas Abby once held about her mother are slowly replaced by feelings of empathy and compassion, as she learns the truth about Laura’s not-so-glamorous life when she left Abby behind.  Laura has even adopted a more selfless attitude and puts Abby and Noah’s needs ahead of her own. She’s starting to resemble a real mother.  Still, Abby has questions. Who is her father? Why did her mother choose to give birth to Abby when it clearly had a tremendous negative impact on her young life?  These questions and many more are what will cement or destroy the relationship that mother and daughter are slowly building.

My Thoughts:

I devoured this book. I loved it. Kate Hewitt portrays emotion in such a profoundly realistic way.  Relatable, life-altering situations—marriage, children, death, are spoken of in such a way that it caused me to stop and ponder.  I love books that evoke that reaction.  And her ability to convey the natural conversational quality of the characters is one of the many reasons why I’ve enjoyed every single book of hers that I’ve read. I also appreciate how she incorporates beloved characters from prior books in the series. Knowing some of their back stories gave the book more depth.

I highly recommend A Mother Like Mine. It’s book three in the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, and can be read as a standalone.

Thank you, Berkley Publishing, for a free ARC of A Mother Like Mine.  In exchange I have provided an honest review.

The Swallow’s Nest by Emilie Richards

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-Stars


Sometimes the unpredictability of life can sabotage our best laid plans…..
What would you do if your beloved husband’s mistress showed up at your door during his cancer remission party that you were hosting for him, and thrust their love child into your arms, then left? This is a glimpse into the scene that Lilia Swallow finds herself in. Reeling from this new revelation, Lilia takes refuge with her family in Hawaii, and in doing so receives a few words of wisdom from family members, and her best friend Regan, that gives her the fortitude to return home to California and reconsider her new circumstances. But just when Lilia thinks she can get past the trials that almost destroyed her marriage, life throws a few more curve balls that threaten to derail her future.

Lilia Swallow

Three women. One baby. The Swallow’s Nest takes us into the lives of a wife, a mistress, and a mother-in-law. All desire to lay claim to the child that Lilia’s husband, Graham, fathered with his mistress, Marina. The exploration into each woman’s life exposes emotions that plague each of them—feelings of failure, betrayal, ineptness and unworthiness. Nevertheless, working through those emotions for Toby’s sake is a challenge that each woman is willing to tackle. The question is, which of the three will get him? And will each woman find a way to accept the outcome, and one another?

The Swallow’s Nest was extraordinary. Emilie Richards succeeded in holding my attention through to the conclusion of this 500+ page novel. And the fact that she was capable of doing it without sex scenes, violence or profanity takes real skill.

All of the characters possessed distinct qualities and characteristics that kept me interested in the way their lives would ultimately turn out. I loved how Lilia eventually handled her very difficult situation, and how each of the women comes to recognize the strengths they possess within themselves. Definitely recommended.

Thank you Emilie Richards for a free ARC of The Swallow’s Nest. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Review: Home to Stay


Home to Stay by Kate James
My rating:            5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚

Home to Stay is San Diego K-9 Unit Book 4.

Sawyer Evans’s four-year-old son, Dylan, was kidnapped from their campsite while vacationing with family.  San Diego K-9 unit officer, Shannon Clemens, is called upon with her search and rescue dog, Darwin, to try to locate the missing child. The initial search is unsuccessful and Sawyer is livid. Shannon’s emotions are stirred by Sawyer’s deep agony over his son’s disappearance, and because of her own prior personal experience with loss, she feels compelled to help Sawyer find Dylan. In time, the distraught father and caring, compassionate officer develop feelings for one another. But when another incident causes tension between the couple, their connection is strained. Will the feelings they’ve developed be enough to overcome the obstacles they’re currently facing?

Home to Stay was thoroughly engrossing from the start.  As new developments in the abduction case surfaced, the suspense and intensity continued to build, keeping me interested and engaged in the story. The intriguing mystery surrounding Dylan’s disappearance propelled the plot forward. I was put in the mind of a romantic suspense novel—albeit a milder approach to the romance and suspense elements, making it suitable for a wholesome romance book. The relationship and dialog between Sawyer and his son was endearing—so sweet and pleasant to read. Dylan was a darling little boy, and I looked forward to scenes where he was present. The relationship between Sawyer and Shannon was at times complex because of surrounding circumstances and I kept trying to envision how things would turn out for the two of them.

