Review: “Carved in Stone” by Elizabeth Camden

This review is one of those “I’m just going to write a short comment or two” plans that turned into a full review all about my love for Elizabeth Camden’s stories. Read on for my thoughts on her recent novel Carved in Stone, book one in the new Blackstone Legacy series. (Book 2 coming this spring!)

About the Book

After years of tragedy, Gwen Kellerman now lives a quiet life as a botanist at an idyllic New York college. She largely ignores her status as heiress to the infamous Blackstone dynasty and hopes to keep her family’s heartbreak and scandal behind her.

Patrick O’Neill survived a hardscrabble youth to become a lawyer for the downtrodden Irish immigrants in his community. He’s proud of his work, even though he struggles to afford his ramshackle law office. All that changes when he accepts a case that is sure to emphasize the Blackstones’ legacy of greed and corruption by resurrecting a thirty-year-old mystery.

Little does Patrick suspect that the Blackstones will launch their most sympathetic family member to derail him. Gwen is tasked with getting Patrick to drop the case, but the old mystery takes a shocking twist neither of them saw coming. Now, as they navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger, Patrick and Gwen will be forced to decide if the risk to the life they’ve always held dear is worth the reward.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Carved in Stone is another smart and enthralling historical romance from Elizabeth Camden. Leave it to Camden to take an event I suspected would happen within the story and place it at the 20% mark, then let events unravel in a different way entirely. There’s always something wonderfully unconventional about her books. This time, the romantic pairing has the protagonists from two different classes and worlds (with a bit of a “forbidden” element to it), seemingly opposite, yet united in kind hearts and matched in intelligence.

This story has the fortunate backdrop of New York City near the end of the Gilded Age, with a distinct difference in the opulent and well-off higher classes and the middle-to-lower tenements and conditions. The writing style makes the reading an immersive experience, as the flow of the story meanders through elements of suspense, danger, and fantastic verbal sparring some social-climbing family members.

While I enjoyed many aspects of this story, my favorite part is how Camden often explores subtle gender roles within the era. Her heroines typically must assert equality in some way throughout the story. In this case, Gwen has an arc that sees her mature in subtle ways, making an effort to see beyond her class (and stubbornness) and determining what she really wants out of life. Patrick has the most dynamic growth arc, as he overcomes pride and gains an appreciation for Gwen’s tenacity. This results in an intellectually mature romance and even makes way for an endearing grand gesture or two. 🙂

Review: “The Siren of Sussex” by Mimi Matthews

I’m very excited to be sharing my review today of Mimi Matthews’ The Siren of Sussex, the first in her Belles of London series and her first traditionally published novel. It also happens to be release day for this Victorian romance!

About the Book

Victorian high society’s most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London’s most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

cover image of The Siren of Sussex, heroine riding a horse

Evelyn Maltravers understands exactly how little she’s worth on the marriage mart. As an incurable bluestocking from a family tumbling swiftly toward ruin, she knows she’ll never make a match in a ballroom. Her only hope is to distinguish herself by making the biggest splash in the one sphere she excels: on horseback. In haute couture. But to truly capture London’s attention she’ll need a habit-maker who’s not afraid to take risks with his designs—and with his heart.

Half-Indian tailor Ahmad Malik has always had a talent for making women beautiful, inching his way toward recognition by designing riding habits for Rotten Row’s infamous Pretty Horsebreakers—but no one compares to Evelyn. Her unbridled spirit enchants him, awakening a depth of feeling he never thought possible.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Siren of Sussex is a romance with resilient characters, swoony chemistry, and a historical setting that features equestriennes and the Victorians’ obsession with the spiritual realm.

A thoughtful look at race and colonialism through the eyes of the half-British, half-Indian (and fully attractive) hero, Ahmad, adds further depth to the complications of the love story and a subtle assessment of the roles of gentlemen vs the working class. Evelyn, the heroine, possesses a determination to better her prospects in a selfless move to support her family which endears her to Ahmad and the reader instantly. Wholly feminine and untried, she shirks the label of bluestocking and instead embraces the complexities of her person even as she embodies a progressively feministic view of her role and the capabilities of others.

