Blind Trust is book 3 in the SNAP Agency series and centers on Lyla Fox and Nicolas Garcia’s story. (SNAP stands for Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency.) Unfortunately, I was not aware of the first three books in the series (including the prequel). I think I would have appreciated the book more overall had I read the prior books in the series. Nevertheless, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone.
Lyla Fox and Nicolas Garcia work for the SNAP Agency. Garcia was formerly in the army and has explosives training. When the book opens Lyla is working undercover to expose a criminal. She’s very good at what she does but she’s impetuous, and this infuriates Nicolas because he cares deeply for Lyla and can’t take it when she takes risks with her life. Her impulsive nature has him considering leaving SNAP to pursue a different assignment. But right now he has to help protect Lyla because there’s a target on her back. A prisoner she helped put behind bars wants her dead, but there’s much more to this case than meets the eye.
I enjoyed this Christian Romantic Suspense story. Although more background information about the SNAP agency and its characters from previous books in the series would have enhanced my reading experience, it was still a very good read. The main characters’ dynamic coupled with the antics and witty banter of a fun Hawaiian colleague named Kekoa—a sizable character both literally and figuratively, added humor and balance to an otherwise serious plot. The familial closeness of the rest of the team was also satisfying. There were twists that I didn’t see coming and a somewhat complicated political intrigue storyline that I can’t explain in detail. Some of what was going on stumped me intellectually (meaning it went over my head), but the close calls and tension-filled moments, interesting characters, major twists and simmering love story made up for the, at times, confusing plot. The tense moments and clean language are what attract me to the Christian Romantic Suspense genre, and not really the trickling in of scriptural references and sporadic prayers that are somewhat typical. I liked that this was kept to a minimum in Blind Trust and that there weren’t any attempts at religious persuasion. Well done.
Overall, Blind Trust was a good book and Natalie Walters is another author I can add to my growing list of romantic suspense favorites.
Many thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy of Blind Trust for an honest review which I have given.
Investigative Journalist, Avery Mason, is the new host of popular television show American Events, after the beloved former host tragically died while on assignment. Avery has big shoes to fill, and she’s done an incredible job filling them. She’s consistently boosted the show’s ratings, bringing revenue to the network and feels she deserves better compensation. But the show’s execs are not willing to pay Avery what she feels she’s worth. Too bad because she has another ratings killer in the works. Maybe they’ll change their minds after she breaks a story that fell under the radar twenty years prior when the twin towers went down in New York City, killing a prime suspect, Victoria Ford, in a murder investigation. Avery’s seemingly simple forage into Victoria’s past turns up even more newsworthy details. Victoria’s sister, Emma Kind, believes her sister was innocent, and she wants the popular Avery Mason to clear Victoria’s name. Avery is on it, but she’ll need the help of detective Walt Jenkins, who was involved in the investigation decades earlier. But Avery has her own carefully concealed secrets and she has to be cautious not to let her guard down, especially since she’s falling for the handsome detective. Avery has an uneasy feeling about Walt, but she doesn’t know what to make of it. Will Avery get her story, or will she be the one making headlines?
Charlie Donlea continues to impress me. Twenty Years Later had many plot twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I’m always amazed by how the author weaves his characters into the storyline. Initially I’m wondering how a particular character is relevant to the story, but he or she always plays a significant role. The way he develops the narrative fascinates me, and Twenty Years Later is no exception. Also, Donlea’s books have a slight edge but they’re not over the top. In other words, this is not Christian Fiction but you won’t be pummeled by excessive swearing and violence. His stories are suspenseful and give you anticipatory vibes that carry through to the surprising, thoroughly fulfilling ending.
Twenty Years Later is another Donlea winner with a conclusion that blew me away. Loved it.
I received a copy of Twenty Years Later from a Goodreads giveaway. All opinions about the book are my own.
Middle-aged Mallory is feeling a little sorry for herself. Her daughter just got married and her ex-husband, who wasn’t involved in their children’s upbringing, walked Louisa down the aisle. And now Mallory’s boyfriend, Marcus, has just informed her that he’s moving on. Unexpectedly, she gets a call that she’s inherited her grandma Bess’s old tourist shop with apartment on top. Intending to sell it and move on, Mallory changes her mind when she learns that a prospective buyer’s intentions are to turn the shop, along with some adjoining space, into a mall. Mallory knows the interested buyer from her past as former classmate, Grayson. Knowing that her grandma’s cherished shop would be turned into a mall doesn’t sit well with Mallory so she becomes determined NOT to sell the property to Grayson. It will take a lot of work to get the old place turned into something useful in Portside, OR, but Mallory decides she’s up for the challenge. Her interior designing skills should serve her well. But along the way she runs into a few snags and the person she least expects to come to her aid is doing more for her than she could have ever imagined. Maybe Mallory’s life will be even better the Second Time Around.
Second Time Around by Melody Carlson is a mellow, feel-good story that doesn’t go overboard with the conflict, but had just enough to keep me turning the pages to see how things would turn out for the main character. It is a sweet story that I enjoyed. I liked how Mallory reinvented herself in Portside and made new friendships along the way. She didn’t do it without incident, but the way she handled conflict was admirable. Grayson is not who he seemed and ultimately inspired me with his willing spirit and kind demeanor—character traits that caused him some grief at times. I loved the happy ending and would definitely recommend this lighthearted story.
Thank you, Revell Reads, for a complimentary copy of Second Time Around. All opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.
There’s a serial killer on the loose targeting middle-aged women and Behavioral Analyst (Profiler), Grace Billingsley, along with agents Mark Davis and Jerry Stevens want to know who he is and why he’s doing this. One of Grace’s teammates, Sam Monroe, is the son of a notorious serial killer, Peter Romanos, who’s currently behind bars. This stunning revelation about Sam’s father elicits sympathies from Grace but Mark Davis is not as accepting. Mark takes verbal jabs at Sam because of his infamous father and the effect it had on Mark’s own family. Nevertheless, Sam is as determined as the rest of the team to find the killer, even if it means turning to his incarcerated father for help.
Meanwhile, Grace’s brother, Bobby, is a struggling addict and Grace is plagued with guilt over his recent overdose. Her brother is in the hospital and she’s trying to help him, but the killer is targeting Grace and it’s only a matter of time before he succeeds in his attempts to get what he wants and then silence her for good.
I always enjoy Lynette Eason’s books and Critical Threat is no exception. It is suspenseful with great characters and a cleverly developed conclusion that I didn’t figure out. This book is Christian Fiction so there’s no foul language or gratuitous violence, just an excellent, satisfying story.* I highly recommend this series.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Critical Threat. Thoughts about the book are exclusively my own.
*[I noticed an incorrect Bible reference. The author mentions that Eve ate from the Tree of Life. (Chapter 12) She didn’t. She ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad, and then offered the fruit to Adam who ate it. (Genesis 2:16, 17) Consequently, they were both ousted from the garden of Eden and were thus forbidden from eating from the Tree of Life. (Genesis 3:22-24)]
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 6, 2022)
Length: (448) pages
Format: hardcover, trade paperback, & eBook
Tour Dates: November 28 – December 12, 2022
Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own . . .
When their father’s death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.
Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family’s new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth’s many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars–both visible and those hidden deep within–and her cloistered heart will never be the same.
Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
The situation confronting the Summers sisters is a dire one. Their father has died and the estate has been entailed to some fairly unknown relative. Their ailing mother, Eugenia Summers, is unable to maintain the Sea View residence and care for her daughters. The suggestion of their solicitor to consider becoming governesses to supplement their income elicits ghastly expressions and is promptly dismissed. However, making Sea View available to paying guests is a more palatable solution. They imagine their clientele to be elderly invalids visiting to take in the sea air for their health. In this assumption they were wrong.
Twin sister Viola will be earning her keep by reading to the poor-sighted elderly. A childhood defect makes her more inclined to solitary pursuits. Viola makes it clear that entertaining guests and cleaning rooms at home is not an option. However, she’s surprised when her first client is a petulant, wounded officer in his thirties.
Although the Summers sisters seem to be getting more than what they bargained for, might the payoff be unlike anything they could have ever imagined?
Reading The Sisters of Sea View was like taking a gentle, leisurely stroll down Regency lane. From the initial pages I was intrigued. Julie Klassen writes engrossing, realistic historical fiction that awakens each of the five senses, and The Sisters of Sea View was no exception. I savored the pages and enjoyed the details of many fine characters, including the genteel Summers sisters—each possessing their own unique qualities. In addition, I was thoroughly entertained by: an eccentric guest and his stuffed parrot; a widowed Scotsman and his temperamental stepdaughter; a salty, wounded officer and his faithful friend; a lovely former ladies maid; friendly fishermen; a fault-finding lodger; a kind old lady with a sorrowful past, and so many more. The wonderfully developed characters deeply enhanced my enjoyment of the book, along with the mystery of an absent sister, a doctor’s folly and the perilous storm that lead to Sea View’s becoming a refuge for many. So many things to love about this book. The happy, satisfying ending makes me eager to read the next installment in this delightful new series. Loved it!
Thank you Julie Klassen, Bethany House Publishers, and Austenprose PR for a complimentary copy of The Sisters of Sea View.
VIDEO INTRODUCTION TO THE SISTERS OF SEA VIEW BY JULIE KLASSEN
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JULIE KLASSEN
• “Jane Austen fans will delight in this nimble series launch…Klassen excels at weaving her various story lines, each emphasizing the colorful qualities of her characters and allowing them the space to shine. Readers will be eager for the next installment.” —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JULIE KLASSEN
• “Julie Klassen delights with a winsome love story…” —Publisher’s Weekly, on A Castaway in Cornwall
• “I couldn’t put it down! It you are a historical fiction fan you need this one on your radar! It was a spooky delight full of heart. ”—Anne Mendez, The Lit Bitch, on Shadows of Swanford Abbey
• “…a wonderfully engaging novel full of intriguing characters and storylines. I highly recommend it and can’t wait for more in the series.” —Laura Gerold, Laura’s Reviews, on The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
A Gothic-Style Regency Romance from a Promising Young Author
Second daughter of a baron—and a little on the mischievous side—Ella Pemberton is no governess. But the pretense is a necessity if she ever wishes to get inside of Wyckhorn Manor and attain the truth. Exposing the man who killed her sister is all that matters.
Lord Sedgewick knows there’s blood on his hands. Lies have been conceived, then more lies, but the price of truth would be too great. All he has left now is his son—and his hatred. Yet as the charming governess invades his home, his safe cocoon of bitterness begins to tear away.
Could Ella, despite the lingering questions of his guilt, fall in love with such a man? Or is she falling prey to him—just as her dead sister?
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR HANNAH LINDER
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars
Ella Pemberton is determined to find out what happened to her precious, beautiful sister, Lucy. Her father went to his grave trying to find out who was responsible for his eldest daughter’s death. Now Ella is following in his footsteps and her first stop is Wyckhorn Manor, home to Lord Henry Sedgewick, Lucy’s husband. Ella can’t expect him to confess outright, so she’ll have to resort to cunning to achieve her goal. She’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means spending time in the home where Lucy took her last breath, working for the despicable man who took her sister’s life away.
Ella expresses herself openly without restraint. She’s been repeatedly admonished to hold her tongue, but she can’t seem to tame it. Her impertinence would shock and infuriate any proper gentleman, and yet Lord Sedgewick is astonished by the words that escape Ella’s mouth. He somehow feels a hint of admiration for the Lady’s uncharacteristic behavior and assertive spirit. The deft way in which she handles his young son hasn’t escaped his notice; neither has her beauty. Who is this woman who seems familiar to him, and why is he concerned about her welfare and comfort when he’s determined not to attach himself to another woman?
Ella has come to Wyckhorn manor with preconceived feelings of disdain and contempt for Lord Sedgewick. But why does he speak to her so tenderly? And why does she feel the need to come to his defense so readily? Is she observing him praying with his little son? Why would a murderer waste time praying?
Things are not always as they seem. Ella’s made a discovery that sheds greater light on her sister—who she really was. But there’s a dark presence in Wyckhorn manner that may be after Ella. Can she find out the whole truth of what happened to Lucy before something sinister claims her life, too?
While reading Beneath his Silence I envisioned a gothic manor house full of secrets. There were secrets indeed, but also lies, deceit, peril, adventure, suspense, romance, redemption and finally, forgiveness. I enjoyed learning of what really happened to Ella’s sister and how tenacious Ella was in her attempts to unveil the truth. Lord Sedgewick was a brooding enigma of a man. On a few occasions I felt pity for him and wanted him to find the peace he so desperately needed, and deserved. His subtle attempts to help Ella to establish faith in God was touching.
Beneath His Silence was a concoction of various elements that kept me intrigued to the final page, with a satisfying, heartwarming ending.
Thank you Austenprose and Barbour Publishing for a Complimentary copy of Beneath His Silence. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
• “Fast-paced danger and suspense from an exciting newcomer to Regency fiction.”— Julie Klassen, award-winning author of A Castaway in Cornwall
• “A strong story of loss and forgiveness, resentment surrendered to faith, and the mercy of God. Readers will enjoy this turbulent mystery with a smile-worthy ending.”— Kristen Heitzmann, Christy Award-winning author of Secrets and The Breath of Dawn
• “This book has everything I love…a dark and broody hero, a spunky heroine on a mission, and a deeply delicious creepy manor home. Beneath His Silence is a rather gothic tale set in Regency England, filled with plenty of intrigue, danger, and romance to make for a very satisfying read.”— Michelle Griep, Christy Award-winning author of Lost in Darkness
Hannah Linder resides in the beautiful mountains of central West Virginia. Represented by Books & Such, she writes Regency romantic suspense novels. She is a double 2021 Selah Award winner, a 2022 Selah Award finalist, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Hannah is a Graphic Design Associates Degree graduate who specializes in professional book cover design. She designs for both traditional publishing houses and individual authors, including New York Times, USA Today, and international bestsellers. She is also a local photographer and a self-portrait photographer. When Hannah is not writing, she enjoys playing her instruments–piano, guitar, and ukulele–songwriting, painting still life, walking in the rain, and sitting on the front porch of her 1800s farmhouse.
