Mary Jane Hathaway’s: The Pepper in the Gumboy

Alice Augustine runs the oldest bookstore in the historic district of Natchitoches and believes technology is the root of most problems. If only more people would turn off the Tv and shut down the computer, the world wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in. She wishes she could get the teens she loves to step away from the screens and hold on to their Creole culture. The only person who seems to understand her passion for classic literature is the mysterious website owner, Browning Wordsworth Keats.

Paul Olivier comes back to his home town determined to show the people of Cane River that he’s not the poor, nerdy kid he once was. He’s made a fortune designing video games and opening a giant electronics store right in the snooty historic district will be the crowning glory of his career. Unfortunately, one bookish anti-tech fanatic has decided to do everything she can to keep that from happening. Even worse, she doesn’t know that in cyber space, they’re kindred spirits.

Alice and Paul clash from the start, but nothing is ever quite as it seems. When secrets are revealed, will there be a second chance- for both of them?
A romance that brings the humor of You’ve Got Mail and the deep friendships of 84, Charring Cross Road, this romance will touch the classic literature lover in everyone.

Review

I’m a big fan of Mary Jane Hathaway’s Jane Austen series and then I saw she had re-done You’ve Got Mail (or The Shop Around the Corner or any other rendition on this story) and I knew I had to read it. My thoughts:

What I liked:

It definitely had that You’ve Got Mail feel with two people constantly exchanging emails and developing a friendship that knows no bounds. However, it’s a little different because Paul (it’s always the guy!) knew who Alice was from just about the beginning. And I found that I liked this because it made the romance even more believable.

Hilarious. This book had some funny moments. I kid you not.

Alice and Paul. I loved that they had such distinct personalities. They both had a love for books but that love completely manifested in different ways. Romantically, they were a very good match, being strong where the other was weak and just plain “getting” each other. It was so much fun watching them come together (if a bit tense at moments).

Spiritually, Alice and Paul both go to church and occasionally pray. This wasn’t a novel with a theme so much as two Christian people living.

What I didn’t like

First off, Paul was a fantastic hero. But when you make a fantastic hero, we often make annoying heroines. Alice had her moments. Many times I wanted to tell her to get over herself.

Also, Paul and Alice as book lovers often turned to quotes in books and poetry to motivate themselves and sometimes I wanted to say really? You want to take that person’s advice and we all know that person was crazy! What I never got, was why they didn’t quote and live by the Bible. That would have made more sense, except then they wouldn’t have bonded over Browning, Pope, Whitman etc., as much. A bit of a catch 22 I guess.

Romantic Scale: 8.8

Overall, very enjoyable. Laugh out loud funny. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Look What’s Coming Soon!

Through the Waters 3

1961, Alabama. Cecelia “Sissy” Little thought she had seen the last of Truitt Tate two years ago after he left her cousin at the altar. When he shows up at her door, claiming to be an undercover FBI agent and furthermore, in need of her assistance to play the role as his fiancé, Sissy is less than thrilled. Aside from the fact that Sissy can’t stand Tate, Sissy has worked hard to build a life for her and her nephews in their racially tense town. The last thing she wants is for Tate to come and upset things.

Truitt Tate hasn’t always been a gentleman, but he has changed, starting from the moment he first met Sissy Little. He comes to Alabama on assignment for business, but hopes to make it personal.

As Tate becomes immersed in the Civil Rights movement and Sissy is forced to face old fears and secrets, will they find out that they have much more in common than they ever thought?

How awesome is that cover? The lovely Roseanna M. White designed it and she talks about that process here. Check it out!

Melanie Dickerson’s The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

A beautiful maiden who poaches to feed the poor.

A handsome forester on a mission to catch her.

Danger and love are about to unite in Thornbeck Forest.

The margrave owns the finest hunting grounds for miles around—and who teaches children to read, but by night this young beauty has become the secret lifeline to the poorest of the poor.

For Jorgen Hartman, the margrave’s forester, tracking down a poacher is a duty he is all too willing to perform. Jorgen inherited his post from the man who raised him . . . a man who was murdered at the hands of a poacher.

