The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck – Review


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From USA Today bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes The Wedding Chapel.

A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation.

For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss.

Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, to make a new life for herself in New York. She had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement—then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her.

Taking a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, Taylor is thrown back into a past of family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. When Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth the wait.

Reviews

“Hauck’s engaging novel about love, forgiveness, and new beginnings adeptly ties together multiple oscillating storylines of several generations of families. Interesting plot interweaves romance, real life issues, and a dash of mystery. (…) Recommend for mature fans of well-done historical fiction. ” (CBA Retailers and Resources)

‘Hauck tells another gorgeously rendered story. The raw, hidden emotions of Taylor and Jack are incredibly realistic and will resonate with readers. The way the entire tale comes together with the image of the chapel as holding the heartbeat of God is breathtaking and complements the romance of the story.’ – 4 1/2 starred and a Top Pick (RT Book Reviews)

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is a USA Today bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and a RITA finalist. Her bookOnce Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at rachelhauck.com Facebook: rachelhauck Twitter: @RachelHauck

 

Review –

I really enjoyed The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck. It all started with the book blurb and when I saw the cover of the book, I knew I had to read it (I am a visual person!) What I found between the covers of the book was a wonderful, heartfelt romantic story that spanned generations.

The Wedding Chapel shows the true nature of people; how they trust or lack trust, how hurt plays a pivotal role in how we view love, and sometimes, when we let our guard down, faith steps in and  people do come through.

The Wedding Chapel is a beautiful story of forgiveness, love and faith and it was truly an inspiring read. I am giving the book five stars and I can most definitely recommend this book.

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My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Ultimate Betrayal, Revelations by Catrina Courtenay – Review

It didn’t matter that Veronica Harper spent years in the military and then was trained by the best of the best at the FBI. It didn’t matter that she was skilled in hand-to-hand combat or that she was one of the most sought after bodyguards in the industry. When Kincaid got a hold of her, he stripped away everything she thought she was and left her broken and terrified. Questioning her trust in everything and everyone around her, Veronica left Los Angeles, hoping to make a fresh start. Unable to shake her demons, she found help in her neighbor, Dr. Sarah Wells, a Psychology professor at the local university.

Now, she is being forced back to Los Angeles in order to protect Hollywood’s most sought after bad boy, Erik Sinclair. On the cusp of super-stardom, he’s taken the role as a leading man in a major studio film, but someone thinks he doesn’t deserve it. Someone wants to hurt him.

A man with a reputation, Erik Sinclair is known for his talent, chiseled good looks, and the hordes of women clambering for his attention. Recently separated from his longtime girlfriend, he is tired of the typical Hollywood bimbos that he meets, and he sets his sights on the intelligent and sassy Veronica. He’s sexy, protective, and unrelenting in his pursuit of her, but he doesn’t know about the demons that haunt her.

When past and present collide, will Ronnie be able to face the darkness that haunts her and save the only man capable of fixing her?

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Born and raised in New York, Author Catrina Courtenay is a U.S. Veteran, wife, mommy, controller of chaos, domestic engineer and cook. She loves wine, good books, good food and especially anything slathered in Nutella.

Always a storyteller, she enthralled her friend with tales of her wild daydreams involving the latest hot boy band (okay, they weren’t called boy bands back in the 80s. They were called Duran Duran), but she never wrote them down.

She eventually grew up and embarked on a not so exciting career in the military, followed by an exciting career working in IT for a few major U.S. corporations and traveled the world. And instead of meeting in their hometown, she met her husband in Cyberspace while he was in Korea.

Marriage and having a child afforded Catrina more time to read, one of her former passions, and eventually, to begin writing.

With the support of her family, she’s released her first novel, Ultimate Betrayal: Revelations and is working on the follow up – Nightmares.

You can follow Catrina on Twitter @catcourtenay or at www.catrinacourtenay.com

P.S. She still kinda likes Duran Duran.

My Review –

If you are looking for sit-on-the-edge of your chair suspense and romance, this is your book. Ultimate Betrayal was flat-out great! The author did a fantastic job of surprising me throughout the book, and that is actually difficult to do!

