romance

Greatest Love Stories of All Time

 

HeartsIMG_4243

 

It’s the time of year when bouquets of flowers fill the stores, the gift of a box of chocolates takes on new meaning, and love songs (and movies) fill the airwaves. Swoonworthy stuff, ya’ll.

 

Instead of creating a post about current titles that inspire hearts to flutter, I put out an open call for men and women to name their favorite Greatest Love Stories of All Time. Thanks to Mari Barnes*, Sarah Bewley, Leah Canzoneri, Kait Carson, Peggy Clayton, Joy Ross Davis, Missy Davis, Laura Di Silverio, Saword Broyles Ellis, Terri Gault, Courtney Carter Girton, Sherry Harris, Cynthia Kuhn, Joyce Laferrera, Marj Lilley, Alice Loweecy, Gary Miller, Sylvia Nickels, Debbie York Parker, Nanci Rathbun, Jeanie Smith, Ellis Vidler, and Lynn Chandler Willis for their wonderful suggestions.  *drawing winner  :-)

 

Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, and where available, links to the Greatest Love Stories are included.  Click on the titles and read more about them.               

 

At Home in Mitford” by Jan Karon

“Cinderella Story” by Wendy Logia

Come Rain or Come Shine” by Jan Karon

Dr. Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak

Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte

Lonesome Dove” by Larry McMurtry

Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

Persuasion” by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen

Shadow of the Moon” by MM Kaye

Somewhere in Time” by Richard Matheson

Soulless” by Gail Carriger

The Far Pavilions” by MM Kaye

The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper 

The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks

The Princess Bride” by William Goldman

The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy

The Second Coming” by Walker Percy

The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough

 

Are you thinking romantic, weak-at-the-knees thoughts?

Our work is done.  😉    

 

Photo credit:  Patti Phillips

 

 

“The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” by Amy E. Reichert

 

book-cover-the-coincidence-of-coconut-cake

In “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake,” Chef Lou Johnson is living her dream at her restaurant, Luella’s, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She’s making plans for the future and is engaged to Devlin, a prominent attorney. Life is good and getting better.

 

When Lou bakes a coconut cake for Devlin’s birthday and takes it to his apartment, his intern is there, barely dressed. It appears that Devlin is cheating on her. Devlin is a man who has disapproved of the crocs and casual clothes Lou wears in her everyday chef’s life and buys her expensive dresses because he thinks she doesn’t look after herself. He never understood her need to work/own a restaurant. She has brushed that aside and thought they could work it out, that eventually he would see how important her career is to her. Well, maybe not after the scantily clad gal has made her appearance.

 

Transplanted Brit and food critic, Al Waters, is looking for a way to leave town as quickly as possible, to get away from Milwaukee, Wisconsin – what he considers to be a Podunk region of the world. The restaurant reviews he writes under a pseudonym can ruin an eatery’s reputation, but all Waters wants to do is make a name for himself. His columns are selling newspapers and getting attention from employers, but sometimes play fast and loose with the facts – almost written before he actually eats at the places.

 

Al does a scathing review of Lou’s restaurant on the very night of the intern sighting. Groan. Business drops waaaaay off as a result. Double Groan. Suddenly, life can’t get any worse for Lou. The time is ripe for Lou to completely redo her life. What follows is a series of meetings with both Al and Lou keeping their real identities secret. Deception? Evasion? Attraction? What could go wrong in this tale of love’s beginnings and endings and new beginnings?

 

Amy E. Reichert has written a delightful novel about the way that fate can intervene when life falls off the rails and we are blindsided by events that run contrary to our Grand Plan. The reader is in on the secrets early on, but Reichert’s clever plot keeps us laughing as the main players stay in the dark. Supporting characters are far from cookie-cutter and have love stories of their own, with the result that “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” serves up a rich selection from the love menu.

