Carina Press Presents: Just Like This

Title: Just Like This

Author: Cole McCade

Series: Albin Academy, #2

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Imprint: Carina Press (Carina Adores)

On Sale: November 24, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback 

Price: $14.99 U.S.

ISBN: 9781335200907

Book Description: Rian Falwell has a problem.

And his name is Damon Louis.

Rian's life as the art teacher to a gaggle of displaced boys at Albin Academy should be smooth sailing—until the stubborn, grouchy football coach comes into his world like a lightning strike and ignites a heated conflict that would leave them sworn enemies if not for a common goal.

A student in peril. A troubling secret. And two men who are polar opposites but must work together to protect their charges.

They shouldn't want each other. They shouldn't even like each other.

Yet as they fight to save a young man from the edge, they discover more than they thought possible about each other—and about themselves.

In the space between hatred, they find love.

And the lives they have always wanted…

Just like this.

“The romantic longing, themes of bravery and confidence, and moments of cozy domesticity shine.” —Publishers Weekly on Just Like That

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from
Just Like This

Rian Falwell had a problem.

And that problem was currently staring at him through a messy tangle of black hair, from beneath a brow dotted with gleaming beads of sweat that—beneath the glassy afternoon light streaming through the windows—turned to glistening motes of amber against dusky brown skin.

Honestly, if Damon Louis was going to come barging into Rian’s studio like this…

He could at least have the decency to wear a shirt.

The P.E. teacher took up far too much space inside the tiny cubicle of a studio, his shoulders so broad they had almost touched both sides of the door frame as he’d stalked inside. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of the gym, with his wide, sculpted, scar-rippled chest glazed in a sheen of sweat and a pair of loose black track pants hanging off his 

hips, the elastic waistband barely clinging to the narrow line cut below his iliac crest. His shoulder-length tumbles of dark hair clumped together, completely drenched, droplets dangling from the tips.

But as overheated as Damon looked?

His dark brown eyes were completely cold—glossed to reflective ice as he folded thick, brawny arms over his chest and took a slow look around the cluttered space of Rian’s studio.

Rian could track the line of his gaze—starting with the gloppy pile of clay on his pottery wheel; a pile that would eventually become a vase, but right now was just misshapen lumps of gray.

Then to the thin sheets of handmade papyrus parchment drying on a clothesline strung across the room, pulped and pressed from the fallen early autumn leaves of the trees around Albin Academy, an experiment Rian had been quite pleased with when it resulted in fine paper with a green-gold translucent fragility, flecked with bits of brown from the leaves’ veins and stems.

Next, the many half-finished canvases propped about on their easels, slashed with angry, bold strokes of paint in abstract designs.

The anatomical diagrams pinned to the walls.

And the extra large sketchbook left open on his worktable, displaying loose, light sketches of male bodies in motion, focused on capturing the flow of sinew in the turn of the waist, the tightening of an arm as it drew back, the extension of the body and curve of the spine during a long, lazy reach.

Damon’s eyes lingered longest on that one, his dark, expressive brows rising fractionally, almost mockingly—and Rian’s face burned.

All of these were his personal projects, all unfinished, but still things he put everything he had into. 

So why was this stone-faced, unsmiling jerk standing here looking over them like he was about to assign Rian a failing score?

What was he even doing here at all?

Those dark brown eyes snapped back to him as if Damon had somehow heard the question snarling in the back of Rian’s mind.

“So,” Damon drawled, and Rian realized this was the first time he’d actually heard Damon speak in his three years at Albin Academy, rather than noncommittal affirmative mutters during staff meetings. His voice was deep, raw, gritty, with a subtle pull to it that didn’t quite seem to echo typical New England accents around Massachusetts. “I thought this was some kinda broom closet. Chambers and Walden know you’re using it for…” He tilted his head. A damp ripple of hair fell across the refined sharpness of his cheekbone, the tip practically licking at the corner of his wide, full, stern-set mouth. “…this?

Rian tensed.

More at the implied scorn dripping from this than at the fact he’d been…uh…

Caught using school grounds for unauthorized purposes.

He doubted Principal Chambers and Assistant Principal Walden would particularly care. Especially when Rian had been using the storeroom as a studio since he’d been hired, and no one had really noticed—though considering Lachlan Walden had only been hired last semester, the assistant principal had more things to worry about than one rogue art teacher moving a few brooms.

So Rian drew himself up, lifting his chin as he reached for the wet rag hanging from the edge of his wheel and began wiping the thick patina of clay from his hands, peeling off the cold, clinging layer. 

My broom closet,” he said firmly. “Attached to my classroom. I’m allowed to use it as I deem necessary as long as it’s for educational purposes.”


He was the art teacher.

Copyright © 2020 by Cole McCade

Put your stuff here

My Thoughts
Just Like This could best be described as a tentative love/hate romance.  Because while there is a definite adversarial bent to the tensions between Damon and Rian.  Their interactions can best be described as charged but wary.  Almost like they were waiting each other out during a chess game.

Even more compelling than the seeming "stalemate of wills" between the two, that seems to be going on throughout the first half of the story.  Is the way that each of their backstories  work in concert with both each other, and that of the present story of their shared charge.
Giving each man a truly "lost boy found" persona.  And setting the stage for their emotionally charged romance.

