Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Spotlight/Giveaway: Dancing in the Rain by Lucy Appadoo

Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Fifteen-year old Valeria Allegro works diligently on the family farm in Italy, where she is torn between her duty to her family and her desire to find freedom from her strict, domineering father. She finds solace in Dario, a young student who provides a blissful escape—until a neighbour’s son, Gregorio, decides he wants her for himself.

This raises an alarm for her father, which leads to family conflict and aggression. When Dario is threatened and her family is plagued by a series of suspicious accidents, Valeria is desperate to keep her loved ones safe. Can she end the turmoil and escape the firmly built trap to find the freedom she craves?

Book Title: Dancing in the Rain (The Italian Family Series)
Author: Lucy Appadoo
Category: Adult Fiction, 274 pages
Genre: Historical Coming of Age/Romance/Family Drama
Publisher: Lucy Appadoo
Release date: March 24, 2017
Tour dates: June 5 to 23, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There is physical abuse and death involved.)

Buy the Book:

Lucy Appadoo is a registered counsellor and wellness coach with a part-time private practice. She also works as a rehabilitation counsellor for the Australian government. In her spare time, she self-publishes or writes nonfiction and fiction texts. She previously worked as a rehabilitation consultant, caseworker, English as a second language teacher, and proofreader.

Lucy has postgraduate diplomas in psychology, education, and English as a Second Language teaching, as well as specialised qualifications in grief counselling and hypnosis. She has also completed wellness coaching courses (levels 1-3) at Wellness Coaching Australia.

Lucy enjoys reading romantic suspense, romance, thrillers, crime novels, family/historical drama, and sagas. She writes in the genres of romantic suspense, historical fiction, and romance. She has enjoyed travelling to exotic places such as Madrid, Mauritius, and Italy, and draws on these experiences in her creative writing.

Lucy’s favourite authors include Kendra Elliot, Christiane Heggan, Theresa Ragan, Tara Moss, Nicholas Sparks, Adriana Trigiani, Erica Spindler, and James Patterson (to name a few).

Lucy’s interests include meditation, playing tennis, journal writing, reading fiction and nonfiction texts about writing, coaching, and counselling, ongoing professional development, spending time with her husband and two daughters, and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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Ends July 1

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review: The Irish Milliner by Cynthia G. Neale

It is New York City and the Civil War is brewing.

Norah McCabe, an Irish immigrant who escaped the Famine as a child, is now a young widow with a daughter. She is a milliner, struggling to survive in tumultuous times. 

Norah meets Abraham Lincoln, befriends the extraordinary African-American woman Elizabeth Jennings, and assists the Underground Railroad. She falls headlong in love with Edward M. Knox, son of the famous hat-maker Charles Knox, but he is lace curtain Irish and she is shanty Irish. Edward joins the 69th regiment and leaves for battle. 

Can their love endure through class differences and war? 

This is a story of survival, intrigue, romance, as well as, exploring the conflict of Irish immigrants thrust into a war that threatened to destroy a nation. It is about an Irish-American woman who could be any immigrant today, any woman today, seeking to create beauty and make sense of her life.

Suddenly the Civil War seems very relevant and Cynthia Neale does a great job of focusing on the role of the Irish in the conflict. And it's great fun to be in touch with her wonderful character, Norah McCabe, again!” ~Mary Pat Kelly, author of Galway Bay and Of Irish Blood

This timely novel spans centuries to bring to our attention to a topic as old as yesterday, as expedient as tomorrow?emigration. Neale's work, written with love and insight, reminds us that our neighbor is all mankind.” ~Tim Pat Coogan, Irish broadcaster, journalist, writer and author of 1916 The Easter Rising, Michael Collins and The Famine Plot

Publication Date: June 2, 2017
Fireship Press
eBook; 276 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Romance
*** 1/2

I don't recall reading a book about an Irish immigrant living in New York City during the Civil War era, which I think is one of the reason this book appealed to me and I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this blog tour. 

Norah is a young Irish American mother, widowed and residing in the Five-Points area of New York City. While it took me a little bit to get immersed in the story I found the view of New York City before the Civil War interesting and a true picture of what life was like back then.

I enjoyed Norah's character, she was determined, devoted and caring. She wasn't afraid to stand her ground and worked hard trying to expand her hat business. 