Forensic Pathologist, Grace Reilly, is suspicious of deaths occurring amongst the elderly. She has a niggling feeling that there’s foul play involved but she can’t prove it. Yet. Meanwhile, someone appears to be targeting Grace. First her car is vandalized, then someone leaves a frightening object on her porch that leaves her rattled to her core. Thankfully, Sheriff Nate Cox is making sure she’s staying safe. Not only because he believes Grace’s assumptions, but also because he can’t deny his attraction to her. They have to find out who’s responsible for these crimes before another senior dies, or before Grace becomes the next victim.
They don’t call Irene Hannon the queen of romantic suspense for nothing. Body of Evidence is further proof that she can concoct a suspenseful tale while simultaneously developing a convincing romance that altogether keeps you on the edge of your seat while tugging at your heartstrings. The result is an enticing read that satisfies your taste for adventure with the added bonus of a great love story. Both Grace and Nate were excellent, likable characters. Grace was strong in many ways. Her job entailed performing autopsies on bodies of which she was quite comfortable with to the exasperation of her two protective older sisters. She was also fragile in some ways due to an event stemming from her past. The fierce dedication to her job despite the scare tactics that followed her and the trauma she contended with endeared me to Grace’s character. The close relationship she shared with her sisters was heartwarming. I like how they rallied around her and provided loving support when she needed it.
Nate’s loyalty and concern for Grace’s wellbeing was another aspect of the story that drew me in. He was a respectful, kind gentleman to Grace and to all of the women surrounding him in his life. Sadly, this is in stark contrast to what we often see in the world today. I liked Nate’s character from the start. There’s a secondary character named Dave that deserves an honorable mention. I admired his determination to set matters straight in his life.
Body of evidence is the kind of Christian fiction book I enjoy reading. It provides a suspenseful, engrossing narrative with a convincing, heartwarming love story to the exclusion of the gratuitous violence, foul language and sexual content that’s prevalent in mainstream books. I highly recommend it.
Thank you to Revell and Interviews and Reviews for a complimentary copy of Body of Evidence. All opinions about the book are my own.
A London heiress rides out to the wilds of the English countryside to honor a marriage of convenience with a mysterious and reclusive stranger.
Tall, dark, and dour, the notorious Captain Jasper Blunt was once hailed a military hero, but tales abound of his bastard children and his haunted estate in Yorkshire. What he requires now is a rich wife to ornament his isolated ruin, and he has his sights set on the enchanting Julia Wychwood.
For Julia, an incurable romantic cursed with a crippling social anxiety, navigating a London ballroom is absolute torture. The only time Julia feels any degree of confidence is when she’s on her horse. Unfortunately, a young lady can’t spend the whole of her life in the saddle, so Julia makes an impetuous decision to take her future by the reins—she proposes to Captain Blunt.
In exchange for her dowry and her hand, Jasper must promise to grant her freedom to do as she pleases. To ride—and to read—as much as she likes without masculine interference. He readily agrees to her conditions, with one provision of his own: Julia is forbidden from going into the tower rooms of his estate and snooping around his affairs. But the more she learns of the beastly former hero, the more intrigued she becomes…
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
A shy heiress who is introverted, socially awkward, prone to anxiety attacks and a lover of books? Yes, please. 👍🏽🙌🏽🙋🏽♀️
Julia Wychwood is not your typical heiress. She prefers books to balls and horse riding to musicales. She scarcely has time for either indulgence since these pastimes interfere with securing a husband, as her maid continually reminds her. And Julia’s sickly father wants to see her married off to an earl who lives in the vicinity of their home at Belgrave Square. This proximity will enable Julia to more readily provide care for her parents. The prospect is unthinkable to Julia, especially since Lord Gresham is disagreeable in every way. The only way out of her predicament is to marry a brute, Captain Jasper Blunt, the man whose reputation for being harsh and unyielding to his own soldiers precedes him. This is the same man Julia ran away from previously when being introduced to him at Lady Arundell’s ball. His prominently scarred face, along with her social anxiety got the best of her on that occasion. But since then it seems that Captain Blunt has come to her rescue during numerous unpleasant events. She can’t dispute his solicitousness towards her, even if he’s been forthcoming about his intentions to marry an heiress in order to fund the looming projects on his crumbling estate, Goldfinch Hall. If that weren’t enough, the man has three illegitimate children residing with him, and he possesses secrets that he refuses to divulge, even to a future wife. On the other hand, he is a book lover like herself. Ludicrous. It’s all too much to contemplate. But one more bloodletting session with the family doctor when Julia is simply feigning illness, just might kill her; along with continuing to live in a dark, dank home surrounded by her ailing parents with their real or imagined deteriorating health, mostly confined to their relative sickbeds, is too much to bear. What is Julia Wychwood to do?
The Belle of Belgrave Square was a delightful read. It’s full of dialogue-rich content that I enjoyed immensely. Julia Wychwood is a unique heiress with character traits I could readily identify with which made her relatable and easily likable. I applauded her development of courage and strength when faced with unimaginable challenges of which she had little to no experience in dealing with. This gave the story its engrossing quality. Captain Blunt is enigmatic and kept me guessing. Whenever I thought I had him figured out, new revelations had my mind pivoting in a different direction. He was a man of carefully concealed secrets. At times he was brooding and menacing, and at other times he was gallant and kind. He was highly tolerable of Julia’s attachment to her books, which made me very happy.
The Belle of Belgrave Square is a glorious, satisfying read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I very highly recommend it.
Thank you, Austenprose and Berkley Romance, for a complimentary copy of The Belle of Belgrave Square. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
• “A grand cross-class romance, a twisty mystery, and emotional internal struggles combine to excellent effect…fans and new readers alike will root for this well-earned love story.”— Publishers Weekly(starred review)
• “[C]ombines deception, risk, and a resourceful heroine to create an intoxicating, suspenseful romance. Highly recommended.”— Library Journal (starred review)
• “If you’re a fan of Beauty and the Beast, this regency romance will rapidly become a new favorite of yours. Wallflower meets an infamous war hero in this fascinating and intriguing love story.”— BuzzFeed
• “Mimi Matthews never disappoints, with richly drawn characters and couples whose individual shortcomings become strengths, when paired together. In this Beauty and the Beast retelling, we get to root for two underdogs who get to rewrite their own stories.”— Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.
Join Mimi at her Victorian Reading Room Facebook Group for exclusive access as she shares her love of writing, historical romance, Victorian fashion, brooding heroes, independent heroines, and of course, her beloved pets!
READ AN EXCLSUIVE INTERVIEW WITH MIMI MATTHEWS:
Discover intriguing insights into The Belle of Belgrave Square and Mimi’s writing life in this exclusive interview at austenprose.com.
Giveaway period: October 3 – October 30
Terms & Conditions:
Giveaway hosted by Mimi Matthews. No Purchase Necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. All information will remain confidential and will not be sold or otherwise used, except to notify the winner and to facilitate postage of the book to the winner. Void where prohibited.
1 winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) receives a paperback copy of The Belle of Belgrave Square, signed and annotated by the author with personal comments, underlining of her favorite lines, and other highlights by Mimi Matthews.
Giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 10/03/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 10/30/22.
The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog on 10/31/22.
Following an unfortunate incident involving a fellow officer, ISB Ranger, Madison Thorn, is done with the violent crimes division. The transition to white collar crimes is a safer alternative, and Madison’s good at it. But when a violent crime gets personal, Madison finds herself right back where she started from. She’s apprehensive about getting involved with violent crimes again, but she won’t be working the case alone. She’ll have capable National Park Ranger and fellow officer, Clayton Bradshaw, to assist her. Madison remembers Clayton as the childhood bully who, along with her cousins, taunted her mercilessly. Clayton remembers events differently. After setting Madison straight about how he actually stood up for her, she looks at him more favorably. But Clayton has a checkered past that involves a gambling problem and a reputation for charming the ladies. That’s all behind him now and he’s intent on keeping a vow he made to God. Can Clayton help Madison solve the case while simultaneously convincing her that she should take a chance on giving him her heart.
Deception was a smorgasbord of elements I like in a good suspense book—secrets, lies, intrigue, a few great twists, a smidgen of romance, and of course, deception.
I liked that the main character, Madison, was an ISB Ranger, a job that requires strength of character. Madison Thorn was a strong woman but she was also emotional and vulnerable at times. These characteristics made her realistic and human. Clayton was the foundation Madison needed to ground her spiritually, and to protector her. They were an excellent team and I was rooting for them.
Since this is Christian fiction there was clean dialogue and an absence of sexual content and gratuitous violence. The faith elements were mild, not preachy. That’s exactly what I like in a Christian book and Patricia Bradley delivered it perfectly.
Audiobook – Tantor Media – Read by Rachel Dulude ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
I did a read/listen of Deception. Rachel Dulude did an excellent job bringing the characters to life. The male characters voices were convincing, and so were the various emotional states of the characters. Very well done.
I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to reading more from Patricia Bradley.
Thank you, Revell Reads, for a complimentary copy of Deception.
Thank you, Tantor Media, for the free audio download.
Former police officer turned FBI Negotiator, Juliana Jameson, is called in to handle a hostage situation involving the perpetrator, a federal judge and a full courtroom. Juliana prides herself on having never lost a hostage and she feels the pressure to maintain that record especially since School Resource Officer Clay Fox’s sister is in there. The situation is tense, and when a seemingly copycat situation arises on its heels, Juliana’s skills are further put to the test. It appears that someone is out to get her, but even more alarming is that her teenage sister, Dottie, of whom Juliana is guardian, could also be a target. And if Juliana and Clay think they’ve got things all figured out they’d better think again because the worst is yet to come.
I‘m enjoying this series. It’s action packed and clean, no profanity. In Crossfire we meet Juliana Jameson who’s in law enforcement due to an incident from her past that she tries hard to suppress but doesn’t always succeed. Clay Fox, the SRO at Dottie’s school has a similar problem so it was nice to see how he and Juliana grew close enough to support one another through their trauma. Both have younger sisters that they are trying to protect from various threats, including a bully and some unstable individuals. There was a twist that I didn’t see coming. I liked how some of the characters from the first book in the series, Life Flight, were present in the story, especially Life Flight pilot, Penny Carlton. The Charlotte, NC, setting was great, too.
I had a niggle regarding the portrayal of one of the characters, André Wilson. Perhaps it is my own sensitivity so I won’t comment further about that.
The audiobook narrator, Sara Sheckells, does an excellent job!! Her narrating skills is one of the reasons why I was so eager to read this next book in the series. She brings the characters, including the villains, to life.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of Crossfire.
When Jocelyn (Joss) Murphy learns of her husband’s infidelity, her life as she knows it is over. Not only is she losing the only man she’s ever loved, but even worse is finding out who his mistress is. Crushed from the betrayal, Joss’s instinct is to leave Tennessee and run back to the place where she feels safe, her grandparents’ farm in Banjo Bend, Kentucky. She longs for the happiness she enjoyed there spending time with her numerous cousins growing up. But when she arrives she finds that the farm is now a lackluster campground. The new owner, Ezra McIntyre, is a brooding, reticent man who’s kind enough to allow Joss to stay on the premises where she’ll do work that nobody else is much interested in taking on. She excels at it and Ezra is impressed. Before long Joss notices how handsome Ezra is and she could see herself falling for him. The feeling is mutual. But will Ezra’s past prevent him from making a commitment that could threaten the peace he’s so determined to protect?
I enjoyed this book. Liz Flaherty’s books are often laced with mature words of wisdom pertaining to life’s situations and relationships. In life’s Too Short for White Walls we meet two people who are trying to find peace after suffering from traumatic events in their lives. Joss seems more resolved to forgive and move forward with her life, whereas Ezra struggles to make amends where he can, and prefers to keep his more difficult challenges to himself with the help of more drinks than he cares to admit. I liked seeing how their characters developed over the course of the story. I also enjoyed many of the secondary characters including Margaret, Ezra’s right-hand, knowledgeable employee who was once in love with Joss’s dad before he married Joss’s mother. And a few of Joss’s cousins that had unique personalities and professions.
Life’s Too Short for White Walls is a comforting read that brought about a range of emotions before culminating in a satisfying happily-ever-after that left me with a warm heart and happy smile.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review which I have given.
Laine is having a crisis. She’s 38, married, and childless, but her husband doesn’t seem interested in children even though it’s been Laine’s desire since they got married over a decade ago. If that weren’t enough her sister tells her that she needs her to come back to Brooklyn, NY to help with their mom who seems to be exhibiting signs of dementia. Laine isn’t overly concerned. She believes her mother, Sally, misses their deceased father and is lonely, so Laine’s plan is to go to Brooklyn, placate her mother and then return to Michigan. But then her sister informs her that she ran into Laine’s childhood best friend, Ben, whom she had a falling out with many years ago and hasn’t spoken to since college. Her relationship with Ben was complicated then, and her feelings about him now could change the trajectory of her future. Meanwhile, Laine is torn between feelings of anger towards her mom because of a selfish decision her mother made that affected Laine’s life in a substantial way, verses the intense love she feels for her mother as Sally figures out how to navigate her uncertain future.
I really loved this book. It touched me in many ways. There were difficult situations, heartbreaks, relationship dilemmas and other hard realities of life that kept me thoroughly engaged in the story. Camille Pagan’s books speak to me. Everything Must Go took me back to how much I’d enjoyed reading my first Pagan book, Life and Other Near Death Experiences. I was amazed at how funny she could make a tragic situation. Similarly, there were sensitive situations in this book but Pagan managed to keep them from being depressing in that unique way she’s able to accomplish that. The only reason I deducted a half star from it being five stars is because I felt it ended a little abruptly. But maybe there will be a sequel. I sure hope so.
