The Alchemy of Night is a must read historical romance with a murder thrown in

36570121I have enjoyed several Nicola Italia books and her writing keeps getting better with each book.  This time around in The Alchemy of Night, we are introduced to Emmeline (Emme) Bell and the Marham brothers – Everett and Nigel.  Everett is next in line to become Lord Marham and run the family estate.  Nigel is in love with Emme and asks her to marry him.  Emme isn’t sure she wants to marry Nigel and asks for time to think about her answer.

In the meantime, Emme starts to bump into Everett at different events and around town setting off sparks between them, which they both try to ignore.  But when they unexpectedly spend several days together at their mutual friend’s house before the winter ball, the attraction can’t be ignored.

As Everett and Emme are falling in love, another woman sets her sights on Everett.  Not because Maude Thomas loves him, but because Everett comes with a title and money.  Who wouldn’t want to be a countess?  But how far will someone go to get said title? And is it worth dying for?

Nicola is a wonderful historical romance author who knows how to draw the reader into the lives of her characters.  I found myself losing track of time as I went back in time to London when women wore big flowing dresses and rode around in carriages.  A time when women were the “property” of the man they were with whether it was a father or a husband.  A time when a woman had money but couldn’t “own” the money because they were too simple minded.

It was also a time when couples had to sneak around and if they got caught together, whether they were doing anything or not, a marriage had to happen to stop any rumors that could ruin the woman’s and the man’s reputation.

I recommend picking up The Alchemy of Night if you are looking for something to read on vacation while relaxing in the sun.  It’s even perfect for those times you want to curl up by the fire with a blanket and a warm drink.  It’s a perfect time to read anytime and anywhere.  Be prepared to be entertained.  Then be prepared to add Nicola’s other books to your TBR list.

Book Description:
Emmeline Bell, the only daughter of a well-known London solicitor, is intelligent, beautiful, and well loved by her family and friends.

Nigel Carey, the second son of Lord Marham, is quiet and reserved yet secretly pines to call Emme his own. When Nigel proposes, Emme accepts it without love knowing the match will give her a comfortable life. She is unaware that Nigel’s dark and mysterious older brother, Everett, heir to the earldom, also holds a deep desire for her.

Arriving a week early to a mutual friend’s annual winter house party, Emme and Everett strike up an unexpected friendship, one that quickly leads to romance. As Everett invokes feelings in her she never thought possible, he urges her to break off her engagement to his brother. However, another young woman who has been scheming to force a marriage with the handsome, wealthy, and titled Everett is found dead in the middle of the winter ball. Suddenly everyone has a motive for murder–even Emme.

As the inspector assigned to the case tries to unravel the plot, the list of suspects narrows, and Everett is arrested. Convinced of his innocence, Emme embarks on admission to clear his name. She uncovers overlooked clues and someone suddenly becomes determined to stop her. Emme and Everett must race to unmask the killer before the killer silences Emme forever.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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Freeks is all about the traveling freak show

28220899Romance, mystery, violence, carnies and supernatural beings.  Freeks by Amanda Hocking has all of these elements.  Set in 1987, 18-year-old Mara and her mother have traveled for years with the Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, a sideshow where everyone has a supernatural ability.  Her mother is a necromancer who tells fortunes and Mara is starting to show signs of the same.

The traveling sideshow is invited to the small town of Caudry, Louisiana to perform for a week beside a carnival.  The first night in town, Mara goes for a walk and meets 19-year-old Gabe at a party where they immediately hit it off.  In fact Mara spends the night with Gabe in his bedroom.  That same night Mara’s best friend Daisy disappears but no one is really worried because she always wanders off for days.

Everyone associated with the sideshow have special abilities that mark them different from everyone else, causing people to call them freaks.  Mara hides from Gabe the fact that she is part of the traveling sideshow.  She knows that people look down at them and she wants Gabe to treat her like a normal person.

Meanwhile, back at the sideshow camp, when the sun goes down the performers are being stalked by some sort of animal.  When people continue to get injured, Mara needs to find the strength to fight whatever is attacking her friends.

This book has a slow build as Amanda introduces the reader to all the characters.  As the unknown creature attacks, it gets stronger, allowing it to attack more frequently. This makes the story start to move a little faster and causes more to be revealed.

I really enjoyed this story and had a hard time putting it down.  I look forward to reading more of Amanda’s young adult books.  Plus the cover is way cool!

Book Description:
Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Fiona Davis delivers with her second novel: The Address

33607640I was introduced to the beautiful writing style of Fiona Davis in 2016 with her debut novel The Dollhouse.  It was such a captivating story with a lot of historical facts that compelled me to research the building and the occupants.

This time around, Fiona takes us to The Dakota, a new hotel opening in New York City in 1885.  Critics at the time were quoted as saying The Dakota will undoubtedly be known as ‘The Address’ of New York’s West Side.  Once again, Fiona made a historical building so fascinating I was constantly researching the history.

Our main character in The Address, Sara Smythe, travels from England to New York to manage The Dakota, something she has never done before.  While working as the head housekeeper at a posh London hotel, she has a chance meeting with Theodore Camden, the architect for The Dakota.  Theodore wants Sara to run the Dakota for him and insists she must come to America and accept the position.