 

Having worked in several restaurants in order to work my way through college and/or learn the business for my own Grand Plan, I read the behind-the-scenes workings of Luella’s with special interest. Reichert reveals the dynamics of running a restaurant with just enough info to provide authenticity. Details such as the number of ‘covers’ and the division of labor in a kitchen, the attention paid to the ‘regulars’, the scars on the chef’s hands, and commitment to a career with long hours, supply the perfect flavor to “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.”

 

While there are no actual recipes in the book, the food descriptions are mouthwatering. Cooks  will find a lot to like and may even pick up some tips for food prep. It’s obvious that Al and Lou both love great food as they wander through the Milwaukee eateries and eventually cook for each other. They chat about their families’ influences on their professions, food adventures, and the best way to prepare a dish, with warm and often funny scenes. Their interactions are completely natural and we root for their relationship, despite the complications.

 

“The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” can be enjoyed as a book about second chances in love and life, but also as a surprising celebration of Milwaukee’s eateries. The book has all the elements for an endearing romantic comedy movie, but I’d love to have a piece of that coconut cake.  :-)

 

Please visit www.amyereichert.com for more information about Amy E. Reichert and her work.

 

 

 

10 of the Best Books of the Past Year-2016 update

 

BookStack

…and the prize goes to…

 

Readers all over the world choose their next book based on the award winners announced by various organizations during the recent year. Here is a list of ten popular awards for recent novels in the adult category to receive applause and/or rave reviews from colleagues in the genre or from readers who loved the books.

 

Have you read any books on the list? If so, let us know what you enjoyed about them in the comment section. 

 

Agatha Award given to mystery and crime writers, in 2015 cozy subgenre:

“Long Upon the Land” by Margaret Maron

 

Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction 2016:

“The Five Times I Met Myself” by James L. Rubart

 

Edgar Allen Poe Award awarded by the Mystery Writers of America 2016:

“Let Me Die in His Footsteps” by Lori Roy

 

Goodreads Choice Awards chosen by readers 2015:

“Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee

 

Hugo Awards awarded for the best Science Fiction or Fantasy 2016:

“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

 

Macavity Award given to favorite 2015 mystery by Mystery Readers International:

“The Killer Next Door” by Alex Marwood

 

Man Booker Prize literary prize for best 2015 novel translated to English language:  “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

 

National Book Award for fiction given to U.S. authors 2015:

“Fortune Smiles: Stories” by Adam Johnson

 

Nebula Awards presented by Science Fiction Writers for 2015 work:

“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

 

Pulitzer Prize in Literature administered by Columbia University 2016:

“The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen

 

Congratulations to all the winners!  :-)

 

 

 

Meet C. Hope Clark

 

CHopeClark

 

C. Hope Clark is a Southern gal to the core – born, raised, married, and happily still in the Carolinas. Her agricultural roots are deep, being the granddaughter of a Mississippi cotton farmer, so it’s not surprising that Clark received a B.S. in Agriculture from Clemson University and then went to work for the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Carolina Slade, the lead character in the Slade Mysteries, was drawn from Clark’s own experiences at the USDA.

 

Hope is married to a long-time (former) officer of federal law enforcement, now working as a contract investigator. The opening scene to “Lowcountry Bribe,” is based on a bribery case that involved both of them in real-life. They married after that case, and now live on Lake Murray, in South Carolina, spending time on Edisto Island whenever they can. The settings for several of Hope’s books, while reimagined to protect the innocent, depict the countryside she loves and has traveled through for most of her life.

 

She founded and continues to run FundsforWriters.com, a site that Writer’s Digest has recognized as one of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for fourteen years. Hope has been published in multiple magazines, she speaks at writers’ conferences, her books are award winners, and she remains one of the most gracious, generous mystery writers in the business. And, wow, can she hook you with her stories!  :-)

 

Fun facts about Hope:

 

Her favorite dessert is Crème Brulee. She considers it “pure luxury.”

One of her inspirations in the writing business? Lisa Gardner.

She is a member of MENSA!

She loves seafood (as does Callie in the Edisto series) especially shrimp and crab, and has wonderful recipes for both.

Click here to see the recipes for Steamed Blue Crab and Citrus Shrimp.

