Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

Finding Colin Firth by Mia MarchBook Review
Title: Finding Colin Firth
Author:  Mia March
Publisher: Gallery Books
Released: July 9, 2013
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 1476710201
ISBN-13: 978-1476710204
Stars:  4.0

Okay, I admit it. I’m not original. I’m like over a million other women who think that Colin Firth is absolutely talented, dreamy, amazing and someone to gush about. When I stumbled onto a copy of Mia March’s Finding Colin Firth in Chapters recently, I couldn’t help but buy it. The title captivated me instantly. I’d heard about Mia March through Jane Porter’s blog and knew that her debut novel was called The Meryl Streep Movie Club and being a huge movie fan, I’d thought that I’d love to read that as well. I just happened to find Finding Colin Firth first. I trust Jane Porter’s taste in women’s fiction implicitly as she has yet to steer me wrong.

Finding Colin Firth is not only a story that has some of the main characters literally searching for Colin Firth when it’s rumoured that he’s going to be shooting scenes for a new movie in the small coastal town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, but it’s also a deeply moving account of three women’s issues of identity and their sense of belonging that stresses the importance of female relationships.

We first meet 22-year-old Bea Crane, a cook at Boston’s Crazy Burger who longs to become a teacher, on the day that she discovers from the deathbed letter of her mother that she was adopted. This shocking news turns Bea’s world upside down and after her bitchy boss complains about her work ethic one time too many when she’s just heard this life-changing news, she decides to quit Crazy Burger. She then travels to Maine to meet her birth mother who left her contact information with the local adoption agency.

Veronica Russo is a beautiful, single, 38-year-old waitress who works at the Best Little Diner in Boothbay. She has a small business on the side making the best pies in the area as well as teaching classes on pie making. Her “elixir” pies are particularly special because of the love, care and thought she instills in the making of every one. March’s delectable pie descriptions had me salivating, and I loved how she created special names for Veronica’s different kinds of pie: Amore Pie (chocolate caramel cream), Spirit Pie (shoofly), Feel Better Pie (blueberry), Confidence Pie (key lime) and Hope Pie (salted caramel cheesecake) to name a few.  Veronica loves Colin Firth and decides that she’s going to apply to be an extra in the movie that’s being filmed in Boothbay Harbor with the hope that she’ll get to see him in person.  We also discover that 22 years ago Veronica gave birth to a baby girl who she got to hold for all of two minutes before she was taken away from her as she’d decided to put her up for adoption. Her parents and high school boyfriend had both disowned her and she was sent to Hope Home for unwed mothers to live until she had her baby, after which she left Maine for Florida and didn’t come back for many years.

Gemma Hendricks is a 29-year-old, newly unemployed reporter from New York City who’s just discovered she’s pregnant but who is terrified that she doesn’t have a maternal bone in her body and that she’ll have to give up her career to become a stay-at-home mother in the suburbs, which is exactly what her lawyer husband Alexander wants her to do. She decides to take a vacation alone and go back to Boothbay Harbor where she spent her summers as a young girl, to reunite with some close girlfriends who co-own a little inn called Three Captains (who just happen to be running a Colin Firth movie month) and to try to figure out how she’s going to compromise with Alexander to find a happy medium for both of them. While in Boothbay Harbor, Gemma is given an opportunity to write a feature article about Hope Home’s 50th anniversary for the local Gazette which leads to her meeting both Bea and Veronica before they’ve even met each other. We come to care about each one of them in the meantime through discovering their histories and because they’re sweet, likeable women. I particularly enjoyed Veronica and looked forward to her appearances in the novel most of all.

This is a delightful, easy read that although predictable in its outcome, still held joy for this reader. Reading it is equivalent to watching a romantic comedy starring Colin Firth (think Bridget Jones’s Diary or Love Actually) while enjoying a bowl of popcorn with your girlfriends, which is something that the women in Finding Colin Firth, actually do. However, the issues of adoption, parenthood and what makes a good parent; reputation and judgment and how one can hurt the other; and finding a way to allow your heart to open after it’s been seriously damaged are not fluffy in any way. There are also interesting love interests for Bea and Veronica with several sub-plots to add depth to their characters and just the right amount of tension and conflict. There were, perhaps, too many questions raised by the main characters in the literal sense, as there were times when March listed the questions running through their minds about their individual predicaments, and that made me roll my eyes because they were quite simplified in my mind, but other than that, I loved the journey of watching these women not only find each other but also themselves, not to mention discovering whether they would actually find Colin Firth. You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.  Go ahead, it’s worth it!