When Jorgen and Odette meet at the Midsummer festival and share a connection during a dance, neither has any idea that they are already adversaries.

The one man she wants is bound by duty to capture her; the one woman he loves is his cunning target . . . What becomes of a forester who protects a notorious poacher? What becomes of a poacher when she is finally discovered?

Review

Lately, Melanie Dickerson has been on a faiytale retelling kick. Here’s my thoughts about her latest:

What I liked:

Fairytale. I think it’s fair to say that Ms. Dickerson has mastered the art of making her novels feel like a fairytale. There is just something about the way that she tells the story that makes me feel like I’m in a land of princesses and princes and good vs. evil. Her stories are always crafted beautifully.

Jorgen. The hero is a wonderful guy with a fascinating back story. He’s very trustworthy and I hazard that you fall for him from almost the first page of his introduction.

The mystery. There’s a mystery in this novel that I didn’t quite expect. While I started guessing elements of it before the novel was over and I didn’t guess the entirety until it was revealed. I thought the mystery added a nice touch of suspense to the novel.

Spiritually, the novel plays with whether you can sin to prevent a greater sin (i.e. stealing to feed the poor) and many characters pray and read the Bible.

What I didn’t like:

Odette. I just didn’t connect to her at all. Everything she did was based on her feelings–like a Disney princess—and while I can deal with that in a movie, I found it irritating in a book. She reacted without thinking things through. She believed unfounded rumors. She jumped to conclusions that logically made no sense. Also, she failed to come across as Robin Hood. One thing about Robin Hood is that you get the feeling that he has no real choice if he wants his people to survive. Odette had choices…and so I wasn’t sold on why she was poaching.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, this was not one of my favorite novels by Melanie Dickerson. At times I found it a bit trite and had moments of skimming or wanting to skim. That said, it was very beautifully written.

** I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

What I’m Looking Forward To

Four Best Friends. Four Love Stories. Just One Summer.

Four college girls, best friends since childhood, have found one constant in their ever-changing lives–summer. Every June the girls choose a destination to reconnect, only this summer is different. This year, each one must face life’s challenges on her own, overcome fear and failure, and learn the beauty of falling in love for the first time.

A Summer Remade by Nicole Deese
Joss Sanders needs an escape, a reminder of a sweeter, simpler, and steadier time. Only her family’s cabin isn’t exactly how she remembered it as a child, and neither is the charming boy who lives next door. Change is everywhere. If Joss doesn’t stop living in the past, she just might miss the promise in her future.

Waves of Summer by Tammy L. Gray
Sydney Andrews wants nothing more than to get away from a controlling ex-boyfriend, find some clarity and enjoy a drama-free vacation. But nothing in Sydney’s life is ever that easy. Especially when the sexy bartender she meets at her mother’s wedding wants more than just her friendship. He wants the girl she’s forgotten how to be.

A Painted Summer by Amy Matayo
Darby Sparks has lived a very sheltered life. A homeschool graduate, a small town resident, and the only child of two over-protective parents. But she’s had enough. She wants to see the world and chase her dreams, and that’s just what she does…until she runs out of money. With limited options, Darby finds herself working for dangerously hot Lennon Dixon, the owner of a downtown Los Angeles tattoo parlor. To call the job unfamiliar is the world’s biggest understatement. And to call her attraction to Lennon unexpected is a very close second.

Wild Heart Summer by Jenny B. Jones
Twenty-one year old Avery Crawford has had to fight for everything in her life, and this summer is no exception. When her culinary internship in a chic restaurant falls through at the last minute, she gets an unexpected offer to work on a dude ranch in the quaint town of Sugar Creek. While Avery’s up to her apron in cattle drives, trail rides, and kitchen duty, the cute ranch manager Owen Jackson is determined to sweep her off her feet. Just as Avery finds herself unable to resist Owen’s Southern charm, her own family secrets begin to unravel, pushing her away from the ranch–and the love of one handsome cowboy.

I know, I know, I usually hate novellas and I’ll probably wish the stories were longer. Yet, here I am counting down for this book!

