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.