3 1/2 Stars, Heidi Kimball, Jen Geigle Johnson, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

It’s my Party

My husband and I are throwing a party this weekend. A game night (we’re kind of board game geeks) that we’re super excited about. Parties always involve a lot of house cleaning and shopping and food prep…not to mention finding a babysitter.  All of which is totally worth it, just busy.

Every time I read a book about a house party, I can’t imagine how they entertain that many people for that amount of time! The scheduling and food and cleaning that would have to go into a party of that magnitude blows my mind.

The authors of Regency House Party  gave us a little bit more of a glimpse into the behind the scenes of a regency house party in their newest series: “Havencrest”.

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All five books were fun quick reads, the hosts’ were particularly clever. A reluctant hostess adds all sorts of drama and amusement. 

Their previous house party series was released as a serial on their website. The chapters were posted weekly and flowed chronologically. I loved being able to see the same scene or sequence through five different perspectives. The character’s and stories flowed together to create a really fun over arching picture.

I liked each story in this series, individually. However, I had a harder time watching the overall story flow together. These were released monthly and you got the whole story all at once. For me too much time had passed until the next release that I had to remind myself what had happened and who was who.

As far as individual regency romances I enjoyed reading them and would definitely recommend them. I however, didn’t get the overall house party intrigue and character connection with this set as I did with the original. I think maybe if I read them all in a closer time frame instead of as they came out, it might have been different.

Here is my favorite thing about each of them:

Miss Marleigh’s Pirate Lord by Mindy Burbridge Strunk had my most favorite characters. Both Alex and Abi were well written, fun to read characters, with entertaining interactions.

 The Vexatious Widow by Michelle Pennington had really good tension between the two main characters.

Charmed by His Lordship by Jen Geigle Johnson had the most juxtaposition between characters. Jen created such differing characters in Felicity and Abraham it was fun to see her bring them together.

The Captain’s Lady by Sara Cardon had my favorite female heroine. Sara did a fantastic job creating Lucy Brooks and all the judgments and insecurities that would go along with her character.

The Marriage Bargain by Heidi Kimball was by far my favorite storyline. I was instantly pulled in, hook line and sinker. The story continued to give me all the feels up until the very end.

PS- they’re all available on KindleUnlimited!!

 

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3 1/2 Stars, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Language, Moderate Religion

Perspective

Confession for you all, I have always been more on the sensitive side I cry during movies, watching TV, and while reading books. Heavens, I’ve even cried watching facebook videos! Since having my first baby however, my hormones (lets just blame it on the hormones) have been out of control.

So Healed by Miranda Lotz may not have been the best choice, it is 100% a heart wrencher. I cried through more than half of it.

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“Stephanie knows God answers her prayers. Giving birth to her daughter after five miscarriages is proof of that. 

But when baby Abby is diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy and treatments begin to spiral out of control, Stephanie is left to question why a God of miracles doesn’t guide her to heal Abby.

Stephanie’s husband, Jared, wants to try Mary’s Miracle–an organic CBD oil made from hemp–to treat Abby’s seizures, but Stephanie wants to know what God has planned for them.

As treatments dwindle and options run low, Stephanie must learn how to trust her instincts and follow her heart, finding a path forward for her daughter, and a path back to God for herself.”

The author did a beautiful job of reflecting all the pain hurt and struggle a family can go through when they find out hard news about their little angels. Miranda Lotz’s writing not only pulls on your heart strings, but gives you perspective. She did a very good job of making you feel and understand all the emotions.

I did struggle a little with the points of view it was written in, the chapters were labeled with the person’s name, but every now and then it seemed to switch to third person or even a completely different view.

Be aware of the sensitive nature of this book before you decide if it’s for you. Also a few other points: The book is very heavily religious as this family struggles in understanding why God would allow this, but it’s not preachy. There is heavier language than most books we read, so keep that in mind. Lastly, although there is no violence in the book its first chapter is pretty graphic in the telling of her delivery.

That all being said, this is a good book to turn to for perspective, for faith, and for a really good cry. –A.B.

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Melanie Jacobson, Moderate Religion

Fairy Tale Life

Fairy Tale re-tellings seem to be a really popular trope right now. I’m not complaining, I’m just stating a fact. A fact I completely embrace. I love watching how each author uses the different elements of the story to create their own fairy tale. I especially love it when it’s not obvious how they’re going to eventually pull the whole story together.

