Posts Tagged ‘contemporary novels’

Executive Lunch

Maria E. Schneider

Kindle Book

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002M3FL16

Nov 9, 2009

Author Blog: www.BearMountainBooks.com

Sedona O’Hala is an ordinary gal making a living working for a successful but ordinary computer company called Strandfrost. She works in a testing lab, reviewing software, testing computer programs and leading a non-glamorous life. After outwitting three thugs that tried to attack her and a coworker she gets the attention of the corporate board and thus blunders into an undercover assignment. In one jump she goes from a lab worker struggling paycheck to paycheck to a ladder climbing company executive. With this new assignment she is given the chance to live every girl’s dream. She is set up in a luxury apartment with a new wardrobe and a fancy car. She can have what she wants and it’s all paid for. Does it sound too good to be true??? Nothing comes without a price – right? The new lifestyle won’t last forever and while living it she has to try and figure out who is dipping into company funds. She is hired to find out who is stealing from the company and she must find out before the criminals realize anyone is onto them or that their secret computer program is being debugged.

Sedona vows to play her part convincingly as she tries to get information on missing computer equipment and hacked programs. She isn’t always sure if she is dealing with company insiders embezzling money or serious criminals after something more. If she fails, she could lose her job or maybe even her life. While solving one puzzle, others crop up. For a time there seems to be danger and betrayal all around. In the end there is more than one crime to solve and Sedona finds herself in a few dangerous situations.  Along with the danger comes a hint of romance, strengthened friendships, family secrets and personal growth. The author shares ups and downs, frustrations and humor as she describes the escapades of Sedona’s double life. 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book by self-published author Maria E. Schneider. I work from home and I’ve never been in the corporate world. Mysteries aren’t my favorite genre and I’ve never been much into sleuth capers. So, why did I even decide to read this book? I took a peek at Maria’s blog and online postings at bearmountainbooks.com. After a little reading there I felt like I knew her and wanted to give her book a chance. She is down to earth and realistic. She isn’t expecting her works to be on Oprah’s next book list but rather is writing for the enjoyment it brings to her. She wants to share stories to bring enjoyment to others. I felt that was worth giving her book a read.  It took me a few chapters to settle in and enjoy the characters. The opening scene put me in the middle of drama and action before I knew who the characters were. However, as the book went along and I got to know the characters I enjoyed the mystery solving and appreciated the opening scene more.

There are several characters readers will like and some they will despise. While a few scenes were a bit of a stretch for me and a few dragged along, overall the author presented a believable corporate setting with realistic office banter and a touch of corruption that can seep into any company.  Sedona is witty, smart, and seemingly fearless in the face of danger. The author did a nice job tying up the loose ends in Executive Lunch while leaving open many possibilities for new story lines with this leading lady should she choose to write a sequel.

This is an inexpensive, lighthearted, action filled story that I recommend if you like mystery, humor, and believable characters. As you read you will be given bits of information along the mystery-solving trail. You may think you know whodunit or what is coming next but then again, you may just be surprised.



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bunco-babes-tell-allBunco Babes Tell All

Maria Geraci

Penguin/Berkley – May 2009

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bunco-Babes-Tell-Maria-Geraci/dp/0425227588/

Author Site: http://www.MariaGeraci.com


Okay, I have to confess to never having heard of Bunco until I received Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Tell All for review. What fun! You don’t have to know the game to enjoy this delightful story filled with humor, warmth, hot romance, and the loyalty of long time friendships.The Babes of Whispering Bay, Florida have set aside every Thursday night for Bunco. A night when they can gather to roll the dice, eat great food, drink signature drinks, and share secrets—a night to let it all hang out and totally de-stress. Because ‘what happens at Bunco, stays at Bunco’.

Real estate broker Kitty Burke is living in her grandmother’s vintage home with the intention of making repairs before putting it on the market, as her mother wants. But Kitty’s secret wish is to buy the home for herself. Unfortunately, although the most successful broker in the area, Kitty has never managed her spending and the repairs are straining her financial resources. Add that to the slow market and she fears she’ll never have the money to make the down payment.

