Four Stars, Kasie West, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Sally Britton, Three Stars

When life gets you down…read

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Weekly Reading Round-Up

A Princess for the Gentleman by Mindy Burbidge Strunk 51YVgZSsDlL

Since I read An American in Duke’s Clothing I had been hoping for Dawson’s story. Mindy writes a fun and entertaining friendship between Dawson and Tad and it continued through this story. Although I enjoyed the story I admit that I wish I could’ve gotten a little bit more background on Zia. “A russian princess” without any background into what her royal connections were, made it a little difficult to suspend reality. I did however enjoy Zia’s transformation and her sweet romance.

*** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

Engaging Sir Isaac by Sally Britton 48495508._SY475_

Sally  Britton is an expert at meet-cutes that make you both sigh and smile. I was a little reluctant to start this one, only because I’m not usually a fan of  books with a “mean girls” sub-plot. However I have not been disappointed with a Sally Britton novel yet, and she did not let me down. Sally didn’t make Isaac completely oblivious or blindsided, he was a true hero. Though Millie struggled with her moral dilemma, Sally gave her both weaknesses and a back bone. The story was witty, redemptive and beautifully done.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

Moment of Truth by Kasie West51iV1xrr0oL

This book was so unique, I can’t recall reading a story quite like it before. I loved that I didn’t  know who it would end up being and I was surprised with every turn of the page. Kasie is brilliant, I could read twenty more books from her and never tire of her writing.

***** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

 

 

Annette K. Larsen, Esther Hatch, Five Stars, Four Stars, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Romance, Nichole Van, Rachael Anderson, Uncategorized

Fanciful

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Weekly Reading Round-up

A Note of Change (Timeless Victorian Collection book 5)

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Waiting for the Post by Esther Hatch –  A fun and lighthearted second chance romance with just the right amount of angst.

A Ring of Gold by Nichole Van – I love her writing. Sometimes while reading you connect with a character, or the plot. On rare occasions you find a writer whose writing, her words, her characters, her humor, her descriptions; the whole story speaks to your soul. Nichole Van’s writing is like that for me every single time. This one was no different.

A Rose by Any Other Name by Annette Lyon – A  cute cinderella story with sweet tender moments. I felt like the descriptions were a little wordy for me, but the romance was really well developed for a novella.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

PowerPlayHeather B Moore51ZsIjNEAJL

I’m more drawn to romances that are both sweet and realistic and this story was both. Sometimes when reading a romance the adults, don’t actually act like adults. I loved these characters and I loved their dynamic! Though I know next to nothing about hockey…it made me want to go to a hockey game.

**** low language, moderate romance, low violence, low religion

 

A Foolish HeartMartha Keyes50390637._SY475_

This story was absolutely delightful. As a fan A Midsummer’s Night Dream I was interested to see how she would tweak it. I loved all the subtle nods to the original and found it fascinating how she twined in the different original characters. I especially appreciated Mercy’s character development. Her grown maturity was well written. The author created really great tension and some awesome scene shifts. As a whole it was highly entertaining; a some how fanciful and yet realistic regency. (released March 3rd, pre-order now!)

***** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

All That Stands Between UsAnnette K. Larsen 51gPBtupRLL._SY346_

A more healthy Romeo and Juliet with a Happily Ever After. My favorite thing about Annette Larsen’s writing is the emotion. As I read her stories I always feel every tug and pull of the character’s heart as if it was my own. All her stories are beautiful and this one was no different. I always come away feeling more.

**** low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

The Solicitor’s Son –  Rachael Anderson51-249QIswL

All her covers are beautiful I could just live in them. I love the familial relationships she always builds so well, they were so invested in her happiness. Rachael Anderson is a great story teller and this one is Super adorable!

****low language, low romance, low violence, low religion

 

Anneka Walker, Five Stars, Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Language, Moderate Violence, Rebecca Connolly, Three Stars

Trying something new…

Weekly Reading Round-up

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Melanie… 

The Masked Baron by Anneka Walker  

Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favorite fairy tales so I’m super skeptical of re-tellings. At first I wasn’t sure if I loved where this one was going. The more I got into the story, the more I loved what she did with it. The story is a little more fantastical, a lot of high drama, so keep that in mind going in. I especially loved how she ended it. (releases March 2nd!)

**** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

Fall From Trace by Rebecca Connolly

This book has been built up since the beginning of The London League. All the intrigue has been building for four books, and it did not disappoint!  Rebecca Connolly is an expert at romance and her attention to detail in that category makes every scene swoon worthy. She has excellent character development and I came away loving the story and it’s characters. I feel like her actions scenes are sometimes missing that attention to detail, a little rushed maybe, but it doesn’t make me love her stories any less.

***** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

Nikki…

Most of my reading this week was taken up with my local book club’s book

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I loved this book! I loved how it reminded me of my grandfather’s. Both of whom seemed a little prickly on the outside, but had hearts of gold. I loved the humor, the emotions, and the metaphors. The metaphors! Huge fan of his writing style and am now adding “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” and “Britt-Marie was Here” to my tbr list.

***** Moderate Language, Moderate Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion 

I also fit in two novellas:

Lady Mary Contrary by Anneka Walker

I really liked the plot idea. I have a soft spot for friends to lovers books. I however had a hard time ever feeling completely invested in the story.  Their banter was well written, I just never connect personally to the characters.

*** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

and, A Highlander’s Hidden Heart by Julie Coulter Bellon

This story had such a great cute meet. I loved the resolution the author provided between the heroine and her parents, but the overall story felt a little rushed, even for a Novella. I would love to see this story flushed out a little more. The characters had such great potential of both the heroic and villainous kind.

*** Low Language, Low Violence, Low Romance, Low Religion

Aimee…

My little one has been sick for what seems like days on end so my days have been filled with reading Little Blue Truck Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, and Dear Zoo which are fantastic, if you’re a one year old 😉

 

 

4 1/2 stars, Five Stars, Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Moderate Violence

We’re Family

Last night we had our monthly family dinner with my side of the family. My family is big and loud and I love them! Family dynamics are complicated and messy. That’s one of the reasons they’re so compelling in books. I love it when a romance author takes that into account and weaves just as much familial relationships into their stories. I’ve read three books recently that did that very well.

Promised by debut author Leah Garriott releases tomorrow!

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This novel was adorable. The few predictable plot points were handled so uniquely I was captivated the whole way through.

The romance was swoon worthy and developed expertly. My favorite relationship however was between the siblings. Their support and teasing and understanding of each other really connected me to the story.

I was enchanted by this debut author and can’t wait to see what she does next!

**Five Stars – Low Violence, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Lakeshire Park by new author Megan Walker releases April 7th, and can be preordered now!

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This is a beautiful regency romance. The author’s words are emotionally driven in the best way, with compelling descriptions.

The author expertly pitted romantic love against familial love. In so many ways the two most important relationships were butted up against each other. It made for a very compelling read and gave depth to the story as a whole.

I was absolutely delighted with the book from start to finish and am crossing my fingers for more from the side characters. Please tell me Georgiana gets her own story!

**Four and 1/2 Stars – Low Violence, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Religion

 

Kit and Elizabeth by well known romance author Karen Tuft just came out in December.

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As tender as this romance story was, I felt like the real beauty of the book shone in Lady Elizabeth’s transformation. The back and forth emotions of someone trying to break out of neglectful abuse was very well done. Lady Elizabeth was a complex well written character who I was rooting for all the way.

Kit was an equally well written foil for Elizabeth. The author had a very good balance between strong characters and captivating plot. The whole book was a beautiful example of the necessity of both placing and pushing boundaries in our relationships.

The one plot point I struggled with was the letter Elizabeth wrote to the Duke of Aylesham. I kept expecting it to shift something, and when it didn’t I felt like it was just distracting from the more important things going on. However, taking this unnecessarily plot point and giving it life in the Duke’s own story could be a delightful little twist, just saying.

**Four Stars – Low Language, Low Romance, Low Religion, Moderate Violence

 

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

Faith and Suspense

Working in a quiet cubicle at the Library all through college meant I would often grab an audio book on my way up to work. It was every book lovers dream to work with books while listening to books. My senior year I grabbed an audiobook on the new release display entitled, The Negotiator by Dee Henderson. I fell in love with the series.

This past week my sister was telling me about a book she had recently read and I was transported back 15 years. Mistaken Reality by Traci Hunter Abramson has all the government agency, suspense, romance, and faith of the O’Malley Series.

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“Hadley Baker can’t believe her boyfriend finally invited her on a fancy hotel dinner date only to break up with her in public. Even more unbelievable is the moment FBI Agent JD Byers finds her crying in the women’s restroom and demands she evacuate. Seconds after JD ushers Hadley outside, an explosion shatters the building. 

