WEEKLY UPDATES: HOT DAYS & MORE READING…

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

Another hot week!  I did read four books again this week, bringing my challenge total to 63 books.

There were some outside activities, too, which I tried to restrict to mornings:  coffee at Barnes & Noble on Wednesday, with a friend; and hair styling on Thursday.

Sadly the rash came back…despite the organic dye.  Luckily I had some of the ointment left over from last time, the kind that worked after several trials.  I also refilled the prescription for more…just in case.  After one day of using it, I’m almost in control of it. 

I may have to shave my head!  LOL.  No, I’ll probably just find a solution that involves going natural.  Whatever that may look like these days.

This morning I had breakfast at Marie Callender’s, after getting my prescription…I didn’t photograph it, as the platter was huge.  I didn’t eat it all…but still.  Piggy time?

Now I’m having more coffee in my “reading” cup.  Check out the dwindling book stacks on the shelf nearby…and I like the morning light coming through the blinds.  Now let’s look at last week’s blogging and reading…the blog posts were minimal, but the reading was good.

 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Potpourri:  “The Secrets She Keeps”

Hump Day Potpourri:  A Week of Reading….

Chatting with Coffee….

Bookish Friday:  “Mrs. Saint & the Defectives”

Looking Back…and Moving Forward….

Review:  My Life to Live, by Agnes NixonReview:  The Marriage Pact (e-book), by Michelle Richmond (NG – 9/25)Review:  The Best of Us (e-book), by Joyce Maynard (NG-9/5)Review:  Every Wild Heart (e-book), by Meg Donohue

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty physical mailbox!  My inbox, however, brought ONE NetGalley Review ARC…as if I need more.

The Blackbird Season (e-book), by Kate Moretti (NG – 9/26)

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT?

Currently Reading:  Mrs. Fletcher (e-book), by Tom Perrotta (NG – 8/1)

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I also need to read some more e-ARCs in the next couple of weeks, like…

Girl in Snow (e-book), by Danya Kukafka (NG – 8/1)

Emma in the Night (e-book), by Wendy Walker (NG – 8/8)

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I would also love to grab one or two books from my TBR (Purchased)…but we shall see.

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That’s my week…what did yours look like?  A couple of nights ago, I read while eating this salad, topped off with my Pomegranate Martini.

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REVIEW: EVERY WILD HEART, BY MEG DONOHUE

Passionate and funny, radio personality Gail Gideon is a true original. Nine years ago when Gail’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, her ensuing on-air rant propelled her local radio show into the national spotlight. Now, “The Gail Gideon Show” is beloved by millions of single women who tune-in for her advice on the power of self-reinvention. But fame comes at a price. After all, what does a woman who has staked her career on being single do when she finds herself falling in love? And is the person who is harassing her in increasingly troubling ways a misguided fan or a true danger to Gail and her daughter, Nic?

Fourteen-year-old Nic has always felt that she pales in comparison to her vibrant, outgoing mother. Plagued by a fear of social situations, she is most comfortable at the stable where she spends her afternoons. But when a riding accident lands Nic in the hospital, she awakens from her coma changed. Suddenly, she has no fear at all and her disconcerting behavior lands her in one risky situation after another. And no one, least of all her mother, can guess what she will do next…

My Thoughts: I love a good mother/daughter tale, and a single mother raising a teenager resonates with me.

Gail is one of those characters I enjoy: feisty, opinionated, protective, talented, and smart. She is famous for all of those qualities on her radio show, and although she works at night and her daughter is at school in the daytime, they still manage to keep in touch.

But Nic’s form of social anxiety worries her mother…and then when she has the horse riding accident, everything changes. It is as if a part of Nic, a wild side, has been awakened. Part of that awakening came in the form of a boy named Lucas Holt, a senior boy drawn to her, just as she was to him.

Every Wild Heart kept me engaged all the way through, and I enjoyed the alternating narratives of Gail and Nic. Seeing each perspective kept me rooting for each of them.

I wanted Gail to succeed, and a great offer for her to do a TV show was very tempting for her, but with all that Nic was going through, she was struggling with the decision. What would ultimately bring out the best in each of them without the other being sidelined? How would they find a way to work through the fearsome times? How would a sudden stalker threatening Gail and Nic bring the story to a crashing conclusion?

I was stunned by the stalker reveal…and then the pieces fell into place for Gail and Nic moving forward. 4 stars.

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REVIEW: THE MARRIAGE PACT, BY MICHELLE RICHMOND

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.

And then one of them breaks the rules.

The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.