Of the twelve babes, only Kitty is still unmarried and at thirty-five she feels it’s time to let go of her idea of the perfect man. Eighteen years earlier Kitty fell in love with Kevin Costner’s character from Bull Durham, and she’s never met a man in reality who can measure up to that image. Then she meets Steve and that first meeting is anything but perfect. No woman wants to meet what may be the sexiest man ever while her panties are around her ankles and she’s squatting in the bushes to relieve herself. Once Kitty has overcome her embarrassment at being caught in such humiliating circumstances, she decides to do something totally out of character. She goes after substitute plumber, Steve, for a one-night stand.

With three failed marriages behind him and between jobs, Steve isn’t exactly great husband material, but then Kitty isn’t planning a wedding, she only wants great sex. But there’s a lot more to Steve than Kitty ever planned on. Will she be able to let go of her preconceived notions of the perfect man and grab hold of true love?

Ms. Geraci paints a fascinating portrait of small town life and its inhabitants in Bunco Babes Tell All. The characters are well drawn. Kitty’s best friends, Pilar and Shea, are everything you’d ever want your friends to be, even if they are a little too honest and drive you crazy at times. There’s enough intrigue surrounding our hero, Steve, to keep you turning the pages. The town of Whispering Bay is in an uproar over new beachfront condominium plans from an out of town developer and stuck in the middle is Kitty. Lovely, charming and real, I loved her from page one. This story is at time hilarious and at others, heartwarming and tender. The love scenes are just hot enough and tastefully done by the author.

Bunco Babes Tell All is a fast, lighthearted, feel good read perfect for busy readers. I truly enjoyed my time with the Babes and heartily recommend it to all. As a bonus, in the back of the book are tips for playing Bunco, setting up Bunco clubs, recipes, and an excerpt from Maria Geraci’s Bunco Babes Gone Wild. Enjoy!



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Accordin- to-JaneAccording to Jane

By Marilyn Brant

Kensington, September 29, 2009

Genre: Light Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Author Website: http://www.marilynbrant.com

Pre-order buy link: http://www.amazon.com/According-Jane-Marilyn-Brant/dp/0758234619/

Bookworm Ellie Barnett is sitting in Sophomore English class with her newly assigned copy of Pride and Prejudice when sexy Sam Blain makes his move. Sam had been tormenting Ellie since kindergarten, but this was the first time he’d actually touched her skin and spouted blatant sexual innuendo. Although Ellie feels a strong physical attraction for Sam, he can annoy her more than anyone she knows. She feels she’s much too smart to allow a little thing like lust to override her good sense, especially with a boy as dangerous as Sam.

Ellie isn’t the only one who thinks Sam is the kind to stay far away from. Somewhere inside her mind Ellie hears another voice declaring Sam to be Ellie’s Mr. Wickham. Hearing the ghost of Jane Austen inside her head, Ellie decides she’s either crazy or suffering some terrible head injury. Jane convinces her she’s neither and that her ghost is there to guide her in the ways of life and romance, and that they both have lessons to learn from each other. Over the next twenty years Jane advises Ellie on all aspects of life, love, and romance, supporting her through many disastrous relationships. Ellie ignores most of Jane’s sage wisdom, preferring to tread her own path while searching for her Mr. Darcy.

When I first got this book for review, I knew it would be great fun and I was right.  According to Jane is an intriguing, appealing story full of warmth and wit. Although I consider myself more of a Bronte’ girl than Austen, I adore both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. So the plot for Ms. Brant’s novel greatly peaked my interest.

The author’s inspiration of having Jane Austen’s ghost living inside the heroine’s head was almost too delightful for words. But our heroine didn’t always find it so very delightful. Although she credits Jane with helping her get through high school and felt she was her best friend—the one person who was always there for her, she learned early on to block Jane’s presence when she needed to. And she especially needed to during the more intimately, sensual moments of her life.

Ms. Brant cleverly entangles the two women’s emotions and opinions, as Ellie seeks true love and Jane offers her, sometimes not appreciated, judgment of the men Ellie chooses to date. According to Jane is a fast read, perfect for the busy woman and the author has a definite gift for keeping you turning those pages. This is a book you don’t want to miss if you’re a fan of Austen, romance, coming of age, women’s fiction, or if you’re just looking for a highly entertaining story from an author with superb style and fresh voice.



