THROWBACK THURSDAY

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Throwback Thursday meme was hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them 🙂! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board.   

 

This week I’m picking a book I read many years ago and loved!

 

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MY REVIEW:

JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS is a fun holiday romance. Miranda Hamilton has a friend-enemy relationship with Logan Mauldin. Ever since that game of Seven Minutes In Heaven when they were thirteen, the two have had their ups and downs, and it’s really been down since their college days. So when Logan volunteers to be be Miranda’s co-chair of the Magnolia Bay Holiday Festival, she isn’t very happy. Why is he volunteering? Is he trying to annoy her and ruin her holidays? What could Logan be up to? Logan just wants to be close to Miranda. He is determined to get her to admit her true feelings for him. Here is where the fun begins.

 

One of the committee members offer to have a bachelor auction in order to raise more money for Miranda’s late mother’s foundation. Of course, Logan, being the hot hunk that he is, has the highest bidding price and Miranda finds herself bidding for him. She tells herself that the reason she is bidding on Logan is to increase the bid and so her long time enemy Pammy wont be the highest bidder. Soon Pammy an Miranda are in a bidding war. But the truth is that she is attracted to Logan and doesn’t want him to go on a date with anyone else. When Miranda finds out about the third bidder, Candace, and the truth to who she really is, Miranda is livid! She sends Logan away and tells him to never contact her again.

 

JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS is the perfect holiday novella. I found myself laughing out loud and yet, cheering for Logan and Miranda. The banter between the two of them is priceless and at times, you just want to shake some sense into them. Kim Boykin is a favorite author of mine and she knows how to pull you in and get you emotionally invested in her stories. Her descriptions of small southern town life are spot on of course, as she is a southern girl herself. Miranda’s journey to discovering her true feelings is heartwarming and Logan’s Christmas gift to her is the icing on the cake.

If you are looking for a warm holiday story, you will love the feeling JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS will leave you with.

 

FROM GOODREADS:

Nobody does Christmas like Miranda Hamilton, and now that she finally has her chance to chair Magnolia Bay’s tree lighting and the cotillion, which benefits her late mother’s breast cancer foundation, this Christmas is shaping up to be the best ever. That is until her childhood nemesis Logan Mauldin buys his way on her committee and starts making plans of his own.

Logan Mauldin loves to get under Miranda’s very sexy skin, and it’s only fair. She’s been getting under his since long before their first kiss at 13. Logan’s the last man interested in co-chairing a Christmas committee or participating in a sexy bachelor auction, but since that night he interrupted Miranda on a date and cornered her under the mistletoe, he can’t stop thinking about her. Or vying for her attention and bugging the hell out of her.

Christmas cheer isn’t the only thing that heats up between the Miranda and Logan, but, thanks to a lie that is as much her fault as it is his, he loses the woman he’s loved since forever. Logan will need a Christmas miracle for Miranda to forgive him. A grand gesture to melt her heart and win her back just in time for Christmas.

 

Have a great day and thanks for reading!!🎄🎅🎄

 

☕GOOD MORNING!☕

Good morning! Another day of  warm temperatures.  Its 56 and going up to 65 with another dense fog advisory. Where is winter? We wake up and put the heat on to take the chill out of the house.  By mid afternoon we have the central air on! So crazy!!  Have a terrific Thursday my friends!💜

 

Good Morning ☃️

 

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CAN’T WAIT WEDNESDAY!

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you’re continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

This week, I’m waiting for…

RELEASE DATE: MARCH 7, 2023

FROM GOODREADS:

The first in a riveting and pulse-pounding new romantic suspense series from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sharon Sala.

Army veteran Cameron Pope arrives back in Jubilee, Kentucky, for the first time in years. He barely has time to catch his breath when he becomes embroiled in a race of life or death for his little niece and a deadly hunt for the human traffickers who are destroying the peace of his mountain town. When he’s reunited with Rusty Caldwell—a woman from his past who he’s never stopped thinking about—he wants to believe they can finally be together. But Cameron is shocked to find out that Rusty belongs to one of the rich families in Jubilee—the same rich folks who scorn the rural families living on the surrounding mountainside, in spite of knowing nothing about them. With their community in the crosshairs, Cameron and Rusty will have to find a way to end the feuding and take down the human trafficking ring if they’re to have a chance at happiness.

Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome day!☕📚☕

REVIEW: A CHRISTMAS BARGAIN BY MINDY OBENHAUS WITH A GIVEAWAY

Welcome to the Blog + Review Blitz for A Christmas Bargain by Mindy Obenhaus, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: A Christmas Bargain

Series: Hope Crossing #2

Author: Mindy Obenhaus

Publisher: Love Inspired

Release Date: November 29, 2022

Genre: Christian, Contemporary Romance, Christmas

Can a property dispute…

Turn into a holiday blessing?

When single mom Annalise Grant inherits a fledgling Christmas tree farm in Texas, she vows to do whatever it takes to make it a success. But when neighbor Hawkins Prescott claims some of her trees are on his property, the only option is a partnership. As Christmas draws closer, Annalise and Hawkins find themselves growing closer as well. Could a family by Christmas become part of the deal?

A HOPE CROSSING ROMANCE

From Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub

MY REVIEW:

A CHRISTMAS BARGAIN is the second book in a new series, Hope Crossing and I loved every minute of it. The story takes place in Hope Crossing, Texas and Mindy Obenhaus describes it so beautifully that I am ready to pack my bags and go see it for myself. A Christmas tree farm and a hunky neighbor? Who wouldn’t want to go and see that? Yes please! Hawkins Prescott is back from Alaska and working on his family’s ranch. He discovers that the Christmas tree farm has trees planted on the Prescott land. He is going to put an end to that right away. A CHRISTMAS BARGAIN deals with so many different emotions that one minute I was giggling and the next tearing up. I love when an author can do that to their readers! Don’t you just love small town romance stories at Christmas?

Annalise Grant and her young daughter have moved to Hope Crossing to see the Christmas tree farm that was left to her late husband by his uncle. She plans to live there, start a new life for her daughter and run the farm while paying off the debt her husband left behind. A CHRISTMAS BARGAIN will surely pull at your heart strings and make it very hard for you to put down. If you are like me, you won’t be able to stop until you know what happens to all of these beautiful people in Hope Crossing. Reading how Annalise and Hawkins respond to each other is very funny since both are so stubborn and Annalise is determined to make it on her own with no help from anyone. Well, you know how that is going to go right? Is it possible for them to get a chance at love if they would just stop and listen to the other? I’m not going to tell you, but I will say that you really should read A CHRISTMAS BARGAIN and get to know this lovable small town. That’s all I can say!

A CHRISTMAS BARGAIN is an awesome way to spend the afternoon or evening. I’m so excited to continue with the series and learn more about my new found friends. Annalise and the Prescott family come to an agreement on those three acres that the trees are on and you would think everyone would be A-okay right? Not exactly! Annalise did quite a bit of research and thinks running the farm will be no problem! Once you start A CHRISTMAS BARGAIN you won’t be able to put it down and will find yourself cheering for everyone and little Olivia too as they try to navigate their way through a very different and unique situation. Be prepared to have Olivia steal your heart! Mindy Obenhaus will pull you in from the very first page and never let you go!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author through JustRead Publicity Tours. All opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mindy Obenhaus

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching the Hallmark Channel.

Connect with Mindy by visiting MindyObenhaus.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a signed copy of A Christmas Bargain and a $25 Amazon gift card!

A Christmas Bargain JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight December 7, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on December 14, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful Wednesday!💜📚💜

REVIEW: COMING HOME BY SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY

MY REVIEW:

COMING HOME is the first book in the new series by Shelley Shepard Gray called A Woodland Park Firefighters Romance. Usually I am reading one of Ms. Gray’s Amish Fiction books, but this one is small town romance and it is fantastic! I really love the small-town setting of Woodland Park, Colorado, where everyone knows everyone else and the people are always there to help whenever they are needed.