Speaking of personas.  A big bravo to author Cole McCade.  For his crafting of a more classically styled effeminate lead in the form of Rian.  It is not often that softer male roles are highlighted in such positive and face forward fashion.
That still manages to honor his masculinity in the process.

In short.  This book is a very well written up close and personal view of two men brought together in the pursuit of a goal greater than themselves.  Only to find within each other, a love greater than any  they have ever known.

Reviewer's Note
*Thank you to Carina Press and Net Galley for the provision of the review copy of this work on which my honest critique is based.
Just Like This is the second book of the Albin Academy series.  But may be read as a standalone. 

About Cole McCade

Cole McCade is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats. 

He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen. He wavers between calling himself bisexual, calling himself queer, and trying to figure out where “demi” fits into the whole mess—but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts: 

Facebook Fan Page:

Ink Slinger PR Presents: Jillian Liota's LIKE YOU MEAN IT

Jillian Liota is excited about LIKE YOU MEAN IT out now in audiobook! Check it out today!

Title: Like You Mean It

Author: Jillian Liota

Genre: Contemporary Romance Audiobook

About Like You Mean It:

“I want to make you smile like you mean it.”   The day Cole Lannington says those words to me, I already know I’m falling. Hard. For a man I can never have. Because there’s no way in hell I’ll ever deserve a man like him.   Annie All I need to do is keep my head above water. Push a little harder. Keep that smile plastered on my face for my son as we try to wade through the new life that’s threatening to drown us both.   But on the first day I can’t seem to hold it all together, I meet him. And for some reason, he comes to my aid. Before I know it, Cole steps in and becomes an important part of my life. Our lives. Fills a void left vacant by a man who never wanted to fill it in the first place.   Too bad he can never be more than a friend.   Cole All I need to do is be a nice guy to my new neighbor. Make her smile a little bit. Find space in my tidy, structured life to ease the burden she carries so she and her son can enjoy life without the bastard who treated them like they were insignificant.   I don’t expect to talk and laugh and feel a warmth in my chest I didn’t know was missing until she showed up at my door. Somehow I end up caring about her more deeply than I should. But my friendship with Annie opens my eyes to what it could be like to have something deeper. To feel something stronger.   To fall in love like I mean it.   Like You Mean It is the first book in the Like You Series and is a standalone novel.

Get Your Copy Today!

Audible | | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes


Exclusive Excerpt:

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About Jillian Liota

Jillian Liota is a new author writing contemporary romance and new adult fiction. She lives in Kailua, Hawaii with her amazing husband, 2 cats, and 3-legged pup.  She is the author of the new adult romance novel The Keeper, which focuses on a female college soccer goalie, as well as the follow up novella, Keep Away. Her newest release, Like You Mean It, is in the contemporary romance genre and has a more mature voice, as it follows a pregnant mother finding love in a new town. The next novel in the Like You Series, Like You Want It, will be published in Spring 2019 She has a master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs, and she is passionate about all things improvement, development and organization. She’s also a big fan of taking walks with her husband and dog Maia, reading romance (obviously), watching a handful of horrible reality TV shows, and exploring the island she calls home. Check out her Contact page for more information on how to connect.  

Connect with Jillian:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Email


HFVBT Presents: Elizabeth Rache's Flirtation And Folly And A Giveaway!

Flirtation and Folly by Elizabeth Rasche

Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Quills and Quartos Publishing

Series: A Season in London, Book One
Genre: Historical Romance

Marianne Mowbrey is a responsible country rector’s daughter who longs for the novelty and excitement she reads about in novels. When her crusty Aunt Harriet agrees to give her a Season in London, Marianne vows to dazzle the world, win a husband, and never go home again. But the Londoners who determine social success are inclined to pass over plain Marianne in favor of her beautiful, reckless younger sister.

In a world of ambition, fashion, flattery, and deceit, how can Marianne stay true to her real self—when she is not even sure what that real self is?

Available on Amazon

My Thoughts

Flirtation And Folly is a wonderful "first season" story.
A sort of nod to the "not so ugly duckling becoming her very own sort of swan".
Though the eldest girl of the bunch living at home.  It seems that Marianne has never been first choice for much of anything.  Save helping her mother to care for her siblings.
For when it comes to beauty, and all the acclaim of natural social graces.  Those laurels will ever be worn by her younger and fairer sister Belinda.
So it is no surprise to our dearest duckling that when her very affluent but highly critical aunt Harriette is in need of a companion to fill in while hers is convalescing.
Sends word to her mother that the much sought after Belinda is to join her in that capacity.
But when Belinda choses the invitation of a prominent family much dearer to her family's more rural  social standing.  It is the much plainer Marianne who is sent in her place.

Watching Marianne fumble and bumble her way, mostly unaided by those who would claim to be her betters.  And in fact ,be left to the often torturous barbs and inside jokes of one Miss Emily Stokes.  Resident preening peahen and "mean girl" in charge.  Who to be fair, takes a general delight in deriding anyone to whom she might have even the slightest chance of being in any way superior. 
 To whom Marianne spends most of the book being very good natured about her hot and cold whims and paper cut like slights .  But learning how to handle her nonetheless. 