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Belva Plain

Dell, March 1994 (Mass Market Paperback)

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Belva-Plain/dp/0440216745


Since I have read and enjoyed many of this author’s books in the past I was pleasantly surprised, while browsing at my favorite used bookstore, to come across a title I hadn’t seen before. Knowing without even reading the synopsis that I was going to like the book, I took it home and started reading it that same afternoon. As always, I was hooked by the opening sentence:

    ‘In dodging Robert’s hand, the furious hand aimed at her face, she fell and struck the edge of the closet’s open door instead.’

So begins WHISPERS, a gripping story of love and abuse in modern-day America.

When pretty, naive Lynn is swept off her feet by her handsome and charming boss, Robert Ferguson, at age twenty, it seems like a fairy tale come true. A rising star in a fast-growing company, the ambitious and loving Robert promises to make all of Lynn’s dreams come true. She has no reason to believe he won’t make good on those promises. However, as early as their tropical paradise honeymoon, the storybook romance is tarnished as Lynn discovers another side of Robert — a violent temper she never would have believed lurked beneath his charming exterior. Wanting to believe in his goodness and hoping for the best, she forgives his brutality and moves cautiously ahead into their future.

The years pass and the couple experiences all of the good and bad of life– the birth of children, the tragic loss of a child, friendships, success, and beneath it all, the ever present threat of Robert’s anger. Lynn tells herself the abuse is a small price to pay for all of the goodness the marriage holds, a lovely home, healthy children and the comforts of being the wife of a successful executive. Knowing she must be strong and keep the marriage intact for the sake of her children, she hides the scars, wipes away the tears, and goes on. But when her carefully concealed secret is discovered and her children begin to hear the faint whispers of gossip Lynn realizes she must look within herself and find the courage to leave.

With her classically eloquent writing style, Belva Plain paints a startling portrait of spousal abuse in corporate America and creates a realistic heroine in the character of Lynn Ferguson. So realistic that I found myself struggling along with her, almost believing with her Robert’s empty promises that things would get better. I was outraged at his cruelty, not only toward his wife, but toward shy, overweight Annie, his eleven-year-old daughter. I cried with Lynn through the bad times and cheered with her through the good. I was that wrapped up in the story.

Inspiring and evocative, WHISPERS is a story of a family’s heartbreak and redemption, and of a woman’s long journey back to herself. I recommend WHISPERS to anyone who enjoys finely crafted, resonating women’s fiction.

— Honeybee


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WFTRWaiting for the Rain

M. Jean Pike

Champagne Press, 2007

ISBN 978 1 897445 21 1

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Rain-M-Jean-Pike/dp/1897445210/


This has been a rainy week in my world so it seemed the perfect time to settle in with Waiting for the Rain by M. Jean Pike. I wasn’t sure what to expect after reading the description on the back cover. The book had more depth and beauty than I expected. I found it to be a breath of fresh air in the paranormal romance genre. It is skillfully written, full of unique scenes, a few colorful characters, heartache, sacrifice, drama, suspense and of course a sexy leading man. In some ways the story reminded me of a modern, adult version of Tuck Everlasting. This book is a love story that offers hope but . . . is that hope medical, miracle or magic—readers will have to decide. If you like unpredictable books you will enjoy the many twists the author takes you on in this story.

The book is categorized as a paranormal romance novel and although it is a romance, it is not light, fluffy or full of silly sexual innuendos. The romance in Waiting for the Rain is believable and tasteful. The paranormal aspect will come upon readers slowly and quickly build into a beautiful tale. This book is easy to read in one sitting, but you better start it early in the day because you may not want to put it down until you get to the end. This is an emotional love story that shows the hope a sacrifice can offer one we love. Readers will go through a swing of emotions while reading of a love that sacrifices and heals but may not be destined to endure forever.

