When heiress Parker Welles learns she’s lost everything due to her father’s insider trading scheme, she hopes renovating a cabin in Maine will be a partial answer to her financial woes; the last thing she wants or needs is daddy’s attorney and right-hand man, James, helping her salvage her inheritance—or her heart.
Parker Welles has known nothing but wealth, privilege and success, so when the bottom drops out of her world in one fell swoop, she’s unprepared for the reality of being a broke and homeless single mom. It wouldn’t bother her quite so much if she didn’t have a young son to take care of, but she does, and so wallowing in self-pity or standing still like a deer in headlights simply aren’t options. Packing her son off for a summer vacation in California with his father and stepmother (Ethan and Lucy from The Next Best Thing, 2010), Parker heads to Maine in hopes of selling her last remaining possession, a small house in Gideon's Cove (location of Catch of the Day, 2007), which turns out to be a falling-down shack. But life is what happens when you’re making other plans, and sometimes a curve in the road—even one that threatens to throw you off a cliff—turns out to be just what you need to understand who you really are and what can make you happy. Parker will learn things she never expected to want or need to know. Things like how to clean mold out of cabins in Maine and how beautiful the sky can be when you’re sitting on a dock next to the water. She’ll also learn that people aren’t always what they seem and that James Cahill, the man she loves to hate, has a few secrets of his own. Maybe, for Parker, losing everything is the only way to truly have it all. Great writing, well-drawn, realistic and likable characters, and a plot that keeps the audience engaged and rooting for James and Parker despite their missteps, make this an entertaining, romantic read. Higgins fans will love revisiting familiar favorites in secondary characters.
Romance star Higgins pens a near pitch-perfect blend of comedy and touching emotion with this delightful winner.
Plucky bride-to-be makes an unexpected connection after she appropriates a stranger’s cellphone.
For Poppy Wyatt, losing her priceless antique engagement ring during a boozy pre-wedding brunch at a fancy hotel is bad enough without the added indignity of having her phone nicked by a drive-by bike mugger. All is not lost, though, as she discovers a perfectly good phone in the trash in the hotel lobby. Anxious to get the ring back without alarming her fiance Magnus, she gives out the new number to the concierge and her friends. But the phone, it turns out, belonged to the short-lived assistant to Sam Roxton, an acerbic (but handsome) young executive in a powerful consulting firm. Given to one-word correspondence, with little patience for small talk and social niceties, Sam understandably wants the company property back. But Poppy has other ideas and talks him into letting her keep it for a few more days, offering to forward him all pertinent messages. In spite of Sam’s reticence, the two strike up an oddly intimate text correspondence, with Poppy taking a way too personal interest in Sam’s life—including his odd relationship with his seemingly crazy girlfriend, Willow. Sam, for his part, confronts Poppy over her fears that she is not good enough for Magnus’ highly-educated family. Misunderstandings ensue, with Poppy’s well-intentioned meddling causing multiple headaches. But when Sam gets embroiled in a corporate scandal, Poppy jumps in to help him in the only way she can. Meanwhile, a scheming wedding planner, and Poppy’s conflicted feelings for Sam, threaten to derail the planned nuptials. Cheerfully contrived with a male love interest straight out of the Mr. Darcy playbook, Kinsella’s (Twenties Girl, 2009, etc.) latest should be exactly what her fans are hankering for. And physical therapist Poppy is easily as charming and daffy as shopaholic Rebecca Bloomwood—minus the retail obsession.
Screwball romance with a likable and vulnerable heroine.
A little romance and a little magic make for a surprising page turner as a glass artist falls for a vintner on an island in the Puget Sound.
It comes as quite a shock when Kevin tells Lucy their relationship is over. It’s even worse when he tells her she needs to quickly move out as his new girlfriend will be moving in. And then devastating when he confesses that the new girlfriend is her younger sister Alice. Criminal, but all of a piece—ever since a childhood bout of meningitis left her fragile, Alice has always gotten her way; her parents spoiled her into a beautiful, unbearable young woman. Reeling from the news, Lucy takes a walk on the beach and runs into Sam Nolan, a handsome, rakish grape grower and confirmed bachelor. The two strike up a saucy friendship but agree that anything more would be disastrous given Lucy’s recent breakup and Sam’s admittedly cynical perspective on all things love. Sam’s romantic skepticism has deep roots: his parents were the town drunks, raging and embarrassing to their four children, creating in each a fatalism that encourages superficial relationships. The exception is Holly, Sam’s niece who he and his brother Mark are raising after the death of their sister. The three live in a rambling Victorian attached to Sam’s vineyard and soon enough (due to an accident that leaves her leg temporarily immobile) Lucy moves in. They both resist the sexual energy but then confess their deepest secrets: Lucy can convert glass into living things (like fireflies) and Sam can will plants to grow. Will Sam admit he’s in love with Lucy? Will Kevin and Alice really marry? Will Lucy take the art grant in New York or stay pining for Sam? Happily, everyone gets exactly what they deserve.