Single In The City by Michele Gorman

Single in the City by Michele Gorman

BOOK PREVIEW

Hey ladies,

Lookin’ for a fun in the sun summer read? Look no further!

Take one twenty six year old American, add to a two thousand year old city, add a big dose of culture clash and stir

To think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That’s been the understatement of a lifetime. She lands upon England’s gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she’s supposed to build the life she’s dreaming of. Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.

REVIEWS

“If you like your novels fun and sassy with a twist of the unexpected, you’ll devour Single in the City. 4 stars.” The Sun 

“I expected the book to be funny based on Michele’s awesome tweets, but I was in no way prepared for the hilarity that ensued – the book literally had me in stitches!” Bookalicious Ramblings

“Single in the City is an easy read that keeps you enthralled…” Female First 

“This is hilarious book, full of romance and laugh-out-loud situations that no woman would want to be in.” Chick Lit Club 

“Gorman has written a great story about making friends and fitting in, and it should be an inspiration to anyone with a hankering to dramatically change their life and/or move here to sunny England. The characters were realistic, the setting familiar and the plot fascinating. Whether you like adult chick lit or YA, Single in the City is definitely a book worth devoting some of your time to.” Wondrous Reads

“If you love chick-lit then you need to read this book. Actually, scratch that… if you enjoy a well written book with a fun and uplifting plot that takes place in England, then you will love Single in the City.” Paperback Dolls

“Single in the City is like Sex and the City told through the eyes of an American Bridget Jones and it was so funny that I laughed out loud throughout this delightful chick lit novel.” Novel Escapes 

“The main character Hannah is the perfect heroine for the book, and I loved seeing London through her eyes. It was a really fun journey and I really did care about her by the end. Recommended!” Chick Lit Reviews

* * * * * 

Single in the City
352 pages
Women’s fiction/Chick Lit
ISBN 9780141048260 (paperback) price £6.99
(ebook) price $3.99/£3.99/€4.49

Michele Gorman is the best-selling author of the Single in the City series and Bella Summer Takes a Chance. She also writes upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 15 years.

Michele Gorman is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency (www.hardmanswainson.com). For further information please visit her website: www.michelegorman.co.uk.

Bella Summer Takes A Chance by Michele Gorman

Bella Summer Takes A Chance by Michele Gorman

BOOK PREVIEW

BELLA SUMMER TAKES A CHANCE PUBLISHED GLOBALLY ON 12TH FEBRUARY 2013

When is enough not enough?

Bella’s career and relationship are her life’s foundationwear: not glamorous and perhaps a bit binding, but supportive enough… until she realizes that they are not enough. Her life is sagging badly. She’s never been in love with her boyfriend, despite a decade together. And somehow she stopped being a musician-with-a-day-job and became a consultant-who-was-musical. So she takes a terrifying leap of faith, leaving her relationship and resolving to follow her musical dreams no matter what.

But the life you walk away from doesn’t always let you walk away. 

With a wonderfully warm and witty cast of friends, all navigating between their ideals and the realities they face, together they’ll find out what love and compromise really mean in this empowering tale about grasping life with both hands.

REVIEWS

“Witty, well-written and next to impossible to put down, Bella Summer Takes a Chance is a must-read in my opinion.” ~ The Book Chick

“The quirky characters, easy reading, and flowing storyline were all exactly what I was hoping for. I would recommend any of her books.” ~ A Novel Review

Bella Summer Takes a Chance is, for lack of a better comparison, a grown up version of “chick-lit.” The characters, especially Bella, are fun and enjoyable, but are based on a degree of reality and maturing that ensures the story stays believable and focused.” ~ Vine Voice

“I would refer to this book not simply as chick-lit, but grown-up chick-lit, something with substance.” ~ Amazon.com customer

“Romantic chick lit for grown-ups!” ~ Amazon.com customer

“This was a fun, quick read … the first book I’ve read by Michele Gorman, and I definitely plan on checking out what else she has written.” ~ Always With a Book

“I thought the characters were excellent, B really made an impression on me …the writing was also excellent. I can’t wait for Gorman’s next offering, I definitely recommend Bella Summer Takes A Chance. 4*” ~ Chick Lit Reviews and News

“You will be swept away with Bella and taken on an adventure in love and destiny!  4 stars.” ~ Mrs Mommy Book Nerd

“Filled with quirky characters and a lovely wrap up at the end, this is one for chick lit fans to read! 5 stars.” ~ Chick Lit Plus

BOOK EXCERPT

Prologue

‘Are you in love with me?’ I asked again as the appetising comfort of our usual Friday night takeaway turned sour in my mouth.