You have to wonder if it would be easier just to put your head down, devote yourself to your loved ones and try to survive the times. I love hearing about the Underground Railroad with it's secret messaging systems, I found the involvement of the hats fascinating and would have loved a little more detail into their role. 

All in all I enjoyed this one, it's always great reading about strong women who go against the grain of society, who want to make a difference and a better life not just for themselves but others as well.

The author's note always finish off a book nicely and I enjoyed learning that Elizabeth Jennings as well as Edward and Charles Knox were actual real historical figures. I could feel the author's passion for the Irish and it shows here with her knowledge of the times.

I received a copy of this ebook as part of the tour in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Cynthia G. Neale is a native of the Finger Lakes region of New York and now resides in New Hampshire. She has long possessed a deep interest in the tragedies and triumphs of the Irish during the Great Hunger. This is Ms. Neale’s fourth novel. She also writes plays, short stories, and essays, and holds a B.A. in Writing and Literature from Vermont College.

 For more information, please visit Cynthia G. Neale's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


To win an eBook of The Irish Milliner by Cynthia G. Neale, please enter the Gleam form below.

Two eBooks are up for grabs! 

 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
 – Giveaway is open internationally.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
 – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  The Irish Milliner

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Blast and Giveaway: The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack


Semele Cavnow appraises antiquities for an exclusive Manhattan auction house, deciphering ancient texts—and when she discovers a manuscript written in the time of Cleopatra, she knows it will be the find of her career. Its author tells the story of a priceless tarot deck, now lost to history, but as Semele delves further, she realizes the manuscript is more than it seems. Both a memoir and a prophecy, it appears to be the work of a powerful seer, describing devastating wars and natural disasters in detail thousands of years before they occurred. 

The more she reads, the more the manuscript begins to affect Semele’s life. But what happened to the tarot deck? As the mystery of her connection to its story deepens, Semele can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Only one person can help her make sense of it all: her client, Theo Bossard. Yet Theo is arrogant and elusive, concealing secrets of his own, and there’s more to Semele’s desire to speak with him than she would like to admit. Can Semele even trust him? 

The auction date is swiftly approaching, and someone wants to interfere—someone who knows the cards exist, and that the Bossard manuscript is tied to her. Semele realizes it’s up to her to stop them: the manuscript holds the key to a two-thousand-year-old secret, a secret someone will do anything to possess.

Paperback Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Paperback; 368 Pages
ISBN: 9781250099778
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Mystery

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Powell's

Praise for The Fortune Teller

"Beginning as a clever mystery based on an ancient manuscript and evolving into a family epic spanning centuries, an international thriller, and a destined romance, The Fortune Teller has something for everyone. Offer it to fans of A.S. Byatt's Possession and Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series."―Booklist

 "Womack alternates back and forth between a whirlwind history that spans thousands of years and the suspense of Semele's search...Entertaining."—Kirkus Reviews

 "The Fortune Teller is a gripping, twisting tale that spans thousands of years, thousands of miles, and perhaps even crosses over to the 'other side.' A fascinating read that is that unlikely combination of unputdownable and thought-provoking."—B.A. Shapiro, bestselling author of The Art Forger and The Muralist

 "There aren't enough words to adequately describe how much I love The Fortune Teller. It is a gripping and masterfully woven combination of history, mystery, fate, adventure, and family ties: a true page-turner that enthralls from the first sentence with unique characters, fascinating settings, and intriguing artifacts. Womack brilliantly illuminates how there is more at play in the world than logic can explain."—Kelli Estes, USA Today bestselling author of The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

 "The Fortune Teller takes you on an international thrill ride across centuries—with fascinating research and memorable characters—proving once again that Gwendolyn Womack is a magician, keeping readers turning pages with wonder and awe."—M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author

 "What a mesmerizing journey. The suspense increases steadily throughout the novel, as Semele realizes her identity is caught up in the mysterious manuscript and that the truth of her own abilities is a secret people will kill for. Readers who enjoy the novels of Katherine Neville, Kate Mosse and Diana Gabaldon will savor this treat."—Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown

About the Author

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack studied theater at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds an MFA in Directing Theatre, Video, and Cinema from California Institute of the Arts. Her first novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA PRISM award winner in the Time Travel/Steampunk category and a finalist for Best First Novel. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her son.

