Category Archives: romance

Hollywood in the 1940’s

land of dreams  Ellie Hogan is 42 years-old (I can already relate), and she is the mother of two boys (more relating going on here).  She has lost two husbands to war, and now finds herself single and successful living on Fire Island, New York.  She is an Irish immigrant and has worked her all her life to support herself and now her two boys.  She has become a successful Irish artist in New York City.  It is in the city that she resides during the colder months.  However, it is in the summers, that she escapes to Fire Island with her younger son, Tom. to lead a simpler and more life.   She feels she has found a balance in her life…she is content.

Her older son, Leo, attends boarding school in New York City.  He is a dreamer and a romantic.  At 16 years-old, he believes he has discovered his life’s passion….acting.  He runs away to Hollywood to live with an “agent” and to start acting in motion pictures.  When Ellie discovers of Leo’s disappearance, she leaves for California immediately.  Once she finds Leo safe and happy….she does something most parents would question.  Instead of insisting that Leo return to boarding school with her, she sends for Tom and all of her belongings to be sent to them in California.   She has decided to support Leo in his decision.

The story that follows is one of love, war, disappointment and loss.  There are many colorful characters in this book, but none of them outshine Ellie…ultimately, this is her journey and she learns that life takes you on various paths throughout its course and sometimes it is best not to fight the path….but to journey on and let fate take over.

 

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Can love find a way?

vintage  Violet is in her late 30’s and owns a unique vintage clothing shop.  Who doesn’t love vintage?  How romantic it is to be a part of something from the past….Violet embraces this philosophy since her present situation is devoid of any romance.  She left her drunken husband five years early, and she has put all her emphasis on Hourglass Vintage….her shop.  Romance, marriage and motherhood have put placed far from her thoughts.  Yet, she still has a glimmer of someday falling in love and becoming a mother.  Then she is meets Sam….sparks fly and love blooms (excuse the overabundance of clichés).  Yet, there is one thing that puts a wedge between them and could be a deal-breaker for a forever love.

April is a pregnant 18-year old whose well-to do boyfriend…excuse me…ex-boyfriend has left her high and dry.  There were plans for the two of them to wed, but Charles mother cancelled the wedding and ended their relationship.  April has acquired an internship at Hourglass Vintage and is trying to build a life for herself despite the failed wedding and the death of her mother.  Can she find the strength to build a love with her new child on her own?

And finally, there is Amithi.  Married for decades to her husband Naveen and mother to her self-centered, modern daughter Jayana, Amithi has never made her needs a priority until she decides to step inside Hourglass Vintage to sell some silk dresses.  Soon after, she discovers her husband has been cheating on her for years.  Shocked and betrayed….she leaves Naveen and begins to forge a path to independance….something exciting and new to her.  Will she have to take this new journey alone?

The book is a quick, light-hearted read.  The female characters are developed and portray strong women.  I just wish that the men had more depth to them….it seems too easy to make them the villain all too often.

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Beach read….quick and sweet

beach house   This new book by Georgia Bockoven is perfect for anyone looking for a variety of stories filled with love, friendship, hardship and family.  The book is Return to the Beach House.    There are three stories that all unfold at this beautifully renovated beach house in California.  The house once belonged to Joe and Maggie….a couple bonded together by true love…awwwww…..how sweet.  Sadly, they are no longer alive, but they continue to influence the people who rent out the house.

The first story follows Alison and her 17 year-old grandson who have rented the house for a month to help them move on with their lives after losing two close family members.  It is here that they rediscover happiness, love and a new start to their lives.  We then enter into August, where four college friends have rented the house to reconnect after years of separation.  Carrie, Danielle, Bridget and Angie come to discover some of the tragedies and struggles they have all kept hidden during their absences and learn to rise above them and live anew.  Finally, we jump ahead to January where Matthew and Lindsey have arrived.  The two are busy photographers….one photographs graphic images of war while the other is an award-winning wildlife photographer.  They have been a couple for 10 years, but the distance that their careers have provided them has been too much of a strain on their relationship….will they be able to find a way to hold their love together or will they discover that not everything is forever?

A quick read….perfect for laying out by a lake with the fresh mountain air or on the sand with a salty breeze…whichever suits you best.

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Labor Day Group Book Talk

girls  Here is part of our little book club group.  We met to talk about Joyce Maynard’s new book called Labor Day.   We all wanted to read the book before we  go together and see the movie at the end of this month.  I  always make it a rule of mine to read the book before seeing the movie.  This blog post will be a bit different because I am going to post varying opinions, thoughts and views of the same book.  And let me tell you….we had some different ideas about this book.  It is interesting to note that before we sat down to discuss the book, everyone emailed their own book reviews to me.  This way our thoughts were pure and uninfluenced by the others in the group.

So let’s get down to the good, the bad and the ugly of this book:

labor day   The story is told through the 13 year-old character, Henry.  We get no other perspective, and several of us wanted to get into the head of Frank and Adele ….to understand them in a better sense.  However, the author only wanted us to see the story unfold through Henry’s eyes. We must trust the author even if we don’t always like their methods.

Henry and mother, Adele, live together in a reclusive way.   Henry’s parents divorced years earlier when Adele seemed to slip into a fragile state seeming unaware and afraid of the world around her.  Henry is left to raise himself and take care of his mother….not an easy thing for any child.  Henry does see his father weekly during rather uncomfortable dinners with his dad’s new family.  He keeps things to himself about the state of affairs on the home front.  Henry is quite adept at taking care of himself and his mother.  They have slipped into a comfortable albeit unusual rhythm for mother and son.  The two go out monthly to stock up on non-perishables, and it is on one of these trips that Frank enters their life.   Frank approaches Henry at the store….he is bleeding and begging for Henry to ask his mother to take him home…their home.  He is quite charismatic and creepy in this request.  Adele does not hesitant in granting Frank his request.

Here is the part in the story where the mother in us all got the better of us.  We could not understand how a mother could willingly put her son in danger and welcome this suspicious stranger into their home.  She gives Frank power…power over them all with seemingly no regard for her son.  We did not like that and wanted her to protect Henry if not herself.  She did not.

This is when one of us spoke up and said: “But this is a love story.  Adele values love above all….she is blinded by it, and it [love] makes people do crazy things.”  Good point.  So for the time being , we accept Adele’s poor parenting decision to let this escaped criminal into her home.  Yes, we learn that he has just escaped from prison and is being hunted by the authorities.  Adele willingly gives him a place to hide.  This is where the love story begins and over the span of six days we see the characters slowly develop.  Too slowly for some of us and just right for others.

Yet it is still hard to get past the fact that this emotionally detached woman is so willing to trust this man with all her heart…she even begins to smile and open up in his presence.  They even have sex…GASP!  She is oblivious to Henry….or at least that is the way it reads since we are only exposed to Henry’s thoughts.

The ending was a bit predictable, and yet most of us felt it was the “best” ending.  We are really looking forward to the movie because we feel that the movie will give us insight to the other characters….was Frank really in love with Adele?  Was Adele that self-centered?  Was his father that much of  coward to run away when things got tough?  Henry was a strong, likeable character and I personally loved him.  His honesty, his strength,  and his loyalty.  He was truly unselfish at a time in one’s life when it is not only OK to be selfish, but expected.    We will report back to you after viewing the movie to give yet more of our input.

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Sweetly romantic and lovely

france   After reading another Dystopia novel (which I love….but need a break from) and a cheesy romance, it was refreshing to read Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson.  This book is not due to be released until January 2014, so make sure you put it on your wish list now….you only have a few weeks to wait.   It is the story of Lady Elizabeth who feels the life of British wealth, luxury and manners is not quite her destiny.  She has older sisters who have married and a dear brother, Edward, who is fighting in the Great War.  While everyone is away, Lily (Lady Elizabeth)  takes this opportunity to rebel and defy her parents.  She moves to London and learns to live by her own means.

