I love sharing about newly released books (and those coming out soon!) and for the first reading list for 2021, you’ll definitely see some familiar authors. Juliet Blackwell and Jan Moran (two authors that I interviewed in early 2020) have both released new books this year. I’m also sharing about new releases from authors who were new to me and whose interviews will be coming to the blog soon, Janet Skeslien Charles (The Paris Library) and Julia Kelly (The Last Garden in England).
What books are you most excited about reading this Spring? Let me know in the comments below!
Off The Wild Coast of Brittany
Natalie Morgen made a name for herself with a memoir about overcoming her harsh childhood after finding a new life in Paris. After falling in love with a classically trained chef, they moved together to his ancestral home, a tiny fishing village off the coast of Brittany.
But then Francois-Xavier breaks things off with her without warning, leaving her flat broke and in the middle of renovating the guesthouse they planned to open for business. Natalie’s already struggling when her sister, Alex, shows up unannounced. The sisters form an unlikely partnership to save the guesthouse, reluctantly admitting their secrets to each other as they begin to heal the scars of their shared past.
But the property harbors hidden stories of its own. During World War II, every man of fighting age on the island fled to England to join the Free French forces. The women and children were left on their own…until three hundred German troops took up residence, living side-by-side with the French women on the tiny island for the next several years.
When Natalie and Alex unearth an old cookbook in a hidden cupboard, they find handwritten recipes that reveal old secrets. With the help of locals, the Morgen sisters begin to unravel the relationship between Violette, a young islander whose family ran the guesthouse during WWII, and Rainier, a German military customs official with a devastating secret of his own.
Read my 2020 interview Juliet.
When costume designer Ariana Ricci leaves her groom at the altar, she seeks solace at the Palm Springs home of her great-aunt, a Texas-born Hollywood legend who began her career as an extra on the film Roman Holiday. While opening yellowed, 1950s letters postmarked Italy, Ariana discovers relics from her great-aunt’s hidden past, including an intriguing necklace that Audrey Hepburn gave her during the filming of the movie.
Aching for a fresh start and the chance to resolve an unfinished story, the two embark on a journey to the sun-dappled shores of Lake Como, Italy that will illuminate secrets of a bygone era and offer second chances to each of them—if they are bold enough to seize them.
From Jan Moran, a USA Today bestselling author of romantic women’s fiction, including The Chocolatier, comes a dual-timeline, multigenerational saga of love and second chances at any age. Also enjoy her contemporary Summer Beach series and the historical novels, The Winemakers and The Perfumer: Scent of Triumph. Hepburn’s Necklace is available in ebook, trade paperback, audiobook, hardcover, and large print editions. Get swept away with this mesmerizing family saga now.
Read my 2020 interview with Jan.
The Paris Library
Janet Skeslien Charles
Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.
Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.
A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.
Interview with Janet coming soon.
The Last Garden in England
Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.
1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.
1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades.
In this sweeping novel reminiscent of Kate Morton’s The Lake House and Kristin Harmel’s The Room on Rue Amélie, Julia Kelly explores the unexpected connections that cross time and the special places that bring people together forever.
Interview with Julia coming soon.
The Paris Dressmaker
Paris, 1939. The closing of Maison Chanel thrusts haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion and into occupation as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s fight for survival turns into a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda that sees Paris cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquarters. But when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled in the determination to help save his Jewish family and bolster the fight for liberation.
Paris, 1943. While cataloguing priceless works of art stolen from prominent Jewish families and on trains bound for the Führer’s ranks in Berlin, Sandrine Paquet secretly forages information for the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering her missing husband’s fate . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine in drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may tell the fate of a dressmaker who’s vanished from within the fashion elite.
Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation—from fashion houses to the city streets— The Paris Dressmaker weaves a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.
A Dog’s Courage
W. Bruce Cameron
#1 New York Times bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron once again captures the bravery and determination of a very good dog in the gripping sequel to A Dog’s Way Home, the acclaimed novel that inspired the hit movie!
Bella was once a lost dog, but now she lives happily with her people, Lucas and Olivia, only occasionally recalling the hardships in her past. Then a weekend camping trip turns into a harrowing struggle for survival when the Rocky Mountains are engulfed by the biggest wildfire in American history. The raging inferno separates Bella from her people and she is lost once more.
Alone in the wilderness, Bella unexpectedly finds herself responsible for the safety of two defenseless mountain lion cubs. Now she’s torn between two equally urgent goals. More than anything, she wants to find her way home to Lucas and Olivia, but not if it means abandoning her new family to danger. And danger abounds, from predators hunting them to the flames threatening at every turn.
Can Bella ever get back to where she truly belongs?
A Dog’s Courage is a moving tale of loyalty and the constant heart of one devoted dog – brought vividly to life with a keen understanding of what makes all dogs so special.
A Dog’s Courage releases on 5/4.
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