Finding Jack by Melanie Jacobson is a contemporary reverse re-telling (seems like a tongue twister) of Rapunzel.

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When smart, practical Emily finds herself in the crosshairs of an Internet prankster, her orderly world goes topsy-turvy. Instead of getting mad at the handsome stranger behind the joke, she finds herself drawn to him. But Jack Dobson, though hilarious and thoughtful, has a lot of secrets. Despite her growing feelings for her new and unexpected long-distance friend, his biggest secret of all might be the one that breaks the spell they’ve been weaving around each other.

I’ve never read a reverse re-telling of rapunzel. It just doesn’t seem feasible that a man would be trapped in a tower. Melanie Jacobson did an cute flip, and it was so fun to try and figure out how he was “trapped.” I love that she used it as personal prison not a physical one imposed by anyone else.

Melanie Jacobson’s female characters can seem almost too similar. They’re all California determined and focused girls, but I love where she went with Emily and the changes she made.

Melanie Jacobson also has a thing for online relationships. I’ve read that’s how she met her husband, which is sweet, but I keep hoping for something different. The online connection in this one was unique enough to not pull me out of the story.

The banter between Emily and Jack was highly entertaining and I liked how their connection grew and how their characters eventually encouraged each other outside of themselves.

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Moderate Violence

Boys will be Boys

While reading I love to come across a scene where the characters do something that surprises you, but not because it’s unusual. I love when the thing that surprises me, is real life. Sometimes novels give us the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but not much of the everyday. Like two friends duking it out in a stable. I loved this particular scene in Mindy Strunk’s novel “An American in Duke’s Clothing”. It was delightfully unexpected, and yet exactly on mark.

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“When unexpected deaths leave Tad Wentworth as the heir to an English title, he leaves his American homeland to fulfill his duty. Upon arriving in the country, he discovers an arranged marriage is part of the plan. But when his affections guide him toward a different lady, he must decide if he will follow his heart or his head. 

Violet Allen’s questionable past has left her with few friends. When she meets a dashing stranger who shows interest in her, she allows herself to dream of a future with him. Until she discovers the stranger is not only a Duke but is also engaged to her sister. As her feelings for him grow, she must decide if she will be loyal to her sister or her heart.”

Mindy Strunk’s characters were fun to read and I enjoyed the story line. There is an art to sharing just enough information to satisfy but withholding enough to keep you interested. I felt that balance was a little off at times, but not enough to truly distract from the overall story line.

The character depth and development is what really pulled me into the story. Not just Violet and Tad, but Dawson and the family relations as well. Mindy Strunk created some great secondary characters that I hope we’ll get to see more of.

3 1/2 Stars, Giveaway, Low Language, Low Violence, Moderate Religion, Moderate Romance

Best of Intentions

I feel like December should be dubbed the month of best of intentions. I always have all these plans and usually only get through half of them. That’s what happened yesterday, I got so much done! But there’s also so much I didn’t get done. However, I did listen to a delightful book while I did laundry…

“Abigail Spencer loved her job. She was a marine biologist who maintained some of Miami’s most spectacular ponds and aquariums. She had the opportunity to travel around the city, meeting new people and working in beautiful locations. So, even though it was just another day at the office when she suddenly met the man of her dreams, she wasn’t in an office at all.

Every girl imagines meeting her prince charming. It’s doubtful, however, that any of these fantasies include it happening when they’re soaked with sweat and knee-deep in pond scum.

Fate can be funny that way.”

This was a really sweet story. Brooke St. James gave it just the right amount of chemistry and drama. The Christian elements were subtle and well done. A quick cozy by the fire read.

 

 

Author Brooke St. James

Brooke St. James is a bestselling author of contemporary romance novels with Christian and inspirational themes and happy endings. She was born and raised in south Louisiana but has had the opportunity to travel and live throughout the U.S. An avid reader, writer, audio book addict, and fan of all things artistic, Brooke constantly has her hands in some creative activity. She’s currently back home in Louisiana enjoying life with her husband, children, and two lazy dogs.

 

 


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Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

 

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Moderate Religion, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence, Uncategorized

Grandmother what big eyes you have

Out of all of the fairy tales out there, Little Red Ridding Hood has never been a favorite of mine. I mean, who doesn’t recognize their own Grandma? Not only the eyes, ears, and teeth, but let’s talk about the fury face, I mean come on. I started this book not even realizing it was a modern day telling of, Red Riding Hood; it didn’t take me long thanks to the names. I was enjoying the writing by Lauren Winder Farnsworth in her book, Chasing Red, so I stuck it out. I’m glad I did.

