A debut novel from breakthrough writer Jennifer Gooch, Girl Unmoored follows Apron, a young woman embroiled in a sea of drama. It is the '80s and the fears surrounding AIDS are flying high. Apron's father marries Margie, a Brazilian nurse who took care of her late mother — and her best friend Rennie abandons her in favor of the middle school Queen Bee. But all is not lost as Apron is about to be rescued by Jesus, or at least the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ, Superstar — Mike.
Mike, and his boyfriend Chad, offer Apron a job at their flower shop. Amidst the beautiful arrangements, Apron's coming of age becomes punctuated by the couple's struggles, Chad's secret illness and the true meaning of love.
Born and raised by restaurateur parents at Upstairs at the Pudding restaurant in Harvard Square, Charlotte Silver spent her young life dressing for dinner, dining on European delicacies and indulging in Charlotte au Chocolat — a dessert she was named after. She was privy to the glamour of the front house, the inner workings of the back house and everything in between.
Despite her sometimes glamorous surroundings, what comes across most profoundly in Silver's memoir is her childhood loneliness. The busy restaurant, legal woes, and battles over the lease, often meant that she was eating dinner alone. Fortunately, these glimpses into Silver's less than perfect childhood moments make the book truly relatable and deliciously enjoyable.
Margaret Macy is about to come into a great fortune left by a spinster aunt, and her step-father is determined to get his hands on the money. When she overhears her step-father instructing his nephew, Marcus, to use any means available to force Margaret's hand in marriage — even if that means dishonoring her — she flees from her home with a recently fired maid. Disguised as a maid, Margaret finds employment at Fairbourne Hall, the estate of her former suitors, Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch.
With all the hype surrounding Downton Abbey, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is sure to tie its fans over until the next season. The sheer size of staff required to run these old English mansions, and the hijinks and politics are fascinating to read about. Margaret's experience as a maid also provides an interesting contrast between the lives of the upper class at that time period and the lives of their help.
Katie Sanford has the opportunity to land her dream job at SPIN magazine. Instead, she arrives at the interview late, drunk from the night before and more ready to bend over a toilet than to answer any questions. By sheer luck, Katie is given a second chance, but only if she can survive a 30-day undercover stint at rehab, shadowing a starlet who is a fellow resident. What begins as a way to pay her dues turns into the realization that perhaps Katie needs rehab as much as anyone else there.
Catherine McKenzie's writing is a sheer delight — fun, dramatic and suspenseful all at once. Katie can be a ridiculous character at times, but her flaws make her more human and readers will be able to relate to her journey towards becoming a better person.
Another debut author on this list, Cristina Alger, weaves a tale of wealth and scandal straight from the headlines. The Darlings is set in the fall of 2008, with New Yorkers newly awakening to the realities of the financial crisis — the Darling family among them.
Attorney Paul Ross is accustomed to the life of luxury. He is, after all, married to Merrill Darling, the daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling. When things go sour with his job, Paul agrees to join Carter's hedge fund as the head of the legal team. What he sees as amazing luck turns out to be anything but — when the Darlings are embroiled in a very public scandal with the regulatory authorities and SEC attorneys hot on their heels. And Paul must quickly decide where his loyalties lie — with his wife and her family or himself...
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