Book Review: The Merchant and the Rogue

About the Book:

Vera Sorokina loves reading the penny dreadfuls and immersing herself in tales of adventure, mystery, and romance. Her own days are filled with the often mundane work of running the book and print shop she owns with her father. The shop offers her freedom and an income, and while she is grateful for the stability it brings to her life, she often feels lonely.

Brogan Donnelly was born and raised in Ireland, but has lived in London for several years, where he’s built a career as a penny dreadful writer. He has dedicated himself to the plight of the poor with the help of his sister. But with no one to share his life with, he fears London will never truly feel like home.

When Brogan and Vera’s paths cross, the attraction is both immediate and ill-advised. Vera knows from past experience that writers are never to be trusted, and Brogan has reason to suspect not everything at Vera’s print shop is aboveboard. When a growing criminal enterprise begins targeting their area of London, Brogan and Vera must work together to protect the community they’ve both grown to love. But that means they’ll need to learn to trust each other with dangerous secrets that have followed both of them from their home countries.

My Thoughts:

The Merchant and the Rogue is book three in the Dread Penny Society series. You can read it as a stand alone, but I’d recommend you treat yourself to the two preceding books: The Lady and the Highwayman and The Gentleman and the Thief.

This is a series of stories within stories. Following a group of authors who write “Penny Dreadfuls” and have formed a secret society to help the poor and oppressed, Sarah Eden tells a tale of romance and social justice, while including the actual penny dreadful stories as diverting, and enlightening, story inclusions.

I’ve read most of Sarah Eden’s books and this was by far my favourite of her series. I’d recommend it.

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

Book Review: The Story King

About the Book:

In the third and final installment in the Sunlit Lands series, the magic of the Sunlit Lands has been reset, but that doesn’t mean all is well. Unrest and discord are growing by the day, and Hanali is positioning himself as ruler of the Sunlit Lands. But, in order for Hanali to seize control, there must be a sacrifice, one that very few are willing to make. Jason, Shula, Baileya, and others must work together to save the lives of those Hanali would sacrifice for his own gain.

My Thoughts:

This series is stunning. You can’t start with book three, you need to read The Crescent Stone and The Heartwood Crown first, and really, you should.

Though targeted for ages 13-18 any adult with a bit of imagination could love this series. The world-building is spectacular. The humor is delightful. The author doesn’t shy away from difficult topics weaving themes like terminal illness, racial tension and the complicated danger of seeking and wielding power into a tale that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And all the while the characters are growing, discovering who they are, untangling the lies they have believed, and taking their places in a larger and grander narrative arc than they could have imagined.

While several of the themes are intense, and death is a part of the story, the writing never feels dark and for an author to accomplish that balance is a real feat.

I recommend the whole series and loved the conclusion brought to life in The Story King.

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

Book Review: Provenance

About the Book:

Los Angeles interior designer and former foster kid Kendall Green is in high demand, both for her impeccable eye and for her uncanny ability to uncover the provenance of any piece. But for all her success, skyrocketing costs have put her California home and her business in jeopardy. Then an unexpected inheritance provides a timely solution: a grandmother she never knew has left her a group of historic properties in a tiny Colorado town on the edge of ruin.

To young, untried mayor Gabriel Brandt, Jasper Lake is more than another small town—it’s the place that saved his life. Now, seeing the town slowly wither and die, he’s desperate to restore it to its former glory. Unfortunately, his vision is at odds with a local developer who wants to see the town razed and rebuilt as a summer resort. He’s sure that he can enlist the granddaughter of one of its most prominent former citizens to his cause—until he meets Kendall and realizes that not only does she know nothing of her own history, she has no interest in reviving a place that once abandoned her.

In order to save his beloved town, Gabe must first help Kendall unravel the truth of her own provenance—and Kendall must learn that in order to embrace the future, sometimes you have to start with the past.

My Thoughts:

This story about small town community, the complications of heritage, the challenges of discovery, the art of transformation and the beauty of belonging is, in my opinion, Carla’s best book yet.

The romance in the story is well done and weaves in and around the other themes making the tale multi-faceted. The small town setting and the well developed characters add to the narrative. Add some antiques, historic architecture and a re-evaluation of what holds values and you have an excellent book. A delightful tale from start to finish. I enjoyed this novel.

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

Book Review: The Heart’s Charge

About the Book:

Members of Hanger’s Horsemen, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks arrive in Llano County, Texas, to deliver a horse, never expecting they’d deliver a baby as well. Left with an infant to care for, they head to a nearby foundling home, where Mark encounters the woman he’d nearly married a decade ago.