Riveting and imaginative, I enjoyed this book immensely. An intriguing mystery, suspense, police procedurals, a strained romance and HEA, are some of what you’ll get in Home to Stay. Very highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from the author. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Review: Recipe for Redemption

Recipe for Redemption
💚💚💚💚💚 Recipe for Redemption by Anna J. Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jason Corwin’s life is in a shambles when he arrives at the Flutterby Inn in Butterfly Harbor, a California coastal town, where he’s been sent to clear his head from the recent misfortunes that have befallen him. After having lost his twin brother, his career as a renowned chef and his reputation, Jason has convinced himself that walking away from his former life, instead of fighting to reclaim it, is the best option. That’s until he meets Abby Manning, the beautiful, young and feisty Flutterby Inn Manager who can’t cook if her life depended on it. So why on earth did she join a cooking contest? Abby could use Jason’s help in the kitchen if she has any chance at winning the prize money that she desperately needs to save the inn that’s been her grandmother’s home for decades. But Jason is uppity, reticent and judgmental, and he grates on her nerves. That is until Abby’s playful nature gradually peels away the layers of Jason’s scarred heart to reveal the sensitive, charming man underneath. Soon they are working together amiably, healing each other. But will a bombshell threaten everything they’ve managed to accomplish together and destroy the strong feelings they both share for one another?

I loved this sweet romance novel. The pacing impressed me as it built gradually and then gained impetus to the very last page. Sometimes a book starts strong and then wanes. This was not the case with Recipe for Redemption. It reached a point where I was flipping pages so fast I couldn’t believe I was at the end already. There are many things that I enjoyed about this book. I loved the relationship between Abby and her grandmother. There are tender, heartwarming moments between them that touched my heart. There are two very precocious kids that had me laughing out loud at their antics. Even the town, Butterfly Harbor, had much to recommend itself with its picturesqueness and supportive neighbors that rallied round Abby despite their knowledge of her inept cooking skills. A semi-eccentric character, a villain and the presence of butterflies all add to the endearing quality of this story.
Anna Stewart’s writing is emotive, funny and definitely worth investing time in. A most delightful read. Highly recommended.

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Review: The Husband’s Secret

The Husband's Secret
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ What would you do if your husband left you a letter that he didn’t intend for you to find and open until after his death, but that you mistakenly found while he was still alive and well? Would you defy his wishes and open it? This is the dilemma facing Cecelia Fitzpatrick in The Husband’s Secret.

Riveting. I actually gasped when I found out what the secret was. I was transfixed. I didn’t expect to find out what the secret was at the time it was revealed in the book, nor did I ever come close to guessing what it would be. The clever way this tale was told, combining three narratives into one, ratcheted up my interest and enjoyment of the book. It’s difficult to review The Husband’s Secret without giving too much away, so suffice to say it was worth every minute I spent on it. The epilogue was very unique and was a story unto itself. Again, I don’t want to give too much away but I highly recommend this book. Secrets can transform lives, and in The Husband’s Secret, lives will be changed in many ways. After reading this book I will surely look into more of Liane Moriarty’s books. An excellent page-turner that I never wanted to put down.

