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. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases *Still* on my TBR

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s official topic is 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To. I could have placed quite a few books on this list, but I have chosen my top 10 want-to-read-soon books, all of which are on my shelves (physical or virtual!). Which of these books should I read first?!

2021 Releases *Still* on my TBR

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy | Goodreads

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham | Goodreads

Heart in the Highlands by Heidi Kimball | Goodreads

The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof | Goodreads

Yours is the Night by Amanda Dykes | Goodreads

Pudge and Prejudice by Allison Pittman | Goodreads

The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams | Goodreads

Provenance by Carla Laureano | Goodreads

Autumn by the Sea by Melissa Tagg | Goodreads

Glory Falls by Janine Rosche | Goodreads

Did you share a TTT post this week? What is still on your TBR from last year? Have you read any of these books?

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. 

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.

Author Interview + Giveaway: “Harmony on the Horizon” by Kathleen Denly

Welcome to my interview of author Kathleen Denly! Read on for more about her upcoming historical romance novel, Harmony on the Horizon, plus a chance to enter the giveaway for reading swag at the end! Kathleen Denly has been on my radar thanks to social media. Her upcoming novel releases January 4, 2022.

About the Book

Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.

On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.

After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of. 

As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.

Kathleen Denly writes historical romance to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com. 

Kathleen lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.

Connect with Kathleen: Website | Newsletter | FB Author Page | FB Reader Group | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | BookBub | Amazon

Pull up a chair somewhere cozy and read on for my interview with Kathleen!

What inspired you to write Harmony on the Horizon?

I went on a field trip with my kids a few years ago at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. While we toured the restored schoolhouse, the docent shared the story of the Mary Chase Walker scandal which occurred in 1865.Mary was the first teacher to teach in San Diego’s first schoolhouse, but her position was short-lived due to the “mistake” she made of inviting the “wrong person” to dine with her in the town’s nicest hotel. As a result of this choice, many parents refused to send their students to school until she was fired and an emergency board meeting was held to determine what to do. While records of the result of that meeting have since been lost to history, we do know that she was no longer teaching one month later and shortly thereafter married one of the board members. Needless to say, my writer’s imagination was captivated. 

What is the inspiration behind your hero/heroine’s personality?

I should preface this by stating that my characters are entirely fictional and neither based on nor meant to portray the actual people involved. Instead, they are inspired by the historical figures. Given the situation Mary faced as a northerner coming to a town dominated by Southern sympathizers on the heels of the Civil War, and given the scandal which ensued, it wasn’t a stretch to make my heroine, Margaret Foster, bold and confident in the face of social injustice. However, I wonder if the Mary knew the trouble she would cause with her fateful decision. This question led me to give Margaret a flaw which I had myself in my younger years–being too blunt and quick to speak.When it comes to the hero, Everett Thompson, I took my cues from the actions of his historical counterpart, Ephraim Morse. Ephraim was deeply involved in all aspects of San Diego’s growth and future. Over the years, he held just about every political and service position there was in the town and was involved in several plans to improve its situation, such as bringing the railroad to town. Ephraim also managed diverse business interests in San Diego, San Francisco, and even Mexico, yet he often struggled financially according to the correspondence, ledgers, and newspaper articles I read in San Diego’s Historical Archives. Taking all of this into consideration, I found my hero to be a civic minded, visionary with financial troubles. Throw in a blackmailer and I had myself the makings of a great read. 

What spiritual message/theme do you want to communicate to readers with this story?

Good intentions don’t always lead to good choices, so it’s important to pause and seek God’s wisdom before taking action. 

What was most challenging about writing a story set in 1865 California?

Getting the timing of events right. With two point of view characters in San Diego, and another two in San Francisco, and their actions having direct impact on one another, it was important that I stayed clear on who was where and how long it would take people and correspondence to travel between those locations.

Did anything you learned surprise you while researching for this book?