Strengthened by characters with depth and something interesting to say, this winning first installment in a trilogy is sure to thrill fans of modern romantic fiction.
Sometimes things just don’t work out, no matter how hard we wish they would. But there’s irony, so we have that going for us. Right?
The talented Chicago-based Meno (The Great Perhaps, 2009, etc.) has composed a gorgeous little indie romance, circa 1999. The titular protagonist is Odile, the arty, brazen and fearless 23-year-old who loves graffiti, the Velvet Underground’s “After Hours,” riding her bicycle around the city and the married guy she can’t have. She’s also chronically unemployable, generous to a fault and susceptible to dumb mistakes like offering a sexual favor to a co-worker who can’t keep his mouth shut, forcing Odile to quit and go take a crap job in customer service. Jack is a few years older and a spiraling tragedy of his own making. An art school graduate with no creative traction, he’s devastated by his abrupt divorce from Elise, to whom he was married less than a year. To fill his soul, Jack records things, and Meno turns these fleeting sounds into mini-portraits. “Everything is white and soft and dazzling,” he writes. “And Jack, in front of his apartment building, can’t help but stop and record as much of it as he can. Because it’s a marvel, an explosion, a cyclone of white and silver flakes.” The encounter between these two creative iconoclasts is less courting and more epiphany, as they discover the amazing and transformative effects of love with a joy as naïve as that of children. Their story can be artificially cute, with secret messages scrawled on city walls and dirty magazines awash with surrealistic Polaroid snapshots. But when things Get Weird as things do when we’re young, Meno is refreshingly honest in portraying the lowest lows and not just the innocent highs.
A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending.
This highly anticipated book delivers Phillips’ fans a charming, satisfying answer to the question “So what does Lucy do?”
Lucy Jorik knows how lucky she is. Saved as a young teen by the woman who would become the first female president of the United States, Lucy has spent her life since then being the eldest daughter of the perfect first family. But on the day she’s supposed to marry her perfect mate, she bolts from a life she feels she has fallen into, rather than one she really wants. Accepting a ride from the church on the back of a motorcycle with a perfectly inappropriate man, Lucy embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will take her from Texas to the Great Lakes, while forcing her to face her fears, inadequacies and issues of personal power. Despite his warm-fuzzy name, Panda is tough, surly and sexy as hell, and like most of the world, knows all about Lucy and her story, while giving absolutely nothing away about himself. The two share an electric attraction, but Panda is determined to keep Lucy at arm’s length and his secrets—not to mention his heart—well-protected. Lucy has run away from her life with a vengeance, and she’s not ready to go back anytime soon. As the world searches for her and the media condemns her, she’ll take on a disguise, a new persona and a brand new community of damaged, struggling people who are looking for their own life-affirming answers. Lucy finds comfort, friendship and authenticity on the shores of Lake Michigan in a rambling, shabby, formerly grand house with amazing potential that reflects Lucy’s desire to synthesize her past and present into a future as the woman she was meant to be, with the perfectly imperfect Panda by her side.
Offers humor, heart and characters you’ll cheer for. Romantic women’s fiction at its best.
Elegantly structured, emotionally compelling fiction from novelist/memoirist Wickersham (The Suicide Index, 2008, etc.).
The seven pieces here tell seven different stories, though each has the same title. “The News from Spain” is also a touchstone phrase in each, its meaning transformed by the characters’ experiences. In the first tale, a woman whose longtime marriage has been rocked by a single infidelity sits on the beach with her friend, a man marrying for companionship and hoping his bride-to-be doesn’t want sex; they listen to “the news from Spain” roaring in a seashell, a recollection of simpler times. The phrase encapsulates a daughter’s discovery of her profound love for her dying mother; the excitement a teacher brings into a student’s life; betrayal, tragedy and the eternal sameness amid varieties of love. Four pieces are pure fiction, but Wickersham is particularly interesting when she rings changes on history. A very long tale insightfully examines the real-life marriage of choreographer George Balanchine and ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq, stricken by polio and forced to accept her husband’s unfaithfulness; but it is just as nuanced and shrewd about Le Clercq’s relationship with her gay caregiver. The collection’s best story imagines modern odysseys for the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and Elvira from Don Giovanni, interpolating the memoirs of their creator, librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte; what could have been a gimmick is instead a beautiful meditation on art, love and friendship. The final piece is slightly bumpier as it interweaves memories of a platonic adultery that may or may not be fictional with the story of a New York doctor beloved by both a president’s widow and a female journalist (unnamed, as were Balanchine and Le Clercq, but clearly Eleanor Roosevelt, Martha Gellhorn, and David Gurewitsch). Yet, here too Wickersham dissects the human heart with precision and restraint that make her work all the more moving.
Short stories don’t get much better than this, and for once, the overarching framework strengthens rather than dissipates their effectiveness.