I am not a die-hard suspense thriller type fan, and this is not the suspense I’m speaking of at all. This story actually pushed my limits a little and I loved it.

The story surrounds two very broken people and they find rapport with one other when the female lead is hired to guard the up and coming playboy movie star after threats were made on his life. You never know if the sparks are going to fly because of romance or the tires squealing. Ultimate Betrayal also has its share of tender moments.

I thought the storyline was very good and the way the book ended has me literally begging the author for the next installment. That, I wasn’t expecting as I had no idea it wasn’t a stand-alone story. I am really looking forward to the next part of the story!

There were a number of grammatical errors in the book and that normally disrupts my reading. However, I did not notice the usual disruption with the errors and I attribute that to the constant action in the story.

I am going to give Ultimate Betrayal four stars, only because of the errors.

‘Show me the flip you just taught Ronnie.’…’Bring it on, man’ He swipes at the sweat on his upper lip with the pad of his thumb. Wonderful, let the dick measuring begin.

‘Back in the day? Ah, how old are you?’ Erik asks curiously. I never did mention my age. With all his questions about my past, we never got around to discussing that. ‘Thirty-nine.’ He laughs and raises his eyebrows. ‘Hot damn, I got me a cougar!’

When I open my eyes all that I see is the grey steel and concrete underside of the highway overpass. I take a deep breath and the pain shoots through my torso. Perhaps only a few seconds have passed, because when I force myself up, Erik is still standing behind the car door, protecting himself behind the armor plating. My client is still alive.

 

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My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Truth in Lies by Mary Campisi – Free!

 

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A Family Affair: Truth in Lies Book 1

When Christine Blacksworth’s larger-than-life father is killed on an icy road in Magdalena, New York, a hundred miles from the ‘getaway’ cabin he visited every month, she discovers a secret that threatens everything she’s always held to be true. Her father has another family which includes a mistress and a daughter. Determined to uncover the truth behind her father’s secret life, Christine heads to Magdalena, prepared to hate the people who have caused her to question everything she thought she knew about her father. But what she finds is a woman who understands her, a half sister who cherishes her, and a man who could love her if she’ll let him. The longer she’s around them, the more she questions which family is the real one.

One-Click Truth In Lies Book 1 for FREE

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Mary Campisi is one of a select group of authors to have one of her independently published books appear on the shelves at Walmart!

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A Family Affair: Spring Book 2

A Family Affair: Spring is a story of betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption, all wrapped up in the lives of the people we love to love, and even a few we love to hate.

Harry Blacksworth is rich, handsome, the ultimate playboy with a killer smile and a clever wit. He’s fought it, denied it, ignored it, but the damn truth won’t go away: he’s fallen in love. And just when he’s accepted that fact, Greta Severenson, the only woman he’s ever trusted, breaks his heart.

Christine Blacksworth and Nate Desantro beat the odds when they fell in love and married. But staying married is threatened when the foundation behind every good relationship—trust—is challenged.

Gloria Blacksworth descends upon Magdalena in all of her designer-clad arrogance, determined to make Christine change her course and return to Chicago and her old life. It may take two trips to that godforsaken town or ten, but Gloria doesn’t plan to fail. When she finally confronts Miriam Desantro, the “other woman”, Gloria discovers more than she ever wanted to know… or admit.

Angelo ‘Pop’ Benito is the Godfather of Magdalena. Nothing happens in that town without his knowledge or approval. And Pop doesn’t do anything without a long sit down with his dead wife, Lucy, and a half dozen pizzelles by his side. He’ll need a lot of lung power and a tray of his favorite treat to help Nate and Christine out of a real mess. And he may need the help of his checkers buddy and Magdalena’s shining star, Lily Desantro.

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A Family Affair: Summer Book 3

Heartache. Betrayal. Forgiveness. Redemption…
It’s time to head back to Magdalena, New York and spend a little time with the people we love to love and even a few we love to hate.

Eight years ago, tragedy struck the town’s perfect couple, Daniel “Cash” Casherdon and Tess Carrick, days before their wedding. That tragedy shred their dreams of a life together and sent them fleeing Magdalena. Now, destiny has brought them back and the town is determined to see this couple mend their differences.

