My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book–LOVED it!
I began this story thinking it was a conventional time travel story. Boy was I in for a surprise. Wrapped in the Stars is so much more than a time travel novel it’s hard to know where to start. So I’ll begin with the characters themselves.
Honestly, it’s like the author was channeling the two women in this book. The story is told in alternating times–Maya’s (present) and Rebecca’s (early 1900s).
Right from the first chapter I was hooked. I would get so wrapped up in the story I was reading (either Maya’s or Rebecca’s) that I absolutely hated it when a chapter ended. But by the time I’d read a paragraph into the next chapter, I’d be hooked all over again. . . . And then pissed when THAT chapter ended. This book grabbed me over and over again.
Mikalsen masterfully weaves together at least a half-dozen threads to create a rich, living tapestry: a glimpse into the history of women in medicine, a look at the grassroots organization of the Russian Revolution, early Twentieth Century European social history, parallel love stories, and a FASCINATING mystery/adventure in dual times.
I have this amazingly clear picture of Bern in the early 20th century stuck inside my head! The excitement of the time: a revolution brewing, a war coming, advances in medicine, technology, and revolutionary shifts in gender roles/relations. But even with such a vibrant backdrop, the characters still stand out and do not become lost.
It would be hard for me to say who is the heroine in this story–Maya or Rebecca. So I’m going to say they both are. They are two distinct characters and there is no mistaking their voices. Mikalsen does an excellent job of respecting history and depicts a character–Rebecca– who is a product of her time even as she rebels against it. Which means she actually ends up sounding and behaving like a woman from 1914, rather than a woman from 2018 dressed in clothing from the period.
And Maya? Well, she is a woman who alternately appears to be coming apart at the seams but also strong, driven, curious, and vulnerable. In other words, she is REAL.
And then there are the secondary characters, like Sarah, who Mikalsen makes you care for with only a few subtle, but powerful, snippets of her life.
Clearly I was floored by this book. Awesome debut and I hope for more.
Today I’m speaking with Carrie Nichols, debut author of The Marine’s Secret Daughter, a romance about forgiveness and second chances. Carrie’s book is published by Harlequin and will be out SOON, the paperback will be available 1/16/18 and the digital on 2/1/18.
I’ve asked Carrie to talk about her writing process, but first, here is a peek at the cover:
Carrie’s book isn’t out yet, but you can grab a copy early if you just click on THIS!
And how about a quick teaser….
This was not how her first meeting in over five years with Riley Cooper was supposed to happen. In her imagination, she was all sexy in a little black dress and killer heels after a relaxing spa day. Yeah, right; she’d spent the day cleaning and probably looked like Nick Nolte’s mug shot. So not fair! Riley was supposed to be breathless and falling at her feet, not vice versa. Stupid, stupid asthma.
Minerva Spencer: Thanks for joining me, Carrie. My first question is one authors get all the time: How long did you take to write your book?
Carrie Nichols: Years and years. LOL! The story underwent a lot of changes since I knew nothing about plotting and story arcs when I first wrote it as a series of scenes. But these characters wouldn’t let go and I’d learned enough by the 4th draft to start winning contests and to sign with my dream agent.
MS: What kind of research did you do for this book?
CN: I love research so I did way more than I needed. I researched the fictional setting of Loon Lake, Vermont, including the loons that make the lake home. I consulted several nurse friends for the hospital scenes, a friend whose son was a marine and my critique partner whose husband is a respiratory therapist.
MS: Did you have to change much during the editing process?
CN: We mostly added things during the editing process. I had already removed scenes that didn’t further the story thanks to my ever patient agent.
MS: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
CN: I’m a recovering pantser. I had the luxury of years to write and rewrite my first story but knew I had to learn plotting basics to sell on proposal. I still struggle with plotting but with the help of Laura Baker’s Turning Points and Discovering Story Magic online classes, I’m slowly becoming a plotster. I have a skeleton with the big scenes and story/character arcs and fill in the rest as I write.
MS: What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
CN: Getting to know my characters and what makes them tick. They come to me fully formed and I have to figure out what happened to them (their backstory) to turn them into the flawed people they are. And because I write romance, I love giving them their HEA (happily ever after) after making them work for it.
MS: Can you share your writing routine?
CN: I write in my home office. When my youngest moved out I cried when I walked into his empty room until I realized I had an empty room! As my husband observed, I wasted no time in making that room my own with paint and some bookcases. I am also lucky enough to not have a day job. I lost my job about a month after signing the contract with Harlequin and since my husband was already retired, I decided to join him.
MS: One last question. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
CN: Don’t give up!!
Carrie Nichols, is a hardy New Englander transplanted to the deep South, where two inches of snow can bring a city like Atlanta to its knees. She loves to travel, is addicted to British crime dramas and knows a Seinfeld quote appropriate for every occasion.
Carrie has one tolerant husband, two grown sons and two critical cats. To her dismay, Carrie’s characters, much like her family, often ignore the wisdom and guidance she lovingly offers.
