Living from the Inside Out by Kristie Booker – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is a part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kristie will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Living from the Inside Out

As a wellness coach, I often work with women who feel like their body is never good enough. I can relate. I used to live with that mindset as well. I spent a large part of my life working up the courage to raise my middle finger to society’s view of a perfect body. Self-acceptance is hard.

What if we felt good enough because we were simply good enough? What if we spent time understanding what we love, what makes our heart happy and ultimately, “fitting in” to who we are?

These questions led me to think about where I continued to conform to society’s expectations. What part of me was still drinking the social Kool-Aid in order to be popular? Where was I continuing to live from the outside in?

I realized that I was participating in society’s push toward moving up the social ladder, competing and winning in the name of power and wealth. I made up my mind that I didn’t want to do that anymore. Little by little, I embraced the discomfort of letting go. It was hard. I did my best to quiet the outside noise so I could hear my tiny voice inside.

There’s always been a push inside of me to write. I ignored it. It wasn’t practical. The more I quieted the outside noise, the stronger the urge. As much as I felt inspired, I also was afraid. Afraid of being judged. Afraid of not being good enough.

I committed 2 hours each day to writing. Keeping my butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard during those ugly moments where I had to wrestle mean, self-induced fears of not being smart enough, creative enough and all of the other “not enough” thoughts down to the ground was hard. At times, it felt impossible. After a while, the two hours a day became three, then four and five.

I felt resentful toward the blank stares and rolled eyes from some of those I chose to tell about my writing. I fought the desire to tell my internal voice to shut up so I could go back to the comfort zone of seeking acceptance from others. Being true to myself wasn’t supposed to please others, it was only supposed to feel right to me.

Now that I’m on the other side and have a completed novel ready to publish, I’m eternally grateful to whatever forces were at work to help me see my first book through to the end and ultimately, complete a lifelong dream of being a writer. Living from the inside out isn’t always easy but staying tuned in to the inner voice makes life a whole lot better.

Growing up on a farm in Brockville, Illinois, did not prepare Colleen O’Brien Adler to be the wife of a wealthy entertainment lawyer living in Chicago. It certainly didn’t prepare her to be Dinah Adler’s daughter-in-law. The stay-at-home mother of two has more than she’s ever wanted—a personal stylist, a prestigious country club membership, a multimillion-dollar home—but she finds herself not only struggling with depression and body image but also failing as a parent and fearing for her marriage. Her life is about to change when an invitation to a wellness meeting arrives in her inbox. With some coaxing from personal coach Kory Stone, she commits to a new beginning. But will she be able to overcome the things that are holding her back?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Colleen tossed the other pieces of mail on the kitchen island between her freshly opened can of Diet Coke and the white-lidded paper cup that had contained a large vanilla latte. She tore through the heavy cardstock. White roses swirled up each side of the invitation.

Harborview Country Club cordially invites you to attend the Forty-Fourth Annual Spring Fashion Show — featuring Raina Rose. The event will be held on Friday, the first of April at noon. RSVP by the eighteenth of March. Spots are limited!

Today was March 17. Colleen dialed the club and was put on hold. While she waited, she thought of her doctor’s appointment scheduled on Friday, April 1. She would have to reschedule. She wasn’t missing the fashion show for the second year in a row.

The club receptionist finally returned to the line. “I’m sorry. Mrs. Adler, but the event is full.”

“Were the invitations mailed late?” Colleen said.

“I sent them three weeks ago,” the woman said. “Would you like me to add you to the waiting list?”

“But I just got mine,” Colleen said. “Who’s in charge this year?” She already knew the answer to that question — her mother-in-law, Dinah, and her porcelain-faced lackeys, Ashley Barr and Victoria Heller.

The same thing had happened last year, and Colleen had given the three women the benefit of the doubt. She believed them when they blamed the post office for the delay. This year, however, Colleen knew her invitation was sent late on purpose.