After failing at love, Katherine Palmer dedicated her life to caring for children, teaming up with Eliza Southerland to start Harmony House. From mixed ancestry, illegitimate, and female, Eliza understands the pain of not fitting society’s mold. Yet those are the very attributes that lead her to minister to outcast children. The taciturn Jonah intrigues her with his courage and kindness, but there are secrets behind his eyes–ghosts from wars past and others still being waged.

However, when a handful of urchin children from the area go missing, a pair of Horsemen are exactly what the women need. Working together to find the children, will these two couples find love as well?

My Thoughts:

The first book in this series, At Love’s Command took a bit of reading before I was engaged. Not so with The Heart’s Charge. From the beginning I was drawn into this tale that weaves itself around so many themes. It is a testimony to the skill of Witmeyer’s writing that she can weave together two tales of romance, a mystery of missing children, the plight of the abandoned, the challenges of grief, and a story of racial tensions while developing each aspect of the story fully. Men of integrity and women of compassion in a complicated world made for a thought provoking and engaging book which I can wholeheartedly recommend to you.

Now that we’ve read about Matthew, Mark and Jonah there is only one horseman’s tale left to tell and I’ll be keeping my eye out for the next book in the series.

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

Book Review: The Nature of A Lady

About the Book:

Lady Elizabeth “Libby” Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn’t favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles into the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage’s former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished. 

Oliver Tremayne–gentleman and clergyman–is determined to discover what happened to his sister, and he’s happy to accept the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth’s summer cottage . . . especially when he realizes it’s the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can’t quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.

As Libby and Oliver work together, they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.

My Thoughts:

The Nature of A Lady is a book that has it all! The setting, the mystery, the character development, all of it was absolutely brilliant. There are books that are difficult to put down and books that you can’t stop thinking about even when you have to walk away. This was the latter. Roseanna White is an excellent author, but this is probably my favorite of her novels and has a much more enjoyable tone than the last couple of novels she released, which were well done, but quite heavy in subject matter. This is one of those series where I really wish I could pick up the next novel and just keep reading. Write fast Roseanna…I’m waiting.

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

Book Review: Born to Battle

About the Book:

In a time between times, a boy becomes a man, a warrior becomes a saint.

In 470, as the once-mighty Roman Empire crumbles, Illtyd is born the son of a British prince. Together with his cousins, Myrddin and Arthwyr, Illtyd is trained to lead by a priest, a druid, and a warrior. Faced with perilous circumstances he must choose his way in the world. Will he give in to the lust for revenge? Will he follow the ancient ways, trusting dark powers for deliverance?

Illtyd makes his choices and finds himself in the heart of many battles for himself, for his people, and for the woman he loves. As tragedy befalls him, will he vanquish his greatest foe and emerge as one of the founding saints of Wales?

“I can hardly believe this is a first novel. It’s better than the last several bestselling novels I’ve read. A coming of age story that is as much about battle as the human experience. This is a story that will captivate the heart, soul, and mind of any reader.” -William Michael Davidson, author of The Remnant.

“A wonderfully rich and immersive story that brings historical characters and settings to life in vivid detail. Born to Battle is a captivating journey through fields of battle, bonds of friendship, and the internal struggles of a brave warrior wrestling with faith in a time of war.” ~Paul Regnier, author of the Paranormia series

“Stirring and original, the life story of this little known priest-turned-warrior will beckon you to follow him on an ancient journey winding through suffering and courage to find the lessons he learns can still speak to us today.” ~Sara Lubbers, author of Always Love

“When the author told me that he planned to write a novel about Illtud I confess I had my doubts. Given how little we really know about the subject he has succeeded in creating a plausible and very readable narrative, skilfully combining Illtyd’s supposed military background with his undoubted subsequent spirituality and espousal of the Christian faith for which he is venerated. For me he succeeds in giving us a feel for the turbulent times in which Illtud lived and in which the legend that is Illtud began.” ~Graham Phillimore, Chairman Llantwit Major Local History Society

My Thoughts:

The first time I read historical fiction about a saint it was about St. Columba of Iona, Scotland, followed by tales of St. Patrick of Ireland. That was the beginning of a deep interest in Celtic Christianity and of the movement of the gospel in the British Isles. When I moved to Wales I discovered a whole new dimension of history that I knew nothing about, a collection of men and women who loved Jesus and carried the gospel in this corner of the world. St Illtud was one of these men.

I’m thrilled to see St. Illtud’s story make its way into the hands of people who haven’t encountered this fascinating tale. Born to Battle is an intriguing, historical novel of one man’s journey with God as well as the Christian and Celtic history associated with this corner of Wales. I highly recommend it.