JD didn’t anticipate seeing Hadley, the beautiful schoolteacher, again after he saved her from the hotel attack. But soon after her ex-boyfriend became a lead suspect of the hotel bombing, the man turned up dead—and now it seems that Hadley herself is a target. Determined to keep her safe, JD shelters Hadley as they join forces to put together the pieces of the perplexing case. When they discover the horrifying truth behind her ex-boyfriend’s nefarious work, Hadley realizes her life is far from the only one being threatened. Countless others are in danger, and she and JD may hold the key to saving them.”

– – Unlike the O’Malley Series which though faith filled, didn’t specify any one denomination, many of the main characters from “Mistaken Reality” are specifically part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their faith doesn’t play a major role, it is a more subtle part of the book, and not always prevalent. There were two moments were I felt religion broke up the flow of the book and pulled me out of the story, but overall I liked how it gave the characters strength.

The plot was a little predictable in places, but those were smaller details, the overall story arch caught me by surprise, I love being surprised. The story does deal with human trafficking, and is a little intense so be aware of that going in.

The multiple person point of view took awhile to keep the characters straight. I think if I had read Safe House and Deep Cover first it might have been easier to follow the head hopping. That just means I have more books to add to my TBR pile. –A.B.

 

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!!

 

Four Stars, Julie Wright, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Proper Romance

‘Wright’ from the Heart

There’s a line in the 90’s romcom “Never been Kissed” where Josie Geller says, “Someone once told me to write well, you must write what you know.” I often thought of this line while reading Julie Wright’s  recently released, “Glass Slippers Ever After and Me.”

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Charlotte Kingsley loves to write and dreams of having her reimagined fairy tales published, but she keeps getting rejected over and over. And to top it all off, her best friend, Anders, gets engaged, making her realize she s going to lose the Prince Charming who lives next door. After another rejection letter from a New York publisher, Charlotte decides to switch gears. What if she wrote a book about celebrating women for who they really are instead of trying to create a fantasy world for them to visit? She could call it The Cinderella Fiction, fill it with practical advice for living authentically, become ridiculously successful, and then find the confidence to tell Anders how she feels before it s too late.

Encouraged with her plan, Charlotte s new book practically writes itself and incredibly a small boutique publisher makes a quick offer to publish it. At first, Charlotte is excited to enter this fantasy world and play dress up, and Anders reluctantly agrees to go along with it, even though it means he’s largely out of Charlotte’s social media life and hidden from her public life entirely. 

The toll of her new life soon proves exhausting. Charlotte needs to decide what she believes in: the fairy tale persona, or the woman Anders has always loved before he’s gone forever.

At a conference earlier this year I had the privilege of taking a class from Julie Wright and her quirky and loveable characters began to make so much sense. Charlotte is eccentric, but instantly relatable. Julie wrote her in a way that allows you to see Charlotte’s growth and internalize it.

The relationship between her and Anders was more of a plot motivator than a driving force and that worked really well for this story. I especially appreciated the completely lack of cattiness between the two. The relationship supplemented the story without overwhelming it.

The author states in the acknoledgments that the book is not autobiographical, however “there were times where it felt like it might be a smidge more true” than any other book she’d written. I have to admit there were times while reading that I felt the author was talking more than Charlotte was and it pulled me out of the story.

However Charlotte’s emotions were tangible and real allowing the reader to be pulled right back in. I freely admit it wouldn’t have been so poignant if the author hadn’t spoken from experience and from the heart.

 

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Religion

A Mysterious Read

In some things we sisters are very similar and in other things, like our love of certain holidays we are very, very different. Halloween would probably fall to number 6 out of my top 10 favorite holidays, and the only reason it’s even number 6 is because I enjoy dressing up.
But haunted houses, scary movies, books and corn fields I could do without, forever. I do not enjoy being scared even a little bit.
However, I do love a good mystery , Especially when it’s unpredictable.
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“When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.
When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.”
 
Joanna Davidson Politano‘s novel is the prefect blend of mystery and romance. I appreciated that even though they were solving a murder and there was talk of ghosts, I could still read it at night before bed without needing to sleep with the light on.
The author’s character development was great. She stayed true to the characters true self. Even as they grew and changed it wasn’t like they were suddenly a different character all together.
The story was unpredictable in nature, but I did not even get close to guess the ending and there were twists and turns that I did not see coming. It is definitely a great read, and one you don’t want to read the ending of first. I’m talking to you Nikki. –MV
Five Stars, Joanna Barker, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Best Kept Secret

My husband is an awful secret keeper, like really bad. It’s actually quite reassuring as his wife that he’s such a bad liar, except when we’re planning a big surprise vacation for the kids. Here’s hoping we can make it the next month without him spilling his excitement.

