Book Review: A Revolution of Hearts

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3nSGXIi
Amazon UK:

About the Book:

Secrets, spies, and hidden love. Which will strike first?

Born to a life of wealth and status, Mademoiselle Dacia de Prideux is every inch the glittering aristocrat. However, her brother, Marcel, is an outspoken political activist, and with the country on the verge of the French Revolution, he has made dangerous enemies—one of whom takes Marcel’s life. When Dacia is accused of the unthinkable crime, she finds refuge with her dear friend Marguerite St. Just, who believes there is one man with the means to help: the wealthy fop, Sir Percy Blakeney. 

Intent on rescuing people from perilous circumstances, Richard Harris, wealthy English landowner and member of Sir Percy’s league of gentleman heroes, has been assigned to protect Dacia. Hiding her in plain sight and masquerading her as a housemaid at his estate, Richard soon comes to trust the beautiful woman under his protection, and their feelings for each other grow stronger each day. But Marcel’s murderer will never stop pursuing Dacia, and she will need both her cunning and Richard’s connection to the legendary Scarlet Pimpernel to survive.

My thoughts:

Set on the edge of France’s revolution is a story of survival and of growth, as peril pushes on ideas never before examined and the challenges of life give way to love.

I’ll admit I disliked Dacia from the start. I know that the author wrote her in the way that she did on purpose to highlight her character growth, but it was hard for me to make it past the first few chapters. That said, I did enjoy the character growth. Sometimes it seemed too much too fast, not impossible, but improbable. Still, I remained engaged with the story and in the end I was rooting for Dacia and Richard and their happily ever after.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Forget Me Not

About the Book:

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, 1785

Julia Cummings has long been acquainted with loss—her mother, her brother, her sister, her friend, all gone too soon. But the loss that pushed her grief to the limit as a young girl was that of her best friend, Lucas Jonquil, who abandoned her without looking back. Now, eight years later, Lucas has returned to Lampton Park, and Julia has steeled herself—she will never forgive the man who broke her heart.

After losing too many of his friends and family to early deaths, Lucas vowed to live life to the fullest. And after traversing the world, he has returned from his adventures to find his family and home much as he left them—except for Julia. The little girl he left behind has blossomed into a captivating lady, a lady who makes it clear she despises him. With little hope of reconciliation, the former friends are blindsided when their parents make a shocking announcement. Lucas and Julia have been betrothed without their knowledge and are to marry immediately. Now Lucas must rely on the help of his closest friends to win the heart of a lady who loathes him—a lady he’s coming to love more deeply every day.

My Thoughts:

This book is such a sweet story. It’s full of loss, but also full of beauty as two friends, who have both known deep wounds and who are of very different personalities, explore how to open themselves to allow their wounded hearts to find connection and hope.

The companionship of The Gents (the theme of this series) is an engaging pull into the story. Who wouldn’t want such a band of brothers in their lives? Julia’s character is a complex mix of thick walls of self protection and deep longing to belong. Lucas made a vow at his sibling’s deaths to live life to the fullest, but it is entirely possible that he has no idea what a truly full life looks like.

I enjoyed this story and will be looking for the next book in the series.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Wingfeather Saga Books 3 & 4

About The Monster in the Hollows:

Now in hardcover for the first time, featuring all-new illustrations! Things are about to go from bad to wolf in the howlingly entertaining third book of the Wingfeather Saga.

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, the Lost Jewels of Anniera, are hiding from Gnag the Nameless in the Green Hollows, one of the few places in the land of Aerwiar not overrun by the Fangs of Dang. But there’s a big problem. Janner’s little brother–heir to the throne of Anniera–has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows, he looks like a monster.

But Janner knows better. His brother isn’t as scary as he looks. He’s perfectly harmless. Isn’t he?

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, The Monster in the Hollows is a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to enjoy discussing for its many layers of meaning. Extra features include new interior illustrations from Joe Sutphin, funny footnotes, a map of the fantastical world, inventive appendices, and fanciful line art in the tradition of the original Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz storybooks.

About The Warden And The Wolf King:

All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk. But when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated.

Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.

My Thoughts:

This series is epic. The heart-wrenching beauty of this tale mixed with fun and laughter makes these stories not to be missed. A series for all ages, the Wingfeather Saga deserves a rating of 10 (on a scale of 1-5). Please do yourself a favor and read them.

I have purchased several sets of these books, but I was also given digital copies with the new (amazing) illustrations for free in exchange for my review.

Book Review: The Love Note

Amazon US: releases Oct 2020
https://amzn.to/3htHlby
Amazon UK: releases Dec 2020
https://amzn.to/2ZBLxQo

About the Book:

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1865 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelings–mostly negative ones–about the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa’s search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words. 

Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

My Thoughts:

I was surprised how much I really enjoyed The Love Note . I’m not normally a romance novel enthusiast, however despite its title, this book was about a lot more than romance and I highly recommend it.

