Review & Blog Tour: “Millstone of Doubt” by Erica Vetsch

Thanks for visiting my stop on the blog tour for Erica Vetsch’s historical romance and mystery, Millstone of Doubt, book 2 in her Thorndike and Swann Regency Mysteries series.

About the Book

A Bow Street Runner and a debutante in London Society use their skills to find the killer of a wealthy businessman, but the killer’s secrets aren’t the only ones they will uncover.

Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill’s owner dead of an apparent gunshot–but no sign of the killer.

Even though the owner’s daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, she may be the only one. It seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can’t take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage–and his job as a runner–comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him.

Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha’s bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. But when her trusted instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation, Lady Juliette obeys. That is, until circumstances intervene, and she drops right into the middle of the deadly pursuit.

When a dreadful accident ends in another death on the mill floor, Daniel discovers a connection to his murder case–and to his own secret past. Now he and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and ACFW Carol Award winner and has been a Romantic Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | BOOKBUB | INSTAGRAM GOODREADS |  NEWSLETTER

Review

Millstone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch continues the escapades of Lady Juliette Thorndike and Daniel Swann as they make an unlikely pairing in solving a mystery. It exhibits the Regency era with flair, showcasing elements of society, class, adventure, LADIES’ ARCHERY (which was particularly fun!), crime, and a bit of romance. While this is the second in a series and follows the same main protagonists as the first book, The Debutante’s Code, I think it could be read as a standalone as it does a good job filling in many events of book 1.

The mystery is one that kept me interested and guessing for most of the story, with many what-ifs and possibilities complicating the facts and setting up the reader for a romp of a final reveal. Returning side characters make the story more colorful and interesting, too, and I particularly like the cameos of the Duke of Haverly, a beloved hero from another one of Vetsch’s series.

I appreciate the relationship between Juliette and Daniel as it establishes a rapport between them, delving deeper into their friendship and connection already established. It furthers the romance and portrays it as a slow-burn type pairing, especially considering their class divide of the time period. With a few more secrets revealed about Daniel’s benefactor, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next installment!

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

Review: “The Last Way Home” by Liz Johnson

Paperback copy of The Last Way Home on a table next to a vase of multicolored flowers (zinnias)

Welcome to my post about Liz Johnson’s latest book, The Last Way Home! It’s the second book in her Prince Edward Island Shores series, set on the idyllic and quaint Canadian island. Read on for more about the book and my thoughts…

About the Book

When Eli Ross left Prince Edward Island to join the NHL, he left a broken family behind. More than a decade later, he’s broke and headed home to an uncertain welcome. He wants to make things right with the family he wronged, but his mom’s business partner isn’t making it easy. To top it off, the coaching job he’s accepted turns out to be far more difficult than he anticipated.

For years, Violet Donaghy has put everything she had into making Eli’s mom’s ceramics shop a success, and she’s not eager to forgive the man who hurt the family that’s taken her in as one of their own. But when the kiln at the shop starts a fire that nearly destroys the studio, she’ll need all the help she can get to save the business and their summer income.

Can these two strong-willed people come together to mend the broken pieces of the Ross family? Or will the ghosts of the past continue to haunt them?

Return to Prince Edward Island for a romantic story of family, forgiveness, and the power of love.

Goodreads |Amazon | BookBub

Review

The Last Way Home is another fantastic, must-read contemporary romance by perennial favorite, Liz Johnson. With a transportive setting (Prince Edward Island!), a prodigal son homecoming, a prickly-at-first-but-totally-compassionate heroine, and strong themes of forgiveness and mercy, The Last Way Home balances lighter moments, a fun bit of hockey, dreams, and the protective force of family.

This story is so much more than the synopsis hints! I am pleased with the direction it goes, and how it draws Eli’s brothers (and mom) in to his life again. If you’ve read book 1, Beyond the Tides, it continues a mending of the brothers’ relationships and the thread of mercy began in that story.

The romantic relationship between Eli and Violet begins with a prickly partnership, develops into a sincere friendship, and sparks into the best kind of romance. I love every second of their journey, from their clever banter to their serious, soul-sharing conversations. They are the perfect complement for each other, especially as each of them comes to understand the common brokenness they share and their need for forgiveness and closure life. (And I LOVE how Liz Johnson uses their history to explore different kinds of forgiveness.) Besides their emotional connection, their kisses are pretty heart-stopping, too.

One other thing I want to mention is the bit of an unexpected road trip on which Eli and Violet embark. It provides for some interesting sharing between them because of their proximity, AND it sets up cameos from other by other PEI characters from Johnson’s Prince Edward Island Dreams series. I seriously smiled about a few things they get into involving mention of taco meat and Caden’s amazing pancakes.