Monday Musings…Love in Books

Recently I started reading a novel and I was in chapter 5 and the heroine and the hero had met the previous night. Right, okay? The previous night. And they had hit it off and there was a connection there and so the heroine is telling her best friend about the guy when her friend says, “It sounds like you’re falling love with him already.”

What??

Sometimes I begin to wonder, what exactly do people think love is? As a writer of a romance book, it is the author’s job to convince me, the reader, that the couple is in love. To convince me that they belong together and to have me on the edge of my seat when obstacles come their way. Because if I’m not convinced, the book is not doing it’s job and I may want to put it down and find something else to read.

Can romantic love happen in an instant? Doubtful, but let’s say it can. Well, then unless your book is Romeo and Juliet the novel is over. You have no story to tell. I, the reader, would rather find something else to read.

Romantic love can be done in a variety of ways (hence the fact that romance novels still sell!) but some things, I feel, should be canon:

1. Friendship. The couple should be friends. First. Before love is tossed around like a football. I, the reader, should feel like I know that they turn to each other when things come up.

2. Respect. There is nothing worse than a “romance” novel where the couple argues up until the last two chapters and then tries to sell me that that was love.

3. Communication. You cannot fall in love if the hero and heroine are separated most of the book. And if it’s a series, I begin to doubt whether they will stay in love if the author keeps them separated for long periods of time.

4. Team work. I just read a novel where the hero and the heroine were a team. They had different strengths and different gifts and they relied on and trusted the other to use those gifts and to be there when the other needed them. The hero and heroine ought to strengthen each other. Together they should be stronger.

One or more of these four things will make me sigh at the end of the book like a character in a Disney movie. I will have complete faith that this couple should be together and would stay together in real life. Any “love” that happens without one of these four things is not love. And I just think that we shouldn’t be so quick to toss that word out there.

So, yeah, here are some of my theories. Do you agree? Disagree? Have anything to add?

Interview of Melanie Dickerson and Excerpt from The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

  1. Lately you’ve written most of your fairytale retellings for the YA market, what made you switch to the adult market with this retelling?

I’ve always written my books with both adults and young adults in mind. I’ve always intended to write for both, and this book is geared just slightly more to adults. So I don’t really feel like I’m making much of a change.

2. How much research did you have to do, or rather how many tales did you have to read to prepare for The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest?

I did the usual research based on the story, characters, and setting, to make sure the historical details were correct, and I reviewed the Swan Lake story and its origins. I base my stories very loosely on the their fairy tale counterparts, so I don’t usually go into great depth when researching the fairy tales.

3.Of all the fairytale retellings that you have written, which was one was the most challenging? Is there one that you would describe as the easiest?

The most challenging was The Merchant’s Daughter, since I had to do so much research into the legal system of the English countryside in the 1300’s, which was fairly complicated, since I’d never read about it before. Also, it was challenging because of all the emotions the main characters have to deal with. It was my most difficult book, but also the one I’m the proudest of. The easiest might be The Princess Spy, simply because the heroine, Margaretha, was so much fun to write. Her point of view just seemed to flow.

4. What is your favorite fairytale of all times?

My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. I don’t know why, exactly, but I love that story.

5. Can you tell us, will you be writing any more fairytale retellings in the future?

Yes, I have a Rapunzel story, The Golden Braid, coming in November, which I’m extremely excited about. It takes place in Hagenheim around the same time as The Princess Spy. And I have plans to write a sequel to The Merchant’s Daughter, which will be a Little Mermaid story, set in England. And I have two more stories to write in the Thornbeck/Medieval Fairy Tale series. The Beautiful Pretender is a sequel to The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest and features the margrave and is a mash-up of Princess and the Pea and Beauty and the Beast. It releases next May. Then for the third book in that series, I’m doing a Prince and the Pauper/Goose Girl story.

“Melanie Dickerson’s The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is a lovely romantic read set in one of the most fascinating time periods. Featuring a feisty, big-hearted heroine and a hero to root for, this sweet medieval tale is wrapped in a beautiful journey of faith that had me flipping pages well after my bedtime. Delightful!”

