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September 28, 2020

Looking for Something in Women's Fiction? Try These 3 Novels

by Susan Roberts

With so much stress from current events, I've been trying to read more books with happily ever after endings.  Here are three that I've read recently.
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

No Place Too Far by Kay Bratt

No Place too Far
September 2020; Lake Union; 978-1542021012
audio, ebook, print (313 pages); women's fiction
"It just wasn't fair.  She'd thought their move to Maui was a new beginning - one that was free of always looking over her shoulder for the relentless Martin Andrews. aka the Ghost."
  (loc 653)

Maggie has been on the run for a year and finally decided to settle down in Maui near her best friend Quinn.  It's a perfect spot for Maggie and her son Charlie and they are getting settled into their new lives.  Maggie has a new job as a vet tech and Charlie really enjoys being close to the ocean and Quinn's hotel.  She's finally able to start relaxing knowing that the man who stalked her for years is in prison.  Or is he?  When she starts receiving hints that he may be looking for her again, she has to call on her inner strength, her love for her son, and her friends to help protect her.

We also learn more about Quinn's life from Book 1 and get more detail about her real family as she tries to protect them from someone who wants to tell the story of her childhood.  Both friends have to make difficult decisions that will change their lives but their friendship helps guide them.
The setting for this series is beautiful.  I've never been to Hawaii but these books took me on a mental vacation to the islands.  There is also a lot of information about the history and culture of the Hawaiian people that was very interesting.  

No Place too Far is a book full of suspense and fear, friendship and love.  I love the friendship between the two main characters that kept getting stronger no matter what adversity was facing them.  I hope that there is another book in the series - I'm not ready to say goodbye to Quinn and Maggie or to the beautiful island of Maui.

Buy No Place Too Far at Amazon

Book 1 in the By the Sea series is True to Me (read my review). To get the most entertainment out of this series, you need to read it in order.

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Verant

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux
September 2020; Berkley; 978-1984806994
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); women's fiction
"If Michelin decorated Cenrillon with its third star, every kitchen in the world would swing wide open for me, and the thought of running my own restaurant sent chills down my spine,  The kitchen was the only place that made sense in my world, where I had control and could make people happy with my cooking.  The kitchen was my life."
(loc 136-137)

What better way to handle the stay at home orders of the Pandemic then to take a mental vacation to a chateau in the south of France.  Plus being able to think about wonderful French food without gaining an ounce.

French-born American chef Sophie Valroux had one dream: to be part of the 1% of female chefs running a Michelin-starred restaurant.  She had been working toward this dream since she cooked with her French grandmother when she was a child.  She attended all the right cooking schools and was now working in a French restaurant in NYC that was waiting to hear if they'd been awarded another star.  When her plans go up in flames due to sabotage from a male chef, she gets fired and blacklisted at all of the NYC restaurants.  And if that isn't bad enough, she finds out that her grandmother in France has had a stroke.  To get away from all of the negativity in New York and to help her grandmother, she flies to France immediately.  She soon finds out that a lot has changed at her grandmother's chateau and it's now a luxury chateau with two restaurants and a vineyard.  When she arrives,   she is met at the airport by her childhood friend, Remi who tries to totally ignore her.

So here she is at a chateau in France feeling like a failure.  She has lost her job, her desire to cook and her ability to cook.  Everything she makes comes out terrible - the magic is gone.  With the help of Remi and her grandmother, she manages to get her desire to cook and talent back and even gets an offer to come back to NY for a highly rated job.  She has to decide what it is she really wants out of life and where she can find true happiness.  

The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux is a wonderful book that not only talks a lot about food and even has some fantastic recipes at the end. It's a book about having dreams for the future and deciding whether you should continue to pursue those dreams when there are other dreams that may be even better.  It's a story of love and friendship and FOOD!

Wild Horses on the Salt by Anne Montgomery

Wild Horses on the Salt
May 2020; Indie; 979-8649678124
audio, ebook, print (415 pages); women's fiction
"The vision froze Becca in place.  Her yellow running tights and white T-shirt.  His long fingered hands encircling her throat, thumbs crushing her windpipe.  Her arms flailing, striking him with no effect.  The relief when he'd dropped her to the ground.  The shock as he shook his head and walked away."
(p 37)

Wild Horses on the Salt has two main themes - domestic abuse and wild horses in Arizona.  The author handled both subjects well and the result was a well-written book with both the beauty of nature and the ultimate goodness of some people.

Becca is a lawyer who hates her job and has always dreamed of being an artist.  She is also married to an abusive man.  She quit her job at her father's law firm because she got tired of making excuses for her bruises.  As the novel begins, she has just arrived at a friend of her aunts in Arizona after she escaped from her home in New Jersey.    She is battered and bruised but doesn't want to talk about it due to her severe case of PTSD.  She gradually opens up to the other people there - Noah, a rancher, Walt, sculptor plus Gaby, the owner of Salt River Inn, a 1930's guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.  Their support and friendship as well as the beauty of the land and the wild horses help her begin to heal and start to become the artist she always wanted to be.   She's making progress until her husband shows up and demands that she go back to New Jersey with him because he really loves her.  Will he convince her to go home or has she become strong enough to realize that his type of jealous love will only harm her?

The wild horses roam the desert.  Many of them are domestic horses that were turned out because their owners could no longer take care of them.  They bred in the wild and roam the area around the Salt River.  The horses are in danger as more people move to the area and restrict their grazing land plus there is always a chance of violence towards them.  The beauty of nature the Becca found so healing was in direct opposition to the life that she'd been living.

This is a beautiful well-written novel about healing from domestic abuse. It was emotional and the abuse was difficult to read but it was well worth reading. Be sure to read the Author's Notes at the end for more information about domestic abuse and how to get help.

NOTE:  Trigger: Domestic Abuse

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. 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 historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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  1. world horses on the sale caught my eye...and then i read that first paragraph. sounds great
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Sherry - it was a great book and grabbed my attention on the first page.

  2. I agree that reading feel good books is uplifting these days. I particularly like the look of The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux.

  3. I haven't been able to read many mentally-taxing books this year either. My answer seems to mostly be YA fantasy. But No Place Too Far looks good. My husband and I dream about going back to Hawaii. We've started watching an episode or two of Hawaii Life of Hawaii Hunters on HGTV most nights before bed. We aren't sure if we're indulging or torturing ourselves!

    1. Hawaii would be a fantastic place to go right now! I hope you get to go again!

  4. I love Kay Bratt's stories and this series is so good. Your other books look interesting too. Hope you're having agreat weekend.