Tag Archives: women’s fiction

Book Review | See Me by Nicholas Sparks

BOOK REVIEW | SEE ME

201510-see-meTITLE: See Me

AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks

PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing

RELEASE DATE: October 12, 2015

GENRE: Romance, Fiction, Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | BAM! | INDIEBOUND | WALMART |  iBOOKS

Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.

Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success: with a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her home town and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

A chance encounter on a rainswept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface.

As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria’s life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways. Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they’ve begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour?

Rich in emotion and fueled with suspense, See Me reminds us that love is sometimes forged in the crises that threaten to shatter us . . . and that those who see us for who we truly are may not always be the ones easiest to recognize. (Description from Nicholas Sparks website)

MY THOUGHTS

14055173_10154457944313624_2126584136223489598_nA while back, I was “hanging” out in the Denver International Airport with a couple of hours to kill when I decided to walk around and check out the shops. That’s when I finally came across the paperback edition of See Me by Nicholas Sparks (Yes…I’m that person that waits for the paperback edition of a book). I had been waiting a while (almost a full year) to read his new book and it literally took me less than a second to decide that I was going to buy it and start reading it in the airport. Then I decided what better way to enjoy a Nicholas Sparks book then with a wine flight. As soon as I started reading the book, with a glass of wine in my hand, I could not put it down.

As always, Nicholas Sparks knows how to create a story that sucks you in until you’re left wanting more. See Me is the story about two people who grow to love each other regardless of the pasts that haunt them and, in a way, their pasts have brought them closer. It also portrays the concept that timing is everything in a relationship.

I would say that there’s a lot about Maria Sanchez that I relate to. She’s a hard worker, smart, career focused, and family oriented. You can tell that she wants to let loose, but the goals she has set for herself and a traumatic experience at her previous firm have tamed her adventurous side.

Colin Hancock is a man with quite the colorful (violent) past. If Maria had known Colin during his violent days there’s no way she would have even gone on a date with him. There’s a lot to Colin and his violent tendencies stemmed from difficulties during his childhood. Unfortunately, his difficulties continued to adulthood until he was given an ultimatum…he had to straighten up or he can spend years of his life in prison.

Overall, I enjoyed the suspense aspect that isn’t typical of Nicholas Sparks books, but it still had that love story that I want out of his books too. I shed some tears and was at the edge of my seat throughout the book, so I’d say it was an emotional roller coaster. I may be biased because he’s my all time favorite author, but I would highly recommend this book and add it your Nicholas Sparks collection.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT NICHOLAS SPARKS

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

nicholas-sparksNicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. All of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, with over 105 million copies sold worldwide, in more than 50 languages, including over 75 million copies in the United States alone.

Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 and he followed with the novels Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember (1999), The Rescue (2000), A Bend in the Road (2001), Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding (2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice (2007), The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010), The Best of Me (2011), and The Longest Ride (2013) as well as the 2004 non-fiction memoir Three Weeks With My Brother, co-written with his brother Micah. His eighteenth novel, See Me, published on October 12, 2015. His newest book, Two by Two, will be published on October 4, 2016.

Film adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels, including The Choice, The Longest Ride, The Best of Me, Safe Haven (on all of which he served as a producer), The Lucky One, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John and The Last Song, have had a cumulative worldwide gross of over three-quarters of a billion dollars.

In 2012, Sparks and his publishing agent and creative partner Theresa Park, launched Nicholas Sparks Productions, with Park as President of Production. A film version of The Guardian is currently in development, as is a film based on Football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers’s friendship with Chicago Bears teammate Brian Piccolo.

Sparks lives in North Carolina. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually. He co-founded The Epiphany School in New Bern, North Carolina in 2006. As a former full scholarship athlete (he still holds a track and field record at the University of Notre Dame) he also spent four years coaching track and field athletes at the local public high school. In 2009, the team he coached at New Bern High School set a World Junior Indoor Record in the 4 x400 meter, in New York. The record still stands.

The Nicholas Sparks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to improving cultural and international understanding through global education experiences for students of all ages was launched in 2011. Between the foundation, and the personal gifts of the Sparks family, more than $15 million dollars have been distributed to deserving charities, scholarship programs, and projects. Because the Sparks family covers all operational expenses of the foundation, 100% of donations are devoted to programs. (Bio found on NicholasSparks.com)

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Book Review | Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

BOOK REVIEW | EVERY BREATH

TITLE: Every Breath

AUTHOR: Nicholas Sparks

PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing

RELEASE DATE: October 16, 2018

GENRE: Romance, Fiction, Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | TARGET | INDIEBOUND | BAM! | AUDIBLE

In the romantic tradition of The Notebook and Nights in Rodanthe, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a story about a chance encounter that becomes a touchstone for two vastly different individuals — transcending decades, continents, and the bittersweet workings of fate.

