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”.

havencrest-covers

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!!

 

Advertisements
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.”

51pTL56LixL

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.
51X4s8o0rLL
“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.

Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Disguises

I love Halloween! It’s taken all my self control to not already have my decorations up. My resistance is crumbling however. Saturday is calling my name. It’s not just the decorations I love, it’s the costumes! My family has been planning on going as Toy Story 4 characters since we saw it in July. Yes, we already have them purchased. Yes, I am unashamedly one of those people. I don’t know what it is about costumes and disguises, but I love them!

One of things that first caught my eye when I came across Anneka Walker‘s novel Love in Disguise, aside from the beautiful cover, was the title. I was fascinated with the idea of love being disguised in any way. I never anticipated it involving an actual disguise.

41Mj28lqSLL

“Marion Watt is set to embark on her first London Season, and her parents have spared no expense to help her secure a suitable husband. Unlike most of the social-climbing young women in her position, Marion has no desire to marry hastily or for anything less than love. But when she learns of her mother’s declining health, she knows she must keep an open mind and allow herself to be courted. What she does not anticipate, however, is that the attentions of the insufferable Lord William Everton will be placed squarely on her. He might be the most sought-after bachelor of the Season, but she sees in him nothing but a frivolous cad.

Until William inherits his father’s title and seat in parliament, he must rely on his own devices to change the world. Dressing like a ridiculous dandy serves its purposes, but he is certain his newest disguise will help him find a wife to please his parents and further his own agenda. From among the glittering group of debutantes, William finds only one woman who passes his test. Unfortunately, the perfect choice is the only woman in all of London who despises him.”

I was instantly pulled into the book by the situational conflict created within the first few pages. The tension and discomposure between the two characters kept me hooked almost to the very end. There was a decision Marion makes near the end of the book that felt out of character to me and pulled me out of the story. The story slowed a bit pacing wise for me at this point too.

However, I loved the wrap up and their declarations of love were beautifully written and heart warming. I really enjoyed the book and am excited to see what comes next from this debut author. I definitely look forward to reading more of her in the future.

Esther Hatch, Five Stars, Joanna Barker, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Sarah M. Eden

Christmas in July

When I was little my grandmother held a Christmas in July celebration. Her birthday was in July and one year she decided for her birthday, she wanted to celebrate Christmas, so she did, and I LOVED it.

When I received an ARC of  All Hearts Come Home for Christmas, in July, it wasn’t quite that level of amazingness, but it was pretty close. Though I love anthologies, I don’t always love every story in them, this one was the exception.

41+BNll9yiL

I had already anticipated loving “Christmas as Falstone Castle”, I couldn’t imagine a better Christmas story than one that included the danger duke of Kielder, and I did not disappoint! However, I don’t think I could pick a favorite story out of the bunch. They were all equally entertaining and heart warming.

Christmas at Falstone Castle – Sarah M. Eden – “The Dowager Duchess of Kielder eagerly anticipates spending Christmas with her son and his family. Though their relationship has been strained, the duchess is determined to heal the chasm. Even with the help of the widowed local vicar, her plan will take a Christmas miracle. But during this magical season, anything is possible . . . even two second chances for love.”

–Not only was it so fun to read about Christmas at Falstone Caslte, and I will warn you, you will fall in love with the dangerous duke all over again. However,  I loved that he wasn’t the focus. I love that we got a fresh look at the dowager duchess. This was a second chance story I could get behind. It wasn’t just a second chance at romance, but a second chance at being the mother she wanted to be, and it was beautiful.

The Heart of Christmas – Anita Stansfield – When a chance meeting brings together a gentle seamstress and a widowed banker, each lonely soul finds a first hint of hope. As their lives become entwined, it will take Christmas spirit to guide a broken family to love and healing.

–This story had a little bit of Cinderella magic, a little bit of Christmas magic and a whole lot of heart.

’Tis the Season to Be Daring – Esther Hatch – Elizabeth Davenport has had quite enough of the London Season. Determined to evade a parade of unsuitable suitors, she seeks help from the one gentleman who has no regard for Society’s rules. All of Society knows Lord Hawthorne is not interested in marriage, yet he cannot deny Miss Davenport’s unique charm. And as the Christmas season works its magic, their charade begins to feel less like playacting and more like love.

–I possibly laughed the most with this one. It had delightfully witty banter with just enough scandalous behavior to be both clean and entertaining.

The Christmas Dress – Joanna Barker – Seamstress Nell Addington is thrilled when her childhood friend Jacob Hammond commissions a dress for his sister. But when Nell realizes her feelings for Jacob run far deeper than friendship, an unexpected snowstorm—and some holiday cheer—may convince them both that love is worth fighting for.

–If I had to pick a favorite as far as story line went this one would possibly be it. Joanna always uses pertinent metaphors to pull you right into the story.  I loved how much character development and story building she was able to connect me to in such a short amount of pages.