COMING HOME starts off increasing the reader’s heart rate right away. Chelsea Davis is a single mom raising her nine year old son, Jack. Life is running smoothly for her until she runs into her ex high school sweet heart, Anderson Kelly. My heart immediately goes out to Chelsea and I just want to hug her. Will she ever be able to tell Andy how she really feels, even after all this time? While she is struggling with all of this, Andy finds himself wanting to protect Chelsea, but he must be careful as there is a lot of hurt between them. Will their unexpected time together at the senior center give them hope that a relationship between them might be possible? There is also a second storyline with Camille, an older neighbor of Chelsea’s, who is facing difficulties with her four grown children.

COMING HOME is a quick read and you will be flipping the pages like mad trying to hurry to see what they are going to do next! I know I did! Andy broke up with Chelsea when he was going into the military and Chelsea was going to college. Now they are both back in Woodland Park. Finding a lost love feels like coming home and this story is sure to give the reader all the feels! COMING HOME is such an emotional read, you won’t be able to help yourself from getting into all of the characters business. I have read many of Shelley Shepard Gray’s other series as well as some of her other stand alone books, and I really feel like she writes with a heart for people. I know this series will definitely be a great one!

My emotions were all over the place as they always are reading a Shelley Shepard Gray story and I can hardly wait to see what firefighter gets the next story! I loved how she made me feel all of the anxiety and tension that the characters were dealing with. Besides all of that, there is also romance, forgiveness, and healing. A perfect way to spend the day on the couch with your favorite beverage, lost in the pages of a heart tugging but beautiful story.

FROM GOODREADS:

When an army vet becomes a firefighter in small-town Colorado, the flames of an old love reignite in this sweet romance by bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray
In Woodland Park, a small town nestled in the foothills of Pikes Peak, Anderson Kelly and Chelsea Davis were once the high school “it” couple–the star quarterback and the valedictorian. They broke up when Anderson joined the army and one poor decision at a fraternity party changed Chelsea’s life. Now, she works long shifts in a senior center to support her nine-year-old son, Jack.

After multiple tours in Afghanistan, Anderson has changed, too–physically scarred but mentally strong–and he decides to move back to Woodland Park. Anderson and Chelsea steer clear of each other to avoid reopening old wounds, until they are forced to reconnect through the senior center. They soon discover that the love they once shared never completely vanished. But it will take a fire, a dangerous collision, and the love of one little boy to help Anderson and Chelsea see that the future they’ve always yearned for is in sight..

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I grew up in Houston, Texas, went to Colorado for college, and after living in Arizona, Dallas, and Denver, we moved to southern Ohio about ten years ago.

I’ve always thought of myself as a very hard worker, but not ‘great’ at anything. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree…but I never was a gifted student. I took years of ballet and dance, but I never was anywhere near the star of any recital. I love to cook, but I’m certainly not close to being gourmet…and finally I love to write books, but I’ve certainly read far better authors.

Maybe you are a little bit like me. I’ve been married for almost twenty years and have raised two kids. I try to exercise but really should put on my tennis shoes a whole lot more. I’m not a great housekeeper, I hate to drive in the snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Monopoly game. However, I am the best wife and mother I know how to be.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that in God’s eyes that is okay? That from His point of view, we are all exceptional? I treasure that knowledge and am always so thankful for my faith. His faith in me makes me stand a little straighter, smile a little bit more, and be so very grateful for every gift He’s given me.

I started writing about the Amish because their way of life appealed to me. I wanted to write stories about regular. likeable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish.

Getting the opportunity to write Inspirational novels is truly gratifying. With every book, I feel my faith grows stronger. And that makes me feel very special indeed.

Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful Tuesday!☔📚☔

BLOG TOUR – THE SUNSHINE GIRLS BY MOLLY FADER

Title: The Sunshine Girls

Author: Molly Fader

Publisher: Graydon House

Release Date: 6th December 2022

BLURB supplied by Harlequin Trade Publishing

A cross between Firefly Lane and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, a dual-narrative about two sisters who realize their mother isn’t who they’d always thought when a legendary movie star shows up at her funeral, unraveling the sweeping story of a friendship that begins at a nursing school in Iowa in 1967 and onward as it survives decades of change, war, fame—and the secrets they kept from each other and for each other.