The slow-burn romance is born of friendship and a partnership to display Ahmad’s fabric artistry – a situation which allows for some wonderfully romantic moments with fittings and one quite swoony gesture involving a pocket. Like Matthews’ beloved characters often exhibit, the best part of the romance is when the leads realize, as recipients of the others’ affections and respect, their place of belonging and acceptance is finally found.

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

Twelfth Night, edition 3: Christmas Story Mini Reviews

Happy Twelfth Night! It has become an informal annual tradition to share an edition of Christmas Story Mini Reviews here on the blog on January 5th, also known as Twelfth Night in the traditional Christmas days celebration. These are Christmas stories and ones with a Christmas/winter tone I read over the holiday season.

First edition of Christmas Story Mini Reviews | Second edition of Christmas Story Mini Reviews

Title links will take you to Goodreads for full book info.

You and Me by Becky Wade (novella, book 2.5 in the Misty River Romance series)

This is a fantastic little story with a friends-to-lovers romance! It checks all the boxes for a Christmas novella: banter, Christmassy activities, hot cocoa, and a sweet friendship at the center with a clever setup. I love and appreciate all the certainty of this romance: the decisiveness of the hero, the confident personality of the heroine, and the way everything unfolds realistically. Also, I loved the glimpses of Becky’s other characters from this series!

A Cross-Country Christmas by Courtney Walsh (novel)

ALL the stars and candy canes for this story! What a fun and funny adventure of a romance, with the emotional heart I expected from a Walsh tale. Highly recommended for second chance romance, romcom, and Christmas lovers alike!

Like A Silver Bell by Lindsay Harrel (Port Willis Romance novella #3)

This is a SWEET romance novella taking readers of Harrel’s past books back to the setting of Cornwall, England with a new couple and story of hope and trust. I particularly loved the steady way the hero supports the heroine throughout, being encouraging and patient when she needs a little space. The meaning behind the title is particularly cute, too.

Christmas Every Day by Beth Moran (novel)

This is a cute story. I loved so much about this: the heroine’s growth, the FRIENDSHIPS and their importance highlighted, the quirky village, the grumpy-and-broody cinnamon roll neighbor, the way Jenny learns to stand on her own feet and become the heroine in her own life, the hilarious antics of the children in the story, the secondary romance that happens within a friend group (and the baking that goes with it). I saw the setup of one of the main plot “surprises” a long time coming but was still hooked and pleased when it was all revealed. While its story takes place over a year’s time, it has several elements associated with Christmas, and it ends fittingly during that season (but it’s not *exactly* a Christmas story in the traditional sense).

This is my first book by Beth Moran, and I’m looking forward to reading more!

Silver Bells and Secrets by Laura Rollins (Twelfth Night novella #1)

This is a delightful Christmas novella! With an idyllic country house setting at Christmas, the hero and heroine take part in Christmassy events like a musicale, yule log hunt, and a romantic sleigh ride. The secret kept for much of the story as a major plot device worked well in this era and situation, making me eager for it to be revealed and the subsequent surprise of the story to impact the heroine. I was happy with the way it unfolded, because that’s usually not my favorite device.

Oh! And the hero is a somewhat socially awkward EARL! AKA a beta hero who’s more comfortable in a one-on-one conversation 🙂 🙂 loved him.

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan (novel)

Once Upon a Wardrobe, in a nutshell, is a love letter to stories and imagination. Through the eyes of Megs and her young brother, George, the reader experiences the magic of a transportive story while analyzing how real life influences story (as in C. S. Lewis’ authoring the world of Narnia), along with the inherent connections stories establish between humanity, history, and faith. This is a novel to savor and reread – one I know I will return to and gain fresh perspective and new joy from upon each reading.

Did you read any Christmas stories this year? Do you read them into January?

Review: “A Portrait of Loyalty” by Roseanna M. White

Today I’m reviewing a wonderful historical romance by Roseanna M. White, the last novel in her “Codebreakers” series, A Portrait of Loyalty. This novel also won the Christy Award in its category for 2020 (YAY, Roseanna!).

About the Book
cover of a portrait of loyalty, heroine holding a camera

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, who 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.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A Portrait of Loyalty is going on my list of favorites this year! I LOVE how it is intelligent and layered. It offers a unique perspective of conflicts involving both the Russian culture and on the English homefront during WWI. With many things happening to the protagonists, it also has wonderful and fleshed out secondary characters and a fantastic London setting.