About the Author: Kristie Booker is the author of Blooming Into Life, a blogger and a Wellness Coach. She enjoys coaching and inspiring women through her writing as well as in person. Kristie is a wife and mother of two sons. She grew up in rural Illinois, but now lives in Chicago.

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Reel Love by Elizabeth Hartey

Reel Love by Elizabeth Hartey
Publisher: Crimson Cloak
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (486 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Rose

Annie Caslo is a successful, young doctor, but when she begins rethinking the career choices she’s made, she makes a decision to find a way to stay focused and achieve her true ambitions – that is until fate steps in and she is thunderstruck by Colt Ballard. He’s six foot three inches of heart-stopping hotness, an adept, roguish soccer star and also one of her interns. But he’s a player – on and off the field – and Annie has better things to do. Still, the combustible chemistry between them is impossible to resist – Colt brings out feelings she never knew existed and Annie’s swept off her reluctant feet.

When she continues to second-guess her life choices, opportunities and obstacles begin piling up higher than the greasy Mexican food stacks she hates to admit loving. While in a state of emotional turmoil, she gets a celestial visit from a hunky, Hollywood heartthrob, lookalike, who claims to be her guardian angel. He takes her on a magical road trip to self-discovery with the help of several, dearly departed film icons.

Drawn into the excitement of a life she’s always dreamed of, this new life threatens to shatter the LIFE and love she already has—unless her quirky angel can help her find a way to have it all.

Reading this book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old adage “be careful what you wish for.” Annie Caslo became a doctor because that’s what her parents wanted for her, but she wanted to be an actress.  She was offered a job she could not turn down, but made the decision to only stay there a year, then follow her own dream.  Her plans are derailed when she meets Colt, and her life takes a very different plan than she envisioned.

The story is told from several points of view (including forays into Annie’s childhood).  While this helps explain what everyone is feeling (it was amusing seeing, at the beginning, Colt and Annie’s different views of the same incident in the coffee shop), it also prevented this reader from really connecting with Annie as much as I would have liked to.  I would have enjoyed being able to “feel” more of what Annie felt.  As it was, the many POV shifts never allowed me to completely immerse myself into the story.

The writing itself was clean with no grammatical issues.  Looking at it with an editor’s eye, there were areas that could have been tightened up more, but that is more of a personal issue on my part.

If you are a lover of classic movies, like I am, you will love all the references and quotes this author uses — it’s worth reading the book just for those!!  3.5 stars.

Not Perfect by Elizabeth LaBan

Not Perfect by Elizabeth LaBan
Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Women’s fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full length (331 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Tabitha Brewer wakes up one morning to find her husband gone, leaving her no way to support herself and their two children, never mind their upscale Philadelphia lifestyle. She’d confess her situation to her friends—if it wasn’t for those dreadful words of warning in his goodbye note: “I’ll tell them what you did.”

Instead, she does her best to keep up appearances, even as months pass and she can barely put food on the table—much less replace a light bulb. While she looks for a job, she lives in fear that someone will see her stuffing toilet paper into her handbag or pinching basil from a neighbor’s window box.

Soon, blindsided by catastrophe, surprised by romance, and stunned by the kindness of a stranger, Tabitha realizes she can’t keep her secrets forever. Sooner or later, someone is bound to figure out that her life is far from perfect.

I’ll start by saying I really enjoyed this book. I liked Tabitha, the main character, from the beginning, and who wouldn’t? She’s now a single mom to two children because her husband’s suddenly disappeared, leaving her with a once lavish lifestyle and no way to pay for it. She can’t ask for help or let anyone know about her predicament because he’s left a note that concludes with a threat about telling people what she did. But what exactly did she do? Tabitha like many of us feels she’s done one too many things and feels the guilt.

The story pulled me in immediately and I liked the way the author made Tabitha a sympathetic character by opening with Tabitha taking things for them to eat but keeping tabs on what she’d need to pay back once she got a job.