Thank you to Revell Reads for the paperback copy of this novel. I voluntarily purchased an ebook copy. This is my honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Own in Multiple Formats

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

Today’s topic is Books I Loved So Much I Had to Get a Copy for My Personal Library. I’m editing that to reflect books I have in multiple formats — digital ebook, audiobook, and print! My reasons for having these in so many formats vary, but it’s mostly so I can read the book whenever and however I want. Sometimes audiobooks are the best use of my time.

10 Books I Own in Multiple Formats

the Kindred duology by Lori Benton: Mountain Laurel and Shiloh | I greatly enjoyed these in audio form — especially the accents!

the Parish Orphans of Devon series by Mimi Matthews: The Matrimonial Advertisement, A Modest Independence, A Convenient Fiction, and The Winter Companion | A set I just *needed* in all 3 formats. I’ve loved listening to these after my initial read-through.

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz | I listened to this one recently, thanks to all the feedback on another TTT post.

Provenance by Carla Laureano | Carla’s novels *always* have to be on my shelf. Plus the audio was great!

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes | A gorgeous tale, I remember reading and listening to this one a few years ago.

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin | My absolute favorite by Sundin, and I’m in love with this cover.

Which of these have you read? Do you collect multiple copies of favorite stories?

COVER REVEAL! “Return to Satterthwaite Court” by Mimi Matthews

I’m thrilled to be a part of Mimi Matthews’ cover reveal for her upcoming 2023 historical romance, Return to Satterthwaite Court.

This novel is to be a double sequel which ties together two of my top favorites from her: The Work of Art and Gentleman Jim (which also has a handsome, newly updated cover), now collectively known as the Somerset Stories.

About the Book

From USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews comes the long-awaited sequel to her critically acclaimed novels The Work of Art and Gentleman Jim.

The only son of a famous love match, ex-army lieutenant Charles Heywood is determined to make amends for his past mistakes by giving his mother the impossible—the deed to her long-lost childhood home, Satterthwaite Court. But arranging to purchase the remote west country estate is more difficult than Charles ever imagined. The property is mired in secrets, some of which may prove deadly. If he’s going to unravel them, he’ll need the assistance of someone as daring as he is.

At one and twenty, Lady Katherine Beresford has already earned a reputation to rival that of her infamous parents. As skilled with pistols as she is on horseback, she’s never met an obstacle she can’t surmount—or a man she can’t win. That is, until she encounters the infuriatingly somber Lieutenant Heywood. But Kate refuses to be deterred by the raven-haired soldier’s strong, silent facade. After all, faint heart never won a handsome gentleman.

From the wilds of rural Somersetshire to the glittering ballrooms of early-Victorian London, Charles and Kate embark on a cross-country quest to solve a decades’ old mystery. Will the greatest danger be to their hearts—or to their lives?

The Cover!

Preorder Return to Satterthwaite Court here!

More About the Series

For more about the previous Somerset Stories books, visit Mimi Matthews’ book pages or check out my reviews:

The Work of Art website | review

Gentleman Jim website | review

Review: “The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie” by Rachel Linden

Thanks for stopping by for my review of Rachel Linden’s newest release, The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie. It’s a women’s fiction story with elements of romance and a little magical realism.

About the Book

An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she didn’t choose. . . . from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.

Lolly Blanchard’s life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother’s tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she’s lost.

As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift–three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she’s ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present. 

Goodreads |Amazon | BookBub

Review

I absolutely LOVED The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie! It has an engaging style, foodie elements (including the restaurant world, which Linden gets spot-on), tangible pacific northwest setting, plus a touch of wistful magical realism to explore life’s “what ifs” and regrets. I really enjoyed watching the heroine grow and learn through some introspective moments. I’d call this women’s fiction, but it does have a strong thread of a love story told through memories and a few chapters which flash back in the timeline. Of course this part made my romance-loving heart happy.

The deeper themes of the novel are explored with a good balance of hopefulness. I was rooting for Lolly’s happiness and closure through a rollercoaster of events and emotions she endured. Her plucky and inspiring Aunt Gert was a vivid side character whose influence made Lolly’s story happen in many ways. I was delighted each time she was on the page!

My favorite story element was the way Lolly’s experiences draw attention to the joys in the mundane of everyday life. Now I want to reread the novel, make a lemon pie, and grow a flower garden 🙂

Content note for my blog readers: this is a general fiction title (Linden has released previous books with inspirational publishers). The story does have a handful of very mild expletives and a vague mythical element which works as a plot device.