Zivon is my newest bespectacled book boyfriend! He sees patterns everywhere. His observance and intelligence are attractive, and when he turns that focus on Lily and sees her depth, oh my! Lily is smart and capable, especially in her work, and it is wonderful to see her commitment and loyalty as a part of the story.

Author Roseanna M. White’s voice plays an important part as the nuances of the romantic relationship unfold, especially as their friendship deepens alongside political conflict. She draws out the theme of loyalty in a natural and relatable way. This loyalty is an overarching theme, appropriately used in the title, as it explores loyalty to country, family, friends, and ideals. I also appreciate the smartly-used imagery and symbolism of photography and light (especially from my own experience as a photographer).

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

Mini Book Reviews, edition 2

Welcome to my blog! I’m sharing some mini reviews (once again) of books I have read and enjoyed recently across a few different genres. Please visit the Goodreads links to learn more about each book!

Check out my latest mini review post here.

A Rainer Carol short story by Rachel McMillan – Contemporary Christmas Romance | Goodreads

Devoted fans of McMillan’s “Three Quarter Time” series will delight in this short story featuring Rose and Oliver, the couple from Rose in Three Quarter Time. With a sparkling Viennese Christmas backdrop and a Dickens-esque Christmas Carol spin on perspective and time, Rachel McMillan takes readers back into her story world where Oliver is as smitten as ever with his wife, Rose, while she is reluctantly making decisions his heart doesn’t fully grasp. This sets off a series of what-if chapters where Oliver experiences his world without Rose — and unexpectedly, with her — where their connection is unmistakable as ever though their circumstances separate them further. It’s really a love-letter to music, Vienna, and a soul-deep connection Oliver and Rose share that transcends anything mundane and fleeting. I love how McMillan uses perspective to show Oliver being drawn to Rose across time and possibilities. All of this is neatly wrapped up in a happily-ever-after, of course, which sees Oliver and Rose grow in the depth of their relationship and character, too.

A Wing and a Prayer by Julie Lessman – WWII Romance | Goodreads

Strong themes of trust and the importance of faith are expressed throughout A Wing and a Prayer. The heroine, Gabe, has many lessons to learn. Her life is shaped by choices (and sometimes consequences) and greatly influenced by her loving family and the hero, Alex Kincaid. He is perfectly her match in determination and stubbornness, just with the added perspective of a little more wisdom and a strong faith. As Gabe’s headstrong ways get her out of one scrape and into another, a great saga plays out against the well-researched backdrop of WWII activities, including elements of the WASPs, medevac personnel, journalism, and bravery. They don’t refer to Julie Lessman as the queen of kisses for no reason! This story has some very intense kisses – some of them moments that become pivotal points in the growth of the characters and their friendship/romance.

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Historical Fiction/Romance, 1911 Kentucky | Goodreads

This novel is a historical piece with a fascinating true-life setting. The mountainous setting is heartfully depicted. A secondary character, Cora Wilson, was a real-life champion for literacy. A slight thread of romance happens in the background, gentle and unexpected in some ways. The plot goes in a direction which surprised me (in a good way!).

At Summer’s End by Courtney Ellis – (General Fiction) Historical Romance, 1922 England | Goodreads

While it has many (lovely) parallels to the classic Beauty and the Beast story, it tells a much deeper story than it would appear at the surface. One of sacrifice and healing, family and choices. I love how Bertie gets to know Julian (a beta hero!) and see beyond his hurts to his quiet character and strength—even when he can’t see it himself. His scars are more than physical and those form the trauma of war. It means so much to him for her to see his family and his history and accept/love him anyway!

I thought it smart that a bit of a family mystery unfurls through flashback portions (cleverly told through 3rd person POV of his sisters!) while Bertie has the narrative of present day in first person.

Content note: this is a general fiction story with a few expletives and a few barely open-door romance scenes.

