Review: “On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor” by Jaime Jo Wright

Thanks for visiting my blog and checking out my review of Jaime Jo Wright’s latest split time mystery/suspense/romance novel, On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor. I promise not to be spoilery in my review!

About the Book

Foxglove Manor would twist its way into your soul until one day it owned you, and it called to you, and it didn’t cease haunting you until you came back.

In 1885, Adria Fontaine has been sent away from her home to recover goods her malevolent father pirated on the Great Lakes during the Civil War. Hoping to find freedom away from her father, Adria arrives at Foxglove Manor–a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior–but senses only wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life.

Centuries later, Kailey Gibson takes on a position as a nurse’s aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Abducted as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling threat from her kidnappers that they may return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven.

As the sinister mysteries of Foxglove Manor haunt two women separated by time, they will have to risk it all to banish the past’s demons–including their own.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor is delightfully creepy and romantic! Gothic tones and atmosphere pepper this split time mystery set on the remote shores of Lake Superior. Jaime Jo Wright’s lyrical style combines with two compelling heroines to contrast the brokenness of human nature and the import of legacy and hope. And the villains I didn’t suspect… I’ll just say I love it when a book surprises me!

The heroines of the story are relatable and likable. Adria, especially, draws compassion for the way she has been treated and the choices she is compelled to make. I like Kailey but I LOVE Jude, her brother. Their sibling relationship is unique and considerately portrayed by Wright, with his autism diagnosis not defining his limitations but rather informing his strengths and making him a key part of Kailey’s purpose. Adria and Kailey’s alternating points of view contrast the differences between history and present day and highlight timeless struggles that are still shared.

The perfectly-paced mystery and journeys of the heroines take center stage, but both are paired with heroes who match them in wits and support. Kailey’s counterpart plays a subtle role at first, but the spark of attraction is there the whole. time., making theirs a slow burn dynamic (and y’all know, I am HERE for the romance!). I love the way he SEES Kailey, listening, noticing the little things, and intuitively acting on his care of her in small ways. Adria’s hero is unlikely in many ways: his demeanor is SO prickly at first, his secrets propel the plot in unexpected ways, and his own history relates to Adria’s life in a surprising fashion. The formality of his name, even, through most of the story adds an air of mystery. Their romantic thread has me realizing a few things about my own reading preferences: I think I have a thing for heroes with long hair (but maybe that’s a list for another day 😉 ).

The concept of war is a clever theme tied in with Foxglove Manor. While the goods Adria seeks to recover originate during the Civil War, the shadow of that event stretches beyond time’s boundaries and influences Adria’s situation. And, in effect, Kailey’s. But the unspoken rivalries and wars between flesh and spirit, between escape and purpose, and between despair and hope are contrasted in a greater sense through both Adria and Kailey’s stories. I appreciate, especially, how pressing on in spite of fears and fighting for life are important themes, too.

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

Cover Reveal: “In Search of a Prince” by Toni Shiloh

I’m so happy to be sharing a cover reveal for Toni Shiloh’s upcoming novel, In Search of a Prince! I’m very excited for this story and impressed with the stunning cover. Read on for more about Toni and the novel.

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and multi-published Christian contemporary romance author. She writes to bring God glory and to learn more about His goodness. Her novels, Grace Restored, was a 2019 Holt Medallion finalist, Risking Love a 2020 Selah Award finalist, and The Truth About Fame a 2021 Holt Medallion finalist.

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and of the Virginia Chapter, Toni seeks to encourage authors in the writing industry. She loves connecting with readers and authors alike via social media. You can learn more about her writing at http://tonishiloh.com.

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Author Newsletter: http://tonishiloh.com/subscribe Blog: www.inspyromance.com  Blog: http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com

About the Book

Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops the mother of all bombshells—Brielle is a princess in the kingdom of Oloro Ilé, Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, King Tiwa Jimoh Adebayo, is failing.

Distraught by her mother’s betrayal, Brielle is further left spinning when the Oloro Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before assuming the throne or the crown will be passed to another. Uncertain who to choose from the council’s list of bachelors, she struggles with the decision along with the weight of her new role in a new country. With her world totally shaken, she must take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring.

THE COVER!

Review: “Shadows of the White City” by Jocelyn Green

I am happy to share my gushing review of Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green! It is the second book in her “Windy City Saga”, but it can be read as a standalone. Fans of immersive historical fiction with a slight hint of romance with enjoy this story!

