Revew + Blog Tour: “Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey” by Abigail Wilson

Welcome to my review post in the HFVBTBlogTours.com Tour for Abigail Wilson’s new Regenecy romance: Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey! That title is a clever play on words — this marriage of convenience (one of my favorite tropes!) comes with many secrets, some hidden identities, and concealed truths that all come to light with an enthralling mystery. Read on for more about the book, my thoughts, and enter the giveaway for a chance at a paperback copy of the novel.

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

Publication Date: May 26, 2020 by Thomas Nelson Historical/Regency/Christian    

 

 

In this new Regency romance, Elizabeth knows she must protect her heart from the charm of her new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life.

When the widowed Lord Torrington agreed to spy for the crown, he never planned to impersonate a highwayman, let alone rob the wrong carriage. Stranded on the road with an unconscious young woman, he is forced to propose marriage to protect his identity and her reputation, as well as his dangerous mission.

Trapped not only by her duty to her country but also by her limited options as an unwed mother, Miss Elizabeth Cantrell and her infant son are whisked away to Middlecrest Abbey by none other than the elder brother of her son’s absent father. There she is met by Torrington’s beautiful grown daughters, a vicious murderer, and an urgent hunt for the missing intelligence that could turn the war with France. Meanwhile she must convince everyone that her marriage is a genuine love match if her new husband has any hope of uncovering the enemy.

Determined to keep her son’s true identity a secret, Elizabeth will need to remain one step ahead of her fragile heart, her uncertain future, and the relentless fiend bent on her new family’s ruin.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Review

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey is a Regency romance and mystery that will have you turning the pages late into the night to figure out its secrets. I was rooting for the hero and heroine through all their action-filled escapades (that were also, somehow, SUPER romantic) to embrace their newfound friendship and solve quite the twisting puzzle.

The first person POV of Elizabeth creates empathy and understanding for the reader while it conveys the likability of Lord Torrington (Adrian) and an almost-tangible sense of the doubts, secrets, and questions about the well-plotted mystery.

The marriage of convenience trope is done wonderfully by Abigail Wilson in this instance. Time for a list (!!!) of things I love about Adrian: his humorous, personable nature; his trust and confidence in Elizabeth; the way he cares for his family. Elizabeth, too, is a very likable heroine whose revelations enlighten the mystery thread and inform her own character of the freedom to trust others and offer forgiveness freely.

I really appreciated that Elizabeth and Adrian are older than your average Regency romance couple– him moreso with his almost-grown daughters. This sets up a deeper romance plot because they are in a position to have grasped life lessons and experience already, allowing for moments of intention and emphasis of choice in their love story.

 

Thank you to HFVBT and the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

About the Author

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A registered nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the national parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 26 Review at Bitch Bookshelf | Review at The Green Mockingbird

Wednesday, May 27 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, May 28 Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, May 29 Review at Heidi Reads | Review at Amy’s Booket List

Saturday, May 30 Feature at Journey in Bookland | Feature at What Is That Book About

Sunday, May 31 Review & Excerpt at Robin Loves Reading

Monday, June 1 Review at Probably at the Library | Interview at Jorie Loves A Story

Tuesday, June 2 Feature at I’m All About Books | Feature at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 3 Review at Rhodie Girl Reads | Review at Rejoice in Reading

Thursday, June 4 Review at Jessica Belmont | Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, June 5 Review at View from the Birdhouse | Review at Foals, Fiction and Filigree

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 paperback copies of Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. Only one entry per household. All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Enter the giveaway here!

Review: “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” by Bethany Turner

If you haven’t read a Bethany Turner story yet, you’re in for a TREAT! Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish, her latest standalone novel, features the world of celebrity chefs, glamour, and alllll the yummy food.

Hadley Beckett's Next Dish
About the Book

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanaugh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel’s other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum, he’s sent packing to get his life in order. When he returns, career in shambles, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public’s good graces is to work alongside Hadley.

As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along, but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love. In the meantime, hide the knives.

Fan-favorite Bethany Turner serves up a heaping helping of humor and romance with this thoroughly modern story centered on cooking, enemies, and second chances.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The conflict in Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish is fantastic. From the initial riveting prologue and story setup, I was anxious to see how Hadley would go from despising Max to liking him – let alone actually finding a friendship and romance with him. But trust Bethany Turner to take all these “seemingly” unrelated ingredients and deliver a “dish” that’s as fun as it is memorable. Filled with all the pop culture (and foodie!) references I’ve come to love in Bethany’s voice, this story is an enemies-to-lovers romance at its finest.

I LOVE MAX. And Hadley, of course 😉

Only Bethany Turner could transform a hero in such a dynamic way. Max has met his match with Hadley, and it’s a thrill to see them pitted against one another — and their grudging friendship turn into sparks of the romantic kind. Aside from the hilarious romcom genius of this story, a strong thread of second chances and healing interweaves the culinary world of Max and Hadley. Facades, public image, and honesty are all dealt with in fresh ways.