Angelo “Pop” Benito will lead the crusade to march Cash and Tess down the aisle with the help of The Bleeding Hearts Society, a garden group more interested in healing people’s hearts than helping a sick basil plant. But they’re not the only ones cheering for this couple’s second chance.

Who would have thought Nate Desantro would be giving advice on relationships, love, and marriage? But when a man finds the right woman, anything is possible. Add a baby to the mix; well that’s pure “hero” material. Christine will offer her share of support and wisdom to Tess and stand up to an old troublemaker in the name of family and friendship.

From the fifty-something widow who is afraid to open her heart again to the pregnant friend who believes everyone has a soul mate, to Lily Desantro, the shining light who makes others believe anything is possible, Magdalena’s finest will rally to give Tess and Cash that second chance. But all the prayers and contrivances in the world won’t help until Tess reveals the secret she’s carried for too many years, a secret that could destroy her chance with Cash forever…

And if you’re wondering about Harry Blacksworth and his brood, you’ll glimpse a snippet of what he’s up to, but he’ll be back in full force in A Family Affair: Fall. Not only that—he’s moving to Magdalena with Greta and the kids! Can you imagine Harry maneuvering a lawnmower or carrying out the trash? Oh, but his past is going to catch up with him and then…Sorry, Harry has to wait for A Family Affair: Fall to share his misery and his story.

For now, enjoy the journey as you catch up on the lives of the residents of Magdalena. They’re waiting for you!

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A Family Affair: Fall Book 4

 

Gina Servetti was raised to believe she wasn’t enough—not thin enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough. She’s more comfortable with a spreadsheet than a conversation and doesn’t trust easily, especially where men are concerned, most notably the good-looking, smooth-talking ones like Ben Reed.

When city boy Ben Reed arrives in Magdalena, he’s not planning a long-term stay in a town filled with too many busybodies and too little excitement. He just needs things to settle down in Philly for a few months before he returns to his old life and his plan to win back his ex-wife. But once he gets to know the people in this town, he starts to care about them; one in particular—Gina Servetti. The longer he’s around her, the more he realizes she’s so much more than a woman with a scowl and a sharp tongue. She’s real and honest, and as afraid of trusting as he is.

But can Ben and Gina open up and take a risk for a chance at real love? Well, if the rest of the town has anything to say about it, and they always do, this couple will take the big leap and end with an “I do”!

And would the story be complete without checking in on Harry Blacksworth’s latest debacle…ahem…adventure? Harry’s moved his brood to Magdalena and is taking advice but thankfully not fashion lessons from Pop Benito. That spells trouble on so many levels. Oh, but it’s going to be interesting…

Join me as we peek into the lives of some of our favorites: Pop Benito, Lily, Nate and Christine Desantro, Harry and Greta Blacksworth, Mimi Pendergrass, Bree Kinkaid…and many more.

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A Family Affair: Christmas Book 5

The town is preparing to celebrate the holidays when a snowstorm hits and threatens to ruin the festivities. But that’s not the only threat blowing into town…Pop’s son is here from California to enjoy Christmas with his father, but when he leaves, he’s taking Pop with him…or is he? Will the town give up the Godfather of Magdalena, or will they show Pop’s son that when we open our hearts, anything is possible…even second chances?

NEW FEATURE: Magdalena’s growing! People are getting married, having babies, and moving back to town, so I’ve decided to include a list of characters and their backgrounds–some new faces, some from previous books. You’ll find Who’s Who in A Family Affair: Christmas located right after the dedication.

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A Family Affair: Winter Book 6

They should have been married and working on their “happily ever after” but fate intervened and stole their chance. Can the residents of Magdalena help them get it back?