 For more information please visit Gwendolyn Womack's website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads.


During the Book Blast we will be giving away a Tarot Deck & Book Set!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

 Description: This deck/book set provides everything you need to understand tarot. The full-size deck is a vibrantly recolored version of the classic Rider-Waite deck, updated with subtle shading that gives depth to the familiar tarot scenes. The 272-page, user-friendly handbook with full-color illustrations is perfect for beginners as well as experienced readers who want to refresh their tarot skills.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on June 30th.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  The Fortune Teller Book Blast

Friday, June 2, 2017

Audio Review: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White

 From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems....

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It's not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren't helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee--something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar's stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother's seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee's house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....

 Published April 11th 2017 
by Berkley Books 
15 hrs and 18 mins via Audible
Karen White is a relatively new author for me. I have read The Forgotten Room which she pinned with two other authors but it was her book The Sound of Glass that really made me pay attention to her work. That book was an audio read for me and I absolutely loved it, so it only stands to reason that I jumped at the chance to listen to the audio book for the night the lights went out when it became available from Audible.

This would be a perfect beach book in my opinion. Coming in at just over 400 pages there is enough time for the reader to get to know the characters and for the plot to really develop. While I could see where the story line was going I was waiting for that big event, that turning point, for lack of a better word the inciting incident that I knew was going to pop up at any moment. When it did it was something I totally did not expect and was rather speechless while I listened. I love it when an author does that, throws a curve ball with something believable but totally unexpected.

The author brings the south to life with unique saying and customs, the added feature of the blog postings left me wondering who the writer could be, the motives and how that fit with the story. Again there were some aspects that were predictable but the smooth writing, intricate detail and satisfactory ending made this a very enjoyable book to listen to.

Karen White is an author that I definitely recommend both in print and audiobook format.

This audio book was obtained from Audible and part of my personal library. 

Click on the covers below which will take you to my reviews of  The Forgotten Room and The Sound of Glass.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

An eleven-year-old girl stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, sent to investigate whether she is a fraud, meets a journalist hungry for a story.

Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, The Wonder—inspired by numerous European and North American cases of “fasting girls” between the sixteenth century and the twentieth—is a psychological thriller about a child’s murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes. Pitting all the seductions of fundamentalism against sense and love, it is a searing examination of what nourishes us, body and soul.

Hardcover, Canadian Edition, 291 pages 
Published September 20th 2016 
by HarperCollins Publishers

This is a book I have been wanting to read for a while, I have never read anything by Emma Donahue but I have heard many good things about her books.

The Wonder begins as nurse Lib makes her way to a small Irish Village, she is hired to watch over Anna, a young 11-year-old who has supposedly not eaten for four months and does not show signs of it, her task is to see if this is true or if someone is secretly feeding her.

The first part of the book was interesting enough as we meet the players and get a good sense of the landscape and the family members involved. But I really struggled with the next bit as I found it a bit dry and flat to the point where I was ready to give up. But I did something I very rarely do and that is look at other reviews before I finished it.  A number of them said the book picks up in the last third or so I persevered and got to that point, then I could not put the book down.

There is a lot of emotion in the story whether it be Nurse Lib, Anna's mother, the Sister or the reporter you can feel the tension in the air as they all have different reasons for wanting to be close to Anna. Superstition and religious convictions plays a big role here as does skepticism. Like I said it was the last part of the book that I found most interesting and the ending was satisfying even if somewhat improbable.

I will read more by this author, it wasn't hard to feel her dedication to this story and amount of research also.

This book was from my personal library and part of my 'reading off my TBR' challenge for 2017.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story by Steven Curtis Chapman

For decades, Steven Curtis Chapman's music and message have brought hope and inspiration to millions around the world. Now, for the first time, Steven openly shares the experiences that have shaped him, his faith, and his music in a life that has included incredible highs and faith-shaking lows.

Readers will be captivated by this exclusive look into Steven's childhood and challenging family dynamic growing up, how that led to music and early days on the road, his wild ride to the top of the charts, his relationship with wife Mary Beth, and the growth of their family through births and adoptions. In addition to inside stories from his days of youth to his notable career, including the background to some of his best-loved songs, readers will walk with Steven down the devastating road of loss after the tragic death of five-year-old daughter Maria. And they'll experience his return to the stage after doubting he could ever sing again.

