New Books from Jessica Kate, Katherine Reay & Erin Bartels

My Goodreads app stunned me this morning when I noticed I’ve read 35 novels and novellas in 2024! It’s amazing how much reading one can cram in during the summer school holidays. 😉

Amongst the amazing ebooks (and a few audiobooks) I’ve consumed this year, I also had the privilege of receiving advanced copies of Jessica Kate, Katherine Reay, and Erin Bartels’s latest releases.

Ms Kate’s romantic comedy hit the shelves last week, Ms Reay’s Cold War tale released today, and Ms Bartel’s newest duel-timeline novel drops in late March.

Jessica Kate’s Drive You Crazy is an enemies-to-lovers contemporary rom-com with “all the feels”. Ashley and Justin’s interactions as next-door neighbours were prickly, awkward and amusing, even if sometimes petty. Amongst the funny banter were heavier moments, with both leads dealing with their own difficulties, including several tough individuals. A few of the townsfolk were begging me to slap them. 😉

While I enjoyed the fun references to Gilmore Girls and the reality (and frustrations!) of small-town living, this novel overflowed with all things “Australia” and felt a little like coming home. As an Aussie who craved hints of home in Christian fiction enough to write my own, I appreciated the immersion of American and Australian culture.

Katherine Reay’s The Berlin Letters is an unputdownable historical (like her other books here and here). Meticulously researched and written, this post-WWII novel tortured my soul in that bittersweet way only war fiction can.

The story follows Haris and Luisa, journalist father and CIA daughter, living in separate worlds, fighting for what is right on either side of the oppressive Berlin wall. Like WWII fiction, this story contained some of the darker, horrific parts of history. I appreciated journeying beside Luisa in the late 1980s as she discovered life-changing truths in a stash of old letters. I felt such a kinship with her as she mourned and searched for answers, and her strength and vulnerability shone through the novel. The romantic thread within this detailed, interlaced tapestry also ticked another box for me.

Erin Bartels’s The Lady with the Dark Hair is another wonderful, multilayered read from the queen of duel-timeline fiction (see why she’s queen). This intriguing women’s fiction story followed Viviana (and her alter egos) in the 1880s and Esther in the present day, broken women navigating life’s difficulties in their respective times.

While I related more with Esther and her challenges as a contemporary 40-something woman, Viviana’s disturbing and life-altering experiences moved me. Ms Bartels’ passion for art shone throughout the novel, and although I’m far from being a painter, I enjoyed the believable descriptions and art lore.

Have you read any books by these wonderful authors? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,

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