AUDIOBOOK: I have to mention that I listened to this book because the main audio narrator, Amy McFadden, did an incredible job. She read in a lackadaisical, slothful tone that fit the main character perfectly. She has a knack for communicating expressions in a way that made me laugh out loud numerous times. I kept rewinding the recording to listen to how some of the characters expressed their feelings. She truly brought them to life. I can still hear their voices in my mind.
Overall, this book was very enjoyable and I recommend it.
Dawn and her mother, Marnie, are at a crossroads in their lives. Both have suffered traumatic events and are about to make life-altering changes to their future. This is more Marnie’s idea than Dawn’s. Marnie is free-spirited and spontaneous, while Dawn is a pragmatist and makes well thought-out decisions after entertaining the what-ifs first and foremost. If it were up to Dawn she would not be joining her mother in this new impetuous endeavor of hers—Marnie is forever starting things that she doesn’t finish. But instead Dawn finds herself supporting her mother as new owner of a run-down ice-cream shop on Cape Cod island that Marnie happens to purchase on a whim while vacationing with her daughter who’s trying to heal from being dumped by her fiancé weeks before their wedding. In fact, this is where they were supposed to be honeymooning. Marnie knows little to nothing about making ice-cream. Dawn knows everything about it, but the thought never crossed her mind to give up her successful career as a CPA on her way to making partner to making ice-cream in a small town. Until…
This story is about an unfulfilled dream brought to life from a least expected entrepreneur, and an even lesser expected supporter; how they learn to accept each others differences and overcome very difficult challenges together and move forward, with the help of a few new friends along the way. In the process they transform a ramshackle ice cream shop that served terrible-tasting ice-cream into a welcoming gathering spot for the locals where they can eat delicious ice-cream and feel a sense of pride in their little Cape Cod town of Chatham, MA.
I love a good happily-ever-after story and this one delivered. The Sweet Life was a charming read with captivating characters that warmed my heart and left me wanting more. The quaint setting of Cape Cod added to its charm. The book wasn’t lengthy at 283 pages, but I became acquainted enough with the characters to want to know how they get on in the future. I’m eager to visit again with the cast of which I assigned these designations: The Pollyanna, The Nervous Nelly, The Debbie Downer, The Lingering Ex, The Good Samaritan, The Chatty Kathy and the Killjoy. What a great cast of characters they were!! A sweet story indeed.
Thank you, Revell Reads, for a complimentary copy of The Sweet Life. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.
Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare bookstore that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:
Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiancé was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances–most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.
Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.
Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.
As they interact with various literary figures of the time–Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others–these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.
Narrated by esteemed stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, enjoy the full unabridged edition of Bloomsbury Girls. “Stevenson delivers the satisfying triumph at the end with perfect polish.” —AudioFile Magazine
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars
It’s post-war London and three women of varying backgrounds and ages find themselves working together at Bloomsbury Books. Vivien, an outspoken aspiring writer is behind the cash counter; Grace, a mother and discontented wife to a man scarred by the war is Secretary to the General Manager; and Evie Stone, a young female graduate of Cambridge who was recently passed over for a research assistant position in favor of a less qualified male, is hired at Bloomsbury Books to catalogue the rare books on the third floor. These three intelligent, abundantly capable women are desirous of more meaningful positions in the shop, but their fresh, innovative ideas are often hastily dismissed; their ambitions and creativity stifled by the men in charge even though their combined efforts create a beneficial symmetry that cannot be denied. This is especially true of the General Manager whose fifty-one rules govern Bloomsbury Books and must be abided by—rules that have deprived the shop of profit to the dismay of its owner, the Earl, Lord Jeremy Baskin. Lord Baskin is confident in the womens’ abilities to effect positive change in the shop, however, he’s reluctant to usurp any authority he has entrusted to his male management team. But when a bad decision on the part of one of his trusted male employees causes a chain of events that will change the trajectory of all of their lives, the women prove to be more shrewd than anyone expected.
There’s so many great elements comprising this book. Each chapter heading begins with one of the fifty-one rules from the shop and then proceeds with how that particular rule is broken by mostly the female staff at Bloomsbury Books. 😂 I thought this was a clever way to formulate the narrative. I enjoyed the womens’ tenacity in shaping their professional and personal lives and their determination to change the impressions of a woman’s worth. My heart leapt at the mention of famous female authors who attended the literary luncheons the ladies orchestrated, along with discussions of their published books, some of which I’ve read and enjoyed during my lifetime. The name dropping of famous authors, bookstores, classic books and well known publishers excited me. 😃
The women of the shop triumph with their intuitive ideas on how to bring recognition and popularity to the status quo Bloomsbury Books. I was rooting for them in life and in love.
While I wouldn’t consider Bloomsbury Girls a sequel to The Jane Austen Society (one of my favorite Top Pick books of 2021, also by Natalie Jenner), characters from that book are present in it, including one of the main characters, Evie Stone. Although it can most definitely be read as a stand-alone, you can’t go wrong reading The Jane Austin Society first. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.
Audiobook – Juliet Stevenson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars
Excellent narration!! The distinct voices of each character drew me into the story and made it so believable and enjoyable to listen to. The narrator’s speed, tone, pitch and inflection made it a pleasurable, memorable experience.
Thank you Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose PR, St. Martin’s Press and Natalie Jenner for the privilege of a complimentary book and audiobook download of Bloomsbury Girls. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
“Jenner follows The Jane Austen Society (2020) with another top-notch reading experience, using the same deft hand at creating complex, emotionally engaging characters [against] a backdrop chock-full of factual historical information… Fans of Christina Baker Kline, Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff [will] appreciate this gem.” —Booklist (starred review)
“An illuminating yarn… Fans of emotional historical fiction will be charmed.” —Publishers Weekly
“Bloomsbury Girls is an immersive tale of three women determined to forge their own paths in 1950s London. Jenner has proven to be a master at spinning charming, earnest characters and paints a vivid picture of postwar England. I wanted to stay lost in her world forever!” —Stephanie Wrobel, internationally bestselling author of Darling Rose Gold
“Bloomsbury Girls is a book lover’s dream, one of those rare reads that elicits a sense of book-ish wistfulness and nostalgia. Jenner has created a colorful cast of characters in a story about friendship, perseverance, and the ways that determined women can band together in a man’s world. You’re in for a treat.” —Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary
“In a London still reeling from the ravages of World War II and the changes war has brought to English society, three young women take their futures into their own hands. With Bloomsbury Girls, Natalie Jenner has penned a timely and beautiful ode to ambition, friendship, bookshops, and the written word.” —Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Library
“In post-war London, Bloomsbury Books survived The Blitz until Vivien Lowry, Grace Perkins, and Evie Stone set off their own bomb on the stuffy all-male management. What ensues is the most delightful, witty, and endearing story you will read this year. Natalie Jenner, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, proves that she was not a one hit wonder. Like Austen, her second book is even better than the first.” —Laurel Ann Nattress, editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Natalie Jenner is the author of the instant international bestseller The Jane Austen Society and Bloomsbury Girls. A Goodreads Choice Award runner-up for historical fiction and finalist for best debut novel, The Jane Austen Society was a USA Today and #1 national bestseller andhas been sold for translation in twenty countries. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie has been a corporate lawyer, career coach and, most recently, an independent bookstore owner in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website to learn more.
A MESSAGE FROM AUTHOR NATALIE JENNER
Dear readers, I am immensely grateful for the outpouring of affection that so many of you have expressed for my debut novel The Jane Austen Society and its eight main characters. When I wrote its epilogue (in one go and without ever changing a word), I wanted to give each of Adam, Mimi, Dr. Gray, Adeline, Yardley, Frances, Evie and Andrew the happy Austenesque ending they each deserved. But I could not let go of servant girl Evie Stone, the youngest and only character inspired by real life (my mother, who had to leave school at age fourteen, and my daughter, who does eighteenth-century research for a university professor and his team). Bloomsbury Girlscontinues Evie’s adventures into a 1950s London bookshop where there is a battle of the sexes raging between the male managers and the female staff, who decide to pull together their smarts, connections, and limited resources to take over the shop and make it their own. There are dozens of new characters in Bloomsbury Girls from several different countries, and audiobook narration was going to require a female voice of the highest training and caliber. When I learned that British stage and screen actress Juliet Stevenson, CBE, had agreed to narrate, I knew that my story could not be in better hands, and I so hope you enjoy reading or listening to it. Warmest regards, Natalie
A summer house party turns into a thrilling whodunit when Jane Austen’s Mr. Wickham—one of literature’s most notorious villains—meets a sudden and suspicious end in this brilliantly imagined mystery featuring Austen’s leading literary characters.
The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a party at their country estate, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.
Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. In this tantalizing fusion of Austen and Christie, from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray, the unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
When George Wickham interrupts the Knightley’s house party, the hosts as well as the guests are stunned. The guests are none other than the principal characters from Jane Austen’s beloved novels. Wickham has managed to lure many of them into his schemes with his cunning, charismatic charm, causing financial ruin to some, along with the accompanying shame and embarrassment that such a circumstance could bring about.
Aahhh… that beguiling Mr. Wickham. Few can deny him.
Wickham is determined to collect from his debtors, even if it means settling in for several nights at the Knightley’s estate, where inclement weather has forced the hosts to reluctantly accommodate him as an unwelcome guest. Even under these peculiar circumstances Wickham’s mischievous, wicked ways are still manifest. He thinks he’s outdone himself again with his exploits, but what he least expects is to be done in instead.
The Murder of Mr. Wickham is a mellow, historical murder mystery devoid of extreme violence or profanity. I truly appreciated that. I enjoyed revisiting many of Jane Austen’s main characters from her novels along with some of their progeny and seeing how their lives were faring. I liked the introduction of the Darcy’s teenage son, Jonathan, who along with a young woman associated with Northanger Abbey, Miss Juliet Tilney, becomes keenly interested in investigating Wickham’s murder. They possess similar strategies in their investigative techniques and Jonathan is decidedly more comfortable with Juliet than he is with his other peers. From the beginning we are made aware that Jonathan Darcy is different. He is prone to sensory overload, is socially awkward and would rather keep company with the servants than those of his own rank. But even though he paces and rocks back and forth when agitated, Juliet doesn’t seem overly bothered by his behavior. I loved their camaraderie.
The other members of the house party have ties to Wickham in some way or other, but not all are forthcoming regarding their involvement. The mystery evolves as more details come to light. I liked seeing the rawness of the characters with all of their flaws, insecurities and vulnerabilities.
The Murder of Mr. Wickham moved along at a comfortable, leisurely pace and kept me interested as Juliet and Jonathan uncovered more clues and the characters became more suspicious. When the murderer was revealed I was surprised and thoroughly satisfied.
If you are a fan of cozy, historical mysteries or Jane Austen variations you will likely enjoy The Murder of Mr. Wickham. Definitely recommended.
Thank you, Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose PR, Vintage Anchor Books and Claudia Gray for a complimentary copy of The Murder of Mr. Wickham. All opinions expressed are my own.
Claudia Gray is the pseudonym of Amy Vincent. She is the writer of multiple young adult novels, including the Evernight series, the Firebird trilogy, and the Constellation trilogy. In addition, she’s written several Star Wars novels, such as Lost Stars and Bloodline. She makes her home in New Orleans with her husband Paul and assorted small dogs.
“Had Jane Austen sat down to write a country house murder mystery, this is exactly the book she would have written. Devotees of Austen’s timeless novels will get the greatest possible pleasure from this wonderful book. Immense fun and beautifully observed. Delicious!” —Alexander McCall Smith
“What a splendid conceit! . . . Gray provides plenty of backstory and enough depth to her characters that even those who mix up their Pride and Prejudice with their Sense and Sensibility will delight in the Agatha Christie–style mystery. . . . There’s so much fun to be had in this reimagined Austen world—and the mystery is so strong—that one can only hope, dear reader, that more books will follow.” —Ilene Cooper, Booklist (starred review)
“[An] enchanting mystery. . . . Gray perfectly captures the personalities of Austen’s beloved characters. This is a real treat for Austenites.” —Publishers Weekly
“Who would NOT want to read a book in which one of literature’s most notorious rakes meets his final demise? . . . A delightful Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen romp.” —Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose
Butterfly House B&B owner and gluten free baker, Poppy McAllister, and her aunt Ginny, are at the Cold Spring village antique show. Poppy is interested in bidding on an armoire for the B&B. She’s also curious about the mystery antique piece that Auggie Whipple of Whipple’s Antique Emporium is supposed to present at the show. Rival antique dealer, Grover Prickle, claims the surprise piece was stolen from him. When the antique show gets under way a body falls out of the armoire that Poppy wanted for the B&B and she finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation once again to the irritation of her childhood nemesis, Amber, and Amber’s new colleague, Viola Washington, of the police department. Poppy feels an obligation to help solve the murder. But when an ominous warning is left at the B&B for all eyes to see, Poppy realizes she’d better get to the bottom of this murder mystery before she becomes the next victim.
I have to admit that I was at first a little intimidated by the length of this cozy mystery, 434 pages. I needn’t have worried. The hilarity of all the characters, including the furry ones, never stopped. For me it was all about the journey rather than the destination in this cozy mystery. The multitude of characters, including the B&B guests and employees, aunt Ginny’s friends, the resident cat Figaro along with the guests’ pets, the police department, Poppy’s Italian beau, Gia, and his family members…. all contribute to the laughs that easily propel the story towards the conclusion of the whodunnit. I don’t want to downplay the mystery aspect of this cozy. I was committed to finding out who killed the man in the armoire and that revelation did not disappoint.