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

Mini Book Reviews, edition 4

Welcome to another round of mini reviews! Once again, these are books I read for “me”, not with any review or critique in mind, but are some I greatly enjoyed and wanted to share a bit about in this corner of the blogosphere. And, three of these were audiobooks I can highly recommend: Love’s Reckoning, In Honor’s Defense, and What Matters Most.

Please visit the Goodreads links in each title to learn more about each book!

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz (The Ballantyne Legacy 1) | 1794 Pennsylvania, Historical Romance

An epic story of love strong enough to survive pressure, trials, and evil intentions yet still triumph. Eden is a gentle and kind heroine, and Silas is the best sort of hero with his determination and steadfast character.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read this Frantz novel! Now I can say I’ve read all of hers.

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman (Doors to the Past 9) | 1891 and 1974 South Dakota & Minnesota, Historical Romance with Split Time Narrative

What a fascinating multigenerational story! With truly endearing heroines spanning two very different times, it shows human experiences that unite everyone and explores roles of women in very different times. Mariah’s story is one of contrasts, showing loneliness, contentment, and a hope that has influenced her family into the later timeline and POV of her great granddaughter, Trixie. Trixie’s quest to appease her GG Mariah and finding her own stride in career and love mirror Mariah’s figurative searching for peace.

I LOVE this story and can heartily recommend it to fans of historical fiction and romance. Anyone fond of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House fandom can also delight in the story world and realistic influences Laura has on these characters.

And oh, how I love House the cat and his character as a “catalyst” for a bit of Trixie’s romantic storyline! And RON. And his late night calls, love of grilled cheese, and his Mustang.

In Honor’s Defense by Karen Witemeyer (Hanger’s Horsemen 3) | 1895 Texas, Historical Romance & Western

This is everything I’ve come to expect and love about Karen Witemeyer’s romantic westerns! This one combines a touch of adventure, a good amount of humor, and a well-matched romantic couple — Luke and Damaris are so adorable together, from their meet cute to their tender friendship and unfurling romance. It was great to “catch up” with the rest of the horsemen and see the conclusion of their brotherhood play out with an appropriate HEA.

I really, really enjoyed the audiobooks of this entire series. With the fast pace of this one, I was happy to listen to it on a road trip with fewer breaks between segments.

What Matters Most by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story 3) | Nantucket, MA & Chicago, IL; Contemporary Romance

Courtney Walsh has delivered another relatable, emotional romance. This one pairing an unlikely couple who share a connection — one that the heroine, Emma, isn’t privy to for part of the story. This sets up a secret-keeping hero situation, which becomes slightly frustrating but completely believable due to the circumstances of Jamie’s past and his heart. I was rooting for them to find forgiveness for each other and for themselves, a deeper theme Walsh explores with aplomb. The return to Nantucket as a setting was picturesque and a perfect backdrop for this story to unfold.

see that develop. I really enjoyed the return to Edinburgh for the setting of A Wicked Conceit.

Audiobook Review: “An Hour Unspent” by Roseanna M. White

Thanks for dropping by to read my review of An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White, a book that wraps up her “Shadows Over England” trilogy. I have wanted to read this one for a while, and I’m so glad I finally got the audiobook copy and listened to it (mostly during drives!).

About the Book

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it. 

Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Review

The main thing to know about this book: Barclay Pearce is my new book boyfriend. 🙂

An Hour Unspent is an excellent work of historical romance for the inspirational market. It has everything I love about a great story and characters in the genre. With its early WWI timeline, plenty of intrigue and interesting things happen to Barclay Pearce on the homefront as he works as a procurator for the admiralty — a nice label for a former thief now turned honest. The heroine of the story, Evelina Manning, has an unlikely encounter with Barclay that turns into a friendship with lots of sparks.

I very much enjoyed seeing the larger cast of characters around these two, especially Barclay’s immediate family, interact and be meaningful to the story. I appreciate the deeper themes White has included, like those of loyalty, family, and sacrifice, that weave naturally through the story. Seeing Barclay find a measure of romantic love and being cared for (instead of being the caregiver) is good for the heart, as is seeing Evelina come into her own with her familial relationships and asserting her strength and capability with Barclay — who faithfully supports her.

The narrative as told by Liz Pearce in audiobook form is particularly enjoyable, especially as the accents of the characters transition through classes from a posh society tones to a fun cockney one. I recommend the other stories in this series, and the follow up connected Codebreakers series, for a full story world experience and many beloved characters.

Thank you to the publisher for the ebook copy. I purchased an audio copy. This is my honest review.