Book Review: Winning the Gentleman

About the Book:

Aaron Whitworth hasn’t had control over most aspects of his life, but he’s always taken pride in being an honorable businessman and better-than-average horseman. When both of those claims are threatened, he makes the desperate decision to hire the horse trainer of a traveling circus as a temporary jockey for his racehorses.

Sophia Fitzroy knows that most horsemen don’t take her seriously because she’s a woman, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to get away from the tumultuous world of travel and performing. As she fights for the right to do the work she was hired for, she learns the fight for Aaron’s guarded heart might be an even more worthwhile challenge.

As secrets come to light and past vulnerabilities are confronted, will Aaron and Sophia sacrifice their former dreams and forge a new one together–against all odds?

My Thoughts:

Winning the Gentleman was a delightful read. I’ve always like Kristi Ann Hunter’s books, but this series focusing on equestrian pursuits alongside the beautiful themes of belonging, thankfulness, making your way in the world and discovering what things have priority in life made this novel nearly impossible to put down.

It’s always a bit difficult for me to put myself back in time and consider that so many choices were denied to women simply because they were woman. So Sophia’s story was a fascinating tale. She wasn’t a woman out to demand her rights, but a woman out to do something that she loved (and was skilled at) that allowed her to care for those she felt responsible for. I loved Sophia’s willingness to push hard for a desire, to step back to consider the impact of her choices on another and to adapt to the expectations of society as far as she was able without giving up on her own goals. I also appreciated how Aaron was a man of honor keeping his word even when he’d clearly been misled.

Be sure to read Vying for the Viscount first, where you will be introduced to Aaron and a whole cast of characters that show up in Sophia’s story. I’m now eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

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

Book Review: Hope Between the Pages

About the Book:

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

My Thoughts:

Hope Between The Pages was a intriguing tale. I could imagine life at the Biltmore one hundred years ago and the legacy of a woman whose brave choices set in motion a beautiful dream and an unexpected future. The book was very well written and I was thoroughly engaged from start to finish. If you love a beautifully told story of history and legacy intersecting with the challenges of today then this book is absolutely for you. If you love books, the Biltmore, England or stories of becoming then this book is for you. If you like stories of hope and belonging, of making something beautiful from the ashes, then this book is also for you.

I received a pre-release galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: A Time To Seek

About the Book:

Her Future Destiny is Hidden in the Ancient Past.

Sahara Aldridge, a young Egyptologist in 1922, is making a name for herself on the dig-site soon to become Egypt’s most sensational discovery—the tomb of the boy-king, Tutankhamun.

Despite opposition from a mostly-male profession, Sahara fights to continue the legacy of her Egyptologist parents, who died tragically at sea when she was a teen.

But then a childhood friend finds a lost journal written by Sahara’s mother, hinting at the bizarre possibility of time-travel, and a crazy suspicion forces Sahara to confront a freak incident years earlier…

Is it possible her parents were time travelers?

And has she inherited this mind-blowing ability?

When the American journalist Jack Moretti begins asking too many questions, Sahara suspects he knows more than he’s telling.

Did her parents truly perish in an accident? Or did someone target and murder them because of their time traveling gift?

There’s only one way to unearth the truth.

Sahara must travel back in time, to the days of King Tut.

But the biggest surprise is yet to come… the truth about her parents, and about her own destiny, discovered in the whispers of conspiracy around the death of Egypt’s most famous Pharaoh.

Now Sahara is careening through time, on a desperate search for the truth about her family.

But what secrets are better left buried?

My Thoughts:

I’ve never read a book by Tracey Higley that I didn’t like, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything she’s published. A Time To Seek is no exception. I loved it. The writing was excellent, the historical settings intriguing and the characters engaging. The specifics of the time travel rules and the history of Sahara’s time traveling family deepened my curiosity. It’s going to be hard to wait for July for the next installment. (Maybe the future author could travel back to this week and release it now?)

Seriously, if you like time travel novels, ancient Egypt or even historical fiction, I’d recommend Sahara’s journals to you. I’m looking forward to reading it again tomorrow when the finished and fully edited version releases.

I pre-ordered the book. I also received a pre-release galley to read in advance in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: A Tapestry of Light

About the Book:

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

My Thoughts:

In A Tapestry of Light Kimberly Duffy writes an in-depth and nuanced tale of the intersection of Indian and England through the lives of a single family. This novel is lengthy, which I loved. It dives deeply into life in India allowing you to really live in the setting, before shifting its way across the sea. The characters are beautifully developed and the story tugs at your heartstrings as you follow the journey of Ottilie through valleys deep and far flung lands. A story of hope, faith, struggle, love and overcoming, this book is one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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