I loved everything about this cozy. I laughed out loud so many times that I can officially say that this series is an absolute favorite of mine. Don’t let the length deter you, you will love every minute of this wild, hilarious ride.
I did a read/listen of Antique Auctions Are Murder and Callie Beaulieu does a phenomenal job narrating this series. I admit that when I started this series I didn’t think the narrator’s voice matched the description I’d created in my mind of Poppy McAllister. However, over the course of the series she’s owned the Poppy character in my head, and in addition, her talent and skillful depiction of the secondary characters is incredible. Callie Beaulieu is able to imitate characters’ accents, their ages (young and old), mannerisms, audible gestures and everything in between. The audiobook was a definite enhancement to my reading experience.
I highly recommend this book and the entire series.
Thank you Kensington and Tantor Audio for a complimentary book and audiobook download of Antique Auctions Are Murder. In exchange I have provided a review in which all opinions are exclusively my own.
Charlotte and her grandmother leave their home in London to escape from all the fanfare and hubbub surrounding Charlotte’s sister’s upcoming wedding. They visit one of grandmama’s friends who lives in the country, close to the sea. Her son is a baron, Lord Cheston. Shortly after arriving and while exploring the grounds, Charlotte meets the baron but mistakes him for a farmhand. It’s lambing season and Lord Cheston is busy tending to the sheep whilst trying to understand how many have turned up missing. It’s a race to find out who is behind the vanishing sheep with Charlotte as the last person Lord Cheston would have thought could be of assistance.
Love Of My Heart by Sarah M. Eden
Cordelia and Seraphina Wakefield are anxious to enter society in London. They love London and all it has to offer. It’s all they’ve ever known since birth. Unfortunately, when they’re informed that the family will have to retrench by moving to a rural area in Scotland their hearts melt. Cordelia finds some delight in painting the nearby landscape where Sebastian, the home farmer works. There’s something about Sebastian that’s different from the area residents. As Cordelia spends more time in his company she allows herself to confide her concerns about her family’s overindulgent spending. She’s comfortable with the home farmer but her parents are not at all enthused. But Sebastian has a secret that could change everything.
Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire by Rebecca Connolly
Young Martha Smith is determined to marry for love. Her mother disagrees with her assertions to this effect and believes that banishing her from her home in London to visit with her common cousin Eliza and her multitude of children in the country for several weeks, might change her mind. Eliza married for love. Martha has never been far away from London and the country is foreign to her. She immediately notices it’s beauty during her travels, and newly appointed Lord Hillier (Benjamin Steele) of the crumbling Pontcaster Estate notices Martha. Even though she’s of the gentry she’s not afraid to feverishly ride horses or get dirty. And she sees the diamond in the rough that is Pontcaster Estate, which encourages Benj. Will Martha’s casting away actually lead her directly to what her mother wished her to avoid, a marriage of love?
Three sweet stories comprise this anthology and they soothed my fretful soul during these unsettling times in which we live. The recurrent theme of a country gentleman was pleasant and the HEA’s brought a smile to my face. I found all three authors’ stories to be of equal or similar caliber. If you like shorter stories that take place over a brief space of time you will likely enjoy Her Country Gentleman.
Audiobook: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 3.5 stars
I found the audiobook narrator’s delivery a bit overly emphatic and a little too sugary for my taste. It had the tendency to become cloying if I listened for extended periods. I kept thinking it was better suited to a children’s book narration. The senior characters’ voices were raspy and I pictured them as haggard-looking, bedraggled townsfolk who’d spent their lives chain smoking, and not the genteel ladies that I imagined given the setting and their station in life.
Overall, the narration wasn’t bad, just not particularly my taste.
Thank you Austenprose PR and Mirror Press for a complimentary book, and an audiobook download, of Her Country Gentleman. The thoughts I expressed about them are my own.
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Her Country Gentleman Blog Tour. This book is comprised of three novellas, and I am pleased to share an excerpt with you from Rebecca Connolly’s Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire. Please scroll down for the excerpt. Stay tuned for my review which will post in a few weeks.
Her Country Gentleman is available now. You won’t want to miss this anthology of beautiful stories from the Georgian era. Enjoy the excerpt! Thank you for visiting.
Title: Her Country Gentleman
Series: Timeless Georgian Collection (Book 1)
Authors: Sian Ann Bessey, Sarah M. Eden, & Rebecca Connolly
Genre: Historical Romance, Georgian Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Mirror Press (March 8, 2022)
Length: (300) pages
Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook
Tour Dates: March 7-20, 2022
ABOUT THE SERIES:
The Timeless Georgian Collection is a new series featuring novellas set in England during the Georgian era (1714 – 1830). It is part of A Timeless Romance Anthology series published by Mirror Press — a curated collection of novellas and short stories featuring bestselling authors from the contemporary and historical romance genres. The collection has hit the USA TODAY bestselling list and charted at #1 at Amazon.com. Learn more about the series and other anthologies published by Mirror Press at their website.
Her Country Gentleman is the first book in the Timeless Georgian Collection, a new anthology series from Mirror Press. The book features three novellas from bestselling historical romance authors whose stories reveal that not all love is found in London.
Spring at Tribbley Hall – by Sian Ann Bessey
When Charlotte’s grandmother invites her to accompany her to Norfolk, Charlotte jumps at the chance to visit the sea and escape the fuss surrounding her sister’s wedding preparations in London. Lord William Cheston, on the other hand, is most unhappy when his mother informs him that her old friend and a granddaughter are coming to stay. Not only is it lambing season, but he’s also dealing with the mysterious loss of several sheep. The last thing he needs is a child underfoot. When Charlotte and William first meet, he does not realize that the lovely young lady is the granddaughter in question, and she assumes that the man dressed in work clothes in the barn is a servant. Soon afterward, however, Charlotte stumbles upon a clue to William’s sheep’s disappearance, and when her life is placed in jeopardy, William is forced to choose between saving his unwanted houseguest and catching the thief.
Sian Ann Bessey
Born in Cambridge, England, but grew up on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales, Sian left her homeland to attend university in the U.S. and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in English.
She began her writing career as a student, publishing several magazine articles while still in college. Since then, she has published historical romance and romantic suspense novels, along with a variety of children’s books. She is a USA Today bestselling author, a Foreward Reviews Book of the Year finalist, and a Whitney Award finalist.
She loves to travel and experience other cultures, but when she’s home, her favorite activities are spending time with her family, cooking, and reading.
Cordelia Wakefield has never lived anywhere but London and is not overly happy when her family is forced to retrench to a small estate near Teviotbrae, Scotland. An ill-fated game of battledore and shuttlecock brings her face-to-racquet with Sebastian, who runs the home farm at nearby Teviot Castle. What begins as a clash of personalities, expectations, and preferences, soon leads to a friendship neither had expected. As the magic of Teviotbrae weaves its spell, the possibility of something more than friendship begins to blossom. But what future is there for a lowly farmer and a London lady?
Sarah M. Eden
Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today bestselling author of multiple historical romances, including AML’s “2013 Novel of the Year” and Foreword Review’s 2013 “IndieFab Book of the Year” gold medal winner for Best Romance, Longing for Home, and the Whitney Award’s “2014 Novel of the Year,” Longing for Home: Hope Springs.
Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah lives with her husband, kids, and mischievous dog in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain she has never attempted to ski.
Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire – by Rebecca Connolly
Martha Smith wants to marry for love and will not be persuaded otherwise. She is highly sought after in Society for her beauty and status but refuses to consider any suitor whose only claim is that his prospects meet with her mother’s approval. Her widowed mother has had enough of Martha’s romantic sensibilities and is sending her to stay with unfortunate cousins in Wiltshire to show her that marrying for love is a risk that is too great. Benjamin Steele, Lord Hillier, is working on his new and dilapidated estate when he first catches sight of the striking Martha Smith. Becoming Lord Hillier has only brought him a house that needs significant repairs, tenant farms that had been abandoned, and only the money he’d already possessed. He wants meaning in his life, and he’s more than willing to work for it. Though worlds apart in all else, on this point they can agree: a life of meaning would change everything.
No one of sense married for love.
Martha Smith was unconvinced of the assertion her mother had attempted to engrain into her mind for the last six months, if not more, but she could certainly concede that it was not the standard nature of Society’s marriages. The majority of her acquaintances who had made matches since they’d all been presented at court had done so for connection, for fortune, for status, and even for appearances, but no one, as far as she knew, had married for love. Or even affection.
It was a commoners’ match, her mother insisted, and hardly a mark of good breeding. She had not married for love, and her marriage had been all the more successful for it, she claimed. Martha’s father could not refute or support the statement, as he had been deceased for ten years now, but as he had been at least twenty years more senior than Martha’s mother, it was not difficult to presume that he felt the same.
Why, then, did Martha feel so convinced she ought to marry for love?
It was a question that had been shouted throughout her home in London, usually in her mother’s voice, and asked within Martha’s own mind at a much more reasonable volume. Her life might have been infinitely more simplehad she given up such an idea and made a match for a less fanciful reason, but every attempt to do so had left her cantankerous and sullen. She did not want to have a marriage for appearances or to tolerate her spouse on the occasions required of her.
She wanted to feel as though she were flying when she was with him.
According to her mother, this was likely due to entirely too much reading of novels.
That might have been true, but it did not follow that Martha should have to ignore the impulse.
The fight that had ensued with her mother on the very subject had led to her present position, sitting in a coach heading for the country, riding post, and being jostled into the shoulder of the dozing lady beside her. She had been sent with no chaperone, shockingly enough, though the aforementioned slumbering woman had insisted on acting the part when they’d been introduced at the coaching station. It hadn’t proved all that necessary as yet, as all other occupants of the coach were presently sleeping or attempting to, but it was a pleasant comfort all the same.
Martha could not sleep, which she might regret upon arrival at her final destination, but it was not even a consideration for her. She had never been very far outside of London in her known life, and now she was going into Wiltshire. Every glimpse of rolling hills and streams, every acre of ground not containing a building, was of intense interest to her. Her adoptive companion, Mrs. Rhoades, had grown weary of her questions about the country, and the driver was now accustomed to her inquiries as to their present county at every change of horses.
Thus far, she had seen London, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, and Berkshire. They’d stayed the night at a coaching inn in Reading, wherein she had shared the room with Mrs. Rhoades to save them both the cost, and the entire company had again caught the morning post to continue on. The last change of horses at Swindon had seen them in Wiltshire at last, and this was what captured Martha’s attention most.
Wiltshire, the county she had been exiled to for six weeks at minimum. The punishment her mother had devised for Martha’s romantic sensibilities, if not for her outright refusal of Mr. Standish and Sir Charles Stark last Season. From what Martha was now seeing through the windows of the stagecoach, it did not seem a particularly poor exchange.
The countryside was beautiful, and she wished there were a better word to describe it. She had never seen so much green, and in so many natural shades. It was better than any landscape she had seen captured in art, and more fascinating than anything she had conjured up in her mind. She had heard so many complaints about the country from her companions in Society, but felt unable to contribute to any conversation on the topic, as she had no knowledge or experience in any such thing.
Rebecca Connolly is the author of more than two dozen novels. She calls herself a Midwest girl, having lived in Ohio and Indiana. She’s always been a bookworm, and her grandma would send her books almost every month so she would never run out. Book Fairs were her carnival, and libraries are her happy place.
She has been creating stories since childhood, and there are home videos to prove it! She received a master’s degree from West Virginia University, spends every spare moment away from her day job absorbed in her writing, and is a hot cocoa addict.
Life Flight begins with a heart pounding action scene and sustains the allure with each subsequent page.
EMS helicopter pilot, Penny Carlton, is in trouble. Her chopper has been compromised by flying debris during a raging storm necessitating an emergency landing on Mount Mitchell in Asheville, NC. Even with the nurse practitioner and critical care transport paramedic aboard, Penny needs to find help quickly or her wounded passenger could die from her injuries. It’s up to Penny to get help before it’s too late.
Meanwhile, there’s an escaped serial killer loose on Mount Mitchell who’s desperately trying to take cover from the FBI, namely Special Agent Holt Satterfield, who’s hot on his tail. When Penny and Holt believe they’ve gotten their man, the outcome takes a devastating turn and the pair wind up back at square one.
Life Flight has so many great elements worthy of recommendation. The action, suspense, intensity, twists and turns kept me glued to its pages from beginning to end. Penny’s occupation as a highly skilled EMS helicopter pilot kept me riveted. She excelled at her job and I felt like I was along for the ride as she carried out each perilous rescue. The sweet romantic connection between Penny and Holt was heartwarming. Their relationship developed organically and convincingly—none of that insta-love stuff.
The performances of the secondary characters are not to be minimized. Their varied backgrounds contributed to the success of this story. Some had trauma-filled pasts while others left me with a niggling feeling of doubt regarding their true nature. With my speculations eventually resolved, I was thoroughly entertained and satisfied by the story’s conclusion. The setting was a bonus since I am grossly familiar with neighboring Asheville, NC., which my family visits regularly.
It’s hard to imagine how this book about the hunt for a serial killer could be written so tastefully, without foul language or gore, but it was. I was thoroughly impressed by the well-developed and engrossing plot. A testament to the fact that a talented writer can concoct an amazing story without filling it with expletives, sexually mature themes and excessive violence. Great job!! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
Last, but certainly not least, Sara Sheckells was an EXCELLENT audio narrator!! My enjoyment of Life Flight was definitely enhanced by the narration. The voice portrayal of the diabolical serial killer on the loose was perfection. Both male and female voices were artfully done. The characters were brought to life in a way that connected me to them. She nailed it.
Life Flight was so good that I visited the author’s website to see if or when book two in the series would be released. I was thrilled to find that book two, Crossfire, is set to be released in August, 2022. Yay!! 😀 Highly recommended.
Thank you Tantor Audio for a complimentary audiobook download of Life Flight. My opinions about it are exclusively my own.
