They met at university in Santa Cruz, CA, in the 1990s. Following the adventures and misadventures of Anna Fury, Kate Smirnoff, and George Leoni through the more than twenty years following their beginnings was a little bit like a rollercoaster ride, and the author’s narrative style adds to this sensation. The journey jogs from Santa Cruz, to St. Louis, to Boston…and to many points in between.

How to Start a Fire veers back and forth in time and place, almost raucously, resembling the lives they led. Sometimes it was challenging to remember what had happened in previous visits to each time period, as the story would pick up again a decade or two later, and not in any sequential way.

But then I lost myself in trying to learn all I could about each of these fascinating characters, watching with horror sometimes, as each seemed to be her own worst enemy.

Anna’s brilliance in her premed years and in her brief time as a doctor was overshadowed by her addictions. In some ways, her blackouts seemed to be a way to distance herself from her own behavior. What was she trying to escape?

Kate’s inertia, compounded by the way she ran away from her problems emotionally, was a precursor for a different kind of running away. What hid beneath Kate’s unique quest through the heartlands?

George was fascinating in her physical impressiveness and her outdoorsy way…and unfortunate in her choices of men. How did the events in her life lead to these choices?

An array of assorted secondary characters fill in as backdrop to the primary ones…and add depth to them. Due to the jumping around between time periods, we very slowly grow to see the whole picture. Throughout, we witness how friendships are tested, and we also see that what remains is often enough to sustain them. Themes of fire, how it is created, the damage it can do, and the metaphorical essence of it remind us of how nothing is ever just one thing or with just one meaning, and in its various forms, it can still provide warmth and hope. A sometimes frustrating tale, due to the leaps and jumps, I still could not stop reading it. 4 stars.


15814422Two sisters recover from widowhood, divorce, and Bernie Madoff as unexpected roommates in a Manhattan apartment.

Unexpectedly widowed Gwen-Laura Schmidt is still mourning her husband, Edwin, when her older sister Margot invites her to join forces as roommates in Margot’s luxurious Village apartment. For Margot, divorced amid scandal (hint: her husband was a fertility doctor) and then made Ponzi-poor, it’s a chance to shake Gwen out of her grief and help make ends meet. To further this effort she enlists a third boarder, the handsome, cupcake-baking Anthony.

Gwen is the first-person narrator whose take on her changed life, as well as her reluctance to embark on a new relationship, drew me in with her humor and self-deprecation. Despite the urging of her sisters and the almost forceful way that Margot and the roommate Anthony try to push her toward online dating, Gwen has her own view of how these things will develop. She’s a bit old-fashioned when it comes to matters of the heart. So when she gets an unexpected e-mail from an elderly woman who has read her ad and thinks her son, who is a widower, might just be the perfect mate for her, Gwen is intrigued.

What will happen when Gwen and Eli meet? How will Margot’s ex-husband manage to insinuate himself back into Margot’s life? And what about the future of the Penthouse B residents? Will everything change if their relationship woes end?

In many ways, the situations in which the sisters find themselves are predictable; what sets the story apart is the humor and the strength of the bond between the sisters.

A fun book with interesting characters who are struggling to cope in the modern world, The View from Penthouse B was one I thoroughly enjoyed. Four stars.




Elly Jordan is a funny, quirky, and delightful character who transformed this story of one woman’s journey through pain and disappointment into a whole new life and the joy of being Elly In Bloom.

Finding her husband in bed with another woman could seem like some kind of bad cliché, but this kind of thing does happen in real life.

I liked Elly’s story of driving away from that old life and starting a new one miles from her Georgia home to one in a St. Louis suburb, where she starts a flower shop. Her first best friend Kim helps support her emotionally on this journey. Other characters fill up the pages and kept me reading, like the gorgeous Isaac, who helped her feel beautiful again; and the deli owner Keith, who seems to be waiting in the wings for her.

I also liked that Elly, a bit on the plump side and a little klutzy, finds true enjoyment in food, designing, and her friends.

What I didn’t love was the one-dimensional character dubbed Snarky Teenager. At first the name was kind of funny, but ultimately, this character seemed like a caricature that depicted every stereotypical teen behavior: smirking, eye rolling, and furious texting. And the fact that she had no actual name annoyed me.