Hope Anderson is at a crossroads. At thirty-six, she’s been dating her boyfriend, an orthopedic surgeon, for six years. With no wedding plans in sight, and her father recently diagnosed with ALS, she decides to use a week at her family’s cottage in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, to ready the house for sale and mull over some difficult decisions about her future.

Tru Walls has never visited North Carolina but is summoned to Sunset Beach by a letter from a man claiming to be his father. A safari guide, born and raised in Zimbabwe, Tru hopes to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding his mother’s early life and recapture memories lost with her death. When the two strangers cross paths, their connection is as electric as it is unfathomable . . . but in the immersive days that follow, their feelings for each other will give way to choices that pit family duty against personal happiness in devastating ways.

Illuminating life’s heartbreaking regrets and enduring hope, Every Breath explores the many facets of love that lay claim to our deepest loyalties — and asks the question, How long can a dream survive? (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

(Before reading, please be aware that this review may contain spoilers)

Once again, it didn’t take me long to finish a Nicholas Sparks book. I can never put them down. I did my usual walking while reading whenever I could and was disappointed getting to the door at work and having to put the book away. Then I’d pick it back up at lunch and at home. My poor husband can’t get a word in when a good book grabs all my attention. Anyway, I’m rambling and want to share a bit about my thoughts on this newest Nicholas Sparks book.

This book was inspired by true events and real people. This is the first book of Sparks’s that he explained what went into writing this book and it started with him visiting Bird Island in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. On that island there’s a mailbox called Kindred Spirit. As Sparks explains it, “anyone can leave a letter or postcard; any passerby can read whatever has been placed inside. Thousands of people do so every year.” This place is an important part of the book and it somehow revolves around the relationship between the characters Tru and Hope.

Tru Walls and Hope Anderson are two people from completely different parts of the world and meet at Sunset Beach in North Carolina. Tru is from Africa and works as a safari guide. He’s worked at many camps and has lived in Africa his whole life. Hope is a trauma nurse from North Carolina and has never been to Africa. She has a boyfriend of six years, but are on a break because well…he’s a jerk. Not how she put it, but that’s how I’m putting it. So completely different worlds.

After a few days together, they both knew they had fallen in love and eventually told each other. But their lives were on completely different paths and there were things Hope wanted that Tru just wouldn’t be able to give her. There’s a lot more to this that I don’t want to give away, but they had a heartbreaking parting and never spoke again until decades later when Hope was trying to find him.

I’m glad they found each other again after so long, but I’m very sad that they didn’t have that time together and unfortunately, the remaining time they have is clearly going to be short (I won’t spoil that part for you). Both Hope and Tru regret not trying hard enough to find each other again, but the Kindred Spirit finally brought them together. Hope even mentions in a letter she placed in Kindred Spirit that, “I was the one who ended it, for reasons I have agonized over for decades. It was the right decision at the time; it was also the wrong decision”.

While it’s not my favorite book Sparks has ever written, he still is able to write characters and stories to make you emotionally connected to them. Knowing that this book was inspired by a true story made me more sad to read the ending and to know they spent so much time apart. After reading this I still want to know what happened to them, but that’s probably best kept with the real people this book is inspired by.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot and it has a lot of what Nicholas Sparks is known for, but it had a slightly different feel in the sense that I didn’t think the ending was a happy one. Usually I feel uplifted in some way after reading one of his novels, but this one left me feeling sad and wanting more. I would recommend this if your a Nicholas Sparks fan like me and you want to read a love story that has more sadness to it than most.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

With over 100 million copies of his books sold, Nicholas Sparks is one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. His novels include 12 #1 New York Timesbestsellers. All his books have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and were translated into more than 50 languages. Ten Sparks novels have been adapted into major motion pictures, with The Choice coming in February 2016. (About the author found on Amazon.com)

Sparks wrote one of his best-known stories, The Notebook, over a period of six months at age 28. It was published in 1996 by Warner Books. He followed with the novels Message in a Bottle (1998), A Walk to Remember(1999), The Rescue(2000), A Bend in the Road (2001),Nights in Rodanthe (2002), The Guardian (2003), The Wedding(2003), True Believer (2005) and its sequel, At First Sight (2005), Dear John (2006), The Choice(2007),The Lucky One (2008), The Last Song (2009), Safe Haven (2010) and The Best of Me(2011), as well as the 2004 non-fiction memoir Three Weeks With My Brother, co-written with his brother Micah. His seventeenth novel, The Longest Ride, was published on September 17, 2013. (Found on NicholasSparks.com)