Welcome to my stop on the Jane and the Year Without a Summer Blog Tour. Many, many thanks to Austenprose PR for the invitation!!
Title: Jane and the Year Without a Summer
Series: Being a Jane Austen Mystery (Book 14)
Author: Stephanie Barron
Genre: Historical Mystery, Austenesque
Publisher: Soho Press (February 8, 2022)
Length: (336) pages
Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook
Tour Dates: February 7-20, 2022
May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.
Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own—some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars
Jane Austen is feeling poorly, so at her apothecary’s suggestion she quits Chawton Cottage with her sister Cassandra (and her niece who will be deposited with her brother James and his wife), and heads to Cheltenham Spa in Gloucestershire for a fortnight. Drinking the curative waters there is expected to restore the unwell back to good health. Even though this is a financially precarious time for Jane and her family, she uses the proceeds from her book, Emma, to spend the time away to acquire some rest and relaxation, and to hopefully be cured from what ails her. What she doesn’t expect, however, is to encounter mischief, mayhem and murder amongst the lodgers and acquaintances in her midst.
I LOVED this book!! It is masterfully written and I still can’t stop thinking about it weeks after reading it!! There’s all the makings of a classic British whodunnit suffused with wit, excellent characters, atmospheric charm, and an intriguing plot. Jane Austen narrates this tale. Her detailed account of the mystery in the making sent me into chuckles and brought a mature Jane Austen to life in the most delightful way. The author nails the stirring, emotional ending. 🥲
I adored the characters which consisted of a doomsday cleric and his judgmental, gossipmonger wife and their little pug, Thucydides; a young invalid prone to swooning and hysterics; a theater instructor with secrets; a Captain with a dodgy leg, amongst others, and even a formerly acquainted suitor for Jane who makes an appearance in Gloucestershire to Jane’s astonishment and delight.
The language was reminiscent of the era and I employed my dictionary on several occasions to more fully understand certain words and phrases. My knowledge grew and I benefited greatly whilst reading this book. Even the title of the book was an education. The Year Without a Summer refers to 1816, the year following the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific which occurred in 1815 and caused average global temperatures to decrease resulting in severe climate anomalies. Jane’s trip to Cheltenham is affected by this weather phenomenon. It is continually raining. A clever backdrop to this mystery.
I became so enamored with this book that I looked into the author’s backlist to add others of hers to my future reading, and have since purchased the first book of the series. I can’t imagine anyone who has an affinity for Jane Austen and/or mysteries to be disappointed by this book. It is splendid, and very highly recommended!!
Special thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose PR, Stephanie Barron and Soho Press for a complimentary copy of Jane and the Year Without A Summer and the incredibly generous swag, none of which influenced my opinions of this book which are exclusively my own.
“Outstanding…Barron fans will hope Jane, who died in 1817, will be back for one more mystery.”— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“No one conjures Austen’s voice like Stephanie Barron, and Jane and the Year Without a Summer is utterly pitch-perfect.”— Deanna Raybourn, bestselling author of the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries
“…a page-turning story, imbued with fascinating historical detail, a cast of beautifully realized characters, a pitch-perfect Jane Austen, and an intriguing mystery. Highly recommended.”— Syrie James, bestselling author of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen
“Jane and the Year Without a Summer is absolute perfection. Stephanie Barron expertly weaves fact and fiction, crafting a story that is authentically Austen in its elegance, charm, and wit. The characters and setting will enchant you, and the mystery will keep you guessing to the last page. This Regency-set gem is truly a diamond of the first water.”— Mimi Matthews, USA Today bestselling author of The Siren of Sussex
Francine Mathews was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written twenty-five books, including five novels in the Merry Folger series (Death in the Off-Season, Death in Rough Water, Death in a Mood Indigo, Death in a Cold Hard Light, and Death on Nantucket) as well as the nationally bestselling Being a Jane Austen mystery series, which she writes under the penname, Stephanie Barron. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.
Poppy McAllister is preparing for the upcoming wine and cheese happy hour that she and aunt Ginny are hosting for a wine tour group. Some of the members of the group that are staying at Poppy’s Butterfly Wings B&B are checked in and anticipating the upcoming wine tour. It’s a mixed bag of guests with peculiar circumstances, but Poppy is happy to oblige the pesky, unusual clan. But when the wine tasting tour turns deadly for one of the guests staying at her B&B, Poppy and her friends are determined to find out who the killer is before her B&B business goes belly up.
I loved Wine Tastings are Murder. Libby Klein never disappoints with this series and Wine Tastings are Murder is no exception. The humorous lines and scenes are abundant, and on numerous occasions I broke out into fits of spontaneous laughter. I love the Cape May, NJ setting of this cozy mystery. I vacationed there many years ago and it brought back fond memories. It was fun envisioning the wacky cast of characters in this setting and the never ending comedic scenes involving the tour guests, Figaro the cat, the visiting teacup pom Tammy Faye Baker, Aunt Ginny and her friends the biddies, the Ukrainian narcoleptic chambermaid named Victory, a pseudo social media fanatic, and Poppy’s nemesis, Amber the cop, who’s heading up the murder investigation.
Amidst the chaos of this bedlam, the time has come for Poppy to choose which beau will be her forever after. We’ve been waiting for this moment since earlier in the series. Will it be Tim or Gia? The answer in the end will amaze you.
The revelation of the murderer at the conclusion of this cozy mystery was creative brilliance, and the final line of the book whet my appetite exceedingly for the next installment in the series.
If you’d like a cozy mystery that features food, a feisty senior citizen, a naughty cat, a wacky cast of characters, lots of laughs and a thoroughly satisfying ending, then I highly recommend Wine Tastings are Murder. I listened to the audiobook version and Callie Beaulieu does an excellent job narrating the various characters. I kept laughing at her interpretation of Victory the Ukrainian chambermaid and the Italian, Gia.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary audiobook download of Wine Tastings are Murder. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Kendra Brennan’s debut novel is a great success. Subsequently, she decides to spend time at her grandfather’s secluded, quiet cabin in Hidden Lake, Michigan to complete her second book. She’s got writer’s block stemming from a Disappointed Reader who disapproved of Kendra’s first book, so she’s returned to her childhood summer home at the cabin to retrace events involving her best friend Cami’s brother that happened many years ago and that she chronicled in her novel. Kendra hasn’t spoken to Cami since they had a falling out years ago, so she’s surprised when Cami’s mother, Beth, who’s always been rather cool towards Kendra, writes to her asking if she’s heard from her. Although Kendra has never been close to Beth, she regards Cami’s father, an accomplished author, as a mentor. While they all spend time at Hidden Lake for the summer, secrets will be revealed. And while searching for answers about others, Kendra will discover many things she also didn’t know about herself.
I enjoyed The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. It took me a moment to realize that the narrator, Kendra, was telling the story to her missing friend. Once I figured that out I began to really take in the many elements that kept me engaged. This book possesses an atmospheric tone with its lake, cabins and fishing boats. Each time I picked it up the general outdoor theme immersed my imagination in the stimulating setting.
The characters came to life and I could easily envision each one. I particularly liked how the author portrayed Kendra’s German translator, Andreas. He brought an element of calm, reasonableness and trustworthiness to a cast of characters that had secrets and questionable motives. Ike Fenton, the WW2 vet, was a creative character that I found entertaining. Even the antagonist’s story was told in such a way that I vacillated between revulsion and pity.
The story itself was one that could be a trigger for some. In the Author’s Note at the conclusion of the book, Erin Bartels discloses her personal experience which is reflected in this novel. The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water was a way for her to tell her own story.
Overall, I thought this book was well written. I wanted a little more detail in the end, but aside from that I really enjoyed it.
Thank you, Revell Reads, for a complimentary copy of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. In exchange I have provided my honest review.
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Love and Lavender blog tour. I hope you enjoy this review of my favorite book thus far of 2021.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5 stars
Although Hazel Stillman is of noble birth, her clubbed foot resulted in her family’s casting her aside from her youth. Her twin brother’s mismanagement and squandering of the family’s assets has made it necessary for Hazel to support herself by teaching arithmetic at a school for girls that’s rumored to be up for sale. Since advanced learning classes are not typical for young ladies, Hazel’s position and livelihood may be in jeopardy. Her predicament is a precarious one unless she marries and accepts her beloved uncle Elliott’s generous dowry of fifty thousand pounds. Hazel feels insulted that her benefactor is offering this large sum as though a man needs to be bought to marry her. But she knows her prospects are few to none because of her physical deformity. So what is she to do?
Meanwhile, Hazel’s “cousin,” Duncan Penhale, is in a somewhat similar situation. He, though, is not of noble birth, but is of the working class. However, “Uncle Elliott” is also his benefactor and Duncan could inherit property that would greatly benefit him if he marries a genteel woman. Duncan is content living his current regimented life, but his employment arrangement has become distressing to him. His inheritance will remedy that situation, but marriage would be challenging for Duncan because he is not an ordinary man. He has difficulties understanding peoples’ expressions and emotions, he angers quickly, paces when he’s excited or anxious, doesn’t like to be touched, is socially awkward, lacks tact and is direct to the point of embarrassment. His peculiar behavior would be difficult for any woman to tolerate, but Hazel seems to have the ability to cope with Duncan’s various odd mannerisms. She’d met Duncan once and they’d corresponded for more than a year, enjoying number riddles that each would solve in their next letter. But could it be enough familiarity to justify a marriage? Uncle Elliott’s stipulation requires cohabitation for at least one year as a married couple. Could Duncan and Hazel live together for a year as husband and wife in order to collect their respective inheritances and then move on to pursue their individual endeavors thereafter, free and clear? Or will their uncle and aunt Amelia’s clever manipulation change both their lives in a way that neither one expected?
Love and Lavender is my favorite book thus far of 2021. It was an impeccable story that I read eagerly from cover to cover, including the acknowledgements. The characters were magnificently written and it was easy to form a bond with them. I especially appreciated Duncan’s character. Although his condition is not stated in the story it’s apparent that he’s autistic, which accounts for his quirkiness. I loved his character!! His bluntness and literal interpretations made me chuckle. Duncan says what ordinary people would like to say but dare not for propriety’s sake. And although Hazel was sometimes appalled by his directness, she admittedly found his natural candidness refreshing at times. Duncan displayed odd behavior, but he also possessed many admirable qualities. His solicitousness towards Hazel was endearing…. always helping her navigate stairs or making sure she had a proper boot made by a skilled cobbler to ensure her comfort.
Another aspect of the book that I found refreshing was the secondary characters. Although some “ordinary” people might be put off by Duncan, there were those who cherished and appreciated his intellect and companionship. A doctor acquaintance, Dr. Randall, became a consultant and advisor to him and was patient and kind. Delores, who worked in the pub downstairs and made sure he had a warm meal to take upstairs to eat after work and fish for his cat, Elizabeth. Harry, Hazel’s twin brother whose shift in character warmed my heart. His acceptance of and willingness to be entertained, intellectually stimulated and unwittingly insulted by Duncan made me smile. Other notable characters were Amelia, Uncle Elliott’s wife, who was a tremendous help to Hazel. Sophie, Hazel’s wise and loyal friend, and Mrs. Randall, the doctor’s wife who assisted Hazel with her endeavors while she lived in Lavender House in Ipswich. Truly, a great cast of characters that I grew to love and admire.
I could talk about this book FOREVER! While reading the acknowledgements I came across this statement from the author…
“This book was written during the most difficult period of my life…”
I don’t know what the author was going through when she wrote Love and Lavender, but I have been inspired by her ability to concoct such a fine story during a time of trial.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story with a great setting, fabulously developed characters and a conclusion that will make your heart scream with joy.
Tremendous thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose PR, Shadow Mountain Publishing and Josi S. Kilpack for a complimentary copy of Love and Lavender. My review of its content is strictly my own.
Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, she was sent away as a child and, knowing her disability means a marriage is unlikely, she devoted herself to scholarship and education.
Now working as a teacher in an elite private girls’ school, she is content with the way her story has unfolded. When her uncle Elliott Mayfield presents her with the prospect of a substantial inheritance if she marries, Hazel is offended. What kind of decent man would marry for her money? Besides, she loves her freedom as a professional, respected woman. When she hears rumors of the school possibly being sold, however, she knows she must consider all her options.
Duncan Penhale has a brilliant mind and thrives on order and process. He does not expect to marry because he likes his solitary life, shared only with his beloved cat. When Elliott Mayfield, his guardian’s brother, presents him with an inheritance if he marries a woman of social standing, Duncan finds it intrusive. However, with the inheritance, he could purchase the building in which he works and run his own firm. It would take an impressive and intellectual woman to understand and love him, quirks and all.
Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, receive their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But when Uncle Mayfield stipulates that they must live together as husband and wife for one year before receiving their inheritances, Hazel and Duncan reluctantly agree. Over time, their marriage of convenience becomes much more appealing than they had anticipated. At the end of the full year, will they go their separate ways or could an unlikely marriage have found unsuspecting love?
Josi S. Kilpack has written more than thirty novels, a cookbook, and several novellas. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Best Novel 2015 for “Lord Fenton’s Folly, and has been a Utah Best of State winner for Fiction. Josi loves to bake, sleep, eat, read, travel, and watch TV–none of which she gets to do as much as she would like. She writes contemporary fiction under the pen name Jessica Pack.
Josi has four children and lives in Northern Utah.