The situations with the menfolk of this read are no less dramatic by far.  Ranging from a with every type cast.  From the flirting popular dandy that everyone wants, but no one can seem to pin down.  In the form of one Captain Pelteney.
The friend of a friend, who really isn't supposed to be there.  But the friend insisted.  In the form of one Mr. Glass.  Her aunt Cartwright's apothecary.
And of course there is the dark, and brooding hero on a mission.  In the form of Robert Hearn.

There are so many characters with so many subplots.  That this book sometimes reads more like an After School Special than a Regency Romance.
And that is all before Marianne's  sister breezes her way into the picture in all of her vapidly entitled glory.

Please don't mistake my rather dismissive slant on some of the aforementioned characters for a distain of this book.
Nothing is further from the truth.
It is in fact.  One's ability to form such strong emotional ties with this books characters that makes one want to keep reading.
In much the same way that one watches a favorite teen soap opera.
You know that the just deserts are coming. You just hope that your chosen hero and heroine are on the right side of justice when they do.
This is in essence survival of the fittest meets "coming of age" ala Regency.
And "oh boy what a ride."

Thank you to HFVT and Ms. Rasche for the opportunity to read and review this book.  All opinions given are my own and have not been influenced in any way by any interested party.


About the Author

After acquiring a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Arkansas, Elizabeth Rasche taught philosophy in the U.S. and co-taught English in Japan. Now she and her husband live in northwest Arkansas, the ‘garden of America.’ (At least, she has only ever heard Arkansas called so.) She dreams of visiting Surrey (if only to look for Mrs. Elton’s Maple Grove), Bath, and of course, London. When she has a Jane Austen novel in one hand, a cup of tea in the other, and a cat on her lap, her day is pretty much perfect.

Elizabeth Rasche is the author of The Birthday Parties of Dragons and her poetry has appeared in Scifaikuest. Flirtation & Folly is her first historical fiction novel.

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, November 10
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Wednesday, November 11
Review at Gwendalyn's Books

Thursday, November 12
Review at Bitch Bookshelf
Review at Books In Their Natural Habitat

Friday, November 13
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink
Feature at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, November 16
Feature at I'm Into Books
Review at Probably at the Library

Tuesday, November 17
Review at Bookworlder

Wednesday, November 18
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Thursday, November 19
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Friday, November 20
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Review at View from the Birdhouse

Saturday, November 21
Excerpt at Passages to the Past

Sunday, November 22
Review at Robin Loves Reading

Monday, November 23
Review at Jessica Belmont

Tuesday, November 24
Review at Novels Alive
Review at A Chick Who Reads


During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a copy of Flirtation and Folly by Elizabeth Rasche! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on November 24th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Flirtation and Folly

All That Glitters Really Is Romantic Gold When It Comes To The Story Found In "Tempt Me With Diamonds"

Title:  Tempt Me With Diamonds
Series:  The London Jewels #1
Author:  Jane Feather
Format:  eARC
Length:  272 pages
Publisher:  Zebra
Publication Date:  January 29,

Three friends who met at an elite English boarding school take on the town—and the ton—one by one, in this sparkling new series about love, loss, and lustrous gemstones, from New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather...


Diana Sommerville seems to have it all—beauty, brains, and vast wealth, thanks to her family's ownership of a diamond mine abroad. But when her beloved brother dies in battle and leaves a lion's share of his estate to his best friend, Diana finds herself in a situation that seems scripted for the stage: Sharing her family home with the man she used to love—and now loathes. Worse, her unfaithful former fiancĂ© has already moved in.


Rupert Lacey didn't expect Diana to take the news without a fight. Still, he didn't expect her to bring the battle directly to their newly shared doorstep—complete with a full set of trunks, and a full set of orders to the staff. Yet there she is, bold, regal...magnificent as ever. Now they would face a formidable challenge: to ignore each other—and the unanswered questions that stood between them. The only sure thing is their still blazing desire. But with a woman like Diana, it will take nothing less than a momentous misunderstanding, a missing prized mare, and a shocking revelation to restore a love that hasn't lost its shine.

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from...
Tempt Me With Diamonds
Jane Feather
Chapter One 
London, August 1902

