My June 2022 reads

Summer reading is always my favorite reading – even if my son’s fractued arm put a damper on beach and poolside reading during this steamy month…

But that lament is for another day. At least the reading was always good.

I had a great June in books. Here are the novels I read and the accompanying reviews. Have you read any of these? What did you think?

I’m always open to book recommendations – so drop any novels you recommend into the comments section.

June 2022 reads


Unbroken Bonds

Dawn Hogan

Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

Unbroken Bonds book coverIt’s 1956, and wrong-side-of-the-tracks Nashville teenager Joanna is in love with an older, married man. Being with Jack is exciting, and gets her out of her chaotic home headed by her drunken, abusive father. But an unplanned pregnancy changes everything and gets Joanna shipped off to the Frances Weston Home for Unwed Mothers in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Popular cheerleader and Homecoming Queen Mary attends high school with Joanna, but travels in entirely different social circles. But when she gets pregnant by her football star boyfriend, her wealth and privilege don’t protect her from suffering the same fate as Joanna.

Joanna, Mary and other girls who’ve been shipped off by their embarrassed families live at the home run by Catholic nuns until their babies are born, and they are coerced into giving up all rights over their children, who can then be adopted to respectable families. For a hefty price. The girls’ parents, eager to hide the mark of shame their daughters have cast on their households, are only too willing to go along with this practice.

Their time together in the home allows the girls to form strong friendship bonds, and they break house rules by staying in contact following their departure. We follow this tight knit group of friends as they embark on their adult lives, as society and views on the roles of women are rapidly changing all around them. The longer time frame of this story allows the women to reflect on the abusive nature of the transaction they were forced to make in order to return to “respectability”.

A well-researched and beautifully written novel. This moving story is filled with rich characters facing difficult choices, and constrained by the shame of their families and expectations of the time. This story also sheds light on the sometimes abusive systems some of these women faced in unscrupulous homes for pregnant, unmarried women. A must-read story.


The Mother-in-Law

Karen King

Women’s Fiction, Psychological Thriller

The Mother-in-Law book coverDana hasn’t been dealt an easy hand in life – or love. So when a chance encounter introduces her to handsome, wealthy and kind Sam and their whirlwind romance leads to a proposal, things seem too good to be true. Are they?

Thirty-five-year-old Sam has never left home. He lives in a suite within the spacious home of his father and his doting, overprotective mother.
Circumstances force Dana to move in with her new in-laws in the lead-up to the wedding, but tensions grow as a series of accidents occur. Is Dana being paranoid? Or does her mother-in-law reject the idea of another woman coming between her and her precious son?

This was a quick read and there were a fair amount of events that could cause Dana to doubt how she was reacting to situations, and a slow ratcheting up of tensions between her and her fiancé as strange events begin to occur. I also enjoyed Dana’s frustrations at her inability to intervene as her mother-in-law takes over all aspects of wedding planning, almost as if the bride-to-be didn’t exist, and Dana’s growing ability to finally stand up for herself.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


The Second Mrs. Astor

Shana Abé

Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Second Mrs. Astor book coverThis was a meticulously researched and beautifully descriptive novel, with the deceptive sub-title ‘A Novel of the Titanic’. I say deceptive not because the segment, which spans the last third of the novel, was not fully engaging, but I think the novel is much more than a Titanic story.

Madeleine Talmidge Forte is only seventeen when recently divorced Colonel John Jacob “Jack” Astor is struck by her beauty and spark, and begins to reel the impressionable young girl into his gilded orbit – with all the complications that entails.

Jack Astor, with his great Knickerbocker wealth and privilege, is a match for the journalists who habitually hound him. Young and innocent Madeleine is not. The muckraking journalists know scandals sell newspapers – and a public romance following a shocking divorce, even worse, a romance in which the lady in question is twenty-nine-years younger than New York’s most famous socialite – is guaranteed to sell copies at a brisk pace.

This novel brought us deep within Madeleine’s perspective as she falls passionately in love with Jack, while simultaneously maneuvering the new role thrust upon her by the press: conniving social climber intent on marrying into New York’s most illustrious family. Madeleine’s reflections are deeply moving, as is her certainty of the great love she has discovered.

I was particularly struck by how Madeleine and Jack are initially “cut” by the powerful New York families at the time, and I appreciated the irony that Jack’s own mother – THE Mrs. Astor – had cut those same (robber baron wealth) families only a few decades earlier.

The Astors’ return voyage from their delayed honeymoon to Egypt on the maiden voyage of The Titanic is skillfully depicted, well researched and moving, but for me this novel was primarily a beautiful portrait of love, manners, social customs, innocence lost, and fortitude in the face of rigid societal norms. A beautiful novel and highly recommended.


Light Through The Vines

Fiona Valpy

Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Light Through the Vines book coverThis was a quick summer read, set in France’s wine producing region of Bordeaux.

Gina is a wine buyer based in London, and she’s been having a tough year. Her beloved dad has died, her boyfriend, who was supposed to be “the one” has deserted her for a lover she never knew he had, an aunt living in Bordeaux – who has always been like a second mother – died suddenly, and a corporate buy-out means she’s been made redundant at her job.

Devastated and confused, when the Bordeaux home is left to her in her aunt’s will, Gina decamps to France and begins a specialty wine course that will help her land a better job. In Bordeaux, she quickly becomes a part of local life as she struggles to get her life back on track.

There are great descriptions of the winemaking process, a family mystery to solve and a sexy local man who has seen his share of heartache, too. The book flows in gentle rhythms as Gina works to carve out a life for herself.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


Liar Liar

LG Davis

Women’s Fiction, Domestic Thriller

Liar Liar book coverThis was a fun, twisty domestic thriller, with a peeling-the-onion approach to character development and story reveals.

I enjoyed this story of newlywed Tess, married to Oliver, and caring for Mason, their young son who is paralyzed from the waist down. Oliver is over-protective, and thwarts Tess’ attempts to build friendships in their new town.

An alternating storyline, from three years in the past, follows Tess as a young, live-in nanny. Tess lives in the mansion of Oliver’s wealthy and powerful older brother, and cares for his adopted son, Mason.

Following along with the two timelines, and the multiple lies and reveals along the journey, kept this novel moving along at a brisk pace. An engaging read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.



What a great month in books, spanning from contemporary to historical. Three of the five novels were NetGalley reads. One was by a fellow Womens Fiction Writers Association author.

All are fabulous reads. Snap the up for your summer reading!

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