Follow the mystery and intrigue of a letter lost and found and how the contents can apply to so many people giving very different responses and interpretations.

And discover, along with Willa, the source and value of love.

I received a free digital galley of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion. I would absolutely purchase this book for myself.

Book Review: A Portrait of Loyalty

About the Book:

Zivon Marin was one of Russia’s top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father’s connections in propaganda, she’s recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they’re unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon’s loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple’s future dreams–it becomes a matter of ending the war.

My Thoughts:

I always enjoy Roseanna White’s storytelling. This book is the end of a series and while it did reference other characters that had previously been introduced it seemed like it could have been read as a stand alone.

I have been trying to decide if it is the time in which I read the book or if it is the book itself, but this novel seemed a bit darker than previous books in the series. The introduction of the revolution in Russia alongside the war in Britain and the flu pandemic wove three rather serious strands in and out of the story.

I enjoyed the photography aspect of the book as well as the consideration of art and ethics. The strands of romance ranged from simple and sweet to complex and heartrending, while the divisions between family and friends were a bit too real for me in the present moment.

There was, as expected, faith and hope and triumph in the tale and the writing was excellent, yet, it was probably my least favorite book by Ms. White. I still recommend it. There was faith, hope and triumph along with a call to pay attention and make the most of each day. I think that it simply wasn’t the type of book that I most need for this crazy year of 2020, but that might not apply to you at all.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Vying for the Viscount

About the Book:

For Hudson, the newly titled Viscount Stildon, moving to England from India where he was born and raised was already an arduous enough endeavor. When he learns the fate of the racing empire he inherited along with his title depends upon him getting in the good graces of another stable owner, he’s even more at a loss.

The stable at the neighboring estate has been Miss Bianca Snowley’s refuge for years, and when a strange man appears to be stealing the horses, she jumps to their protection without a second thought. Upon learning Hudson is actually the new owner, she can’t help but be intrigued by the area’s newest eligible bachelor.

Any thought of romance is quickly set aside, however, when Hudson proposes they work together to secure suitable spouses for each other. As their friendship grows, Hudson and Bianca begin to reconsider what they truly want in life. But will societal expectations and the weight of their responsibilities keep them from pursuing their true desires?

My Thoughts:

I enjoy Kristi Ann Hunter’s way of mixing thoughtfulness with engaging narrative and well rounded characters.

In this novel I especially appreciated the flexibility that the author brought to Hudson’s character due to his cross cultural background. I also appreciated that while there was an “over the top” villain that he didn’t dominate the tale.

Vying for the Viscount is a sweet tale of companionship and a delightful story of discovering that the path to true happiness isn’t always what we expect.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

I received a free digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows

About the Book:

Stephen R. Lawhead, the critically-acclaimed author of the Pendragon Cycle, concludes his Eirlandia Celtic fantasy series with In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows.

Conor mac Ardan is now clan chief of the Darini.

Tara’s Hill has become a haven and refuge for all those who were made homeless by the barbarian Scálda.

A large fleet of the Scálda’s Black Ships has now arrived and Conor joins Eirlandia’s lords to defeat the monsters. He finds treachery in their midst…and a betrayal that is blood deep.

And so begins a final battle to win the soul of a nation.

The Eirlandia Series:
#1) In the Region of the Summer Stars
(Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2XEXsMn)
(Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/31y9KXY)
#2) In the Land of the Everliving
(Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2F1H16t)
(Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/33wLZCq)
#3) In the Kingdom of All Tomorrows

My Thoughts:

First, you should know that this book does not stand alone. It is essential to the understanding of the story that you read books 1 and 2.

Stephen Lawhead is a well established author with a large collection of historical fiction works set in the ancient isles of Britain. He has also written fantasy and science fiction. This series incorporates the mythology of fantasy, drawing upon historical belief systems, and the realities of life in ancient Ireland. I personally think that the most challenging aspect of this book series was incorporating actual characters that were fairies and ancients gods/goddesses into the reality of a historically envisioned tale. I love fantasy, but this book often seemed to blur the lines between fantasy and history. Taking the entire tale as ancient myth and a certain way of seeing the world is what made it work for me.

As to the historical setting, the druids are perhaps a bit less dark in character in these novels than history informs us, but clan life and the war against the invaders was portrayed with all the violent historical aspects of reality.

The characters were well developed and their motivations believable. The books were complex, descriptive and difficult to put down. The bonds of friendship, the curiosity of seeking out truth and the honor of doing what is best for the sake of others are all strong themes within the work. I enjoyed the series from start to finish.

