Category: Books

Book Review: Otherwise Engaged

About the Book:

Constantly stifled by the rules of Society, spirited Rebecca Rowley enjoys finding ways to quietly or not so quietly rebel. But riding bareback and avoiding nosy neighbors are nothing compared to the thrilling secret she is keeping from her family.

When Rebecca’s quick thinking saves the life of a young girl, she unwittingly attracts the attention of the child’s dashing brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery. As that attention turns flirtatious, Rebecca is forced to tell him the truth: she is secretly engaged to the one man her family would never approve of. Fortunately, Lieutenant Avery is a navy man with no wish to marry, or so they both assume as they enter into a friendship. Rebecca hopes to change her family’s mind about her betrothed, but the more she comes to know the handsome lieutenant, the more she wonders if she promised her hand too hastily.

After all her carefully laid plans are shattered during a family crisis, Rebecca must force her heart to decide. Should she stay true to the promise she made or fight for the future she’s only just begun to imagine?

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I’ve read by Joanna Barker.

The characters seemed very modern, while the realities of the time, including the rules of conduct and engagement were most certainly of the era. I enjoyed the mix of characters that I could relate to alongside the structures and challenges of days gone by.

This sweet friendship turned romance was a thoroughly enjoyable, light read. I recommend it.

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

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: 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.

Book Review: Get Your Life Back

About the Book:

A REFRESHINGLY SIMPLE GUIDE TO RECOVER YOUR LIFE!

In Get Your Life Back, New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge provides a practical, simple, and refreshing guide to taking your life back.

By practicing a few wonder­fully simple practices—or what John calls “graces”—you can begin to recover your soul, disentangle from the tragedies of this broken world, and discover the restorative power of beauty.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you happy most of the time?
  • Do you feel deeply loved?                                            
  • Are you excited about your future? 
  • How often do you feel lighthearted?

After reading this book you will… 

  • Learn how to insert the One Minute Pause into your day
  • Begin practicing “benevolent detachment” and truly let it all go
  • Offer kindness toward yourself in the choices you make
  • Drink in the simple beauty available to you every day
  • Take realistic steps to unplug from technology overload

These simple practices and others are ready for the taking. You don’t need to abandon your life to get it back. Begin restoring your life here and now. Your soul will thank you for it.

My Thoughts:

This has certainly been a fitting book for the season. I received my review copy (and purchased an audible copy) not long before going into lockdown and I wondered if this title would be out of step with my current life, however it couldn’t have been more applicable.

This book contained a strong challenge for evaluating my choices, especially during an extended lockdown. (I’m on day 97). Taking realistic steps for technology overload was a particularly helpful chapter, as was the chapter on benevolent detachment. The chapter on getting outside felt a little sad, when I can’t necessarily put that into practice in its fullest extent at the moment, but the truth of it remains.

I’m also using the pause app, which was developed alongside this book and it has been significantly helpful.

I really have benefited from this book and enjoyed the fact that it was John who read the audio book. I would recommend it.