Monthly Archives: May 2015

Summer Romance Reading List

Although the summer solstice doesn’t occur for a few more weeks, with the passing of Memorial Day weekend, most people consider summer to have already begun (me included). Those who know me well know that I’m not a fan of hot weather. I prefer dry, crisp fall weather above all other. However, what I do love about summer is the way everyone slows down a bit. This is especially important now that I live in the Northeast, where the normal pace of things is warp speed.

One of the best ways to slow time (and to vacation without actually going anywhere) is to pick up a book and be transported to another time and place (and, depending on your reading tastes, maybe even another world).Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 4.28.28 PM

My TBR (to be read) pile continues to grow, but I thought I’d share some of the books on my pile (as well as a few recently finished books) just in case you are looking for a little romance reading for your next weekend by the shore.

Here goes:

Recently read:

The Escape, by Mary Balogh (historical romance).  Fabulous. She is always very good, but this book (these characters) really resonated with me (it was released last summer, so I don’t know how I missed it!). Ben is a wounded war veteran and Samantha a young widow. Their relationship develops steadily and surely–beautifully–from hate-at-first-sight to deep love and respect.

Four Nights with a Duke, by Eloisa James (historical romance). Very pleasant read. This is a marriage-of-convenience (blackmail) trope, but a well-done one. Mia and Vander are interesting, likable characters for the most part, and there was something fun about this story. I particularly enjoyed the way Vander engaged with Mia’s nephew.

Dearest Rogue, by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance). Another very good read. I have liked Trevillion and Phoebe in supporting roles in former books, so I was eager to read this story. I absolutely adored the hero (uptight and repressed as he is) and Phoebe is a lovely heroine (blind, which made it interesting, because the author has you experience the other senses of this character when in her POV). My only quibble was with the ending of the story, which seemed rather abrupt and unsatisfying (the resolution of the external conflict/kidnapping plots). Still, I loved it.

Bachelorette for Sale, by Gail Chianese (contemporary romance). I received an advanced reader copy of this upcoming debut (releases June 23). I found this to be sweet (Cherry “Bear” and her grandparents, in particular, tickled me), sassy, and fun all rolled into one. Cherry has been through the ringer in more ways than one, so you are happy to see her end up with a good guy. Jason is a sexy hero, too…so that always helps!

It Had to Be Him, by Tamra Baumann (contemporary romance). I also recommend this razor sharp romantic comedy. Unlike the preceding book, this one is intentionally “over the top” in its fictional small town setting and some of the extreme personalities (the grandmother, for example), all of which add a heavy dose of humor to the romance. Josh is a hero worth rooting for and Meg (Muck) is a spunky, unique heroine.

The Truth About Love, by Sheila Athens (contemporary romance). This is a more serious-minded romance, wherein the heroine is working to free who she believes to be a wrongly convicted murderer, who happens to the man the hero “witnessed” at the scene of his mother’s murder. The characters are both believable and likable, and their ethical struggles are interesting to consider.

To Be Read Pile:

Triple Time, by Regina Kyle (contemporary romance). This is the second book in her Art of Seduction series (HQ Blaze). I really enjoyed the first book (Triple Threat), and am looking forward to this next installment.

No Better Man, by Sara Richardson (contemporary romance). I received an ARC in a contest, but have not found the time to squeeze it in yet. However, this book just released last week and the reviews look great, so it will remain near the top of my list.

Art of Sinning, by Sabrina Jeffries (historical romance). I actually have just started this book (another ARC), so we shall see how it goes. More to come…

A Curvy Girl for the Cadet, by Sugar Jamison (contemporary romance). Sugar writes sassy contemporary romances, so I look forward to getting around to this one as well.

This Thing Called Love, by Miranda Liasson (contemporary romance).  I like the premise (ambitious career girl gets sucked by to small hometown to become guardian of her deceased sister’s infant daughter, and reconnects with former flame, who is also niece’s uncle), and it’s racking up the reviews!

