4 1/2 stars, Joanna Barker, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Charades

My family and I are currently living in a state of displacement. We sold our current home rather quickly, consequently our next house isn’t quite ready for us. So we are living off the generosity of those who will let us impose on them until it is.

We are vacationing and visiting family and trying to make it more of an adventure for our kids. With each person we impose upon and with so many people under one roof, I rather feel like we’re going from one house party to another.

I think maybe I’ll convince the kids to play charades, or lawn bowls with me tomorrow. Though if we played it as they do in Joanna Barker‘s Miss Adeline’s Match, according to the regency era’s use of the word, they might wonder why they were hearing riddles instead of acting something out.

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Miss Adeline Hayes is the perfect lady’s companion: pleasant, conversational, and unceasingly proper. But when her closest friend, Charity Edgeworth, breaks off her arranged marriage without explanation, even Adeline’s superior skills are put to the test. Charity’s father banishes the two young women to the country, sending Adeline with a charge to find Charity a husband—or suffer dire consequences.

As Adeline takes on the role of reluctant matchmaker, she discovers more than one obstacle in her path. Not only does Charity prefer escaping in books to socializing, but Adeline soon finds her own attentions distracted by the standoffish—and irritatingly handsome—Mr. Evan Whitfield. Amidst an eventful foxhunt and the unexpected arrival of Charity’s former betrothed, Adeline simply doesn’t have time for a battle of wits with Evan. But the two are continually drawn together until Adeline begins to question her tightly guarded convictions about love and marriage.

However, when secrets are revealed and truths made known, Adeline must face her most fearsome obstacle yet: herself.

I loved how Joanna developed Adeline’s character. Even though the story was from her point of view, so often she was acting a charade, that the reader was slowing learning about as she was learning about herself.

Often when you have a book written in first person the personalities of the other characters is over shadowed by the emotions and thoughts of the main characters. I didn’t get that feeling in this book. Even though you’re reading from Adeline’s point of view, the other characters clearly have their own tone and voice. It added depth to not just the characters, but the whole plot.

I love Joanna’s stories, the story lines are always unique and unpredictable.  They fall under what I like to call realistic fairy tales. They have all the magic of a romance, while being wholly realistic about human nature and failings. The hero and heroine are people you can relate to and root for.

There was a point where I wanted to shout, “Duh, Adeline! The answer is staring you right in the face”… and I loved it! I had gotten so entrenched in the story and the characters that I was attempting to have a persuasive conversations with fictional characters. Having that kind of pull over a reader is some awesome writing my friends.

4 1/2 stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Second Chance Love

I have a confession: when I hear a book is a Second Chance love story, I’m more inclined not to read it. Which is odd, my own love story (which I adore) is a second chance love story. However my particular story wasn’t accompanied by any betrayal or anger or wretched sadness that they usually entail. When we got our second chance, it was natural and easy, I’m very lucky. There is enough heartache and pain in the lives of those around me, sometimes I’m just not in the mood to read about it in the pages of a book; unless of course it’s as beautifully written as A Gaurded Heart by Heidi Kimball. 

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Three years after a shocking scandal destroyed her family and forced her into isolation, Eleanor Hayward finally has an opportunity to put her painful history and dashed hopes behind her. But reentering society is no simple task. In her cousin’s glittering ballroom, Eleanor is stunned when she comes face-to-face with the man who broke her heart those years before.

Edmund Fletcher thought he had laid the past to rest until he unexpectedly encounters the woman who so nearly became his wife. Soon to be engaged to another, Edmund knows he must let go of the complicated feelings he harbors for Eleanor. However, when the Hayward scandal resurfaces and the truth behind their parting is revealed, Eleanor and Edmund are left reeling. Tormented by thoughts of what could have been, they realize it is impossible to rewrite history. But is there a future in which they might both find happiness—and true love?

Heidi Kimball has delightfully entertaining descriptions. Emotions are hard to describe, but they’re even harder to show. Heidi Kimball does a great job of showing outwardly what her characters are feeling inwardly.