Readers will enjoy the way the author gets right to the heart of the story. It only took me a page or two to be hooked. The leading lady, twenty-eight year old Willow (Willy) is diagnosed with cancer. Before telling her husband, Tom, her sad news, he announces that he wants a divorce because he has found someone new. Having no desire for his pity, Willy refrains from telling him her medical news and instead agrees to the divorce and turns to the help of her friends. Realizing her time on earth may be coming to an end she desires to follow one of her dreams. Always an admirer of the majestic eagle, she wants to photograph one before she is too frail to do so. Her journey into the woods proves to be a life-altering trip. After experiencing car trouble and lack of cell phone reception, she meets Darby, a reclusive, gruff but handsome stranger with plenty of tragedy of his own. War veteran Darby lives in Baker’s Gully away from humanity with his faithful dog Lucky as his main companion.  The beautiful art work on the book cover gives a brief glimpse into the world that will captivate Willy who is strangely drawn to Baker’s Gully and can’t seem to rest until she finagles a way to stay in the abandoned rose covered cabin not far from Darby’s place.

Readers won’t be surprised when Willow and Darby begin to fall in love, but will be surprised by the direction their love takes them.  Both have lost a first love, neither is looking for a new love yet they are drawn to each other as in a fairy tale. If you believe in true love, if you believe miracles or magic can get you where you want to go, this book is for you.

The book is well written with accurate portrayals of the time period involved.  The main characters are fully developed and the scenes are beautifully described.  Through clear and vivid descriptions, readers will feel like they have been to Baker’s Gully before. I enjoyed getting to know Willow and I was fascinated by Darby. I appreciated the depth of both characters. Willow’s situation is easier to figure out but readers will have questions as they get to know Darby, his past and his beautiful property. Could Darby have the secret to the fountain of youth? Will he be able to help Willy? Will Willy let him? These are questions that come to mind for the reader. The author introduces to some colorful minor characters with interesting pasts and hearts of gold. Some readers may not approve of the lifestyles and choices of certain characters but will find them believable and true to form throughout the story. Readers will sense a heart of friendship in Sid, the loyalty of hard as nails lawyer Zoe, the jokester in off-color, disgruntled Toots, and the weakness in the loves of Tom and Marilyn.  The development of these characters allows the author to insert scenes written with humor, sarcasm, grief, romance, sacrifice, sorrow and love.

The ending of the book causes one to stop, think and review the story as a whole. If you are like me, you will reflect upon it for a time. Willow and Darby stayed with me for several days after I left Baker’s Gully. This is a thought-provoking story that reminds us that into every life some rain must fall. Rain is there for all of us. Our lives can be spent remembering the rain, waiting for the rain or embracing the rain. A choice is offered.

Jean Pike has given us a fresh, unique love story: A love for all times.  Waiting for the Rain is a keeper! I predict that readers will want to return to Baker’s Gully to read this story more than once.



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four-wives-paperbackFour Wives

By Wendy Walker

St. Martin’s Griffin Edition – April 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36772-5

Website: http://wendywalkerbooks.com

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Four-Wives-Wendy-Walker/dp/0312367724

Affluent suburbia with its tree lined streets, pretty homes, and lush green lawns. An idyllic setting, but like the black fungus invading the verdant lawns, a plague of discontent has settled over the wives of Hunting Ridge. Four wives, four friends, living lives that are inherently the same, yet different. All stay at home moms, all filled with the same discontent, but using different means of coping.

Gayle Beck comes from ‘old money’ and takes pleasure in the social status it guarantees. Her life appears perfect to anyone looking from the outside. But inside her beautiful 1890’s farmhouse, things are far more sinister and getting worse each day. She deals with her husband’s rage, and a young son who continually grows quieter and unhappier. Gayle wonders how much longer she’ll be able to keep up the appearance of a woman in control; even with the aid of the many pills her doctor prescribes.

Janie Kirk is a woman of great beauty and expert homemaking abilities. She’s the perfect wife and mother. Janie likes her life in Hunting Ridge, but grows restless and dissatisfied with her passionless marriage and the husband who doesn’t know nor does he care to know the real woman he’s married to. Turning to a torrid affair could spell the end of everything for Janie.

Marie Pesseti, a part time divorce attorney struggling to have it all. Marie was going crazy being a full time, stay at home mom and opened her own small law office specializing in father custody cases. She feels she’s losing her husband and daughters to the Hunting Ridge way of life, which she abhors. Working a difficult case and dealing with a cute new intern, Marie is close to taking a step that may change her life forever.