However, I did like finding out what would happen to Elly and her crew when they took on their biggest job ever. What price would Elly have to pay for accepting this job that would turn into her worst nightmare ever? What will Elly learn about herself in the process?

Despite the engaging parts of the story, the numerous editing/grammatical errors did interfere with my reading pleasure at times. Therefore, 3.5 stars. However, there were many reviewers who liked or even loved everything about this book, so potential readers should check out what they have to say.




Top 10 Reasons to Spend Time at TEN BEACH ROAD in October

TEN BEACH ROAD is hitting the shelves anew this month as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Penguin Group’s READ PINK® program.

The READ PINK® program was created by my publisher, Penguin Group (USA) to promote public awareness of breast cancer and breast cancer research and to support and recognize the contributions of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation®(BCRF) by connecting the cause to books written by, for and about women.

For the past two years, Penguin’s Read Pink donation has sponsored 500 hours of research time and I’m incredibly proud and honored to have my book on the shelves with the Read Pink Seal on the cover and information about BCRF in the back of the book.

But… it’s October!  My books usually hit the stores when temperatures are rising, school is out and we’re either headed to the beach or at least daydreaming about sand, surf and sun.  So this got me thinking about what makes a book a beach book, and why we should throw caution to the wind and read them all year long.   After all, if some fashionista somewhere can decree that white pants are acceptable all year long, then why can’t we do the same with beach books?

Not convinced?  Well, let me share my “Top 10 Reasons to Spend Time at TEN BEACH ROAD in October” list with you and see if we can get on the same page.  (Pun fully intended!)

1.    Since school is back in session, it’s important to set a good example for your kids by reading.  If you pick up TEN BEACH ROAD, you’ll be enjoying a sweat-soaked summer with Maddie, Nicole, and Avery as they rehab a dilapidated beachfront mansion in Pass-a-Grille, Florida.  Your kids will just think you are very smart and studious.

2.    If you need something to warm you up, the men of TEN BEACH ROAD are hot.

3.    Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why books that really take you away are necessary in the summer.  What better time for a good mental escape to the beach than a cold, rainy day in October?

4.    When you’re looking ahead to long cold months with the sun setting earlier and earlier each day, you can at least feel good that you have not lost everything in a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme like the women of TEN BEACH ROAD.

5.    If your neighborhood is getting too cold and windy for DIY projects, you can read about Maddie, Nicole and Avery’s work on Bella Flora and just tell your hubby that you’re in the “planning stages” for next spring and summer.

6.    Did I mention that there are some hot guys in TEN BEACH ROAD?

7.    Reading beach books in the summer can make you feel bad about not being quite bikini ready… but in October, you can pull out a big cozy sweater and some chocolate cake and know you have months before you have to worry about that again!

8.    If beach vacations are not just for summer, then beach books shouldn’t be either.  October is actually a good time to head to the beaches in Florida.  The crowds have thinned and the temperatures are still warm.  You could leave the kids with Dad, grab your girlfriends, a few copies of TEN BEACH ROAD and call it a book club weekend!

9.    Friendships are timeless, and so are troubles.  TEN BEACH ROAD is the story of three women who are thrown together when they lose everything.  It could be set in Aspen in March, Boston in December or Dubuque in May.  The story is about the women, their lives, and their bond.  So reading it in October wherever you live will work.  I promise.

10.    I think I have mentioned that there are some hot guys in the book, but it bears repeating!  If you’re looking for a way to warm up, there’s nothing better than picturing Joe Giraldi running shirtless on the beach.  (Not sure who Joe is?  Pick up the READ PINK® edition of TEN BEACH ROAD to find out)!

So, show the world the kind of woman you really are: brave, fearless, and bold.  Wear white pants after Labor Day, drink a Piña Colada in December and proudly show off your copy of TEN BEACH ROAD in October.  You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood, and you can be proud knowing you’re supporting a great cause!

Visit Wendy at her Amazon Author Page.




The lives of four very different women are about to change in unexpected ways.

It all begins one day when a Princeton senior named Jules Strauss decides to be an egg donor at a fertility clinic. She needs the money to pay for her father’s rehab. Jules is determined to reclaim the father she adored in childhood, as this addicted father is but a shadow of his former self. In a way, she is trying to resurrect her fractured family connections.

Meanwhile, India Bishop, a forty-something woman who married a very wealthy man, but who has many secrets in her past, seems to be seeking redemption. She and her husband Marcus decide to have a baby with a surrogate.

