Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake
Series: Gwen Proctor, #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.


When I heard Rachel Caine was releasing a thriller, I was excited. I read her YA Morganville Vampire series years ago, and I really enjoyed her writing style. I was interested to see how that writing style would transfer to an adult thriller.

Stillhouse Lake was an addicting read. Everything about the story held my attention. It was fast paced and constantly changing directions. I loved the depth of the characters and the fact that everyone was hiding something. It made it fun guessing who the bad person was. (I guessed correctly!) It also had a great cliffhanger. I wish the next book was available!!!

I’m not going to go into the plot or characters in this review because I would hate to give anything away. If you like a great thriller, I highly recommend Stillhouse Lake. It was such a fun ride.

Release Blitz Review: The Iron Tiara by Beth Flynn

 

BLURB

Anthony Bear and Christy Chapman are from two completely different worlds.Anthony’s the leader of a motorcycle gang that terrorizes Florida’s West Coast. As a child, he ran away from his family and the Cherokee Indian Reservation to enter a life of crime. As an adult, he leads a multifaceted life managing his two businesses—his legitimate landscaping venture, and his loan shark and underworld dealings. Driven by anger and betrayal, Anthony begins the hunt for Christy’s father, Van Chapman, after he runs out on a loan.

Christy’s privileged life is not as it seems. She has kept painful family secrets and hidden some of her own. She’s determined to find out the truth and expose Van, but her search delivers her right into Anthony Bear’s hands, adding kidnapping to his list of crimes.

Their worlds are as contrasting as the color of their skin. The only thing they seem to have in common is their mutual disdain for Van Chapman…and each other.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The Iron Tiara is a spin-off novel from The Minutes Trilogy. It can be read as a standalone, and does not contain a cliffhanger.
 

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MY REVIEW

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: I received an ARC from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an unbiased review.

The Iron Tiara is one of my most highly anticipated book releases of the summer. I’m a HUGE fan of the Nine Minutes trilogy, and I was so happy that Beth Flynn decided to grace her readers with a spin-off. I could read a book about any of the supporting characters from the original series. They had so much life and personality!

Fans of Nine Minutes will want to know how The Iron Tiara compares to it. The Iron Tiara is a more straight forward story than any of the books in the original series. That doesn’t mean that it’s without its own twists and surprises. There are definitely some of those in store. It reminded me of both Nine Minutes and Out of Time. It started out and ended by jumping around in time and perspective like Out of Time did, but the middle was all continuous story like Nine Minutes.

The majority of The Iron Tiara is told from Anthony and Christy’s points of view. There are a few other points of view strategically placed throughout the book that help explain the plot to the reader. The entire book is written in third person narration that can change from chapter to chapter or sometimes back and forth within a chapter. The latter was a little weird at first, but it gave me the feel of knowing what each character was thinking during a conversation or event. I ended up appreciating it.

Anthony and Christy’s story was engrossing. Their lives somewhat paralleled Grizz and Kit’s, and the two couples’ stories intersected at times. I remembered Anthony and Christy from the original series, but this book helped make sense of their roles in Nine Minutes. It also made me fall in love with them. Their story was just as interesting and eye-opening. I never thought I would fall for another character like Grizz, but Beth Flynn had me shamefully falling for Anthony Bear.

Overall, I loved The Iron Tiara. I loved the characters. I loved the twisted story line. I loved being back in the world of Nine Minutes. Like I said before, I would read a book about any of the characters from that series and now this book. I’m invested, so I’m crossing my fingers for more spin-offs and more pieces of the puzzle.

I know this review doesn’t really tell you anything about Anthony and Christy’s relationship, but it’s a book you’re going to have to experience for yourself. I don’t want to ruin the surprises for anyone. 😉

 

ABOUT BETH FLYNN

Beth Flynn is a fiction writer who lives and works in Sapphire, North Carolina, deep within the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Beth and her husband, Jim, have spent the last 19 years in Sapphire, where they own a construction company. They have been married 33 years and have two daughters and a temperamental pit bull named Lady , Beth enjoys writing, reading, gardening, church and motorcycles, especially taking rides on the back of her husband’s Harley. She is a seven-year breast cancer survivor.
 