“What a lovely romance. The historical details, the depth of the authentic characters, and the realistic dialogue all contribute to an immersive story. [A] beautiful and inspirational story about loving people just as they are.”— Katie Jackson, Regency Proofreading
“Phenomenal. This book was phenomenal. The very best in the series.”— Lyssa Armstrong, For Where Your Treasure Is
“This love story was unique and such an uncommon take on a marriage of convenience! [S]weet and well worth the wait!”— Ashley Johnson, Bringing Up Books
“Beautifully written, sensitive, poignant addition to the Mayfield Family series.”— Susan K., The Flipped Page
St. Louis County detective Cate Reilly can’t believe she’s agreed to work undercover again. Her trafficking assignment was dreadful enough, but admittedly she’s the best candidate for this current job. An Ivy Hill Academy boarding school student, Stephanie Laurent, age 17, has disappeared. Her boyfriend is missing as well, and Cate has been assigned to go undercover to find out what happened to them. Thankfully, her youthful appearance is an asset to the investigation. At 33, she’s not looking forward to becoming a student again, especially since she’ll be working on the case with her ex, Zeke, who practically abandoned their relationship eight years prior to pursue a career opportunity. Cate was devastated, and collaboration on their assignments at Ivy Hill is more than she bargained for. But illegal activities are taking place at the school, and Cate and Zeke have already been targeted and attacked while trying to crack their individual cases, leading them to believe that Stephanie’s disappearance is likely linked to the school. It won’t be easy keeping up the pretense of teenage student, and pretending not to have feelings for Zeke, but if foul play is involved in Stephanie’s disappearance, Cate is determined to stay the course.
Labyrinth of lies was a page-turner. Suspicious key characters were introduced almost immediately and drew me right into the story. The intrigue and suspense held up until the mystery was solved. Cate’s teenager persona was convincing and fun to observe, along with her attempts to deny interest in her ex. The secondary characters had questionable intentions and kept me guessing as to whether any of them were involved in Stephanie’s disappearance. Ultimately, there was a twist I didn’t see coming that led to a satisfying conclusion.
Labyrinth of Lies was an excellent read that I truly enjoyed. An added bonus was that it was free of any foul language or sexual content. If you like fast moving suspenseful books with a romantic element and characters that will keep you riveted from the first page to the last, then you’ll want to read Labyrinth of Lies. Definitely recommended.
Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of Labyrinth of Lies. My opinions of it are strictly my own.
Craig Rabinowitz was everybody’s best friend, and then he wasn’t. Deception, betrayal, lies and then the ultimate confession severed the ties he worked so hard to establish. His apparent loyalty to his wife and baby daughter was so convincing that his network of friends supported him until they finally saw him for what he was, a dishonest man who took advantage of them and committed the ultimate crime.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫- 4.5 stars
Craig and Stephanie Rabinowitz seemed like an odd pairing from the start. Stephanie was interested in obtaining higher education and went on to become an attorney. Craig had little to no aspirations to become anything. After Stephanie gave birth to their daughter she began working part time while Craig made money with his latex glove “business.” From outward appearances Craig and Stephanie had a great life. Craig was solicitous towards his wife and seemed to adore their little girl. The couple shared a small network of friends who supported and loved them even when Craig’s behavior was at times a little peculiar or immature. Things were normal in the Pennsylvania town where they lived until tragedy struck. Stephanie, at only twenty nine years of age, drowned in her bathtub while her husband was at home. No one in Craig’s close circle of friends believed he had anything to do with it, but detectives and prosecuting attorneys disagreed. Of course, Craig adamantly denied having anything to do with his wife’s death, and his friends supported him in every way possible, including financially, until digging into his past unearthed secrets and lies that cast doubt on his innocence. Craig was quickly going from everybody’s best friend to no one’s.
This story was told in a format that was easy to follow and understand. It was sad to see how greed and the lack of industriousness on the part of Craig Rabinowitz led to the obliteration of his family’s assets, and the desperation that resulted in an unthinkable criminal act. A good portion of the book was devoted to building a case against Craig Rabinowitz by the prosecution. It was interesting learning how that’s done. The audio narrator brought the book to life. If you’re a fan of shows like Dateline or Investigation Discovery (ID), you’ll appreciate this story.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Everybody’s Best Friend. All opinions stated about it in this review are my own.
Someone is stealing reindeer off of Katie Kapowski’s aunt Addie’s Family K Reindeer ranch, and her reluctant aunt needs Katie’s help to apprehend the perpetrator, Addie’s estranged brother, Terrence. Leaving her dream job in Anchorage, Alaska as assistant to the Alaskan K-9 Unit, no thanks to Brayden Ford who thought her incapable of handling the job and denied recommending her for it, Katie is on her way from Anchorage to Palmer to assist the woman who raised her since she was ten years old after a tragedy changed Katie’s life forever. Realizing that she can’t capture a homicidal lunatic on her own, Katie knows she will need help. She didn’t expect that help to come in the form of Trooper Brayden Ford, the man who felt humiliated by what Katie revealed to him regarding the woman he loved. Brayden is the last person she wants helping her, but her uncle is hurting people she cares about and she can’t let him win. Terrence is relentless, and Katie is determined to get the stolen reindeer back and save the Family K Ranch even if she has to wrestle with her feelings about Brayden Ford while doing it.
Dana Mentink is a highly skilled suspense writer. Yukon Justice has just the right amount of suspense to keep the pages turning. When you consider the gentle development of romance and subtle Christian theme it wins on all levels. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading others like it.
I received a complimentary copy of Yukon Justice from the author for my honest opinion which I have given.
The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery is a dual-timeline novel that opens in the present day and shortly thereafter transports us back in time to 1965. Glory Ann, a young girl of nineteen, finds herself expecting and thrust into the hands of a shopkeeper who has agreed to marry her in the wake of her fiancé’s tragic death in Vietnam to preserve her family’s good name and reputation. Glory Ann’s heart is shattered along with her hopes and dreams of a life with Jimmy who is no more. But can the passing of time help to mend a broken heart?
Present Day – Three generations of women—Glory Ann, Rosemary and Sarah, have come to the realization that their Old Depot Grocery has fallen victim to the appeal of larger chain stores with their extensive variety and modern conveniences. The store is barren and customers are sparse. Sarah, who has recently arrived back in Tennessee after suffering a loss is dismayed by the condition of the store that her mother and grandmother are still struggling to maintain, the store she grew up in. What she observes now does not coincide with her cherished memories. Old Depot Grocery is still appreciated by many in the small town of Brighton for its friendly atmosphere and the owners’ exceptional customer service, but it’s not nearly enough to keep the family business, that dates back decades, afloat. Will the three women fight to preserve the family’s legacy, or will they give in to Old Depot’s inevitable future?
Unfortunately, the decision to preserve the shop at all costs is not a unanimous one amongst the women. Although fond memories are linked to the store, so are tragic ones. For Rosemary, burying the past along with anything associated with its painful memories seems the more favorable option. She can ensure that her mother, Glory Ann, will be financially set in her old age, and there will be no reason for Sarah to give up her life as a successful city girl and be forever tied to the old debilitating store the way she was.
Each woman has her reasons for wanting to save or relinquish Old Depot Grocery, but they’re all also harboring many secrets that, once revealed, will either draw them closer together or possibly break them forever apart.
The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery was AMAZING!! I was glued to its pages from start to finish. There was heartbreak, secrets, guilt, revelations, unconditional love, redemption, forgiveness and so much more. Amanda Cox weaves together all of the various elements of the story flawlessly. When you’ve read the last page you won’t believe how she accomplished tidying up all the loose ends into a perfectly fulfilling and satisfying conclusion. Glory Ann, Rosemary and Sarah were great characters along with some of the supporting players. My thoughts about them lingered each time I put the book down. By the end everyone exposes their secrets, comes to terms with their inner demons, and learns that while there is still breath in their lungs they can move forward in life towards their dreams. Even Old Depot can be transformed.
The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery touched my heart and moved me to tears several times. I highly recommend this book. A phenomenal read.
Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary ARC of The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery. All opinions of it are my own.
Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks for stopping by. 😊
Rose and Fern Castle are fraternal twins. Fern relies heavily on her sister Rose and trusts her to keep her calm and in control. Fern, while fully capable of working and living on her own, has a disorder that causes her to experience sensory overload when exposed to too much light, sound or commotion. Rose knows how to rescue her sister from those unpleasant situations and comforts her, and Fern is grateful. Rose is Fern’s “person.”
Rose and Owen’s marriage is in trouble. Rose wants a baby so badly that it’s put a strain on her marriage. Fern could give her beloved sister that special gift. Her new beau, Wally, would be a good candidate. He’s incredibly smart and financially set. He understands Fern’s behavior and still accepts her and cares deeply for her. But one thing he disagrees with Fern on is Rose’s character. Wally doesn’t trust Rose. What if Rose isn’t so special after all?
Secrets, lies, deceit, suspense, excellent characterization and a surprising ending, The Good Sister has a mix of elements that makes it hard to put down. I liked the structure—short chapters composed of present day and intermittent journal entries by each sister. I particularly loved Fern’s character. She was quirky and straight-forward. The book kept me guessing about Rose and Fern—which one was the good sister? I truly enjoyed trying to figure out which sister I could trust. I would have given the book five stars but the ending, although good, was lacking something. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I wanted a little more.
Overall, I loved The Good Sister and highly recommend it.
Deepak is an elevator operator who works a building in Manhattan, 12 Fifth Avenue, for the past thirty nine years and takes his job very seriously. Deepak lives a quiet, routine life with his wife Lali in Spanish Harlem. His wife’s nephew, her deceased brother’s son whom she’s never met, comes to visit from Mumbai and Lali immediately puts him up in the spare room. She wants to know everything about their family in India since she hasn’t been back there for decades. Initially, Deepak is skeptical of the young man and assumes he’s broke and there to freeload. However, Sanji is not what Deepak expects, and his presence will change all of their lives in various ways.
Deepak’s elevator job is in jeopardy, and he is feeling unappreciated for all of the hard work and dedication he’s put into caring for the needs of the tenants of 12 Fifth Avenue for so many years. But things take a turn and Deepak’s devotion is acknowledged after all.
A Woman Like Her was a charming read that I thoroughly enjoyed! It was a refreshing deviation from what I’m accustomed to reading. The story was unique, heartwarming and original. The little tidbits about Indian culture and cuisine increased my admiration for this book. I highly recommend it.
This was a Kindle Unlimited audiobook selection. The narrator was excellent.
Cara and her twin sister, Hana, grew up in the foster care system. The experience was less than ideal so when they were offered the opportunity to stay in the system if they went to college, their adamant refusal released them into the world. Cara is now nearing thirty and homeless; she’s hiding something and she’s on the run. She trusts no one and she’s cautious about everyone. Cara thinks about her sister frequently, but where she is and why they haven’t spoken or seen each other in such a long time is unknown to the reader at this point.
Along her trek to Key West, the destination Cara has chosen because of her love of Hemingway, she encounters a stray dog that refuses to depart from her and names him Hemi. Continuing on her way to Key West with Hemi in tow, Cara unintentionally becomes acquainted with several people who are eager and willing to help her. Even though she’d rather keep to herself, she accepts the much needed help. As she does she learns that there are indeed kind people in the world, and that despite her prior experiences in life, she can be happy.
I enjoyed this book….sorta. The first part had my undivided attention. I liked how Cara’s distrust of people, because of her experiences in the foster care system, began to dissipate as she met genuinely kind individuals who helped her. Hemi, and the other animals in the book were a joy to read about. The mystery of what happened to Cara’s sister, Hana, kept me interested. However, after the mystery was revealed about three quarters of the way through the book, my interest began to wane. Finally, the ending was abrupt and I was left feeling underwhelmed.
Overall, the book is well written and I could see why people would like it, but once it lost steam during the second half I was eager for it to be over. The inspiration faded. 😔
Fred and Myrna Corbett live in an unpopular part of California and struggle to make ends meet. Their only real asset is their pedigree German Shepherd, Greta. So they breed her, producing puppies that bring them a respectable amount of money annually. When somebody wasn’t looking, Greta became pregnant by some other canine interloper. Rascal was the runt of that litter. She’s a skittish little pup that the owners can’t quite figure out. But their young daughter, Angela, who gave the little puppy it’s name loves her. Rascal’s behavior generally consists of a mixture of excitement and fear. She both relishes and recoils at affection. She hides under flowering bushes in the yard instead of doing normal dog things. But still Angela adores her.
Flash forward a little and the Corbetts, no longer profiting from Greta, are once again falling on hard times. The last thing they need is a dog that’s contributing to their hardship so little rascal is discarded like trash and left to fend for herself.
A Dog of Many Names is about Rascal’s attempts at survival in a sometimes harsh and cruel world. She bounces from place to place and her name changes with each new human she temporarily finds herself with. She’s confused and unsure why she keeps getting mistreated by these humans that seemed to care about her. The adversity is strengthening her and summoning her animal instincts to protect her, and she’s learning how to navigate her harsh reality.
I love animals, and I’m a sucker for a good dog story, especially one featuring a German Shepherd, so I was immediately interested in reading this book. However, I should have paid more attention to the description. I was anticipating more of a Lassie type story, but what I got was very different. Rascal’s quest for survival involved the hunting of innocent animals and violent, brutal and bloody fights with others. Not my thing. I understand the food chain and all that, but hey, everyone has their preferences for reading material.
Overall, the story wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t for me. And admittedly, I did put the book down and almost DNF’d it earlier on before the more violent scenes because my interest waned. I struggled to connect with it. But I decided to pick it back up and finish it since it was a relatively short book.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a complimentary copy of A Dog of Many Names.
Janie Edmiston and Drew Brennan haven’t seen each other since High School. They couldn’t have predicted they’d be brought together in such an odd way so many years later, but now they share a responsibility that requires them to work closely together. Even though they’d always been just friends, the chemistry between them is evident. However, both Janie and Drew have a past that keeps them from wanting to commit to a relationship. Janie knows in her heart that her young daughter, Riley, could use a stable home and family, but after enduring a mentally and physically abusive marriage, she’s not sure if she can trust any man. After a tragedy for which Drew blames himself, shattered his hopes and dreams to pieces, the thought of a new family is out of the question. How could he protect them when he couldn’t even keep his late wife and daughter safe?