My thoughts on Shadows Over England Book 1, A Name Unknown | Book 2, A Song Unheard

Review: “The Heart of the Mountains” by Pepper Basham

Welcome to my review of Pepper Basham’s latest historical romance, The Heart of the Mountains. It reads as a standalone novel, but it’s a follow up to her My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream, and revisits familiar characters as Laurel’s brother is now the hero of this story.

About the Book

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart? 

Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Review

The Heart of the Mountains is such a sweet romance! With a signature style, author Pepper Basham paints the Appalachians as an immersive setting for this post-WWI pairing of two souls from opposite cultures who share a kindness and heart for others.

Cora, with her fortitude and open heart, instantly takes to the mountains, though everything from the terrain to the people’s traditions is vastly different from her home of England. And Jeb McAdams, like any good hero, has a quiet strength to him that draws Cora toward friendship and unites them in helping a few needy and wayward souls of his community. Their romance is sweetly and thoughtfully told, as they share personal and intimate moments of connection while a bigger story with action and the most interesting characters plays out.

Pepper Basham’s style shines in The Heart of the Mountains, as a love for the Appalachians and the lore of the region’s history plays its part in the story. I was struck by the very heart-centered emotions Cora and Jeb experience, especially the mingling of hope and grief as joys, faith, and loss are all part of life. With some comical moments amidst the drama and a host of endearing cast (Granny Burcham! Isom! Caroline McAdams!), I greatly enjoyed revisiting the characters in this fictional world for another story of love and resilience.

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

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books to Read Soon from my TBR

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

Today’s topic is a FREEBIE! I’m sharing 10 books sitting on my shelves that I want to read soon — and hoping YOU can help me decide which to read next! If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to know your favorites. Share in the comments, or vote in my Twitter polls (Poll 1, Poll 2, Poll 3) for your picks.

10 Books to Read Soon from my TBR

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz | It’s the only novel of Laura’s I haven’t read!

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham | The only one of Pepper’s I need to catch up on!

Your is the Night by Amanda Dykes | It’s by Amanda… nothing else needs to be said.

Heart in the Highlands by Heidi Kimball | Isn’t this a gorgeous cover!?

Facing the Enemy by Paige Edwards | A newer release on my TBR, it sounds so intriguing!

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green | I’ve been excited about this debut novel since *before* it came out.

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle | Highly recommended by reader friends 🙂

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant | Bakery + romance = something I know I’ll love!

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade | One of her backlist titles I need to read!

The King’s Mercy by Lori Benton | Dare I admit I haven’t read this yet?

Which of these have you read? Do we share any TBR titles in common? What’s a book that’s been on your shelf for too long?t

Review: “Elysium Tide” by James R. Hannibal

Thank you for stopping by to read my review of James R. Hannibal’s latest suspense novel, Elysium Tide.

About the Book

Dr. Peter Chesterfield is one of the Royal London Hospital’s top neurosurgeons. He is also a workaholic, ordered by his boss to take a week off to attend a medical symposium at the luxurious Elysium Grand on the island of Maui. While there, Peter pulls a woman with a skull fracture from the water. Though he is able to revive her in the ambulance, she eventually dies in his arms, leaving him with only one clue to what happened to her: the word “honu.”

Increasingly obsessed with discovering the cause of his patient’s death, Peter becomes entangled in an ongoing investigation of a brazen luxury auto theft. He also becomes a source of deep irritation to detective Lisa Kealoha, who has jurisdiction over the case.

But when the two join forces, they begin to uncover a destructive plot that runs far deeper than either of them could have imagined. And if they’re not careful, they’re both going to end up dead.

Award-winning author James R. Hannibal whisks you away to the deadly beauty of Hawaii for a story of greed, violence, and justice that will leave you breathless.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Elysium Tide is an engrossing, fast-paced suspense novel with two engaging protagonists. The idyllic tropical setting contrasts with the thrilling action of the story — much like Dr. Peter Chesterfield and Detective Lisa Kealoha form an unlikely, seemingly-opposite crime solving pair.

I enjoyed both points of view: Lisa’s, which is Hawaii-Five-O like in its cop drama and family connections; and Peter’s, whose analytical approach to logic is as entertaining as it is fascinating. Peter’s perspective has to be my favorite, though, for his character growth and subtle shift in perspective as his trials in the story bring up questions of faith and control.

The story has layers for the reader to discover, with Lisa finding a bigger web of crime and a personal connection to the suspects. I was surprised by twists until the final chapter, which I’ll mark as an impressive writing feat for Hannibal and just one more reason I’m a big fan of his stories.

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