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep – Victorian Mystery/Romance, 1885 London | Goodreads

This is a Victorian mystery full of intrigue and twists. While Constable Forge and his unlikely compatriot Kit Turner crisscross the streets (and tunnels of various kinds) of London searching for clues to find a missing jarvey, they become reluctant friends. The pace and action never stop but does slow down just enough for some emotional moments and development of the friendship into something more thanks to their unmistakable attraction and chemistry. I love seeing them banter and work together, especially the way Kit has heroic moments right alongside Jackson – and he loves that about her. From secret identities, a grand ball, scouring the Thames, and chases down dark alleys, this novel has romance and adventure aplenty.

At Love’s Command by Karen Witemeyer – Western Romance/Adventure, 1890s Texas | Goodreads

A book with everything I love in a western-romance! A take-charge cowboy leader, a strong heroine with a nontypical profession (yet plausible!), a brothers-in-arms group of friends with great camaraderie and dynamic, high stakes action throughout. The Doc situation allowed for some great moments of romantic tension through patient relations 😊 and gave Josie page time to be a “hero”, too. Not every book would translate to the screen, but I think the original action storyline would make a fantastic movie. I really enjoyed the audiobook version, as well.

Thank you to the publisher for the copy of The Moonlight School, The Thief of Blackfriars Lane, and At Love’s Command. These are my honest reviews. The other books were purchases I made and I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.

Review: “As Dawn Breaks” by Kate Breslin

Today’s review features a new historical romance from Kate Breslin: As Dawn Breaks. It is a standalone novel, but frequent readers of her other WWI stories will recognize cameos from a few beloved characters!

About the Book
cover of As Dawn Breaks

Amid the Great War in 1918 England, munitions worker Rosalind Graham is desperate to escape the arranged marriage being forced on her by her ruthless guardian and instead follow her own course. When the Chilwell factory explodes, killing hundreds of unidentified workers, Rose realizes the world believes she perished in the disaster. Seizing the chance to escape, she risks all and assumes a new identity, taking a supervisory position in Gretna, Scotland, as Miss Tilly Lockhart.

RAF Captain Alex Baird is returning home to Gretna on a secret mission to uncover the saboteur suspected in the Chilwell explosion, as Gretna’s factory is likely next. Fearing for his family’s safety, he’s also haunted by guilt after failing to protect his brother. Alex is surprised to discover a young woman, Miss Lockhart, renting his boyhood room, but the two eventually bond over their mutual affection for his family–until Alex receives orders to surveil her.

Rose squirms beneath Alex’s scrutiny while she struggles to gain her workers’ respect. But when her deception turns to danger, she and Alex must find a way to put their painful pasts behind them and together try to safeguard the future.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

As Dawn Breaks is an enthralling WWI-era romance from author Kate Breslin. With a setting spanning England and Scotland on the “homefront”, spies and potential sabotage encircle the activities of Alex and Rose as they face secrets and their consequences in many ways. Readers of Breslin’s previous stories will recognize a few key secondary characters of this one, namely Simon and Eve from (a FAV!) High as the Heavens.

The romance in this story is one full of anticipation and a tentative friendship worth the wait. Threads of forgiveness and belonging wind through its progress with an impeccably researched backdrop. Rose is a heroine facing challenges on many fronts, and I love seeing her grow in confidence and bravery — especially when her choice to keep certain secrets complicates her situation further. Alex is an exemplary hero, both in his role in the war and in his tenderness for his family and, eventually, for Rose. He faces lessons in mercy and forgiveness and with Rose’s help, sees his own worth in a different light.

Breslin has tangled QUITE the complicated tale of spies and subterfuge in this story. I am once again impressed with her skill in balancing suspense, real-life events, and a worth-the-wait relationship thread. I was guessing and making note of breadcrumbs along the way, but I was still majorly surprised with the twists and big reveal near the end.

Just a quick tangent: I am SO EXCITED to hear Breslin’s next novel will feature Marcus (Alex and Simon’s MI5 boss) as the next hero!

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

Review: “Lost in Darkness” by Michelle Griep

Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m reviewing Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep today. It’s a standalone Regency novel with elements of mystery, suspense, and romance — all with roots in the classic story Frankenstein!

About the Book

Even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

Enchanting Regency-Era Gothic Romance Intertwined with Inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does. . .in the worst possible way.

Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Lost in Darkness is an intriguing Gothic mystery and romance with elements of the classic Frankenstein and an atmospheric Dickensian feel. Fans of Jaime Jo Wright will enjoy this one!

I LOVE the relationship between Amelia and her brother, whose POV we readers also have. He helps to shape the themes of the story and draw out how identity deeply important yet not tied to physical appearance.

The romance develops nicely. Graham is so completely gone over Amelia at a certain point, it’s very sweet. Their relationship is the quiet, supportive complimentary kind I appreciate — especially in a historical novel.

I felt the pacing of this book didn’t match my expectation. While it held my interest and continued to develop, I read it at an unusually slow pace. It could have totally been my reading mood, though, which made me like this one less. I also didn’t care for the resolution of a key part of the story conflict — I wanted a slightly more hopeful conclusion to one of the story threads.

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

Review & Blog Tour: “The London House” by Katherine Reay

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Katherine Reay’s latest novel, The London House! You might have seen my previous post announcing a November read-along of this book on social media. Check out the #TLHral hashtag on Twitter to see the reading group’s posts & join the conversation.

About the Book

Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.

Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.

Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.

Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy and Jane, The Brontë Plot, A Portrait of Emily Price, The Austen Escape, and The Printed Letter Bookshop. All Katherine’s novels are contemporary stories with a bit of classical flair. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and is a wife, mother, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine now happily resides outside Chicago, IL.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB

Review

The London House is an amazing story of truth and healing! I find Katherine Reay’s stories impress me more with every new one. This novel reads in a voice uniquely hers, with an accessible contemporary setting and a near split-time feel because of the historical letters and diaries throughout (meaning it has an epistolary element like her beloved debut, Dear Mr. Knightley!). Reay’s love of literature and its application as a source of timeless wisdom is still evident, although this story is less lit-centric than her previous titles and more focused on family legacy and influence.

Caroline is a likable and complex heroine whose depth and history parallels that of her mysterious great-aunt, Caro, in many ways. Her story is one of heart-wrenching emotion, healing, and discovery as she faces old wounds — both from her past and those which have been kept secret for generations. Caroline’s journey is encouraged by the endearing hero, Mat, who is also a catalyst for her growth in many ways. He matches her in strength and vulnerability, and watching their relationship unfold is a delight.

My favorite aspect of this story is how it is a study in history’s power to shape humanity’s perception of the past or current perspectives. While perception might be hazy and (honestly) incorrect, truth is an absolute and ultimately comes to light. The stories of Margo and Caro, and Caroline and Mat’s search in the present, all demonstrate how to trust in truth to have the final say, no matter how comforting or uncomfortable, is enough.

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

Review & Blog Tour: “The Debutante’s Code” by Erica Vetsch

Welcome to my stop on the tour for Erica Vetsch’s new historical mystery series start: The Debutante’s Code, a Thorndike and Swann Regency Mystery! Read on for more about the book, my thoughts, and enter the tour-wide giveaway!

About the Book

Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series

Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn’t spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They’ve been living double lives as government spies–and they’re only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family’s legacy.

Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors–not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.

Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents’ last mission?

Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance.

Click here to read an excerpt | Goodreads | Amazon

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 is the author of many novellas and novels, including the popular Serendipity & Secrets Regency series and the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series

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.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).

Review

The Debutante’s Code is an FUN Regency mystery with many twists, turns, colorful characters, and a heroine to root for. As Juliette learns of her parents’ true field of work and her potential for helping solve a mystery she seems to be deeply involved in already, she sees her life in a different light. Her personality is perfectly suited to her role, as well! I appreciate the way Vetsch uses her characters’ place in society to add perspective, especially characters in unconventional situations or out of their comfort zones.

I’m excited that this series is going to focus on the same main characters. I love it when series continue developing a hero and heroine’s relationship, history, and depth through multiple books. Some of my favorites read that way. In this case, the romance is a little less prominent, but I see its foundation and I’m highly anticipating ALL the potential between Juliette and Daniel 🙂 in books to come.

As a fan of Vetsch’s “Serendipity & Secrets” series, I was delighted to see the Duke of Haverly and some people close to him make an appearance in this story! According to Vetsch, we will see more of those characters in the rest of this series.

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

Click here to enter the giveaway!!!!