A moment of great change sparks the friendship of a lifetime…

1967, Iowa: Nursing school roommates BettyKay and Kitty don’t have much in common. A farmer’s daughter, BettyKay has risked her family’s disapproval to make her dreams come true away from her rural small town. Cosmopolitan Kitty has always relied on her beauty and smarts to get by, and to hide a devastating secret from the past that she can’t seem to outrun. Yet the two share a determination to prove themselves in a changing world, forging an unlikely bond on a campus unkind to women.

Before their first year is up, tragedy strikes, and the women’s paths are forced apart. But against all odds, a decades-long friendship forms, persevering through love, marriage, failure, and death, from the jungles of Vietnam to the glamorous circles of Hollywood. Until one snowy night leads their relationship to the ultimate crossroads.

Fifty years later, two estranged sisters are shocked when a famous movie star shows up at their mother’s funeral. Over one rollercoaster weekend, the women must reckon with a dazzling truth about their family that will alter their lives forever…

PURCHASE LINKS
BookShop
Harlequin
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books-A-Million

MY REVIEW:

Oh my goodness! Molly Fader really grabbed my heart from the very first page and never let it go! She had my emotions all over the place. Once I started reading THE SUNSHINE GIRLS it was very hard to stop! The twists and turns made it impossible to put down, as I had to know what was going to happen to Abbie and Clara ! I still can’t believe that I have never read Molly Fader before! She writes with so much heart and tenderness that you would think this was her tenth book, not her third! What an awesome story. All of Molly’s characters feel genuine and relatable and put your emotions on one heck of a roller coaster ride.

Once you start reading THE SUNSHINE GIRLS it will be very hard to put down! Molly sure knows how to put a new twist on Historical Fiction. I truly believe she picked the perfect cover too. It screams 1960’s to me. I was fairly young in the 60’s so I don’t remember too much about the Vietnam war and everything else that was going on, but while reading, I felt like I was right there in the thick of it! Molly Fader is now an auto buy author for me. That’s how much I love THE SUNSHINE GIRLS.

THE SUNSHINE GIRLS is filled with faith, tragedy, second chances, love, as well as hurt and anger. If you are a fan of stories that grab your heart and never let you go, this is a story you do not want to miss. Abbie and Clara are mourning their mother, BettyKay and holding her funeral. When a surprise mourner walks in and their lives are going to never be the same. They learn more about their mother as well as their father than they thought possible. THE SUNSHINE GIRLS is told in dual timelines and is very easy to follow. There are so many secrets that the sisters learn, you are going to be pulled in from the very beginning. The life long friendship that BettyKay shared with Kitty Devereaux shocks the sisters and now they want answers!

Abbie and Clara used to be very close when they were growing up, but drifted apart as they got older. THE SUNSHINE GIRLS is without a doubt one of the best Historical Fiction books I’ve read in 2022 so far. I was instantly emotionally invested in all of the characters. Molly Fader is such a wonderful and heart tugging author and she had me laughing and crying on the very same page. She literally had me holding my breath and choking on a sob while I finished reading. I can’t wait to read Molly’s two previous books which I’m going to find right now. If you don’t have a Sunshine Girl in your life maybe you can become one. Everyone could use more sunshine in their lives right? Make sure to read Molly’s note at the end of the book. She explains how a part of THE SUNSHINE GIRLS was taken from her mom’s life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Graydon House-Harlequin through Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given. 

EXCERPT 

Clara

Greensboro, Iowa

2019

There were too many lilies. Clara wasn’t an authority on flowers or funerals. But, it was like a flower shop—that only sold lilies—had exploded in the blue room of Horner’s Fu­neral Home.

This was what happened when everyone adored you. They buried you under a mountain of your favorite flower—in this case, stargazers with their erotic pink hearts and sinus-piercing pollen—before they actually buried you.

And it was just a cosmic kick in the pants that Clara Beecher was allergic to her mother’s favorite flowers.

“Clara!” Mrs. Place, her eighth-grade language arts teacher, clasped Clara’s hands in her bony grip. Mrs. Place had not changed at all. She was the kind of woman who seemed mid­dle-aged at seventeen and just waited for time to catch up. “Your mother was so proud of you. You and your sister, you were her pride and joy.”

