Friday, August 23, 2019

The Empty Nesters by Carolyn Brown Blog Tour

The worst of times calls for the best of friends in this sassy novel about starting over, from New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown.

Dear friends and army wives Diana, Carmen, and Joanie have been through war, rumors of war, marital problems, motherhood, fears, joy, and heartache. But none of the women are prepared when their daughters decide to enlist in the army together. Facing an empty nest won’t be easy. Especially for Carmen. With emotions already high, she suffers an even greater blow: divorce papers. Diana understands the fury and tears. She’s been there.

With nothing to lose and no one at home, the girlfriends impulsively accept an unexpected offer from their elderly neighbor. The recently widowed Tootsie has an RV, a handsome nephew at the wheel, and an aim for tiny Scrap, Texas, to embrace memories of her late husband. Still grieving, she can use the company as a balm for her broken heart. So can the empty nesters.

Embarking on a journey of hope, romance, and healing, Diana, Carmen, and Joanie are at a turning point in their lives. And with the open road ahead of them, it’s just the beginning.

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Jump Into Author Carolyn Brown’s Empty Nest

Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to stop by to talk about my new book, The Empty Nesters. I’ll be giving all y’all a few of my favorite scenes and a little commentary during the time we get to spend together.

As Ma used to say on Golden Girls, imagine this—Carmen, Joanie and Diana have just dropped their daughters off at the recruiter’s office. They’ve managed to keep the tears at bay and put up a brave front, but now it’s time to let the tears loose.

“For the first time ever, Natalie and I won’t decorate the house for Halloween together. Nine months of carrying them, then we basically raised them on our own while our husbands were deployed or got sent someplace to train other officers. And now they’re gone, and we won’t see them for Halloween or Thanksgiving. And who even knows about Christmas? It’s not fair.”

It’s always amazing what comes to mind during a sad time, isn’t it? Things pop into our heads that seem trivial in the face of the event, and yet, at the time, the good memories are what keep us sane.

Tootsie, their elderly neighbor, has just lost her husband, after they’d bought the huge RV and planned a trip to northeast Texas. She’s trying to convince the women that they need to get away from their empty nest for a while.

“You need to get away for a little while and get some perspective,” Tootsie said.

“Let’s pool our money and blow it all on a trip to Paris. We can shop and have lattes in little bistros,” Diana suggested.

Joanie sighed. “That’s a pipe dream. We probably don’t have enough money to even get to Paris, Texas, between the three of us.”

The three of them have known the support of each other through the past thirteen years, and just because they’re now alone in their homes, they have no doubt that the love is still there between them—and that it’s even stronger than blood sisters.

“We’re only half a block and a phone call away. If any of us feel the world dropping out from under our feet, we can get back together in less than five minutes.”

I was amazed at how supportive all of them, including Tootsie, were of each other. They might disagree, but Lord help the person that tried to come between them, or who had the nerve to say an ugly word about one of them.

Everything happens for a reason and in the time that it should happen. I believe that with my whole heart. Diana had gotten her divorce years before the book opens, but she remembers the pain and anger of it all. Then she focused all her energy and time on raising her daughter. But now it’s her time to find a new love, and a new life—maybe with a younger man.

“That many trips into town on those roads would shake the hell out of their Caddy. And believe me, Aunt Tootsie treats that car like family.” Luke chuckled. “Age, on a truck or on a person, makes no difference. It’s how well they’re maintained that matters.”

Why, oh, why, couldn’t he have smooth pickup lines like other men? Luke asked himself. What he’d just said could be taken as an insult. She might think that he thought she looked like an old pickup truck at her age, when in reality she was downright gorgeous. He wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she still got carded at bars when she ordered a drink.

Thank you again, for inviting me into your world, and letting me talk about the amazing ladies (and Luke of course), from The Empty Nesters. Happy reading to each and every one of you!

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This story made me cry messy tears and it made me immensely grateful for the girlfriends who have become my own unshakeable chosen family. It’s a book about four women, all at crossroads in their lives. The themes in this story are universal. I think that any woman over 35 will be able to relate to the experiences of this tight knight group of friends. It’s a story about friendship, about sisterhood, and about navigating the unexpected pain life throws at us all.

Like most women my age, I could relate far too easily to parts of each of the four women’s experiences. From bereavement, divorce, infertility, empty nests, and fresh starts, the women in the story have all had their hearts hurt in very familiar ways. And like women everywhere, they only allow themselves a small interlude to nurse their pain before they have to move on and keep living. I love the road trip they take together. I love that it provides distance while also offering the emotional intimacy they need from their friends.

With the story shared between all four women, it isn’t easy to know any one of the women as well as I usually like in a book. I responded to the shared sense of female experience more than I did to any one character. I kinda like that I really have nothing in common with any of these women except for our age – but I can still relate to each story. I really love the friendships here and I love the intergenerational relationships between Tootsie and the younger women. There is a hint of romance in this book, but I love that it doesn’t overpower the main themes of friendship and sisterhood.

I didn’t find this an easy read – parts hit too close to home and I found other parts quite slow. I enjoyed the story and the themes, but I didn’t enjoy the writing style at all. Three of the women are very close in age to me but they read much older. Either that or they’ve all been much better at adulting than anyone I know. All three feel like they’re from a previous generation with their carefully balanced meals (on holiday even!), constant home baking, and careful attention to domestic details. I don’t personally know any women my age who’ve stayed at home to raise kids without a career or even an education to fall back on. While some of their problems feel contemporary and there are few references to modern technology, I feel like this book could have easily been written thirty years ago. There is a slightly conservative feel to the book but it’s difficult for me to know how much of this is part of Southern US culture and how much is the author’s own perspective.

Despite my reservations, I've awarded five stars because this story really touched an emotional nerve. It's the right book at the right time and I love the sense of sisterhood in this book.

This is a really lovely book, which is likely to bring a few tears, and some big smiles too, particularly if you are over the age of forty.

Recently widowed, Tootsie and her three army wife neighbours, who have done little other than support their husbands and bring up their daughters, are suddenly facing empty houses, and taking stock of their changing lives. Their insecurities, futures, and life plans are suddenly all scary, important questions, now that they have no other responsibilities at home. Then Tootsie proposes a road trip in her RV, and even supplies a nephew to do the driving – and so we go on a road trip with them and thanks to their close quarters, get to know them and their foibles pretty well.

As we join in their adventure, and get to learn about their highs and lows, it is very easy to identify with their experiences and become one of the group – so also easy to feel all the emotions too. Each woman is at a different stage in her journey, but the friendship between them is really closer than any family they have, and it makes for a really appealing sense of camaraderie. Whilst the trials of one may bring insecurity to another, they remain supportive, loving, and present.

There is a nascent romance that is beautifully written, and the secrecy they believe they are maintaining is illusory, but the respect of the others for their privacy is endearing. It is complicated but leads to a really sweet ending to a thoughtful and engaging story.

Carolyn Brown a New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist with more than ninety published books. Her genres include romance, history, cowboys and country music, and contemporary mass-market paperbacks. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and when... and reads the local newspaper every Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

For a complete listing of her books (series in order) check out her website.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Empty Nesters by Carolyn Brown to read and review for this tour.

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