Review: THE ITALIAN PARTY by Christina Lynch

51xyEh8AZGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_THE ITALIAN PARTY by Christina Lynch / Mystery / Released March 20, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Review by Heather Haven

I will begin by saying the cover attracts attention right off. A black and white photo of a couple sitting on a moped, it shows immediately that the story centers on a man and woman, takes place during the fifties, and resides in Italy. That’s a good cover. When the book arrived, my husband was so intrigued by the cover alone, he picked it up to check it out.

And thus I come to the best part. I lost The Italian Party to my husband for the evening. When he came up for air, he’d read over half of it. I snatched the book back, declaring I had to review it, but at his insistence, promised to return it to him immediately after finishing. And I did. It’s that kind of book.

According to the blurb, and I quote: “…a newly married couple, Scottie and Michael, are seduced by Tuscany’s famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.”

Sounds like a love story, right? Not quite. I found The Italian Party to also be about universal subjects, often the Rites of Passage one experiences in life. This is a story of not only love, but caring, sorrow, desire, expectation, weakness, strength, and acceptance, all woven together with history, politics, and social mores. The characters have unique relationships. Embattlements ring true. As in real life, the story never quite takes you where you think you’re going to go.

This is Christina Lynch’s debut novel. Ms. Lynch has a notable background in writing and editing, and delivers a fine and complex tale. I plan to read any of her future endeavors.

Release: THE HOPE CHEST by Viola Shipman

9781250111111THE HOPE CHEST by Viola Shipman /  Fiction / released in paperback Feb 13 by St. Martin’s Press

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.

But when Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple’s life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

With each item—including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges.

A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

New Release: THE FIRST KISS OF SPRING by Emily March

9781250131706THE FIRST KISS OF SPRING by Emily March / An Eternity Springs Novel / Released Feb 27 by St. Martin’s Press

Spring has come to Eternity Springs in The First Kiss of Spring, the newest installment in this New York Times bestselling series by Emily March.

Life could be a dream…

Goal-oriented and gorgeous, Caitlin Timberlake’s dreams took her to the top of the corporate ladder in New York City. Now years later, her goals have changed. She wants to come home to Eternity Springs and build a business and a family of her own—with the new man in town. So what if sexy mechanic Josh Tarkington wants nothing more than a fling? Caitlin is a patient woman who knows how to work hard and strategize to win what she desires. She desires Josh. Unfortunately, he has other plans.

If only things were different…

Josh craves Caitlin and all she has to offer. However, he is a man with secrets. He has worked hard to overcome his tragic past, but he’s afraid to risk having a future because he knows trouble is never very far away. When a selfless act brings that trouble to his door, he stands to lose everything he cares about—including Caitlin. Will her love and the healing magic of Eternity Springs be enough to save him?

New Release: DARKEST NIGHT by Tara Thomas

9781250138002DARKEST NIGHT by Tara Thomas / Romantic thriller / Released in paperback Feb 27 by St. Martin’s Press

In the sultry streets of Charleston, one family, ruled by its powerful, take-no-prisoners sons, has risen to the top. But a merciless enemy is out to destroy them…and everyone they hold close…

Exclusive bonus content available only in the print edition!

Tilly Brock has learned—the hard way—how to take care of herself. Once a pillar of Charleston society, her family lost everything in the wake of a shocking scandal. And then Tilly lost the only boy she ever loved.

Keaton Benedict is Charleston’s most notorious bachelor. But in spite of all his advantages—the money, the women, the family name—he longs for more: the heart of the young woman he still can’t forget.

When Keaton re-enters Tilly’s life, after all these years, she is torn between feelings of doubt and desire. Can they put the past behind them and learn to love again? Tilly is willing to try. But Keaton is afraid that a vengeful enemy is watching—and waiting to destroy them. Can the rekindled flame of their love defeat the deadliest rival and light their way forward in the darkest night?