“That’s nice of you to say,” Clara said, keenly aware of her sister, Abbie, across the room doing the sorts of things that would make a mother proud.

“At book club, she’d go on and on about you and the im­portant work you were doing in the city and, well, most of it went right over my head,” Mrs. Place said. There was nothing complicated about Clara’s work; Mom just lied about it so, as a former hippie, she didn’t have to say the words my daughter is a corporate shill. “But you could tell she was just so proud.”

Clara pulled her hand free in time to grab a tissue from one of the many boxes scattered around the room and held it to her allergy-induced, dripping nose. “Thank you,” she said through the tissue.

“Everyone is going to miss Betts,” Mrs. Place said. “So much. There’s not a part of this town that she wasn’t involved in. Church, the library. Park board. Community gardens.”

Like an invasive species. Invite her to something and she’d soon be running the show.

Grief is making you sharp. That was something her mother would say. If she wasn’t dead.

The Blue Room of Horner Funeral Home was hot and wall-to-lily packed with people coming to pay their respects to one of Greensboro’s favorite citizens.

BettyKay Beecher had lived her whole adult life in this tiny town, and the town had shown up bearing casseroles and no-bake cheesecakes for the reception after the burial, wearing their Sunday best, armed with their favorite BettyKay stories.

She sat with my dad when he was dying.

She helped us figure out the insurance paperwork when our son was in his accident.

They were all mourning. The whole room and the hallway outside and the people still sitting in their cars in the park­ing lot. People were crying real tears, huddling, sobbing—actually sobbing—in corners. And all Clara could think was:

Did they know?

Had Mom, in true fashion, told the entire town the secret she’d kept from her own daughters for nearly forty years? The bombshell, life-rearranging, ugly secret she’d blurted, exasper­ated and furious with Clara in their last phone call?

Would they be mourning so hard if they knew?

Clara sneezed.

“Oh, bless you, honey,” Mrs. Place said.

“It’s just allergies.” Clara folded up the tissues before put­ting them in the pocket of her new black Marco Zanini suit with the sash tie and the sky blue silk lining. She’d thought the lining might be a bit much for a funeral, but that was be­fore she knew about the lilies.

And don’t get her started on all the men wearing camou­flage. To a funeral. Were they all going hunting after this?

“She’s with your father now. I hope you find comfort in that.”

“I do, thank you.” It was, as it always had been in Greens­boro, Iowa, easier to lie.

Another person came up with another story about Bet­tyKay Beecher. “Is that your sister?” She pointed across the room after sharing an anecdote about their time together in the Army Nurse Corps. “Abbie?”

Abbie was surrounded by her friends from childhood—who used to be Clara’s friends from childhood, not that it mattered—who kept bringing her mugs that were not filled with coffee. Abbie’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes were bright and she was half-drunk, crying and hugging and not at all bothered by the lilies.

“Yep. That’s my sister,” Clara said, ushering the woman toward Abbie and not even feeling bad about it. “She’d love to hear your story.”

Three years ago, they’d stood in this exact same room, mourning their father, Willis Beecher. It was hard to be home and not see him in the corners of rooms. She couldn’t drink rum or Constant Comment tea and not miss him. The smell of patchouli could bring her to tears. A sob rose up in her throat like a fist, and her knees were suddenly loose. She put a hand against the table so she didn’t crumple onto the floor.

I’m an orphan. Me and Abbie—orphans.

She was a full-grown adult. A corporate lawyer (about to make junior partner, fingers crossed) who billed at $700 an hour. She had a condo on Lakeshore and a good woman who loved her. Abbie had two kids of her own, a husband of twenty-five years and kept slices of homemade lemon loaf in the freezer that she could pop in a toaster in case someone stopped by for coffee. They were far from orphans.

But she couldn’t shake the thought.

Clara found the side door and stepped out.

The wind was icy, blowing across the farmland to the west, picking up the smell of fries and burgers from The Starlite Room, only to press her flat against the yellow brick. She felt the cotton-silk blend of her suit snag on the brick.

The first few days of March were cold, too cold to be out here without a jacket, but the freshness woke her up. Spring hadn’t committed to Iowa yet and the cornfields were still brown, lying in wait, like everything else in Greensboro, for the last blizzard to come hammering down from the Dakotas.

