Summer beach book, a “sweet” read

As Sweet Nothings begins, practical Ruby McMillan is knocked for a loop. Her husband Walter announces that he is leaving her for “the love of his life. She can’t believe that her dependable husband,
Walter, is head-over-heels for another woman, and that he is just walking out on her and their two teenaged children. But he does.
What really hurts is that the love of her husband’s life is not a sexy young thing but a woman her own age. And, to add insult to injury, her husband has left her in danger of losing her home by not paying the mortgage and leaving town on his lover’s yacht.
Ruby has to break out of her of shell to teach a pastry class and revive her failing bakery or face losing her home.
After a startling makeover from her fashion savvy daughter, Ruby runs into her disturbingly attractive mortgage broker. Suddenly, the practical Ruby is feeling hot and bothered. As her thoughts wander from baking to lust, Ruby wonders if she has sealed off the loving, sexy side of herself that may have kept her marriage alive.
In Sweet Nothings Janice Thomas captures the dilemma of many middle-aged women who lose the sweetest side of themselves as struggle to raise children and work. This book is funny, poignant, and sweet.

Hot beach read!

All the Summer Girls by Meg Donahue  is an intriguing mystery set in in New Jersey beach town. Against a background of dunes, beach bars , and sun screen  a tale of friendship, secrets and forgiveness unfolds.
When Kate is jilted by her fiancé and finds herself pregnant she calls on her old school friends Vanessa and Dani for comfort. The three have been deeply affected by the tragic death of Kate’s twin brother during their last summer together. They blame themselves and each other for his death.
Each woman has been slowly self-destructing under the pressures of guilt and resentment. Kate has become so obsessive and closed off that she has driven her fiancé away. Vanessa is toying with leaving her husband having lost her own identity while at home with her young daughter. And Dani, the golden girl of the group, has drifted into a life of drinking and drugging as she struggles to become a writer.
Now, years after the tragedy that has marked them, they come together at the same beach house to comfort and confront each other. The teenage friends are now young women hoping to make sense of the past so they can move forward.
Readers will relate to the pressures and demands faced by the three women as well as their bonds of friendship. Read The Girls of Summer and share it with a friend.

Love after death

If This Is Paradise, I Want My Money Back by Claudia Carroll is a haunting romance. 

It tells the story of Charlotte, who is struck by car and ends up in a deep coma. She "crosses over" to the afterlife. There she is given the chance to go back to Earth as an angel to “set things right” for those she left behind.
Instead of helping her cheating boyfriend to behave, she haunts him to the brink of madness. Charlotte also makes a muck of it, when she tries to play cupid for her sister and best friend.
If This Is Paradise, I Want My Money Back is an amusing twist on the usual scorned-woman revenge fantasy books. Set in Dublin, the character’s humorous self-mockery saves the book from getting too nasty. And the clever use of Irish slang is a hoot, too. There are a few twists that help to raise the tale above the average for this genre.
This book will appeal to any woman who has loved a loser a little too long.

As much fun as Sex in the City

Alisa Valdes-RodriguezExciting new writer Alisa Valdes-Rodriguezanswers some questions about her two latest books. Alisa was named one of Time magazine’s most influential Hispanics, and has a deft touch with contemporary relationships.

She is the author of The Dirty Girls Social Club, a sexy sequel to her book Dirty Girls on Top. It’s as addictive as Sex and the City reruns.  It follows a diverse group of six college friends as they attempt to balance careers and love. The women are all professionals, attractive Latinas. This book is definitely hot, but it is also touching and very funny.
Her latest book, The Husband Habit, is set in Alisa’s native New Mexico. The novel explores how family patterns can affect choices about love and life. The main character, a chef, keeps falling for married men until she meets a man who can break her unconscious code and her history of bad choices.  
I couldn’t put down either of these two entertaining and very different books. They are perfect beach bag books – but be warned, your girlfriends will want borrow them.
DD: Your Dirty Girls books have been described as Sex in the City, Latina style. Do think it is fair description – and was it intentional?
AVR: I don’t know if it was fair or not. I have never read Sex in the City and have only watched the show maybe three times – and that was after my book was written. There is a long history of ensemble books about women. I’m more apt to have read Maeve Binchy’s version, or Terri McMillan’s.
DD: In your Dirty Girls books the six women characters do not seem to have any friends who are not Latina. Is that indicative of the culture?
AVR: It has nothing to do with culture. It’s a premise for a work of fiction.
DD:  You describe food a lot and very sensually in your books. In The Husband Habit, the main character is a chef. In Dirty Girls on Top, two characters use food self-destructively.  Can you discuss the role food plays in your books?
AVR: I try to be detailed about food because I think all humans can relate to it. I’m also an amateur chef. I hope someday to open the first upscale Cuban restaurant in Albuquerque!
DD: You write about professional women in your books – both Latina and non-Latina.  The women in your book seem to handle work pretty well, but men and relationships are much more difficult for them. Do you think that is the big challenge for bright woman today, to find man who isn’t a mess, married, or a womanizer who want to settle down?
AVR: Yes! I think women’s roles have changed a lot in the past 50 years, but that men’s expectations of us have not changed as much. Too many men still seem to be focused on the superficial with women. I have so many amazing, professional, educated friends who struggle to find men who can appreciate them as full and fascinating human beings. That said, there are men out there who get it. Paul, in The Husband Habit, is one such guy.
DD:In Dirty Girls on Top the sex talk is rather – unbridled. It was also pretty funny as opposed to really vulgar.  What inspired that?
AVR: You don’t really want me to answer that. I promise.
DD: Family and the past seem to play a role in all of your work. This is a very strong theme in The Husband Habit. Do you think the strong role of family in the Latino culture has influenced your work?
AVR: I think all families play a role in the psychological development of all people. I am interested in psychology, and in the different ways people within the same family interact, and why.
DD: Do you consider yourself a “Latina writer”?  I enjoyed your books and found the themes and humor universal.
AVR:  I think of myself as a person. Labels in general can be tools of marginalization, or tools of empowerment. It just depends upon who is using them and why.