Rouge by Richard Kirshenbaum BLOG TOUR

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Rouge is the story of three women who become entrepreneurs in the beauty industry in the 1930’s.  It follows their careers as they invent different types of cosmetics and the reason why they were invented.  It is the story of how women can be ruthless when they are climbing the all important “ladder” of success, and how each will step on the other’s toes to make it first to the top.
The story begins as the women’s rag to riches stories are each told. And how backstabbing between them never stopped, even when they all had succeeded.  For them it was not just the climb, but the obsession of staying at the top and trying to push everybody else down.  These women become obsessed with fame, power, fortune and social standing and will do anything, including murder, to stay there.
Josiah Herzenstein (Josephine Hertz) was born a Polish Jew who had to keep her heritage a secret.  When she leaves Poland to come to America she becomes a workaholic in order to prove her worth and creates a cosmetic company which skyrockets her onto the global stage.
Constance Gardner is her rival.  She too had ideas on what women would like, only her approach was a bit different.  She, like Josephine, has secrets of her own.  Secrets which could destroy her company.  And she skyrockets to fame as well.  Both women despise each other, and are jealous of the other’s fame and power. Unfortunately they feel there can only be room for one cosmetic heiress.
Cee Cee Lopez worked for Constance for many years.  She too had an invention which was overlooked.  As an African American woman her journey is very different than Josephine and Constance.  She will do anything to be the first African American woman to become a millionaire in the cosmetic industry.  When a situation occurs and she breaks with Constance she sees this as her chance.
Included in the intriguing story are of course love affairs, heartbreak and intense hatred among the rivals.  With everyone trying to vie to be the most extraordinary cosmetic genius, and each plotting against the other, can anybody survive?
This was such an interesting read with a different story.  It truly had it all.
Rouge comes out June 25.
Thank you to #NetGalley #St. Martin’s Press #Rouge #Richard Kirschenbaum for the advanced copy.


About the author:

RICHARD KIRSHENBAUM is CEO of NSG/SWAT, a high-profile boutique branding agency. He has lectured at Harvard Business School, appeared on 20/20, was named to Crain’s New York Business’s “40 under 40” list, and has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He is the author of Under the RadarClosing the DealMadboy, and Isn’t That Rich? and the New York Observer‘s “Isn’t That Rich?” column. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

ROUGE Blog Tour Q&A with Richard Kirshenbaum

  1. How did you become inspired to write ROUGE?

“I’m part of the first generation of men to have worked for the first generation of female entrepreneurs and executives. As an ad man, I also ran many cosmetic accounts throughout the U.S., from Avon to Revlon, and much in between. I was inspired by the female entrepreneurs who founded the first multi-billion dollar female driven industry, and was surprised that there hadn’t been a novel about the industry before this.”

  1. Can you talk about your research process?

“Over the past thirty years, a lot has been drawn from biographies of well-known people who run these cosmetics companies. As a novel, Rouge is a compilation of characters based on women and men who founded these companies. I often draw from those biographies. I also do an enormous amount of research online. Today vs. 25 years ago, where you had to go to the New York Public Library, it’s a joy to be able to access so many articles and books online. I think it’s really important, when writing a period piece, to understand world events that happened during that time.  It’s hard to set a book in the 1920’s and place your character at a bar, if that’s when prohibition was in effect. So unless you really understand what’s going on in the world, you can’t give an accurate portrayal. One has to do a year-by-year deep dive if you’re writing historical fiction.”

  1. How was the experience of writing ROUGE, a novel, different from your last book, Isn’t That Rich?, which was nonfiction?

“Essays are mostly observational and contemporary, so I was always intrigued by the people I know and some of the ridiculous things that occur in a certain group. Creating fictional characters is actually in many ways more rewarding for me. I believe that when you create strong characters and come up with a great plot line with characters who drive the story, it’s fascinating to bring so much life. It’s the ultimate creative process.”

  1. Tell us about some of the locations where you wrote ROUGE?

“In the acknowledgements at the back of the book, I include places, as well as people. I was inspired from writing in different locations. For example, in the villa in Jamaica where Ian Fleming wrote his James Bond novels. You can rent out the villa, which includes a manual type-writer, and it’s really inspiring to write in a place like that with such literary significance. It inspired me to write something worthy. Every time I go someplace, it adds to the tapestry of what I’m writing about.”