—Tamara Leigh, USA Today bestselling author of Baron of Godsmere

“Melanie Dickerson does it again! Full of danger, intrigue, and romance, this beautifully crafted story will transport you to another place and time.”

—Sarah E. Ladd, Author of The Curiosity Keeper and The Whispers on the Moors series

In THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST, Odette Menkels spends her days as a simple maiden teaching orphans and being courted by the most notable gentlemen in the community, but at night, Odette takes on a new and dangerous persona as the region’s most notorious poacher. Killing and stealing deer to feed the poor, Odette has always been careful about her double life, but the stakes are raised when she meets Jorgen Hartman.

Jorgen is the margrave’s forester charged with the job of keeping the land free of poachers at any cost. Raised by a man who was murdered by a poaching fiend, Jorgen has his sights set on capturing the thief decimating the margrave’s herds.

When Odette and Jorgen meet for the first time at the Midsummer festival, there is an instant connection between them . With Jorgen growing closer to her by the day, can Odette keep her secret? And with Jorgen’s hatred of poachers, would he ever be able to accept Odette for what she does under the cover of night?

Melanie Dickerson is a two-time Christy Award finalist and author of  The Healer’s Apprentice, winner of the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book in 2010, and The Merchant’s Daughter, winner of the 2012 Carol Award. She spends her time writing medieval stories at her home near Huntsville, Alabama, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is Melanie’s first historical romance for adults.

Website: www.MelanieDickerson.com

Twitter: @melanieauthor/ Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks

Excerpt from Melanie Dickerson’s

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

She and Jorgen danced the next song together, and the next and the next. Perhaps she should have excused herself and danced with someone else, but Mathis did not return. The longer she danced with Jorgen, the more she was able to enjoy it and forget that he was the forester.

In fact, they danced until the Minnesingers began to play closer to the bonfire, now lit and starting to roar at the other end. They agreed they did not wish to join the drunken merrymaking around the fire. Jorgen kept hold of her hand a bit longer than was necessary. His touch made her heart flutter.

She caught her breath. How could she be foolish about this man she had just met? Had she forgotten what he could do to her?  She must be a lack wit.

Uncle Rutger came toward them. “What a merry party you four make, dancing and laughing. Jorgen, you must come to our home for Odette’s birthday feast in two nights. You will be most welcome. Peter and Anna will be there as well.

Oh, dear heavenly saints. Uncle Rutger must not know Jorgen was the forester.

Jorgen consented to come, and after the details were conveyed of the time and location of their house, Jorgen turned to Odette. “Until then.”

Would he kiss her hand? But he only smiled, bowed, and walked away.

As Peter and Uncle Rutger escorted Anna and Odette home, Odette couldn’t help but wonder what the reaction of Peter, Anna, and the handsome young forester would be if they ever discovered that she was poaching the margrave’s deer    and giving the meat to the poor. The fact that Jorgen’s adoptive father, the old game-keeper, was shot and killed by a poacher a few years ago would make Jorgen hate her.

Her heart constricted painfully in her chest. There was only one thing to do: never get caught.

 

Additional Praise for The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest

 

“Melanie Dickerson weaves a tantalizing Robin Hood plot in a medieval setting in The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. She pits a brave heroine with unique talents against a strong, gentle hero whose occupation makes it dangerous to know him. Add the moral dilemma and this tale makes a compelling read for any age.”

—Ruth Axtell,

author of She Shall Be Praised and The Rogue’s Redemption

 

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest is a wonderful romantic tale filled with love, betrayal, and forgiveness. I loved this book and highly recommend it for readers of all ages. ”

—Cara Lynn James, author of A Path Toward Love

 

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest reminds me why adults should read fairy tales. Author Melanie Dickerson shoots straight to the heart with a cast of compelling characters, and enchanting story world, and romance and suspense in spades. Reaching The End was regrettable – but oh, what an ending!”

—Laura Frantz, author of The Mistress of Tall Acre

 

“For stories laden with relatable heroines, romantically adventurous plots, once-upon-a-time settings, and engaging writing, Melanie Dickerson is your go-to author. Her books are on my never-to-be-missed list.”

—Kim Vogel Sawyer, author of When Mercy Rains