Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Return To Love by Kathleen Shoop (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Return To Love by Author Kathleen Shoop!

Author Guest Post

Behind The Scenes: Return To Love

Return to Love is romance novel that I never thought I would write. Why? Because eighteen months ago was the first time I’d written a word of sweet, romantic fiction in my life. Yes, I’d written about love in award-winning historical and women’s fiction, but it wasn’t until I was invited to contribute a novella to an anthology called, Bliss, that it occurred to me that I could write romance, that I even wanted to. And boy, have I fallen in love with it.

Bliss is a collection of stories that are all set in the same house on the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina, but each story is set in a different era. How fun is that? Well, I was one of the last to choose my era and the 1960’s was one time period available. I narrowed my setting down to 1969 and I could not be more thrilled with what I found in researching that era! My novella in the collection is called Home Again and from that story, came two characters who I could not stop thinking about. April and Hale Abercrombie—two lost souls who find love together.

Return to Love is a novel, book two in the April and Hale series, and it takes the reader further into their relationship—a journey filled with sweet moments, passion, and humor. Still, knowing that a great romance holds the couple at its center, didn’t keep me from formulating a world around them that went beyond the well-worn stereotypes of the time (or at least I hope so!).

Some struggles of the Vietnam War era are well known and I do draw from them in making Hale a navy pilot. Hopefully he comes across as a fully developed, layered man and not just a hanger holding up a uniform. Likewise when I created April, I wanted to go beyond the well-known archetypes of the time. I wanted her to embody elements of women who were experimenting with freedom and control over their livelihoods, but as I researched I found that was not always a straight path from daddy’s little girl to independent woman breaking glass ceilings. I wanted her to embody the struggle between the two, the struggle that is less often portrayed—a woman with all the advantages, skill, education and desire for a career who is not sure how that will fit with her personal goals.

In Return to Love, April must deal with the loss of a late-term pregnancy. Hale must return to her in order to help her through it. Again, this area of research was fascinating and compelling. The push and pull between a couple caught in the distance and stress that war creates is material rife with passion. But again, there is humor. If nothing else, it is clear that the most resilient people in life are those who find pockets of laughter in grief, in worry, and from this ability to see absurdity in sorrow, there is hope.

It’s my hope that readers love April and Hale as much as I do and find their story heartwarming and satisfying. They are unique fun characters who led me to learn a lot about life at a time that found love and peace to be the motto by which it was defined.

About The Author

Amazon Top-100 Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Her latest book is the romance, Return to Love.


Book Review

Return To Love by Kathleen Shoop
Book 2: The Endless Love Series
Publisher: Oakglen Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2014
Format: Paperback - 261 pages
             Kindle - 848 KB
             Nook - 186 KB
ISBN: 978-1499173291
Genre: Romance

BUY THE BOOK: Return To Love

BUY THE SERIES: The Endless Love Series
Book 1: Home Again
Book 2: Return To Love

Discuss the book at the PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book Tours.

Book Description:

April and Hale Abercrombie’s love is tender and sweet. While he serves in Vietnam, their marriage is marked by trust and the belief that they will grow old together with a gaggle of grandchildren at their feet. But, their charmed marriage changes in the face of losing their newborn daughter.

On leave from his tour, Hale can barely wait to hold his wife and her help her heal. When he arrives, his embrace, his touch, and his love are as perfect as April remembered. Their reunion is passionate and their physical connection is strong and soothing. But, April’s heartache remains.

Hale stumbles through his attempts to prove to April that their future will be rich and full of wonder. His good-hearted, but take-charge approach causes her to retreat. Even in grief, April can see Hale’s earnestness, yet she finds solace in putting space between them. With a short time before Hale must return to war will they see that real love endures in the face of adversity, that their marriage can be strengthened even when it looks as though all is lost?

Set on the beaches of the Outer Banks, Return to Love is the second book in the Endless Love series. Book one, Home Again, was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Book Excerpt:

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, Autumn 1970

Hale’s lungs were tight as he gripped his duffel in one hand and held his uniform over his shoulder with the other. He flew up the steps of the small fishing cottage that his wife was renting from the Shelby family and arrived on the wide porch. He had imagined the moment he’d see her so many times that he felt like he was performing a play. He dropped the duffel right there and knocked on the screen door. Why was he knocking? She knew he was coming. He threw the door open and walked into the small entry. It opened into the family room. He wiped his feet while he scanned the space. “April!”

His heart beat fast and heavy. Yes, he was home under difficult circumstances. Hale’s wife was having difficulty coping with the stillbirth of their daughter. He was worried for her and knew if his skipper granted hardship leave that things must be bad. Yet he was determined, sure as he had finally arrived at the Outer Banks, he was confident that he could make her well. He just needed to see her, to hold her, to tell her everything was going to be okay.

The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight” was playing on the radio. The tune brought a smile to his face. He rushed down the hallway and poked his head into two bedrooms and a bathroom before finding the room April had been using. He tucked his naval uniform into the closet, went back to the kitchen, and turned off the radio, straining to hear any noise that might signal April’s location. He went back outside, inhaling the salty air.