On the day Michael Androvich stands at the altar before family, friends, and most of the town of Restalline, Pennsylvania, he’s prepared to pledge his life, love, and fidelity to the woman who owns his heart. There’s only one thing missing—the bride.
Elise Pentani loves Michael Androvich truly and completely, but there’s a tiny piece of her that believes he’ll fall back into his “bad boy” ways. When a threat from his past visits her the night before she and Michael are to be married, Elise lets doubt rule and skips her own wedding.
Nursing a broken heart and determined to forget the woman he can’t forget, Michael heads to Magdalena, New York to secure a business deal for his family’s lumber company. He’s not prepared for the endless questions and inquisitive nature of the residents who remind him an awful lot of his hometown.
Just when Michael has gotten the town to accept the fact that he’s not talking about his past or the reason for his surly disposition, his ex-fiancée shows up with an apology he doesn’t want to hear and certainly doesn’t want to believe. So much for the town leaving him alone; everybody has an opinion and they’re all more than anxious to share it.
There’s no way the residents of Magdalena can ignore these two broken-hearted souls. Michael and Elise have “need help” and “belong together” stamped all over their sad faces. Add that to Pop Benito’s determined matchmaking skills and Lily Desantro’s clever curiosity, and this couple might just get that second chance…

Note: Michael Androvich and Elise Pentani are secondary characters in Simple Riches, Book Three of That Second Chance Series. The books in this series are standalone works that are tied together by the belief in the beauty of that second chance. Michael and Elise won’t be the only ones visiting A Family Affair’s Magdalena from That Second Chance Series.

Here are a few more, though not necessarily in the order listed:

  • Grant Richot from Pulling Home, Book One
  • Angie Sorrento from The Way They Were, Book Two
  • Adam Brandon from Paradise Found, Book Four

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A Family Affair: The Promise Book 7

A lot has happened since readers left town in A Family Affair: Winter!

Bree Kinkaid is dealing with heartache and betrayal the only way she can—denial. Her friends can’t help her, she won’t listen to her parents, and she rejects offerings of support and sympathy from the town as she attempts to hold onto that magical life she wanted. But when a stranger shows up at Bree’s doorstep with information about her husband, she can’t pretend any longer.

And in case you were wondering what happened to Gloria Blacksworth’s notebook, it’s still resting in Nate Desantro’s desk drawer…but not for long. Gloria might be dead, but the notebook continues to leak distrust and ill will into the community, and someone’s got to stop it! There might be only one person in town equipped for the job—any guesses?

We’ve also got a new man in Magdalena, one badly in need of a second chance…

Grant Richot sprinted through life, a boy wonder with talent, intelligence, confidence, and charm. He never doubted the world awaited him, just as he never doubted the right woman would come into his life—but only when he was ready for her. Anyone before that was simply preparation for the one.

How wrong he was.

Years and a tragedy later, Grant arrives in Maggie Finnegan’s hometown of Magdalena, New York—broken, uncertain, and searching for that second chance with the woman he cast aside. But Maggie’s no longer naïve and impressionable; she’s a confident, competent widow with a child, who has more at risk than another broken heart…

Note: For a richer “A Family Affair” reading experience, make sure to read Pulling Home, Book One of That Second Chance series. It is the prequel to A Family Affair: The Promise, where you’ll learn Grant Richot’s story. Big, dark secrets about his family are revealed in this book, but that doesn’t mean he knows about them…but it also doesn’t mean the reader can’t know, right?!

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A Family Affair: The Secret Book 8 (coming 1/5/2016)

Roman Ventori isn’t looking for a wife. He’s had one of those and it ended badly. He’s come back to Magdalena out of duty, not love for the town that drove him away with rumors and judgments.

Angie Sorrento is in Magdalena to do a job, not find a husband. She almost had one of those, until he dumped her days before the wedding.

Roman’s father has health problems and his last wish is to see his son settled with a wife, a child, a second chance at a life that doesn’t include city life and flashy women. There’s only one person in town who can make the impossible happen. Angelo “Pop” Benito, the Godfather of Magdalena, is the wiliest matchmaker in the Catskills and if he sets his mind to it, an old man might see his wish come true.

Oh, and remember Gloria Blacksworth’s notebook, the one filled with enough destruction to bring down Magdalena? Well, it’s causing trouble again, and this time the target is Miriam Desantro… Pop’s going to try to intervene, but he might be too late…

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Excerpt

If Salvatore Ventori hadn’t been recovering from a heart attack, Angie would have shut down the man’s idea that his son would be the perfect choice to escort her through the Sal’s Market after hours. Roman Ventori belonged in Chicago, or staring back at her from the insides of a magazine cover, not standing outside his father’s grocery store, arms crossed over his broad chest, waiting. And not too happy about the waiting either. The pacing gave it away, back and forth like a trapped lion. He didn’t see her coming from the side parking lot as he began another round of pacing.