I’m ready for Christmas, who’s with me??

To win a free Copy of “All Hearts Come Home For Christmas” enter the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Sarah M. Eden

Shattered Notions

About 12 years ago my sister and I decided we wanted to learn something new, so we went to our local rock climbing gym and got belay certified, thus began a love affair with rock climbing. We found we love to go in the mountains far more than in the gyms. We love the nature and the challenge. We especially love that since we have the gear, it’s free. I must admit though, I had no idea about the history of rock climbing, or how far back it went.

41HSSN-HjEL

I have looked forward to Holy Harry’s book for far too long, and it did not disappoint. Not only was the history of rock climbing fascinating, but making Harry a rock climber just fit so well. However I would have never thought, oh I bet Harold Jonquil likes to climb things. That sounds ridiculous. Which is why Sarah Eden is such a phenomenal writer.

From the first few pages of the book every preconceived notion I’d ever had about Harry were cracked in two. Then, the more I learned about him, the more I loved him and rooted for him to become the man both Sarahs new him to be.

This story is not just a beautiful character journey. Harold’s journey was enveloped in a tender second chance romance. As well as complex family dynamics that draw you further and further into the arms of the Jonquil family. This may have been my favorite Jonquil book yet.

With that in mind, switch gears with me to Sarah Eden’s upcoming release The Lady and the Highway Man.

51DnOL6UmCL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

From the first page this book shattered all my preconceived notions of Sarah Eden’s writing. If I hadn’t been fully aware that the book I was reading was a Sarah Eden book, I never would have guessed it.

The writing and the plot were so very different from the Sarah Eden I was used to, and yet wholly delightful. The story was incredibly quirky and a little on the dramatic side, both of which fit the whole perfectly.  I was entirely entertained and captivated.

The two stories within the story pulled me out a little the first time or two, but the more I was pulled into the characters, the more I loved the added character development they provided.

This is why I love Sarah Eden’s writing, it continually surprises and enchants me. Every, single, time.

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.

41dLebwXA0L

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.

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

A Proper Surprise

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately where I’d rather binge watch Netflix than read. *Gasp* I know. The other day I finally decided I was done with shows and needed a good read. I picked up, A Proper Scandal by Esther Hatch. I loved this sweet story.
If you recall, if you don’t maybe I shouldn’t remind you… but, we didn’t love Esther Hatch’s debut novel The Roses of Feldstone.
However, I did not even hesitate to pick this one up, I knew that sometimes not loving a book has absolutely nothing to do with the author. Some of my very favorite authors have books I don’t love.
We loved this one!
41pz7UMpbuL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_
Grace Sinclair has been callously cast out of her home. And though taken in as an orphaned child by the vicar and his wife, her unsurpassed beauty makes it impossible for her to remain in the vicar’s household—with two daughters of their own about to enter Society, the vicar and his wife see Grace as nothing but competition. Thankfully, Grace’s estranged Aunt Bell has agreed to take her in to her home in London. But Grace soon learns her situation has just gotten much worse.
It takes only a moment’s acquaintance for Grace to ascertain that her aunt has married a detestable rake. And Aunt Bell, recognizing the danger of having her lovely niece too near her husband, gives Grace an ultimatum: the young woman has two weeks to find a man to marry, after which she will be turned out. With no experience in the art of attracting a husband, Grace quickly realizes that a worthy suitor might not be so easy to ensnare.
I love how she wrote Grace’s character so up front and honest. Her story line was a different take than I had read before and I love how she didn’t hold back.
 I would love to know more about Lord Bryant. He could have a really interesting story. The side characters were written really well, interesting enough to round out the book, but not distract from it.
The author also did a great job of writing from the male perspective. It’s no surprise that men often lead with the physical. Often an author leaves it at that and doesn’t  develop the man’s perspective beyond that; which leaves you with a very two dimensional character. I really like how Esther made him still very much a man, but well balanced.
There are so many re-readable scenes in this book. I would read more of Esther Hatch in a heartbeat.  –M.V.
Four Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Low Violence, Moderate Religion

“Aren’t Books Pure Joy?”

A few years back I picked up a book entitled Dear Mr Knightley, for obvious Jane Austen reasons. I was delightfully surprised to find a more Daddly-Long-legs story. Possibly the best version I’ve read. I was instantly pulled into the story and loved the entire book. I recently came across another book, also by Katherine Reay, and picked it up without hesitation.

5151oq97FRL

“One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt—and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls.

When Madeline’s professional life falls apart, and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. Has she been too quick to dismiss her aunt’s beloved shop? And even if she has, the women’s best combined efforts may be too little, too late.”

I’ll admit I had a harder time getting into this book. It took effort to remember which character was attached to which background and story as she jumped back and forth. It was not an “easy” read, the pacing was a little slow. It was however, beautifully worded, and deeply moving. I loved all the book references, and the lovely description of the small town and its quaint bookshop.