She gave her characters individual and unique struggles to grapple with, and her characters were engaging. I loved Marianne, even her side characters brought life to the novel.

Eleanor and Edmund’s love story, while difficult, was also beautiful, definitely worth the read.

4 1/2 stars, Joanna Barker, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Rags to Riches

Joanna Barker is a relatively new author that I can’t get enough of! Her first novel showcases the excellent writing voice she has for a debut author.

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Governess Juliana Ashbourne has dreams reaching far beyond the confines of her current position, hoping to someday establish her own school for girls. When she inherits a fortune from her late grandfather, she is shocked to learn that “someday” may soon be within reach. However, there is one condition: she must spend a month at the estate of Havenfield–with the very family who disowned her mother. Intent on securing the money she needs to start her school, Juliana accepts the invitation, vowing to guard her heart against those who shunned her all her life.

But Havenfield is far from what she expects. She discovers a grandmother seeking forgiveness, a cold and disapproving aunt, and a painfully shy cousin. And then there is Mr. William Rowley. Though the heir to the estate is a merciless tease, Juliana finds in him a friend and confidant–and perhaps something more. As she struggles to make sense of her new place in the world, her stubborn independence clashes with a yearning to belong and the even more confusing desires of her heart.

This rags to riches story has an enchanting heroine and an endearing hero with just the right amount of wit. I seriously loved William’s teasing. I enjoyed him so much as a character that it was a little difficult for me to understand her frustration with his teasing at times. His humor was dry and adorable.

I Loved the story line she gave to the aunt and the depth that added to the family dynamics. It blended well with the beautiful concepts of home and family she develops in the novel.

The story of redemption and forgiveness was beautiful. With how dotting the grandmother and her desire to treat her as family, I didn’t quite understand the dress situation. I kept thinking, you would have thought they would have gifted her at least one new gown?

Then I thought of the character Joanna Barker has created in Juliana. The refusal to accept a gown if it was offered, and wanting to be taken seriously, reflect her twice mended dress and her frustrations with William. I love when a character is well reflected in even the little subtle things.

Joanna’s second book was released just this week and is also a Rags to Riches story!

Beauty and the Baron: A Regency Fairy Tale Retelling

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Rose Sinclair has run out of options. With her father in prison and their bookshop sold to pay his debts, she has no choice but to turn to Henry Covington, the Baron Norcliffe. But the baron has more than earned his harsh reputation, and Rose must face his wrath in order to save her father—and herself.

Since the deaths of his parents, Henry Covington has isolated himself from society, ensuring the solitude of his estate with his deliberate callousness. However, when the beautiful Miss Sinclair appears on his doorstep, begging for a chance to repay her father’s debt to him, a moment of weakness finds him offering her a position—as a maid in his own house.

They both soon learn that first impressions are not to be believed. Henry is surprised—and intrigued—by Rose’s optimistic charm, while Rose slowly uncovers Henry’s true self, his compassion concealed behind the pain of loss and betrayal. But when a shadow from Henry’s past returns, their newfound hope is tested. They must decide for themselves who to trust and what they will risk for their happily ever after.  

Beauty and the Baron is a Regency retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and is Book 1 in a series of Regency retellings.

As a retelling Joanna Barker incorporated portions of the traditional tale making it obvious is was a beauty and the best retelling, but not overly cliche. Unique enough to stand out. The relationship was well developed for a novella with a good blend of misunderstanding, friendship, and attraction. She created tender moments and an engaging plot. The plot twists added excitement, but my favorite part was that the plot twists did not make them misplace their trust in each other. It’s a really sweat, clean read.