 

STALK BETH FLYNN

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Review: Ruckus by L.J. Shen

Ruckus
Series: Sinners of Saint, #2
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Rosie

They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They’re right.
No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking.
He is my forbidden, shiny apple.
The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth.
He is also my sister’s ex-boyfriend.
One thing you should know before you judge me;
I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first.
Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance.
Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.

Dean

They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right.
She sets my mind on fire.
All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart.
In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius.
Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart.
This time, I dare it to try.
Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus.
Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight.
And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.


When Ruckus released last month, I saw a ton of good reviews for it. I had never read L.J. Shen’s books before, so I decided to give Ruckus a try. I downloaded it, but couldn’t get to it right away. This week, I was feeling a bit of a book hangover and decided to start Ruckus. I’m really happy I did. I have found a new author I’m excited to read more from.

Rosie LeBlanc has felt a connection to Dean “Ruckus” Cole ever since she first met his glare in high school. She knew Dean was the one for her at that moment. Sadly, a relationship with him wasn’t in the cards. Dean was her sister’s boyfriend, and that made him off-limits even after they broke up.

Now, year’s later, Dean’s back in Rosie’s life. They live in the same building, and no matter how hard Rosie tries to avoid Dean, she always runs into him and his harem. His blunt cockiness and womanizing ways should make Dean the least desirable guy, but when Rosie’s sister’s wedding requires them to spend time together, she can’t help but be drawn further into his web.

I loved L.J. Shen’s writing style. It’s a little bit dark and a whole lot gritty. I love that she gives a voice to both the male and female main characters. The first person dual points of view are raw and emotion filled. Her characters are alpha males and strong females who won’t step down from a fight. They have something traumatic that pulls them together, while at the same time breaking them apart.

Rosie was an inspiring character. Her life was harder than most due to physical challenges, but she didn’t let that stop her from trying to achieve her dreams. She was so good deep down inside, and saw good in Dean when others wouldn’t have.

Honestly, Dean was a cocky jerk. He may have had a lot going for him career and looks wise, but he wasn’t a nice guy. Dean had moments where his compassion and sweetness showed through, but they were rare. He was pretty messed up, and it took a lot to get him started on the right path. It took me a while to really like Dean. I would have liked to have seen more of the redeemed Dean. I could have used about 5 epilogues to believe he could be who he needed to be — I’m not just saying that because I fell in love with him even more in the epilogue provided.

Rosie and Dean’s relationship was a rough one. There were a lot of barriers trying to keep them apart. Whether it was her health, his addictions or their friends and family, nothing was strong enough to break them apart. Their chemistry and love for each other was too strong. I loved how they fought for their love and for each other.

Since this is the first book I’ve read in the Sinner of Saint series, I feel the need to point out two things. First, the side characters are just as intriguing as the main characters. Hearing about everyone’s combined past makes me want to hurry up and read the other books in the series. I need to know more about the rest of the HotHoles and their women. Second, this book can be read as a standalone. You don’t have to have read the first book to read this one. It might have made it more fun (I don’t know since I didn’t read the other books first.), but it was a great reading experience without having read the other books.

Oh! And I can’t leave out the fact that Ruckus surprised me! I thought I knew what Dean’s secrets were going to be, but I didn’t! I was completely surprised a couple of different times while reading. I loved that!

Overall, I loved reading Ruckus. This enthralling romance was combined with just the right amount of mystery and darkness. It was everything I expect from a great new adult book. I will be immediately reading the rest of the series.

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


This is Karen M. McManus’ debut novel? I’m having a hard time believing that because One of Us Is Lying was so well written. It’s rare to find a YA thriller/mystery that’s as intricately woven as this books was. That fact that a début author wrote it blows my mind! 

One of Us Is Lying kept me guessing from beginning to end. I thought I might have known the killer, but every twist and turn made me reexamine what I thought I knew. The four different points of view spurred that on. Every time the character narrating changed, something new and important was revealed. Those revelations were key in keeping the story moving and changing.

I loved every minute of reading this book. It’s one of best YA debuts I’ve read in a while. The fact that author’s inspiration was The Breakfast Club with criminal twist makes it even more of a gem! I can’t wait for Karen M. McManus to publish her next novel. I will definitely be reading it!

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Mystery, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.