My Thoughts: First of all, I couldn’t imagine why Jake and Alice would sign up for something so secretive and mysterious. Wouldn’t they have wondered about the “consequences” mentioned in the contracts? Wouldn’t the control the organization seemed to exert bother them?

I wanted them to somehow get out of the weird group before anything bad happened, but hovering overhead were the implicit threats, the idea of The Pact’s all-encompassing influence, and concerns about people who had mysteriously disappeared.

Jake was the first-person narrator, so it was probably natural for me to connect to his side of things, and even though he loved Alice, I could see how he worried about why she seemed more into the group than he was. Since she was a lawyer, I couldn’t quite imagine her willingness to be “all in.” But then I recalled the mention of her dysfunctional family, and it made more sense.

What is behind the mysterious meetings that JoAnne, an old college friend, arranges with Jake? Is she seriously in trouble, or is she part of some covert operation?

The whole idea that the group somehow monitored their every move made me feel creepy and also fascinated. I couldn’t stop reading. As the dangers in The Marriage Pact  escalated, I was hanging onto every word, hoping for a positive resolution. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

WEEKLY UPDATES: MORE HEAT, READING, & SOME PAMPERING….

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

Luckily the AC kept me cool indoors, where I’ve hidden out from the ongoing triple digits.   As a result, I read and reviewed FOUR more wonderful books this week, bringing my Read the Books You Buy Challenge to 61.

My viewing this week has been sporadic, but I’ve finished the Netflix Season I of Gypsy, and have added a few more to my queue, like the movie Lion, along with Shetland...and Father Brown.  I’ve heard good things.

I continue watching Broadchurch, and started a new show on Freeform called The Bold Type.

I braved the heat and headed to the cool nail salon for some pampering with a mani-pedi..and changed up my nail color from dark purple to red.

So…now as I eat breakfast and sip a cup of coffee in my office, I contemplate my reading and blogging for the week:

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Sparks:  “The Child”

Tuesday Potpourri:  A Bonanza of Books…

Hump Day Reading….

Hump Day Sparks:  More Prague Photos, Etc.

Let’s Grab Some Coffee and Chat….

Bookish Friday:  “After Anna”

Friday Potpourri:  Assessing My Book Stacks….

Review:  The Girl, etc., by Samantha GeimerReview:  The Summer House (e-book), by Hannah McKinnonReview:  The Comfort of Others, by Kay LangdaleReview:  The Child (e-book), by Fiona Barton

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INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

What a book bonanza this week!  One book I purchased arrived in my physical mailbox, and I downloaded three NetGalley review books.  Additionally, I purchased four downloads.

Sunday Morning Coming Down, by Nicci French (in my mailbox!)

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NetGalley Review Books:

The Best of Us (e-book), by Joyce Maynard (Release Date:  9/5)

The Stolen Marriage (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain (Release Date – 10/3)

The Rules of Magic (e-book), by Alice Hoffman – (Release Date – 10/10)

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Purchased Downloads:

The Almost Sisters (e-book), by Joshilyn Jackson

Bring Her Home (e-book), by David Bell

Before We Were Yours (e-book), by Lisa Wingate

The Secrets She Keeps (e-book), by Michael Robotham

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WHAT’S UP NEXT?

Currently Reading:  The Marriage Pact (e-book), by Michelle Richmond – (NG-7/25)

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Then….these possibilities:

My Life to Live, by Agnes Nixon

Every Wild Heart (e-book), by Meg Donohue

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That was my week….what did yours look like?  Enjoy this treat with me…from a few days ago.  I had Corn Chowder, a Margarita, and started reading The Child:

 

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REVIEW: THE CHILD, BY FIONA BARTON

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

My Thoughts: Slowly the three women who are central to the story in The Child are revealed to us in bits and pieces. We do not know what, if anything, connects them. But they are all struck by the news of the infant. A baby that has been buried on the site for a number of years. The story takes us from the present to the past through alternating narrators, who show us moments in their lives and offer up thoughts, feelings, and clues to their histories.

Emma Massingham Simmonds is struggling every day, her mind a mess of anxieties, dark thoughts, and nightmares. Her husband Paul takes care of her, and she works at home as a book editor. But her conflicted relationship with her mother Jude seems to be at the heart of her emotional angst, and she has dark secrets that come to her in nightmares.

Angela Irving is still heartbroken over her lost infant Alice. Her husband and other children have given up on her constant grief. But she hangs onto her hope. Something about the buried baby calls to her.

Jude, Emma’s mother, seems worried about what might be discovered about that baby, and her mind flits to memories of her great love for a man named Charlie…and then her relationship with a professor named Will Burnside, whom she cannot forget. She seems to blame Emma for losing these “loves of her life.”