You can see his full bio here: Nicholas Spark Biography

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Book Review | I Love You, Ronnie by Nancy Reagan

BOOK REVIEW | I LOVE YOU, RONNIE

TITLE: I Love You, Ronnie; The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan

AUTHOR: Nancy Reagan

PUBLISHER: Random House

RELEASE DATE: February 26, 2002

GENRE: Nonfiction, History

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N

No matter what else was going on in his life or where he was traveling to make movies, at the White House, or sometimes just across the room Ronald Reagan wrote letters to Nancy Reagan, to express his love, thoughts, and feelings, and to stay in touch. Through these extraordinary letters and reflections, the private character and life of an American president and his first lady are revealed. Nancy Reagan reflects with love and insight on the letters, on her husband, and on the many phases of their life together. A love story spanning half a century and the private life of this classic American couple come vividly alive in this rare and inspiring book. (Description from Goodreads)

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoyed this book and it was such a quick, easy read that I finished it in one day.

You can see in Reagan’s letters to Nancy that he was so in love with her. He constantly mentions how he can’t live without her and that he was a lonely man before he met her. Then you get to see how much she loved him as she thought back to their life together when he wrote the letters.

One of my favorite parts of Reagan’s letters are how many different nicknames he had for Nancy. it was so funny reading nicknames like Nancy Poo, Nancy Poo Pants, and Glamour Puss. Thankfully, Nancy explains where some of the nicknames come from, but not all, making me wonder how the others came about. Every time a new nickname came up, I thought about my husband and me. We also have so many silly nicknames I’ve lost count.

It’s very nice to see another side of Ronald Reagan from the person who knows him best and was with him through all the ups and downs of his life as well as his career. Nancy made it a point that her life was all about Ronald Reagan and making sure he had a conformable home. He always made a point to show her how grateful he was for it and never stopped writing her letters.

Overall, its a very wonderful cute love story of the President and First Lady. Even though people knew how much they loved each other just from seeing them together, it was great to read about them from Nancy’s point of view. After reading this book, I feel even more certain that they are the most in love historical couple.

OVERALL RATING

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Book Review | When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker

BOOK REVIEW | WHEN I’M GONE

cover77538-mediumTITLE: When I’m Gone

AUTHOR: Emily Bleeker

PUBLISHER: Lake Union Publishing

RELEASE DATE: March 15, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON

Dear Luke,
First let me say—I love you…I didn’t want to leave you…

Luke Richardson has returned home after burying Natalie, his beloved wife of sixteen years, ready to face the hard job of raising their three children alone. But there’s something he’s not prepared for—a blue envelope with his name scrawled across the front in Natalie’s handwriting, waiting for him on the floor of their suburban Michigan home.

The letter inside, written on the first day of Natalie’s cancer treatment a year ago, turns out to be the first of many. Luke is convinced they’re genuine, but who is delivering them? As his obsession with the letters grows, Luke uncovers long-buried secrets that make him question everything he knew about his wife and their family. But the revelations also point the way toward a future where love goes on—in written words, in memories, and in the promises it’s never too late to keep. (Description found on NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Last night I couldn’t put this book down and ended up finishing it at 1am, but it was definitely worth losing a few hours of sleep. When I’m Gone is one of those books that made me “react” to things that would unfold and the twists and turns that were revealed. At one point my husband (who isn’t a reader) asked me why I have to react to everything in the book. When I say react (my fellow readers will know what I’m talking about), I mean gasps, sighs, and a little bit of commentary mixed in. I just looked at him and said “when it’s a really good book, you can’t help but react”. That’s what this book is.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it might be exactly like P.S. I Love You in reverse (wife dies and husband gets romantic love letters), but it’s so much more than that. The letters Luke Richardson receives aren’t even that romantic and has much more to focus on then just his wife passing away. He has three kids to take care of and he has to deal with knowing that his wife kept a very big secret from him that brings up unwanted memories from his past.

Here’s a quote that I think will tell you more about the plot without giving away anything:“The only positive thing about dying is knowing I won’t have to see your face when you find out all the reasons you should hate me. Maybe that’s my final gift – when you find out all my secrets, you’ll be glad I’m gone.”

There was a point in the book when I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t predict everything. I really enjoyed those twists and turns I mentioned. Emily Bleeker really knew how to keep you interested and I couldn’t wait to figure out who was sending the letters and what his wife’s secret was.