I was surprised to learn that there was a one-man band performing in San Francisco at the time. If you’ve seen Mary Poppins and remember that funny musical outfit Bert performed in outside the park, you’ll know the type of performance I mean. It was a bit tricky to work him in, but it was too delightful a thing to leave out. 

Which character was your favorite to write?

*gasp* That’s like asking which of my children I love the most! But I will say that Katie holds a special place in my heart because she has several things in common with Anne Shirley of Green Gables, one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. 

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies?

Several, but far too little time to spend on them. LOL One of my favorites is junk journaling. I get to create beauty from things that would normally be discarded as damaged. In fact, with junk journaling–especially in the vintage style I prefer–the imperfections are the beauty.

If you could live in any other time period in history, which would it be and why?

Last year? No wait, definitely not then. LOL Okay, how about ten years ago? The thing is, I really enjoy and appreciate today’s technological and medical advances, so while visiting the past sounds fabulous, living there, not so much. Now if I could live in the future…hmm. 😉

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently listening to the audiobook of  Rachel Fordham’s A Lady in Attendance, reading Audiobooks for Authors by Jamie Davis, and reading Memories of the Early Settlements by Ella McCain.

Thank you, Kathleen, for taking the time to answer my questions!

One winner* will receive: 

  • 1 Faux Leather Bookmark  – Wild Purple Clusters – Purple Tassel
  • 1 Lavender Sachet
  • 1 Sing in the Sunlight Bookmark
  • 1 Harmony on the Horizon Sticker

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post and sign up for Kathleen’s Readers’ Club here: http://bit.ly/KRCMemberSignUp  

Deadline to enter is 11:59pm, December 16th. Winner will be announced in the comments for this post and contacted via email.

*Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws

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: “When Twilight Breaks” by Sarah Sundin

I’m reviewing a book that’s been on my TBR for too long! When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin has a gorgeous cover and a beautiful story of resilience inside. It was recently a historical romance finalist for the 2021 Christy Awards!

About the Book
cover of when twilight breaks by Sarah Sundin

Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country—or worse. If she does not report truthfully, she’ll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home.

Peter Lang is an American graduate student working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party—to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can’t get off his mind.

As the world marches relentlessly toward war, Evelyn and Peter are on a collision course with destiny.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

When Twilight Breaks is now my favorite Sarah Sundin novel! It explores a lesser-written side of pre-WWII Germany from the perspective of two Americans in Munich during pivotal events of 1938.

Evelyn Brand is a strong heroine in character and determination, and I love how the hero, Peter Lang, matches her will and lets her shine. Theirs is a tumultuous relationship in some ways as the events of the Nazis and their restrictions inhibit normalcy and begin to personally infringe upon their world. Important and endearing secondary characters add meaning, intrigue, and wisdom to the plot as the plight of the Jewish people plays a pivotal part in the novel’s themes of justice, truth, and sacrifice.

The romance is a slow-burn in the best way, with a strong friendship becoming a foundation for sacrificial love. Their match is idyllic and complimentary, with each growing to see the worth in the other and each becoming extremely (and swoonily) protective of the other over time. With his steady determination and almost-handsome looks, Peter Lang has worked his way onto my unofficial “bespectacled book boyfriends” list!

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

Review: “The Curse of Morton Abbey” by Clarissa Harwood

Today, I’m sharing my review of Clarissa Harwood’s recently released novel! The Curse of Morton Abbey is a gothic tale of fortitude, loyalty, secrets, and romance set near the end of the Victorian period in England. It’s just the type of story I like to read in the fall!

About the Book

Jane Eyre meets The Secret Garden in a gothic novel of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire.

Solicitor Vaughan Springthorpe knows perfectly well that Sir Peter Spencer’s offer of employment seems too good to be true: he hires her sight unseen, offering a suspiciously large salary to prepare the sale of Morton Abbey, his crumbling Yorkshire estate. But few people in late-Victorian England will entrust their legal affairs to a woman, and Vaughan is desperate to prove herself.