  1. What’s the last book you read?

Currently reading: Three Men on a Diet: A Very English Approach to Losing Weight by George Courtauld.



The Invited by Jennifer McMahon


The Invited is part ghost story, part suspense and part mystery.  All of which adds up to an incredible novel which will give you goosebumps and keep you up way too late as you read into the night to see what happens next!
Nate and Helen decide they want to live their lives off the grid so to speak.  With an inheritance from her dad, they buy a secluded plot of land in a very small town in Vermont.  There they will build by themselves their dream house.  From cement all they way to finished house.
And that’s where the fun begins!  Once the land is bought, they find out their property is allegedly haunted by Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who was hung back in the 1800’s after being accused by the townspeople of being a witch.  Folklore states that Hattie had hidden a fortune somewhere on her property and refused to tell anyone where prior to her hanging.
Helen, who had been a history teacher, begins to research Hattie and her family throughout the years and begins to make shocking discoveries.  Nate, who is an animal fanatic becomes obsessed with the nature surrounding the property.  But when Helen begins to bring newly discovered pieces which belonged to Hattie into the home they are building, this “conjures” up more than anyone could ever have expected.
With clues from Hattie, Helen realizes she is being asked to help some people who are in trouble.  Time is of the essence and she must decipher all the clues before someone else is killed.
A terrific read for people who like ghost stories and especially for people who like things that go bump in the night!

Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan


Summer Hours is a love story of sorts, but more important it is a story of a girl (woman) Becc who experiences a few rites of passage during her lifetime.  As a child, she and her best friend Eric bond over movies…any and all.  Inseparable until the end of their senior year of high school, both realize that perhaps this friendship could turn into something more.  It is made quite clear by the end of that summer nothing will happen.
When high school turns into college, Becc has a relationship with an older man which no one can know about.  This will later impact her relationship with Eric as a final betrayal to him.  Their relationship severed completely.
But when one of their childhood friends gets married in a summer wedding 10 years later Becc and Eric decide to meet up once again for a road trip almost the equivalent to Thelma and Louise (or Louis) in this case!  Their awkwardness during the trip with flashbacks as to how they ended up on this journey and the walls which were built throughout the years begin to break down and crumble.
Summer Hours is a beautiful coming of age story which focuses on Becc’s challenges as Miss Perfect in high school, through her college years where she has decided to have no boundaries and to keep secrets, to her working adult life where her mistakes come back to haunt her.   Especially her reasons for letting her choices always interfere with her relationship with Eric.
Can you really ever go back or take back mistakes and change the trajectory of your life after you have broken it?
Thank you #NetGalley #Graydon House #Summer Hours #Amy Mason Doan for the advanced copy.  The book is out now.

The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry


Colleen (Lena) Donahue has made a point of not returning to her childhood home where her parents own an Irish pub in North Carolina for over 10 years.  As a travel writer living in New York, she has tried to forget her past, especially her own sister’s betrayal on Lena’s wedding day.
But unfortunately for Lena, she cannot hide from her family anymore.  With her father Gavin’s recent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s she must return to face a sister she has not spoken to in years, a brother who loves them both but is overwhelmed with keeping their business afloat, and a father who is slipping slowly away from them.
They decide to give their dad a party and are putting together a memory book of stories and pictures to hopefully assist him with his memory.  The book is to be filled with past memories from when they first bought the Irish pub when Colleen was born.
But then Lena begins to discover some of the stories and dates don’t match and that just doesn’t make sense.  Are they just mistakes or is something else going on?  Are there family secrets that have never been told?
Lena, Hallie and Shane must act quickly to find out the truth before their dad looses those memories.  And are any of them really ready for what he might reveal if he can even remember them?
The Favorite Daughter is the story about sibling rivalry, grudges, disappointment and hurt.  It’s also about family secrets and coming together as only family can no matter what the circumstances.  It’s about the bon between brothers and sisters that no one can break.
It’s also about the reality of what happens as a brain begins to be ravaged by Alzheimer’s and how it affects not only the person, but everyone around them.
Thank you Goodreads and Berkley/Penguin Random House for the advanced copy.  The Favorite Daughter is out right now.