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Review: The Secret Sister

The Secret Sister
The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Brenda Novak tricked me!! Just when I thought I had it all figured out she blindsided me with a twist I didn’t see coming, and it was clever. As the title suggests, there could very well have been a secret sister that protagonist, Maisey Lazarow, didn’t know about. When a metal box that was keenly hidden emerges, the photographs inside incite vague memories of a girl she may have once been acquainted with. But how could that be? Keith and Maisey are the only two children of Malcolm and Josephine Lazarow. Or are they? Maisey doesn’t dare broach that subject with her mother. Josephine is an odious, overbearing and austere woman who exerts her power and influence on Fairham Island, the place where Maisey grew up and has now returned to help her brother, a weak and broken soul who can’t get his life together. Maisey’s relationship with her mother is so shallow that she refuses to stay in the family home, Coldiron House, preferring to take up residence on the far side of the island where her family owns a number of bungalows that are in desperate need of repair. Even a crumbling cottage is better than living in the same house with her mother. But when Maisey finds out that the contractor who’s been hired to do the renovations on the bungalows is none other that Rafael “Rafe” Romano, a guy she had a fling with in her younger days, and who now owns and lives in one of the bungalows nearby with his adorable young daughter, Laney, Maisey wonders how she’ll be able to divert her attention away from the alluringly attractive man that her mother would never approve of for her daughter. Bad enough she’s recently divorced from Jack, a man who her mother had advised her not to marry; a fact that Josephine will not let her forget. And now, finding the pictures of the young girl in that box raises many questions. Who is she, and why hadn’t her parents told her and Keith about her? Why aren’t there any police records about her, or small-town rumors circulating that she’s heard about? Could her mother have anything to do with the child’s disappearance? The implications of that thought alone are unnerving. Aside from trying to find answers to these lingering questions, she’ll have to make a decision about who she wants to have in her life romantically, Jack or Rafe; straighten out her careless, irresponsible brother, revitalize her writing career, heal from a personal tragedy, and put forth her best effort to mend the rift with her mother that’s been intensified by her reluctance to break things off with Rafe.
The mystery/romance combination of this story really worked for me. I love mysteries, and I love romance, so when they work in tandem I’m contented. This method of storytelling also gives more space to the plot rather than the bedroom scenes. That’s a plus for me because I prefer wholesome romance where heavy sexual content is non-existent. As was the case with The Secret Sister, my attention was drawn more to the mystery of the unidentified girl than it was to Rafe and Maisey’s relationship drama, although I was interested in knowing if their feelings for each other would overcome any obstacles that threatened to keep them apart. In the end, I had to suspend disbelief just a bit to come to terms with the rapid progression of their love, but isn’t that what enjoying fiction is all about sometimes? In conclusion, The Secret Sister was a tantalizing mystery that pulled a fast one on me, along with a romance made up of two unlikely, but very likeable adults, and secondary characters that consisted of all the traits that make for an interesting and absorbing read. I look forward to finding out more about the Lazarow family in Fairham Island book 2, The Secrets She Kept. Highly recommended.

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Review: Now and Then Friends

Now and Then Friends
Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Now and Then Friends can be summed up in one word:  BRILLIANT!!  Book 2 in the Hartley-by-The-Sea series, it has become my favorite book thus far in 2016.  It’s the first book this year to make me cry intermittently, and one in which I was sincerely disappointed to see end.  I have loved all of Kate Hewitt’s books, but she really outdid herself with this one. All of the characters, main and secondary, were so well developed and beautifully flawed with such admirable, redeeming qualities, that I was majorly interested in each of their stories.

In it we find two women, Rachel Campell and Claire West, best friends in primary school but who after four years drifted apart when Claire, the shy but financially privileged one, seemingly abandoned Rachel for the “in” crowd of girls that embraced her. It’s about 16 years later and Rachel stumbles upon Claire in her parent’s house, which Rachel cleans, presenting a very awkward reunion between the two.  Claire has been living and working in Portugal with her now ex-fiancé, Hugh, but has returned to her childhood home in Hartley-by-The-Sea to reclaim her life and start over on her own terms, without everyone else’s interference as to what’s the best course for her to take.  Rachel’s dreams of procuring a University education dissolved after a mere two weeks when her mother had an accident while on a cleaning job rendering her bedridden, and relegating Rachel to the tasks of caring for her, the cleaning business and her two younger sisters since her father took off shortly after their mum became incapacitated. These are the predicaments of the two women when they come face to face after 16 years. What ensues after that is stubborn pride, resentments, and misunderstandings that initially hinder a proper reconciliation.  However, as circumstances in life cause both women to converge and grow, there’s the hope that with some compromise everyone involved can see a brighter future.

The vivid setting, superb depth of characters, deeply emotional dialogue, complex relationships and wry humor kept me planted to my seat in eager expectation of each pursuant chapter. There are so many astonishing moments to relive in my mind’s eye that this book will have a lasting favorable impact on me for many days, weeks or even months to come. I await Book 3 in the series with eager anticipation.

Thank you Penguin Random House for a free copy of this amazing book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

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