The Songbook of Benny Lament

Ah! I always love me an Amy Harmon book. And her latest, The Songbook of Benny Lament, touched and changed my heart in all the best ways. If you’ve never read one of her books before, you should. They are ridiculously amazing!

This book transported me into a different place and time. It’s set in the early 60s in a New York neighborhood run by the mob. Benny Lament (Benito Lomento) wants nothing to do with his family. Family means secrets. Family means being owned. Family means murder, corruption, and nothing good in his mind.

His life revolves around his music since he’s made a name for himself writing songs for big name artists. But when his father makes him come listen to a black girl named Esther Mine sing in a ghetto bar in another neighborhood, he is captivated against his will. But what he learns from his dad about Esther Mine’s birth parents makes him want to leave her alone. The woman can only bring trouble into his life. But Benny can’t get her voice out of his head, and though he runs from fate, it’s going to catch up to him.

What I loved about this book were the themes: racial prejudice, family ties and duties, and change. This story had heart, like all of Harmon’s books do. I came to love characters so different from me—mobsters, sassy black women, angry black men, conflicted Italians. I loved the sixties setting and all the history interwoven through the radio show. I love the self-reflection her stories inspire if you let them. Harmon’s stories are in no way preachy (I hate those kind of stories), but as you get inside the characters’ heads and experience life vicariously with them, I can’t help but stop and wonder, “Am I resisting change? Am I standing up for change? How could I do better?”

The plot showed racial prejudice from several different sides and lights. The author wrote about this touchy, sensitive subject masterfully. She didn’t try to tell me how I should be. She just told a story about how the world was, and how a few strong individuals stood up against the status quo to bring about change (a very slow change). I saw how easy it is to believe there is no racism (or more personally, to think I’m not racist), when really there’s a good chance there is and I am just unaware or ignorant of it because it’s not touching us/me right then.

Amy Harmon’s stories always plant a seed of change in my heart. That’s why I love them. She started writing this back in 2019 before all the civil unrest exploded here in the US. After reading this, I want to do better at challenging my cultural and societal beliefs, to make sure I never get cozy in a world where I’m only looking out for myself. I want to do better at making sure I’m always changing in a way that is including others, not excluding them. I want to be changing in ways that unite others in diversity, instead of clinging to my comfortable cliques or tribes. Anyway, I have nothing but praise for this book. The author tackled a hard subject with difficult characters, and did it with honesty and grace.    

Favorite Quotes

Sometimes the best way to hide is in the spotlight. If the whole world knows who you are, it’s harder to snuff you out.”

~~~

Prejudice is human nature, and it isn’t always ugly or violent or even obvious. We all make judgments, some of them justified, some of them not. We’re taught a certain way of thinking and doing, we’re taught to blame or justify, and a lot of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it. And that’s true of everybody. Not just white people. I told Esther she had a chip on her shoulder, and she told me I had a blind spot.”

~~~

If you’re tired of subpar books, look no farther than Amy Harmon. Her storytelling won’t disappoint you. Happy reading.

Where the Lost Wander

nr5What a powerful story! Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon had all the emotions, so if you want light and fluffy, run from this one fast. Yoke your oxen up and skedaddle. It’s a heart-yanker. You feel all the love, all the deep-seeded, unending pain, the heartache, the laughs, the awe…the victory and triumph. But all the sadness and heartwrenching agony are SO worth it in the end. I think the joy and awe you feel at the end are even magnified because of what you go through with these characters—John Lowry and Naomi May.

It’s set in the 1850s in the pioneering days of U.S. history, when buffalo still roamed the prairies and Indians were trying to make their stand against white man’s intrusion. It’s a love story—one of the best. Continue reading

Charlotte’s Promise

1I love Jennifer Moore’s historical romances. This newest one–Charlotte’s Promise–is set in 1814 in New Orleans and the surrounding seas during the time the British navy was causing havoc in the United States. Covenant publishing is giving away a paperback copy of this book, so make sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end for a chance at winning. Woohoo! Continue reading

Suffering the Scot

scotYEA! Nichole Van has a new book out–Suffering the Scot--and it was gold…like all her others. Don’t you love the cover? Leave a comment below for a chance to win an ebook of this delicious story! It’s soooo good! I want everyone to have the chance to read it.

SUMMARY

Lady Jane Everard cannot abide the new Earl of Hadley. The unmannered Scot is a menace to genteel ladies everywhere, what with his booming laugh and swishing kilt and endless supply of ‘ochs’ and ‘ayes.’ Jane wishes Lord Hadley would behave as an earl should and adhere to English rules of polite conduct.

