Review, Interview, & Giveaway! “A Modest Independence” by Mimi Matthews + Blog Tour

When I realized the sequel to The Matrimonial Advertisement was being released early this year, I immediately searched out an early copy and devoured it. Taking secondary characters from book one on a world-traveling adventure, A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews surpassed my expectations and earned a spot on my favorites list! Read on for my review, interview with Mimi, and an opportunity to win a copy of the novel courtesy of HFVBT tours.

A Modest Independence by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Perfectly Proper Press

Series: Parish Orphans of Devon (Book #2) Genre: Historical Romance    

 

 

He Needed Peace…

Attorney Tom Finchley has spent his life using his devious intellect to solve the problems of others. As for his own problems, they’re nothing that a bit of calculated vengeance can’t remedy. But that’s all over now. He’s finally ready to put the past behind him and settle down to a quiet, uncomplicated life. If only he could find an equally uncomplicated woman.

She Wanted Adventure…

Former lady’s companion Jenny Holloway has just been given a modest independence. Now, all she wants is a bit of adventure. A chance to see the world and experience life far outside the restrictive limits of Victorian England. If she can discover the fate of the missing Earl of Castleton while she’s at it, so much the better.

From the gaslit streets of London to the lush tea gardens of colonial India, Jenny and Tom embark on an epic quest—and an equally epic romance. But even at the farthest edges of the British Empire, the past has a way of catching up with you…

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Review

Mimi Matthews balances charm, adventure, and romance amidst vividly painted exotic locales in this Victorian novel. It matches a spunky and daring heroine to her perfect complement of a hero whose thoughtful nature and intelligence make their story one of friendship and familiarity not often plumbed within such an era– and their romance all the more meaningful for its resilience and selfless nature.

There are so many things I love about this novel that make it one of my favorites in its Victorian niche: the layers of the story, the wonderful world travel, the smart friendship between Jenny and Tom, the important secondary characters, the romantic tension (that. is. always. there.), and the fact that their romance is apart from the course of their lives.

I love that Jenny’s sense of identity never changes. She is a strong character whose journey is not about “finding herself”, but about her dreams changing and how the surprise possibility of love makes her see herself and choices differently without diminishing the value of her initial stance. She and Tom face their romance head-on, which I also appreciated, fully sharing their feelings and doubts in a straightforward manner. Tom, in turn, grows and reconciles his childhood and some of his past choices because he bends to see life through Jenny’s eyes.A Modest Independence and tea

While I’m on the subject of Tom Finchley, let’s just talk about how his intelligence is SO attractive. I mean, his demeanor + the era make the simplicity of being on a first name basis just downright intimate.  In various situations, he goes above and beyond to see after Jenny, all while respecting her abilities and wishes. 

With A Modest Independence, Mimi Matthews has established herself as a must-read author when it comes to historical romance. Her practiced and timeless style is proves her to be a contemporary of a Victorian voice. I am eager for what’s next in this series!!!

Content note: overall a clean read, especially concerning the romance element, but there are some very mild expletives, mostly uttered by the characters in the company of gentlemen. 🙂

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

Interview

What inspired you to write A Modest Independence?

I knew early on that the second Parish Orphans of Devon book was going to be set, at least partially, in colonial India. I really wanted to do the country justice. I also wanted to write a heroine who struggles with some of the same issues women struggle with in relationships today; primarily, how much we’re willing to compromise of our own dreams—our own independence—in order to be with the ones we love.

What is the inspiration behind Jenny’s personality? Tom’s?

There was no one thing that went into either character. For Jenny, her adventurous spirit and determination to remain independent were as much inspired by adventurous women of the period as they were by my own experiences with travel and romance. As for Tom, he was partly inspired by Mr. Tulkinghorn in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. He’s also a bit modern in the sense that he truly respects women and is—ultimately—capable of introspection and change.

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

Hmm. That’s a difficult one. Perhaps that dreams and goals can change in light of new experiences, and that a little compromise in life and love isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

What was most challenging about writing a story set in the Victorian era with such varied locations?

The research. Definitely, the research. It was grueling.

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

I wouldn’t say it surprised me, but I did love learning about the steamship and railway accommodations. Some of the ships were incredibly luxurious.

Which character was your favorite to write?

Tom Finchley.

Just for fun:

Do you have any hobbies? 

Binge reading. Binge watching a good series. Shopping for pretty things I don’t need.

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

I’d stay in this one, purely because at the moment women have the most rights they’ve ever had. We’re still nowhere near where we should be, but it’s a lot better than it was in the 19th century.