4 1/2 stars, Low Language, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence, Rebecca Connolly

Rogues and Spinsters

I love Rebecca Connolly’s books. The second review we ever posted when we started this venture was of her book Secrets of a Spinster (review here). One of my favorite scenes in that book was the masquerade ball. I adored how it was written and the layer it gave to Geoff and Mary’s relationship. I must admit that I was a little surprised when I got into A Rogue about Town and came across another masquerade ball where the heroine, Amelia, also goes as a mysterious goddess. Either Rebecca Connolly has gone to a masquerade as a goddess and wants us to relive the amazingness of that night vicariously through her characters, or she secretly wants to. I’m probably being a little nonsensical, but whatever the reason, both scenes totally worked and I’ll tell you why.

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A disgruntled operative…

Gabriel Statler, Lord Wharton, has a problem. His duties as an operative for the Crown are being compromised for the sake of his cover, where he is known only as the Rogue. His days are now filled with trivial investigations, and none of the problems are ones he wants to solve. Then he meets a mysterious young woman who holds more secrets than he likes, and, against his better judgment, he takes her case. 

A determined client…

Amelia Berger needs the Rogue, and she needs everything he can offer without revealing everything she knows. Her secrets are her own, and she has far too many to risk revealing even one. But when working with Rogue turns into something entirely unexpected, she finds that the secrets she began with are not the ones she most needs to protect.

Rebecca Connolly does two things (well probably more than that…) that make her stories stand out. The first is every scene and moment in her books have purpose whether to develop the character or to drive the plot. I loved how climatic the masquerade was in “Secrets of a Spinster” and was equally as impressed with how the masquerade in “A Rogue about Town” not only shifted things for Amelia and Gabe’s relationship, but what it did for Gabe as a person. His realizations of himself and others was probably my favorite thing about his book, second only to Amelia’s journey of letting go of revenge.

Rebecca Connolly has a gift for writing diverse and entertaining characters. This was evident in both Rogue and Amelia, not only did their quirks draw you in and endear you to them. But, the journey their characters went on through the course of the book made for a riveting plot.

You can see the same things in her story that’s included in The Queen’s Ball Timeless Victorian Collection; unique and endearing characters that carry you along on an intriguing journey.

The Queen's Ball (Timeless Victorian Collection Book 4) by [Lawson, Anthea, Connolly, Rebecca, Moore, Jennifer]

PS – Her next book in the Spinster Chronicles comes out Nov. 1st

The Spinster and I (The Spinster Chronicles, Book 2) by [Connolly, Rebecca]

“Prudence Westfall, spinster, has unexpectedly had the greatest misfortune of all: she has inherited a fortune, and is now an heiress. But as a Spinster, and a stammering shy one, nothing could be worse than having a bevy of suitors pay her attention. Opportunity strikes at a house party when the most unlikely person offers the perfect solution.

Camden Vale is no gentleman, and he’s not prone to saving anyone, but something about Prue changes all that. When his offer to befriend her extends beyond the house party, and his feelings extend beyond expectation, no one is more surprised than he. Except, perhaps, for the other Spinsters, and they have much to say on the subject.”

 

 

4 1/2 stars, Giveaway, Low Violence, Moderate Language, Moderate Romance

Segue not Segway

You know what I love? A Good segue. When a writer can transition seamlessly from one point of view to another, or one time period to another, or one chapter to another. That’s one of the things that first caught my attention when reading Bria Quinlan‘s “The Catching Kind”, her transitions from one chapter to another keeps pulling your interest along, keeping you hooked.

“Hailey Tate thought she was worth more than a straight flush. Apparently not.

When camera-shy author Hailey Tate’s agent loses a bet and brokers a deal, it leaves Hailey in the last place she wants to be: backed into the corner of Publicity and Paparazzi. Now, thanks to her girl-next-door image and role as pretend girlfriend to a womanizing shortstop, she’s getting the attention she always managed to avoid.