 

The current list of C. Hope Clark’s Fiction:

 

The Carolina Slade Series:

“Low Country Bribe”

“Tidewater Murder”

“Palmetto Poison”

 

Edisto Series:

“Murder on Edisto”

“Edisto Jinx”

“Echoes of Edisto”

 

Non-fiction:

 

“The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success”

“The Shy Writer, Reborn”

 

It has been my pleasure to read all of C. Hope Clark's works of fiction. My reviews of two of the titles can be found by clicking on the links.

 

Book Cover - LowCountry Bribe

 

 

 

 

 Read the review here.

 

 

Book Cover - Palmetto Poison

 

 

 

 

Read the review here.

 

 

Book Cover - Echoes of Edisto

 

 

 

 

 

 Read the review here.

 

 

 

For information about C. Hope Clark's appearances, signings, and Funds for Writers, please visit www.chopeclark.com:-)

 

 

 

 

“Indiscretion” by Polly Iyer

 

Book Cover - Indiscretion by Polly Iyer

 

A successful writer, separated from a bullying husband, meets a swoon-worthy art professor on the beach and is seduced, not at all reluctantly. During this “Indiscretion,” Zoe Swan relishes the wonderful attention she receives, something that has been missing from her marriage for a very long time. The lovers spend several passionate days together until some truths are revealed – none of them good.

 

The art prof is not who he seems and Zoe is suddenly caught up in a dangerous game involving a Vermeer stolen during the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist in Boston. Her condo is trashed, someone is dead, and her almost-ex, David, is called by the police to answer questions. When it looks as if Zoe is under suspicion for everything that is happening around her, her shady brother-in-law is approached for help as a last resort.

 

Iyer gives us authentic characters in “Indiscretion,” with a story that flows effortlessly between the art heist and the consequences that befall everyone involved. We’re never sure whom to trust in this interplay of shady art world, antiquities, and both good and bad law enforcement officers. Zoe may be the only one we can believe to be exactly who she says she is, keeping the reader thoroughly absorbed with each new twist.

 

Iyer’s interesting subplot in “Indiscretion” plays brothers against each other as family debts are called into question. A temporary alliance is made with David and it’s hard to tell why he didn’t become a bonafide -ex years ago. Iyer nails David as a character, and makes us understand the complex dynamics of this marriage gone bad.


The total value of the entire missing collection is pegged at nearly 500 million dollars and a LOT of people want some of that action. The race is on to retrieve the hidden masterpiece and stay one step ahead of the several groups out to get rid of the amateurs in the way. Iyer’s version of the real-life art theft from the Gardner Museum is explored and is as entertaining as any I’ve read. The surprising revelations will keep you turning the pages until the end.

 

The Gardner decided that they would leave the frames empty until the paintings were recovered, but it’s haunting to visit the museum and see the vacant places where the paintings once hung. A daring heist to be sure, and amazing that 25 years after the theft, the paintings are still officially unaccounted for. There have been suspects, but the statute of limitations has long since passed. The Museum would just like to get the paintings back. There is a 5 million dollar reward for their return.

 

“Indiscretion” is a Kindle Scout winner.

For more information about Polly Iyer and her work, please visit www.pollyiyer.com


*Contains adult themes and dialogue.

 

 

 

 

Happily Ever After – 2016

 

Sunsetpismo

Summer is almost here, when there is lots of talk about weddings and romantic getaways.

 

June is the biggest month for weddings in the United States – or so all the bride magazines would have you believe. In fact, while June may be the most popular month to tie the knot, it’s only by a small margin. 10.8% of yearly weddings are performed then, followed closely by August, at 10.2%. But, that’s still over six thousand weddings a day, explaining why wedding venues must be booked months in advance.

 

For those of us not getting married or traveling to a romantic destination anytime soon, we can get lost in a ‘Happily Ever After’ book and be transported via heart and mind.

