Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Newport Ladies Book Club: Olivia - Julie Wright

The Robbins household looks perfect from the outside: no dust, no stains, no wrinkles. Yet a glimpse into its heart reveals no laughter, no closeness, no joy. Olivia thinks that if she keeps everything tidy and serves delicious meals on time, family life is bound to get better. But when her husband, Nick, misses their anniversary, she realizes no amount of domestic success will compensate for failure in their marriage, or for her own failure to develop her identity-always busy as a mother, wife, and neighbor, she has forgotten how to be a unique and vibrant individual.

Determined to make a change, Olivia joins a local book club, where she nurtures new friendships and explores new ideas. But her growing confidence falters when Nick declares his independence- and while her new friends lovingly encircle her with support, only Olivia can reach into the depths of her fledgling self to find the faith, hope, and love her troubled family needs.

What a wonderful way to start of a new year of reading! Olivia, the first book in the Newport Ladies Book Club series, was an absolute delight. Yes, the characters face struggles, yes the book brought on some tears, but the optimism of Olivia, the main character, continued to shine through, despite the difficult times she faced.

I wanted Olivia to be one of my best friends, then I remembered, I had author Julie Wright as a friend, and she is as much like Olivia as anyone can be when it comes to optimism. How lucky can I be?

In the novel, we also meet the women who will be telling their own stories in the books to follow. Daisy, Athena, and Paige are already feeling like friends, and I can hardly wait.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Third Time's the Charm - Heather B. Moore

Liz, Gemma, Arie, Jess, and Drew have been best friends since creating "the Five" at Aliso Creek High School. But that was over ten years ago, and each is still trying to find that perfect someone . . . if perfect is even possible.

In fact, Liz Carlson will settle for a normal man. A normal man with a job, that is. Married twice, then divorced twice, Liz had her rose-colored glasses fall off and shatter on the ground a long time ago. Her main focus now is raising her six-year-old daughter and surviving long days at work on her feet as a hairdresser. When Sloane Branden answers her call for help, quite literally, Liz doesn't even give him a second glance. She has sworn off dating for as many years as it takes, and it seems that Sloane has done the same after his own tumultuous marriage. But when Liz realizes that Sloane defies every stereotypical deadbeat she has dated, she might just find room in her heart and discover the third time's the charm.

In this first novella of a planned series, Heather Moore introduces us to Liz, a woman who wants the same thing most of us do, a relationship that is based on the honest truth. But Liz has already been burned, not once, but twice, and is afraid to grow too near anyone again, especially in light of what another romance might mean to her relationship with her six-year-old daughter. Having sworn off men, of course the first thing that happens is that she meets the perfect guy--rich, handsome, and ready to come to her rescue. The only catch--he's got an ex-wife who seems to still be in love with him, and Liz knows the woman would get in the way, if there were a way to get in to. Determined to keep her own distance from Sloane, Liz finds herself drawn closer to him the more she tries to pull away. And that's where the fun begins.

An absolutely delightful and clean read that will satisfy romance fans, and leave them wanting more. As a matter of fact, although the novella came to the perfect conclusion, I'm hoping Moore will someday revisit this couple and answer some of the questions I still have about their future together, and what happens to the nasty, mean ex-wife!

(For the purist fans of Moore's genre historicals, know this novella is not what she writes for the Utah market, but nothing within it will prove more than mild to the general reader.)