Recent Reading: Friends

Today I am blatantly promoting books by friends, women I have met through RWA’s Golden Heart contest, but I wouldn’t steer you wrong. These are books, and writers, that I enjoy.

Nan Dixon is a Starcatcher (2011) and Lucky 13 (2013) GH finalist. Her debut novel, Southern Comforts, offers the reader a lovely trip to Savannah (with a side trip to Boston) and food and wine descriptions that will leave her mouth watering. (Psst: the recipe for those brandy pecan bars is on Nan’s website!).

Southern ComfortsAbby Fitzgerald is determined to make a success of her family’s bed and Breakfast, Fitzgerald House, but her long term plan is to add her own restaurant, Southern Comforts, and prove her standing as a top-drawer chef. And despite the business assistance of her two sisters, Bess and Dolley, she’s set on doing it herself. Her irresponsible father and the chef who dumped her in New York, blocking her culinary career, have led her to distrust men—and their money.

And money is what Grayson Smythe has a lot of. The Boston businessman has booked a six-month stay at Fitzgerald House while he oversees the conversion of a warehouse to condos, and Abby’s sister has forgotten to tell her that the deal includes dinner. Gray quickly falls in love with Abby’s cooking, but admitting that he’s falling in love with her is another matter. And persuading her to trust his good intentions is even harder.

I thoroughly enjoyed Southern Comforts and I’m looking forward to reading Bess and Dolley’s stories one of these days.

Heather Ashby is a Firebird (2012) GH finalist, and a Navy veteran (and long-time Navy wife) herself. UnforgetttableWith co-author (and retired Marine) Christopher Bergeron, she wraps up her four-book Love in the Fleet series with Unforgettable, a follow up to the previous book, Never Forget, continuing the story of Royal Navy Lieutenant Gwyn Pritchard and Marine Gunnery Sergeant Adam Connor and adding a romance for Navy pilot Mike Nickolopoulos and Marine pilot Cate Hawkins. Unforgettable also ties up the stories of the 9/11 spirits trapped aboard the U.S.S. New York. Ashby and Bergeron blend romance and healing among the officers with exciting military action and suspense, producing a very satisfying finale to the series.

Susan Boyer is also a Firebird. Her 2012 GH finalist mystery novel, Lowcountry Boil, won an Agatha Award for Best First Book. Lowcountry Boneyard is the third installment in Susan’s Liz Talbot mystery series. Liz is a private investigator based on Stella Maris, an island off the coast of South Carolina, a ferry ride from Charleston. She works cases with her partner Nate Andrews and occasional well-placed help from the ghost of Colleen, her long-dead high school best friend, whose mission in the afterlife is to protect Stella Maris.

Lowcountry BoneyardIn Lowcountry Boneyard, Liz and Nate take on the case of missing heiress Kent Heyward, cutting their way through long-buried family secrets and rivalries. They have some problems of their own to solve, too—their business may do well with Liz based on Stella Maris and Nate a few hours away in Greenville, but their romantic relationship is suffering.

I’m looking forward to Liz’ next case (Lowcountry Bordello, due out in November) and hope there will be many more. By the way, if you enjoy cozy regional mysteries, check out Susan and Liz’ publisher, Henery Press.

Review: Forget Me Not, by Heather Ashby

Forget Me Not is the second installment in Heather Ashby’s Love in the Fleet series, published by Hennery Press.

Daisy Schneider is a veterinarian, a volunteer, and a war widow. Her husband, a Marine helicopter pilot, was killed in Afghanistan, but even before that he suffered from PTSD, and Daisy never wants to deal with that again.  She stays busy with her practice, and taking her well-trained dogs to entertain children and retirees.

Forget Me NotBrian “Sky” Crawford is a Navy helicopter pilot, assigned to drug patrol duty. Outwardly a carefree playboy, he hasn’t faced his own PTSD, the result of a crash from which he was unable to save his copilot, trying to convince himself that his nightmares don’t really mean he needs help.

Sky’s path crosses Daisy’s when he finds himself in possession of a stray cat. He takes it to the handiest vet clinic, hoping to find it a home. Instead he finds Daisy, and the cat (impulsively named Daisy Mae) becomes his ticket to seeing the charming vet again.

Soon everyone, from the children at the Boys and Girls Club to the seniors at Portside Manor, agrees with Sky that he and Daisy belong together. Everyone, that is, except Daisy–and Daisy Mae.

As their relationship develops, Daisy and Sky run into problems, of course, but these pale compared to the trouble brewing far away as determined drug smugglers make plans to defeat the next helicopter to challenge them.  And when all is said and done, it’s Daisy Mae who has the last word.

Sky was a supporting character in Ashby’s first novel, Forgive & Forget, but it’s not necessary to read the books inForgive & Forget order. Ashby has a gift for combining romance, humor, and serious issues with a detailed military background. I highly recommend her books, and look forward to the next one, Never Forget, coming in July 2014.