 

Below is a list of titles suggested by readers that enjoy more sweet romance in their stories than the murder mysteries usually reviewed or listed here at NBR. These books got raves from the readers that made the suggestions.  😀

 

No dead bodies to be found among the pages – or so I’ve been told – just romance in many forms. Think Hallmark Channel on Saturday and Sunday nights during June.

 

If you’ve read any of the titles from the authors in this genre, let us know in the comments below.

 

Click on the author names for the links to their websites.

 

Rachael Anderson:  “Not Always Happenstance”

 

Tamie Dearen:  “A Rose in Bloom”

 

Shannon Guymon:  “Free Fallin’ ”

 

Liwen Ho:  “Drawn to You”

 

Melanie Jacobson:  “Always Will”

 

Stacy Juba:  “Fooling Around with Cinderella”

 

Sophie Kinsella:  “Shopaholic Takes Manhattan”

 

Jane Lebak:  “Honest and For True”

 

Debbie Macomber:  “Love Letters”

 

Catherine Maiorisi:  “Matters of the Heart”

 

Jill Mansell:  “The Unpredictable Consequences of Love”

 

Jules Nelson:  “Shadows”

 

Jenny Proctor:  “Love at First Note”

 

Ann Roberts:  “Complete Package”

 

Curtis Sittenfeld:  “Eligible”

 

Heather Sutherlin:  “Loose Ends”

 

Debbie White:  “Finding Mrs. Right”

 

Susan Wiggs:  “Summer by the Sea”

 

Sherryl Woods:  Chesapeake Shores series

 

HeartsIMG_4243

Is there a swoon worthy title in the list?  Happily Ever After reading!   :-)

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

 

“Cuff Lynx” by Fiona Quinn

 

Book Cover - Cuff Lynx

Lexi Sobado is back in Fiona Quinn’s fourth book in the Lynx series, “Cuff Lynx.” Lexi has mostly recovered from her last mission and on the first day back at the Iniquus office, senses something is not quite right with the headquarters of her top secret world. Iniquus is under attack and she needs to figure out how and why even though she’s not yet 100%.

 

Lexi’s regular role at Iniquus is to ‘puzzle’ the plans and tactics of field missions. She has the unusual skill of ‘knowing’ when something isn’t what it should be. She has a sixth sense, a psychic sense that becomes heightened well beyond the norm in the presence of evil.

 

Her skills are put to the test when she hears that Ops are failing, the founder of Iniquus, General Elliot, is in a coma, clients are losing confidence, valuable art is involved, and to top it off, Striker Rheas, Lexi’s heart’s desire, is teamed up with a gorgeous woman with few scruples. What else could go wrong? In “Cuff Lynx,” quite a lot.

 

Lexi has out-of-body experiences that help her gather Intel about the location of other people without having to leave the office or use a computer, and when she goes ‘behind the Veil’ at great risk to herself, we believe it. Quinn’s descriptions of those psychic missions are absorbing and keep the pages turning. The concept underpinning the use of the ‘Veil’ raises questions about how intelligence is gathered in the real world. If fact-gatherers were able to use this technique, would the Intel be of better quality or be obtained more quickly? Fascinating futuristic talking points.

 

The problems multiply, the evildoers abound and in “Cuff Lynx,” we’re not sure if the good guys (including her lover) are on Lexi’s side. Our heroine is a mix of sweetness, naiveté and single-mindedness unusual for an average person her age and that mix is what makes Lexi Sobado so refreshing as a central character in a thriller. The supporting characters are dedicated Special Ops professionals and Lexi’s softer character makes an intriguing contrast to the hard-core military types.

 

Over the course of the series, she is widowed, stalked by a killer, held in captivity, chased, scarred, loved, and trained in special skills that not even her Iniquus team can know about – all at a break neck pace.

 

“Cuff Lynx” can be read as a stand alone, but it’s much more fun if you read them all to experience the development of Lexi’s character and her relationship with the various members of her team. Quinn told me recently that she plans to feature the other characters in their own books. Cool.

 

Please visit www.fionaquinnbooks.com for information about the rest of Quinn’s work in fiction and non-fiction.