This book however, is one surprise I’m willing to share. Secrets and Suitors by Joanna Barker is a surprising delight. This might possibly be my new favorite regency romance, it was that good.

41zQ9+F3mQL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Reluctantly returning to London for yet another Season, shy Nora Hamilton has nearly given up hope that she will ever find the love match she longs for. After all, the one man she does harbor feelings for—her closest friend, James—has made it perfectly clear he views her as just that: a friend. With James traveling half a world away and Nora’s father pressuring her to marry for wealth and status, Nora is forced to set aside her desire for love and accept the future she has always dreaded.

Until James returns unexpectedly and Nora’s feelings once again rush unbearably close to the surface. Determined to save what is left of their friendship, Nora ignores her own heart and allows herself to be swept up in the London Season, soon finding herself the object of two very different gentlemen’s affections. Though she should be thrilled, both men come with a glaring fault: neither is the one man who holds her heart.

I don’t even know where to start…Joanna wrote such a fascinating character in Nora. She’s shy and reserved, but not necessarily polite and demur. She yearns for romance, but is able to be practical. She can be both selfless and self serving. She was so very unique and yet so very human, I liked her immensely.

Each of Joanna’s books have immediately pulled me in, to not just the story, but the whole experience. A well written romance usually follows a pattern, and the more of them you read, the more you are able to anticipate the pattern. (ie. Cue appropriate tension, and this is the moment when they recognize their feelings for each other, and this is about when all heck breaks loose, and close with an excellent denouement.) A good story naturally follows this pattern, a great story follows the pattern without your anticipating or expecting it. This is how Joanna writes. I’m always curious where she’s going next.  On the other hand I never anticipate what’s coming, because I’m have too much fun with the page I’m on.  That largely has to do with her ability to write with so much emotion.

The thing I admire the most about Joanna’s writing, including this one, is her stories are not just romances.  At their roots, their about love; sisterly love, parental love, family heartbreak and healing. Though the chemistry is there, it’s more about connections, and that is what makes a story timeless.

Five Stars, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Religion, Moderate Violence

Empowerment

Last night I had the privilege of being in the same room as some pretty incredible women. I felt slightly intimidated most of the night, but came away from the evening feeling empowered. Women have the potential to do such good in the world.

I’m all about girl power, however I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a feminist. At least not in the way it’s used across social platforms today. My ability to do good and be good, does not in anyway diminish my husbands ability to do and be good, and it doesn’t mean I need him any less. One of the women on the panel last night said, when you allow yourself to shine, you make those around you shine brighter.

H.B. Moore was able to do exactly that with her character Deborah in the historical fiction Deborah: Prophetess of God.

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Deborah, a young Israelite woman, lives a quiet and isolated life with her father and brothers. As a shepherdess in the hills near her home, she knows well the perils of her work. But when faced with incredible danger, she witnesses a series of remarkable events that preserve her life. The hand of the Lord is apparent, and it is clear that hers will be no ordinary life.

Years later, Deborah is a faithful wife and mother when she learns that the Third Judge of Israel has died–and she has been called to take his place. It is a tumultuous time in history, and soon, Deborah–prophetess, judge, and military leader–faces a seemingly insurmountable task: alongside the commander of the Israelite army, Deborah must lead ten thousand soldiers in their final campaign against their Canaanite oppressors with only her faith in God to guide her.”

Heather Moore has taken a rather short story in the book of Judges and created a beautiful character and an empowering story.

Heather creates in Deborah a fascinating balance. Deborah is humble yet strong. She’s obedient, but strong willed.

The story it self is also a beautiful balance between women empowerment, family support, religious dedication and sweet romance.

I especially appreciated how she dealt with the relationship between Deborah and the men in her life. In spite of  her prestigious calling, Deborah was respectful, loving and empowering to her father, her brothers, her husband and the military commander Barak. This added not only historical accuracy, but depth to Deborah and the other characters.

The romance, the family and the connections all build a world that connects you to the heart of what the people may have been experiencing and the type of person Deborah may have been in order to lead her people to freedom.

Just a note: The author does a fantastic job of keeping this book non-denominational. Though it is a religious book, it isn’t geared to any one faith. It is a work of fiction so keep that in mind, but would be pertinent and enjoyable for anyone of any faith with a connection to this time in history.

or two: Deborah led her people into war, so though I wouldn’t label this book as violent,  it does have battles and moments of violent oppression.