Love Welsh, a former child prodigy and illegitimate daughter of the great Alexander Rice is Marie’s next-door neighbor. Love is having a difficult time keeping things together, her home is a mess and she rarely has time to do much more than brush her hair. She knows her life is a wreck and worries constantly about her children, but can’t seem to find the energy to rectify it. A letter from her estranged father causes the ghosts from Love’s past to resurface and things go from bad to worse. Love develops horrific, debilitating back pain, but all the medical tests fail to explain the reason for it.

When it fell to me to read and review FOUR WIVES, I wasn’t sure if I could do it justice. It just isn’t my kind of story. There’s nothing I dislike more than reading about women with expensive educations, too much money and do too much whining. Women who have it all, but are never happy. Women who are doing what many women would love to do—stay at home and raise their children instead of going to a back breaking job and leaving the kids in day care, so they can make enough money just to get by. But keeping an open mine, I turned to the first page. The excellent writing pulled me into the story. The phenomenal characterization kept me there.

Although I found these four women unlikable, I liked them anyway. All four women are devoted mothers and fearful of making any choices that would adversely affect their children. I became absorbed in their lives and couldn’t stop turning the pages. Even though their lives are so far from my own, I could see tiny pieces of myself in each of them. I too have suffered from a bad marriage, dissatisfaction, depression, restlessness, and bone deep weariness. I too have had to keep my silence, and make tough choices for the good of my children and my sanity.

The characters created on these pages are so real, I could easily picture them as friends or sisters and like my own family and friends, I took them into my heart, faults and all. I rooted for them to make the right decisions. I wanted to shake Gayle and kept hoping she’d tell her shrink to F-off, and then kick her good for nothing husband out of the house. Marie is a snotty little witch devoted to family, loyal to friends, full of strength, courage and integrity. I loved her and could definitely see her as a best friend. I wanted to alternately hug Love, and shake her. And Janie, I wanted to slap her, hug her. I cried for her. And in the end, she broke my heart.

Ms. Walker is a gifted writer and knows how to keep her reader’s eyes glued to her words. Skillful plotting builds the tension page after page. I kept waiting for the hump to come. The one where the story loses me for a while and I can put it down to tend to necessary chores. It didn’t happen and the chores were left until I’d turned that last page. I highly recommend this book to all women regardless of their life’s circumstances.

FOUR WIVES is about women and sentiment, passion and marriage, motherhood and most of all friendship. I defy you not to find a small bit of yourself within its pages. It’s been several days since reading this story and I can’t get these women out of my mind. They aren’t easy to forget and I imagine will be with me for a long time.




–Working Girl Reviews


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wendy walkerWorking Girl Reviews is excited to welcome Wendy Walker to our blog today.  

1.  Wendy, thanks so much for visiting with us and answering a few questions. Your novel, FOUR WIVES is up for review here at WGR. Tell us about the book and what inspired the story.

Four Wives was inspired by my life as a stay-home mom in the suburbs. All around me, I saw women who were conflicted by their deep love and commitment to raising their kids and the empty space that existed having left their other callings. This issue formed the first character I developed for the novel, whose name is Love Welsh. As I thought about this community and the people around me, I saw other issues worth exploring and I created characters and plot to give life to those issues. At the same time, I wanted Four Wives to be a fun, fast-paced read with lots of suspense. What resulted, I hope, is just that – a great read with deeper issues that linger long after the book is finished.

2.  FOUR WIVES paints a portrait of life in the suburbs as idyllic on the surface, but far from rosy in reality. Do you feel this could be true of any community—city, rural, small town, or more a symptom of wealthy suburbia?  

I think because these small, insular suburban communities are so homogeneous, there is a greater propensity to hide any thoughts or feelings that truly question the life choices that have been uniformly made. Here is an example of what I mean. Most of the families in these communities have working dads and stay-home moms. The women will talk about their discontentment with this situation up to a point, but it is only with their trusted friends (and sometimes not even then) that they will confess a deeper unhappiness that might lead to a change such as going back to work or even divorce.

3.  Your bio states that you’re a former commercial litigator and investment banker. Does this mean your desire to write came later or was it put on hold while pursuing your other career?