Connor Ryan is not only America’s Sexiest Athlete, he’s also the current Bad Boy of Baseball. But when he goes a base too far, management wants to bench him…permanently. One thing he never counted on? Falling for his sweet, fake girlfriend. He’s the guy who can catch anything and now she’s next on his list”

Bria Quinlan’s writing is delightful, she creates witty banter that made me smile through the whole book. She exhibits the life of an author in Hailey. From her insecurities, to her crazy schedule, to her quirkiness, she was such a fun and authentic character to read.

I loved Connor and Hailey’s romance, it was not just believable, but adorable. It is a little higher on the romance meter than I usually read, thought there wasn’t even very much kissing, but there were more inuendos for those who want a heads up about those kind of things. That being said, I plan to read the other’s in the Brew Ha Ha series.  The second in the series, “Worth the Fall” is free today, so I guess that’s going on my kindle 🙂

 

 

Author Bria Quinlan

RWA RITA award finalist and USA Today Best Seller Bria Quinlan writes Diet-Coke-Snort-Worthy Rom Coms about what it’s like to be a girl and deal with crap and still look for love. She also writes books for teens that take hard topics and make you laugh through your tears. Some people call them issue books. Some people call them romantic comedies. Bria calls them what-life-looks-like.

Her stories remind you that life is an adventure not to be ignored.

 

Giveaway Details

Ends 10/1/18

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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4 1/2 stars, Donna Hatch, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Timeless Romance Anthologies

I Bet You Can’t

I’ve been counting down the days until this week for the past month, school is back in session! Perfect time for a new release.Wedding Wagers (Timeless Regency Collection Book 11) by [Hatch, Donna, Moore, Heather B., Holmes, Michele Paige]

The Timeless Anthologies always bring together a group of fantastic authors and this time was no exception. Wedding Wagers has stories by Donna Hatch, Heather B. Moore and Michele Paige Holmes. They are all authors that I have enjoyed in the past, and I loved what they did in the collection.

A WAGER FOR LOVE by Donna Hatch:
For once, Phillip would like to be seen as more than the younger brother of a duke. When he unexpectedly meets the one girl in all London who doesn’t give two figs for his rank in society, she won’t give him the time of day. Determined to gain her attention, he accidentally tips over her boat and dumps her into a river. Not the best way to convince a lady of worth that he is a gentleman of promise. Frustrated, Phillip makes a rash wager with a friend: he vows he’ll not only gain her forgiveness, but her hand in marriage by the end of the Season. The stakes are high in this romantic Regency romp!

THE FINAL WAGER by Heather B. Moore:
When Victor Roland, Earl of Locken, enters into a game of twenty-one with Lord Southill, the stakes get quickly out of control. Before Victor knows it, Southill is betting the dowry of his sister. While completely illegal, Victor is mostly insulted, so he does what any gentleman of the ton should do. He punches Southill out. Problem is, Southill is in so much debt that he’d been kicked out of his townhouse earlier that day. So Victor is forced to deliver Southill at his estate outside of London . . . only to meet Southill’s sister, Lady Juliet, a woman who Victor now wishes he’d bet on.

AN IMPROBABLE WAGER by Michele Paige Holmes:
Sherborne Alexander Rowley III has come home to marry his neighbor—and solve his financial problems in one fell swoop. Love doesn’t figure into the equation, only the need to save his family’s estate. The reserved Miss Emily Montgomery seems willing enough, leaving the only possible obstacle to Sherborne’s success his childhood friend, Eli Linfield, and the wager they made long ago that Eli would be the one to marry Emily. When the timely birth of a colt, Emily’s mischievous sister Sophia, and Emily herself all conspire to ruin Sherborne’s plans, one night of mayhem unravels far more than their betrothal. Emily is not as demure as he believed, nor is Eli what he has pretended these many years. Yet the future for all may yet be bright. Sherborne might even wager on it.

This was such a fun topic. The wagers were respectable without being ridiculous and all three relationships were well developed, which can be difficult in a novella.

The chemistry of the lovers and the excitement of the wages made all three stories engaging and highly entertaining, I love it when great authors collaborate together to yield something I will read over again.  –N.C.

