Tag Archives: Ashley Clark

If You Liked . . . Surviving Savannah

31 Aug

My book club liked Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan. Some said they liked it more than they expected. It has a good mix of historical detail and modern-day mystery and the strong female characters appealed to us. Its southern setting didn’t hurt 😉 . If you liked it too, here are a few more reading recommendations.

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton — the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman — boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

Book Review: The Dress Shop on King Street

7 Jan

I love it when the new year starts out with an excellent book! The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark checked all the boxes — lovely characters, interesting historical details, a plot that kept me engaged. It is a 5-star if ever I have read one!

 

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton — the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman —  boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

Ashley Clark in her own words:

I write romantic women’s fiction set in the South, and The Dress Shop on King Street is my debut novel. I have a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and enjoy teaching literature and writing courses as an adjunct. I’ve been an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers for almost decade! When I’m not writing, I’m re-watching You’ve Got Mail, dreaming of Charleston, and drinking all the English Breakfast tea I can get my hands on.

​My journey to publication took ten years, so I am a huge believer that sometimes God-dreams can take a while to grow, and that’s really what The Dress Shop on King Street is all about. If you, too, are holding a dream that feels invisible or altogether gone, I hope you’ll come away encouraged that perhaps you are simply in a mending season, where God is still strengthening your dream at the seams.

 

My Impressions:

It is a rare occurrence to find a debut novel that gives the impression that the author has been published for decades, but The Dress Shop on King Street is just such a book. Complexly plotted with settings that came alive for this reader, its characterization is what won me over. I could not get enough of Millie and Franklin and Harper and Peter. Set against the backdrop of the American South in the 1940s to the present, the book grabbed me from the get-go and refused to let me go after the last page was turned. What a great way to start 2021!

The Dress Shop on King Street is a dual timeline novel. It follows Millie Middleton a biracial woman who passes for white. Clark does an admirable job of re-creating the racial tensions/violence that followed Millie from the 1940s to the present. Stuck between two heritages, Millie does her best to live up to the promises she makes to her mother when she leaves Charleston for the safety of Fairhope, Alabama. I loved Millie’s character so much. Clark made her experiences personal for this white woman of 2021. All of the main characters are wonderful, though, with each having very endearing qualities and very real flaws. Charleston and Fairhope were vividly described in their past beauty and ugliness and their present-day reality. Identity is a big theme — what makes us who we are and our response to our heritage. Dreams and aspirations are also explored, as characters grapple with going ahead and letting go. A faith message is subtly woven throughout the narrative. One passage late in the book really grabbed me. Millie has a hard time believing that God is more capable of managing her life than she is. I can really relate to that!

If you are looking for an excellent way to start out your new year reading, then consider The Dress Shop on King Street. I loved that 2021 started out with a 5-star novel!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

 

First Line Friday — The Dress Shop on King Street

25 Dec

Merry Christmas! Did Santa leave you a bunch of books under the tree? As I am writing this post, I don’t expect any bookish gifts. However, I play Santa to myself, so . . . . 😉

This week I am featuring my current read — The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark. This debut novel has grabbed me from the opening page. I anticipate some leisurely reading enjoyment in my future.

 

Here’s the first sentence:

 

The candlelight sent a shadow of Rose up against the wooden wall.

 

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton — the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman — boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

 

Ashley Clark in her own words:

I write romantic women’s fiction set in the South, and The Dress Shop on King Street is my debut novel. I have a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and enjoy teaching literature and writing courses as an adjunct. I’ve been an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers for almost decade! When I’m not writing, I’m re-watching You’ve Got Mail, dreaming of Charleston, and drinking all the English Breakfast tea I can get my hands on.

​My journey to publication took ten years, so I am a huge believer that sometimes God-dreams can take a while to grow, and that’s really what The Dress Shop on King Street is all about. If you, too, are holding a dream that feels invisible or altogether gone, I hope you’ll come away encouraged that perhaps you are simply in a mending season, where God is still strengthening your dream at the seams.

 

Are you reading on this Christmas Day?

What is your first line?

 

For more first line fun, head to Hoarding Books.

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Winter TBR

15 Dec

Baby, it’s cold outside! At least for middle Georgia, that is. I know many of you have already had snow and really, really cold temperatures, but in the sunny South it is officially winter when we have to put on a coat. 😉 All that to say — welcome Winter and the Winter TBR! This week I am featuring books that I want to get read in the next few months. Some are book club selections, others are awaiting reviews, and some are just because. There are a variety of genres too — historical, suspense, Regency, romance — something for everyone. I hope you find one from my list that you will love too.

For more fun TBR lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top 10 Books on The Winter TBR

 

Cold Case Pursuit by Dana Mentink

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter

 

For The Love of Joy by Janet W. Ferguson

Illusion by Ginny Yttrup

Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

Lethal Intent by Cara Putman

 

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz