Friday, February 28, 2014

Before We Met

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

Guilty pleasures. Like eating that last piece of chocolate or watching another Lifetime movie, author Lucie Whitehouse has written a scrumptious novel that readers won't put down until the final surprising chapters.

This story has all the classic components for a suspense-filled thriller. Hannah is an independent, strong-willed woman, apparently incapable of sustaining a long-term relationship until she meets fellow Brit, Mark Reilly. Suddenly, throwing caution to the wind, she finds herself in a whirlwind romance, followed by marriage. Forsaking a promising career in New York City, Hannah returns to her native home of London to begin wedded bliss with her new husband. She is content but restless, finding it difficult to find a satisfying job like the one she had. Mark is the founder of a successful software design firm, often traveling back and forth to America to conduct business. On a dark, blustery night she anxiously waits at Heathrow Airport for her husband's return from the United States. But this time he doesn't walk off the plane. As minutes turn into hours and then days, Hannah fears the worst. He calls at last with a credible explanation, but Hannah can't shake the nagging thoughts that fill her mind. "Something at the corner of her eye, just out of focus..." threatens to shatter the steadfast love she feels for Mark.  She begins her quest to find the truth as to her new husband's whereabouts while overseas, and in the process, uncovers a trail of deceit. Friends contradict the stories he tells. A mysterious woman continues to phone him behind closed doors at work. When Hannah discovers her bank account is depleted, fear and terror replace worry and concern. Who is this man she married? Could her life be in danger?

Perhaps you have read the premise of this book before; putting complete faith in someone you love only to realize later how vulnerable that makes you. This time the author adds so many turns and turns, it results in an entertaining roller-coaster read. With each chapter the tension builds. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?  Gripping and intense, the reader will undoubtedly enjoy the guessing game.

As the relentless winter weather continues, check out the latest release from this British author. Indulge yourself one more time with another guilty pleasure.....

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Deepest Secret

The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

Fourteen-year-old Tyler Lattimore knows all about secrets. Oh yes he does. That's because late at night, when the stars glow and the trees rustle in the wind, he takes photographs of unsuspecting neighbors. Pictures that never lie.

Tyler lives in virtual isolation with his mother, Eve, and sister, Melissa, in a seemingly quiet suburb of Columbus, Ohio. His father, David, commutes to his law firm in Washington, D.C. rushing home on weekends, hoping to retain a life of normalcy. A typical family, struggling with the everyday challenges of raising teenagers, paying bills, and carving out precious time with one another. Except their family is far from typical. As a child, Tyler was diagnosed with XP, an extremely rare medical condition that does not allow him to be in sunlight. Even the slightest ray can be lethal. So Eve vows to protect her son at all costs, creating a most unusual life for them all; an upside-down, inside-out existence where darkness is their best friend. The love she feels for Tyler alienates her troubled daughter and begins to tear apart her once idyllic marriage. But she cannot stop her obsession to protect her son.

One fateful night, Amy, the precocious eleven-year-old daughter of Eve's best friend, Charlotte, disappears.
Fear and uncertainty fill the entire cul-de-sac. Could a deranged stranger be in their midst? Tyler knows Amy well. Even though she can be a pest at times, he treasures her friendship. As the police search for clues, Tyler's nighttime escapades with his new camera reveal more than anyone could ever know. Suspense builds as the senseless tragedy points to suspects close to home. Secrets are hard to keep.

What a page-turner Carla Buckley has written. She takes you on a winding, zigzag road trip with surprising twists at the journey's end. At the heart of it all  is a mother's love for her adolescent son; a mother who is willing to risk everything in order to protect a young man who dreams of a life he can never have. It is a story of hope and forgiveness. Thought-provoking and sensitive, I imagine each reader may come away with quite different feelings as the story ends.

On a side note, the author graduated from Oberlin College outside of Cleveland. For those of you living in and around Columbus, it is interesting to read about the references to the capital city.

