Forgive me readers for the delay in this month’s Fic Picks. Between my family’s crazy schedule and new self-imposed deadlines for the sequel to Across Oceans there hasn’t been as much time for reading. As a result one of this month’s picks is my first ever recommended audio book along with a dual-timeline historical fiction and a sweet and sassy romance. Enjoy!
The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
Historical/Contemporary Fiction – 1912 and Modern Day Birmingham, Alabama
In a Nutshell: One century, one dress, four stories. Charlotte owns a fancy bridal boutique. When it comes to finding brides their perfect made-for-them gown everyone agrees that she’s the best there is. Except when it comes to her own perfect dress – or her perfect fiance. There she has nothing but doubts. In a strange twist she ends up at a local estate sale and accidentally buys a $1000 trunk, whoops. What’s odd is the trunk is welded shut. More mysteriously is what’s inside when she does open it – a wedding dress from 1912 with secrets that seem to beckon from within. Determined to discover the answers behind the dress, Charlotte sets out on a journey of discovery. Little does she know that her path will be linked to three women who wore the dress or that they would help her find exactly what she was searching for all along.
My take: This was my absolute favorite read this month. After reading over 100 pages in three different books and setting each aside, The Wedding Dress sucked me in. Everything about it was beautiful from the bit of magical realism to the rich detail in the lovely backdrop of Birmingham. I loved the idea of one mysterious dress that fits each of four women as if it was made for each of them, but with a beauty as though they were each the only woman to ever wear it. The two main women, Charlotte in 2015 and Emily in 1912, were independent characters in their own rights, but the situations they found themselves in played together wonderfully. I especially enjoyed seeing Charlotte’s fiancé, Tim, develop throughout the novel. In the beginning I wasn’t sure that he seemed the best match for her, then about fifty pages in they broke up, and well, after that he – and the story – began to surprise me. Secrets were revealed, families altered, forgiveness given, lives – and loves – restored. In the end everything was wrapped up in a nice little package and I loved how it happened. Five stars for story, five stars for romance, five stars for likelihood of future reads from Ms. Hauck. Her new book, The Love Letter, comes out June 2018. For more information visit: http://www.rachelhauck.com/
Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer
Historical Fiction – 1851 Texas
In a nutshell: Two years ago Darius Thorton nearly died in a steamship disaster after a boiler exploded. Failing to save a little girl in the sinking, he dedicates his life to making steamships safer. Unfortunately most of his work involves blowing up boilers without many results. Enter Nicole Renard. Returning home to Texas from her Boston boarding school, she finds her father deathly ill. To fulfill her familial duty, she needs to find a suitable husband to take over the shipping company and protect their greatest asset – the Lafitte Dagger. In an unexpected change of plans, Nicole finds herself in need of a job and Darius the only employer willing to hire. Being scientifically minded herself, Nicole proves to be the perfect partner and Darius finds his research growing along with his heart. As their professional relationship evolves into something a bit more personal, will Nicole be able to push her feelings aside in the name of family loyalty?
My take: This was a sweet romance with a hearty helping of sass. Nicole and Darius’s personalities played well off each other with both of them a bit too independent for their own good, but eventually slowly one tiny speck at a time were able to let the other break through that. Their scientific banter was great and I completely imagined them meeting in a STEM class then going out afterwards to run experiments and blow things up in the parking lot. You know, standard dating stuff. If you need a light read and a fairly predictable romance (which is not a bad thing in my opinion!) then this is the book to read. For more information visit: http://www.karenwitemeyer.com/
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Contemporary Short Stories
In a Nutshell: If you didn’t know and you probably didn’t, actor/director/producer Tom Hanks collects typewriters of all sorts. (Check out more details on the story here.) So it’s no surprise that he decided to write a collection of seventeen short stories inspired by the sound of those lovely little keys. Uncommon Type takes the reader on a ride through the hodgepodge of life. There’s sometimes rhyme and reason to the tales and sometimes not at all. Sometimes there are characters that show up time and again, yet mostly not. But always there’s the inspiration of the typewriter to tie it all together.
My take: This is the only audio book I’ve ever actually enjoyed. One hour is usually my limit and then the cadence is too slow or the narrator too dull and the entire story ends up as background noise to whatever else I happen to be doing. But I figured if anyone could make an audio book entertaining it would be Tom Hanks. Thankfully I was not mistaken. He brought this book to life. In truth, some of the stories would have been frightfully dull if I had read them on paper, but in Tom Hanks’s voice they were like pure hilarious gold. So go listen to this, enjoy, and then marathon You’ve Got Mail, Castaway, and Forest Gump.