Monday, April 17, 2023

A Perfect British Romance....


Book Summary (Amazon): Lieutenant Charles Heywood has had his fill of adventure. Battle-weary and disillusioned, he returns to England, resolved to settle down to a quiet, uneventful life on an estate of his own. But arranging to purchase the property he desires is more difficult than Charles ever imagined. The place is mired in secrets, some of which may prove deadly. If he’s going to unravel them, he’ll need the assistance of someone as daring as he is.

At only twenty, Lady Katherine Beresford has already earned a scandalous reputation. As skilled with pistols as she is on horseback, she’s never met an obstacle she can’t surmount—or a man she can’t win. That is, until she encounters the infuriatingly somber Lieutenant Heywood. But Kate refuses to be deterred by the raven-haired soldier’s strong, silent facade. After all, faint heart never won handsome gentleman.

From the wilds of rural Somersetshire to the glittering ballrooms of early-Victorian London, Charles and Kate embark on a cross-country quest to solve a decades’ old mystery. Will the greatest danger be to their hearts—or to their lives?

My thoughts...Some days I just want to curl up with a historical romance and be transported to one of my favorite places...England. And who better to take me there than Mimi Matthews?! I've read all of her novels to date, and each one has affected me differently. All of them are closed door romances, but the way Mimi builds the tension is fantastic. I also love the variety of characters and two are alike.

    All of this is true, once again, in Return to Satterthwaite Court. While this novel does travel down the family tree to the children of two of her previous literary couples, Charles and Kate have a unique story of their own. Charles has a bit of tunnel vision, set on establishing his own estate, not necessarily with a lady by his side. Kate enters like a whirlwind and helps him see some other options, and I love her for it! For me, she is the shining star of this novel. I admired the way her confidence and intentions towards Charles were portrayed. She was definitely ahead of her time, not waiting for him to take the initiative, but saw what (or whom) she wanted and didn't let societal rules get in her way! She made herself known, but wasn't off-putting or offensive. She's quickly become a new favorite heroine! The mystery aspect was not too suspenseful, but added a little more intrigue to the plot. I liked the way it added another connection to some of Mimi's previous novels. You don't have to read these other novels, however, to enjoy this one.

    Go grab your copy of Return to Satterthwaite Court!

Many thanks to Mimi, Rel Mollet, and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I gave.


Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Happy Valentine's Day! It's the perfect day for a new romance!

 Book Summary (Amazon):After surviving a trauma several years back, Remy Reed relocated to a cottage on one of Maine’s most remote islands. She’s arranged her life just the way she wants it, spending her time working on her wood sculptures and soaking in the beauty of nature. It’s quiet and solitary—until the day she spots something bobbing in the ocean.

Her binoculars reveal the “something” to be a man, and he’s struggling to keep his head above water. She races out to save him and brings him into her home. He’s injured, which doesn’t detract from his handsomeness nor make him any easier to bear. He acts like a duke who’s misplaced his dukedom . . . expensive tastes, lazy charm, bossy ideas.

Remy would love nothing more than to return him to his people, but he has no recollection of his life prior to the moment she rescued him. Though she’s not interested in relationships other than the safe ones she’s already established, she begins to realize that he’s coming to depend on her.

Who is he? What happened that landed him in the Atlantic Ocean? And why is she drawn to him more and more as time goes by?

There’s no way to discover those answers except to walk beside him down memory lane.

My thoughts...First of all...I LOVE the fresh, new cover art for this book! It's so different from Becky's previous novels, but it's fabulous. The details give clues to the story and really draw you in before even starting the story.

    Not only is the cover art different, but the tone of this novel feels different. The heroine, Remy, is very skittish and withdrawn from society. It took a while for me to warm up to her. I had to understand her, which Wade does a great job of slowly letting the reader get to know her and her reasons for the way she is. The mystery man she rescues also takes time to get to know because he has amnesia, but his persona is very obvious from the beginning. His injuries and basic invasion into Remy's world builds a connection and tension between the two that I loved. 

    Becky always does an amazing job of building complex layers in a story. In Memory Lane, there are a variety of characters, there's just the right amount of mystery and suspense, and her specialty, romance. This all comes together to make a very interesting, cohesive plot. I'm basically a super fan of all of Becky's books, but if you haven't read any of her books before, this is a great one to start with! (There are some elements that may be triggers for some readers.) 

    I'm grateful to have received an advance copy from the publisher in order to give my honest review, which I did. Happy Valentine's Day and happy reading!

Monday, January 30, 2023

Kicking off the new year with a great book! The Rose and the Thistle by Laura Frantz


Book Summary (Amazon): In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley's father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Lady Blythe awaits who will ultimately be crowned king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.

No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with the clothes on her back and her mistress in tow. He has his own problems--a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction in the wake of losing his father. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.

Drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue, shifting alliances, and ambitions, Lady Blythe must be careful whom she trusts. Her fortune, her future, and her very life are at stake. Those who appear to be adversaries may turn out to be allies--and those who pretend friendship may be enemies.

My thoughts...At the finish of this novel, I was doing all of the sighing. There were so many things I loved about it. I loved the hero-- certainly swoon-worthy. Brave and honorable, he was the perfect counterpart to the heroine, Blythe. While described as plain and highly intelligent, I love that Frantz expertly wove the two opposites into a beautiful--believable--love story, with the backdrop of political intrigue that was happening in 18th century England, France, and Scotland. 

Laura Frantz' has an amazing ability to create and build tension. While the first half of the novel was a little slower than the last half, it was setting the scene of the building rebelling between the religious and political groups of the day. It was intriguing to gain a little understanding of all that was happening historically. Add two fictional characters caught in the middle of it all, trying to navigate how to survive and live peaceably, it added another layer to the plot. Laura also expertly wrote the slow burn romantic tension that I love! Using beautiful descriptive language, it had all of the romantic feelings without venturing behind closed doors. That is quite a feat and I enjoyed every moment of it! While I love the history, I'm really here for the romance! : )

I received a complimentary of this book from the publisher in order to share my honest review, which I did. I highly recommend this beautifully written novel by Laura Frantz!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Year end wrap up...All That It Takes by Nicole Deese


Book Summary (Amazon): When the ever-cautious Val Locklier moves cross-country with her son for a secure job, everything she'd planned unravels within the first week. After Val reluctantly agrees to rent an apartment from her best friend's brother, an unexpected chance at an elite filmmakers' mentorship ignites fresh hope for a dream career. But as Val's community begins to expand, so do her insecurities, especially those heightened by her growing attraction to a certain friendly landlord. 

Pastor Miles McKenzie returns home from a short-term mission trip to discover that not only does he have an intriguing new tenant living upstairs, he's also been reassigned to a local ministry on life support. Disillusioned and restless, he distracts himself by throwing his energy into a host of new projects--not the least of which is pursuing Val--without stopping to consider the future. 

As Val struggles to stop hiding behind the camera and Miles wrestles with shattered expectations, they'll find that authentic love and sacrifice must go hand in hand.

 My thoughts..

The first book in this series, All That Really Matters, was a total home run for me. It was the first book I had ever read by Nicole Deese and I loved it. I couldn't wait for this book, the second in the series, to come out. Here are some things I really liked about this book:

The development of the main characters, Val and Miles, was great. They both started out as wounded people in several aspects, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. As the story went on, they found strength and growth through their relationship with each other, friends old and new, and their faith. This didn't come quickly or easily, but as a reader, I could relate to their struggles and appreciated how they worked through them. Their growth also encouraged me in different aspects of my own life.

I also liked the level of romantic tension in the book. As they share two floors of the same house, crossing paths, hearing each other walking around, help each other out, it builds up the connection between the characters as well as opportunities to experience conflict. 

The only thing that I struggled with in this book was the bitterness Miles expresses about his ministry life, particularly in the beginning of the book. Maybe it's because it hit a little close to home (a story for another day), and I guess when you want to escape real life through fiction, you don't want to be faced with all of the hurt feelings and emotions that can sometimes come with ministry life. The author portrayed it well, it just kind of left a sour note with me and I struggled to shake it off as I was reading. By the end, there was a redemptive element to that part of the story, which I appreciated, but it was a bit hard won.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, but I would definitely say the first in the series is still a favorite. 

**I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give honest review, which I did.**

Year end book wrap up...beginning with Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham


Book Summary (Goodreads): Izzy Edgewood is a wannabe bookstore owner, quote queen, and Lord of the Rings nerd who has been waiting for Prince Charming to sweep her off her sneakered feet. But it’s hard to meet people when you spend more time with fictional humans than real ones. Which is why her pragmatist cousin Josephine decides to take Izzy’s future into her own meddling hands and create an online dating profile for the hopeful romantic.

To Izzy’s shock (and suspicion), Josie’s plan works. Soon, she’s dialoguing with a Hobbit-loving man named Brodie who lives in a small town an ocean away from her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But is their shared love of books, family, and correspondence enough to overcome Izzy’s fear of flying and the literal distance between them? And is a long-distance relationship even worth considering when a local author has been frequenting the library where she works and is proving to be a perfectly fine gentleman?

 My thoughts...Have you ever been in one of those seasons in life when you just need a fun, little pick-me-up...let's say in the form of a heart-warming, romantic, endearing book? That's where I was not long ago when I decided to take a chance on Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham. I wasn't sure that an epistolary novel was going to be able to accomplish what I was searching for, but all my skepticism was laid to rest once I got started. I was instantly taken in.