Kate Waters, the reporter, is such an interesting character who searches for answers, interviews people who lived in the neighborhood where the baby was found, and gradually finds herself drawn more and more to the women who all seem to have a personal interest in the story. Her ferocious pursuit despite discouraging moments kept me intrigued, as she met with numerous characters, many of whom were troubling and sometimes unreliable.

I loved watching how she pushed ahead to find the answers…and then, just when I thought she had it all figured out, a startling twist turned everything upside down. Suddenly, out of the confusion, the clarity came. An unputdownable novel that earned 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE GIRL: A LIFE IN THE SHADOW OF ROMAN POLANSKI, BY SAMANTHA GEIMER

In this searing and surprising memoir, Samantha Geimer, “the girl” at the center of the infamous Roman Polanski sexual assault case, breaks a virtual thirty-five-year silence to tell her story and reflect on the events of that day and their lifelong repercussions.
My Thoughts: Our first person narrator is Samantha, the victim of the 1977 episode with Roman Polanski, and the ongoing victim of the court system.

From her perspective, we learn what it was like to be questioned repeatedly prior to the actual filing of charges, and then again by various attorneys and a psychiatrist. Recalling how different attitudes were in the 1970s, especially for celebrities, it would take some maneuvering to protect the identity of the girl…but in the end, the ego of the judge in charge would ultimately change her life negatively going forward. When an agreement had been reached that could have ended the matter once and for all, the judge reneged on the deal, which led to Polanski fleeing to France.

Now many years later, despite efforts to dismiss the case, supported by the victim, the matter remains unresolved. Extradition from Switzerland was denied after the 2009 arrest, and one might think life could go on. But it hasn’t.

In concluding The Girl:  A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski,  Samantha wrote, in terms of Polanski: “As different as our lives have been, we do share a common sense of battle fatigue when it comes to the court system and the media. We’ve both been punished. We both want to move on.”

She has also stated that the events of that night in 1977 were not as damaging to her as the subsequent years of what the system has done to her. But despite it all, she has gained her own strength from taking matters into her own hands and writing about her experiences. An inspiring story that earned 5 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: MORE TRIPLE DIGITS….

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

Another hot week has been good for my reading…and Movie/TV watching.  I  read and reviewed four books this week, bringing my total for the Read the Books You Buy Challenge to 58.  Two of my books were NetGalley Review ARCs.

On the binge-watching front, I watched Season 6 of Offspring on Netflix, and all of Season 1 of Gypsy.

My stacks are dwindling…a little.  But I keep buying books, too, although I only downloaded one e-book this week.

Let’s grab some coffee and take a look.  I’m in my office with the TV on…and posting on my blogs.

 

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  A Day at the Movies…and Binge-Watching Later…

Monday Potpourri:  A Surprising Sunday…

Tuesday Sparks:  “Swimming Lessons”

Hump Day Potpourri:  A Week of Reading….

Interior Thoughts on a Thursday….

Bookish Friday:  “The Bookshop on the Corner”

Friday Sparks:  A Family Feature….

Review:  The Bookshop at Water’s End (e-book), by Patti Callahan Henry  (NG)Review:  Love Letters, by Debbie MacomberReview:  The Comfort of Secrets (e-book), by Christine Nolfi – (NG – 7/18)Review:  Another Brooklyn, by Jacqueline Woodson

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INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

No books in my mailbox!

I downloaded one e-book:

After Anna (e-book), by Alex Lake

 

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WHAT’S NEXT?

Currently Reading:  The Summer House (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon

 

The Child (e-book), by Fiona Barton

 

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And then, maybe one of these….

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That was my week…what did yours look like?  Come on by and let’s chat.  Meanwhile, I want to have something cool….

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REVIEW: LOVE LETTERS, BY DEBBIE MACOMBER

Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.
 
Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.
 
Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.
My Thoughts: One of my favorite things about this author’s books is how she draws the reader into the settings and the middle of the characters’ lives. The stories are predictable, but comforting.

How can you help but empathize with each of them, with their troubles, their disappointments, and their memories of love?

Ellie was a character who had always felt abandoned by her father, and the way her grandparents and mother disparaged him only exacerbated those feelings. So she prickles whenever her mother offers her opinions about her new online romance that is now about to go “real.” Meeting Tom in Cedar Cove is a big step out of her comfort zone.

For Maggie and Roy, there seems no hope to repair their crumbling marriage. But Maggie brings along the love letter Roy sent her years before when they were apart. A letter that healed the breach. But will her big secret change everything?

Meanwhile, Jo Marie is still grieving her husband’s death, and a love letter she received afterwards, one he had written “just in case,” could make all the difference.