USA Today called Carrie’s short story, Snowbound with the Stork, “a charming debut”
You can connect with Carrie at:
An innocent in the crossfire . . .
FBI agent Jack Holland broke every rule in the book falling for the girlfriend of Angelo Cabrini, son of a New Jersey mob boss. But even if Callie Lansing’s relationship to Angelo was actually a cover and her heart was free, her relationship with Jack put both of their lives at risk. Nothing, though, could make Jack regret the liaison that led to the birth of their son, Jonathan.
After Angelo discovered Callie’s pregnancy, he went after Jack and wound up dead. Now Jack is on the run with a target on his back. The only thing keeping Callie and Jonathan safe is the mob boss’s belief that the baby is his grandchild. But if Victor Cabrini discovers the truth before Jack can put him behind bars, it could mean death for his sweet covert family. . . .
Early praise for Running Target
“Thrilling . . . Lemor once again features a dynamite protagonist who’s easily relatable, and her talent for incorporating romance and forgiveness against the odds makes Running Target even more enticing.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Ms. Lemor has delivered a scintillating read in this book where the chemistry was riveting; the secondary characters entertained me just as much as the main ones; and the ending took me completely by surprise.” ~ Book Magic Book Reviews
“Running Target is about finding one’s way back home. It’s about beating the odds when it seems like everything is going against you. And most importantly, it’s about family. I would recommend this for readers who enjoy their romance mixed with a light level of suspense.” ~Harlequin Junkie
An infant’s cry broke the stillness of the maternity ward as Jack crept through the hallway. He looked toward the nursery. Should he go there first or to where Callie was? The room was less risky and he needed to see her. Assure himself she was okay.
The door was ajar so he slipped through, closing it enough to allow a sliver of light to filter in. He made out the petite shape of the sleeping woman then saw the bassinet next to her. His breath left his body. The baby was here with her.
Stepping closer, he looked down on the clear container, the blue tag proclaiming this child to be a boy. Squinting in the dim light, he read the words. Mother’s name: Callina Lansing. Baby: Jonathan.
Jonathan. She’d named the baby after him. A lump clogged his throat. A son. Damn. He had a son and wouldn’t be able to get to know him, see him grow, share in his life. This fucking world was too cruel at times.
He shouldn’t take the chance but he needed to hold him. It was vital that he touch the life he and Callie had created. He wanted—no needed—to let his child know how much he loved him. The powerful emotion emanated from his heart even as he gazed down at the tiny figure. How could love grow this fast? His first glimpse was only a second ago. Now the feeling consumed him.
Reaching down, he stroked the side of his son’s face. The baby turned his head, his bow-shaped lips opening slightly. Jack’s heart beat faster. The protective instincts that had always come into play when he was around Callie, throbbed to life and expanded as he gazed at the sweet face of his son. Heat like an electric storm surged through his blood. How could he protect this child in his current situation? He’d bring more danger upon him if he hung around. Eight months of running, trying to escape the long arm of Victor Cabrini, had shown him what hell was. Now he glimpsed a small piece of heaven.
He slid his hands under the infant, lifting him from the bed to hold him close. Jonathan barely weighed anything. His heart constricted yet again. The innocent baby scent wafted into his nostrils and he blinked back the moisture filling his eyes. The reaction was primitive and territorial. This was his son.
Their child’s eyes opened but no cry erupted so Jack relaxed. It shook him to the core knowing Callie had named the baby after him. After deserting her she had every right to hate him. As much as he hated himself. Leaving her hadn’t been in his plans but the choice had been ripped away from him. It had taken a while to recover from the stabbing. Then the fuck-up by the Bureau had happened.
He stared again at the unfocused eyes of his son, his forehead touching that of the infant’s. Kissing his face, he absorbed every little facet he could. Who knew if he’d ever see him again.
Gazing at the sleeping woman, her innocent face relaxed in slumber, caused more pain to rip through his heart. Her dark hair, streaked with natural reds and golds, was a riot of curls that framed her peaceful face. Long lashes fanned over high cheekbones, highlighting the lovely structure of her eyes. His beautiful Calico Cat.
Had the pregnancy and labor been hard? She must have looked amazing, all round and filled with his child. Regret tore through him, anger warring with that emotion. Anger that his life had been stolen from him. He’d been fighting to get it back, but didn’t seem any closer now than he’d been eight months ago.
Jonathan let out a small mewing sound and Jack snuggled him close. “I’m right here, pal. I might not be around much but I wanted to let you know…I love you very much.” His voice cracked with emotion. “I’m your Dad.”
He had a son. Was now a father. But he couldn’t be a father—not in the way that it mattered. He’d swore he’d be better than his dad. But this—he’d be worse. As it began to sink in, his hands shook with the enormity of the situation.
A noise from Callie drew his eyes to the bed. She shouldn’t see him. It was too dangerous. Still he wasn’t ready to give up holding his son quite yet. You might as well rip his heart from his chest and throw it on the floor.
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