Review: DEATH OF AN UNSUNG HERO by Tessa Arlen

51UqRGUZXrL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_DEATH OF AN UNSUNG HERO by Tessa Arlen / Mystery / Released March 13, 2018 by Minotaur Books

Review by Colleen Donnelly

Let me say first that the cover for “Death of an Unsung Hero” by Tessa Arlen was well chosen for it does indeed fit the mood of this story. And not only does the cover suit the book, but the pace and style this WWI era mystery was written with also seem appropriate for the time period. Not trendy, or in any way resembling contemporary mysteries, this book will be best enjoyed by the person who not only loves to solve a crime, but who also appreciates how a story is told. From the beginning, “Death of an Unsung Hero” feels like a slice of life in a unique and unpopular hospital setting where the invisible wounds of soldiers are treated rather than the bleeding ones. The staff and patients alike unfold in the book’s beginning, their relationships and their dilemmas compounding until one of them is murdered. And eventually another…setting in motion fear for those on site as well as fear the hospital will be closed down. Not willing to risk leaving the institution or its people at the mercy of an incompetent investigator, two older staff women assume the task of solving the crimes themselves, sorting through complex clues while navigating negative social opinion as they do.

Again, this story wasn’t written to be a fast-paced whodunit, jumping from incident to incident, but rather a daily walk in the lives and shoes of the characters. The author does indeed put us into the characters’ day-to-day, and does a good job of sticking to the main plot while resolving minor issues that complicate the crime. The two heroines were worthy sleuths, the investigator easy to despise, and the crime well concealed as clues amassed. There was nothing graphic, no vulgarity, just truly a slice of life story with murder complicating the mix.

I thank The Book Breeze for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. As an author, reader, critique partner, and part time copy editor, I appreciated the literary style of this book, the way the setting and characters helped reveal the tone and mood of the era, and the mystery that stayed a mystery while it was being solved.

Colleen L Donnelly

Amazon #1 Bestselling Author


Never Retreat Create Space_240 - front cover compressedTHIS LITTLE BOOK PIGGY GOES TO MARKET
A small press author tackles marketing on a tiny budget

As a writer of women’s fiction published by a small press, I’m continually challenged by marketing. Like the little piggy of the nursery rhyme, I don’t want to cry “wee-wee-wee” all the way home from a market place crowded with hundreds of thousands of books, all screaming for the reader’s attention. But neither my publisher nor I have large purses. Or bank accounts. So what can I do?

Marketing takes about fifty percent of a creator’s time, an artist once told me. Other experts ballpark the time at one-third of the hours you spend writing. In any case, writing a book is only the first step. Once you sign with a publisher, you can be sure your workload will skyrocket.

For those of us with more energy and hours than money, the first step in marketing is to determine your writing genre. What type of tales do you enjoy? In your heart have you always wished you could be a cowboy? A spy? A sexy lover? Are you still a child? Somewhat intellectual? If so, you probably read and write in a genre like children’s books, westerns, mystery, romance, or literary.  Publishing is defined by specialized categories of book, which also identify readers by age, gender, interest, locale. These seem to become more targeted by the week. The process helps greatly in marketing books as you try to insure readership.

Determining a genre enables you to take the next step: locating people who specialize in the genre who might spread the news about your work. This means an internet search. My work is women’s fiction of the light romance variety, so I shift through hundreds of book bloggers and review sites on that topic. There are some sites that centralize many bloggers for easy access. Two of them are Book Blogger Listing ( and Book Blogger List. (

Each blogger has his or her own requirements. Most expect an advance reader copy (also known as an ARC) as well as organized details (fact sheet anyone?), a cover image, author’s image, author’s biography, a book overview or blurb, and publication information. If you’re hoping for a big internet splash right on publication date, you’re thrown into a chicken-vs-the-egg situation. How can you send out a link for purchases if the book hasn’t been published yet? My decision was to spread out my promotion over the period of several weeks, scheduling blog submissions according to the blogger’s deadline.

Another decision: don’t get discouraged by the sheer volume of potential sites. As I faced literally hundreds upon hundreds, my enthusiasm dissipated to intense depression. Then I recalled the words of Edward Everett Hale. “I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” To evaluate what ones to approach, my publisher suggested looking over numbers of comments on a blogger’s site. More comments equal more readers of the blog.

Review sites also exist, some of them free, many of them paid. The really big reviewers, like Library Journalor Publisher’s Weekly, rarely take small or independent publishers’ products, and I believe they’re not worth chasing. If you’re lucky enough to have local media that still carries book reviews, don’t overlook this blessing. You can spend a fortune tracking down review sites that charge. If you have the time, inclination, and money, you might try a few at a time, tracking numbers of sales after each paid review as an evaluation.