Why did I wait so long to read this book? It’s been on my TBR ever since it came out. I got it from the library once, but ran out of time to read it. I’m so disappointed in myself because Big Little Lies is a masterpiece. I really need to thank my friend who chose it for our book club read. She forced me to pick it up, and I will be forever thankful.

Big Little Lies was flawlessly written. It kept me guessing the entire time I was reading.  I could never quite figure out how everything was going to all play out. It drove me a little nuts because so many of the revelations aren’t made until the end. All my guesses were wrong. Each twist and turn had me gasping and reading faster.

What wasn’t flawless in this story were the characters. Each had his or her imperfections. Some were instantly likable, and they had my instant sympathy. Others were annoying. A couple were down right detestable. When it all came down to it, how I felt about the characters didn’t matter. All that mattered was how they were wrapped up in what happened. Each character was perfect for Big Little Lies.

Big Little Lies was a constantly shifting story that explored several different issues. I loved how each issue was woven into the story and the mystery of it. It was an amazing read, and I highly recommend reading it. I really want to watch the new television adaptation of Big Little Lies now!

Review: The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon

The Queen and the Cure
Series: The Bird and the Sword Chronicles, #2
Author: Amy Harmon
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Amy Harmon
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“There will be a battle, and you will need to protect your heart.”

Kjell of Jeru had always known who he was. He’d never envied his brother or wanted to be king. He was the bastard son of the late King Zoltev and a servant girl, and the ignominy of his birth had never bothered him.

But there is more to a man than his parentage. More to a man than his blade, his size, or his skills, and all that Kjell once knew has shifted and changed. He is no longer simply Kjell of Jeru, a warrior defending the crown. Now he is a healer, one of the Gifted, and a man completely at odds with his power.

Called upon to rid the country of the last vestiges of the Volgar, Kjell stumbles upon a woman who has troubling glimpses of the future and no memory of the past. Armed with his unwanted gift and haunted by regret, Kjell becomes a reluctant savior, beset by old enemies and new expectations. With the woman by his side, Kjell embarks upon a journey where the greatest test may be finding the man she believes him to be.


Bravo, Amy Harmon! The Queen and the Cure was a masterpiece. It was an epic, romantic adventure that even someone who does not normally gravitate toward fantasy, like myself, could fall in love with. It was filled with evil villains, internal and external conflicts, magic, and a legendary romance.

The writing and imagery in The Queen and the Cure were just as beautiful as they were in The Bird and the SwordI was immediately pulled back into the world of Jeru and its surrounding kingdoms. It was fun to be back in this world with all its amazing characters and settings. Plus, I was super excited to learn Kjell’s story! His character had so much potential in the first book.

Kjell was just as brutish as I expected him to be. He had the strength and presence his position required. He was also humble and had a sweetness he tried to keep hidden. It was easy for him to do that until he met Sasha. I loved Sasha. She had a quiet strength about her. Sasha created an inner turmoil in Kjell that was fascinating.

Everything about Kjell and Sasha’s story was magical and special. I won’t tell you more about it because there are so many great things to discover for yourself in this book. There are so many surprises and twists in store for the reader! I honestly couldn’t get enough of it, and highly recommend it. The Queen and the Cure was even better than The Bird and the Sword. That’s saying a lot because I absolutely loved that book.

Blog Tour Review: The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White

The Night the Lights Went Out
Author: Karen White
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Goodreads

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Flight Patterns 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….

MY REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Every time I pick up a book by Karen White, I’m impressed. It’s like I forget what an amazing writer she is and how well she weaves a story. Those are just a couple of the reasons she is one of my all time favorite authors and on my auto-buy list.

The Night the Lights Went Out completely captivated me. In the beginning, it was the writing that did it. The southern setting of  Sweet Apple Georgia was beautifully described. I could hear the characters’ Southern accents as I read the book. Not too long after beginning, it was the plot that kept my attention. The four points of view that delivered it were very engaging.

First, there was Merliee. She was a recent divorcée trying to navigate her new world. She had recently moved into a rental house on Sugar Prescott’s land, and her children were attending a new private school. Merliee was trying to develop new friendships with other parents and Sugar. Trying to fit in was stressful for her. I found it very easy to relate to. Making friends in your adult years is really hard.