 Poignant, gut-wrenchingly honest, yet always hopeful, Steven offers no sugary solutions to life's toughest questions. Yet out of the brokenness, he continues to trust God to one day fix what is unfixable in this life. This backstage look at the down-to-earth superstar they've come to love will touch fans' lives and fill their hearts with hope. Includes black-and-white photos throughout.

 Hardcover, 448 pages
 Published March 7th 2017 
by Fleming H. Revell Company

"We'll travel over mountains so high, we'll go through valleys so low.  Still through it all we'll find that this is the greatest journey the human heart will ever see.  The love of God will take us far beyond our wildest dreams."

Between Heaven & the Real World is an authentic, emotional story of the life of Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman. It is hard for me to add much to this review that isn't covered in the synopsis above.  Gut-wrenchingly honest is the perfect phrase that comes to mind.

From Chapman's growing up years, his relationship to Mary Beth and the tragic death of their young daughter, he doesn't hold back. There is more about his career here as well, the songs he has written and there meaning, the early days of his musical career right up to the adoption of his 3 daughters from China.  A down to earth guy with the same struggles and challenges as everyone else, who is brutally honest and doesn't hold back when faced with a parents worst nightmare.

I don't read non fiction as often as I would like and reading this one proved that I need to venture in that direction more often.

 Book provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.

 When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters--her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice? 

New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf has been described as "masterful" and "intelligent" and compared to Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult. Introducing her most compelling heroine yet, she delivers a taut and emotional thriller that proves she's at the top of her class.

 Paperback, 352 pages
 Expected publication: May 30th 2017 
by Park Row Books
Heather Gudenkauf is a favorite of mine I think I have read all of her books, but one. See end of post for list and review links.

One of the things I love about her books is that she has unique plots, settings and characters. Not a Sound starts with the bang and quickly drew me. Amelia is putting her life back together after a hit and run accident that claimed her hearing, this book is told from her point of view.

I found this to be a fast paced story and while I enjoyed the mystery part and how that was resolved I really enjoyed getting to know Amelia and seeing what life is like for her on a day to day basis. Not being born deaf but as a result of an accident, the author did a great job with her struggles and coming to terms with her new way of life. I don't think I've ever read a book featuring a deaf protagonist, and I was interested in how she had to modify her surroundings - special phones, service dog and learning to lip read (just to name a few). Stitch was great and added the extra spark to the story.

 Not a Sound is a suspenseful story with an interesting cast of characters in a unique setting. The ending wasn't what I expected, they were twists and turns along the way that have me guessing at the outcome. Definitely a book I highly recommend. 

Thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced e-book copy.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Review: Beyond the Wild River: A Novel by Sarah Maine

For fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams, a highly atmospheric and suspenseful historical novel, set in the 1890s about a Scottish heiress who unexpectedly encounters her childhood friend in North America, five years after he disappeared from her family’s estate the night of a double murder. 

Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Ballantyre has rarely strayed from her family’s estate in the Scottish Borderlands, save for the occasional trip to Edinburgh, where her father, a respected magistrate, conducts his business—and affairs of another kind. Evelyn has always done her duty as a daughter, hiding her boredom and resentment behind good manners—so when an innocent friendship with a servant is misinterpreted by her father as an illicit union, Evelyn is appalled.

Yet the consequence is a welcome one: she is to accompany her father on a trip to North America, where they’ll visit New York City, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and conclude with a fishing expedition on the Nipigon River in Canada. Now is her chance to escape her cloistered life, see the world, and reconnect with her father.

Once they’re on the Nipigon, however, Evelyn is shocked to discover that their guide is James Douglas, the former stable hand and her one-time friend who disappeared from the estate after the shootings of a poacher and a gamekeeper. Many had assumed that James had been responsible, but Evelyn never could believe it. Now, in the wilds of a new world, far from the constraints of polite society, the truth about that day, James, and her father will be revealed…to stunning consequences.