Once at Morton, Vaughan discovers that someone is determined to drive her away. An intruder tries to enter her bedroom at night, gunshots are fired outside her window, and an eerie crying echoes from the uninhabited second floor. Even Netherton, the nearest village, seems odd: the picturesque houses and perfect-looking families are haunted by dark secrets connected to Morton Abbey itself.

To complete her work and solve the mystery at the heart of Morton, Vaughan needs the help of Joe Dixon, the handsome gardener, and Nicholas Spencer, her employer’s irascible invalid brother. But with her questions diverted, her progress thwarted, and her sleep disrupted by the crying, will Vaughan escape Morton Abbey with her sanity intact or be cursed by the secrets within? 

Review

The Curse of Morton Abbey delivers a gothic and smart spin on a classic yet tells a unique and triumphant story of the power of love. Its slightly spooky and atmospheric tone contrasts with its brighter elements and themes to deliver a vivid and emotional depiction of loyalty.

Vaughan is a formidable heroine who comes into her own with agency and an unexpected romance. As she spends time at Morton Abbey, she finds the friendship she needs: gradual and insightful with Nicholas, fast and joyfully with Joe. I loved experiencing the twists and surprises through her POV and seeing how she learns love can conquers all.

Morton Abbey is a character all its own, with threatening, mysterious noises and secrets hinted at by the household and nearby town. It is scary to Vaughan for those reasons, but it is all the more portentous as a place where she is challenged to confront herself: her physical flaws, her mental capabilities, and her emotional vulnerability.

I really like the way The Curse of Morton Abbey considers the scenario of the classic The Secret Garden with grown-up leads and draws out the element of sacrifice with some influence by Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This novel has a different feel than Clarissa’s previous ones — it is more mysterious than her Edwardian romance titles. Reading this book makes me appreciate her skill in storytelling all the more with her versatility and voice still carrying a heavy dose of feminism in the context of the era yet drawing out tones fitting of its gothic setting.

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

Top Ten Tuesday: A Tour of the British Isles in Fiction

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is “Favorite Book Settings”. I could go SO MANY directions with this topic, because setting is a very important part of story to me. A well written, immersive setting is like an armchair adventure to a place (or time) the reader has never been. I’ve decided to keep my choices to the UK and Ireland, or the British Isles as those islands are collectively known.

A Tour of the British Isles in Fiction

Scotland

Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano | Contemporary adventure and love story (with a chef!), and an exploration of the Isle of Skye. My Review

Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski | An estate in the idyllic Scottish Lowlands is the setting for this WWI mystery and romance. My Review

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz | This heart-deep story begins on the Isle of Kerrera, an island in the Scottish Hebrides, during the 18th century. My Review

England

The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan | Historical romance that explores the architecture of the city — and of a relationship — in post-WWII London. My Review

The Winter Companion by Mimi Matthews | Historical romance set on the coast and rambling moors of Devonshire, complete with a Dartmoor pony. My Review

Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham | A witty romance unfolds between an Appalachian single mom and an English actor, with a healthy dose of humor and a family mystery, too. My Review

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay | A contemporary story of self-discovery sees the heroine, Lucy, travel to England and the Brontë’s ancestral town of Haworth — with plentiful literary references! My Review

Wales

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White | A little suspense and beautiful music combine in this WWI-era romance set mostly in Wales. My Review

Ireland

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson | This contemporary romance finds the characters in an unlikely pairing while on a tour of Ireland. Beautiful sights and comical mishaps combine with depth in this adventurous story.

As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber | This enthralling historical tale finds newlywed investigators trekking from England to Dublin to solve a mystery. My Review

Did you share a TTT post this week? What is your favorite setting? Have you read any of these books?