The question hung between us. He laughed, a short burst, as if diffusing dust that clouded his view. Diffusing the question.

‘I mean it, Mattias. Are you?’ I felt sick.

‘Of course I love you,’ he said from his end of the sofa. He could have reached me if he’d put his hand out. ‘Why would you even ask that?’

I hadn’t, not really. I’d only mimicked the on-screen heroine who filled our living room with romcom angst. A life-altering question, and I’d nicked it as I absentmindedly helped myself to more chicken korma.

‘I didn’t ask if you love me,’ I said. ‘I asked if you’re in love with me.’

Now that the genie had emerged from the bottle, the little bugger refused to be stuffed back in. I wondered if he could hear my heart thudding. On the TV the hero and heroine prattled on, rediscovering their true feelings for one another. Scene fade, musical crescendo. My films always had happy endings.

‘It’s a silly question, B., after ten years together. That feeling doesn’t last beyond the first flush of a relationship.’ He smiled. It was a beautiful smile, easy and open. ‘You know I love you.’

‘But were you?’ I pushed. ‘At the beginning? In love with me?’ My tummy was churning in the uncharted waters. I didn’t like the look of the horizon.

‘I don’t remember,’ he said, not smiling anymore.

The wind picked up and my boat rocked. Wouldn’t you remember a thing like being in love? I knew I would.

But I didn’t. Not once in all our years together did I remember having those feelings that people describe. Never as we sat on the sofa watching films, never when I looked at him over the table at a wedding, not once when anticipating his return from a weekend away. Not even when he said ‘I love you’. And not on that rainy October night, as I realised what the consequence of such an absence of feeling must be. ‘I’m not in love with you either,’ I said, tears forming. ‘I wasn’t ever, either.’

He finally reached over and gathered me to him. ‘Come here.’ He began stroking my hair. ‘I’m sorry. I do love you. I always have.’

‘I know. I love you too.’

He hesitated, started to say something, fell silent. Then, ‘It’s not the same thing, is it?’

He searched my face, seeing my answer there. I said it out loud anyway. ‘No.’

‘Isn’t it enough, though?’

‘I thought it was. But now I don’t know.’

‘You don’t know? Or you don’t think it is?’

I knew our future hinged on my words. ‘I don’t think it is.’

The comfortable, nice life I had with this perfectly lovely man wasn’t enough. Not for me. I struggled with the idea that this realisation had come out of the blue. Didn’t I know it before? A film cannot cause the end of a decade-long relationship. It just poured water into the cracks that, when the temperature plunged and the ice formed, split it apart. There was no going back. 

* * * * *

Bella Summer Takes a Chance
325 pages
Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
ISBN 9781481277693 (paperback) price $12.99/£7.99/€9.99
(ebook) price $3.99/£2.49/€2.99

Michele is available for interviews and guest posts during the promotion period. Please email Press@nottinghillpress.co.uk

Michele Gorman is the best-selling author of Single in the City, Misfortune Cookie and The Twelve Days to Christmas. She also writes upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 15 years.

Michele Gorman is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency. For further information please visit her website at www.michelegorman.co.uk.

The Good Woman (A Brennan Sisters Novel) by Jane Porter

The Good WomanBook Review
Title: The Good Woman (A Brennan Sisters Novel)
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Released: September 4, 2012
Pages: 368
ISBN-10: 0425253007
ISBN-13: 978-0425253007
Stars:  4.5

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Jane Porter’s contemporary women’s fiction.  I’ve read almost every book in that line (she also writes for Harlequin) that she’s written.  So I was really excited to hear that she’d written a new series about the Brennan Sisters that’s been published by her new publisher, Berkley Trade.  The Good Woman is the first novel in that trilogy.

The first thing that struck me about The Good Woman is its exquisite cover – the model who was chosen to represent leading character Meg Roberts is exceptionally lovely and beautifully photographed – as well as its tag line, “sisters always know…”  I have two sisters who are among my best friends in the world so that phrase really rings true for me.

The Good Woman is the story of Mary Margaret Brennan Roberts, a.k.a. Meg, who on the outside would appear to have it all.  She’s married to a successful architect (Jack), has three children (Tessa, JJ and Gabi), a gorgeous home, drives a Lexus SUV, and has a great job as a publicist working at a Napa Valley winery called Dark Horse for a very kind, warm and ruggedly handsome boss, vintner Chad Hallahan.  We just know something’s going to happen between Meg and Chad, but it’s the way Porter reveals how her heroine feels, why she ends up doing what she does, and how she deals with the consequences that is remarkable.  Porter writes with such a truthful and authentic voice about the issues that women deal with, that her stories are always completely relatable.