 

4 1/2 stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Sarah M. Eden

Fly on the Wall

Confession: I’ve always secretly wished I could be a part of a regency house party. They sound entertaining and dramatic and just the sort of craziness I would love. Sarah Eden’s latest novel, Loving Lieutenant Lancaster, takes place at such a setting. But it gets better, what could be better than a regency house party you ask? A regency house party in which both the Jonquils and the Lancasters have been invited, genius! Oh to be a imagined fly on that fictional wall!

Loving Lieutenant Lancaster by [Eden, Sarah M.]

“Orphaned as a child, Arabella Hampton was the unwanted and unloved charge of a cruel aunt and neglectful uncle. The only light in her young life was the kindness of the Jonquil family, and she clung to the childish dream of someday living with them at Lampton Park. Now, years later, that opportunity is presented to Arabella in a most unexpected way: she is to be the lady’s companion to the dowager countess. The lines of her position are blurred, and she is neither family nor servant. So when the countess plans a grand house party, Arabella is content to hide in the shadows. But one gentleman sees her there.

Lieutenant Linus Lancaster has retired from the navy and is not looking for love, especially when he finds himself entangled in his sisters’ scheme to trap him into finding a wife at a house party at Lampton Park. Yet amid the festivities, he’s impossibly drawn to the dowager’s quiet companion, Arabella.”

As excited as I was to dive into a book where the Jonquils and the Lancasters collide, I could not anticipate the awesomeness that would ensue when you but Philip Lancaster and Adam Boyce in the same location, for an extended period of time. I have this image of Sarah Eden sitting at her computer drumming her fingers together with a conniving, but smug look on her face, at the prospect of writing such scenes. They did not disappoint, they were fantastic and quite hilarious.

The beautiful thing about Sarah Eden, is the seamless way she combines both the humor and the deeper beautiful messages of love, and trust, and family.  Of acceptance and fear, and a need to belong. Each emotion is potent and makes the words on the page become more than just a story, but a connection.

Sarah has taken us on a journey with these two families for so long, it was nothing but delightful to get to see them collide and can I just say, I am so incredibly excited to hear Charlie’s and Artemis’ respective stories, or story?? You can see how much they are both hurting, and yet wanting. Now that would be the best, right? A permanent joining of the two families. A girl can dream. –N.C.

 

PS- The one thing I was confused on, some one help me out here…did I miss something? Dr. Scoresby just shows up at Linus’ house, like that was normal and acceptable? Yet they were all out of beds and Linus is sleeping in the office. Where did he sleep and why was it generally acceptable for him, who was no relation and not invited, to just be there?? Help a confused girl out here…

 

 

 

4 1/2 stars, Jennifer Peel, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Violence, Moderate Romance

Sidelined, but still in the game

I have to be honest and confess that this book scared me, it made me feel vulnerable. The Sidelined Wife by Jennifer Peel is brutally honest and real.

The Sidelined Wife (More Than a Wife Series Book 1) by [Peel, Jennifer]

“Samantha Higgins never thought driving her husband’s car would forever change her life. But one conversation later and Samantha is changing her last name. While trying to figure out who Samantha Decker is, she writes what she thinks is one final post on her blog, announcing her divorce. When the post goes viral, she finds herself with a new title, The Sidelined Wife, and an unbelievable following.

To make matters more interesting, her younger brother’s best friend, Reed Cassidy, moves back to town as the new head football coach for her son’s high school team. 

While Samantha is doing her best to learn and even make up some of the rules of single life and being a semi-celebrity, Reed comes in and changes the game. Now Samantha must decide if she should get back on the field or if she prefers the sidelines.”

Through Sam’s journey Jennifer presents truths every woman needs to read and believe. Truths about acceptance, beauty, and worth.