The second and third point of views were both Sugar’s. One was her current 90-something-year-old current day voice. Sugar was crotchety and stubborn, but a great person underneath her rough exterior. She saw people for who they really were. The old lady made me smile a lot. Sugar’s second perspective was told through stories of her past. Bit by bit, she unfolded the mystery of her life. I loved learning how Sugar become the strong, outspoken woman she was today from her history.

The fourth and final perspective was an anonymous blogger. The blogger claimed to have all the insight into what was happening in Sweet Apple. The blog gave insight into not just local business and construction happenings, but also social gossip. What showed up on the blog was scandalous.

All four perspectives wove into a couple of different fascinating mysteries. The first, I mentioned above about Sugar’s past. The second involves things that begin happening after Merilee makes some new friendships with parents from her children’s school. The mysteries weren’t too hard to figure out. I may have guessed some major plot twists early on, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book. It actually made the revelations all that more fun.

The Night the Lights Went Out was truly a great women’s fiction/mystery read. I enjoyed every minute I spent with it. I highly recommend reading it to anyone who enjoys great mysteries in a Southern setting.

excerpt:

A cluster of moms stood in the parking lot surrounded by high-end SUVs following first day drop-off at Windwood Academy.  The women appeared to be listening with rapt attention to the tall blond woman in the center of their semi-circle, her hair arranged perfectly beneath her white tennis visor, her long and lean limbs brown and glowy.  Merilee noticed this last part only because her ex-mother-in-law had given her a bottle of glowy lotion for her last birthday and Lily had told her it made her look sparkly like Katy Perry in one of her videos.  Merilee had thrown out the remainder of the bottle, realizing she wasn’t the type anymore to look glowy much less sparkly.

But the blonde definitely was.  Her whole body glowed.  Her face glowed.  Even the hair visible beneath the visor appeared to be lit from within.  The woman looked vaguely familiar, and Merilee realized she’d probably been one of the mothers she’d met at the open house the previous week.  She’d only been to the one let’s-get-acquainted event, her work schedule precluding any of the various parties that were held almost exclusively on weekdays when she worked.

Merilee was terrible with names, had been ever since she started dating Michael.  He was so good at it, always reminding her who everyone was when they were at a party, that she’d simply stopped trying.  She hoped she was only out of practice instead of permanently disabled.  Her children’s futures probably depended on it since Michael wouldn’t be there to make sure Merilee remembered the names of Lily’s friends who were or were not speaking to each other.  And which of Colin’s teachers appreciated his dreamy attitude and those who didn’t.  It had always been a game with them—her recalling every detail about a friend or teacher, details always overlooked by Michael—and then he’d fill in the missing part—the name.  But now she had to do it all on her own.

She smiled vaguely in the direction of the blond woman and her entourage and had almost made it to her van when she heard her name being called.

“Merilee?  Merilee Dunlap?”

Great.  The woman not only remembered her first name, but her last as well.  Forcing a warm smile on her face, Merilee turned.  “Oh, hello.  It’s good to see you again.”

The other women parted like the Red Sea as the tall blond walked toward Merilee and she remembered that the woman had been wearing a Lily Pulitzer sundress and two-carat diamond stud earrings when they’d met before.  But she didn’t remember her name.  “I thought that was you.  I looked for you in Mrs. Marshall’s homeroom.  I’m the room mother and wanted to welcome Lily myself.”

Merilee remembered the voice.  It was very Southern, heavily laced with dropped consonants and elongated vowels.  The most memorable part about it was that it sounded exactly like Merilee’s mother.

“We were running a bit late this morning.”  Feeling suddenly short and frumpy in her dark skirt and blazer, Merilee had the strong urge to explain.  “My son couldn’t find his new uniform shoes.  They somehow managed to find their way back into the box they came in and then got shoved so far under his bed that it took nearly twenty minutes to locate them.  And then Lily spilled her bowl of cereal and milk down the front of her skirt, and I had to quickly iron one of her other ones so she could wear it.”

The woman gave her a warm smile from behind dark Chanel sunglasses as if she knew exactly what it was like to be a frazzled single mother.  “Bless your heart.  And on the first day at a new school.  You’ll get used to the routine, I promise.  It took me a whole month to realize that I should have a skirt and blouse for every school day plus one, and have Patricia have them cleaned and ironed as soon as my girls dropped them on the floor.”

