Five Stars, Josi S. Kilpack, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Just Friends

I’ve been richly blessed in my life to have some of the best people as friends. I’m twice blessed. When one of those friends expressed interest in me and I told him, “I think we should just be friends” (no joke, those cringe worthy words came out of my mouth) he allowed it, and even embraced it. It took me two more years of friendship to realize I couldn’t live without him, but I married him and have loved our love story ever since.

That’s probably why stories with a friends to lovers trope hold a special place in my heart. Especially ones that are done as well as Josi Kilpack‘s Daisies and Deovotion.

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Timothy Mayfield has nearly given up on his search for a wife. Then his Uncle Elliott presents to him a solution: participate in his “marriage campaign,” and upon approval of his choice for a wife, Timothy’s inheritance will be his.

Freed from the constraints of having to marry for money, Timothy is ready to marry for love instead. And he knows exactly what he wants in a wife. His friend, Maryann Morrington, an heiress in her own right, tells him outright that his expectations are ridiculous–no such woman exists. 

Miss Shaw appears to fulfill every single item on Timothy’s list. But when Timothy and Miss Shaw begin courting, Timothy realizes something profound. He’d rather spend his time with Maryann. Timothy must convince Maryann that she is the very woman he’d been looking for all along before it is too late.

This story pulled me right in sooner than some of her others have. I fell in love with Timothy and Maryann’s relationship right away.  Their honesty with each other made the novel refreshing and their relationship more meaningful. There were some beautifully written transitions in the development of their relationship.

I loved how Timothy’s character was written; I both loved him and wanted to shake him. Josi did a fantastic job of making his complete and utter lack of awareness believable and ridiculously adorable.  I liked him so well there were times I felt like the perspective was a little heavy on Maryann’s point of view. I’d turn to a new chapter and be slightly disappointed that we were still in Maryann’s head, and wishing for more from Timothy.

The focus on Maryann however allowed Josi to pull you more fully into Maryann’s emotions. The way Josi wrote Maryann’s emotions made them so real, in a way that allowed you to feel her hurt. Her unrequited love was written so well it was painful, and yet endearing.

There was only one thing that pulled me out of the story a few times. Maryann’s frequent lack and then need for a chaperone was a little confusing. I couldn’t figure out why she sometimes needed one and sometimes didn’t. However, it didn’t detract enough for me to not come away completely loving this book! I’m so excited to see what comes next in this series.

Four Stars, Josi S. Kilpack, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Like Mother Like Daughter

I recently had to go through the stress of finding my daughter a new dance studio. We adored the one she was at and would’ve stayed there forever, but it’s a studio just for littles and she’s aged out. A dancer my whole childhood and young adult life I’ve tried really hard not to influence her choice to dance or not to dance; or even which dance she ought to love the most. However, when I found a local studio that does an annual nutcracker performance I instantly thought, that’s the one.

I have such fond memories of my own nutcracker experiences and just want her to have them too. Yes, the tuition is reasonable and I’ve heard very good things about the studio, but if I’m being honest that was the deal breaker. After I registered her I got to thinking, how often do I impose my own experiences and my own judgement on my children?

In Josi Kilpack’s novel released today the story follows a mother and her daughter and their relationships with each other and in love.

Lord Elliott Mayfield aims to correct the very messy marital mistakes and spousal scandals of his brothers and sisters by requiring his nieces and nephews to choose worthy companions.  If they choose wisely, they will receive their generous share of the family’s inheritance.

Peter, Elliott’s eldest nephew, thinks the entire idea is ridiculous. A widower with two young daughters, he simply needs a governess, not a wife. Julia Hollingsworth certainly has the credentials and the experience, but is altogether too young and pretty for such a job. So why can’t he stop thinking about her?

Julia loves working as a governess, despite the objections of her mother, Amelia. And as it turns out, Amelia has a lot to say about the Mayfield men—none of it good. But Julia dismisses the rumors of ruined reputations and instead concentrates on helping Peter with his children and his fledgling business in canine husbandry. His kindness and gentleness is endearing—and increasingly attractive.

But Amelia, whose heart was broken thirty years ago by none other than Elliott Mayfield, is determined to prevent any relationship from blooming either between Peter and Julia—or between herself and Elliott.

Hearts and history collide as both couples must face their pasts and decide if risking it all is worth the promise of new love and a new future.

I had a harder time getting into this novel, it seemed a little heavy with too much description right up front, but being immersed in the juxtapostions of the stories really made the novel shine.

Josi Kilpack did a beautiful job of showcasing not just the second chance romantic relationships, but the familial relationships as well.

The emotion  infused into both Julia and Amelia had me empathizing with both. As a daughter and as a mother I loved how well both were approached and the growth their relationship took through out the story.