There was, however, a concluding section that I wish had been left out. Once the story is complete the author skips forward to St. Patrick and the coming of Christianity. What follows is a rather complicated pronouncement of prophesies. In reflecting upon this section it is clear that the author, through Patrick, is trying to explain that the Ireland that came before Christianity was part of the shaping of the people and that all that has brought us to the present moment can be honored as part of the greater story. And yet, I mentioned the lines between history and fantasy in this series seemed to blur at times. And Christianity is reality. The salvation of Jesus Christ isn’t built upon myths of the past. (Not to say that there isn’t some truth in mythology, you can read C.S. Lewis for more on that topic, but that the gospel is an entirely different way of seeing the world. It requires the re-ordering of our belief systems.) So I found this passage incongruous to the story as a whole and I wish the book would have ended without trying to justify the story within the context of Christianity.

That said, it is still an excellent story for lovers of history and fantasy alike.

I received a free digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Under Scottish Stars

About the Book:

Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses on her children to the exclusion of her career, her art, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, it’s a chance to dust off her long-ignored business skills and make a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when the hotel manager, Malcolm Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending . . . and incredibly attractive.

My Thoughts:

If you follow my blog you’ll know that this book is outside of my preferred genres. I rarely read books set in modern day and I almost never read a book with a story line that is almost entirely focused on a romance. Under Scottish Stars made it onto my radar because I read and enjoyed Five Days in Skye (the first book in the series). While I was a bit put off by the tension in London Tides (the second book in the series), I have a weakness for any story set in Scotland, so I decided to give book three a chance.

Under Scottish Stars was light and easy reading. A Scottish island, family commitments and a serious attraction set the stage for two people, who have both seen a number of challenges in life, having to decide whether they can love each other or if life has thrown too much at them for them to be able to follow their dreams.

As I love Skye and could really picture the locations in my mind, I found this novel a pleasant companion on a rainy afternoon. It won’t make it onto my top ten list, but I enjoyed reading it all the same.

NOTE: All three books in the series can stand alone. Characters from the first two novels show up in this book, but not in a way that you need to know their back story.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Set the Stars Alight

About the Book:

Lucy Clairmont’s family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it’s Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she’s discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

My Thoughts:

Last year I was stunned by the beauty and depth of Amanda Dykes’ writing in Whose Waves These Are (Amazon US & UK). I promoted it as my favorite book for 2019, so I was thrilled to see another release for 2020.

And Set the Stars Alight did not disappoint. Like last year’s release this book spans time, but rather than only going back as far as a living generation it takes us back more than 200 years to the time of the Napoleonic wars weaving connections between the past and the present.

The book is a mystery of sorts: a historical search for a lost ship. Yet, it is also a search for life and family and connection and love. Set the Stars Alight is about the pursuit of dreams, the people that make those dreams matter and the breathtaking beauty of a life lived for the sake of others.

It is a beautifully written and engaging book. I love how it wraps up the framework of the mystery, while leaving a lot to the imagination.

If you are looking for a beautiful and wholesome read then I highly recommend this novel.

And isn’t the cover artwork stunning!

I received a digital pre-release copy of the novel to read for review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: At Love’s Command

About the Book:

Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger’s Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler’s bullet leaves one of them at death’s door, they’re the ones in need of saving.

Dr. Josephine Burkett is used to men taking one look at her skirts and discounting her medical skills. What she’s not used to is having a man change his mind in a heartbeat and offer to assist her in surgery. Matthew Hanger’s dedication to his friend during recovery earns Josephine’s respect, and when she hears of her brother’s abduction, he becomes her only hope for rescue.

Matt has stared down ruthless outlaws, betrayal, and injury, but when a bossy lady doctor crawls under his skin, his heart is tempted to surrender. And when she is caught in the crossfire, he may have to sacrifice everything–even his team–to save her.

My Thoughts:

David Wilcox once sang, “Start with the ending.” I think when it comes to this book that’s the best place for me to start.

At the end of the book I was engaged in the story and I had found a number of things that spoke to me personally, which is always a bonus in a novel.

Such as:

“What would life be like if he lived from a place of surrender like this all the time?”

and

“Control was nothing more than an illusion, a lie to trap the competent in their own capability. One that created such a dependence on self that it clogged the conduit of wisdom and power flowing from the Omnipotent until only a trickle of living water found its way through.”

Each of the characters grew on me as the story progressed, especially Josie and her ten dollar words.

But moving back toward the beginning I have to say it took me a long time to get into the book. Perhaps because it started with a war scene and then moved into a shoot out. Perhaps because the instant and compelling attraction between two people who were both focused on not being in a relationship (for work or for fear) seemed to be a bit to sudden and perhaps a bit too convenient. Perhaps it was just this season of Covid-19 lockdown that made it hard to concentrate. Whatever the reason, this book took awhile to warm up to. It took me weeks to get half way into the story and just hours to finish once I was finally engaged.

But circling back to the ending I have to say that all in all, it was a good western. An independent woman, a protective and noble cowboy, the attempted rescue of a prodigal, family reconciliation, personal growth and, of course, love, make At Love’s Command a book worth reading.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.