Sara insists that she will not be like her mother who fell for her employer, but as Sara and Theodore’s friendship progresses, so does their romantic relationship.  Even though Theodore has a wife and children, the two of them can’t stay away from each other.

Then we jump forward 100 years to Bailey Camden who is fresh out of rehab.  She blew up her interior design career when her party girl habits took a dark path leaving her penniless, jobless and homeless.  To try and make money and get her career back on track, she takes a job from her best friend and cousin Melinda to redecorate Melinda’s apartment at the Dakota.  The apartment Melinda inherited from her ancestor Theodore Camden.

Fiona does a great job of taking historical events and winding a fascinating story of greed, passion, love and sacrifice taking the reader on a journey through dual timelines alternating between 1885 and 1985.  She shines a spotlight on how women were treated in 1885 as a second class citizen.  The fact that women could be put in a crazy house without a trial is horrible.

I felt sorry for Sara and what she went through.  All the sacrifices she made.  I also was glad that Bailey became strong and fought for what she thought was right. As for Melinda, I wanted to smack her.  What a bitch.

Fiona Davis is making a name for herself in the historical fiction genre.  Her stories take the reader back in time entertaining them and educating them.  She takes dual timeline stories and eventually ties them together for a great revelation that the reader won’t see coming.  The Address is well worth the read and I would put this at the top of your to be read list.

Book Description:
After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility–no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else . . . and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.

In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her -cousin- Melinda–Camden’s biological great-granddaughter–will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in . . . and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages–for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City–and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich–and often tragic–as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden–and the woman who killed him–on its head.

With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives –and lies–of the beating hearts within.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Come Sundown is an emotional roller coaster ride

31415529I always associate Nora Roberts with romance trilogies where sisters fall in love, brothers fall in love, best friends fall in love and sometimes all three in the same storyline.  So it always surprises me when I come across one of her books that has romance but also a large element of Criminal Minds.  Come Sundown is one of those books.

The book has two very strong storylines that eventually merge/catch up with each other.  The story starts out with Alice Bodine.  A young girl who left home, not on good terms with her family, the night of her sister’s wedding.  After struggling for a few years, Alice decides to return home but she never makes it there.  Her car breaks down, a guy gives her a ride, but instead of taking her the few miles to her family’s ranch, he kidnaps her.  Her family never knew Alice was headed home so they think she wants nothing to do with them with her disappearance.

The second storyline takes us more than 20 years into the future to Bodine Longbow, a young professional woman who runs the Bodine Ranch and Resort.  She has her hands on everything, which made me wonder how she had time for a personal life let alone getting any sleep.  Then Callen (Cal) Skinner comes back home.  A childhood friend of Bodine and her brothers who is amazing with horses.  He’s soon hired on at the ranch along with his horse and he soon starts a relationship with Bodine.  The same time of Cal’s return, women start turning up dead, which makes a local police officer and childhood enemy of Cal’s, point his finger right at Cal.  He is determined to put Cal in jail.

The Bodine Ranch and Resort is a tightknit team.  Everyone is treated like family whether they are family or just work there.  Roberts does a great job of pulling the reader into the lives of the characters and making you care for all of them.  So when one of them goes missing, everyone hurts.

This is a heart-pounding, terrifying and laugh out loud story that will take you on a roller coaster of emotions.  When women start going missing and showing up dead, my heart would race and I kept saying not her.  Like that would make a difference.

This is such a wonderful book.  I could not put it down.  I have already recommended Come Sundown to several friends and family and I recommend it while on vacation or wrapped up in a blanket on the couch on a quiet day.  This one is well worth your time.

Book Description:
The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose—and her mind has been shattered…

When a bartender leaves the resort late one night, and Bo and Cal discover her battered body in the snow, it’s the first sign that danger lurks in the mountains that surround them. The police suspect Cal, but Bo finds herself trusting him—and turning to him as another woman is murdered and the Longbows are stunned by Alice’s sudden reappearance. The twisted story she has to tell about the past—and the threat that follows in her wake—will test the bonds of this strong family, and thrust Bodine into a darkness she could never have imagined.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

A Million Junes is a magical love story

30763950Two families who hate each other for generations.  I’m sure the first thing you think of is the feud of the Hatfields and McCoys.  But there are two other families that have hated each other for generations – the O’Donnells and the Angerts.

In A Million Junes by Emily Henry, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have held a grudge against each other for generations.  Generations of fathers that worked hard to stay away from each other even though they used to be best of friends.  Enter the younger generation who want to be together despite the feud.

June O’Donnell is the latest in a long list of Jacks and Juniors.  As the daughter Jack O’Donnell, one of the rules she must follow is to stay away from any of the Angerts.  June has been curious of Saul Angets, who lives across the field and through the woods.  She has internet stalked this forbidden guy.  She has seen him from afar.  Then they meet and the pull they have towards each other can’t be denied.  Such a pull it makes them wonder why their families began feuding in the first place.