Rupert Lacey, as was his habit, moved from sleep to wakefulness in a matter of seconds. He opened his eyes abruptly, aware of a faint gray light of dawn showing between a gap in the curtains and the unmistakable sense that something was happening in the house. There was nothing specific to give him this feeling, no particular sound, just a stirring of the air, a sense of motion. He sat up, reaching for the bell pull on the wall beside him. It was answered within minutes. Davis, his batman, came into the bedroom carrying a tea tray. “Good morning, Colonel.”He set the tray by the bed and went to draw back the curtains. “Seems we have a visitor, sir,”Davis continued, imperturbable as always. “Miss Sommerville arrived a short while ago…. with her household, it appears.”“Oh, did she, indeed?”Rupert took a fortifying gulp of the strong morning brew that his years in South Africa had made a morning necessity, swung his long legs out of bed and rose to his feet. He slept naked as always, another habit acquired during the hot African summer nights. He stood for a moment, holding his teacup with one hand, stroking his chin with the other. Then he drained his cup and said briskly. “Pass me my dressing gown, Davis?”He would have preferred to greet Diana fully dressed but there was no time now for such niceties. He had wondered how she was going to react, and when. He had expected her to bring the fight to him one way or another. Diana had never been able to resist a challenge or a battle of wills. But what if her arrival had nothing to do with the will? What if she didn’t know about the will as yet? Dear God, he hoped that she did. Either way, all hell was about to break loose. He shrugged into the robe Davis held for him and made for the door, tying the belt securely. He stepped out onto the wide gallery that ran along either side of the horseshoe staircase that rose from the marble-floored hall of the elegant Cavendish Square mansion. He hung back in the shadows for a moment looking down into the hall at the invasion below. Steamer trunks and hat boxes were piled high and in the midst of them Diana Sommerville stood, stripping off her gloves, issuing crisp orders to two servants. On either side of her sat a magnificent South African Ridgeback, the original lion hunters. They appeared placid enough, gazing around them with their sharp intelligent eyes, their long sleekly muscled bodies poised for instant movement. “Barlow, would you organize the library and yellow parlor for my immediate use. I doubt we’ll have callers for a few days, but just in case we should have the drawing room fit for visitors as soon as possible. Mrs. Harris, would you go to the kitchen and create order there? I expect it will take some work to put the house to rights again.”A dazzling, conspiratorial smile accompanied her words and two retainers returned the smile with understanding nods. “I’ll have it all back to normal in no time, ma’am,”Mrs. Harris declared. “I daresay the Trimballs have done their best to keep the house in good shape but…”She gave an eloquent shrug. Caretakers could not be expected to keep an empty house up to snuff. “Come Izzy, I shall need your help, if Mr. Barlow can do without you for the moment.”She swept away in her black bombazine dress, a small parlor maid trotting at her heels. Rupert hadn’t known how he would react when he saw her again, but now he knew that nothing had changed. He had wanted to punish her for the hurt and disappointment she had inflicted upon him, but all he could see now was that Diana was as wonderful as ever and he responded as ever to the imperious, arrogant set of her small head, the richly luxuriant coffee colored hair curled fashionably into a fat chignon at the nape of her long neck, the tall, slender frame that seemed to throb with energy, the pleats in her rich silk skirt moved gently hinting at the restlessness of the long legs beneath. Such wonderful legs. For a moment he was distracted by a memory of her naked body hovering above him, her legs scissoring his thighs. He stepped forward out of the shadows. “Good morning, Diana.”He rested his elbows on the gilded railing as he looked down. Diana Sommerville’s head jerked upwards. She stared at the figure standing on the galleried landing. “You? What in the devil’s name are you doing in my house?”Her eyes were purple fire, her complexion ashen as she stared in bewildered fury at the man she had hoped never to encounter again. He was wearing a brocade dressing gown, the tie accentuating the slim waist, and his copper curls fell in that familiar unruly tangle onto his brow. He had just got out of bed. In her house. It made no sense. He couldn’t possibly be here, the man she had sworn never to speak to again. And yet he was. Just as if time had slipped and it was as it always had been in the days when Rupert Lacey was as welcome on Sommerville property as the Sommerville children themselves. “Get out,”she demanded. “Now.”But to her frustrated bewilderment she could hear the futility of the demand. She was no physical match for him and if he wouldn’t go she couldn’t wrestle him out of the door. But why was he here? Rupert cursed silently. So she didn’t know what had happened. Now how the hell was he to handle this? “I said get out of my house,”Diana repeated, ignoring the sense of futility even as she wondered why he wasn’t saying anything. If anything he looked vaguely discomfitted, not an expression she would ordinarily associate with Colonel Lacey. “I have no idea how you got in, or why you’re here, but you are trespassing.”Rupert sighed. Explaining this situation to Diana in full combat mode was not something he wanted to do. “As it happens, Diana, I am not trespassing. I assume you have not yet visited Muldoon?”“Muldoon? The solicitor?”She looked even more bemused. “What has he to do with your breaking and entering my house?”“A great deal as it happens,”he said drily, beginning to descend the stairs. “Not that I did either of those things.”The two dogs, who had been sitting alert but quiet at Diana’s heels, growled in unison, a deep and threatening sound. Rupert blinked in suprise. He and the dogs were old friends. Nevertheless he took a step back to the gallery. Diana’s hostility was enough to provoke their instincts to defend her even against someone they had known since they were puppies. Diana laid a hand on each dog’s head, saying softly, “Hera, Hercules.”They subsided, but their eyes never left Rupert and the muscles rippled beneath their sleek coats, their long bodies still very much on the alert. Rupert decided to take the coward’s way out and let a professional handle the situation. Sometimes discretion was indeed the better part of valor. “When did you arrive in England, Diana?”“Yesterday evening as it happens. But I fail to see what that has to do with your illegal presence in my house.”Her eyes challenged him in a way that was achingly familiar, but he resisted his usual response to meet and match the challenge. This was neither the time nor the occasion for the old ways. There’d be opportunity enough later, he was sure of it. “Muldoon will explain it to you, Diana. I suggest you visit him at once. I know you won’t listen to me, but you will listen to him.”Diana turned away from him, her gaze sweeping the mountain of luggage as if somehow its very presence could make sense of this impossible, unbelievable situation. Her butler and personal maid were trying not to look fascinated by the scene being played out in front of them. They had known Colonel Lacey since he was a lad at boarding school with a penchant for mischievous adventures. And they knew the present state of affairs between Miss Sommerville, and the colonel. Diana made up her mind. She couldn’t unravel this craziness alone, and if Muldoon could offer some kind of explanation then she needed to hear it at once. She hated to leave the house with Rupert still in possession, but it seemed the only way, since he clearly had no intention of going anywhere. “Barlow, would you see if the hackney is still outside?”The butler bowed and hurried to the still open door. Two hackney carriages stood at the door. Both drivers were wrestling with the last few pieces of baggage fastened on the roofs. “Still here, Miss Diana. Still unloading.”He stepped aside as one of the men staggered past with a heavy steamer trunk, setting it down with a sigh of relief. “Then please tell one of the cabbies I need to be taken to Chancery Lane.”“Right, ma’am.”He turned back to the still open front door and sent a piercing whistle through the early morning air. “One of you needs to take Miss Sommerville on to Chancery Lane.”“Should I accompany you, Miss Diana?”asked a thin, angular woman, who had been standing to one side, her sharp gaze moving between her mistress and the man on the gallery as if she were watching a tennis match. “No thank you, Agnes,”Diana replied, She didn’t need a chaperone and her personal maid had better things to do in the next hour. Resolutely she kept her back to Rupert, as if by ignoring him she could convince herself he wasn’t there. “Would you see to the unpacking. I’d like to settle in as soon as possible.”“Indeed, ma’am. Izzie can help me once Mrs Harris doesn’t need her.”Diana nodded, drawing on her gloves again. She felt very strange, disoriented, bewildered, and not really in control of anything, however much she tried to give an impression of impeturbable command. Muldoon, the family solicitor, would restore that control. He’d make damn sure Rupert Lacey left her house in short order. “The cabbie’s ready, ma’am.”“Thank you, Barlow.”She inhaled deeply and walked to the open door, her head high, back straight, telling herself that she was not leaving Rupert in possession of the field. When she returned she would come armed. Chapter Two Half an hour later Diana stepped out of the hackney carriage on Chancery Lane and stood for a moment savoring the soft warmth of the English summer morning as she gathered her thoughts. It was still early, barely nine o’clock, but she had been so anxious to get installed in Cavendish Square that she’d left Brown’s Hotel, where she’d spent the previous night after her arrival on the White Star liner from South Africa, at soon after seven thirty. It had been the beginning of the South African winter when she’d left Cape Town for the month long voyage home, the dawn mornings bitter when she’d ridden out to watch Kimberley Diamond training on the race track. The cold air had seemed to suit the race horse. How would the filly respond to her new home in