Open through December 31, 2021

Mini Book Reviews: Something for Everyone…

Welcome to my blog! I’m sharing some mini reviews of books I have read and enjoyed recently across a few different genres. Hopefully one of these authors, genres, or settings sparks your interest and will add another story to your never-ending TBR! Please visit the Goodreads links to learn more about each book!

Snowbound novella by Carla Laureano – Contemporary Romance | Goodreads

This novella is contemporary romance PERFECTION! Somehow Carla Laureano manages to combine elements of second chance romance with the leads stranded by a blizzard AND competing rivals over architecture design in one enchanting story! Her romances always focus on real-world relationship dynamics balanced with the heady sentimentality of the genre and a great sense of setting (even in a short page count like this!). This is one escape to Colorado that’s happily short enough to read in one sitting 🙂

Who You Are by Jennifer Rodewald – Contemporary Romance | Goodreads

I’ve enjoyed every single one of the Murphy Brothers’ stories, and this one is exemplary of Rodewald’s ability to balance depth, likable personalities, a little humor, and characters with sincere walks of faith. In short, her books are nontypical in the best ways and combine multiple genres/tropes. This one also has a FANTASTIC enemies-to-friends-to-romance type relationship with a unique setup. While the main couple goes through a period likened to a trial courtship, they each sharpen the others’ hearts to see their full personal potential and a joy that’s rooted in friendship and a shared faith.

The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer – Historical Fiction, 1930s Kentucky | Goodreads

This is a good historical fiction piece about how the Great Depression impacted young people, especially those from the KY mining regions. Overcoming prejudice, choosing kindness, and listening to God’s direction for your life are prominent themes. I wasn’t a big fan of the added POV of Bettina, but I came to like her more by the end. Her POV didn’t work for me because the added dialect is meant to emphasize the region and her lack of education, but I just find it annoying and feel like it diminished her character. I liked the strong love of story shown throughout this novel and the appreciation of books both Addie and Emmet hold as powerful tools for change.

Vying for the Viscount by Kristi Ann Hunter – Regency Romance, 1817 England | Goodreads

I loved the Regency setting and the lesser-explored world of horse training and racing. (At least, I’ve not ready any featuring this facet of history!) I really liked how Hudson was a fish-out-of-water in many ways with his upbringing in India (another element I appreciate: contrasts between Colonial India and England, like the food and weather from his perspective!). The humor of this novel is fantastic, making it a historical romcom in many ways, especially with the meet-cute. I liked Bianca and her spunk! The plot was a bit slow in the middle, but the last fourth or so of the book picked up the pace and my interest and threw out a few surprises. I am intrigued by the side character of Aaron Whitworth and happy to know the next book in the series features him as the hero.

Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep – Regency Romance, 1807 London | Goodreads

I enjoyed the wit and the action of this! The guardian situation was a great setup for the romance and a fair bit of mystery/suspense. I liked the hero very much, but I found the heroine, Emily, to be a little immature at times — her decisions were often impulsive. Having read the rest of the series already, I wanted to go back and catch this one and see the other heroes (who connect the series) from an earlier perspective

I listened to the audiobook! I want to make a statement separate from my opinion of the story concerning the narrator: her straight narration was good and clear, easy to understand, but I disliked some of her voices. Particularly that of Emily and of Ford, Nicholas’s boss. They were delivered with over-dramatic emphasis and a haughty tone at times when a simpler demeanor would have been more fitting. 

Burning Sky by Lori Benton – Historical Fiction/Romance, 1780s New York Frontier | Goodreads

What an epic story of longing, healing, and identity! Lori Benton remains a favorite author of lush historical fiction set on America’s tumultuous frontier. The threads of romance in this one had me enamored with the gentleness of the hero and his recognition of the strength and personality of the heroine. Strong themes of forgiveness, choice, loyalty, and healing thread this novel that blends the two worlds of the heroine, Willa — post-Revolutionary New York and her past time spent with the Mohawk. I am so glad I went back and (finally) picked up this debut novel!

Thank you to the publisher for the copy of Who You Are, Vying for the Viscount, and The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow. These are my honest reviews. The other books were purchases I made and I am under no obligation to provide a positive review.