Book Review: Mixing It Up by Tracie Banister

Manhattanite Cecily Sinclair is the host of cooking show Serving Romance where she creates gourmet French cuisine. When new CEO Devlin Hayes takes over CuisineTV with plans to rebrand the network, Cecily finds out that her show is going to change drastically, including the addition of Cecily’s former nightmare of a boss, Italian chef Dante Marchetti. Despite constantly being at odds, viewers love their chemistry together, much to Cecily's dismay. But Cecily is determined to maintain her reputation and the integrity of her show, which means getting a step ahead of Dante and Devlin with her own schemes. As she tries to figure out if she's really meant for TV or if she should take a new path, she finds herself embroiled in romantic drama with both men who drive her crazy.

Mixing It Up is a fast-paced, well-written novel that will have readers guessing until the very end. Cecily is determined to control all aspects of her life. The more curveballs that are thrown her way, the more headstrong she becomes. She is definitely one of the strongest Chick Lit heroines, but her stubbornness gets her into some trouble. So, it’s a good thing Cecily has caring friends to help her relax a bit. The dynamic between Cecily and her best friend/cousin, Dina, is fun to read because they are so different, but they balance each other out so well at all the right times. For most of the book, it’s unclear who Cecily will end up with romantically. She has chemistry with Dante and Devlin, which makes things interesting. Readers will likely root for both men at different times during the book, as well as be frustrated by both. With Cecily’s love life unclear, there’s enough work drama and family drama to keep the story moving along.

The best aspect of Mixing It Up is the author’s writing style, which is so natural and effortless, making it an easy yet compelling read. Cecily’s passion for food jumps off the pages thanks to the author’s exquisitely detailed culinary descriptions. Foodies and Chick Lit fans are sure to enjoy this entertaining read that excels in gastronomy, humor, and romance. Highly recommended!

 
 

Author Interview: Mary Kay Andrews

What inspired you to write The WeekendersOver a bottle of good rosé wine last year, my editor came up with the title, and told me to figure out the story to go with it. I decided to write about a group, consisting of three couples, all of them at a crossroads in their lives, who own vacation homes on a remote barrier island.

Why did you set The Weekenders in Belle Isle, North Carolina? I wanted my characters to make a journey, physical as well as emotional, when they left their everyday jobs and lives, to take up what should be an idyllic summer escape. Of course, things don’t turn out as they anticipated.

Describe Riley Griggs, the heroine in The Weekenders. What makes her unique? Riley has been a good girl her whole life; good wife, mom, daughter, journalist. She’s only now discovering that maybe she needs to break out of that mold to become the woman she needs to be.

If The Weekenders became a movie, who would you want to star in it? Reese Witherspoon for Riley, Bradley Cooper for Nate. Sean Hayes would be great as Billy. I can see Lily Tomlin as Roo.

What’s your favorite weekend getaway? Ebbtide, our beach house on Tybee Island, outside of Savannah.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t allow myself to believe in writer’s block. I believe in laziness, fear, and procrastination, all of which I plead guilty to. When I’m plagued with those emotions, I take a walk to clear my head, then grab a yellow legal pad and force myself to start jotting down ideas, any ideas.

What do you enjoy most about going on a book tour? Seeing different parts of the country, and meeting fans and booksellers. And room service!

What comment do you hear most often from your readers? My readers regard my protagonists as old friends—and they want me to bring them back in new books. They particularly love Weezie Foley, the heroine of my Savannah novels.

What do you do to celebrate when your books make it on The New York Times best seller’s list? I’m almost always alone, on the road, on a book tour when that happens, so I celebrate on the phone with my family and my publishing team, and drink a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. And I try always to remember to thank my fans—who make it all possible. When I get home, my husband and I usually celebrate with a nice dinner out. Then it’s back to work!

Are you working on a new novel? If so, can you share a bit about it? I’ve got a title and a setting and a premise for the next novel, but not much else. I can tell you that I’m bringing back a character from an earlier novel, Brooke, the runaway bride from Save the Date. I’m going to bring her down out of the tree house she was hiding in at the end of that book, and figure out what she’s been doing ever since.

Thank you, Mary Kay!

Mary Kay Andrews is The New York Times bestselling author of Beach TownSave the DateLadies’ Night, Christmas Bliss, Spring FeverSummer RentalThe Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. Her 24th novel, The Weekenders, is available now from St. Martin's Press. A former journalist for The Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

GIVEAWAY

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Book Review: Regrets Only by M.J. Pullen

Book Description: At thirty-three, Suzanne Hamilton has no regrets. A successful event planner with a swanky condo in a hot Atlanta neighborhood, she’s got a close group of friends and a list of men a mile long who would happily bend over backwards to win her heart. Plus, she’s just landed the event that will take her career to the next level. Then a freak accident changes everything. Humiliated, with her career in tatters, Suzanne’s lost her business not to mention her self-respect. She’s managed, however, to retain the surprising support of her newest celebrity client: the sexy country music star, Dylan Burke. Against her better judgment, but without any better offers, Suzanne agrees to plan a wedding for one of the Burke sisters. But when she comes to realize her freak accident was anything but, her catalog of past relationships turns into a list of suspects and Suzanne must question everything―her career, her friendships, and most acutely, her own dating rules. As it turns out, she might have quite a bit to regret after all.

My Thoughts: I LOVED this book so much!! I couldn't put it down! It's charming, funny, and intriguing. Suzanne is a great heroine because she's strong and driven. She's a bit over-confident at times, but not enough to make her unlikable.  I really appreciated the twists and turns in the story that I didn't predict. They definitely kept me turning the pages! Pullen's writing style is SO captivating! The story has an element of mystery as well, which I really enjoyed. I was so surprised by who was responsible for Suzanne's accident. Dylan is described as a "sexy country music star," and he definitely is! His charm and sex appeal jump off the pages, so he's very compelling as the hero of the story. I loved the will-they won't-they between Dylan and Suzanne. This novel is the second book in The Marriage Pact trilogy. Each novel is about a different member of a group of friends. I haven't read the first book in the series, but that didn't matter when I was reading Regrets Only. Each book stands on its own. I highly recommend Regrets Only!

Rating: 5 stars