Besides a love story, this is a magical story.  There are a lot of magical things that happen in June’s world.  Cherry trees grow overnight from a seed.  If you leave shoes in the yard, Coywolves will come and get them so make sure they aren’t your favorite pair.  And there are white floaty, fluffy balls that can soak into your skin and show you a memory, a memory that might not be yours.  The memories will feel real like June is being transported back in time.

This story might not be for everyone.  You have to like magical stories that stretch your beliefs.  But I think if you like a story with a little bit of magic, laughs, family drama, and an enjoyable love story, you will find that Emily Henry will take you on a journey that will make you fall in love with June and Saul and look at dandelion dust floating in the wind differently.

Book Description:

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Sunshine Sisters isn’t all sunshine

32867521The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green is about the relationships within one family.  Ronni Sunshine is the perfect selfish Hollywood diva who cares more about her image than her three daughters who can’t wait to get away from her, and a husband who can’t make her happy no matter what he does.  To the general public, Ronni is a wonderful person who has the perfect family.  But behind closed doors it’s another story.  Ronni is narcissistic and often a cruel mother.

When the veil comes off and her mood comes out, Ronni treats her daughters differently and the daughters react in different ways to Ronni’s cruelness.  Nell, who is the oldest, withdraws within herself and when she turns 18, flees to a farm a few miles away where she befriends the owner, who becomes a stable mother figure.  Nell seemed like a genuine, down-to-earth person who worked tirelessly to fill the voids she didn’t get from her childhood.

Meredith takes a lot of abuse from Ronni.  She is told she needs to lose weight, that she isn’t pretty enough.  This breaks Meredith and she flees to England to stay with relatives.  Meredith is a people pleaser and wants everyone to be happy.  Because of her mother’s comments over the years, Meredith doesn’t feel she deserve to be treated with respect, which leads her to be engaged to a who acts like she isn’t good enough as herself.

Then there is Lizzy who doesn’t take any crap from Ronnie.  While growing up, she laughed at the things Ronni said and did, never taking it seriously.  Lizzy really came across just as selfish and self-centered as Ronni.  Now a famous TV chef, Lizzy doesn’t care who she hurts with her actions, including her husband and child.

The main focus of the book is bringing the three girls together again to be with Ronnie, who has become ill and wants them by her side as she passes.  Once again making everything about her and bringing the attention to her, the center of attention.  This story is also about the relationship between the sisters, who are not close and are so very different.

The Sunshine Sisters shows that families can look all rainbows and sunshine on the outside, the inside, behind closed doors, might not be what it seems.  It’s probably why on the news, the neighbors say “they were such a nice and loving family” when something goes wrong with a family member or an entire family.

I have four older sisters so it was interesting for me to see how the sisters were very different yet could support each other after being reacquainted. There were relationships where I wanted to smack people on the back of the head and relationships where I wanted to stand up and cheer.

I have pretty much read all of Jane Green’s books and have enjoyed every one of them.  Like her other books, I had a hard time putting The Sunshine Sisters down.  When I wasn’t reading the book, I found myself thinking about the sisters.  The Sunshine Sisters looks like a fun cheerful book, but instead it dives into family dynamics that aren’t so filled with sunshine.

Book Description:
The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Light We Lost asks the question: is a first love your one true love

33637339When I first started reading The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I didn’t understand why Lucy Carter was telling Gabe Samson about their relationship from when they first met. It felt weird to me. I thought maybe it was a look back at what their life was like.  But I soon got used to the narration and was pulled into Lucy’s life.

Lucy first met Gabe on September 11, 2001 while they are in college.  On a rooftop under a grey cloud of ash, she kissed him for the first time and lost her heart forever. They move in together and start planning their life.  But Gabe is unfulfilled living in New York and being in a relationship. As he pursues his photography, he realizes he needs to go abroad and capture the struggles and political turmoil.  He wants to head to the Middle East and asks Lucy to go with him. But Lucy loves her job and knows following Gabe around the world will only make her resent his pursuit of his passions while she suppresses hers. So Gabe leaves and they move on living separate lives.

Lucy eventually meets Darren and even though she keeps comparing him to Gabe, she loves him differently but just as much as Gabe. They marry and soon have their daughter Violet. Even though Lucy has a wonderfully supportive husband and a good marriage, she seems to be connected to Gabe. She looks for his photos, she emails with him and she takes his phone calls. When he is in town, she drops everything to see him.

There were times I wanted to smack Lucy for what she was doing to her marriage. There were times I wanted to smack Darren for his jealousy even though Lucy was with him and I wanted to smack Gabe for always pulling Lucy back into his life making it hard for her to leave him in the past where he belonged.  The character I loved the most was Violet.  What an adorable little girl.

This book made me smile but it also made me cry and it broke my heart in so many different ways. As the book progressed and things were revealed, I never would have expected the revelation at the end. It really made me change my view of Lucy’s narrative. This book snuck up on me. I almost abandoned after about 50 pages and I’m so glad I stuck it out. This was such a good book. If you pick this book up, give it a chance because it won’t disappoint.

Book Description:
Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.

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