My Thoughts
Diana and Rupert's relationship has been a relationship since she was an awkward, coltish, girl.  And he, the older brotherly best friend to her brother Jem.
As time passes and feelings evolve as they are want to do.  Diana and Rupart's love develops and grows until the two become a couple, and are engaged.
At least until the fateful day on the banks of the Orange River.  When she confronted him with rumors of a mistress and possible child.
But far from the explanation that she had hoped for.  She received only a quiet shrug of resignation, marking the end of their engagement.  The dissolution of their joined future.  Leaving each to proceed...alone.
Flash forward...
Diana is freshly back in London after both the deaths of her beloved father and brother in South Africa.
Longing for the familiarity of her family home.
Imagine her surprise when she enters said home.  Only to encounter the one man she had never hoped to see again.

For his part...
Rupart it seems has never managed to clear either his head or his heart of the loss of Diana.  Even as he managed to maintain his friendship with her brother Jem.  Going so far as to join him in battle in service to the English crown.
Only to lose his best friend in battle.
But gaining control of all of Jem's interest in family lands, money, mines, and most importantly the family home.

Ding...Ding...Let the fight begin!

It is very clear from the time that  these two lock eyes in the front entryway of the house that they now share that there are definitely going to be fireworks.
What remains to be seen however is just who manages to get burned in the process.

And now for a little clarification concerning the 'girl group" portion of the read.
Despite the fact that the three ladies and their friendship stands as the overall premise of the series as a whole.  Petra and Fenella serve as little more than window-dressing for the few exploits that Diana has that attempt to give her some time away from the seemingly omnipresent Colonial Lacy.

It is more than clear that this story is going to be about Diana and Rupert.  And their almost obsessive need to drive both themselves and the reader absolutely batshit crazy by the end of this book.  By taking every opportunity they can to rip each other's clothes off, and go at it like wildebeests before returning civilly to their respective corners to fight another day   
These two spend more time chasing, mad, missing, and making up with each other then the law should allow.
For two people who can't seem to find a common ground outside of the bedroom.  They seem to have no problem doing so when behind closed doors.
Even though the sex scenes are far less explicit than most. They are most obviously no less passionate.

As if dealing with the couple's hot and cold relationship shenanigans doesn't give readers enough to do.
Just when you think that the two have finally laid down their arms in the name of love.
Questions arise about whether or not Rupert was really with Jem when he died in battle.  As he claimed.
And when confronted with said question by Diana.
What does Rupert do?
You guessed it!
Turn rail and run to his childhood home; with Diana hot on his heels.
And a heartbreaking "aha moment" waiting in the wings.

