The Goodbye Cafe

Author: Mariah Stewart
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and leave Pennsylvania. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

But Allie’s divorce left her tottering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curve-ball or two to toss in Allie’s direction—she just doesn’t know it yet.

She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of her family be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?

Ope’s Opinion: This is the third in A Hudson Sisters series.  It is not necessary to read the first two, but it is definitely recommended.  Each sister has her story, this is Allie’s.  

The slow romance was very enjoyable, but having the sisters and family relationships at the center of the story made it even better for me.  I liked watching Allie  slowly change and enjoy where she was.

The ending answered many questions, but left many more unanswered.  It would be fun to read about more of the Hudson family.

How to Walk Away

Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Fiction
Source: Purchased

Goodreads:  From the author of Happiness for Beginners comes an unforgettable love story about finding joy even in the darkest of circumstances.

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

How to Walk Away is Katherine Center at her very best: an utterly charming, hopeful, and romantic novel that will capture reader’s hearts with every page.

Ope’s Opinion:  Although this is a hard subject to deal with and a bit sad, Katherine Center handled it with the perfect amount of struggle and encouragement.  I was rooting for Margaret from the beginning.  

Margaret’s whole family were very involved in her life.  It was interesting to read about those dynamics and how each member reacted to Margaret’s struggle.  It all felt real and frustrating some times.

The ending not sugar coated. It was satisfying.  Now I can’t wait for her next book – coming out in July!

Carolina Breeze

Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian Romance
Source:  Margaret at Harper Collins

Goodreads:  A jilted bride. A struggling innkeeper. And a romantic mountain getaway that changes everything.

Rising Hollywood star Mia Emerson is looking for a safe place to land in the wake of a public breakup and scandal, and she finds it in the lake town of Bluebell, North Carolina—the location of her canceled honeymoon. She wants nothing more than to hide and wait for the tabloids to die down.

Soon after her arrival at the Bluebell Inn, Mia meets Levi Bennett, who runs the inn along with his two younger sisters. Drawn to one another from the start, Mia trusts Levi to keep her location from the press, and Levi confides in Mia about the financial state of the inn—a secret he’s been keeping from his sisters.

When Mia and Levi discover an old journal that hints at a rare diamond necklace hidden in the inn, they set off on a treasure hunt to find the long-lost heirloom. What they don’t expect to surface are feelings they thought were safely locked away. Mia and Levi must decide if falling in love again is too big a risk—or if it will uncover a treasure of its own instead.

This Bluebell Inn romance takes us to a quiet North Carolina retreat that holds more secrets than it shares.

Ope’s Opinion: This is the second in the Bluebell Inn Romance series.  It could be read alone, but the first one is just as good, so you shouldn’t miss it.  You do see some of the characters from the first book and their stories have been moved along.

Levi’s story was perfect for him.  He needs to take care of people and Mia needs to be taken care of, so they are a good match.  It was great to read the slow burn of their attraction to each other.  They had some stumbling blocks along the way.

The ending is what you expect and want, it just seemed a bit rushed.

The Ingredients of You and Me

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Author: Nina Bocci
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Genre: Romance
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  From the USA TODAY bestselling author of the “heartwarming and refreshingly sweet” (Lauren Layne, New York Times bestselling author) On the Corner of Love and Hate comes a story about a baker who takes her chances on a new town…and an old love.

After selling her famous bakery back in New York, Parker Adams visits Hope Lake, Pennsylvania, to figure out her next steps. And soon she’s wondering why she ever loved city life in the first place. Between the Golden Girls—the senior women who hold court—and Nick Arthur, her equally infuriating and charming former flame, Parker finds a community eager to help her get her mojo back.

But even though Hope Lake gives her the fresh start she’s been looking for, Parker discovers that it’s not so easy to start over again with Nick. Their chemistry is undeniable, but since Nick is a freshly taken man, Parker is determined to keep things platonic. With a recipe for disaster looming, Parker must cook up a new scheme, figuring out how to keep everything she’s come to love before she loses it all.