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“Ryder Redmond can’t wait to begin her new life in New York City, with her first real job after college. But the big city gets a little more complicated once she meets the charming and mysterious Damian Wolfe. On the surface he seems perfect, but her friend Hunter is suspicious of his all-too-straight smile and his motives towards Ryder. With her heart on the line, Ryder will have to decide just how much she trusts the handsome city slicker.”

I loved how Lauren stayed true to Red Riding hoods innocence, and naivety. Even though that is what drives me nuts about Red, I am glad she stayed true to that. I often wanted to shake the main character for it, but it was fitting for following the fairy tale.

There was only one part about the book that I really didn’t like. The childhood best friend who actually seems to like Damien is the one who helps end the relationship in the end, but only by confessing something she saw months earlier. It seemed odd that she sat on that information because she assumed the relationship wouldn’t last, the whole thing seemed a little out of character.

I enjoyed watching her relationships with the other characters develop and grow. Especially between her and her mother. I love finding new authors and will definitely read another one from this author. –M.V.

3 1/2 Stars, Jennifer Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence

Secret to Success

My husband is afraid of spiders, scream like a little girl afraid. I’m the designated spider killer in our house, and that’s completely okay with me, because the things that my husband does for me far outweigh my ability to kill spiders for him. There is a scene in Jennifer Moore‘s The Shipbuilder’s Wife where Lydia and Jacob have a conversation I swear I’ve had a million times with my husband and it seriously made me so happy. Lydia concludes the conversation with, “If you hold me when I have a frightening dream, I will smash spiders for you.” And I thought, that right there is the secret to success in a marriage.

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“The day of her parents’ garden party dawns bright as Lydia Prescott eagerly anticipates a marriage proposal from a handsome and wealthy plantation owner. The lovely debutante plans to steal a moment away with her beau, but her plans go terribly awry. Instead of her intended, she is joined by a stranger the largest man she’s ever laid eyes on. And it is clear Jacob Steele is there for reasons far more sober than the party. With British raids erupting all around them, it is his job to reassure plantation owners of their safety. In reality, however, Jacob is an espionage agent, and the truth is dire: America is on the verge of invasion by the British.

Blissfully unaware of the danger surrounding her, Lydia basks in the glow of her recent engagement. But her joy is short-lived—a surprise British attack results in a devastating wound, and her plans for the future are shattered. Lost in her devastation, Lydia could never dream that Jacob, that giant of a man she met so briefly, would prove to be her saving grace. And with a war raging around them, she may be called upon to save him too.”

Jennifer Moore always creates compelling characters with relatable struggles to overcome. Giving good insight into her characters through relevant character introspection so we feel like we’re right there along with them.

Her books are always well researched, but she often makes plot jumps that are hard for me to follow. Jacob marrying Lydia was one of those. It seemed an out of the blue and illogical step. But I love how she used that later in the story for him to have that introspection she’s so good at about why he really married her in the first place.

I also had a hard time following the timeline at times, but found myself really invested in the characters, so much so that I really hope all of her hints about Alden’s mysterious experiences mean we’ll get to have a book about him down the road.

See our Review of Lydia’s brother Emmett’s book in “My Dearest Enemy” here.

3 1/2 Stars, Heather B. Moore, Jen Geigle Johnson, Sarah M. Eden, Timeless Romance Anthologies

Tradition!

I love the holiday season, the music, the decorations, the traditions. I love creating new traditions in my littles and watching the season come alive in their eyes. Books have always been a part of our traditions and I love a good holiday story to get me in the Christmas spirit.

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ALWAYS KISS AT CHRISTMAS by Regina Scott
Mary Rose has one goal for her mother’s annual Christmas Eve party: convince her childhood friend Julian Mayes to marry her. She has always admired Julian. Surely one moment under the kissing bough will convince him they were meant to be together. Newly hired by a prestigious London law firm, Julian is ready to shake the dust of the countryside off his polished boots. But he’s always had a soft spot for Mary. As the danger to her future becomes clear, will one kiss be enough to prove to him how far he will go to protect her?

