REVIEW: THE HOTEL NANTUCKET, BY ELIN HILDERBRAND

Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map. And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?

Filled with the emotional depth and multiple points of view that characterize Hilderbrand’s novels (The Blue Bistro, Golden Girl) as well as an added dash of Roaring Twenties history, The Hotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this compelling summer drama.

 

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From the first pages of The Hotel Nantucket, the reader is swept away by the characters, their stories, and the looming presence of the hotel itself. Not to mention the essence of the ghostly Grace.

I was rooting for several of the characters, especially Lisbet and Edie. As I kept turning the pages, I loved discovering the depths of them all. Even the ones I didn’t really like at first, like Allessandra.

The setting was lovely and as the renovations brought the old hotel back to a thing of beauty, I could feel the joy of them all. The inspiration of turning the old place into something special was not to be overlooked.

Romances flourished as well, even for those who were trying to overcome past disappointments. In the final pages, just when we thought we might have lost the beautiful hotel, something happened to turn things around. Five stars.

***

REVIEW: THE FLATSHARE, BY BETH O’LEARY

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

 

The Flatshare was an adorable and delightful journey that takes two strangers that start off sharing a flat in their “off hours” to the ordinary notes that turn cute. Like a “meet cute” without actually seeing each other.

They each discover that the connection that is slowly building through the shared post-it notes begins to feel like a relationship. Especially when their friends begin pushing for them to take the next step: to actually meet.

How the meeting happens turns into a kind of on-off effort that is another part of the slow-build journey. There is much to sort out, beginning with how to get past the baggage of their past relationships.

One might conclude that this is just a predictable romantic story, but the quirky and unusual elements turned it into so much more. I liked the way we could see the characters through their notes and their internal monologues…and then watch their missteps along the way until finally, we had a satisfactory ending. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: FIRST FLURRIES, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

 

Lindsey Haynes’ father once gave her a snow globe with the note: “Unsure where to go? Give a little shake … and your heart will always know.” On a whim, those words lead her to the quaint New England town of Addison. It’s a place straight out of a storybook with its twinkling town green, decorated Main Street, and secluded lakeside cabin community.

But an encounter with a dejected doctor named Greg Davis turns Lindsey’s days upside down, much like a snow globe in motion. With a little nudge from endearing townsfolk, and a few chance meetings of their own, a magical flurry of emotions suddenly swirls around them.

First Flurries is an enchanting story about finding love and home when you’re not even looking. So cozy up and settle in with a tale that will simply capture your holiday heart.

 

 

My Thoughts: Beginning with the magical flurries that surrounded the characters in First Flurries, I was wrapped up in the setting and the moments with the characters.

As with all books by this author, I felt immediately connected to the characters, watching from close by as Lindsey settled into Addison with her Tiny House hooked up to her SUV, her Vagabond Vintage Shop enclosed within. The first collision occurred while backing up her bulky vehicle, distracted by an announcement on the radio, and as she connected with a sedan, incidentally belonging to Dr. Greg Davis, from that point on, many subsequent collisions would lead the couple to a strange and almost inevitable connection.

But both were fighting their feelings. Greg had an unfortunate history of love connections not quite “getting off the ground,” and Lindsey was constantly moving on to her next destination. Would the magic of the country village during the holidays lead to something more? Or were the two of them destined to hit and miss? This book was one that kept me smiling and wishing for the two of them, and earned 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THEN & ALWAYS, BY DANI ATKINS

 

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Rachel Wiltshire’s life was upended one night when a tragic event changed everything.

Now, five years later, while attending her best friend Sarah’s wedding in their hometown, an unexpected fall and a head injury change everything again.

But what Rachel remembers about her life in the past five years is not at all what everyone says it was…how could she have misremembered the past five years? And were her memories wrong, or are those around her telling an untrue version?

Then and Always: A Novel was definitely a story that made me ponder all the “what-ifs” in life. What if I had taken that road…or perhaps that one?

As Rachel begins to unravel the mysteries of her own life, a surprising number of twists and turns take her into some untraveled places.

An unforgettable story that kept me turning the pages. And then, in the final pages, a totally surprising twist makes me question everything I thought I knew about this story. Awesome read! 5.0 stars.

REVIEW: SAVE THE DATE, BY MARY KAY ANDREWS

18404093Talented Savannah florist Cara Kryzik has taken over the business of her former boss, and even though her new business is flourishing with wonderful referrals, a series of expenses have created challenges for her. Especially with her controlling father, the Colonel, who lent her money in the beginning, now demanding to be repaid.

Cara manages to keep juggling the various obstacles and to concentrate on a very promising new client that could put her business in the black. But will the competitive designer on the other side of town who seems to be sabotaging her at every turn keep her from achieving her goals? And what about the conflicts between the bride and her stepmother that could threaten the beautiful wedding they hope for? Could something deeper and more damaging ruin everything for the bride, for Cara, and her dreams? And how will Cara’s prize assistant seem to derail their teamwork as the big day approaches?

Save the Date has pages of interesting scenarios and conflicts, as well as characters that kept the story moving along. As we near the end, it is impossible to put this book down, as even though the storyline could be a bit predictable at times, the challenges were unique enough that I could not be sure how everything would sort itself out. And the characters, like Cara, her assistant Bert, and a potential love interest named Jack Finnerty, were fun and likeable. I was rooting for them, and holding my breath, hoping that the saboteurs would not win.

And throughout, I loved the descriptions of the flowers and the weddings, along with the delightful antics of two look-alike dogs that were, in many ways, matchmakers for Cara and Jack. With a breathtaking ending, this was a truly satisfying read. 4.5 stars.