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December 21, 2021

4 Books for Fans of Women's Fiction

by Susan Roberts

There have been some really great books in women's fiction this year. And as we wind down the year, you may be trying to cram in a few more from this year before falling in love with all the 2022 new releases. Here are four novels you won't want to miss.

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The Hope Chest by Carolyn Brown

The Hope Chest
June 2021; Montlake; 978-1542029506
audio, ebook, print (317 pages); romance

"They can have the hope chest, though, if it means getting married...I've got to figure out who I am before I can even begin to think about a relationship."  (p 17)

When their grandmother dies, three estranged cousins are called back to Blossom, Texas, to learn about the will.  Nessa, Flynn, and April had all spent time with their grandmother over the years but their lives had gone in totally different directions and the only connection was their grandmother.  They are told that they must complete a quilt that their grandmother was working on when she died.  As they work on the quilt together, they begin to talk about their pasts and reveal secrets of their lives.

Nessa - is the oldest of the three grandchildren.  She is a teacher and the daughter of strict parents who want her to follow their directions on how to live her life.  She has been thinking about giving up her job for a while and while she works on the quilt, her plans for the future begin to come clear.  The weeks that she spent at her grandmother's every summer were a welcome relief from her life with her over-zealous religious parents.

Flynn - has always been a playboy.  His father had been married numerous times and he seemed to be following in his footsteps with the number of women that he had been involved with over the years.  His two cousins had no idea how rough his life was when he went back to his father's house every year to start school.

April - is the youngest cousin. She was raised by her grandmother and spent more time with her than the other two.  She's made a lot of mistakes in her life and now has no money, no job, and is living in her car.  She hopes to use her time in Blossom to start to turn her life around.

All three of the cousins bring their past baggage to the quilting shed at their grandmother's.  Can they change their patchwork pasts and learn to love and respect each other again?

I'm not sure why but Carolyn Brown has not been on my radar.  After reading The Hope Chest, I plan to change that and read some of her earlier books.  This was a well-written book with very believable characters and a great plot that showed their personal growth throughout the book.  It was a comforting easy read that was hard to put down.

Buy The Hope Chest at Amazon
(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for FREE)

Mistletoe Season by Michelle Major 

Mistletoe Season
October 2021; HQN; 978-1335477026
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); holiday

Spend the holidays in Magnolia, North Carolina, where two lonely hearts find exactly what they need for Christmas.

Book Two in the Carolina Girls series takes us back to Magnolia, NC, with two people who are looking for love and are surprised when they find it with the person that they least expected.  They were both bullied in high school and are practically strangers now.  Can they let go of their resentment from each other and find love?

Angi works at the restaurant that her parents started years before.  She went home when her mother got ill and working in a restaurant is not her goal in life.  She wants to start a catering business and move out of her childhood home with her eight year old son, Andrew.  Love is the last thing on her mind but when her mother starts making dates for her with boys in town, she knows that she needs a boyfriend so that her mom will leave her alone.  No, not a real boyfriend but a friend who will be a fake boyfriend until after the holidays.

Gabriel has been pulled back to Magnolia to help his grandmother in her flower shop.  When he runs in to his childhood bully, Angi, he knows that despite her beauty, he won't stay in town any longer than he has to.
When she asks him to be her fake boyfriend until after the holiday, he adamantly refuses but when he kisses her under the mistletoe in the flower shop, they both realize that it may be time to let their resentment toward each other go and start looking toward the future.

This is a fantastic romance to read during the Christmas stresses.   It's a book about small town friendships with lots of town Christmas events.  The romance between Angi and Gabriel is perfect as they work to forget their past problems and look forward to spending time with each other.

Buy Mistletoe Season at Amazon

NOTE:  This is book two of a four book series.  The books can be read as standalones with no confusion.

Book 1  Wildfire Season (read my review)

Book 3  Wedding Season April 2022

Book 4  Springtime in Carolina No date yet

Final Table by Dan Schorr

Final Table
October 2021; SparkPress; 978-1684631070
ebook, print (344 pages); political thriller

This fast-paced political novel mirrors many things that are currently going on in the world.  
  • the 'me-too' movement and discrimination against women
  • the fast-paced news cycle that keeps churning out scandal and confrontation
  • Social media and the negative effects it can have on people's lives
The main characters
  • Maggie, a former White House staffer is trying to start her own consulting firm.  She is dealing with a forced sexual encounter with a member of the White House staff.
  • Kylar, a US poker champion who has been invited to join a tournament in the Kingdom for a rich payout.  He is down and out and wants to hire Maggie to help him with the publicity and social media so he can concentrate on his game.  If he wins, it will be a big payoff for both Kylar and Maggie.
  • A slain news reporter and the ambassador from Canada whose paths crossed in the Kingdom.  She is killed because of an article she was working on and he is in terror of them finding out that he helped her.

Added to all of this, there is coverage on the news stations and a taste of Facebook and how it becomes negative when people are down.

Political intrigue isn't usually my favorite genre but this book is so well written and reflects so much of modern life, that I enjoyed every minute of it.  This is a debut novel by Dan Schorr and I am anxious to read whatever he writes next.

There is a lot of poker terminology in this novel that I totally didn't understand.  It didn't lessen the political intrigue and the fast pace of the novel.

Buy Final Table at Amazon

2021 Firebird Book Award Winner in Political Thriller
2021 Best Book Award Finalist in Fiction: Literary
2021 Best Book Award Finalist in Best New Fiction
2021 American Fiction Awards Finalist in Thriller: Political

Everything We Didn't Say by Nicole Baart

Everything We Didn't Say
November 2021; Atria Books; 978-1982115081
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); women's fiction

"The murders took place on a hot summer night, but to Juniper it would always be winter in Jericho.  Bitter and unforgiving as deep February, when frost edged the windows like salt on the rim of a glass."
 (p 1)

This family drama takes place in a small town where everyone seems to have secrets.  It's a dual timeline story giving us Juniper's story in present time and 14 1/2 years ago.

In the earlier timeline, Juniper is enjoying her last summer before she goes away to college.  She is in the midst of a passionate summer romance with Sullivan.  She's lost her best friend because Ashley was in love with Sullivan and he chose Juniper and not her.   Life doesn't always work out the way we've planned and Juniper's certainly didn't  When a couple at a neighboring farm is brutally murdered, her brother becomes the main suspect.  She leaves her family, her boyfriend, and her life in Jericho with plans to never return.

Fourteen years later, Juniper finds out that someone is doing an 'unsolved murder' blog about the murder in Jericho all those years ago and they seem to be pointing the finger at her brother again.  Officially she is going back to help an old friend who has cancer manage the library.  But the main reason she's going back is to try to reconnect with her fourteen-year-old daughter who has been raised by her mother and step-father. Will finally finding out the truth uncover secrets that should have been brought to light after the murder?  Will the truth keep her from re-igniting her life with her daughter, her brother, and her parents?

The author does a fantastic job of weaving the narratives from the two timelines as she slowly unwraps clues to the surprise ending.  At times, I wasn't sure who the murderer was...maybe it was her brother after all.  Normally we refer to small towns as people knowing everyone else's business but in this book, many people in this small town are hiding major secrets.

The ending of this multi-layered family drama was a surprise and a perfect ending.  The clues had all been there so it was a realistic ending.  I have read several books by this author and need to get her books that I haven't read.

This book is a real page-turner that you don't want to miss

Buy Things We Didn't Say at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. 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 Facebook.

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