 Several aspects of this book really worked for me. First of all, I loved the characters. They were authentic, funny, and relatable. Movie quotes were sprinkled throughout the dialogue, and I got (most of) them. The epistolary style didn't take away from any of the chemistry between Izzy and Brodie, but I loved that the author stepped away from it during some important moments. It drew attention to those parts of the book in all the right ways.

Another aspect I loved is the way Pepper created a sweet, wholesome story, but still gave us romance lovers that tension and (clean) contact that we want. Thank you! 

I can't wait to read the second book in this series!


*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to share my honest opinion, which I did** 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Two Historical Novels....


Book Summary (Amazon)...Amid the Great War in 1918 England, munitions worker Rosalind Graham is desperate to escape the arranged marriage being forced on her by her ruthless guardian and instead follow her own course. When the Chilwell factory explodes, killing hundreds of unidentified workers, Rose realizes the world believes she perished in the disaster. Seizing the chance to escape, she risks all and assumes a new identity, taking a supervisory position in Gretna, Scotland, as Miss Tilly Lockhart.

RAF Captain Alex Baird is returning home to Gretna on a secret mission to uncover the saboteur suspected in the Chilwell explosion, as Gretna's factory is likely next. Fearing for his family's safety, he's also haunted by guilt after failing to protect his brother. Alex is surprised to discover a young woman, Miss Lockhart, renting his boyhood room, but the two eventually bond over their mutual affection for his family--until Alex receives orders to surveil her.

Rose squirms beneath Alex's scrutiny while she struggles to gain her workers' respect. But when her deception turns to danger, she and Alex must find a way to put their painful pasts behind them and together try to safeguard the future.

My thoughts...If you enjoy well written fictional characters intertwined with historical events, you'll love this book! I didn't know much at all about this time period, but Kate Breslin did a great job of helping the reader understand the pulse of the time without overwhelming with too much information. Rose was a character that I empathized with, as she becomes an innocent bystander of a tragic wartime encounter. Innocently, she uses this tragedy to help start a new life free from the harmful circumstances she was in, only to find out that she had entered into a different kind of danger. I loved that plot twist! I also enjoyed the growth in her character along with the hero, Alex. As always with Kate Breslin's books, I had a hard time putting it down. While I will say that For Such a Time is still my favorite, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.

Book Summary (Amazon):
When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother's desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey's cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past--including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick--magistrate, widower, and former neighbor--who long ago broke her heart.

When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .

My thoughts...I have been a Julie Klassen fan for many years now. Her books have a bit of mystery, surrounded by light romance. Her characters are interesting, which is another aspect that makes me come back for more. 

In this particular novel, I loved the mystery aspect the most. Up until the end of the novel, there was a question of who was the character in the hooded gown. I'll have to admit, I was reading late one night and nearly scared myself! I would still consider it to be light suspense. Julie also does a great job building the romantic tension. I love the connection between Rebecca and Sir Frederick as they try to figure out if they can trust one another to solve the mysteries at the abbey. 

This book is a clean read and the author is a must read for this genre! 

I received complimentary copies of these books from the publisher via NetGalley.

Monday, June 6, 2022

I love a good time travel book!


Book Summary (Amazon): In the last stages of a genetic disease, Ellen Creighton has decided to live out her remaining days at the estate of her longtime friend Harrison Burlington. Harrison cares deeply for Ellen, but as a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, he's never allowed himself to get serious in a relationship. However, he's desperately trying to save her by finding the holy water that is believed to heal any disease.

When he locates two flasks, Ellen refuses to drink one of them because she believes the holy water killed her sister and father. In an effort to convince her to take it, Harrison ingests the contents first, and when Ellen witnesses the effects, she can no longer deny the power of the substance in the bottles. Dangerous criminals are also seeking the holy water, and Ellen soon learns they will go to any lengths to get the powerful drug--including sending her back into the past to find it for them.

My thoughts...I've never read quite so much about holy water as I have with this book and Jody Hedlund's first book in this series...or imagined what it could do. In Never Leave Me, we see not only its time travel power but also the power it has to heal. All of this can get a little confusing, with different time crossings and the consequences of leaving one time for another. What I love about these books, though, is the way the characters are written. You see how much they change and grow throughout the novel, as well as how they deal with the various plot twists thrown at them. Speaking of plot, Jody is a master story weaver. She takes fantasy (time travel) and adds depth through scenarios and emotions, which makes you want to know what is going to happen next, even if you have to accept the unbelievable. The romantic moments are a particular favorite of mine, which are fun, clean, but still get the heart racing. The first book in this series is still my favorite, but I really enjoyed this one as well and would definitely recommend it. I'm looking forward to the next one!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in order to share my honest opinion.*