Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight hundred grapes

This novel is now my favorite of the year. The exquisite writing, the blend of viniculture and families, and the story of a family in the grips of turmoil are a perfect blend in this excellent offering from Laura Dave.

Georgia flees her Los Angeles home, job, and fiancé seeking solace and comfort in her childhood home in Sonoma County. She finds not peace but twisting tales of infidelity, secrets and heartbreak amid the grapevines and beauty of the countryside. Instead, she encounters confusion rather than comprehension. Georgia strives to correct all the problems in her family while failing to face her own looming decisions.

Sweet Tea and Sympathy

sweet tea and sympathy

This is a funny, quirky book with so many endearing characters that will make you laugh out loud. It is well written with charm and wit.

The story is about the redemption of Margot Cary-exclusive party planner banned from the working community because of a planning nightmare disaster. She treated the ordeal with aplomb and composure only to find her reputation and career in flames. Exiled from every high and even low scale planning businesses, her only savior is a job offer from a family she was had no idea existed. The job is to coordinate funeral care and planning. Margot travels to the South, to a small community to meet her family and ultimately, herself.

Close Contact

close contact

Close Contact is a novel high on relationships and lusty sex with a mystery playing slowly but aggressively in the background. I love how the emphasis is on the relationship, its troubles and doubts and how it comes to resolution. The book is so much about Maxi and Miles finding each other that you almost forget about the threats to Maxi lurking in the shadows but it is there and just biding its time until it can hold back no longer.

Mind Game

mind game

This is an interesting book but a rather slow read. I honestly left it at times to pursue other books only to pick it up and read some more chapters. It contains a considerable amount of reference to previous novels with the same characters that I was not familiar with as of yet. At times, the book was very slow paced then amp up only to slow back down again.

There is a paranormal theme of thought transference, blood slowing/speeding, and mind manipulation for empathy or for harm. It takes place mainly in Scotland on a fog shrouded lake where characters from a previous novel are trying to uncover a hidden cache of treasure. Amid this setting, a paranormal thought/blood manipulator, Caleb, is desperately trying to free his sister from harm and learn what evil hides behind her abduction. He needs the help of Jane who is able to communicate telepathically with Lisa, Caleb’s sister. There is a strong attraction between Jane and Caleb that they both forcefully resist that cannot and will not be denied.

Then Came You

Just Came You

Then Came you is such a moving book. There is struggle on each of the main character’s sides, struggles of insecurity and doubt for personal reasons.

Mia and her nephew Ben moved to Compass Cove to live with her Nana. She wants to provide a better and more secure home for Ben in a small town. She has been unfairly criticized by her mother her entire life and is haunted by never living up to her mother’s ideal.

Adam Miller is an ex-NFL player and a formerly reckless playboy. He coaches football at the local college where Mia works. After a horrific car crash, Adam straightened up and is remaking his whole life. He is haunted by his past and wonders if anyone will forget how he was and accept how he is now.

When Adam and Mia meet, there is an instant chemistry. Mia has trouble believing Adam could even care about her and Ben. He feels like he’ll fail both her and Ben. But, Mia is changing and finally growing secure in herself and can only hope Adam will stay around. Adam is in the same boat-hoping Mia will stay and see him in his new light.

I look forward to the next book in the series to see who is next to find true north in Compass Cove.

Always You

always You

I do not think a love story can get any better or sweeter than that of what is told in Always You. The writing is not too sentimental in telling the story of Matt and Anna’s past and is just enough for one to begin to really care about what unfolds as they face each other. They are in different lives and places than they were after college when Anna fled to London to escape her forever mourning mother and left Matt in the lurch, engagement ring in hand. Anna ruptured his heart and time has not completely healed it. Matt never anticipated seeing Anna again, much less with a son, but fate brought them together to face the past and possible forge a future.

Not in Her Wildest Dreams

Not in Her Wildest Dreams

I loved this book because of the many layers to each character’s story that are interrelated and spun together to make a whole picture.

Sterling and Paige are at the center of a journey to pull together their respective family’s joint business problems both to their chagrin. They have a hard history together that has constructed an impenetrable wall around each of them. Working together is not going to be easy or amiable. They are jolted by family secrets that randomly appear and are purposely thrown in their paths. Underneath is all is a current of love that could have been and might just still be if only it was allowed to surface and ride above the river of doubts and hurt.

I found myself loving both Paige and Sterling as they worked toward each other, are torn apart and start back again. There is so much hidden to be uncovered as the whole story progresses that to keep reading is a must.

Before Ever After

Before Never After

This is an absolutely incredible book-well written, engaging, thoughtful and compelling. It tells the story of a man whose life is not as it seems, of the woman who loved him and of the grandson who is seeking to find him. All this is tied into the telling of a story within of the lives this man, Max, has lived and of the story those lives really tell.

In the opening chapter is Shelley, widow to Max, meeting a man who claims he is Max’s grandson. Paolo, the grandson, is the age Max was when he died five years prior. From this point, the story of Shelley and Max unfold in the telling of the memories Shelley has of her meeting and falling in love with Max. The stories are of the history of places Max leads people to in his small tour business in Europe. Paolo has heard each one but as a child growing up as Max raised him. Confusion and, finally, understanding come to Shelley and Paolo as they travel to a remote Philippine island in search of Max.

There are colorful tales of Max’s historical past written with a passion to convey Max’s emotions in each. The stories become the ultimate path to Max.

Enigma

Enigma

Novels by Catherine Coulter draw you into the story in the first chapters and hold you there, spellbound and filled with suspense until the last word. Enigma is right there with captivating stories that drive the novel to the end.

One story is of the actions of an escaped convict with blackmail and freedom as motivations. Manta Ray was convicted of bank robbery. He managed to hide the contents of the safe deposit box he took and when his successful escape happens, he puts into motion his plans to get rid of any person in his way to money and freedom.

In the second parallel story, a baby has been kidnapped from the hospital after a hostage situation with his mother and a deranged man who is claiming he is only protecting the baby. He ends up in the same hospital as the mother, in a coma. Savich and Sherlock, FBI agents are quick to action to work on uncovering the mystery of the unconscious man and the kidnapped baby.

Magnolia Nights

Magnolia Nights

This is a fast paced book, wonderfully written to convey the emotions of the characters in true form

Charleston, SC is the setting in this mystery/romance of a woman seeking answers to lost memories, memories that have plagued her for decades. Ellie has only fragmented and horrible memories of her early childhood fraught with the recall of a tyrannical grandmother and a sickly mother. The only saving grace is a loving housekeeper who managed to inject some love and warmth into Ellie’s lost, lonely existence.

When Ellie is notified that she has inherited the estate of her wretched grandmother in Charleston, she travels back there and back into a time of lost memories, of before she was sent to live with a father she did not know existed. There is a horribly wrong story in Ellie’s past that she bravely seeks to learn.