Angie made her way toward him, sucked in a deep breath and willed her voice to remain even. “Roman Ventori?” The man turned and stared, six-foot plus of muscle and annoyance zeroing in on her with eyes darker than ink. Those eyes widened when he recognized her, the mouth flattened, the brackets on either side, a deep slash.

“You.” He ran a hand through his hair, blew out a sigh. “I should have known.”

She matched his sigh, tilted her head to look up at him. Damn, but he was a tall one. “Should have known what?”

“That my old man would pull this. How much did he pay you?”

“What are you talking about?” The tabloids should get this charmer on tape. It would mark the end of Mr. Beautiful’s lovely persona. Angie guessed the man hadn’t wanted to come tonight. Too bad. She needed photos so she could do her job, and if the only way to get them was after closing time in the company of Sal’s son, then that’s what she’d do. “Why would your dad pay me?” she asked, determined to get an answer. But the man said nothing, merely unlocked the door and flicked on the lights, leaving Angie to follow, camera slung over her shoulder.

When they reached the customer service area, Roman Ventori turned to her, his massiveness dwarfing her breathing space and said, “My father paid you to get in my line of vision, didn’t he?”

“Line of vision?” Angie scrunched up her nose. “For what?”

He scowled, narrowed his gaze on her. “You know damn well for what. He had a heart attack and now he’s gotten it into his head that he wants to see me settled before he dies.”

“Settled.” Settled? As in married, with a family? No. No.

“Yeah, that’s what he said, and then he started dropping hints about this nice little Italian girl he’d met who’d come to town to make a miniature rendition of his store, said I should escort you around and see what I could see. Whatever that means.” He flipped on more lights, let out another sigh that sounded like pure disgust and continued, “Ignore whatever he told you. I am not looking for a girlfriend and I’m sure as hell not looking for a wife.”

“What?” Had he just said wife? Angie moved toward him, hands on hips, scowl on her face to show her equal disgust and said, “Mister, I am not looking for a boyfriend or a husband. I don’t even want a dog. You got that?” The nerve of some people. “I’ve come to this town to do a job, so I can get paid, period. Whatever issues you and your father have, are not my issues and you better damn well not make them mine. You got that?”

Those eyes narrowed, the jaw twitched, and damn if the mouth didn’t flip into a smile seconds before he said, “Got it.”

Angie crossed her arms over her chest, tipped her chin up to see his face and held her ground. “Do not confuse me with a groupie gold digger again.”

The smile spread. “Groupie gold digger?”

“Right.” She hid a smile. Now was not the time to let him see he could barrel through her anger and make her smile.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” He thrust out his hand. “Roman Ventori, collector of groupie gold diggers.”

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If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins – Review

The drama, hilarity and tears of sisterhood are at the heart of the thoroughly captivating new novel by New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins—a funny, frank and bittersweet look at marriage, forgiveness and moving on

Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this isn’t exactly helping her achieve closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel‘s picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, a guy who’s utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time.

Rachel’s idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she’d walk away in this situation, but her triplet daughters have her reconsidering her stance on adultery, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood.

Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present and find a way to get what they want most of all.

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Author Kristan Higgins is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been praised for their “genius level EQ, whippet-fast, funny dialogue and sweet plots with a deliciously tart edge” (USA TODAY). She lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband and two extremely advanced children, one shy little mutt and an occasionally affectionate cat.

 

An Excerpt –

Jenny

Today is one of those days when I realize that staying friends with my ex-husband was a huge mistake.

I’m at the baby shower for Ana-Sofia, Owen’s wife and my replacement. Indeed, I’m sitting next to her, a place of honor in this circle of beaming well-wishers, and I’m probably beaming just as hard as everyone else. Harder, even, my “gosh, isn’t it wonderful, she’s so radiant” smile that I give at work quite often, especially as my brides get bitchier or their mothers get more critical or their maids of honor get more jealous. But this smile, the baby-shower smile…this is superhuman, really.

