Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne

Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Two tales of holiday romance from USA Today bestselling author Lyla Payne, where lost love is found in the nick of time, and Mr. Right could be just under your nose!

Mistletoe and Mr. Right
Jessica takes a flying leap and follows her Irish boyfriend home for the holidays, sure that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop for the beginning of their happily-ever-after. But it turns out the only person making the trip worthwhile is the local farmhand, who has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most . . . and least.

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Christina Lake does not want to be away at Christmas, but it’s her job to babysit one of London’s hottest bands…even though she had a fling with the band’s lead singer, Cary, that never officially ended. Maybe London is exactly where she’s supposed to be to get the perfect New Year’s kiss . . . if Cary can find a way to prove himself before the clock strikes twelve.

Love at Christmas! So good.

I picked up this book because of the pup on the front. I wanted a sweet, holiday read with an ending I could depend on and that’s what I got, times two. The writing is solid and the stories are easy reads. I blazed through them in the course of a couple afternoons.

Mistletoe and Mr. Right – This story had promise. It’s cute. Jessica thinks she’s got the world’s number and she knows how she wants to run it. I liked her headstrong approach. The thing that drove me nuts about her, but was also very human, was her bone-deep desire to control everything and have it go her way. There were some serious blind spots to this gal. I liked the connection to Grady, too. I guess what bothered me the most with this one was her wanting control, but wanting more than one thing at a time. It’s still a good read and fun for the holidays.

Sleigh Bells and Second Chances – Christina was an interesting character. She’s best friends with Jessica from Mistletoe & Mr. Right, so that’s how the stories are connected. But she’s also sort of…snobby isn’t a good word for it. She comes from a damaged background and from a broken home, but there’s money involved. She has her issues to go through, which made her human, and the relationship with Cary. There’s some serious heat there. I liked the connection and rooted for them, even though there were times I didn’t like Christina much. She changed her mind a lot and wanted to do a lot of punishing. Still, the Christmas spirit is all over this story and it’s cute.

If you want a pair of stories to warm the chilly evenings, then this might be the book you’re looking for.

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Recent Historical Fiction
Length: Full Length (240 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

They arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret–including what their husbands were doing at the lab. Though they were strangers, they joined together–adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, full of the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery.

While the bomb was being invented, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed into a real community: one that was strained by the words they couldn’t say out loud or in letters, and by the freedom they didn’t have. But the end of the war would bring even bigger challenges, as the scientists and their families struggled with the burden of their contribution to the most destructive force in the history of mankind.
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The Wives of Los Alamos is a testament to a remarkable group of real-life women and an exploration of a crucial, largely unconsidered aspect of one of the most monumental research projects in modern history.

Different and interesting.

I picked up this book because I’ve been on a historical binge. Okay, maybe it’s more recent historical, but still. This book fit right into what I wanted to read.

This book is listed as haunting. On some levels it is. I mean, to know these women were in a situation where they knew only about a third of what was going on and still going about their business…it’s crazy. I enjoyed reading about their struggles, hardships, thoughts and how even back then, women could be catty to each other when they had little else to do.

There is a certain rhythm to this book, though. It’s not written from any one person’s point of view. It’s an original, but if the reader expects to learn how these people lived from one person, then the reader is out of luck. I have to admit, it’s a little difficult. I could, yet I couldn’t, identify with the characters because there were so few named.

If you’re interested in reading a book about Los Alamos from a different point of view, then this might be the book for you.

The Kindness by Polly Samson

The Kindness by Polly Samson
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre- Women’s fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (290 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

A novel both heartbreaking and hopeful, about love and family, and the major and minor ways we lose people in our lives—from an acclaimed talent.

Julian’s fall begins the moment he sets eyes on Julia, flying a hawk high on a ridge. Julian is an English student, heading toward academia; Julia is married and eight years his senior. And yet, ignoring warnings from family and friends, they each give up all they have to be together. Their new life in London offers immense happiness, especially after their daughter, Mira, is born.
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But when Julian’s adored—and remote—boyhood home becomes available, he sets out to re-create a lost paradise for his new family. Once again, he allows love to blind him. Only when Mira becomes dangerously ill does it become impossible for Julia to conceal the explosive secret that she has been keeping.

In this first introduction to American readers, the acclaimed Polly Samson explores how the yearning for the past can affect joy in the present and the future. The Kindness is a haunting story of love, grief, betrayal, and reconciliation—masterfully plotted and exquisitely rendered.

I’d never read anything by this author before but glad that I chose to review this book. It’s told in current tense, third person with carefully placed flashbacks. The first part of the book focuses on Julian, one of the main characters. The story is told through his eyes. That story is how he met Julia, and fell in love with her. It’s about their life with daughter Mira and Mira’s illness. It also covers his past relationship with Kate, an old school friend. It’s beautifully told and while I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of the book I can say that all is not what it seems.

The last half of the book is told from Julia’s point of view. It’s sort of her take on the story that’s unfolded during the first part of the book. While it’s not a case of there’s two sides to every story, Ms. Samson did a wonderful job winning you over to both these character’s sides. I felt like they were both flawed in some way and that together they healed one another.

As all good books should, The Kindness is an emotional read. It has lots of twists and turns, especially in the second half. It tugs your heartstrings continually the more you learn about these characters and the truth behind their story. In a way it’s almost upsetting realizing they can’t all have a happy ending.

I’ll definitely be looking for more books by this author. And if you enjoy women’s fiction packed with emotion and told in an original way, I’d recommend putting this one on your to read list.