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January 20, 2020

5 Books in Women's Fiction to Read This Winter

by Susan Roberts

2020 has started out with some fantastic new books.  Here are a few of my favorites.
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The Little Bookshop on the Seine (The Little Paris Collection #1) by Rebecca Raisin

The Little Bookshop on the Seine
January 2020; HQN; 978-1335050274
audio, ebook, print (288 pages); friendship
"I want to look back on my time here and know I added something.  We all leave our mark, our footfalls bow the wooden steps, our fingertips leave oil on the pages, we're woven into the tapestry of the place but I don't want to mar it, I want to make it better." (loc 2322)

I think that there are a lot of people who harbor a secret wish to run off to Paris and live in that beautiful city.  I know it's something that I've thought about my whole life and even though I have visited, I never had a chance to live there. In the Little Bookshop on the Seine, Sarah gets the chance to fulfill her dream.  She agrees to shop bookstores with her French friend for 6 months.  She leaves her struggling small-town bookshop in Connecticut and moves to Paris to take on a large busy bookshop in Paris.  Sarah pictures life in Paris as a real adventure - walking along the quiet avenues, eating a croissant and sitting outdoors at a cafe in between her shifts at the bookstore.  What she finds is more work than she can handle at the bookstore - the workers show up when they want to, they refuse to help people find books, and they definitely don't want to take orders from a quiet and shy America who has no idea how to take charge.  At the same time, her boyfriend, who is a freelance reporter and travels all over the world to report news stories, is able to spend less time with her than ever and she isn't sure what will happen to their romance.  As Sarah struggles to take charge of the bookstore in Paris with money disappearing and people stealing books with no problem, she learns that she has to open herself up to change and to be a good boss, she has to learn how to be a leader.  Will she learn how to be a stronger person and find happiness in Paris?

This was a light fun romance with a happily ever after ending but what made it even more wonderful was the Paris setting.  The author took the reader down some of the quiet lanes and into the bustle of the city and gave us a view of the magic of Paris.  I loved seeing Sarah's growth and her ability to find happiness and friendship in the city of Love.  It was a cute love story with a great main character and Paris - what more do you need from a good romance novel?

Buy The Little Bookshop on the Seine at Amazon

This Is Not How It Ends by Rochelle B. Weinstein

This is Not How It Ends
Jan. 2020; Lake Union Publishing;  978-1542007672
audio, ebook, print (351 pages); friendship
"If this is what you want, if this is what you need...I'll give it to you.  But let's make one thing clear, Charley.  This is not how it ends.  This is definitely not how it's going to end." (loc 3345)

This Is Not How It Ends is a tender, moving story of heartbreak and healing that asks the question: Which takes more courage—holding on or letting go?

This is a love story - not a romance with hearts and flowers and a happily ever after storybook ending - but a true-to-life love story with all of its joys and problems.  It's an emotional story and we see all of Charlotte's love, hope, guilt, sorrow and get totally immersed in her life.  I laughed with her and cried with her and she is not a character that I'll soon forget.

Charlotte met Philip on an airplane.  There is an immediate connection between them and love soon follows.  They move to Key West together and due to Philip's wealth, they have all that money can buy but there is a problem - Philip is gone most of the time working all over the world.  As they get engaged, Charley wonders if this is the life that she really wants or does she want someone who is there when she needs him.  Then she meets Ben who is Philip's best friend and there is an immediate spark between them.  He is a solid strong working man who isn't traveling all over the world and he seems to really understand her and her needs.  She knows that she needs to make a choice between the two men and the life they can each offer her but a hurricane and the aftermath force her to make a decision.  But is it the right decision?

This is a love story looked at from every angle - the excitement of first love, the forgiveness, the needs of the characters.  The three main characters are so well written that they feel like friends.  This is a definite must-read book - but WARNING - keep Kleenex close at hand.

"Dreams are for those who sleep.  Living brings dreams to life." (loc 4641)

Buy This is Not How it Ends at Amazon

All Fired Up (Road to Love #3) by Lori Foster

All Fired Up
November 2019; HQN; 978-1335505071
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); romance
"It was like seeing something you hadn't known you wanted, but immediately recognizing it as necessary." (loc 52)

I don't read many romance novels and almost gave up on this one in Chapter 1 because of all the overt sexual innuendos but the reviews were good so I kept reading and am glad that I did. This was much more than a sappy romance - it was about family and loyalty and love and definitely worth reading.