Overall, I would highly recommend When I’m Gone. It’s a riveting novel about love, loss, and explores the thought that you might not know the people close to you as well as you thought. It keeps you guessing and keeps you wanting more.

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

emily-10

Emily lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and four kids. Between writing and being a mom, she attempts to learn guitar, sings along to the radio (loudly), and embraces her newfound addiction to running.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for providing a copy of this book for an honest review.

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Book Review | What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

BOOK REVIEW | WHAT WAS MINE

9781476732350_p0_v3_s192x300TITLE: What Was Mine

AUTHOR: Helen Klein Ross

PUBLISHER: Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | GOOGLEPLAY | INDIEBOUND | BAM!

Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.

Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment. (Description from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

As soon as I started reading What Was Mine, I became engrossed by it and could’t put it down. I don’t have children yet, but I feel that What Was Mine still had the same affect on me as it would to a mother. It would be truly devastating for my child to be kidnapped. This book also made me think about how I’d feel towards the person who kidnapped by child. I’d be thankful that he/she wasn’t harmed, but I’d definitely be angry about the amount of time that was stolen from me. I hope I’d follow Marilyn’s example and think about my son or daughter and how they feel about the situation. It’d be difficult, but sometimes you have to look at the big picture and what is best for your child.

What Was Mine is told in several different perspectives, mostly by the main characters Lucy Wakefield (the kidnapper), Mia Wakefield (the kidnapped child), and Merilyn Featherstone (the biological mother). There are a few supporting character perspectives sprinkled in that were an interesting addition, but if removed, they wouldn’t change much of the plot.

The most interesting aspect of reading What Was Mine is that I felt sorry for Lucy Wakefield, who was essentially a child abductor. In everyday life, if I see a kidnapping story on the news, I tell myself “that person needs to go to prison”, but I didn’t feel that way with Lucy. She was a woman who couldn’t have children in any way and her desire for a child got the best of her causing her to kidnap Mia. I felt sorry for her during several points in the book.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Even though it’s a women’s fiction book, sometimes it felt like a suspense novel because I was always wondering if she’d be caught.

OVERALL RATING

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Helen is a former creative director at top ad agencies in New York who spent over 20 years in the ad business before turning to other kinds of fiction. Her stories, poems and essays have been published by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker. (Found on Helen’s website).

Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review & Giveaway | With Every Breath by Lia Riley

BOOK REVIEW | WITH EVERY BREATH

cover73778-mediumTITLE: With Every Breath

AUTHOR: Lia Riley

PUBLISHER: Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

RELEASE DATE: December 29, 2015

GENRE: New Adult

PRE-ORDER LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | iBOOKS | KOBO

BREATHE DEEP . . . AND JUMP IN

At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It’s also the last spot a “play-it-safe girl” like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she’ll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it’s up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can’t resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn’t enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected-love. (Description found from NetGalley.com)

MY THOUGHTS

Do you like rugged men? Do you like outdoorsy men? Do you feel like you might need more adventure in your life? Well, With Every Breath by Lia Riley is packed full of adventure, regret, redemption, love, and of course…a sexy mountaineer. Every new book I read of Lia’s makes me more of a fan and she’s getting another thumbs up from me on this one.

The story is told in the perspective of Auden Woods and Rhys MacAskill. Auden is a girl that isn’t known to take risks, but when there’s a chance for her to land a job with a popular magazine she steps out of her shell in a big way. She decides to write a story about climbers braving the La Aguja in Patagonia by going there herself. That’s how she ends up meeting Rhys in a way that forces her to take her clothes off…but it’s not what you’re thinking.

Rhys is quite a mysterious character and the exact opposite of Auden. He lives on the edge and gets his kicks climbing dangerous mountains. You can tell that he keeps a lot to himself and has a hard time opening up to other’s, but his past haunts him and is one of the reasons he pushes people away.

The book didn’t end the way I thought it would, but the ending gave it more emotion and added more to Rhys character.

Overall, I loved With Every Breath. It had the right amount of romance, adventure, and drama to keep my attention and left me wanting more. If you get a chance to read the book please let me know what you think.

OVERALL RATING

5-gold-star-rating

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | TWITTER

Lia Riley_Photo Credit Kitti Homme2After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.

Thank you to Lia Riley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book of the Week | The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

cover73201-mediumTITLE: The Things We Keep

AUTHOR: Sally Hepworth

PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press

RELEASE DATE: January 19, 2016

GENRE: Women’s Fiction

BUY LINKS: AMAZON | B&N | !NDIGO | INDIEBOUND | IBOOKS

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. (Description found on NetGalley.com)

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