The story could have gotten jumbled with so many points of view, but the characters were well developed and the background well defined so that never became a problem. The judgments and the assumptions that Josi gave each character gave them depth and added dimension and purpose to the over all story line.

Each of the characters grappled with something different, but each of them were also given hope and redemption. I loved that the redemption and second chances were not just in romance, though those were beautiful as well, but the parts that touched me the most were those between the families. Josi has gotten me hooked on The Mayfields and I’m excited to see where she takes us with the rest of the family.

 

Five Stars, Josi S. Kilpack, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

I Was Once Like You

I confess that my favorite books are the ones  where not only am I connecting to the characters, but through the character’s the author’s teaches me something about myself. Josi S. Kilpack has a gift for writing characters like that. Miss Wilton’s Waltz tells the story of Lenora.

Miss Wilton's Waltz (Proper Romance) by [Kilpack, Josi S.]

“Lenora Wilton has spent her life hiding behind the keys of her beloved pianoforte and the vibrancy of her younger sister, Cassie. But Lenora is ready for a change and travels to Bath to live with her Aunt Gwen and teach music at an all-girls boarding school. She is different in Bath more comfortable with herself and enjoys the freedom and independence of her new life there.

When Lenora meets Aiden Asher, she finds herself attracted to him, but her unexpected feelings become more complicated when she learns that Catherine, Lenora’s newest and most troublesome student, is Mr. Asher’s niece. 

When the chemistry between Lenora and Aiden increases, they share a passionate kiss by the River Avon, and Lenora feels it is the beginning of a new forever until she learns that Aiden has withheld an important detail about his life that changes everything.”

If you’ve read Josi’s book The Vicar’s Daughter, Lenora is Cassie’s sisters. It’s not necessary to read Cassie’s story first, but I do think it gives you insight into Lenora’s past and temperament that adds depth to the story line. There are portions in the book where Josi gives us glimpses into ‘Leanora of Leagrave’ who “demanded nothing”, she’s a delightfully flushed out character.

Following Lenora’s journey was a fascinating immersion into the mind of a person with anxiety, and though painfully shy in my younger years, anxiety is a characteristic Lenora and I don’t share. I thought Josi’s portrayal was beautiful and compelling.

Her use of the relationships throughout the book not just between Lenora and Aiden, but between all the character’s, including Catherine and Aunt Gwen, is a tender illustration of how our actions good and bad affect those around us. We can elevate a child, calm fears and pull someone out of their shell. I frequently thought through this book do I build people up or tear them down?

I grew up in a big family as a quiet and shy girl with rather boisterous siblings and a beautiful bubbly younger sister. I instantly connected to Lenora. However, people who know me now might be surprised at such a description of my younger self. I remember so clearly when I like Lenora decided that I wanted to be heard, wanted to demand, at least a few things.

This book taught me that I can be heard and be kind, right is not always easy, and wrong is sometimes right. All with a dynamic plot and passionate characters. Call it what you want; a triple threat, the whole package, I’ll just call it great story telling.  –N.C.

 

ps- I had this song from my college days running through my head while writing this post and thought, hmm fits in more ways than one:

4 1/2 stars, Josi S. Kilpack, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence

12 Days of Clean Romance Day 4 (December 7th) – Josi S Kilpack

 

All That Makes Life Bright: The Life and Love of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Josi S. Kilpack

When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet’s sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.

Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed—being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman’s life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband’s heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.

Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.

Can their love endure, especially after “I do”? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?

***I’ve read Josi Kilpack’s other two Historical Proper Romance novels but have yet to read “All That Makes Life Bright”. However, this year I also read her other novel that came out in April, “The Vicar’s Daughter” and loved it. Josi Kilpack’s writing never fails to pull at your heart strings. You find yourself invested in not just the main characters but the story line and lives of all involved. Her emotionally driven often weightier topics are always beautifully addressed. –N.C.

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Author Josi S. Kilpack

Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and has written twenty-five novels, one cookbook, and been part of multiple collaborations since then. She is a four-time Whitney Award winner and Best of State winner in Fiction. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband and children.

When Kensington Press picked up her first national women’s fiction novel, As Wide as the Sky, Josi was in need of a pen name to differentiate between her other genres. For years, Josi has been called Jessica Pack by people who hear her name but don’t know her, it made her new pen name easy to choose. As Wide as the Sky will be released in paperback sometime in 2018.

 

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Also by Josi S. Kilpack

 

Coming in 2018

  • Miss Wilton’s Waltz, Regency Romance, coming May 2018
  • As Wide As the Sky, Women’s Fiction, coming June 2018
  • Promises & Primroses, Book One in the Mayfield Family Series, Regency Romance, coming fall 2018

 

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