The cliMAX (see what I did there?) of the story is unexpected in the most refreshing way! The momentum never stops, and the resolution is played out surprisingly when I would have expected a literary trope or a predictable direction. To reveal just how it stands out and plays on a bit of teamwork would reveal too much, so trust me when I say it is perfection!

I enjoyed all the FOOD, culinary and food-celeb references, and the banter of this novel. The quick wit of Hadley and Max, layered and complicated by their relationship, combine to make this a thoroughly entertaining novel with dimension and plenty of flavor! One of my favorite tiny things about this story was Hadley’s penchant for silently reciting “kitchen ABCs” when she is upset: Apples. Beef stroganoff. Cumin. Dicer.

Now I’m off to cook something, because all the kitchen talk in the novel has made me hungry 😉

Thanks to the publisher, Revell, for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Stay With Me” by Becky Wade

It’s been a little bit since I’ve shared a review! I have been enjoying some great stories, so expect more bookish talk in the coming days.

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Stay With Me by Becky Wade, her recent contemporary novel in a new “Misty River Romance” series. I already know this is going to be one of my favorites of the year!!

About the Book

Loving her is a risk he can’t afford . . . and can’t resist.

When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents’ past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains to chase down her family’s secret. However, it’s Genevieve’s own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of a historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she’s worked so hard to hide.

Sam has embraced his sorrow, his isolation, and his identity as an outsider. He’s spent years carving out both career success and peace of mind. The last thing he wants is to rent the cottage on his property to a woman whose struggles stir his worst failure back to life. Yet can he bear to turn her away right when she needs him most?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I’m blown away by this book! Touching on a full range of emotions at a heart and faith level, Stay With Me is a stunning, grace-filled story of romance and redemption. This is one of my “Becky Wade” favorites, ranked up there with True to You. (And can I say how fun it is that Becky is not afraid of using exclamation marks!!!)

Both Gen and Sam are realistic characters with relatable quirks. Their journey is a heartfelt, page-turning one with their friendship at the center. Gen and her struggles are completely relatable, even if some of her particular issues aren’t familiar ones for some readers. (I can’t say more because spoilers!) But I will say the challenge to stay “on top” and to thrive, especially if a public image is a concern, was a brave and timely aspect for Becky Wade to explore at great depth. The family history Gen starts to uncover, too, is riveting and interesting!

Now it’s time to talk about SAM. Sam talks to plants, he’s Australian (which means an adorable accent), and HE BAKES. If that doesn’t make you fall in love with him, his gentlemanly actions and kindness will! He notices Gen’s quirks, virtues, and negative traits. He sees the big picture where she’s concerned. I feel like Sam’s perception of Gen elevates Stay With Me in the genre because it captures real-world details like this in many aspects: with Sam and Gen’s romance, with Gen and her family, with the friends and supporting characters. Gen’s zest for life draws Sam out of the shadows of his own choosing — I loved seeing that happen, too.

I appreciate how the romance, especially in Becky Wade’s unique voice, is sexy yet clean. This is a prime example of how the inspirational romance genre CAN have heat and convey a real, respectful sense of desire without crossing any inappropriate lines.

Becky Wade deals with hard truths with a balance of grace and honesty in all of her novels. This honesty, in Stay With Me‘s case, confronts things like pride, accountability, grace in our failings, and even guilt and loss. This list is not something that’s ticked off here and there. Instead, the story embodies these themes as naturally as Sam and Gen’s romance grows; steadily and like second nature.

I have to give a shoutout here to Genevieve’s sister, Natasha, and her “Year of living Austenly” she’s attempting in the novel. Yes, Austenly like Jane Austen and no television. Hobbies like knitting. I *really* need a short story set at Christmas about Natasha and her husband, Wyatt. With all the Austen things. Knitted gifts and drawing room card games. Tea and brown paper packages.

I’m very excited for the rest of the series, and seeing this special group of friends interact and grow closer!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

April Happenings (2020)

It’s time for my monthly update post…Happy Leap Day! The second month of 2020 is already over…

I’m sharing a few updates on what I’m reading, blogging about, and what I’m eating and watching.

April Happenings

on the bookshelf

Currently reading: Stay With Me by Becky Wade

Recent additions to my TBR/shelf I’m super excited about: Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish by Bethany Turner, The Little Bookshop of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans, When I Lost My Way by Jennifer Rodewald, Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson.

on the blog

Most visited new reviews:

  1. The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch
  2. The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews
  3. Kings Falling by Ronie Kendig

Other popular posts:

  1. Top Ten Tuesday: 11 Titles That Would Make Good Band Names
  2. First Line Fridays # 32: Take a Chance on Me by Becky Wade
  3. Spotlight + Excerpt: “The Thorn Keeper” by Pepper Basham Birthday Blog Tour

on the screen

I’ve been watching all the WWII related dramas. So far, I’m enjoying the PBS WWII drama World on Fire. It has an almost-too-big cast (many little plots to follow), but it’s following interesting events early on in the war.