This story drew me right in from the atmospheric setting to the complicated lives of the characters. I love how Jill Weatherholt incorporates adventure into her inspirational tales. It really amps up the storyline and increases the entertainment factor. Either I was on the edge of my seat during the perilous scenes or I was imagining the beautiful surroundings during the more peaceful times. Not only was I getting an engaging emotional story, but the dappling of dramatic elements kept me fully alert while fervently turning pages. The angst appears at all the right times and propels the story forward. I was invested in the MC’s, Drew and Janie. Janie was guarded because of her insecurities brought about by her ex-husband’s abuse. Drew lived in isolation and blamed himself for the accident that claimed the lives of his wife and daughter. And yet, the two found peace and healing in each other’s presence. They only needed to realize together is where they belonged.
I loved everything about this book! The length, dialog, scenery, animals, intrigue, Janie’s sweet daughter, the main characters—EVERYTHING. There was just the right amount of conflict, emotional elements and the perfect setting to inspire me. And it also reminded me of one of my favorite movies, so that was a plus, too. I definitely recommend it.
Daisy, stepsister to Sage and Cassidy, has got a lot going on. Her husband has left her for reasons unknown to her, and she’s trying to care for their two kids while holding down a challenging job as a nurse anesthesiologist. The last thing she needs is her perfect stepsister, Sage, invading her life. The two were never close. Although Daisy was excited about inheriting a sister when her dad married Sage’s mom when they were young, Sage and her mother were always mean to Daisy. Now Sage, beautiful and worldly, is back in California. How will Daisy keep her shaky marriage to Jordan a secret from Sage, who happens to be Jordan’s former fiancé!
Meanwhile, Cassidy, their stepsister in common (Daisy’s dad and Sage’s mom’s child) of whom Daisy is also not at all close to, has been in an accident and needs to move into the 15,000 sq. ft. family home that Daisy inherited from her biological mother upon her death, and where she currently lives with her husband, Jordan, before he moved out. Daisy’s dad wants his youngest daughter to recuperate there and Daisy isn’t happy about it. Sage and Cassidy were always the close sisters, but even they have drifted apart somewhat over the years. How will these three siblings find peace after nearly two decades of friction?
The stepsisters tells the story of Daisy, Sage and Cassidy. They’ve had issues over the years but now that they’re adults and dealing with challenging circumstances in their individual lives, they begin to realize how much they need each other. As they draw closer together they learn of the reasons that lead to their disjointed relationships, many of which were instigated by Sage and Cassidy’s selfish, conniving mother, and they find it in their hearts to forgive one another. A strong bond grows but is severely tested when one sister makes an almost unforgivable mistake. Will the new bond of love and friendship be short lived?
I enjoyed this book. Mainly I liked how the stepsisters found unity, friendship and love for one another. They had to work through many of their own insecurities and reluctance to form sustainable relationships with their significant others because of incidents that occurred during their adolescent years. Toward the end of the book their growth was evident, although one sister suffered a setback. I found this book to be relatively tame for Susan Mallery and I was glad for that, too. It held my attention and felt realistic. A good listen.
NARRATOR – The audiobook narrator, Tanya Eby, is good. Carla from Carla Loves to Read defined her perfectly when she said, “There are times that her voice is a bit saccharine, but for the most part, her voice, expression and emotion bring this story to life.” I couldn’t agree more. Thanks, Carla. 😉
Location scout Kate Sharp is thrilled to be part of a scouting trip to the historic city of Bath, England to research the location for a Jane Austen documentary. But before Kate gets a chance to stroll the elegant boulevards where Austen once lived, murder cuts the sightseeing short. Now Kate must rearrange her itinerary and find the killer before she and the production are shut down permanently.
Kate Sharp is a location scout. She’s currently back in England working on a Jane Austen documentary in Bath. She’s thrilled to be back in England and working, but unfortunately the crew that she works with, specifically the Producer, Elise, and the Director, Cyrus, are at it again. They don’t agree on aspects of this particular production and it’s making the rest of the crew miserable listening to their verbal sparring sessions.
When the crew finally settles into the Bath Spa Hotel and begins their scouting work for the production, one of the crew members winds up dead and leaves them all scrambling to clear their names.
I almost forgot how much I enjoyed the first book in this series. Even though this is book 4 and I skipped ahead, it was still easy to follow and could easily be a standalone. I loved all the references to Jane Austen’s life and books throughout the story. The location, Bath, heightened my interest in the mystery. I’ve enjoyed several of Jane Austen’s books and I fondly reflected on those memories as I listened. The descriptions of locations in Austen’s books was a plus.
The mystery itself played out well. With almost every character there was at least a hint of suspicion. The actual revelation was clever and believable.
The audio narrator has a voice suitable to cozy mysteries. It’s calm and soothing and excellent for this series. I looked forward to hearing her tell the story.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I would definitely recommend the Murder on Location series.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Death in an Elegant City. My opinions stated in this review are entirely my own.
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Isabelle and Alexander blog tour. I hope you enjoy my review of this astounding book.
It’s Isabelle Rackham’s big day. She’ll be departing her family’s home in the country to reside with her soon-to-be new husband, Alexander Osgood, a handsome, financially secure man who, although a bit taciturn in nature, seems adequate in affability. Even though her beloved cousin, Edwin, regards Alexander as “chilly”, Isabelle isn’t overly concerned. Compared to her cousin’s warmth and character anyone could be considered cold. An arranged marriage can hardly meet every expectation at the start. The families’ business interests are of primary importance, not Isabelle’s personal preferences. Of this she manages to convince herself.
Once at home with her husband, Alexander is practically mute in Isabelle’s presence, and she’s growing more lonely every day. She misses her Edwin. Her husband is only interested in work at his cotton mill. Isabelle is trying hard to be noticed by her aloof husband-—initiating conversation and dressing up for his arrival home from the mill. And although she believes she detects a glimmer of interest during her attempts to cajole Alexander, he always reverts back to his stoic and brooding nature. Isabelle is confused. Alexander’s house staff and doctor regard him in a much more favorable light. There must be good in him. Why can’t she be the one to bring it out?
A trip to Alexander’s country estate, Wellsgate, brings some promise. There may be hope for their union after all. But then tragedy strikes and new challenges of which Isabelle is not well equipped are presented to the couple. During this formidable time Isabelle learns of the reasons for her husband’s acerbic nature from his gracious family doctor. Armed with these new revelations, Isabelle is determined to do all that’s necessary to care for and win her husband’s love, and in the process she might just learn a few life lessons of her own. —————- Isabelle and Alexander was a delightful read. I relished the time spent looking on as the couple navigated the many obstacles they faced, wondering if they had the fortitude and inner strength to overcome them. Alexander was a complicated character that required patience and understanding to break through the rough exterior that ultimately overshadowed his true self. I admired Isabelle. The challenges she faced required an immediate maturity, and she rose to the occasion. In doing so she adopted a new perspective on life, as well as her relationships, including the one she shared with her cousin, Edwin.
A few words about some of the secondary characters…
The house staff, mill workers and friends that made appearances throughout the book contributed nicely to the development of the plot. Collectively, they played a significant role in propelling the story forward, maintaining my interest. One of the characters, a young girl named Glory who had some challenges of her own, but was nevertheless a great asset in many ways, was unique, complex and very likable. My favorite characters were the family doctor, Dr. Kelley, followed by the housekeeper, Mrs. Burns. Her gentle words of wisdom, along with Dr. Kelley’s, were like a healing balm to Isabelle. Glory’s parents, the Kenworthy’s, are also noteworthy. Their obvious love for Glory and their warm regard for Alexander moved me. Also, Yeardley, Mr. Osgood’s faithful butler, while mainly quiet and relegated to the background, was a loyal servant who was of great help on many occasions involving Mr. Osgood. Mr. Connor, Alexander’s engineer, also deserves an honorable mention. His dedication to the Osgood Mill gave new meaning to the words Work Ethic. I have hurriedly dismissed from my mind the two villainous characters, Dr. Fredericks and Nurse Margaret. I shudder thinking of them. Their gruff demeanors and heartless treatment of their patient left much to be desired. Even the Osgood Mill was like a character in my mind’s eye. The description of the various features and functions brought it to life. I could hear the noise and smell the pungent materials within its walls. The efficient way it operated, and the workers’ genuine concern for its owner was heartwarming.
In conclusion, I loved Isabelle and Alexander, and I highly recommend it. I believe the ending certainly leaves the door open for a sequel, and if that is the case, I will look forward to reading it. I’d love to know what further becomes of Alexander and Isabelle, as well as Edwin and his enigmatic bride, Charlotte.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
A huge thank you to the Publisher, Shadow Mountain, and blog organizer, Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose, for a complimentary copy of Isabelle and Alexander. My opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.
High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.
“Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them.”— Library Journal
“Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England.”— Foreword Reviews
“Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson’s debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart.”— Booklist
The Cypress library in South Carolina is about to fall victim to a technology overhaul which will eliminate all of its physical books, replacing them with a digital catalog. The head and assistant librarians, as well as many of the patrons, are not happy about this new development. Although their disapproval is openly expressed, their feelings fall on deaf ears. The library conversion will take place. But in the midst of this transition the town manager who was in favor of the new changes is found dead, crushed under the weight of an overturned shelf of DVD’s. There are several suspects, including the assistant librarian, Trudell Beckett, who loved the library’s precious books. Admittedly, Tru has some secrets of her own, but she insists she’s innocent of this crime. Nevertheless, she remains on the suspect list. Tru has a few theories of her own about who may have killed Duggar Hargrove, and sadly her best friend, Tori, is on her list of suspects. So when someone is arrested and taken into custody for the murder, Tru should be relieved. Unfortunately, she isn’t convinced of the culprit’s guilt, and she’s intent on finding who the real killer is. Will she get to the bottom of what really happened before someone shuts her up for good?
I enjoyed this cozy mystery. The cast of characters were lively and diverse—from young to old, ditzy to feisty. Their personalities were entertaining and I found myself chuckling out loud on quite a few instances. I had difficulty determining who the murderer was which added to my enjoyment of the book. A number of the characters had motive, and the revelation at the end was both believable and creatively executed. And what’s a cozy mystery without an animal’s presence? Dewey (short for Dewey Decimal), Trudell’s brown tabby cat, was a nice addition to the story.
The audiobook narrator had a pleasant voice and I was impressed by how well she performed both male and female characters, young and old. My only complaint is that her breathy inhalation’s were noisy and distracting at times. If editing could somehow remedy this issue I would give her an A+.
Overall, I was very pleased with The Broken Spine and would definitely recommend it.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of The Broken Spine. My opinion of the book expressed in this review is entirely my own.
Currently, Tessa’s home life isn’t the greatest, so she’s hopeful about her escape to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York with her two children, Katherine and Ben, for the summer. She’s left her husband, Kyle, at home. Pine Cottage doesn’t compare to the sprawling beach homes surrounding it, but Tessa is determined to show the kids a good time. And things might be looking up. Rebecca Finlay is vacationing in one of those large houses next to Pine Cottage, and she has three kids: Zoe, Charlotte and Max, who are in the same age range as her two kids. Rebecca and Tessa couldn’t be more different. Rebecca is perfect in every way—incredibly poised and always impeccably dressed, self-assured and confident with an air of sophistication, attractive and well-off financially. Tessa, on the other hand, is none of those things. Yet, she’s attempting to form enough of a connection with her next door vacation neighbor so that the following three months will be tolerable, maybe even enjoyable, for her and her kids. But things aren’t always what they appear to be. As the summer progresses on both women will have to face troubling realizations about their lives, and they’ll pay a heavy price doing it.
The Secrets We Keep pulled me right in. Kate Hewitt is one of my favorite authors so that didn’t surprise me. There was an element of suspense that intrigued me and kept me glued to its pages. I could feel the tension building as I read on and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen. But then the focus shifted in a direction I wasn’t expecting and things slowed down a little for me. The book was still good but I felt like the narrative lingered in some parts and wasn’t comprehensive enough in others. I was left with questions that needed answers. I hope there’s a sequel. It felt like a lot of leading up to what I thought would be this tantalizing revelation, but that fell a little flat for me in the end.
The Secrets We Keep is still a solid four stars and I did enjoy reading it.
What does an actress, village doctor, servant girl, lawyer, farmhand, teacher, spinster and auctioneer have in common? A love of Jane Austen and a strong desire to preserve her legacy. When these people from all walks of life come together to attempt to keep Jane Austen’s memory alive in Chawton, Hampshire, (the place where she spent the final decade of her life), by forming The Jane Austen Society, they are met with various forms of opposition. It won’t be easy competing against the greed-filled motives of others who are more interested in profit than in keeping Jane Austen alive through the valuable remnants she’s left behind. Add to it the Society members’ own inner struggles, conflicts and tragedies, and you have an astounding tale that will keep you eagerly turning pages into the night. And this is before the unexpected twist that took me by surprise and elevated my initial impression to an even higher level of delight!!
I LOVED this book!! Initially, I have to admit, I was hesitant to read it. It had been compared to another book which story I was not particularly drawn into, so foolishly I declined an ARC of The Jane Austen Society. That was a mistake I now regret. 🤦🏽♀️ Thankfully, I’d received a complimentary audiobook copy for review and decided one day to give it a listen. Not only was the story completely engrossing, but the narrator, Richard Armitage, is MAGNIFICENT!! His was the perfect voice to tell this incredible story. He managed to transport me back to a bygone era and awakened my inner Jane Austen. I found it very comforting during these difficult, uncertain times.
I highly recommend this book. The setting, characters and, if you decide to listen to it, the narration, will be worth every minute you spend on it. I had the greatest feeling inside when it was done, and I’m sure you will, too.
Thank you, Laurel Ann Natress, for arranging a complimentary audiobook of The Jane Austen Society for my review. My opinion of it is entirely my own.