Andrew Langston, the new Earl of Hadley, knows that the English aristocracy think poorly of his lowly Scottish upbringing. This is hardly new. History is littered with the English assuming the worst about Scotland. By living up to their lowest expectations, he is simply fulfilling his civic duty as a Scotsman. Continue reading

Beneath an Italian Sky

beneathToday’s feature book was a literary feast for my romance heart.  Stacy Henrie wrote an excellent story that I couldn’t put down once I started it. I’m so excited to share this one with you. Here’s the blurb:

Summary

1908–American heiress Clare Herschel made what she hoped was a love match when she married the handsome, witty Emmett Markham, the Earl of Linwood. A little over a year into her marriage, though, Clare finds herself wintering in Sicily—alone. She is sure the mild climate is the answer to avoiding another miscarriage and Emmett’s apparent indifference, so she’s determined to remain in Italy as long as possible. The last person she expects to show up at the villa is her husband, especially when Emmett confesses he’s there to convince her to return to England. Continue reading

What the Wind Knows

newfeb2I read this newest one by Amy Harmon, What the Wind Knows, last month, and have been dying to blog about it for any who haven’t read about it yet. Here’s the blurb:

Summary

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time. Continue reading

Long Journey Home

Long Journey Home KINDLE COVERFrom Sarah M. Eden, the USA Today Bestselling author of the Longing for Home series, LONG JOURNEY HOME is a new romance novel set in the beloved world of Hope Springs.

Widowed by war, Maura O’Connor has raised her son alone under the weight of poverty in the unforgiving slums of New York City. That harsh and difficult life has taken a toll on them both. Desperate to save her son from the misery around them, she moves them both to the tiny western town of Hope Springs, where her late husband’s family lives, hoping that the decade of silence between them does not mean she and Aidan will be rejected outright. Her son needs family, and she would endure anything to see him happy.

Ryan Callaghan has worked the land belonging to the late Granny Claire for years, dreaming of one day claiming it as his own. Living in his brother’s home affords him no freedom, no stability, no joy. The arrangement is even harder on his mother, whose health is quickly deteriorating. A risky investment in the land has finally begun to pay off, and he is at last in a position to secure a better future for them both. When use of the home is, without warning, offered to a newly arrived widow and her son, that future is entirely uncertain. Continue reading

The Shipbuilder’s Wife

shipI’m participating in another blog tour this week and am excited to share this new book with you. The Shipbuilder’s Wife by Jennifer Moore was SOOOOO good!!!! I read it in just over a day. It was super hard to put down because the plot was so new and intriguing.

Here’s the blurb:

The day of her parents’ garden party dawns bright as Lydia Prescott eagerly anticipates a marriage proposal from a handsome and wealthy plantation owner. The lovely debutante plans to steal a moment away with her beau, but her plans go terribly awry. Instead of her intended, she is joined by a stranger—the largest man she’s ever laid eyes on. And it is clear Jacob Steele is there for reasons far more sober than the party. With British raids erupting all around them, it is his job to reassure plantation owners of their safety. In reality, however, Jacob is an espionage agent, and the truth is dire: America is on the verge of invasion by the British. Blissfully unaware of the danger surrounding her, Lydia basks in the glow of her recent engagement. But her joy is short-lived—a surprise British attack results in a devastating wound, and her plans for the future are shattered. Lost in her devastation, Lydia could never dream that Jacob, that giant of a man she met so briefly, would prove to be her saving grace. And with a war raging around them, she may be called upon to save him too. Continue reading

Heart of Thornewell

The Heart of Thornewell BannerLove, love, love when a romance knocks me off my feet and keeps me intrigued and guessing the whole way through. Today’s spotlight book did just that. The Heart of Thornewell turned out to be one of my favorites by Anita Stansfield. It was gripping, passionate, touching, mysterious, suspenseful, emotional, and all other good things. Make sure to enter the giveaway at the end to be in the drawing to win your own copy of this amazing historical romance. Continue reading

The Highlander’s Hidden Heart

A Highlander's Hidden Heart bannerHere’s another fun read by Julie Coulter Bellon. I’ve read many of her romantic suspense novels and a few contemporary ones lately, but this is her first historical romance between a Scottish lord and an English lady. I thought she did a good job! Read on to learn more, and enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post for a chance to win. Continue reading