St. Louis writer Michele Andrea Bowen made a splash in the inspirational fiction world with her Church Folk series, which followed the loves and losses of a tight-knit church community in Durham, North Carolina. Her latest release, Pastor Needs a Boo, launches a spin-off of that series, the Pastor’s Aide Club, and finds reader favorite Denzelle Flowers—a former FBI agent turned pastor—the woman who will be the making of him. In a behind-the-book essay, Bowen explains why she chose Reverend Flowers to kick things off.
In the world of Texas football, team allegiances are hard-lined, and devotion runs deep. The small college town of Walker—the setting of Emily Giffin’s seventh novel, The One & Only—is no exception. Beautiful, down-to-earth Shea Rigsby is the ultimate hometown girl: She’s happily spent all of her 33 years in Walker supporting her beloved Broncos. With a messy, less than perfect family to call her own, Shea was raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the effortlessly chic and opinionated daughter of Walker’s legendary football coach, Clive Carr.
In Blossom Street Brides, beloved author Debbie Macomber returns to the thriving community of women who frequent a knitting shop on Seattle’s Blossom Street. This time around, Lydia Goetz, the owner of A Good Yarn Shop, is worried the future of her business, while newlywed Bethanne Scranton is struggling to maintain her long-distance marriage, and Lauren Elliott has just broken up with the man she was certain she would marry.
Getting to “happily ever after” may not be easy for characters in romance novels, but it is always guaranteed. Unfortunately, that’s far from the case in real life, of course, which is the basis for Elizabeth Maxwell’s wryly funny debut novel Happily Ever After.
“There’s a scene in your story that’s unrealistic. The one where your main character’s marriage was arranged so quickly. In those days, matchmaking could take years, especially between old, wealthy families.”
This was the feedback from a family friend who read the manuscript for Three Souls during its early stages of editing. This friend grew up in a very traditional family and had majored in Chinese literature. If my novel’s depiction of Chinese family life in the years before World War II passed her critical judgement, I could breathe a sigh of relief.
When Lavender sends out invitations to her 85th birthday bash, it’s more than just a celebration. One of the guests might be lucky enough to inherit the Lavender Honey Farm she has so laboriously carved out of her family land, and in which her nephews are not interested. With that in mind she invites three fellow food bloggers (they call themselves the “Foodie Four”) to visit and celebrate the special occasion, and each responds from the center of a complicated life.
What inspires a female writer whose work runs the gamut from a Pulitzer Prize-winning column to best-selling novels to thought-provoking essays? Anna Quindlen says she admires a number of female writers.
“Rebecca Winter” remains a household name, thanks to the iconic photograph “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” that catapulted her art career into the public eye. But Rebecca Winter, the person, has changed significantly in the decades since she captured that domestic image of her kitchen counter after her husband and son retired for the evening. She’s no longer married, for one. And it’s been so long since she made a significant sale that she can no longer afford the upscale Manhattan apartment that contains the kitchen immortalized in that famous picture.
I was skeptical when I found out the author of The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating stars on “The Real Housewives of New York.” And when the epigram was a Lady Gaga quote, I thought I was in for a long slog. What a pleasant surprise, then, when the book turned out to be one of the richest, most deeply satisfying stories I’ve read in a long time.
Sharon Sala writes a charming story about a second chance at life and love in The Curl Up and Dye.When LilyAnn Bronte lost her high school sweetheart 11 years ago, she became mired in grief. But now, at 28, the sound of a hot-rod engine awakens her to all that’s wrong with her existence. Is the newcomer behind the wheel the next man of her dreams? Her neighbor and best friend, Mike Dalton, sure hopes not. Owner of the town’s fitness center, Mike’s been in love with LilyAnn forever, but she’s never considered him to be romance material.