Her phone buzzed. She left it in her pocket.

Horner’s Funeral Home was on the other side of town from the Greensboro University, and St. Luke’s School of Nursing’s white clock tower was just visible over the trees. The univer­sity had all the flags lowered to half-mast for the week. It was a nice touch. Mom had been a student there and then a teacher and for the last twenty years, an administrator.

She closed her eyes, letting the wind do its work.

“Hey.”

Clara felt her sister lean back against the wall next to her, smelling of vanilla and Pinot Grigio.

“Hey,” she said, eyes still closed.

“The lilies—”

“Yeah.”

“You okay?”

Clara hummed in her throat, a sound that wasn’t yes or no. That was, in fact, the exact sound of the exhausted limbo the last few days had put her in.

“Me neither,” Abbie said. “It just… I feel like I’m missing something, you know? Like I’m walking around all wrong.”

Clara felt the same. Being BettyKay Beecher’s daughter was a part of her identity she didn’t always carry comfortably, but it was there.

“Where’s Vickie?” Abbie asked, and Clara caught herself from flinching at the sound of her girlfriend’s name.

“She wishes she could be here but she has a case in front of the Illinois Supreme Court.”

She felt Abbie’s doubt, the way she wanted to probe and pick.

“Did you have to blow up that picture so damn big?” Clara asked, before Abbie could get to her follow-up questions.

All around the funeral home were pictures of the Beecher family. And—God knows why—Abbie had decided to blow up to an obscene size, the picture of their mother that was on the back of her book: Pray for Me: The Diary of an Army Nurse in Vietnam. In it BettyKay was a fresh-faced twenty-two-year- old, with a helmet-shaped brunette bob wearing an olive green United States Army Nurse Corps uniform.

“Darn.”

“What?”

“Fiona’s turning into a little parrot, so we don’t swear any­more. We say ‘effing’ and ‘darn’ and ‘poop.’”

“That’s effing nonsense.”

“Probably.” Clara could hear the smile in her sister’s voice. “And yes, I did. I love that picture of Mom. She looks so brave.”

Clara thought she looked terrified.

“Max and Fiona don’t understand what’s happening,” Abbie said. “They keep asking why Gran is lying down.”

Clara’s laugh was wet with the lingering allergic reaction to the flowers. “That’s awful.”

“Denise from the hospital keeps trying to get the kids to touch Mom’s hand. So they can feel how cold she is and then they’ll understand.”

“What will it make them understand?”

“That she’s dead.”

“That’s morbid even for Denise.” They were both laugh­ing, which felt alien but sweet.

“She says it will give them closure.”

Abbie reached out and grabbed her hand. Clara started to pull away, but Abbie didn’t let go.

I should tell her. Part of her even wanted to. To share the burden of information like they were kids again. And Abbie, who liked the view from the perch her reputation as a Beecher in this town gave her, would tell Clara it wasn’t true. Couldn’t possibly be. That Mom had been wrong. Angry. Something.

Some excuse to keep everything the way it was.

That was why Clara couldn’t tell her. Because Abbie had to live in this town side by side with the memory of Mom. Bringing Abbie into it would make her sister’s life harder.

“Abbie, don’t get upset but I am going to leave after the re­ception at the church.” There. Done. Band-Aid-style.

“And go where?” Abbie asked.

“Back home.”

And here comes the look. “Chicago? You’re kidding.”

“We have a new client—”

“You’re leaving?” Accidentally Clara caught Abbie’s furious gaze and wished she hadn’t. She could see her sister’s rage and her grief and it felt worse than her own.

“I’ll be back,” Clara lied.

“Bullshit.” So much for not swearing.

“Abbie—”

“You know. I should have expected this. You show up last-minute in your car and your ugly suit—”

“Hey!”

“With your nose in the air—”

“I’ll pay to have the house boxed up.”

Abbie sucked in so much air Clara went light-headed from the lack of oxygen around her.

“Can we please not make this a big deal?” she asked.

“What did I ever do to you, Clara? To make it so easy for you to leave me behind?”