It’s a believable story and I think that’s what made it work, well at least for me. The dialogue is natural sounding and the pacing spot on for an enjoyable read.

I also enjoyed the bigger question the story asks and that is can anyone be truly perfect and do the little imperfections in our lives really prevent us from being perfect?

If you like women’s fiction with some believable characters and interesting conflict, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Where It All Began by Lorana Hoopes – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lorana will be awarding a Medieval Renaissance Handmade Leather Diary Journal Thought Book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour (US ONLY). Click on the tour banner to see the rest of the stops on the tour.

Sandra Baker thought her life was going in the right direction until she ended up pregnant. Not ready for a baby, her boyfriend pushes her to have an abortion. After the procedure, Sandra spirals into depression losing her relationship and turning to alcohol. Then she meets Henry, a strong Christian man, who shows her God’s love. Will she accept God’s forgiveness and more importantly, will she forgive herself?

Enjoy an Excerpt

The delicate paper menu held only a few choices, and my eyes widened at the prices. I should have thought to ask where we were going before I agreed. I didn’t have the money to spend so much on dinner, especially since Peter had moved out and money was much tighter. My heart thudded in my chest as I quickly scanned for the cheapest item on the menu; even the side salad was nearly fifteen dollars. How do people afford this? Well, the salad comes with bread and a bowl of soup, so at least it should be enough to fill me up.

The waiter, clad in a white dress shirt and perfectly pressed black pants, appeared just as I laid the menu down. “Have we had enough time?” he asked politely, glancing at each of us before focusing his attention on Philip, who took the lead in ordering.

“Yes, we’ll have two glasses of your finest red wine and two plates of the steak and lobster, grilled medium well.” He handed his and Raquel’s menus to the waiter.

“Very well,” the waiter nodded and turned his attention to me.

I swallowed. “Um, I’ll have the side salad and the tomato soup.”

The waiter cocked his head. “Will that be all miss?”

My face flushed, and just as I was about to answer, Henry jumped in. “Yes, and the same for me please.” He handed our menus to the waiter.

The waiter nodded. “Yes, sir, and anything further to drink?”

Henry glanced at me; I shook my head. “No, water will be adequate for now, thank you.”

As the waiter turned away, I regarded Henry. Who was this man, and why was he being so nice to me? He caught me staring and shot me a small wink as he picked up a piece of bread.

About the Author:Lorana Hoopes is currently an English teacher in the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing, she can be seen kickboxing in her local gym, singing at her church, or performing on stage. The Heartbeats series is her first full length novel series. She has also just released the first book in her early reader chapter book, The Wishing Stone.

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Why I Value Negative Criticism as a Writer by Kate Brandes – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kate Brandes will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why I Value Negative Criticism as a Writer

I’ve spent most of my career, not as a writer, but as an environmental scientist. I didn’t start writing creatively until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve always loved stories about complicated families and relationships. When I learned about fracking through my environmental science career, one of my first thoughts was that it would make a great metaphor in a novel about a fractured family. So that’s how I began writing my first novel, The Promise of Pierson Orchard. It took me seven years from the time I started writing to get a publisher and I couldn’t have done it without a lot of negative criticism between then and now.

When I started writing, I had to learn to tell a story in the novel form. In order to do that, I asked for and received a lot of feedback from acquaintances, friends, other writers, and professional editors.

For me, especially in the beginning, the worst kind of feedback was, “Yes, this looks good. I just found a few typos and corrected those for you…”

When I was starting the novel, I was completely new to creative writing. I knew my writing needed more than just typo help. I truly wanted to get better and what I was really looking for was complete honesty, even if that was something like, “I understood nothing after page one and I don’t really know why.” That’s not great feedback because it’s not very useful in terms of where to go with it, but it was always better than a patronizing pat on the back or someone who didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

What I’ve learned over the years is that the quality of the feedback is often dependent on how much experience the reader has with writing. I’ve also learned over time to trust my gut. Often for me, I have to give critical feedback a week or more to stew before I know which advice to take and which to discard.