Of course, there’s a fly in the ointment. Stepdaughter Bettina hates India and is determined to ferret out those past mistakes she is sure that India has made, so she hires a private detective.

Annie Barrow married young to her high school sweetheart and has two young boys. She and her husband are struggling financially. Signing up to be a surrogate seems to be the answer.

What none of these women realize is how much all of their lives will turn upside down as a result of their choices. The issues of Then Came You: A Novel are timely and presented in a very unique fashion. The story is told in alternating first person points of view, which offers the reader an intimate connection to each of them.

What events will turn the “best laid plans” of these women upside down and force a very unique solution? What will one of the women do to rectify her own choices?

While I was very interested in this story from the beginning, I became so intrigued about 2/3 of the way through and as a result, I had to carry the book around with me, reading at every opportunity. For me, the story was totally captivating and earned five stars. I can’t wait for the author’s next book!



In this sequel to Waiting to Exhale, we meet up with the four friends, Savannah, Bernadine, Robin, and Gloria, a few years after we left them last.

Still living in Phoenix, the women continue to meet for their girls’ get-togethers and share what’s going on in their lives. But the years have brought disappointments, sorrow, divorces, deaths, and all the inevitable events that life offers up to us. But how these women are dealing with these events is what Getting to Happy spotlights in this newest tale.

The narrative is told from the alternating points of view of the four women: sometimes in first-person and other times in third-person.

What I enjoyed, just as I did the first time around, is how the women don’t pull any punches as they tell each other just what they think and feel. They’ve never hesitated to tell each other the truth, even when it hurts.

So how will they each learn from the mistakes of the past, focus on the present, and live in the moment? As we watch them stumbling along until they finally start to get it right, we can exhale…at long last. Since maybe they’re going to start reaching their potential and discovering that being fifty isn’t the end of the world, or of their happiness.

I liked the characters as much as I did in the first book. This one seemed a little more muted, or maybe slightly less exhilarating. I enjoyed it, but I’m giving it four stars.


Welcome to another edition of Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Today I’m spotlighting a book that’s coming soon:  May 1, 2011.  Here, Home, Hope, by Kaira Rouda, is all about finding happiness in yourself.

Kelly Mills Johnson becomes restless in her thirty-ninth year. An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her middling middle-American existence and her neighbors’ seemingly perfect lives. Her marriage to a successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding. But Kelly’s own passions lie wasted. She eyes with envy the lives of her two best friends, Kathryn and Charlotte, both beautiful, successful businesswomen who seem to have it all. Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife makeover plan.

From page one, Kelly’s witty reflections, self-deprecating humor, and clever tactics in executing that plan–she places Post-it notes all over her house and car–will have readers laughing out loud. The next instant, however, they might rant right along with Kelly as her commitment to a sullen, anorexic teenager left on her doorstep tries her patience or as she deflects the boozy advances of a divorced neighbor. Readers will need to keep the tissue box handy, too, as Kelly repairs the damage she inflicted on a high school friend; realizes how deeply her husband, Patrick, understands and loves her; and ultimately grows into a woman empowered by her own blend of home and career….

What delightful new books are you eagerly awaiting?  Please stop by and share….


The Sisterhood is comprised of a group of women who have banded together to avenge the wrongs of those near and dear to them. In this series, I have enjoyed reading about and cheering on the women whose loyalty and smarts help them achieve their goals.

In Free Fall: Sisterhood Series #7 (The Sisterhood), one of their own, Yoko Akia, seeks to avenge her mother who was only fifteen when a wealthy man swept her off her feet with promises of love. Instead, he brought her a life of horror and eventual death. However, the target of this particular vengeance is America’s favorite movie star. But when the sisters join together to find his Achilles heel, they discover a lot more than they had bargained for. Mister Perfect is full of evil.

Watching the characters set up their plot in the War Room of the Virginia farmhouse is part of the fun, and following the characters’ antics as they zero in on Mr. Not-So-Perfect makes this tale a page-turning event.

However, having read some of the other books in the series, I found that this one seemed to lack that special something. Perhaps everything fell into place a little too easily for me. When everything seems to go awry at one point, the obstacles just fell away much too smoothly. Yes, I was happy about how things turned out, but it just didn’t seem plausible to me. Therefore, four stars for this one.