About the Book

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Shadows of the White City is a fascinating story of belonging, grace, and chosen family.

The unique almost-generational look this connected series affords is giving readers a glimpse into the life of Sylvie years after she has matured beyond her behavior and trials in Veiled in Smoke. I appreciate her perspective and how events in both books show the impact progress and choices make on generations. Fans of the first book will be happy to see glimpses of Meg’s family!

The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair serves as a brilliant character of its own. Green’s meticulous research combines with her wordsmithing to paint an immersive setting. I felt like I was experiencing the opulence of world cultures and accents blended in a spectacle of progress and education.

Through Sylvie and Rose’s relationship, Shadows of the White City explores the meaning of family, home, grace, and the tough choices that come with adoption. Themes of faith, acceptance, and belonging are woven throughout, with Sylvie examining her own motivations and growing through the story. Kristof’s character and some of his challenges echo this same exploration in his relationship with his trying younger brother, Gregor.

Sylvie and Rose’s relationship, and their need to fully understand and reconcile their respective roles, are at the forefront of the story, keeping a quick pace through exciting sequences and many possibilities as to who is involved. (What a great cast!) The tentative romance between Sylvie and Kristof, though, is my personal favorite aspect of the story – especially their dynamic friendship! I appreciate their natural and respectful relationship and their understanding of the seriousness of commitment at this point in their lives. They are a slightly older-than-average pairing, and I am here for more of this in Christfic thankyouverymuch!

Another favorite part of this novel is the way music and literature play into the situations and moments between the characters. The timeless concepts and characterization found in classic literature are referenced and discussed by Rose, Sylvie, and Meg. Kristof relates music as a metaphor for different aspects of life. I LOVE how Green consciously uses books and music as a lens through which Kristof and Sylvie process and see the world.

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

Review: “A Cowboy for Keeps” by Jody Hedlund

Welcome to my blog! I’m reviewing Jody Hedlund’s latest novel today, A Cowboy for Keeps, the start of a new western historical romance series.

About the Book

Greta Nilsson’s trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.

Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He’ll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt’s ranch if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying and starting a family with Greta. But when old insecurities and surprising revolutions arise, can a union born out of desperation survive?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

It has been a long time since I’ve read a western! A Cowboy for Keeps is a great one, with a handsome rancher, outlaws, Native Americans, a beautiful mountain setting, and a heroine determined to provide a better life for her sister.

This story progresses quickly, with some unexpected surprises and just enough adventure. Hedlund’s descriptions of the Colorado setting are spot-on (Colorado is a fav place of mine to visit, in books and real like!). Long time fans of westerns will be satisfied with the expected elements of the story, too, like the hard work of running a cattle ranch, the beauty & isolation of the west, and the colorful & witty characters — like Judd and Astrid! There is one slight secret that propels the plot forward which I felt was a little formulaic, but I like the way it is resolved in a realistic way.

The relationship between Greta and Wyatt is my favorite aspect of the novel. Let me remind you this is a CLASSIC Jody Hedlund marriage-of-convenience setup that’s original and full of her signature swoony-kissing-moments — sometimes with banter & sometimes super meaningful. Beyond their progressing romance, Greta and Wyatt need the faith of each other. I like how Greta’s belief in him and his dream becomes increasingly important to Wyatt, and redeems a part of his past he had been carrying. Likewise, Greta’s time at the ranch helps her to rely on God and realize she’s not a burden to those around her.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series! I have a feeling we’ll see more of Wyatt’s family featured in the future ;).

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

Review: “The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus” by Jaime Jo Wright

my copy of The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

I’m reviewing a fantastic split time mystery today! Author Jaime Jo Wright continues to surprise me with her skillful storytelling and borderline-scary stories! Don’t let the title scare you. (haha) The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is plenty creepy yet still a hope-filled Christian fiction novel!

About the Book

1928

The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day

The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright is a fascinating and truly gripping mystery with deep themes of grace and light shining through darkness. With equally riveting time periods and compelling characters, this story draws the reader into the world of the circus, its people, and a unique look at how history has far-reaching threads into the present.

I really appreciate how both timelines and the heroines mirror each other in many ways. Pippa is learning to champion her independence while Chandler is fiercely fighting to maintain hers. Both heroes play crucial yet subtle roles, too, complimentary to each heroine. Both heroes are strong and protective, yet actively letting the heroines prove their capability. The colorful and unexpected cast of characters imparts both wisdom and insight into the web of mystery.