She eventually becomes an ambulance driver and is sent to France.  It is here where she meets up with a childhood friend, Dr. Robert Fraser.  There has been chemistry between them for years,  but social propriety has kept them apart.  Now it the midst of war, it becomes increasingly difficult for the two to hide their passion.  Yet Robbie feels more strongly that he needs to protect Lily from the war and is determined to do just that…even if he must break her heart.  He is determined for her to be safe, and she is determined to fulfill her wartime duty.  Will their love survive the war?

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A Pride & Prejudice Novel

bennet  It is best to say that I became Mary Bennet for approximately 24 hours.  I could not put this book too far from my body…it was an extension of me.   I am a sucker for the discreet romance and allure of a Jane Austen novel, I adore Downton Abbey and was in mourning after the last season for days, and I dream of someday living in an old house with 18th century character….I adore this time period.  So when I read the blurb for Pamela Mingle’s novel The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride & Prejudice Novel, I knew it was for me.

The story follows the sisters of the Bennet family.  The older beautiful sisters, Jane & Elizabeth have both married happily.  The youngest sister, Lydia is involved in quite the scandal while Kitty, the flirtatious one, is seeking a suitor, and then there is seemingly plain, bookish, awkward and sensible Mary.  (This is the one I relate to…hahaha).  Mary’s mother has written her off to be the spinster and the one to take care of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in their old age.  Mary is accepting of this and prefers to be in a corner at a social gathering with a book….hmmmmm sounds nice.   Then enter Henry Walsh…..an attractive and charming man.  Mary’s interest is piqued, yet she is not the only one to notice this man.  Her beautiful and polished sister Kitty is determined to make Mr. Walsh her husband.  Yet, Henry seems to be interested in Mary….though Mary Bennet is not comfortable with courting and seems to push him into the arms of his sister.  She sees herself as an embarrassment, will she discover her true beauty and worth?    Love this novel and this time period!

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A great beach/lake read

stargazey

 

This book by Shelley Noble is a perfect book to read while sitting on the sand with a view of the ocean, or perhaps while you are sitting on a pier overlooking  quiet, serene lake.  I prefer the latter. Hey, each to their own.  It is called STARGAZEY POINT.  It takes place in a small town along the ocean in South Carolina.  Once the town was  a tourist’s dream, but it has since been beaten down by several hurricanes.  It has seen better days….still it has all the charm and romance one could wish. Enter Abbie Sinclair.   She has just gone through a traumatic event in her life and is in search of some peace….a change…and a chance to clear her mind and find out where she belongs.  One of her close friends has family that lives in Stargazey Point, so Abbie is invited to stay with them at the Crispin plantation home.  It is here she meets the three octogenarians: Beau, Marnie and Millie (great characters by the way) and becomes caught up in the beauty and charm of the town.  However, looming taxes and eroded beaches have made it difficult to maintain a life there.

Abbie grows close to the people in town, and she begins to find her place despite her attempts to stifle that feeling of belonging.  She meets Sarah who is a headstrong student working in the community center, Bethanne who owns the local inn and has experienced tragedy as well, Ervina who is the town’s wisest albeit a bit unorthodox character, and then she meets Cab Reynolds.  Cab has moved back to Stargazey and has inherited his uncle’s carousel which has seen better days, but Cab’s experience as an architect has enabled him to be the man to bring life back to the carousel….but it will cost time and sacrifice…all which he is willing to give up.  When the Abbie and Cab meet, there is a connect between two people who have been hurt in the past and two people who have a desire to save a dying town….can they find a way to move forward…together?

The book was a quick read…very sweet…very enjoyable.  It was a bit predictable, but you know….sometimes I need something predictable.  Something that will make me smile and feel happy inside without having to think too much or be troubled after I have read it.  I am looking forward to more of Abbie and Cab, and I hope there will be another one soon.

I know there is a novella I can download that is a prequel to this book about Cab’s arrival at Stargazey, and I will be downloading that later today.  It is called STARGAZEY NIGHTS.

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