I also loved the TV movie The Windermere Children, based on true life Jewish refugee children in post-war England. I rewatched Operation Finale, too.

in the kitchen

I love all things ITALIAN. Lately, I’ve made my first homemade meatballs (recipe here) and found that they freeze well! And, thanks to my PBS watching and America’s Test Kitchen, I discovered the Torta Caprese AKA a flourless chocolate cake make with whipped eggs and almond flour. It had just the right balance of gooey and light texture.

Your turn! Tell me: what have you been reading, watching, and eating this month?

Review: “The Joy of Falling” by Lindsay Harrel

The joy of Falling cover

I’m featuring a review today of an amazing women’s fiction novel that brings all the emotions and hope: The Joy of Falling by Lindsay Harrel.

About the Book

Eva and Angela must learn to live again. One step at a time.

It has been fifteen months since Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident. Both women are trying to navigate their way through the grief, but neither one is making much progress. Angela is barely making ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Meanwhile, Eva is stuck, unable to move forward after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.

But then Eva gets a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they had signed up for a race of a lifetime—an ultra-marathon in beautiful New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place, and Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband’s choices.

Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who is covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela must ask themselves questions that they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Joy of Falling is an amazing story of grief and healing, joy and triumph, and the importance of relationships in every aspect of life (family, friendships, romance). Oh, and a little armchair adventure in New Zealand happens along with ALL THE FEELS.

I believe anyone who has experienced grief can relate to this story. While these characters lose their husbands, their journey of grief shows how it manifests uniquely to each person and is simultaneously universal. I appreciate how Harrel clearly communicates that with this story – giving these characters permission to grieve differently, showing its stages and waves in a relatable way.

While the weightier aspects of grief and fear are a part of this story, its bright JOY and honesty are the best parts. Eva and Angela each grow and benefit from their relationships in this story, both as sisters, daughters, and, in Angela’s case, as a parent. The importance of friendship is spotlighted, as are a couple tentative friendship-and-romance relationships. These are developed carefully and with a refreshing honesty in the face of the emotional trials both Angela and Eva are experiencing.

This emotional and enlightening journey plays out for the characters in a most vivid setting: New Zealand. Harrel has captured the place wonderfully, in a setting-as-a-character manner. Its varied terrain is a catalyst and metaphor for the perseverance Eva, Angela, and Marc must prove in their marathon and in their season of change.

It was a blessing to read this story at this moment in my life: its message of joy as an overarching theme and anchor, as opposed to fleeting happiness, becomes a constant for the characters and a reminder we all need in this world.

I’ll end my thoughts with one of my favorite quotes from the novel:

“How was it possible to feel so much love and hope in the midst of tragedy?”

-The Joy of Falling

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review + Giveaway: “The Lost Lieutenant” by Erica Vetsch Blog Tour

the lost lieutenant pic

I’m happily participating the blog tour for Erica Vetsch’s new inspirational historical romance novel: The Lost Lieutenant! Be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!

About the Book

He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.

Read an excerpt from Kregel by clicking here!

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Review

The Lost Lieutenant is utterly romantic and original! While a Regency marriage of convenience might be a familiar trope combination, the vibrant characters are anything but predictable. This is the tale of an unlikely couple up against societal standards, a meddling Prince, the impact of the Napoleonic Wars, familial tyranny, and plenty of secrets.

Author Erica Vetsch’s inclusion of the Napoleonic wars through Evan’s veteran experience contrasts with his rise to privilege, ultimately offering a unique perspective of society that’s amusing and enlightening. Diana is a wonderful counterpart to his reserved and unfamiliar nature, proving herself a formidable and intelligent help to him while she handles her own familial challenges.

I loved seeing the romantic relationship between Evan and Diana grow in complexity, even while the secrets between them multiply. Seeing them untangle their own reservations and circumstances with each other’s help makes for some sweetly romantic moments and chivalrous opportunities. In the midst of the swoony moments, hints of a spy and enigmatic acquaintances add to the tension and thrilling reveals. I appreciate how the value of truth and integrity is subtly woven through this story, as is God’s provision in seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

I’m intrigued by the character of Marcus, and looking forward to his story in book 2: The Gentleman Spy!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Click here to enter the giveaway!!!

Top Ten Tuesday: 11 Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Official topic: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

This week’s topic combines two of my favorite things: books and music! With all kinds of band names out there in many genres of music, ranging from quirky to straightforward and clever, it’s reasonable to think that some book titles would also make great band names.

My list includes descriptors and names I think could make it in the music world and be memorable. I’d like to think a group called The Thorn Healers would be folksy, Lizzy and Jane would be a sister duo, and Bear No Malice would be an indie rock band! 😉

11 Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

Two Blue Doors (series) by Hillary Manton Lodge

The Thorn Healer(s) by Pepper Basham

Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan

Emerald Illusion by J. Rodes

Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey

Your turn! Did you participate in Top Ten Tuesday this week? Have you read any of these books?