I know that coming today is incredibly pathetic, don’t worry. It’s just that I didn’t want to seem bitter by not showing up—though I’m pretty sure I am bitter, at least a little. After all, I’m the one who always wanted kids. Every time I brought it up, though, Owen said he wasn’t sure the time was right, and he loved our life the way it was.

Yeah. So. That turned out not to be quite true, but we did stay friends. Coming today, though…pathetic.

However, I woke up this morning utterly starving, and I knew the food would be amazing at the shower. Ana-Sofia inspires people. Plus, I’m moving out of the city, so for the past three weeks, I’ve been trying to eat or give away every morsel of food in my apartment. Let’s also mention that I couldn’t figure out an excuse that people would buy. Better to be an oddity here than Poor Jenny at home, scrounging through a box of Wheat Thins of indeterminate age.

Ana-Sofia opens my gift, which is wrapped in Christmas paper, despite it being April. Liza, my host, glowers; the red-and-green cocoa-swilling Santas are an affront to the party vibe, which Liza noted on the invitations.

In an effort to create a beautiful and harmonious environment for Ana-Sofia, please adhere to the apricot-and-sage color scheme in your clothing and gift-wrapping choices.

Only in Manhattan, folks. I’m wearing a purple dress as a middle finger to Liza, who used to be my friend but now posts daily on Facebook that she’s LOLing with her BFF, Ana-Sofia.

“Oh! This is so lovely! Thank you, Jenny! Everyone, look at this! It’s beautiful!” Ana-Sofia holds up my gift, and there are gasps and murmurs and exclamations and a few glares that I have brought the best present. I cock an eyebrow at the haters. Suck it up, bitches. My gift was actually dashed off last night, as I kind of forgot to buy a present, but they don’t have to know that.

It’s a white satin baby blanket with leaves and trees and birds stitched into it. Hey. It only took me two hours. Nothing was hand-stitched. It wasn’t that big a deal. I sew for a living. A wedding-dress designer. The irony is not lost on me.

“Couldn’t you have just bought a stuffed animal like a normal person?” murmurs the person on my left. Andreas—born Andrew—my assistant, and the only man here. Gay, of course—do straight men work in designer bridal wear? Also, he hates and fears children, which makes him the perfect date for me under the circumstances. I needed an ally.

Have I mentioned that the shower is being held in the apartment I once shared with Owen? Where, so far as I could tell, he and I were extremely happy? Yes. Liza is hosting, but the power went out in her apartment, thanks to the ham-fisted construction crew installing her new glass countertops—granite being so very last decade—and so we’re here instead. Liza is sweaty and loud, rightfully worried about being judged on her prowess as hostess. This is the Upper East Side, after all. We’re all about judgment here.

The gifts—including mine—border on the ridiculous. The shower invitation—engraved from Crane’s—asked, at the behest of the parents, for donations to the clean-well-water charity Ana-Sofia founded—Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., the name of which brings to mind a particularly bad menstrual period, but which raises funds for wells in Africa. Yeah. Therefore, everyone donated fat checks and tried to outdo each other with gifts. There’s a Calder mobile. A 1918 edition of Mother Goose stories. A mohair Steiff teddy bear that costs about as much as the rent on my soon-to-be former apartment in the Village.

My gaze drifts across the now-tastefully furnished apartment. When I lived here, it was cozier and boho—fat, comfortable furniture; dozens of pictures of my three nieces; the occasional wall hanging from Target, that bastion of color and joy for the middle class. Now the decor is incredibly tasteful, with African masks on the wall to remind us what Ana-Sofia does, and original paintings from around the globe. The walls are painted those boring neutral colors with sexy names— October Fog, Birmingham Cream, Icicle.

There’s their wedding photo. They eloped, so thank God I didn’t have to go to that—or, heaven forbid, make her gown, which I would’ve done if asked, because I’m still pretty pitiful where Owen is concerned and can’t figure out how to divorce him out of my heart. Though the photo was taken by the justice of the peace in Maine, it’s perfect. Both bride and groom are laughing, slightly turned away from the camera, Ana’s hair blowing in the sea breeze. The New York Times featured the photo in the Sunday Vows section.