Montauk by Nicola Harrison

fullsizeoutput_41f6In 1938 Beatrice Bordeaux and her husband Harry begin a summer of adventure in Montauk, a new and developing seaside area the rich are flocking to near Long Island in New York.  They are spending the summer, Beatrice there full-time and Harry taking the train there for weekends.  Harry is deciding if he should invest in the beautiful seaport all his friends with money are investing in.  Beatrice will spend the summer relaxing, attending parties, shopping and going to the beach.

Beatrice and Harry have been unable to conceive a child during their 5 year marriage, something which has been an embarrassment for her, but also something she wishes for desperately.  She also hopes the summer will  bring her relationship with Harry back to what is was.  They seem to be drifting apart.  But when Beatrice discovers some unsettling information about her husband, she must accept some harsh realities about their relationship.

While in Montauk, Beatrice meets and befriends Elizabeth, a laundry worker for the resort they are staying in.  She begins to feel her life of fancy dresses, parties and shopping are nothing compared to the tireless work ethic of the locals.  And although there is all this talk about investing, she realizes the locals are the ones who are truly in need of some money.

And then she meets someone who will change her life forever.  A man she never dreamed she would be interested in. Someone she becomes attracted to for so many reasons.  Perhaps even her soulmate.

Now Beatrice must make some decisions.  Decisions that were unheard of in those days.  What should she do…what CAN she do?

This is a beautifully written love story with believable characters and incredibly written majestic scenic passages with imagery that makes you feel you are there.  It was quite the page turner with my heart leaping for joy and pounding from suspense.  It possibly could be one of the best love stories I have read in quite awhile.  Although I have yet to go to Montauk, with this book I feel like I have finally been!

Thank you #NetGalley #St. Martin’s Press #Nicola Harrison #Montauk for this incredible advanced copy.
Montauk is on sale right now.

The Seduction Expert by Saya Lopez Ortega


The Baroness is a beautiful mysterious woman.  Not much is really known about her, and what is known is probably not real.  When wealthy women are having problems with their love lives, or with their husbands, she and her crack staff come in and not only fix the problem, but make sure the problem never existed.
The Baroness is rich beyond belief, but for some reason she can never have enough money.  So when her boyfriend of two years, Louis Beaumont, of THE Beaumont’s of France finally proposes to her she happily accepts although it was perhaps her seduction expertise which makes it really happen. 
And that’s when the Baroness’ life takes a turn for the worse.  Because there is a Beaumont who is not particularly thrilled with this development.  Louis’s mother!
I enjoyed the easy dialogue and quick wit undertones of the Baroness. I enjoyed reading about what the lifestyles of the rich and famous looks like. I also look forward to the second installment which I have no doubt will be coming.
Thank you #NetGalley #VSP Publishing #Saya Lopez Ortega #The Seduction Expert for the advanced copy.  I believe the book will be out on June 26.

Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke


This is book 21 in the Hannah Swensen murder mystery series.  I must say things are beginning to heat up in Lake Eden!
I had stopped reading the series at Book 20, but NetGalley sent me the most recent book, Chocolate Cream Pie Murder, and I read that and loved it so much I decided to read the books I had skipped.
In these later books, Fluke has learned the art of surprise and each one’s ending is more exciting than the previous one.
In Banana Cream Pie Murder, Hanna and her new husband Ross have just come home from their honeymoon cruise.  As they try to adjust to married life coincidentally a murder happens.
Hannah’s mother Delores hears a noise coming from her downstairs neighbor’s condo and when she goes to find out what it is she finds her neighbor, Victoria Bascomb, a former actress, now director of the local community theater dead, and next to her is one of Hannah’s Banana Cream Pies. Hannah immediately gets on the case.  Bascomb is the sister of the Mayor of Lake Eden and had a few enemies in the town.
One of her most difficult investigations to date, there seem to be no suspects and Hannah keeps us guessing as to who did it almost up to the last page.  But she saves the last page for even more shocking news!
As usual there are a slew of mouthwatering recipes included after most chapters, something I have decided I look forward to.
The Hannah Swensen series is not rocket science, but just an enjoyable romp into the world of cozy mysteries.  I am glad I have decided to join Hannah again.