Not exactly sure how to reslake, Merilee picked out the first confusing part of the sentence.  “Patricia?”

“My house manager.  I couldn’t live without her.  You know how crazy busy it is with all of the kids’ schedules.”  She reached into her large handbag that was more briefcase than purse, with a designer’s logo sprouting over its surface like kudzu.  “I was going to stick this in the mail to you, but since you’re here I’ll give it to you now.  It’s a sign-up sheet for parties and field trips—it lists everything for the year.  Just let me know your availabilities and ask Lily to bring it in to school and give to Bailey as soon as you can.  Bailey is very responsible and will make sure it gets to me.”  The woman smiled, her teeth perfect.  “Only sign up for four—every mother wants to be at every single event, but then it just gets crowded—plus there won’t be room on the bus for the kids.”

“Only four…” Merilee took the list and looked at it, almost letting out an audible sigh when she saw the woman’s name at the top of the page, Heather Blackford, Class Mother, followed by three different phone numbers.  Now she remembered.  Heather had a daughter in Colin’s class, too, both girls’ names starting with ‘B’.

“Yes.  And if you could turn it back in tomorrow that would be terrific.  I’ll have Claire put it all in a spreadsheet and I’ll email it to all the mothers.  Please write neatly—Claire has a way of butchering your name if she can’t read it.”

“Claire?”

“My personal assistant.  She’s only part time but I would simply die of exhaustion without her.”

The ladies behind her all nodded in understanding.

“Yes, well, I’ll take a look at it and get it back to you tomorrow.”  Merilee was already wondering how she was going to approach her boss to ask him for more time off.  The divorce and move had already eaten up all of her vacation time, and although Max was kind and understanding, everyone had their limits.

“And don’t forget the ‘I survived my first week of fourth grade’ party at my lake house this Saturday.  I’ll be handing out disposable cameras to all the moms and dads to take pictures throughout the year at our various events—I like to do little photo albums for all the kids and the teachers at the end of the year.”  She beamed, like it was just a small thing.  “Oh, and I took the liberty of signing you up for a dessert because we’re overrun with vegetables and dip and pimiento cheese.  I figured you’d know how to make something sweet.”

“Oh…”  Merilee simply blinked her eyes for a moment, wondering if Heather had meant to be insulting.

“Because you’re from South Georgia.  You mentioned that when we met.  You said I had the same accent as your mother.”

Feeing oddly relieved, Merilee said, “Yes, of course.  Where did you say you were from?”

“Here and there—but mostly Georgia.  I can always tell a native Georgian.  Hard to hide it, isn’t it?  It’s almost like no matter how far you go in life, all you have to do is open your mouth and somebody knows exactly where you’re from.”

There was something in the way Heather said it that made Merilee pause.  “Yes, well, I’ll call my mother today and ask her what she might recommend.”

“Wonderful.”  Heather beamed.  She pointed a key fob toward a black Porsche SUV with vanity plates that read YERSERV, and the rear door slowly raised.  As the other mothers oohed and ahhed appropriately, Merilee stared into the trunk where fourteen metallic gift bags with blue or pink tissue paper expertly pleated at the tops were arranged in neat rows.

Heather moved toward the car.  “A little lagniappe—that’s Cajun for ‘a little extra’ to all of my Yankee friends—for the first day of school.  My treat.  I thought we could each give our children a bag at pickup today and then head over to Scoops for ice cream afterwards.  I’ve already reserved the party room at the back of the store.  Claire is picking up the helium balloons this morning and will have it all decorated in Windwood colors.”

“You are just too much,” one of the mothers said as the other women eagerly stepped toward the car and took a bag.

newly available in paperback:

Flight Patterns
by Karen White

FLIGHT PATTERNS tells the story of Georgia Chambers, a fine china expert who left her family years before and is forced to return home and repair the relationships she’s carefully avoided. To embrace her own life—mistakes and all—she will have to find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past and the secrets she was forced to keep.

about the author:

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Night the Lights Went OutFlight PatternsThe Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. She is the coauthor of The Forgotton Room with New York Times bestselling authors Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. She grew up in London but now lives with her husband and two children near Atlanta, Georgia.