Where was she? He leapt off the porch and crossed the gravelly lane called Beach Road stepping onto the sand, craning his neck to catch a glimpse of her. A seagull clipped Hale’s head as it landed off to the side then flipped a whitefish into its mouth. As far as he could see, the beach was empty, yet he thought he should walk it, search for April. He didn’t know which direction she would have walked, but he started out anyway.

Heading south, a flock of black birds escorted him from above. Scores of them moved together like one great wing flapping in the wind. The whoosh of their collective descent was punctuated by their coarse, throaty screams.

The sand worked into Hale’s shoes, each particle stabbing at the skin below his ankles. He pushed one shoe off and then the other, leaving them near a smattering of driftwood that had been pushed ashore by high tide. The birds dropped, their calls growing louder, drowning out the surf. One by one the black skimmers rained from the sky like bombs, their red beaks bright against the gray sky that had crept in with Hale’s arrival. Some of the birds landed in the shoals and poked and prodded at the sand.

He came upon the largest cluster of birds, the beige sand peeking out in small patches among the blackness, and his eye went to a different form, a woman sitting rod straight, motionless in the center of the black avian shroud. Her blonde hair whipped in the wind like the sea grass at his feet. Hale stopped. His heart thumped. April. He willed himself to breathe, to move toward her. He’d never seen such a sight, the way she seemed partly born of the sand, partly able to sprout wings and fly away.

“April!” he said, waving even though her back was to him. She did not respond. He called again, his words turned back to him by the stiff ocean gales. He jogged toward her, weaving in between napping skimmers, hopping over those that were too busy eating to move out of his way.

When he had nearly reached April, he halted again. He suddenly felt nervous about his excitement; he felt her sadness as though they shared the same soul. He’d never seen such a stunning sight in his life. Her elegance was apparent even sitting on a beach, in the middle of birds. She turned her head slightly, her profile facing him. His stomach flipped. Oh my God, is she beautiful. The wind tossed her hair, making her appear as though she were posing for a magazine shoot.

Even from a distance, even from the side, he thought he could see the sparkle of her blue eyes. The way they were set, wide on her face, made it seem as though he saw something slightly different every time he looked at her, something more, something alluring, hypnotizing. Those eyes.

There was no woman more captivating, he was sure. Or more lonely. Her sadness seemed to leap over the sand to him, to well up from the soles of his feet, filling him, squeezing the breath from his suddenly heavy lungs. If he felt this, then her pain must be far greater. Her emptiness more profound. He’d helped her create life, but he hadn’t been there when it ended.

My Book Review:

In the first book of The Endless Love Series, Home Again, author Kathleen Shoop introduced the readers to April and Hale Abercrombie's journey towards true love. Their journey continues a year later in the second book in the series, Return To Love, where they have gotten married and are expecting their first child. But a heartbreaking tragedy occurs while Hale is serving in Vietnam, April had delivered a stillborn daughter. Hale comes home on a temporary leave, and as the couple grieves the loss of their newborn daughter, April struggles with the loss in an unbearable way that has her both needing Hale and pushing him away. Return To Love is an emotional and poignant story of how a couple struggles to face the hardship of a traumatic loss, and have the strength to find a way back to each other in order to heal, love, and move forward.

Set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the Vietnam War period of the early 1970s, author Kathleen Shoop weaves a hauntingly beautiful tale of love and loss that follows the journey of a young couple who struggle with life's daunting hardships: a husband serving overseas in Vietnam, a pregnancy that ends in a stillborn birth, their struggle to deal with the grief from their traumatic loss, and their attempt to save their fragile marriage and move forward without losing each other.

Return To Love is an amazing love story that will pull at the heartstrings and stir the soul. The reader can't help but feel compassion and empathy for the young couple as they deal with the loss of their newborn child, and their struggle to help each other heal in order to save their fragile marriage. The author delves into the subject of loss, war, and marital relationships in a thoughtful and respectful style that makes the reader want to lend support and wrap their arms around April and Hale. It is a raw and tender story that will have the reader experiencing the full gamut of emotions, from heartbreak to the heartwarming belief that the strength and power of love really can overcome anything.


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

Monday, July 7
Interview for Bound by Passion

Tuesday, July 8
Interview at Shelf Full of Books
Book Featured at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Wednesday, July 9
Guest Blogging at What Is That Book About

Thursday, July 10
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Babbling About Books and More

Tuesday, July 15
Interview at Butterfly-O-Meter Books

Tuesday, July 22
Book Review at One Life. One Story at a Time.

Thursday, July 24
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, July 28
Book Review at Becky on Books

Tuesday, July 29
Guest Blogging at My Book Addiction and More

Wednesday, July 30
Book Review at Mom Loves 2 Read
Book Review at Book Club Sisters

Thursday, July 31
Book Review & Guest Blogging at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

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