I received a copy of The Way Back to Happiness by Elizabeth Bass in exchange for an honest review.
From the acclaimed author of Miss You Most of All comes a heartfelt, wonderfully affirming novel of sisterhood, healing, and new beginnings.
No one could blame Bev Putterman for becoming estranged from her sister. No one but Bev, anyway. Growing up, Diana was difficult and selfish yet always their mother’s favorite. And then came the betrayal that took away the future Bev dreamed of.
Yet if Diana caused problems while alive, her death leaves Bev in a maelstrom of remorse. She longs to provide a stable home for Diana’s fourteen-year-old daughter, Alabama. But between her commitment-phobic boyfriend and her precarious teaching position, Bev’s life is already in upheaval without an unruly teenager around.
All Alabama knows about Aunt Bev is what her mother told her–and none of it was good. They clash about money, clothes, boys, and especially about Diana. In desperation, Alabama sets out to find her late father’s family. Instead she learns of the complicated history between her mother and aunt, how guilt can shut down a life–and most important, how love and forgiveness can open a door and make us whole again. . .
I have also reviewed Wherever Grace is Needed from Elizabeth Bass and absolutely adored the book, so it was no surprise that it took me just about a day to get The Way Back to Happiness read. The characters she creates easily transports readers to their world, and won’t let you back out until well after you’ve turned the last page. The relationships felt very realistic, especially the one between Bev and Alabama. There are a lot of tough situations in this story and I shed a few tears, but it was a wonderful read and one I recommend. I hope to read more from this author.
Bio: The youngest of four children, Elizabeth Bass grew up outside of a very small town in East Texas in pre-NetFlix days. The first loves in her life were animals and Humphrey Bogart. Had it not been for a father who kept the house full of books and some tireless elementary school teachers, she could have happily remained an illiterate rabbit caretaker addicted to black-and-white films on the late late show.
Before writing Miss You Most of All, she published thirty romance and women’s fiction novels under the name Liz Ireland and co-authored two Regencies with her sister as Alexandra Bassett.
She lives with her husband in Montreal, where she writes and does freelance editing. An elderly cat or dog (or two…or four) can usually be found in her apartment, and during the busiest day she can often find time to sneak in an old movie.
Recent Titles: Miss You Most of All and Wherever Grace is Needed
See my review of Wherever Grace is Needed
Bio Retrieved from elizabethbass.com
Wherever Grace is Needed by Elizabeth Bass isn’t a chick lit novel, but this story definitely won me over and deserves a five star review. The story centers around two very different families, neighbors living in Austin, Texas. Grace Oliver leaves behind her house, boyfriend, and business in Portland for a few weeks to help her father recuperate from a car accident. Grace loved her life in Texas, her father and her older half-brothers, but moved to Portland with her mother after the divorce. Feeling unsettled with her life, she jumps at the chance to go back to Austin. But while there, doctors discover that Lou, Grace’s father and usually a sharp as a tack retired college professor, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The family is devastated by the news, and the diagnosis opens up a lot more questions on caring for Lou, his house, and his possessions.
The family next door to the Oliver’s are suffering from their own tragedy. Ray West and his three young children are trying to cope with the loss of a mother and young daughter. While Ray moves around like a zombie, not sure how to get past grieving for his dead wife, his children suffer from being left on there own. Especially Jordan, who feels guilty for the accident that left her mother and twin sister dead. Grace realizes that the family needs help, and the children need their father back. She becomes a support system for the children, and eventually Ray as well, and tries to help the healing process after such a loss.
I thought Wherever Grace is Needed was an incredibly touching story. Even though most of the book is filled with sad topics, I thought it was more uplifting and inspirational than making me want to cry throughout. Grace’s character is one who wants to help everyone, but at the same time she is trying to bury her own problems beneath the surface. That made her very real while reading the story, and all the supporting characters were phenomenal. Even though there were quite a few, Grace’s family, the West family, the other neighbors in Austin, etc., I never felt overwhelmed by all the lives I was keeping track of, which can happen with large casts. The writing flowed smoothly along, pushing me deeper into their lives instead of making me pull away in frustration. There are great lessons about family, loss, friendships, and love, and I wish I could find more words to praise this beautiful story. Five stars from me and advice to put this on your to-read list.
In My Mailbox: Week of March 27
Title: Wherever Grace is Needed
Received: From Kensington Books
Synopsis: When Grace Oliver leaves Portland for Austin, Texas, to help her father, Lou, recuperate from a car accident, she expects to stay just a few weeks. Since her mother’s divorce thirty years ago, Grace has hovered on the periphery of the Oliver family. But now she sees a chance to get closer to her half-brothers and the home she’s never forgotten.
But the Olivers are facing a crisis. Tests reveal that Lou, a retired college professor whose sharp tongue and tenderness Grace adores, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Grace delays her departure to care for him, and is soon entwined in the complicated lives of her siblings-all squabbling over Lou’s future-and of the family next door…
Ray West and his three children are reeling from a recent tragedy, particularly sixteen-year-old Jordan, whose grief is heightened by guilt and anger. Amid the turmoil, Grace not only gives solace and support, but learns to receive it. And though she came to Austin to reconnect with her past, she is drawn by degrees into surprising new connections.
Author: Clodagh Murphy
Received: From Clodagh Murphy
Synopsis: Jenny Hannigan might be a good-time party girl, but all she secretly craves is a life of domestic bliss and solid respectability – worlds away from her troubled upbringing back in Ireland. So when she crashes into the arms of Richard Allam — the young, handsome, recently separated politician hotly tipped to lead his party to victory in the upcoming election — she thinks she’s found her perfect match.
Richard’s spin doctor, charismatic publicist Dev Tennant, thinks otherwise. Charged with putting a positive spin on the relationship, Dev soon discovers that Jenny has more than one skeleton in her closet – and as the election gathers momentum, he is working overtime trying to keep them there.
And as Jenny’s life starts to spiral out of control, suddenly she isn’t sure what she wants anymore …
Author: Lori Foster
Received: Tricia Carr @ Media Muscle
Synopsis: Foster’s new romantic suspense series hilariously juxtaposes private mercenaries and publishing. When Dare Macintosh raids a human trafficking trailer in Tijuana to find a friend’s sister, he also rescues the unconscious woman locked in with her: Molly Alexander, a sexy romantic suspense author who has no idea why she was kidnapped from a street in Ohio. After Dare gently nurses her back to health, she hires him to find out who wants her dead. Suspects abound, including her relatives, her ex-fiancé, and disgruntled fans. Foster dissects family dynamics as Molly and Dare eliminate suspects and find their initial hot sexual attraction deepening into something more. Dare’s relationship with his gay assistant spotlights a healthy relationship between men, and readers will enjoy the strong plot and a glimpse of Foster’s publishing world.