Mark Taylor, the handyman, was an annoying character who seemed to do everything in his power to irritate Jo Marie. Was it a game with him? Or was he trying to push her away for some reason?

Finding some of the answers in Love Letters would keep me turning the pages. In the end, I had the sense that there would be more to the story…in a future book. 4 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: A LOT OF READING!

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

What a week!  It was too hot to go anywhere, so I holed up inside…and when I looked up again, I discovered that I had read and reviewed FIVE books.  My Read the Books You Buy Challenge now totals 56.  One of my reads was an “Old Dusty TBR book” (from 2014), so it didn’t count for this challenge.

I started a new Netflix show called The Doctor Blake Mysteries….and I’m not sure about it yet.  I am loving Season Three of Broadchurch, on BBC-America.  I watched the first two seasons on Netflix a while ago.

Since I’ve been indoors most of the week (not counting supermarket visits!), I need an outing, so I’m planning to see the movie The Hero, with some oldies like Sam Elliott, Katharine Ross (remember her from The Graduate?), and someone more current:  Laura Prepon, from OITNB.

 

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Early this morning, I recorded a movie I always love to watch over and over:  The Company You Keep, with Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie…and Sam Elliott.  Younger characters that may be familiar to some of you:  Shia LaBeouf and Anna Kendrick.  I also have the book…but haven’t read it yet.

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So…looking forward to the weekend.  Now I’ll grab some more coffee, and share what happened last week…in more detail.  I wrote TEN blog posts. 

 

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Monday Potpourri:  Musings…

Tuesday Potpourri:  “New Release” Obsession…

Tuesday Excerpts:  “The Bookshop at Water’s End”

The TBR Jar:  Dusting Off the Old Unread Books…

Hump Day Reading:  Current, Past, & Future Reading…

Thursday Tidbits….

It’s Time for Coffee…and Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts…

Bookish Friday:  “Any Day Now”

Friday Potpourri:  Staying Cool….

Hello, July!  Monthly Wrap-Up….

Review:  The Sunshine Sisters (e-book), by Jane GreenReview:  Watching the Detectives (e-book, #5), by Julie MulhernReview:  Talking as Fast as I Can, by Lauren GrahamReview:  Any Day Now (e-book), by Robyn CarrReview:  What Remains, by Carole Radziwill (TBR from 2014!)***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  I did download two purchased e-books…and a freebie from Kindle First.

The Child (e-book), by Fiona Barton

 

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The Bookshop on the Corner (e-book), by Jenny Colgan

 

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Freebie:

Mrs. Saint and the Defectives (e-book), by Julie Lawson Timmer

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT?

Currently Reading:  The Bookshop at Water’s End (e-book), by Patti Callahan Henry – (NG – 7/11)

And then…

The Summer House (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon

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The Comfort of Secrets (e-book, Book 2), by Christine Nolfi (NG – 7/18)

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That was my week…what did yours look like?  And to tempt you further, my favorite dessert from a previous weekend, which I didn’t share…

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REVIEW: ANY DAY NOW, BY ROBYN CARR

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.


My Thoughts: It did not take long to completely immerse myself in Any Day Now, and relate to Sierra Jones, a wonderful, feisty character. A survivor of a dysfunctional family and a troubled past…she brought all these key ingredients to a story that also aroused my empathy and made me root for her.

In Book One, I had already met some characters at Sullivan’s Crossing, a small Colorado town, like Sully, who was a father figure for Sierra and a kind and compassionate mentor for almost everyone.

California (Cal) was the loyal and protective big brother to Sierra, and his newly created family with Maggie, Sully’s neurosurgeon daughter, added a wonderful sister figure to the mix.

Growing up with a mentally ill father taught Cal and Sierra survival skills, although their father was not a violent or abusive man. He just lived with delusions and his own version of reality.

I liked the unique names of the Jones children: California, Sedona, Dakota, and Sierra…interesting quirks that set them apart.

Besides mental health issues, the story dealt with substance abuse, treatment, and recovery, and my work with clients over the years helped me connect to the stories told by those in recovery.

Of course there was a bit of romance. Who wouldn’t fall for the gorgeous firefighter named Conrad (Connie) Boyle? I enjoyed the slow and gradual connection that grew between Sierra and Connie, an appropriate progression for wounded souls.

Just when I was sinking into the daily drama of addiction and recovery, a stunning danger came reeling into Sierra’s life, the detritus of the messy past that Sierra had been fearing, and there were some intense moments that kept me glued to the pages…and then came that predictable yet comforting happy ending. 4.5 stars.

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