Giving honest critical feedback takes time and deep consideration from a good reviewer. I’ve never seen it as a personal attack, but instead a well-intentioned hand extended trying to show me the way.

In the novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack and Wade–years ago.

When LeeAnn’s parents have good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land, and the way of life they love.

Enjoy an Excerpt

A brand new black pickup was parked between LeeAnn’s red Chevy and Jack’s old beater. A man stood beside it, with his hand raised in greeting, but he said nothing more. Coming from the bright light of the barn into the dusk prevented Jack from making out the man’s face. Jack stared in his direction. Some tug of memory caused him to hesitate. There was something familiar about the slight curl in his shoulders.

LeeAnn emerged from the edge of the orchard and the man turned at the sound of her boots on the gravel drive. “LeeAnn?” the man said.

She stopped. “Wade Pierson?” She hesitated a moment more and then walked slowly toward him. “Is it really you?”

There, right in front of him, was his brother. Wade. Back after twenty years. He was still alive, at least. Wade’s arms encircled LeeAnn.

Jack clenched his fists and went back into the barn. He offloaded the fruit from the wagon, bruising most of it. He washed apples with shaky hands and then crushed them for the cider press. LeeAnn and Wade came through the doorway.

“Jack, look who’s here.” Jack glanced up and then couldn’t take his eyes from his brother’s face for a long moment. He wasn’t a sixteen year-old kid anymore. He’d grown taller than Jack and filled out. Damn if he didn’t look even more like their dad now, with that same dark red hair and fair skin. That curl of the shoulder used to give Wade the look of someone unsure of whether he belonged. But now Wade stood there smiling, like he would be welcome. Like he could just show up after all this time with as much warning as he gave on the night he left.

About the Author: An environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wildflowers.

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Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star

Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.

When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.

At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.

Catharsis, thy name is Sisters One, Two, Three.

Everyone has those moments they’ve gone through that have galvanized them. Kids growing up, getting older, mistakes made…we learn to live with them or at least get past them. That’s a lot of what this book is about. There’s a wide mix in a family. Yes, it takes all types and the Tangle family has them in spades.

The writing flowed well and I didn’t want to put the book down. That said, I did look away many times and had to redirect my interest. Makes no sense? While I wanted to know more, I got a tad bored on occasion. There was so much angst, I had to step away. I liked the book, but I had a hard time connecting the entire time. It wasn’t a bad story…but maybe it wasn’t the right read for me right now. That doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to others. I’m sure it will.

Readers, like me, should find a bit of themselves in each sister. The tragedy does mark them. Grief, numbness, sadness… we’ve all been there. It was like reading about my friends and going through the whole summer together. I don’t regret it. There’s the sister with control issues, the one who wants to control nothing, and the damaged one. There’s the mother with more issues than can be counted and everyone trying to come together to deal.

If you like a book high on angst and characterization, then this is the book for you. You’ll laugh, cry and look at your own life a little differently.

Opening Gates by Nancy King

Opening Gates by Nancy King
Publisher: Plainview Press Publishing
Genre: New Adult, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (270 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Summer, 1956. With her parents away and her boyfriend abroad, Rennie is on her own. To make money for college, she takes a job as a recreational therapist in a large mental hospital in New York City, despite her reluctance to sign a loyalty oath in the charged times of McCarthyism. She has no relevant experience, but she’s good at sports. How hard can it be? Very hard, she discovers.

As Rennie struggles to relate to the confused, emotionally unpredictable women and challenging hospital administrators and staff, she is befriended by a troubled young man with a passion for jazz, meets a wise Middle Eastern restaurateur, and after an accident on her motor scooter, becomes three construction workers favorite “damsel in distress.”

Too stubborn to quit, Rennie finds meaningful ways to connect with her patients and creates previously unimagined opportunities for them. She also discovers a new, stronger part of herself. By summer’s end, no longer dependent on other’s opinions, she can listen to her heart and conscience and make crucial changes in her own life.