To which I say.
"Bring on the resolution already."  
"This book is running low on pages."
By this time everyone is clearly tuckered out by things.  The window dressing has long since left the situation.  And we are down to about somewhere around 85% done with this thing.
Leading one to conclude the following...

Love, war, riches, romance, recriminations, and redemption are the names of this story's game.
But be forewarned.
Though this book may contain only half the pages of its contemporaries.  The tale therein packs quite the emotional and dramatic combination.
Never hesitating to leave one reeling while begging for more.

Thanks to Zebra Books and NetGalley for providing the review copy on which my honest critique is based.

About Jane
Jane Robotham was born on 1945 in Cairo, Egypt, where her British parents were stationed. She grew up in New Forest, in the south of England. She earned a Master’s Degree in Applied Social Studies from Oxford University. In 1978, she, her husband and their three children moved to New Jersey. There, she worked as a social worker. She began writing in 1981 after another move, this time to Washington, D.C.

In 1984, Feather published 5 contemporary romances under the pseudonym, Claudia Bishop. She has published historical romance as Jane Feather, her own name, since 1986. There are over 10 million copies of her books in print.

Buy The Book Here

Mira Books Presents: The Wrong Kind Of Woman


By Sarah McCraw Crow

On Sale: October 6, 2020 

MIRA Books

Literary Fiction; Coming of age fiction; Mothers & family

978-0778310075; 0778310078

$27.99 USD

320 pages

About the Book
A powerful exploration of what a woman can be when what she should be is no longer an option

In late 1970, Oliver Desmarais drops dead in his front yard while hanging Christmas lights. In the year that follows, his widow, Virginia, struggles to find her place on the campus of the elite New Hampshire men’s college where Oliver was a professor. While Virginia had always shared her husband’s prejudices against the four outspoken, never-married women on the faculty—dubbed the Gang of Four by their male counterparts—she now finds herself depending on them, even joining their work to bring the women’s movement to Clarendon College.

Soon, though, reports of violent protests across the country reach this sleepy New England town, stirring tensions between the fraternal establishment of Clarendon and those calling for change. As authorities attempt to tamp down “radical elements,” Virginia must decide whether she’s willing to put herself and her family at risk for a cause that had never felt like her own.

Told through alternating perspectives, The Wrong Kind of Woman is an engrossing story about finding the strength to forge new paths, beautifully woven against the rapid changes of the early ‘70s.

Please enjoy this exclusive excerpt from...
The Wrong Kind Of Woman
Sarah McCrow Crow

Chapter One

November 1970 Westfield, New Hampshire

OLIVER DIED THE SUNDAY after Thanksgiving, the air heavy with snow that hadn’t fallen yet. His last words to Virginia were “Tacks, Ginny? Do we have any tacks?”

That morning at breakfast, their daughter, Rebecca, had complained about her eggs—runny and gross, she said. Also, the whole neighborhood already had their Christmas lights up, and why didn’t they ever have outside lights? Virginia tuned her out; at thirteen, Rebecca had reached the age of comparison, noticing where her classmates’ families went on vacation, what kinds of cars they drove. But Oliver agreed about the lights, and after eating his own breakfast and Rebecca’s rejected eggs, he drove himself to the hardware store to buy heavy-duty Christmas lights.

Back at home, Oliver called Virginia out onto the front porch, where he and Rebecca had looped strings of colored lights around the handrails on either side of the steps. Virginia waved at their neighbor Gerda across the street— on her own front porch, Gerda knelt next to a pile of balsam branches, arranging them into two planters—as Rebecca and Oliver described their lighting scheme. Rebecca’s cheeks had gone ruddy in the New Hampshire cold, as Oliver’s had; Rebecca had his red-gold hair too.

“Up one side and down the other,” Rebecca said. “Like they do at Molly’s house—”

“Tacks, Ginny? Do we have any tacks?” Oliver interrupted. In no time, he’d lost patience with this project, judging by the familiar set of his jaw, the frown lines corrugating his forehead.

A few minutes later, box of nails and hammer in hand, Virginia saw Oliver’s booted feet splayed out on the walk, those old work boots he’d bought on their honeymoon in Germany a lifetime ago. “Do you have to lie down like that to—” she began, while Rebecca squeezed out from between the porch and the overgrown rhododendron.

“Dad?” Rebecca’s voice pitched upward. “Daddy!”

Virginia slowly took in that Oliver was lying half on the lawn, half on the brick walk, one hand clutching the end of a light string. Had he fallen? It made no sense, him just lying there on the ground like that, and she hurtled down the porch steps. Oliver’s eyes had rolled back so only the whites showed. But he’d just asked for tacks, and she hadn’t had time to ask if nails would work instead. She crouched, put her mouth to his and tried to breathe for him. Something was happening, yes, maybe now he would turn out to be just resting, and in a minute he’d sit up and laugh with disbelief.

Next to her, Rebecca shook Oliver’s shoulder, pounded on it. “Dad! You fainted! Wake up—”

“Go call the operator,” Virginia said. “Tell them we need an ambulance, tell them it’s an emergency, a heart attack, Becca! Run!” Rebecca ran.