It came later for sure. I quit work as a lawyer when I had my first son. I really wanted to create more balance in my life, which had been so focused on work. But as I settled into stay-home life, I realized I was growing anxious and unhappy, so I tried to find something I could do in a few hours here and there each week that would be intellectual, meaningful and also a potential gateway to a career that I could pursue while being at home with my kids. Writing was what I found, and of course it had been in the back of my mind somewhere. My first inclination was actually to write legal thrillers!

4.  On your website it says you were trained as a competitive figure skater and are a long time supporter and board member of the Figure Skating in Harlem organization. Tell us more about this organization and your involvement.

FSH is a fantastic organization that targets at-risk girls in Harlem. By providing them with a full-service afterschool program, which includes skating and educational components, the girls gain self-esteem and self-discipline. This program has incredible success keeping girls focused on their studies and themselves during years that often lead to teen pregnancy and substance abuse. I became involved at its inception almost 12 years ago because it was started by my best friend from college, Sharon Cohen. You can check out FSH at http://Figureskatinginharlem.org !

5.  You have a new release coming in September 2009 titled SOCIAL LIVES. Is it along the same lines as FOUR WIVES or totally different?

Social Lives has the same basic structure as Four Wives in that it follows a few characters whose lives are intertwined. This time, however, the women live in an even wealthier community driven by hedge fund wealth, and the issues that underlie the characters and plot are a bit more serious and timely. From teenage promiscuity to the predicament of a wife whose husband is about to lose everything to a hedge fund scandal (sound familiar?), this book moves quickly and surprises readers all the way to the last page.

6.  Some of WGR’s readers are aspiring writers and, as most writers looking to be published, they’d appreciate knowing what it was like for you. Was it a long process? Did you send a hundred or so submissions, receive any rejections…?

It was long, but worth it! I started writing as a hobby with intention and because I was having babies during the first five years after I began, it took me about that long to finish a novel. The key for me in finding an agent and eventually selling my first book was getting professional feedback and revising heavily. As a self-taught writer, I knew I needed this and I found a wonderful writing professor who critiqued my work. This was so important for me and I found an agent soon after by sending out about 60 submissions using the books that are out there on literary agents and the like. There are many ways to break in and the first things any writer should do are perfect their manuscript, use any and all connections to get their work read, and then blanket the market to find an agent.

7.  Besides family and writing, what are your other passions?

I’m not sure I even remember! I love seeing my close friends for hours at a time over dinner or a walk. I like to run and hike and do so almost every day. But really, my work is writing and I love it. For so many years, it was my escape from the daily grind of raising kids and taking care of a house and I still view every hour that I am writing as leisure time. That is the very best part of this job for me!

8.  What’s a typical day like in the life of Wendy Walker?

Wake up to three little boys climbing in my bed. Make breakfast, get them dressed, drive them to school or camp. Then a run in the woods, and home to work. I start out with some PR or editing side jobs, and then hunker down on the floor by my fire or by my picture windows in my study to write. There is always lots of coffee involved! I can do this indefinitely, but usually only have a few hours before it’s time to pick up kids and drive them all over for sports and activities. From 2pm on, I am a mom again and that consumes me completely. By 9pm, I am usually in my bed watching some TV while I wait for my oldest to finish reading and puttering in his room so I can tuck him in. Then I tuck myself in. Very dull, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

9.  Is there anything about you that your readers would be surprised to learn?

OK here goes. I actually don’t read as much as other writers do and I don’t read books in my own genre (yikes!). I find that if I do this, my own writing style and process starts to take on the tone of what I am reading at the moment. So that leaves vacations and plane rides, of which I have few. Instead, I watch movies and great character- driven TV to keep my sense of storytelling alert. Also, I am an editor for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, so look for my books under those titles as well!

10. Wendy, thank you for spending time with us today. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Where’s the best place to go online to find out more about you and your work?

I think the message I really want to convey is that while my work is packaged in a way that resembles Desperate Housewives and the like, my novels are truly driven by real-life issues that I believe impact women everywhere. I have been so pleased to find that readers relate to my characters and the struggles they face. This is always my intention when I sit down to write and I hope that readers who enjoy this type of book will find me! You can learn a lot more at wendywalkerbooks.com. Thanks so much!!

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