They really are the perfect couple. Once, it was Owen and me, and while I didn’t expect perfection, I thought we were pretty great. We never fought. My mom felt that since Owen is half-Japanese, he was a better bet than “those simpletons” I dated—all of whom I hoped to marry at one point or another, starting with Nico Stephanopolous in eighth grade. “The Japanese don’t believe in divorce,” Mom said the first time I introduced her. “Right, Owen?”

He agreed, and I can still see his omnipresent, sweet smile, the Dr. Perfect Smile, as I called it. It’s his resting expression. Very reassuring to his patients, I’m sure. Owen is a plastic surgeon, the kind who fixes cleft palates and birthmarks and changes the lives of his patients. Ana-Sofia, who is from Peru and speaks five languages, met Owen eleven weeks after our divorce when he was doing his annual stint with Doctors Without Borders in the Sudan and she was digging wells.

And I make wedding dresses, as I believe I’ve already said. Listen, it’s not as shallow as it sounds. I make women look the way they dreamed they would on one of the happiest days of their lives. I make them cry at their own reflections. I give them the dress they’ve spent years thinking about, the dress they’ll be wearing when they pledge their hearts, the dress they’ll pass on to their own daughters someday, the dress that signifies all their hopes and dreams for a happy, sparkling future.

But compared with what Owen and his second wife do, yeah, it’s incredibly shallow.

In theory, I should hate them both. No, he didn’t cheat with her. He’s far too decent for that.

He loves her, though. Ostensibly, I could hate him for loving her and not me. Make no mistake. I was heartbroken. But I can’t hate Owen, or Ana-Sofia. They’re too damn nice, which is incredibly inconsiderate of them.

And being Owen’s friend is better than being without Owen entirely.

My Assessment –

The first thing that drew me to the book was the cover. It is really a beautiful cover, and then the blurb. I knew that the book, being written by Kristan Higgins, had to be good but it surpassed even my expectations.

I loved the family dynamics in the If You Only Knew. The sisters had a close relationship that sometimes got in the way of their lives, but they were fiercely loyal to one another.

I cannot for one moment imagine being in a relationship with my ex-husband and his wife as Jenny was, but it made way for interesting story. Jenny would love to be married with a family of her own, and we follow her along as life may have other plans in store for her. And, as her sister’s marriage hits a rocky spot and Jenny is drawn into the fray by her sister. That was a little like watching a freight train barreling down on you.

There is sibling love and loyalty, strife and unrest as well as love in the air. The book had an enjoyable plot that yielded more than its share of surprises, which I loved. The ending is not easily guessed and I was pleasantly surprised.

This book hit the mark on every level – storyline, characters, story plot, grammar, humor, love, and writing. I’m giving If You Only Knew five stars.

Ana-Sofia opens my gift, which is wrapped in Christmas paper, despite it being April. Liza, my host, glowers; the red-and-green cocoa-swilling Santas are an affront to the party vibe, which Liza noted on the invitations. ‘In an effort to creat a beautiful and harmonious environment for Ana-Sofia, please adhere to the apricot-and-sage color scheme in your clothing and gift-wrapping choices.’

I’d like to say that Mom means well, but that wouldn’t really be true. When things are good, she looks not for the silver lining, but for the mercury toxicity. When things are bad, her eyes light up, she stands straighter and her life is filled with purpose. She views my move to COH as both my inevitable failure at marriage – she always hinted Owen was too good for me – and also a gauntlet I’ve thrown at her feet. If I do better after my divorce – personally and professionally – it might imply that she should, too.

‘You’re not sick, are you?’ I better not be. ‘Oh, just a checkup. How about you?’ ‘I have the worst itching!’ she crows. ‘And discharge! In the strangest place too!’ Oh, God. Maybe she has an STD too. I try to keep my face from morphing into a silent scream of horror, but I have no idea if it’s working. ‘Look,’ she says, pulling up her World’s Best Grandma T-shirt. ‘Look at my belly button. See that oozing?’ I try not to gag. First of all, it’s a wrinkly, elephantine stomach, and it’s about an inch from my face. Secondly, she’s got such an outie that it looks like a snout, like some sort of alien pig baby is trying to push its way out of her.  And yes, there’s discharge.