Review + Blog Tour: “The Ice Swan” by J’Nell Ciesielski

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for J’Nell Ciesielski’s new novel, The Ice Swan! It combines a WWI setting with aspects of the Russian Revolution in a historical romance. Read on for more about the book, my review, and a giveaway courtesy of HFVBT tours and the publisher.

About the Book

The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski

The Ice Swan Cover

Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Thomas Nelson
eBook & Paperback; 400 pages

Genre: Historical Romance

Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian monarchy, a princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.

1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, Princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory. Svetlana and her family are forced into hiding in Paris’s underbelly, with little to their name but the jewels they sewed into their corsets before their terrifying escape.

Born the second son of a Scottish duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. After treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter. Intrigued by this mysterious, cold, and beautiful woman, Wynn follows Svetlana to an underground Russian club where drink, dance, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.

Out of money and options, Svetlana agrees to a marriage of convenience with the handsome and brilliant Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her family’s debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn cannot help but hope the marriage will turn into one of true affection. When Wynn’s life takes an unexpected turn, so does Svetlana’s—and soon Paris becomes as dangerous as Petrograd. And as the Bolsheviks chase them to Scotland and beyond, Wynn and Svetlana begin to wonder if they will ever be able to outrun the love they are beginning to feel for one another.

The Ice Swan is a ray of light in the middle of a Europe that was sinking into darkness. Ciesielski’s talent for storytelling from the heart is a feast for the readers’ eyes.” —Mario Escobar, international bestselling author of Remember Me and Children of the Stars

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com. You can also find J’nell on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Review

The Ice Swan is a complex story with hints of intrigue and risk set during a tumultuous time in history with a beautiful romance at its core. Author J’Nell Ciesielski sets the bar high for excellence in the genre!

Every aspect of this novel is well paced and meticulously imparted, from the culture and heritage of Svetlana, the secrets and intrigue of the Russian underground, the challenge of an Army hospital and techniques at wartime, the brilliantly depicted settings, to the bright themes of trust, grace, and belonging. The secondary characters are sometimes endearing, funny, annoying, or weasel-y as appropriate, making the contrasting worlds of Wynn and Svetlana come to life with a bit of humor and reality.

The romance between Wynn and Svetlana is one for the reader to fall headlong into. Theirs is a melding of cultures with a slow burn marriage of convenience, allll things I love in a historical romance. J’Nell’s skillful wordsmithing depicts the comforting touches and embraces just as satisfyingly for this romance reader’s heart as the moments of spark and attraction. The magnetism between Wynn and Svetlana is unmistakable from their first meeting, and the way they compliment one another in intelligence and encourage each other (even through a bit of pride and stubbornness on both parts!) is my favorite part of their dynamic.

Fans of Rachel McMillan, Kate Breslin, and Amanda Dykes will appreciate Ciesielski’s romantic prose and thought-provoking storytelling. I have a greater understanding of Russian history in the early 20th century and a new respect for the beginnings of cardiology thanks to the detailed research and history included in this story! Not mention a new fondness for the name Wynn :). This is the second novel I’ve read by J’Nell Ciesielski and I’m eager to read more soon.

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

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 6
Review at Rachelle Loves Books

Wednesday, July 7
Review at Crystal’s Library
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Thursday, July 8
Review at Nursebookie
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at McCombs on Main

Friday, July 9
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Monday, July 12
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Review at The Caffeinated Bibliophile

Tuesday, July 13
Review at Wishful Endings
Interview at Books & Benches

Wednesday, July 14
Review at Novels Alive

Thursday, July 15
Review at The Green Mockingbird

Friday, July 16
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Review at Read Review Rejoice

Sunday, July 18
Review at Reader_ceygo

Monday, July 19
Review at Bookworlder
Interview at Reader_ceygo

Tuesday, July 20
Review at A Darn Good Read
Review at Niki Loves to Read

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski! We have 5 copies up for grabs!The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on July 20th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Click Here to enter the GIVEAWAY via Gleam!