Virginia put her ear to Oliver’s chest, listening. A flurry of movement: Gerda was suddenly at her side, kneeling, and Eileen from next door, then Rebecca, gasping or maybe sobbing. Virginia felt herself being pulled out of the way as the ambulance backed into the driveway and the two para- medics bent close. They too breathed for Oliver, pressed on his chest while counting, then lifted him gently onto the backboard and up into the ambulance.

She didn’t notice that she was holding Rebecca’s hand on her one side and Eileen’s hand on the other, and that Gerda had slung a protective arm around Rebecca. She barely noticed when Eileen bundled her and Rebecca into the car without a coat or purse. She didn’t notice the snow that had started to fall, first snow of the season. Later, that absence of snow came back to her, when the image of Oliver lying on the bare ground, uncushioned even by snow, wouldn’t leave her.

Aneurysm. A ruptured aneurysm, a balloon that had burst, sending a wave of blood into Oliver’s brain. A subarachnoid hemorrhage. She said all those new words about a thousand times, along with more familiar words: bleed and blood and brain. Rips and tears. One in a million. Sitting at the kitchen table, Rebecca next to her and the coiled phone cord stretched taut around both of them, Virginia called one disbelieving person after another, repeated all those words to her mother, her sister Marnie, Oliver’s brother, Oliver’s department chair, the people in her address book, the people in his.

At President Weissman’s house five days later, Virginia kept hold of Rebecca. Rebecca had stayed close, sleeping in the middle of Virginia and Oliver’s bed as if she were little and sleepwalking again, her shruggy new adolescent self forgotten. They’d turned into a sudden team of two, each one circling, like moons, around the other.

Oliver’s department chair had talked Virginia into a reception at President Weissman’s house, a campus funeral. In the house’s central hall, Virginia’s mother clutched at her arm, murmuring about the lovely Christmas decorations, those balsam garlands and that enormous twinkling tree, and how they never got the fragrant balsam trees in Norfolk, did they, only the Fraser firs—

“Let’s go look at the Christmas tree, Grandmomma.” Rebecca took her grandmother’s hand as they moved away. What a grown-up thing to do, Virginia thought, glad for the release from Momma and her chatter.

“Wine?” Virginia’s sister Marnie said, folding her hand around a glass. Virginia nodded and took a sip. Marnie stayed next to her as one person and another came close to say something complimentary about Oliver, what a wonderful teacher he’d been and a great young historian, an influential member of the Clarendon community. And his clarinet, what would they do without Oliver’s tremendous clarinet playing? The church service had been lovely, hadn’t it? He sure would have loved that jazz trio.

She heard herself answering normally, as if this one small thing had gone wrong, except now she found herself in a tunnel, everyone else echoing and far away. Out of a clutch of Clarendon boys, identical in their khakis and blue blazers, their too-long hair curling behind their ears, one stepped forward. Sam, a student in her tiny fall seminar, the Italian Baroque.

“I—I just wanted to say…” Sam faltered. “But he was a great teacher, and even more in the band—” The student- faculty jazz band, he meant.

“Thank you, Sam,” she said. “I appreciate that.” She watched him retreat to his group. Someone had arranged for Sam and a couple of other Clarendon boys to play during the reception, and she hadn’t noticed until now.

“How ’bout we sit, hon.” Marnie steered her to a couch. “I’m going to check on Becca and Momma and June—” the oldest of Virginia’s two sisters “—and then I’ll be right back.”

“Right.” Virginia half listened to the conversation around her, people in little clumps with their sherries and whiskeys. Mainframe, new era, she heard. Then well, but Nixon, and a few problems with the vets on campus. She picked up President Weissman’s voice, reminiscing about the vets on campus after the war thirty years ago. “Changed the place for the better, I think,” President Weissman said. “A seriousness of purpose.” And she could hear Louise Walsh arguing with someone about the teach-in that should have happened last spring.

Maybe Oliver would appreciate being treated like a dignitary. Maybe he’d be pleased at the turnout, all the faculty and students who’d shown up at the Congregational Church at lunchtime on a Friday. Probably he wished he could put Louise in her place about the teach-in. Virginia needed to find Rebecca, and she needed to make sure Momma hadn’t collapsed out of holiday party–funeral confusion. But now Louise Walsh loomed over her in a shape- less black suit, and she stood up again to shake Louise’s hand. “I just want to say how sorry I am,” Louise said. “I truly admired his teaching and—everything else. We’re all going to miss him.”

“Thank you, Louise.” Virginia considered returning the compliment, to say that Oliver had admired Louise too. Louise had tenure, the only woman in the history department, the only woman at Clarendon, to be tenured. Lou- ise had been a thorn in Oliver’s side, the person Oliver had complained about the most. Louise was one of the four women on faculty at Clarendon; the Gang of Four, Oliver and the others had called them.

Outside the long windows, a handful of college boys tossed a football on a fraternity lawn across the street, one skidding in the snow as he caught the ball. Someone had spray-painted wobbly blue peace signs on the frat’s white clapboard wall, probably after Kent State. But the Clarendon boys were rarely political; they were athletic: in their baggy wool trousers, they ran, skied, hiked, went gliding off the college’s ski jump, human rockets on long skis. They built a tremendous bonfire on the Clarendon green in the fall, enormous snow sculptures in the winter. They stumbled home drunk, singing. Their limbs seemed loosely attached to their bodies. Oliver had once been one of those boys.

