| | Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon What it's about: New to Hope Harbor, Oregon, young teacher Holly Miller, who has spina bifida, meets Steven, a take-charge former Army Delta Force operator working as a charter boat captain, and he challenges both her perspectives and her heart.
Series alert: Deftly mixing romance, faith, and serious topics (like alcoholism and assisted suicide), this appealing 6th in the Hope Harbor series can be enjoyed by newcomers, though fans will be pleased to see familiar friends like town sage Charley Lopez.
| | Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay Starring: Alyssa Harrison, who's come home to Winsome, Illinois, after the Silicon Valley medical startup she worked for was shut down by the Feds; Jeremy Mitchell, who's moved to the charming small town in order to be near his daughter and open the coffee shop of his dreams.
What happens: Alyssa works on her estranged relationship with her mom, and Jeremy's shop struggles, leading him to turn to Alyssa for help.
Read it for: the charming small-town setting, and catching up with characters from The Printed Letter Bookshop.
If You Like: Karen Kingsbury
| | The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers Featuring: artist Roman Velasco (who secretly indulges in the street graffiti that gave him solace as a foster kid), and cash-strapped single mother Grace Moore (who had her own troubled childhood).
What happens: Grace becomes Roman's personal assistant, enabling her to support her infant son (and put distance between the baby and the family that almost adopted him). But she finds Roman's worldly ways as challenging as he finds her faith.
Why Karen Kingsbury fans might like it: the growth of the characters over the course of the story; the faith-filled plot.
| | The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling What it's about: With his retirement only days away, university dean Ken and his wife Mona's plans for part-time work and travel are upended.
What happens: Their son, who serves in the Army's Special Forces, is being deployed in less than a week, and since his wife abandoned the family, he needs his parents to watch their two kids...for up to a year.
Why Karen Kingsbury fans might like it: the realistic, multi-generational characters; Mona's moving struggle with depression.
| | The Memory of You by Catherine West Starring: Natalie, whose twin sister died in a car accident 13 years ago, leaving Natalie grief- and guilt-stricken.
What it's about: With her grandfather ill, Natalie's ordered by her overbearing father to head to the family's Sonoma winery and shut it down. Instead, she works to save the winery as she deals with the past and reconnects with the boy she once had a crush on.
Why Karen Kingsbury fans might like it: the family issues; the large part faith that plays in the character's lives.
| | The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate What it is: an intricate story-within-a-story about Jen Gibbs, a New York book editor who finds a captivating unfinished manuscript about Sarra, a Melungeon girl in early-20th century Appalachia.
Author buzz: Lisa Wingate's acclaimed Before We Were Yours sold over two million copies. Her latest novel is The Book of Lost Friends.
Why Karen Kingsbury fans might like it: If they appreciate historical elements, this Christy Award-winning 2nd in the Carolina Heirlooms trilogy offers a moving story about sisters, family, and life changes.
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