 The line between blogs and reviews is hazy in my mind, but it’s worth a search for the more specialized areas. Again, genre is good place to start, and there are sites that aggregate other review sites. For example, mystery writers can visit L. J. Sellers pages to find a list that will reduce your hours of research ( Be aware that many review sites want a pitch and ARCs up to four months in advance.

If you’re small, you’ve got to be tough and creative. Allow yourself some brain time to mull over your contacts and off-the-wall ideas. Here are some I’m considering:

·         Send notices to every group I’m affiliated with and ask them to put a notice about my book in their newsletter, Face Book, or elist. Yes, I’ll send to my local romance group. But I’ll also see if my city councilman’s monthly news would carry my information.

·         Tailor the notice to the group’s interest. My city councilman features local businesses and interesting people. I qualify as both. I don’t expect him to simply run a puff-piece. I’ll insert a hook that applies to the neighborhood.

·         Social media, social media, social media. I get sick of 20 tweets a day from the same author with a new release. However, I’ve had to resign myself to some social media. An author’s Facebook page is free, as are several popular social media sites. If you’re new to the game, try just a few at first.

·         Give-aways and contests are popular with romance authors. I’m still feeling my way, so I haven’t done much of this. You might start with Good Reads give-aways because they’re easy enough that I’ve done them.

·         Ask friends and connections to push your book on their social media. Be sure to provide ready-made news release and publication information.

B 1 edited CU- Copy[Bonnie McCune’s newest women’s novel, Never Retreat, is being published March 2018. A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership. Read more about the book and the author at]

Never Retreat Create Space_240 - front cover compressedNEVER RETREAT by Bonnie McCune / Women’s Fiction / Released March 15, 2018 by Imajin Books

A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.

Years ago, Ramona (‘Raye”) Soto faced harsh reality when a roving con man knocked her up. Now at thirty-something she’s concentrating on her career in a major telecommunications firm and funding college for her teenaged son. Enter Desmond Emmett—a fast talker and smooth operator. New to the office, the ex-serviceman possesses every negative quality for a guy Raye should avoid.

Thrown together at a corporate retreat in the wilderness, the reluctant duo struggles to complete management’s extreme mental and physical tests for a huge reward. But only one can win the prize, and Des needs the money to underwrite medical treatments for his adored younger sister.

See-sawing between attraction and antagonism, the mismatched couple, Raye and Des, face their biggest challenge: learning the meaning of true partnership. When a massive flash flood sweeps down the rocky canyon and threatens their love and survival, they must put aside their difference to rescue their colleagues—and their future as a couple.


978-1-77223-350-6 Kindle ebook

978-1-77223-351-3 Trade paperback


New Release: HOW TO BE YOURSELF by Ellen Hendriksen

41I3vLSswJLHOW TO BE YOURSELF by Ellen Hendriksen / Self-Help / Released March 13, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

Picking up where Quiet ended, How to Be Yourself is the best book you’ll ever read about how to conquer social anxiety.

“This book is also a groundbreaking road map to finally being your true, authentic self.” —Susan Cain, New York TimesUSA Today and nationally bestselling author of Quiet

Up to 40% of people consider themselves shy. You might say you’re introverted or awkward, or that you’re fine around friends but just can’t speak up in a meeting or at a party. Maybe you’re usually confident but have recently moved or started a new job, only to feel isolated and unsure.

If you get nervous in social situations—meeting your partner’s friends, public speaking, standing awkwardly in the elevator with your boss—you’ve probably been told, “Just be yourself!” But that’s easier said than done—especially if you’re prone to social anxiety.

Weaving together cutting-edge science, concrete tips, and the compelling stories of real people who have risen above their social anxiety, Dr. Ellen Hendriksen proposes a groundbreaking idea: you already have everything you need to succeed in any unfamiliar social situation. As someone who lives with social anxiety, Dr. Hendriksen has devoted her career to helping her clients overcome the same obstacles she has. With familiarity, humor, and authority, Dr. Hendriksen takes the reader through the roots of social anxiety and why it endures, how we can rewire our brains through our behavior, and—at long last—exactly how to quiet your Inner Critic, the pesky voice that whispers, “Everyone will judge you.” Using her techniques to develop confidence, think through the buzz of anxiety, and feel comfortable in any situation, you can finally be your true, authentic self.