This is the third book in the Road to Love series but it was fine to read as a stand-alone because each book focuses on a different character in the family.

Mitch is an ex-con who has come to town to meet his half brothers who don't even know that he exists. He isn't sure what he is truly searching for but he knows it isn't love. Until he meets Charlotte - then all of his other plans aren't as important. He expects rejection from his half brothers and what he finds is acceptance and love. Can he expect the same from Charlotte once she finds out about his past? Will they be able to make a future together?

This book is full of suspense and family and lots of steamy romance. I think it's time for me to read more books by Lori Foster.

Buy All Fired Up at Amazon

Lies that Bind by Ashley Farley

Lies that Bind
January 2020; Leisure Time Books;  978-0998274195
audio, ebook, print (286 pages); women's fiction
Ashley Farley has done it again - written a book with realistic characters in a story that you can't put down until the last page is turned.  This one kept me up way past bedtime and it was well worth the lack of sleep to see how it all ended.

Lies that Bind is about three women who are broken and bruised by all that life has thrown at them.

  • Eva is the mom to Reese who has been missing for 10 years.  Eva was too tough on her daughter growing up and they had a difficult relationship. Eva had a drug and alcohol problem that got worse after her daughter disappeared.  She lives a lonely life and is trying to keep her second-hand clothing store in business.
  • Reese has a tough first year at college. On the way home with her father at Christmas break, there is an accident and her father is killed and she disappears.  Has something happened to her or has she disappeared on her own?  And if so, Why?
  • Maggie is a newlywed who moves in across the street from Eva.  She has moved across the country to be with her new husband and he has become totally controlling - selling her car, canceling her job interviews, his goal is for her to have a baby, something that she isn't ready for.  She and Eva become friends and when Eva tells her about Reese, she decides to try to find her as a way to get out of town and away from her abusive husband.

All three women are written very realistically with good and bad parts to their personalities.  They are all broken by different things in life but they are all the same as they struggle to find their way back to normalcy in life.  This book deals with subjects of alcoholism, unwanted pregnancy, adoption and physical abuse.  Despite some of the subjects, the overall feelings of the book are love and hope for reconciliation.

I have read all of the books by this author and this is my new favorite.  The characters in this book are so well written that they won't soon be forgotten and hopefully will show up again in a future book.

Buy Lies that Bind at Amazon

This Won't End Well by Camille Pagán 

This Won't End Well
Feb 2020; Lake Union Publishing; 978-1542014809
audio, ebook, print (300 pages); humor
"I wanted to tell him that I already knew it would end badly - there's really no other kind of ending, if you think about it.  But I just said, 'I can see your point' because I was at least trying to."  (loc 1041)

Annie is a young woman at a crossroad in her life.  She is hyper-intelligent, totally organized and set in her ways.  Her dream was to go to MIT but she ended up moving to Michigan to stay with her mother and taking a job as a scientist.  She loved her job and she loved her fiancé Jon, a high school French teacher.  All at once, everything goes wrong - she is fired from her job due to unfair circumstances, she is frustrated living at her mother's and to top it all off, Jon calls her from the airport to tell her that he is following a dream and going to spend a month in Paris and doesn't want her to contact him.  All of a sudden her organized life has been upended and she isn't sure what to do.  So she starts cleaning houses - but only for people she knew because she's decided that she has sworn off people and doesn't want to interact with old friends or make new friends. Life has a way of changing your plans and Annie soon had two new friends - Harper, the glamorous woman who moved in next door and Mo, an amateur private detective who is investigating Harper but wants to spend time with Annie. When Jon invites Annie to visit him in Paris, she realizes that she needs to make some deep decisions about the rest of her life.  Should she follow Jon to Paris or should she change her life and start living more freely.

This interesting novel is told through emails, texts, and diary entries.  Sometimes the epistolary form can be difficult to follow but in this case, it was refreshing and helped to make this such a good book.

Annie was a fantastic main character who was trying to decide how she wanted to live her life.  She was also very funny and there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments in the book.  Watching her deciding whether and how to change her well-planned life makes this is a fantastic feel-good story.

Buy This Won't End Well at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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  1. Sounds like good reads and a few of them take place in Paris! Hope you get a chance to read them and enjoy them!

  2. I’m looking forward to reading This Won’t End Well next month.