Wright’s style, a balance of creepy and lyrical, highlights the contrasts of human nature and grace, the evil lurking in the shadows and bright light of hope. I appreciate the way the realities of redemption, flaws of humanity, and the gift of being seen by those we care about the most was interwoven in a thrilling way.

I had my mind made up about 60% through of just WHO the culprit(s) were in the shadows. I was completely wrong! I love how Wright surprises me with every. single. one of her mysteries. Bravo!

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

Review: “Set the Stars Alight” by Amanda Dykes

set the stars alight & nautical illustration

It’s been a few weeks since I read Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes. It has taken me this long to form a coherent review — all because it’s now one of my all-time favorite stories! If you enjoy stories of light, hope, redemption, and home, I highly recommend *running* to your nearest library or bookseller and obtaining a copy.

About the Book

Lucy Clairmont’s family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it’s Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she’s discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I’m absolutely speechless at the beauty of this story. Set the Stars Alight is one of those rare books that speaks of timeless truth and light through the familiar refrain of story. It is one that will cause the reader to see the world differently. To see the intertwining Hope that binds humanity from creation to the cross with its message echoed in every longing for home and every story of redemption.

Through two equally compelling (and brilliantly intertwining!) stories, Amanda Dykes draws the reader in with her lyrical style. Lucy and Dash, in the present day, embody friendship, connection, and home. Their grief and longings feel relatable and realistic as they struggle with reconnecting, the consequences of missed communication, and the strength of their shared history. One that incorporates the tiniest hint of a fairytale played out in “real life” through shared story, light, stars, and seas

The historical thread of Frederick Hanford’s story and life twists its way through the pages with overarching themes of friendship, brotherhood, and sacrifice. To speak of the depth and meaning of his role in an act of selfless love would be too revealing. I’ll only say that his character is surprising and the most emotionally moving part of the story.

Through Lucy and Dash’s renewed connection and newfound countryside friendships, the legacy of Frederick comes to light; as does the inheritance of story and wonder Lucy’s own father has left in her heart.

With bright secondary characters and myriad layers of meaning connecting every element of every chapter, Set the Stars Alight has earned its place on my all time favorites list. I can recommend it to any reader as a tale both heart-wrenching and healing, incorporating adventure, intelligence, romance, and dreams with an overarching message of redemption.

Thank you to the publisher for the digital copy. I purchased my own print copy. This is my honest review.

Audiobook review: “Whose Waves These Are” by Amanda Dykes

Hi readers! I’m dropping in to share a little review of an epic story… one of those that needs to be on your radar if you haven’t already read it: Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes.

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I am in awe of this story and its winding way of layering truth and light in both the commonplace and extraordinary. Through points of view from the past and contemporary timelines, the lives of Annie, Jeremiah, Robert Bliss, and so many others are expertly intertwined in a story of sacrifice and provision, with enchanting threads of sea and light. A story that explores the both the strength and weakness of the human spirit, all tied up with the provision of God and His ultimate will. This is a resonating debut novel with its deeply poignant themes and memorable characters. I can’t wait to experience whatever story Amanda Dykes pens next!

I HIGHLY enjoyed the audiobook version of this novel, and will be looking at other stories with the same narrator. She was a joy!

Thanks to Netgalley for the ebook copy. I purchased the audio copy. This is my honest review.

First Line Fridays # 33: “Set the Stars Alight” by Amanda Dykes

It’s time for a new edition of First Line Fridays hosted by the Hoarding Books blog!

20171006_010334.jpg

Today I’m sharing the first line of a highly anticipated novel: Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes. This story has been much-hyped in my social media circles (ahem, mostly by Rachel McMillan). Knowing it’s an AMANDA DYKES novel is reason enough for me to read it, but that gorgeous cover and premise help, too! I’m excited to read this soon — it releases to the world on June 30!

FIRST LINE:

Prologue

London, England May 1987

The smell of cinders permanently etched the abandoned Bessette Match Factory into the minds of all who passed.

Your turn! What’s your first line?

Review: “A Mosaic of Wings” by Kimberly Duffy

Today’s review features debut author Kimberly Duffy and her new novel set in New York and India, during the late Victorian age.

About the Book

It’s 1885, and all Nora Shipley wants, now that she’s graduating from Cornell University as valedictorian of the entomology program, is to follow in her late father’s footsteps by getting her master’s degree and taking over the scientific journal he started. The only way to uphold her father’s legacy is to win a scholarship, so she joins a research expedition in Kodaikanal, India, to prove herself in the field.