Meg is the oldest child of a large Irish-American family.  She’s smart, ambitious and a perfectionist with control issues, but she’s also a faithful wife and loving mother who constantly makes the right decisions.  Her father Tommy is a sixth generation San Francisco firefighter and her mother Marilyn is battling breast cancer.  Meg’s brother Tommy is also a firefighter and he and his wife Cass are struggling with long-term fertility issues.  Meg is closest to her sister Kit, a Catholic school English teacher, who has been with her boyfriend Richard for 10 years and has never received a proposal.  Her youngest sister Sarah is married to professional baseball player, Boone (who has had an affair on her but she’s stayed with him), while Kit’s fraternal twin Brianna is the family wild child who has never married and is an activist who works in the Congo in Africa.

The sisters meet up with their mother for their annual Brennan Sisters’ Getaway at the family beach house in Capitola and it’s not long before Brianna and Meg are at each other’s throats.  They don’t get along and constantly rub each other the wrong way.  Meg’s relationship with her sisters is both rewarding and realistic and sometimes the family’s gossiping astounds her.  However, her family dynamics are an important part of her life and we see how they perceive Meg and how her decisions impact them too.

Years of being “the good woman” has left Meg feeling burned out, empty and lonely as she finds herself disconnected from a distant Jack.  A perimenopausal woman in her forties, Meg wants sex all the time, her husband barely wants it at all, and when they do have sex, it’s wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and Jack doesn’t seem to care that Meg never has an orgasm.  There’s no touching, no lingering, and no intimacy and Meg is not happy or satisfied.  However, rather than try to talk to her husband about it, she thinks that she has to just suck it up and deal with it, and that her role in life is simply to look after everyone else.  But we women know that you can only live like that for so long before something has to change.  And when it does for Meg, the shit really hits the fan.

Meg decides to attend the London Wine Trade Fair with her boss, Chad, who over late night business dinners and multiple glasses of wine, ends up revealing his deep-rooted desire for her.  At first she’s determined not to give in to her feelings for him, but ultimately she just can’t, and “the good woman” Meg becomes the wanton adulteress who risks losing her entire family because of her reckless and irreversible decision.

I love that Jane has brought up the issue of oral sex in Meg’s story and the fact that some men don’t seem to like to reciprocate although they certainly enjoy receiving it.  Every woman I know, including me, wouldn’t want to be with a man who wasn’t into oral sex, that’s for sure!

Infidelity is also an issue that has touched most of us at some time in our lives and as a woman in her late forties, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about men screwing around on the women that I know, and I’ve been cheated on as well, so it’s an issue that’s very close to the surface of my emotions.  In The Good Woman, Jane Porter writes about what drives a woman who would never be suspected of it to cheat on her husband, and rather than be angry with her, I found that I couldn’t blame Meg for her actions at all.  I cried while reading her story, but what I was amazed by was how she chose to accept the consequences of her actions and decided to fight to keep her family together after realizing that she really was meant to be a good woman after all.  That decision is something that I think that only married women with children can truly understand.

The Good Woman is a captivating page turner and one that I finished reading very quickly because I didn’t want to do anything else but read it.  Fortunately for Porter’s readers, the next book in the trilogy, The Good Daughter (available February 5, 2013), will focus on Meg’s sister Kit.  I’m fortunate to have received an ARC copy of it, so I’ll be reading it right away.  I think that the third book will be The Good Wife, but the sister’s story that I want to read the most is Brianna’s…because I’m more of a wild child than a good woman.

Mrs. Perfect by Jane Porter

Book Review
Title: Mrs. Perfect
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: 5 Spot
Released: May 5, 2008
Pages: 432
ISBN 10 – 0446699241

4.5 STARS

I didn’t think I was going to love Mrs. Perfect by Seattle author Jane Porter as much as I loved her preceding work, Odd Mom Out, but as it turns out, not only did I love it as much, I love it more! When I started reading the book, I had a preconceived notion of who the main character, Taylor Young, was. She was introduced in Mom Odd Out and appeared to be Marta Zinsser’s complete opposite, not to mention nemesis.

Taylor Young is a beautiful trophy wife with control issues who lives in a fairy-tale world with her handsome, high-earning, ex-quarterback husband, Nathan – in the dream home she decorated – with their three exquisite little girls, Jemma, Brooke and Tori in Bellevue, Washington. To anyone who looks at her from the outside, Taylor is Mrs. Perfect. However, as we read this book, we watch in amazement at how Jane Porter peels back the layers of Taylor’s character to reveal a woman that I didn’t loathe, but rather fell in love with, just like I did with Marta Zinsser in Odd Mom Out.