You don’t have to look far to see marriages that are falling apart and families disintegrating, and it terrifies me. I’m desperately, hopelessly in love with my husband and he treats me like his princess with admiration and respect. While we did hit a pretty big milestone in 2017, ten years- wahoo! Comparatively speaking our marriage is fairly young. I can’t imagine ever loosing what we have. That’s why I loved the conversation Jennifer wrote between Sam and Neil, with Sam confronting him on where it all went wrong. The answer is simple to state and difficult to execute. Marriage and parenting are ultimately about selflessness. Thank you Jennifer Peel for that beautiful reminder wrapped up in a heart wrenching, soul touching story. –N.C.

 

4 1/2 stars, Low Language, Low Violence, Moderate Romance

Every Day

Confession I have always wondered what it would be like to be someone else, it is probably a big reason why I love reading so much, the escapism to another life and another world is exciting and thrilling. David Levithan takes it to a whole new level with his book Every Day. Its a story of a person named “A” who is never the same person twice, he moves from body to body every day.

“Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.”

Levithan does an amazing job getting into the minds and thoughts of so many different types of people. He definitely has different thoughts and feelings on the way some minds work than I do, but it didn’t make me dislike it. What it did was make me think about things in a different light than I ever would have. He wrote it so well and with such heartfelt honesty. This is not your typical fairy tale happily ever after story but it is also not disappointing. I found myself rooting for his final end decision instead of being disappointed in the almost cliff hanger ending. I’m really excited to read the flip side from Rhiannon, Another Day and for the movie to come out this year. –A.B.

**Romance is moderate-high

***UPDATE*** I finished “Another Day” the language went to high and the Romance was at the top of the high chart.

4 1/2 stars, Julie Wright, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence

“If A Book is Well Written I always Find it Too Short” – Jane Austen

Confession: I love Jane Austen. Not really a true confession for a romantic. The confession comes when I tell you that “Pride and Prejudice” is not my favorite. As far as writing goes, it is genius. The character development the story arc the detailed understanding of familial and romantic relationships. But, as far as my personal favorite goes that would have to go to “Sense and Sensibility.” If you haven’t seen the 2008 BBC version with Hattie Moran, Charity Wakefield and Dan Stevens, you really should!

In Julie Wright’s latest book Lies Jane Austen Told Me, her character Emma (yes that’s her name- I liked the intended pun, it totally worked for her.) She commented on Austen‘s writing saying, “she understands the subtleties of humor and people and how they work together to make reading an enjoyable experience.” I thought It was a beautiful description of great writing. And one Julie Wright herself is able to pull off quite well.

Lies Jane Austen Told Me: A Proper Romance by [Wright, Julie]

“Ever since Emma read Pride and Prejudice, she’s been in love with Mr. Darcy and has regarded Jane Austen as the expert on all things romantic. So naturally when Emma falls for Blake Hampton and he invites her home, she is positive an engagement is in her future. After all, Blake is a single man in possession of a good fortune, and thus must be in want of a wife.

But when it turns out that what Blake actually wants is more of a hook-up than a honeymoon, Emma is hurt, betrayed, and furious. She throws herself deeper into her work, which is why she bristles when her boss brings in a consultant. Her frustration turns to shock when that consultant turns out to be Blake’s younger brother, Lucas.

Emma is determined not to fall for Lucas, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that Lucas is nothing like his brother. What she can’t understand is why Lucas continues to try to push her back into Blake’s arms when he so clearly has fallen as hard for her as she has fallen for him.”

Julie gives her characters depth, and darkness to deal with. However, she also gives them light and hope. And through their story we are given the same. We are shown that darkness and struggles can define us and sculpt us, but they don’t have to limit us. “Shown” being the optimal word because Julie uses beautiful imagery to to express the character’s fears and hopes. Case in point: “I had to force them back so no one would see my eyes leaking out the flood of my heart.”

Not only did this book speak to my love of all things Austen, it was also a beautiful reminder of hope and light, and love. For “If Jane teaches us anything, it’s that we have the right to choose our own loves in life.” – Lies That Jane Austen Told Me. –N.C.