The Last Time I Saw Her, by Karen Robards (paranormal romantic suspense). I’ve been reading all the books in this series, and the year-long wait between just kills me. This one doesn’t come out until August, but I will read it the minute it downloads. There are some elements of this series that have become a bit repetitive (the heroine’s waffling), but I adore the ghostly hero (“convicted” serial killer), Michael, and can’t wait for what I think will be the final book in this paranormal romantic suspense.

If You Only Knew, by Kristan Higgins (women’s fiction). This is the NYT best selling romance author’s ‘debut’ in women’s fiction, so perhaps it doesn’t belong on a “romance” reading list. But I suspect there will be some kind of romantic subplot, given her contemporary romance history! It comes out in August, too.

So, are there any summer romance reading recommendations you can offer to me (or other readers here on the blog)?

XO- Jamie

Investing in Relationships

The old adage “you get what you give” can be applied to many things, but most especially to relationships. It’s usually pretty easy to identify when you feel like someone has let you down or isn’t giving you enough attention and support. But how often do you step back and ask how you might be neglecting those who are important to you?

People who know me well would likely agree that I’m an initiator. I plan lunches, getaways, parties, and pretty much look for any opportunity to connect with friends and family.

Of course, life happens and sometimes one truly can’t follow-through on a commitment to catch up with a friend. But rarely will I decline a social invitation because of being “too busy.”  Honestly, like all middle-aged women, I am very busy with my family and career.  Yet investing time in friendships is critical to my sanity and happiness. 16848434_s

In the decades since my youth, I’ve noticed how fragmented society has become. Extended families no longer live in the same town and only infrequently get together. Friends move in and out of neighborhoods within a few years, making it difficult to maintain a deep level of connectedness. People (including me) tend to rely on social media and texts instead of phone calls and drop-ins to keep in touch.

I haven’t found the perfect balance, but I know one thing with certainty. I don’t want to wake up five or ten years from now–once my kids are out of college and on their own–only to realize I don’t have any close friends or family members left because I’ve neglected them along the way.

Toward that end, I’m looking forward to spending Memorial Day in Vermont with my husband’s family and then taking a weekend trip to a lake house in the Catskills with some gal pals in early June. I’ve also planned two major family vacations this summer with various members of my own extended family. And while I look forward to the workshops at the National RWA convention in July, I want to also take time to get together socially with some of the writers with whom I’m in constant “virtual” communication throughout the rest of the year.

In addition to those big plans, I’m going to reinstate my weekly lunch dates. I’ve let the winter doldrums and my writing deadlines interfere, but now I’m inspired to get out and rotate through my various friends for lunch dates in the coming weeks.

Am I alone, or have you also let potentially precious moments slip through your fingers because you’re overwhelmed by your to-do list?

xo-Jamie

Mother’s Day…Still A Daughter

A son is a son ’til he marries his wife, a daughter’s a daughter for the rest of her life.  

I don’t know where that saying originated, by it’s something my parents repeated often throughout the years. When I survey my close friends about which of their siblings tend to “check in” and devote time to their parents, it does skew toward the women. Of course, there are some exceptions, but it seems evident that there is a little truth behind this little nugget of wisdom.

Mom and me

Mom and me

Why am I talking about this, and what on earth does it have to do with Mother’s Day? I suppose  because, as Mother’s Day approaches, I realize I still view this holiday from a “daughter’s” perspective instead of celebrating my own motherhood. Part of that may be because I don’t generally like being the center of attention, and the other part could be that I’ve been a daughter for nearly forty-eight years but a mother for only fourteen. Either way, Mother’s Day, for me, is still very much about my mother.

She’s coming to visit, so I’m trying to plan something special (assuming I can squeeze it in between her estimated arrival time and my daughter’s soccer game, naturally). Those who know me well, know my mom has been a generous, loving, selfless person her entire life. She spoiled me (rotten, possibly) and is still my best friend. Just ask my husband, who can’t understand what we spend an hour rehashing every morning over tea.  I always say that, if I can be half the mother to my kids that she has been to me, then my kids are very lucky.

What about you?  Are you a mother?  If so, do you view this holiday like I do?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!

XO-Jamie