What are you currently reading?

Bear No Malice by Clarissa Harwood. It’s set in the Edwardian era. I highly recommend it (and the first book in the series, Impossible Saints).

Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to answer my questions, Mimi!!!! I appreciate you! (And I heartily agree 🙂 Clarissa Harwood’s books are wonderful.)

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 1 Review & Interview at Passages to the Past

Thursday, May 2 Interview at Bookish Rantings

Friday, May 3 Review at Based on a True Story

Saturday, May 4 Feature at What Is That Book About | Review & Interview at The Green Mockingbird

Sunday, May 5 Feature at Comet Readings

Monday, May 6 Review at Pursuing Stacie

Tuesday, May 7 Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, May 8 Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Thursday, May 9 Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Friday, May 10 Review at Amy’s Booket List | Review at A Chick Who Reads | Feature at View from the Birdhouse

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we have two signed copies of A Modest Independence up for grabs! To enter, please see the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 10th.

  • You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open to US residents only.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

A Modest Independence Giveaway

“The Captive Imposter” Review + Blog Tour + Q&A

Hey, hey, it’s release day for Dawn Crandall’s book, The Captive Imposter!!! I’m so excited to share my review of it today and participate in her blog tour. Dawn has also answered a few questions of mine for this post! Expect much gushing from me. Dawn is hosting daily and weekly giveaways on her Facebook page for the duration of the tour, from now until her Facebook Party on April 24. For her complete blog tour schedule and to connect with Dawn, visit her website here.

The Captive Imposter Kristy Cambron endorsed

Many of you already know how much I love Dawn’s previous books in “The Everstone Chronicles” series: The Hesitant Heiress and The Bound Heart (this one made it on my list of top books from 2014!). The Captive Imposter is just as awesome, I promise. It FINALLY gives Estella Everstone her own (well-deserved) story time.

Without further ado, here’s a quick synopsis of the book plot from Goodreads: 

Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she’d always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn’t like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can’t refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can’t deny the pull that’s evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she’s been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she’s with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she’s Estella Everstone? She’s not entirely sure.

My thoughts on the story:

One of the things Dawn is so skilled in portraying within a story is many secrets. All of her stories thus far have 11062744_10205550334931088_2555500445048911149_oweaved a bit of suspense with the characters’ identities. The danger of some secrets, though, is that they have the potential to hurt loved ones and cause ripple effects if revealed. At the start of Estella’s journey, she is hiding her true identity behind the facade of a lady’s companion, Elle Stoneburner. With subtle hints, though, other secrets surrounding Estella’s circumstances are slowly made known. This includes her family’s past connection to the Blakeleys. I won’t say more than that, but when she is unexpectedly falling in love with Dexter Blakely, her many secrets complicate matters. A lot 🙂

The arc of these characters is broad and pleasant to observe as the reader. Estella changes because of her displaced circumstances — she finds a new freedom of being herself within the secret identity. She also finds a renewed faith in God because of Dexter and his encouraging nature. Dexter, a complex yet straightforward person, is proven humble by some of his experiences with Estella and his family. His character’s strength really anchors his whole family and helps Estella to see what a romantic relationship can be.

There is a bit of a twist to the story that really propels the characters into a pickle. I’ll just say that Dawn knows how to throw out a few surprises!

Dawn has delivered another entertaining, heartfelt, swoony, and faith-filled story. Her characters are likable and witty, and her plot is layered and full of secrets. The setting in the mountains of Maine is picturesque and unique at the same time. I want to visit the fictional Everston resort now!!! (Fun fact: the setting was inspired by a real resort in Maine, the Mount Kineo House. You can see pictures of it on Dawn’s Pinterest Board.)

If you enjoy historical romance, the Gilded Age, suspense, or being challenged in living out your faith in God, I would encourage you read The Captive Imposter!

A HUGE thank-you to Dawn and Whitaker House for the ARC review copy. 

Dawn has graciously answered a few interview questions for this post! Read on for more about The Captive Imposter.

Facebook Party ButtonThere are several mentions of classic literature and its characters in this novel (Austen, Gaskell, Bronte, etc.). Are these some of your favorites? Do you draw any inspiration from them?

Oh yes, classics were my first favorite books! It started with Little Women, Gone With The Wind and Rebecca (by Daphne du Maurier), but I then quickly delved into Les Miserables, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre and everything Jane Austen. These are still many of my most favorite books!

One thing I’ve loved about each book in this series is your inclusion of quotes or quips from well-known authors or figures at the beginning of each chapter. How do you discover or gather them? 