Opening Gates is story from which I got more than I bargained for. It is coming of age story that covers some pretty serious issues like gender equality, mental illness and life in USA in late 1950s.

The main character, and also the narrator, is 19 year-old Rennie Weinstein. Rennie is college student who decides to apply for a summer job in a mental hospital in New York as a recreational therapist, because it pays well. She thought that her job would be relatively easy one, but as soon as she enters the hospital she realizes that it a whole unknown world lies there, a world that has rules of its own which are almost impossible to change. But slowly, with hard determination, and a strong will, Rennie starts to change some rules. Also her different and human approach to patients starts to change the life of women in the mental hospital.

Opening Gates is not an easy read, not just because it deals with mental illness, but because there is so much injustice in this story. The treatment of women in the hospital is often very tenacious and inflexible. The patients are perceived as things or as trouble makers and people who want to help them or make their life a bit better are restricted by so many written and unwritten rules. There are few scenes that are harsh, but I believe that they also picture realistic treatments of the patients in the mental institution at that time. The author does not go into a private stories of the women in the hospital, because her focus is on the main character and the changes Rennie goes through during her summer work, but on the other hand she is describing the atmosphere, sights, and smells so well.

This is a story worth reading because it provides a genuine insight into a mental institution in 1950s. The message of the story: “the little things go a long way”, resonated to me for a long time after I finished the book.

Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt

Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt
Publisher: New American Library
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (336 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

Childhood best friends Rachel Campbell and Claire West have not only grown up, but after fifteen years, they’ve also grown apart…

After her father left, Rachel had to dedicate her life to managing her household: her two younger sisters, her disabled mother, and her three-year-old nephew. When Rachel’s not struggling to look after all of them, she makes her living cleaning the houses of wealthy families—inclulding the Wests, where a surprise now awaits her. . . .

A lifetime of drifting in other people’s currents has finally left Claire high and dry. First it was her parents, then the popular crowd in school, and finally her fiancé. Now she’s returned to Hartley-by-the-Sea to recover. But running into Rachel brings back memories of past mistakes, and Claire wonders if she now has the courage to make them right.

Soon Claire’s brother, Andrew, asks Rachel to keep an eye on Claire, which is the last thing either woman wants. But as their lives threaten to fall apart, both Claire and Rachel begin to realize what they need most is a friend. The kind of friend they once were to each other, and perhaps can be again. . . .

Slow and steady, but not plodding, the characters make every page of this book worthwhile.

I struggled with a rating for this book, and I’m struggling a bit with the review. It’s hard to categorize, exactly, why I enjoyed it and why I kept happily returning to it after I’d put it down for a moment. This isn’t an edge-of-your-seat thriller, or a heart- warming romance. It’s more, rather, a day (or a few weeks) in the life of two women whose lives are at a pivotal moment and how the choices they make, even little ones, may affect their total future.

Claire was my favorite of the two … oddly, she felt more human and actually stronger than Rachel, despite outward appearances. Rachel’s constant irritation with life in general wore on me a bit, and there were times I wondered why Claire and Andrew even wanted to be around her. She goes through changes as the book progresses, thankfully, and by the end I really enjoyed her.

Claire has been treated as if she is fragile and utterly breakable her entire life. She finds just a little spine when she leaves a stint in rehab that she didn’t even need, and goes against her parents’ wishes for her to live with them, instead returning to the home of her youth. It’s there her journey truly begins.

Rachel is trapped in a life she hates. Her mother is an invalid, her father left when she was just eighteen, and her sisters do little to help her with keeping them afloat. Home life is a constant battle, and it gets worse as time goes on. More, suddenly her friend from school, the same friend who up and dumped her without any warning, shows up in town again and acts as if nothing was wrong.

There’s a solid cast of secondary characters to back the girls up. Dan, Lily, Meghan, Mrs. Carwell, Andrew, and others make Hartley-by-the-Sea a real living, breathing place.