Paperback, 336 pages 
Expected publication: April 18th 2017 
by Atria Books

I loved Sarah Maine's debut novel, The House Between Tides and got very excited when I heard there was a new one being released. While reading the blurb for this new book I was immediately drawn to references to Kate Morton and Beatrice Williams, both are favorites of mine and each have a unique, intricate and mesmerizing writing style that draws me right in. Those are mighty big shoes to be compared with, making me somewhat apprehensive now on whether this book could deliver the same feelings.

 I love the plot for this book it sounded interesting, beginning in Scotland and traveling to New York Chicago and then up to Canada, Lake Nipigon which is an area I am familiar with. The book starts out with a double murder and the disappearance of a young man, then the drama when he just happens to be at this location in Canada. 

I wanted to love this book I wanted it to be the type of book I had a hard time putting down and based on her previous novel I kind of expected it. However I found the book moved a bit slow for my liking and I struggled to connect with the characters. It wasn't until the last quarter of the book that things picked up both with the plot and character building. While I found the first part over descriptive I did joy the setting in northern Ontario and I loved a glimpse of the history from that area. Definitely some serious research took place here.

All in all an interesting mystery that played out differently from what I expected  The author's notes were great, I love Canadian history and enjoyed the links and references to this countries past.  I never realized that trips to northern Ontario by Europeans were popular in that time period.

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced e-book copy of this book.

click on cover to see review

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Novel Destinations

Follow in the footsteps of much-loved authors, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Jane Austen, and many more.

 For vacationers who crave meaningful trips and unusual locales, cue National Geographic's Novel Destinations—a guide for bibliophiles to more than 500 literary sites across the United States and Europe.

Check into Hemingway's favorite hotel in Sun Valley, or stroll about Bath's Royal Crescent while entertaining fantasies of Lizzie Bennett and her Mr. Darcy.

The fully revised second edition includes all of the previous sites—with updated locations—plus color images and an expanded section on all things Brontë.

The book begins with thematic chapters covering author houses and museums, literary festivals and walking tours. Then, in-depth explorations of authors and places take readers roaming Franz Kafka's Prague, James Joyce's Dublin, Louisa May Alcott's New England, and other locales.

Peppered with great reading suggestions and little-known tales of literary gossip, Novel Destinations is a unique travel guide, an attractive gift book, and the ultimate bibliophile's delight.

• Hardcover: 392 pages 
• Publisher: National Geographic

I love to travel and when I do I am always on the lookout for anything bookish to check out. Whether it's bookstores, museums or local hangouts of authors, I scour the net before leaving. I jumped at the chance to review this book, it's exactly what I am interested in and everything is in one neat package. Now it's a little big to take along but it is great for planning. Novel Destinations is also great to sit back and browse, not just to get ideas and plan your next great adventure but for curiosity's sake as well.

Divided into 2 parts with Travel by the Book: the best literary experiences at home and abroad being the first one. 
     Chapter headings like: Read 'Em and See: Author Houses
                                         Museums, Literary Festivals, Tours and More
                                         Booked Up: Literary Places to Drink, Dine and Doze
...just to name a few.

Part Two: Journeys between the Pages - the pages of literature come to life in the following 11 locales immortalized by famed novelists. These locations are mainly in Europe and the east coast of the US (and one stop in California).  All of them are authors that I have heard of but some I've never read. Reading about their story, seeing pictures of the places they would hang out has peaked my interest. From The House of the Seven Gables (Nathaniel Hawthorne) to A Sacred Place (Victor Hugo) and 9 more famous authors this book was insightful and a nice glimpse into their lives.  

Part of me feels that I liked Part Two better just because of the opportunity to get to know new authors better and see their background but then Part One journeys to museums, coffee shops and other places to visit and walk in their footsteps.  Each section was unique and interesting.

Thank you to TLC Tours for the opportunity to review this one.

Purchase Links

National Geographic StoreAmazon | Barnes & Noble

Shannon McKenna Schmidt is the co-author with Joni Rendon of Writers Between the Covers: The Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads.

She has written for Arrive, National Geographic Traveler, Shelf Awareness,, and other publications and websites. A former Hoboken, New Jersey, resident, she is traveling full-time in the United States and abroad and can be found on the web at and

Friday, May 19, 2017

Coming Soon: The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is a favorite of mine and come this fall she has a new book out.

From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel  

Hardcover, 384 pages 
Expected publication: October 3rd 2017
 by St. Martin's Press

In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

 The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

 When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?