Taylor’s perfect life has begun to unravel when her husband takes a job in Omaha after finally admitting to her that for the past year he hasn’t been working, and because they’ve been spending way beyond their means for a very long time, they are now millions of dollars in debt and are going to lose their dream home. Taylor Young not only rises to the challenge of a very difficult situation, but she shows everyone around her what she’s truly made of. Even though she’s falling apart inside, she manages to make the most delicious lemonade out of the hairy lemons in her life. She matures on a visceral, cerebral, and spiritual level before our eyes and we love her for sharing her difficult journey with us.

“You’re bad. I silently repeat the last one as I load the dishwasher, knowing these voices are part of that horrible, hollow feeling inside of me. But I’m not hollow, and I’m not horrible. For all my mistakes, I do love my girls, and I try my best to take care of them. For all my flaws and my vanity and pride, I do love Nathan, and I love him with all my heart. The truth is, I do try. I always try.

Maybe Marta’s right about something else. Maybe trying your best, and doing your best, even if it’s not perfect, is enough.

Maybe it’s unrealistic to think I can be perfect.

Or to put it in Marta-speak, that’s why we have religion. God’s perfect. We’re human.”

Jane Porter knows how to write a meaningful, emotional story for women. She knows how to find the chord that connects us all and how to tug on it to get our attention. She reminds us that many other people in this world are in the same boat as we are and she makes us feel as if we have a cheerleading team behind us, letting us know that we’re going to be better than fine…that things are going to turn out great!

Her contemporary style is flawless and she speaks my language, fluently. She moved me to tears again with this book and in the three books of hers that I’ve read, she’s managed to climb very close to the top of my favourite authors list. Don’t let the candy-coloured book covers fool you. These books are much more substantial than a box of chocolates or a slice of cake. I can’t wait to go and buy her latest 5 Spot release, Easy on The Eyes. It’s at my local bookstore and I know exactly the shelf it’s on.

If you’re looking for a wonderful read with marvelous characterization and relevant contemporary themes, look no further than the divine Ms. Jane Porter.

Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter

Book Review 
Title: Odd Mom Out
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: 5 Spot
Released: September 27, 2007
Pages: 432
ISBN 10 – 0446699233

4 STARS

As a single, independent woman who has trust issues with men, Seattle author Jane Porter’s Odd Mom Out struck a thundering chord with me and helped me to remember that I really do want to be loved and in order to be loved, I must open myself up to receive it. For that Jane, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Something has definitely been triggered here. I just finished reading the book and am still in tears. Any novel that has the power to move me to tears is a memorable one and Odd Mom Out is just that. It is an honest, moving, accessible and beautifully well-written story about being true to yourself, and it’s not just for Moms, it’s for every woman.

From the very first two pages of this book, I fell totally and completely in love with the main character, Marta Zinsser (even though I am not a Mom). I loved that Marta drives a Harley and loves motorcycles and can relate to her love of the freedom of the open road and seeing everything you pass more clearly. I loved that Marta decided from an early age that it was okay to be different and that the most important thing was that she was true to herself. It is also true that where men were concerned, she got lost along the way, but without giving up the plot I’ll just say that when one gets lost they shall almost always ultimately be found. It’s part of the Yin and Yang of life.

As Marta struggles to be the best mom she can be to her nine year old daughter Eva, while juggling a career, a mother slowly slipping away from Alzheimer’s, trying to fit in amongst the snobby affluent women of Seattle and Bellevue, and accepting and trusting a new love interest (Luke Flynn) who she is terrified of losing herself to, I empathized with her more and more after every page. I want to be friends with this woman and she’s only a fictional character! I didn’t want the book to end. I haven’t read a lot of Chick or Mom Lit yet, but I loved it that much! If you are a fan of the genre, this is a MUST READ!

My favourite quote from Odd Mom Out is:

“…One hundred years ago, Virginia Woolf wrote that women need a room of their own. But Virginia’s wrong. Women don’t need a room of their own. What they need to do is get out of the goddamn building.”

You got that right, Jane Porter!

If you’re looking for an easy, delightful and yet emotional read to keep you occupied with while you snuggle up indoors this winter, choose Odd Mom Out. And if you want to connect with this wonderful, open, caring and talented woman, Jane Porter, and learn more about her exceptional books, please visit her at her website at JanePorter.com or on Facebook or MySpace.

The YouTube trailer for Odd Mom Out (which really doesn’t quite do it justice):