India isn’t what she expects, though, and neither is the rival classmate who accompanies her, Owen Epps. As her preconceptions of India–and of Owen–fall away, she finds both far more captivating than she expected. Forced by the expedition leader to stay at camp and illustrate exotic butterflies the men of the team find without her, Nora befriends Sita, a young Indian girl who has been dedicated to a goddess against her will.

In this spellbinding new land, Nora is soon faced with impossible choices–between saving Sita and saving her career, and between what she’s always thought she wanted and the man she’s come to love. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

A Mosaic of Wings is a story of growth, selfless love, and romance. I was enraptured, like Nora, with the beauty and colors of India encountered in these pages. Her journey is one of discovering purpose, a sweet friendship-to-romance, and the joy of life.

The romance was a subtle thread at first, taking a back seat to Nora’s education and subsequent events that led her to choosing to participate in an expedition in India. It was delightful to see it grow from a deepening friendship to something more in a natural and lovely way. Owen champions Nora, selflessly, and she learns more about herself from his encouragement and confidence.

The portions of the novel that take place in India are my favorite. Kimberly Duffy impressively conveys its colors and cultures, spicy food, challenging terrain, and social customs vastly different from Nora’s norm. This environment and the new people she meets challenge Nora. They cause her to reconsider her purpose and ability to make a difference in someone else’s life, even if that means making difficult choices.

Nora begins the story with some impulsive tendencies. It’s nice to see her grow throughout the course of her travels. Toward the latter part of the story, however, she makes a series of choices which I thought undo part of her newfound maturity and go against my expectations of her character. She does learn from this, and all is righted eventually, but I would have liked to see her understanding and treatment of people reflect the growth she had already surmounted.

I am looking forward to Kimberly’s next historical novel, wherever it might take me!

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

Review: “Kings Falling” by Ronie Kendig

Review: “Kings Falling” by Ronie Kendig

I have a somewhat wide taste in genres, in both movies and books. Case in point: I often enjoy a historical romance as much as a contemporary drama or military thriller, as long as the story hooks me from the start. Over the past couple years, author Ronie Kendig has found her way onto my must-read list with her military suspense/thriller/romance stories, sometimes including a hint of supernatural threads, ALWAYS with a compelling cast. Her new novel, Kings Falling, is the second in the “Book of the Wars” series. Read on for more about the book and my thoughts!

About the Book
Kings Falling Cover

Leif Metcalfe and his team, dubbed Reaper, need to recover the stolen, ancient Book of the Wars if they hope to stop the Armageddon Coalition and their pursuit of global economic control. But their attention has been diverted by a prophecy in the book that foretells of formidable guardians who will decimate the enemies of ArC. While Iskra Todorova uses her connections in the covert underworld to hunt down the Book of the Wars, Leif and Reaper attempt to neutralize these agents but quickly find themselves outmaneuvered and outgunned.

The more Reaper tries to stop the guardians, the more failure becomes a familiar, antagonistic foe. Friendships are fractured, and the team battles to hold it together long enough to defeat ArC. But as this millennia-old conspiracy creeps closer and closer to home, the implications could tear Leif and the team apart. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Kings Falling is a labyrinth of a story that kept me turning pages as fast as I could without coming up for air! Ronie Kendig has crafted a unique and enthralling thriller of a story with high stakes, believable circumstances, and a team you would want to covering your 6.

This is the kind of book that’s best read in sequence with the first book, Storm Rising. The pace of Kings Falling never lets up – with almost whiplash impact, Leif, Iskra, and the team travel the globe to put together fragments of truth about the famed Book of the Wars. Seeing the team reunited and learning more about some of my favorites was just a bonus (I’m talking Mercy, Lawe and Pete, and even Cell). Getting a peek into their perspectives every now and then added more layers and tension (ahem, CELL) to the events happening. I really, REALLY hope book 3 will complete some of these hinted story trails!

I’m intrigued – though not at all surprised – with the way Kendig has crafted this story. Every tiny detail is important to the whole, and the cohesion of the plot and of the characters on the page is riveting. I was, in turn, surprised, delighted, frustrated, humored, mad, and even impressed; sometimes all in the same paragraph 😉! The psychological dimensions and growth of Leif and Iskra were my favorite.

I highly recommend this story to any fans of military suspense, thrillers, or action-packed, team-centric drama. November and Soul Raging (book 3) can’t come soon enough!

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

Review of book 1 Storm Rising