Fiona Harrison (Blackwell), the youngest of the Harrison clan, has gone to Montana where her extended Blackwell family resides, seeking a husband. She’s using the dating app, PartnerUp, to find someone with a lucrative career who’s marriage material. She wants to please her father, Rudy, who thinks she sets her dating standards too low. Arranging to meet her dates at the Silver Stake, a local restaurant and bar where handsome bartender Simon Clarke works, isn’t helping her dilemma. When he criticizes her use of the dating app to find a suitable partner and agrees to find dates for her, she’s a bit stupefied by the gesture. After all, Simon would make a great match if only he was more ambitious. Fiona senses a mutual attraction, but she can’t contemplate marriage to a bartender as part of her future; she needs someone with higher aspirations to please her dad. But Simon has a secret, and when it’s divulged Fiona feels betrayed. Was the love of her life right in front of her all along, or is he shaping up to be just like the rest of the disappointments she’s given up on?
It was a joy returning to Montana and visiting with the Blackwell clan. Fiona’s navigation through the shaky start with her newfound relatives, along with her quest to find the perfect guy, kept me engrossed in the story. The appearance of Big E and Rudy in the book is always a highlight of this series, and the exciting ending has me looking forward to the fifth and final book in the series, Montana Wedding by Cari Lynn Webb. I enjoyed Montana Match and recommend it highly.
Montana Dreams by Anna J. Stewart is the third installment in the Blackwell Sisters series and it focuses on Peyton Harrison (Blackwell). Peyton is the workaholic sister who prefers her world neat and orderly. But a complication arises when her life is suddenly in jeopardy. And if being assigned a bodyguard, albeit a very attractive one, weren’t enough, Peyton’s life is about to change in an even more substantial way. Her boss insists that she take a short leave from her city job for her own protection, as well as her colleagues’; and she won’t take no for an answer. But how will Peyton do that? Where will she go? Someone knows exactly where Peyton will go, and she’s not happy about it one bit.
I love it when Big E makes an appearance in these books!! He just seems to pop up out of nowhere, and his presence as a character is so believable that it feels as though he’s a true, living person. Anna Stewart’s description of the Montana Ranch caused me to put the book down and ruminate on the beauty I could visualize in my mind’s eye. She brought the characters and landscape to life. Reading about the horses and the details she provided made it seem as though someone with real horse experience wrote those pages, or a good amount of research was involved in writing them. I relished reading about the time that was spent between Matteo the bodyguard and his son, Gino. Gino’s youthful speech was spot-on, and his father’s obvious pride in, and adoration of his son was endearing. Add to that a mystery that kept the pages turning, and of course a happily-ever-after, and you have all the elements that make for a tender, heartwarming read. Loved it.
The Nantucket Inn is the story of widowed mother, Lisa Hodges, and her four grown children: twins Kate and Kristen, son Chase, and youngest daughter, Abby. Now that Lisa’s husband is gone, she’s struggling to stay afloat in her home on Nantucket Island. Brian, her late husband, made poor choices resulting in financial ruin for Lisa. Her age and skill set are not exactly working in her favor, but since she’s an excellent cook with a home that has unused rooms, she accepts the idea of turning her beloved home into an Inn. In doing so she finds more than just a way to keep her finances in order.
The Nantucket Inn is a clean, fast-moving, simple read. It’s the kind of book that’s uncomplicated and tells a nice, comforting story. Lisa and her female adult children’s lives are the focal point. Since that’s four separate scenarios I at times had to pause a moment to keep everyone straight, but happily it wasn’t difficult. Lisa’s male son didn’t have much space in the book, but I think he occurs more prominently in at least one of the subsequent books.
I enjoyed this book. The length was just right, the audio narrator was pleasant, and overall it was mellow and satisfying.
Circa 1870’s. What is a Buffalo, NY, girl doing in Penance, Dakota Territory? Agnes Pratt is running away from the man she loves, that’s what. Why? Because she doesn’t want to reveal a secret that’s sure to ruin their chances of ever being together. Accepting a teaching job in a remote territory where James Harris could never find her seemed the best option. But Agnes is no frontier woman, or so she thought. She’s managed to establish herself in Penance; gaining the admiration and respect of many of the residents in the small town. Just maybe she can say goodbye to the life she once dreamed of and hello to this new life. It’s been six years since she left NY. Surely she can accept her fate and embrace her role as teacher and spinster. That is until the new doctor shows up in Penance and threatens to change the trajectory of her future.
A Life Once Dreamed can be summed up with one word: delightful. It was a gentle read that took me on a journey to the Midwest and gave me Little House on the Prairie vibes that put me in a good mental space during this pandemic. It was well written with rugged, endearing characters and enough calamities and adventures to keep the story moving forward. I enjoyed reading it.
Thank you, Revell Books, for the gifted copy of A Life Once Dreamed. My review of it is entirely my own.
I…..LOVED…..THIS….BOOK!! Do you hear me? I LOVED it!! Montana Wishes has just become one of my absolute favorite Heartwarming books!!, and I’ve read A LOT of them. Amy Vastine knows how to write a sweet romance story. But this was even more than that. This book was full of surprises that were perfectly timed to provoke every emotion imaginable within me!! I was happy, sad, hopeful, mad, glad….it was like an emotional medley of feelings. If time had permitted, I could have read the entire book in one or two sittings. That’s how invested I was in the characters and their outcome, especially since I knew it would be a good one. Heartwarming books always result in a happily- ever-after. My imagination ran wild as I envisioned the various scenes—the road trip, the Blackwell ranch, the animals (including Amanda’s Irish Wolfhound, Clancy), the cowboys, the romantic tension, and finally, the unveiling of secrets…. it was creative and realistic and entertaining, and it made me want to jump on an airplane to Montana to meet each and every character 😊. They’ll all be alive in my memory where I’ll be hoping to revisit them in the next Blackwell Sisters installment, Montana Dreams, by Anna J. Stewart.
And now, my brief summary of what it’s all about…
In Montana Wishes, the focus is on Amanda Harrison, a triplet of five sisters; identical twin to Lily Harrison and fraternal twin to Georgie Harrison. Peyton is the oldest sibling, and Fiona, the youngest. Got that? These are actually The Blackwell Sisters, but that’s a story for another time. To say that Amanda is going through trying times in her life would be an understatement. This poor woman has received a quadruple whammy of distressing news and she’s trying to take it all in stride. She’s on her way to Montana from California to help her sister Lily who she believes is about to make the biggest mistake of her life. Meanwhile, she’s traveling with her best friend since middle school, Blake Collins, who’s the greatest catch ever, but who’s recently become engaged. Amanda’s harboring devastating news that she’s just received and will have to deal with when she returns from her trip, and she’s trying to come to terms with recent revelations about her family history. At 29, is Amanda’s life story a series of unfortunate events, or is there a light at the end of the tunnel?
I can’t say enough good things about Montana Wishes, or The Blackwell Sisters series thus far, other than that I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.
I really enjoyed Montana Welcome. There was a satisfying mixture of comedy, adventure and sweet romance that I relished from beginning to end.
Lily Harrison becomes a bride on the run when she finds out, on her wedding day, that her groom to be isn’t in love with her. At almost the same time she learns that she’s not who she thinks she is, but a part of a much bigger family that she never could have imagined. She suddenly finds herself in a motor home on her way to Montana. She’s on a quest for answers about her true identity, but unbeknownst to herself there’s a search party closely following on her heels. Along the way Lily finds friendships in the form of two very dramatic young women; regains confidence in her abilities, acquires a horse and donkey and falls in love with a cowboy.
I love the Blackwell series, and this was a very good start to The Blackwell Sisters. It was great getting reacquainted with the elusive Big E (Elias Blackwell), and the rest of the Blackwell brothers who were sprinkled throughout the pages of Montana Welcome. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
This book tells the true story of Chris Watts and what happened leading up to that infamous day when he ended the lives of his family.
Chris Watts’ family seemed ideal from the outside looking in. He had a beautiful wife who was expecting their third child, and two adorable little girls, Bella and Celeste, who loved their father dearly. Chris’s wife, Shanann, appeared ecstatic about her relationship with her husband. Her Thrive business was successful and her constant social media presence portrayed a family that was the envy of those who knew her, as well as those who followed her online. So what went wrong? Why did Chris Watts end the lives of his beloved family? Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. People are known to hide the negative aspects of their life from those around them. In the Watts’s case, there was debt, control, in-law problems, illness, infidelity and other stresses that apparently contributed to the devastating outcome that shocked their family, friends and an entire nation.
When I saw this story on the news I was shocked and dismayed by what happened to pregnant Shanann and her two little girls. This book gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the not-so-perfect Watts family, including the introverted, anti-social Chris Watts, who went from intensely loving his wife and children, to wanting nothing more than to be free of them.
This is how I felt while listening to this book…
Still many unanswered questions, but I suppose Chris Watts will take the absolute truth with him to his grave.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of The Perfect Father. All opinions expressed about it are my own.
Are you familiar with the Chris Watts story? What did you think of it? Were you in disbelief like I was?
Finola, the eldest of the trio, is a morning-show host who’s blindsided by her husband’s betrayal with a young, famous singer, on her own television show! Just when she was ready to go ahead with a major plan for their marriage, it’s shattered in a moment.
Zennie, the middle sister, feels comfortable being alone. She dates, but always seems more satisfied relaxing at home by herself. She’s content with her job and her friends. Her recent sort-of boyfriend senses her lack of enthusiasm about their relationship and breaks off whatever it is they have together. Zennie is a bit caught off guard by this, but only mildly affected. A free agent, she decides to do her best friend a favor—she’s going to be her surrogate! But did she realize what she was getting herself into? And why does she find herself missing the man she pushed away?
Ali is the youngest of the three sisters and feels the smallest in comparison to Finola and Zennie, both in attractiveness and in accomplishments. Her fiancé didn’t even dump her for another woman, he just didn’t want to be with her anymore. To add insult to injury, he didn’t even have the decency to tell her himself, his brother broke the news to her, and he’s been so helpful in helping her get her life back on track. Why is he doing that?
I enjoyed this book about three sisters who reinvented their lives after breakups. While single they took a closer look at themselves and went after what they believed in, even if their actions weren’t immediately received favorably. But of course, in Susan Mallery fashion, each woman’s story ends on a positive note. ☺️
Luke Bosworth is consumed by the clutches of grief after losing his young wife two years ago. He prefers to stay stuck in the past where memories of Jenny remain constant; he’s neglecting his two small children as a result, and can’t get his anger issues in check which could cost him his job if he doesn’t get help. So he does, and while doing so he’s reacquainted with the annoying woman with the out of control dog who he seems to keep running into. Sarah Jensen is also trying to overcome the grief that’s caused her to lose her focus and drive; and although she’s grappling with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, she can help Luke’s children in so many ways if he’d stop being so overly-protective and prideful. She has her mind set on a monumental project that involves Luke’s children, but all she ever gets from him is anger, rage and negative feedback. The man needs serious help. But as it turns out, Luke is also a multifaceted person with many talents, including an ability to discern the motives and emotions of others, as Sarah soon learns during one of their grief-counseling therapy sessions. Both Sarah and Luke have issues that aren’t obvious to themselves, so why are they so apparent to each other?
I loved this book! It gave me all the feels. It was a tender, emotional story with an excellent cast of characters that continue to linger in my mind. I always enjoy reading Catherine Lanigan’s books. Her depth of knowledge and wisdom shines through in them. You can sense her life experience from the various objects, places, and expressions of human emotions and advice that’s written. There’s substance within its pages, and not superficial fluff. The contents gives me pause for reflection. I appreciate when there’s an obvious maturity level existent in a book because not only do I enjoy the story, but I learn new things as well.
Overall, Love Shadows was a great read that exceeded my expectations. At times it seemed borderline Inspy fiction, IMO, with the religious backdrop and views, so I’m giving you a heads up on that aspect of it. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it and look forward to reading more books in the series.
Thank you, Catherine Lanigan, for a complimentary copy of Love Shadows. All thoughts expressed about it are my own.
Have you tried reading a Harlequin Heartwarming book? Do you like sweet romance? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Stay tuned for my upcoming Heartwarming giveaway, and thanks for visiting Cozynookbks. Have a great week everyone. 😊
Amelia Moore and her younger sister, Clara, are in a terrible predicament. Both of their biological parents have passed on and the young women are living in Brighton under the charge of their stepfather, Lord Gray, who constantly reminds them that they are a burden, and that he cares for them financially solely because of the promise he made to their mother, Arabella. Amelia is determined to secure a husband for her younger sister before sickly Lord Gray perishes from his illness, leaving them destitute. Amid hopelessness, an invitation is finally extended to the young women by Sir Ronald Demsford of Hampshire to attend a house party. His estate is impressive, and the mere thought that Clara could find happiness with Sir Ronald as his wife, fills Amelia with exhilaration. Surely a match can be made. That is if the sniffy, impertinent Mr. Peter Wood doesn’t curtail Amelia’s plan for Clara with similar intentions for his own younger sister.
I…LOVED….this book!! 😃 What splendid writing! Ms. Walker’s Regency era novel exudes a freshness; its language is pleasant and easy to decipher, yet not simplistic. The scenes flow effortlessly, and the speech, manners, architecture, landscape and costumes all mirror the time period for which it was intended. I enjoyed the casual development of the admiration between Peter and Amelia; it was natural and convincing. The adept balance of wit and seriousness further compliments this artfully contrived story. Mr. Wood’s charismatic, and at times, impertinent manners gave me the giggles, and the glorious ending left me thoroughly contented and bubbling over with warmth and happiness amidst these uncertain times we’re currently living in.
Lakeshire Park is a lovely tale that I thoroughly savored from start to finish. I will be looking out for more books written by Megan Walker. Very highly recommended.
Thank you, Laurel-Ann Nattress and Shadow Mountain Publishing for a complimentary copy of Lakeshire Park. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.