“Come on, pay attention,” Marnie said, and she propelled Virginia toward President Weissman, who took Virginia’s hands.

“I cannot begin to express all my sympathy and sad- ness.” President Weissman’s eyes were magnified behind his glasses. “Our firmament has lost a star.” He kissed her on the cheek, pulling a handkerchief from his jacket pocket, so she could wipe her eyes and nose again.

At the reception, Aunt June kept asking Rebecca if she was doing okay, and did she need anything, and Aunt Marnie kept telling Aunt June to quit bothering Rebecca. Mom looked nothing like her sisters: Aunt Marnie was bulky with short pale hair, Aunt June was petite, her hair almost black, and Mom was in between. Rebecca used to love her aunts’ Tidewater accents, and the way Mom’s old accent would return around her sisters, her vowels stretching out and her voice going up and down the way Aunt June’s and Aunt Marnie’s voices did. Rebecca and Dad liked to tease Mom about her accent, and Mom would say I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t sound anything like June. Or Marnie. But especially not June.

Nothing Rebecca thought made any sense. She couldn’t think about something that she and Dad liked, or didn’t like, or laughed about, because there was no more Dad. Aunt Marnie had helped her finish the Christmas lights, sort of, not the design she and Dad had shared, but just wrapped around the porch bannisters. It looked a little crazy, actually. Mom hadn’t noticed.

“Here’s some cider, honey,” Aunt June said. “How about some cheese and crackers? You need to eat.”

“I’m okay,” Rebecca said. “Thanks,” she remembered to add.

“Have you ever tried surfing?” Aunt June asked. “The boys—” Rebecca’s cousins “—love to surf. They’ll teach you.” “Okay.” Rebecca wanted to say that it was December and there was snow on the ground, so there was no rea- son to talk about surfing. Instead she said that she’d bodysurfed with her cousins at Virginia Beach plenty of times, but she’d never gotten on a surfboard. As far as she could tell, only boys ever went surfing, and the waves at Virginia Beach were never like the waves on Hawaii Five-0. Mostly the boys just sat on their surfboards gazing out at the hazy- white horizon, and at the coal ships and aircraft carriers chugging toward Norfolk.

“You’ll get your chance this summer—I’ll bet you’ll be a natural,” Aunt June said.

Things would keep happening. Winter would happen. There would be more snow, and skiing at the Ski Bowl. The town pond would open for skating and hockey. The snow would melt and it would be spring and summer again. They’d go to Norfolk for a couple of weeks after school let out and Mom would complain about everything down there, and get into a fight with Aunt June, and they’d all go to the beach, and Dad would get the most sunburned, his ears and the tops of his feet burned pink and peely…

“Let’s just step outside into the fresh air for a minute, sweetheart,” Aunt June said, and Rebecca stood up and followed her aunt to the room with all the coats, one hand over her mouth to hold in the latest sob, even after she and Mom had agreed they were all cried out and others would be crying today, but the two of them were all done with crying. She knew that the fresh air wouldn’t help anything.

Excerpted from The Wrong Kind of Woman by Sarah McCraw Crow © 2020 by Sarah McCraw Crow, used with permission by MIRA Books/HarperCollins.

My Thoughts
There was a saying that woman and girls of the 50's and 60's were said to live by.  
"Men go to college to get their Ph.D, and woman go to get their Mrs."  
Virginia Desmarais, wife of History Professor, Oliver Desmarais.  Mother to 13 year old Rebecca Desmarais.  And sometime Art History teacher at the exclusive all boys school where her husband is tenured.  Would be the 'it girl' of the Mrs. set.
Having managed to "live the dream".
That is until the day that her beloved husband dies.  And the bubble of safety that had always been a hallmark of her life bursts.  Leaving both Virginia and Rebecca floundering in the turbulent social and political atmosphere of the 70's.
Challenging all that she thinks that she knows of the world in which she has existed for so long.

This book is the closest thing to a 'coming of age' story for adults that there is.  Because readers are allowed to see Virginia 'grow up' right before their eyes.  As she comes to terms with the fact that there is a world outside of her sheltered New England existence.   And like it or not, that world and its issues are alot closer to her front door than she had previously believed.

This book serves as a wonderful time machine of sorts.  Allowing the readers to see how the fights for woman's rights and racial equality impacted the lives of people, and more to the point woman.  In much of the same style as The Wonder Years does.
Although the narration and plotline are nowhere near as straight forward.  
This book is told from several points of view.  Which do seem to overlap and twist around one another as the story progresses. 
There is also no clear resolution to Virginia's issues by book's end.  Leaving one feeling a bit at 6's and 7's about the entire experience.
In short...
This is a wonderful story that got a little too big for its britches.  But a good story nonetheless.

*Thank you to Mira Books and NetGalley for providing the review copy on which my honest critique is based.

About the author

Sarah McCraw Crow grew up in Virginia but has lived most of her adult life in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has run in Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, Good Housekeeping, So to Speak, Waccamaw, and Stanford Alumni Magazine. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford University, and is finishing an MFA degree at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she's not reading or writing, she's probably gardening or snowshoeing (depending on the weather).

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