The Plot was cute and the characters were endearing but there was something lacking in the natural flow of the story.

A YULETIDE MATCH by Sarah M. Eden
Famed matchmaker to the ton, Adelaide Northrup cannot imagine a more perfect way to spend Christmas than answering the desperate call of Mr. Porter Bartrum: widower, young father, dunderhead. The young gentleman’s first marriage was an arranged one and he hasn’t the first idea how to find a wife on his own. His dear friend, Chloe Munson, has watched his attempts with amusement and finds this latest approach, the clandestine hiring of a matchmaker, his most entertaining yet. If Adelaide plays her cards right, and she always does, she might very well manage to secure two happy endings.

I mentioned on Social Media how excited I was to hear more from Mrs. Northrop and she did not disappoint. Using Mrs. Northrop to guide the two characters to a realization of their feelings worked so well and made the story nothing short of adorable.

THE FORBIDDEN DUKE by Jen Geigle Johnson
They weren’t supposed to meet, but now that they have, nothing will ever be the same. The Duke of Salsbury blames her family. Lady Catherine blames his. Will an age-old dispute between the Salsburys and Asters rip apart any hope they have to be together? In this game of secrets and lies, can their love for each other conquer even the most tightly held family prejudices?

This nod to Romeo and Julie, but with a sweet ending had my favorite meet cute of the anthology. The author did a beautiful job with the romance balancing their attraction with the struggles in their background they needed to over come.

MISTLETOE AT WILLOWSMEADE by Annette Lyon
On Christmas Eve, Eleanor Hadfield, who works as governess at her childhood home of Willowsmeade, is stunned to learn that the love of her youth, Julian Phillips, is coming back after a decade’s absence. Once the gardener’s son, he has elevated his station to navy captain. Making a match with a mere governess would lower his position, if he were to still love her as he did as a young man, which is unlikely. Unable to bear the idea of noble Julian keeping an old promise out of obligation or pity, Eleanor decides to leave the only place that has ever been a home.

In this second chance love story it was easy to connect with the emotions of the two characters and the author’s slow build from both points of view until they finally were brave enough to express their feelings created a good tension and satisfying ending.

FOLLOW THE RIVER HOME by Krista Lynne Jensen
With her beloved home entailed away to a wealthy cousin, spirited Arabelle Hyatt has resigned herself to marry the arrogant man, if only to save her family from destitution. But before an understanding is reached, a childhood friend returns from war, wounded in more ways than one. With Christmas coming—what may be their last at Hybrigge—holiday traditions are celebrated, memories are revisited, and Arabelle learns what lies in a man’s words is not always what lies in his heart.

I liked the way the author set up the characters for this story, but they seemed to get a little lost in the plot. There was a little too much going on. It would’ve worked great in a flushed out novel but made the short story feel disconcerting.

THE NEW EARL by Heather B. Moore
Celia Thompson knows she can’t live with the new earl who’s come to take her brother’s place. Before she can pack her belongings and reconcile herself to a fate of living as a spinster in her aunt’s home, the new earl arrives. Yet, Aaron, now Lord Banfield, is not the pompous, arrogant man she’d imagined. In fact, he’s quite . . . interesting and handsome. Celia decides to help the man acclimate to his new role. But the longer she stays on at Banfield, the more she realizes the new earl might be the answer she’s been looking for.

I really like the set up of Heather Moore’s  story and the banter back and forth between the two characters. The clandestine meetings and the way they came to respect each other made for a good romance, but for some reason the ending left me feeling a little underwhelmed.

One of my favorite things about reading Holiday themed books from the Regency era is the traditions. I loved learning how they celebrated and the little things they did to make the holiday special. It was obvious all these authors did their research bringing something new and interesting to my holiday tradition repertoire.

 

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence

Sway

I have to confess my favorite point of view for a novel is multiple third person. Especially with a romance. I love how it lets the reader watch the budding relationship expand between both the hero and heroine. I love getting into not just the heroine’s thoughts but the hero’s as well. Cause lets be honest, I’ve known my husband for almost 20 years and we’re pretty synced, but there’s a good forty percent of the time that I have no idea what he’s thinking. I love being able to say, oh that’s what the other person was thinking!

Keena Richins did a modern retelling of “Persuasion”, but instead of having the hero and heroine’s point of view in the same book, she wrote two separate books. One from Anne’s point of view and then one from Rick’s (our modern day Captain Wentworth). I was a little worried that I would be bored and feel like I was just reading the same novel twice, but there were enough moments of them apart that they felt like two different novels.