Perfect for fans of Amy E. Reichert and Jenny Colgan, The Ingredients of You and Me is a scrumptious romantic comedy that lets you have your cake and eat it too.

Ope’s Opinion: This was the third book in the Hopeless Romantics series.  Each one could be read alone, but following the group of friends from the beginning was really a lot of fun!

Being back in Hope Lake with all the friends made Nick’s and Parker’s story enjoyable.  Their miscommunication made for a lot of difficulties that could have been avoided, but that would have taken the fun out of the story!  Watching them figure out their relationship kept me reading.

The “Golden Girls” in this series really gave it another depth and a little more humor along the way.

I will be looking for Nina Bocci’s next book.  They are perfect escapes for me.

Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Library

Goodreads:  An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Ope’s Opinion:  Listening to this book was the best way to read this one.  Michelle Obama’s voice was perfect – there was a good cadence and she had wonderful inflection. 

It was interesting to learn about her childhood, meeting Barack, their relationship and their children.  The politics was not of much interest for me, but that was a small part of the book. 

I think this book is also about the message that Michelle wants to get out – you matter, females are important and that you can become anything.  I also think she wanted it known that everyone is becoming and she still is becoming… 

 

The Sugarhouse Blues

Author: Mariah Stewart
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  Mariah Stewart’s second novel in the Hudson Sisters series…

Allie, Des, and Cara, each having her own reasons for wanting a share of their father’s estate, meet in the grand Victorian home in which he grew up, only to be greeted by another secret he purposely hid from them: his sister Bonnie. The women reluctantly band together to take on Fritz’s challenge, working with a local contractor to begin the renovations financed by an account Fritz had set up for the task. While the restoration appears to go smoothly at first, it soon becomes apparent that the work will be more extensive than originally thought, and Des, elected to handle the money, needs to find ways to stretch out the remaining savings while searching for new sources of funding.

As strangers linked only by their DNA try to become a family, the Hudson sisters also try to come to terms with the father they only thought they knew. In the process, each woman discovers her own capacity for understanding, forgiveness, love, and the true meaning of family.

Ope’s Opinion: I enjoyed this second book in the series even more then the first one.  This book picked up right where the first one left off.  Since the first one set up the series it had a lot of detail and back story.  This one moved faster since you already know everyone.  It has more about the relationships and less renovating.  

This was a nice escape from life for me.  The sisters were enjoyable to follow through the next part of their lives.

Reading the first book is not necessary, but very helpful.  And now I can’t wait to read the third one!

 

Hello Summer

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Publisher: St. Martin Press
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Erica at St. Martin Publishing Group

Goodreads:  New York Times bestselling author and Queen of the Beach Reads Mary Kay Andrews delivers her next blockbuster, Hello Summer.

It’s a new season…

Conley Hawkins left her family’s small town newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon, in the rearview mirror years ago. Now a star reporter for a big-city paper, Conley is exactly where she wants to be and is about to take a fancy new position in Washington, D.C. Or so she thinks.

For small town scandals…

When the new job goes up in smoke, Conley finds herself right back where she started, working for her sister, who is trying to keep The Silver Bay Beacon afloat—and she doesn’t exactly have warm feelings for Conley. Soon she is given the unenviable task of overseeing the local gossip column, “Hello, Summer.”

And big-time secrets.

Then Conley witnesses an accident that ends in the death of a local congressman—a beloved war hero with a shady past. The more she digs into the story, the more dangerous it gets. As an old heartbreaker causes trouble and a new flame ignites, it soon looks like their sleepy beach town is the most scandalous hotspot of the summer.

Ope’s Opinion: Wow!  This was a really good story!  I would recommend if you have not read MKA before, this would be a great one start with.  I did think with the title Hello Summer that this was going to be a romantic, light beach read.  It had a little romance in it, but that was a very small part of this wonderful book.  

The pace of this book was perfect.  I loved that it didn’t drag things out – it didn’t all come out in the end.  It kept giving you small bits of secrets and information about who was who in this small town.  It made it so much fun to keep reading.

The end was wonderful in every way.  It told you where everyone was now, it did it a newspaper way, and it was very satisfying.  Exactly what I wanted!