Enjoy all this new February release has to offer.....


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Secret of Raven Point

The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes

It is 1941. Juliet Dufresne ponders the crushing news that Tucker, her beloved brother, has decided to enlist in the Army. A talented star on the football field and popular with classmates, Tucker is willing to forsake it all to do his part in the World War II effort. Ignoring the pleas of his father and stepmother, Tucker chooses to go to battle. How can he know that his shy, awkward sister's heart is breaking....that it is the end of the world for her.

High school days spent in the chemistry lab lead Juliet to study nursing upon graduation. When she discovers Tucker is missing in action, she alters her age on her birth certificate in order to become a field nurse at a camp in Italy. She hopes that somehow her proximity to the front line will shed light on her brother's whereabouts. Slowly but surely, Juliet makes new friends and begins to gain confidence as her outstanding nursing skills are desperately needed. However, the bloody gore and mental anguish of so many young, innocent soldiers penetrate her nightly dreams. Then she meets Christopher Barnaby, a deserter awaiting court-martial whose mind is locked in a catatonic state after a supposed suicide attempt. Juliet learns he was in the same company as Tucker. Could his revelations lead her to the answers she needs? A psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Willard, attempts to unlock Christopher's mind, and in the process wins the heart and soul of Juliet. When she finally receives a puzzling letter from Tucker making references to their childhood days, she races against time to uncover the truth. Perhaps a secret code only siblings share can lead her to her cherished brother.

The author examines the impenetrable bond and love between siblings. She exposes the love that brave soldiers in World War II feel for one another while the horrors of war surround them.  Gradually they become family to one another as memories of home fade away. The reader learns in detail the misery, bloodshed, and sacrifices of combat. Love remains the only constant in their lives.

This novel combines mystery with emotion. As many reviewers have said, it is a coming-of-age story, a tale of a young woman faced with adulthood long before she is ready. I particularly like a book that allows the reader to interpret the words of an author in a variety of ways. Jennifer Vanderbes does just that. Moving and heartfelt, you just might write your own ending to this story. .

Saturday, February 8, 2014

That Part Was True

That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay

Love is in the air. As we approach Valentine's Day, I plan to highlight some new releases that examine the power of love in all of our lives. Tender and warm, this basic human emotion can also be heartbreaking and painful. So until the warmth of spring arrives, I hope you will enjoy one or more of these selections in the frigid days of February.

Eve Petworth and Jackson Cooper are two lonely souls drifting through life. He is a successful American author; handsome, witty, and wealthy with a lovely beach house in the Hamptons. With his second divorce on the horizon, Jack begins to realize he may not be marriage material after all, even though female admirers are never in short supply. He is approaching fifty and finding it increasingly difficult to write the next book in his wildly popular series. Then he receives a letter from a fan in England. Her name is Eve Petworth. They share a mutual love of good food, good wines, and cooking. It all begins by sharing recipes of culinary delights and turns out to be so much more. The correspondence forces them to make changes in their lives they never imagined.

Eve Petworth lives a somewhat isolated life across the sea from America. Her only daughter, Izzy, announces wedding plans, and immediately, Eve's dreaded panic attacks begin again. Divorced long ago, Eve has always felt the outsider, even with her own overbearing  mother, now deceased. Perhaps she is incapable of feeling love for daughter, and that thought frightens her. But she loves to cook, and when the hand-written letters arrive from Jack, her heart begins to open, and the stress and anxiety of life begin to fade away. When Jack suggests they meet in Paris, will Eve take a leap of faith and actually allow herself the chance to live again?

I think the cover of this book tells it all; the Eiffel Tower resplendent with tulips in spring. It is a short, simple novel about two wistful people longing to find the one elusive thing in their lives that is missing--love. Light and airy, the author writes with mellowness and romanticism. These are characters filled with self-doubt who find the healing power of anonymity with words written, not spoken.

And a most surprising ending.