I admit to tripping over some British slang and phrasings (like A-Levels … I had to go find out what grade that was in reference to), but I’m sure the reverse is true with the folks from over the pond read books written in the US.

Thing is … nothing much happens in the story. I mean, stuff happens, but nothing earth shattering. It’s really just watching the girls figure out some things in their lives. I still, even after thinking about it more while writing this review, can’t put my finger on what made this book so charming. However, I really, really hope the author visits the town again. I can’t wait to see what’s happening with Claire, Dan, Rachel, Andrew, Lily and others. I’m really quite hooked!

A Summer to Remember by Marilyn Pappano

A Summer to Remember by Marilyn Pappano
A Tallgrass Novel
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, women’s fiction
Length: Full Length (361 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis


It’s been a long time since widow Fia Thomas felt the spark of physical attraction. But from the moment she meets Elliot Ross one stormy night, she yearns for a fresh start, for him to make her feel whole and well again. With his broad shoulders and a warm smile crinkling his dark eyes, he could finally offer her the solace she’s been seeking. And she’s willing to give him anything in return . . . except a promise that could break his heart.

Now that Elliot is out of the Army, he’s looking for a place to call home. Tallgrass was just a stop to stretch his legs, yet one look at Fia halts him in his tracks. In her sweet, sassy company, he finds the soul mate he never thought he’d have. But Fia is holding something back-something that keeps her from making any plans. Elliot’s new mission: gain Fia’s trust…and convince her that summer’s end can mean a new beginning.

I’ve just finished reading a highly enjoyable story that has summer theme to it.

I’m a fan of the author so I guess that does make me a tad biased about her stories but I can assure you, fan or not, I think you’ll fall in love with the two main characters, Fia and Elliot. What I always love about Ms. Pappano’s books is she has the uncanny knack of pairing up people who would actually make ideal lifelong partners in real life.

Fia and Elliot are well drawn characters who you immediately fall in love with. And yes, the story starts with Elliot and we learn he’s even rescued a dog! They’re not perfect people but that’s what adds to their appeal. They both have a history and sometimes that gets in their way of realizing they’re one another’s soulmates.

This is a story that has some tears, some laughter, and you find yourself turning the pages to get to their happily ever after because you feel they so deserve it.

Even the secondary characters are lovable too. While I haven’t read any other books in the Tallgrass series, it’s made me what to go check them out.

If you love an old fashioned romance, break out the lounger, grab your sunscreen and head outside to read this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Outcast by Dianne Noble

Outcast by Dianne Noble
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s fiction
Length: Full (308 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Rose leaves her Cornwall café to search for her daughter in the sweltering slums of Kolkata, India.

In the daily struggle for survival, she is often brought to her knees, but finds strength to overcome the poverty and disease, grows to love the Dalit community she helps.

But then there are deaths, and she fears for her own safety.

Her café at home is at risk of being torched, and finally, she has to make the terrible choice between her daughter and the Indian children.

This is a beautifully written book about mothers and daughters, about forgiveness and redemption, about loss and finding oneself. The subject matter itself isn’t pretty. It deals with the poverty and struggle that is the life of the Dalits–the untouchables–of India. But the story itself is beautiful and is one I think I will be thinking about for a long time.

The story begins with Rose discovering that the plane on which her daughter was supposed to be arriving after her gap year in India was missing. Her relief that Ellie did not actually get on the plane quickly turned to a desire to repair the damage that had been done to their relationship over the years, so she decides to go to India on a surprise visit, leaving her café in the capable hands of Hannah, who we discover has her own mother issues that are juxtaposed against the story of Rose and Ellie.

I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the two stories, and I hope Ms. Noble plans on revisiting Hannah and Willow. I would like to see how their story plays out.

Although the ending was not the one *I* would have chosen, I can quite see how it was the right decision for the characters.

Good job, Ms. Noble. I will definitely be checking to see if you have other books available.