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My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

A Second Chance – The Publicist Book Four by Christina George – Review

 

Mac Ellis is never down for long but this time is proving to be a little more challenging. It’s been almost two years since he and Kate split up and Mac’s still wrestling with the guilt of breaking her heart.

Mac Ellis is a legend both in and out of the bedroom and when an amazing opportunity comes his way to head up a publishing company, Mac grabs it and restarts his career. As luck would have it, he and Kate wind up vying for the same title: A book that promises to be the biggest book of the year, maybe of a career.

Smart, sexy, and beautiful Sydney Montgomery is a top CIA operative. Some at the agency call her a savant, but the world, if they knew, would call her Wonder Women, because she brought down what could have been one of the biggest terrorist threats the country would have ever seen. Now Sydney is telling her story and Mac wants to publish her book, but Sydney has a secret and when Mac meets her, he realizes she is not at all what he expected.

Because love the second time around is always sweeter…

Available at Amazon on Kindle

And here is Mac’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53RyF3uMpZ0

Author Christina George – I’ve worked in publishing for twenty years (give or take). Here’s what this book isn’t. It’s not a slam against publishing (though it is broken) and it’s not a slam against authors (though some of them are crazy). This book is not autobiographical though many of the stories are true. No you won’t know which ones, hell it’s more fun to guess, right? I continue to work in publicity and help authors because at the end of the day I do love books, I love publishing, and I love authors. I hope you’ll enjoy this romp through Kate’s world as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Find our more at: www.thepublicistnovel.com

My Review – 

I have reviewed all of the books in the Publicist series and loved them all. Christina George writes from an insider’s view into the publishing world and incorporates those figures and antics in a romantic, back-biting series of books that will leave you wanting more each time you close a book.

The writing is fantastic and the characters are straight out of real life (figuratively speaking) and you fall in love with them. In the previous books you fall in love with Mac and when he is left with a broken heart, you cross your fingers and hope he eventually finds love.

Mac’s story was a great choice to end the series with and I find myself wanting to begin reading the books all over again. I am giving A Second Chance five stars. Christina is an excellent writer and her experience results in a well-crafted read.

Available at Amazon on Kindle

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55.

 

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Gaming the System by Laura K. Curtis – Review

As the manager of Las Vegas’s premiere adult toy store, Kai Tyler changes her hair color, nail color, and eye color the way some people change socks. In fact, she’s even changed her name. She owes no one, depends on no one, and stopped believing in happily ever after before she reached the age of ten. All she really wants out of life is a few good gadgets and the occasional day of pampering.

Which is exactly why Luke Clarke asks her to be his date at his sister’s wedding. Luke loves his family, but he has no desire to fulfill his parents’ dream by getting married and going into politics. So when he’s invited to his sister’s weeklong wedding gala, he thinks Kai will be the perfect foil. Having a date will squelch his mother’s matchmaking attempts and Kai’s outrageous appearance might—just might—convince his family once and for all that he’ll never have a career in politics.

But as stress, desire, and close quarters eat away at the masks both Luke and Kai wear, their easy arrangement begins to transform into something neither expected. Will they cling to the stable roles of the past, or bet on an uncertain future together?

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About the Author:

Laura K. Curtis has always done everything backward. As a child, she was extremely serious, so now that she’s chronologically an adult, she feels perfectly justified in acting the fool. She started teaching at age fifteen, then decided to go back to school herself at thirty. And she wrote her first book in first grade. It was released in (notebook) paperback to rave reviews, and she’s been trying to achieve the same level of acclaim ever since. She lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and a pack of wild Irish terriers, which has taught her how easily love can coexist with the desire to kill.

To find out more about Laura and her books, please visit her online at www.laurakcurtis.com and at Twitter: @laurakcurtis.

My Assessment – 

I think everyone loves a bad boy and a romance of opposites attract. This book fits that description. You can feel the attraction between the two characters immediately and you just know there’s going to be a wild ride in store. Gaming the System will have you laughing at loud one minute and swooning the next.

I enjoyed the book and think it’s worth five stars. There’s a huge book blurb so I won’t go into the storyline. I felt the writing was good and the story line moved along at a nice pace – both which are things I look for in a book. Romance lovers will love this one.

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My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55.