Persuading Him: A Modern Persuasion Retelling by [Richins, Keena]At seventeen, Anne found the love of her life in an ambitious, yet troubled ex-foster boy, but her wealthy family persuaded her to keep on her path to a prestigious career instead of running away with a boy with no future. Eight years later, she finds herself with no career, little money, and a heart still pining for that ex-foster boy. When she accidentally runs into him–now handsome, rich, and working for the prestigious Pemberley Estates Corporation–she discovers he still hasn’t forgiven her yet. How in the world is she going to convince him to give her a second chance?

Persuading Her: A Modern Persuasion Retelling by [Richins, Keena]

At nineteen, Rick Wentworth found the love of his life. Or so he thought. Dumped because he wasn’t good enough for her high-and-mighty family, Rick left, swearing he’d never return. Eight years later, he’s an Acquisition Manager for the prestigious Pemberley Estates Corporation, traveling the world and loving his life. Then he accidentally runs into his old love and feelings he thought were long gone come rushing back. But he’s determined to resist. She dumped him once; he won’t let her the chance to do it again, no matter how badly his heart wants to be hers. 

“Persuading Her” is a stand-alone, clean/sweet, second-chance romance with a guaranteed happily ever after, plus with some other Austen characters sprinkled in. It tells the tale completely from Rick’s side. 

Jane Austen’s books are timeless for many reasons, one of them being her characters. Anne’s character is complex because she’s strong yet shy, a peacemaker yet can be passionate. Keena Richins did a fabulous job writing Anne. You felt her feelings of inadequacies, her shyness and her strength through out the novel.

In ‘His Side’ the author used a life in foster care as Rick’s catalyst for a lot of his actions and it worked really well. I really loved her cookie metaphor scene, but she seemed to over use the phrase “that old anger resurfaced”, could’ve been more meaningful expressed in other ways.

There were more editing errors than I like to see in published novels but not enough to be too distracting from the story. The author kept me interested through out both books while pulling off a modern setting and weaving in other characters, gearing you up for more Austen from her in the future.

3 1/2 Stars, Giveaway, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Uncategorized

Sweet Small Town

I’ve read all of Kimberly Krey’s Sweet Montana Brides collection, but hadn’t read any of her Cobble Creek Romances. The Sheriff’s Bride was a sweet small town romance.

“Trent Lockheart might be the new sheriff in town, but he can’t stop Jessie Jean from stealing his heart.

Sheriff Trent Lockheart knew he’d be in for a challenge when he moved from the big city and a large police force to the small Wyoming town of Cobble Creek. But at least he’d be able to stick to his bachelor ways without temptation. So he thought. Cobble Creek isn’t overflowing with young, single ladies, but Jessie Jean—the gorgeous brunette who runs the Country Quilt Inn—proves more tempting than any woman he’s known.

Jessie doesn’t care much for the new sheriff in town. After an explosive first meeting that almost ends in Jessie’s arrest, she’s even more determined to plan on dinner for one for the rest of her life. Sure, the new sheriff is seriously attractive, and after a second, much less dangerous run-in, he might not be that bad, but Jessie has no plan to marry, date, or even let a man into her life. Still, as the days pass, Trent’s surprising charm works past Jessie’s determination, and she finds promise in their budding relationship.

After opening up about the difficulties in her past, Jessie finds that Trent is guarding a dark tragedy of his own, one that might threaten their chance at a future together.”

Kimberly Krey having her characters realize they had to be “willing to work at things to get what you want” showed a true understanding of romance. The fact that they had to fight to overcome their backgrounds and fight for each other made their relationship more real and relateable.

My one struggle was that Jessie’s realization of wanting to fight for Trent seemed to be a turning point, but then she gave up too quickly.  I think it would’ve fit more with the moment and her personality for her to demand he talk and not leave until he acquiesced. Other than that it was a sweet quick read.

 

 

 

Author Kimberly Krey

Kimberly has always been a fan of good, clean romance, so she decided to specialize in writing ‘Romance That’s Clean without Losing the Steam’. She’s a fervent lover of God, family, and cheese platters, as well as the ultimate hater of laundry.

 

 

Giveaway Details

Ends 10/12/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Amazon.com. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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