The wind caught the side door as it opened, banging against the brick with a sound that made Clara and Abbie jump like they’d been caught smoking.

Ben, Abbie’s husband, stuck his head out and Abbie stepped forward. Ben was a good-looking guy in a gentle giant kind of way. Constantly rumpled, but usually smiling. He reminded Clara of a very good Labrador retriever.

She wanted to pat his head and give him a treat. And then yell at him for tracking mud across the rug.

“There you are,” he said.

“I was just getting some air,” Abbie said, with surprising defensiveness. “Is everything okay?”

“There’s…” Ben glanced over his shoulder and made a face, bewildered and somehow joyful in a way that made Clara and Abbie push off the wall. It was his mother-in-law’s funeral after all. Joy was a strange sentiment.

“What?” Clara asked.

“Well, I think you should come in and see for yourself.”

Ben held the door while Abbie and Clara walked back into the packed room. Everyone was silent now, pressed to the walls and corners in little clumps, whispering in that painfully fa­miliar way out of the corners of their mouths and behind their hands. There was a path down the center of the room right to Mom’s casket, where she lay with her arms crossed, wearing her favorite green dress and way too much blush.

Standing at the casket, was a woman. A stranger.

Everything about her screamed not from around here. She wore an elegant long black skirt and a pair of boots with low heels of rich black leather. A gray sweater (Ralph Lauren Col­lection cashmere or Clara would eat her own boots) with a black belt around her trim waist. Her hair was long and sil­very blond, the kind that appeared natural but Clara would put money on the fact that it cost a lot and took a lot of time to keep that way.

She kind of…glittered.

“Who is that?”

“You don’t recognize her?” Ben whispered between Abbie and Clara’s shoulders, his breath smelling of coffee and cough drops.

Something about the woman did seem familiar, polished.

“Is she from the publishing company?” she asked Abbie.

“I don’t think so. They sent a cheesecake.”

“That morning show Mom did sometimes, in Des Moines? Ramona?”

“Ramona Rodriguez died, like, ten years ago.”

Clara should know this woman. But her mother’s funeral was throwing her off.

“Are you kidding me? You really don’t recognize her?” Ben asked. “It’s Kitty Devereaux.”

Excerpted from The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader. Copyright © 2022 by Molly Fader. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

MOLLY FADER is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets, The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season, and more than 40 romance novels under the pennames Molly O’Keefe and M. O’Keefe. She grew up outside of Chicago and now lives in Toronto.

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Q AND A WITH MOLLY FADER:

How do come up with your themes?

That’s a really interesting question! I don’t sit down to write a book with themes in mind. They kind of arrive as i’m writing. The premise of the book is usually the start. In the case of The Sunshine Girls, the first scene – of the two sisters at their mother’s funeral when a iconic actress walks in and tells the sister’s they don’t know the truth about their mother – came to me fully formed. After that it was a matter of trying to figure out how two radically different women would meet and become friends.

The themes of women’s rights and reproductive rights flowed out of their friendship and the time period (the 1960’s). Once the theme becomes obvious to me it’s a matter of trying to make it subtle to the reader so they don’t feel completely overwhelmed.

What is the attraction to writing/reading about women’s friendships?

Because they’re the best! They’re fascinating. They’re blood thirsty and supportive and compassionate and judgemental. I love friendship stories that are real – with all that resentment and love that I’ve experienced in my friendships. I think there’s so much chemistry in friendships, not unlike falling in love. You know when you meet a person and you click and it feels like you’ve known them forever. I love it.

Which comes first: characters or plot?

They kind of feed each other for me. I usually get the opening scene in my head and then I have to figure out who the characters are and then they inform the plot and then the characters have to change and grow and that informs the plot some more. So, it’s a chicken and egg type situation for my books.

Have you ever been writing a novel and realized the theme is very much like something you’ve experienced?

There’s always a lot of my life in my books – in big and small ways. I see myself in every character in this book except maybe Kitty. For The Sunshine Girls I really used details and events from my mother’s life. She was at nursing school in Iowa in the 1960’s – and she and her best friend traded buttons as a practical joke for years. Having that kind of authenticity made the story come to life for me as I was writing it.

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