I just love tying quotes from the classics to my chapters! It was just one of those things that came to me while I was doing things around my kitchen one day–I came across my coffee mug that says “It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” (Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)–which I bought while writing The Hesitant Heiress (my debut, book one of The Everstone Chronicles series) because it embodied how Amaryllis Brigham so often felt. That day, I put it at the beginning of the chapter in the middle of the book in which her heart begins seeing things concerning Nathan Everstone in a new way. After that, I went about collecting meaningful quotes for all kinds of themes knowing I’d use them in all of the books I’d end up writing. I’ve always loved quotes that can say so much with so few words. 🙂

I absolutely love your Pinterest inspiration boards for all of your novels! Tell me more about the one for The Captive Imposter.IMG_3368 (683x1024)

I do have it–very randomly–started! I haven’t had much time in the last year (having a baby and three books come out!) to keep up on my Pinterest boards for The Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter, but I will definitely get to it once the craziness of The Captive Imposter blog tour is over. They will be just as extensive as The Hesitant Heiress board once I’m finished with them!

I’m thrilled to see that you have a Pinterest board for a future Everstone Chronicles book 4! Can you share any details of its plan?

Yes! I’m not sure of the name yet, but Book 4 is definitely in the works! I really look forward to writing Vance and Violet’s story! It’s not technically part of The Everstone Chronicles, but a new unnamed three-book series about minor characters readers will have met while reading the first series. I’ve never written an “anti-hero” before, but I’m super excited! I have it all planned out–the story will start out at Everston, but will then move back to Boston.
From talking with Dawn, it sounds like Vance might have a chance to play the part of a hero — if he’s up for it. I can’t wait to catch up with these characters in another series!
Thank you so much, Dawn, for taking the time to answer my questions! For more about Dawn and this series, see my initial interview post with her from The Hesitant Heiress blog tour!
What about you? Have you read any of Dawn’s previous books? Are you a fan of the Gilded Age?

“How a Star Falls” REVIEW + INTERVIEW with author Amber Stokes

Today I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting Amber Stokes as a part of her blog tour for her latest contemporary “new adult” novella, How a Star Falls. (You may remember my cover reveal post) Amber has been a long time blogging and Twitter friend, and I’m happy to share my love of her writing skills with you all. Read on for my review, interview with Amber, ways to connect with her, and GIVEAWAY info. FOR THE BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE, CLICK HERE.

How a Star Falls by Amber StokesAbout the Book

Sweet NA Contemporary Romance Novella

How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.
Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he’ll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it’s far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won’t stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she’s crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can’t just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

Purchase on Amazon

My thoughts: 

I thought How a Star Falls was a sweet, intriguing story of finding your place — and learning that sometimes your biggest blessings are right in front of you. As Derrick and Brielle adventured through a few days, I was continually wondering if the story would move beyond the borders of reality into a fantasy. (I can’t tell you if it did or not, but I will say that I was happy with the ending) Amber’s writing style flows smoothly and with detail, causing me to wish  the story wasn’t over so soon. I could definitely read more about these characters! Perhaps she’ll write more about Derrick’s sisters at some point 🙂

Brielle seems to bring out the best in Derrick, making him leave his comfort zone and dare to hope his life could be better, even if it’s not quite what he first imagined. I loved the references to pop culture sprinkled through the story. They are an obvious reflection of Amber’s tastes and fun personality. Overall, this was a very enchanting story and one I would recommend to both mainstream and inspirational fiction fans!

Thank you to Amber for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review!

~Interview with Amber~

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m not entirely sure how the idea first popped into my head. Maybe it was when I was walking around my parents’ house and noticed the International Star Registry® certiface on the wall. I just recall a really vague idea about a story of stars personified and dancing coming to mind while I was doing a workout video in my parents’ living room. That was about a year ago.

Since that time, the cover my designer put together, her suggestion to change my initial title, my daydreams about the beginning of the book, and my life experiences all led to a very different sort of story. Truly, the novella wouldn’t be what it is without me going through the events of 2014—applying to different jobs, waiting (and waiting) for news, working at a grocery store for a brief time, and finally obtaining a position at a publisher and moving into my own apartment in a different state. Derrick and Brielle’s story ended up being shaped to a large extent by these changes and by my time living at home after college.quote

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

There is hope, even when it feels like the future we envisioned has become the present we never expected. And through God’s grace there can be meaning and joy and revival, even in the midst of seemingly undesirable circumstances.

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

I’ve come to understand and appreciate that there’s a place for me in this time, as much as I love stories about the past. 🙂 But if I had to choose another time to live in, I would probably say the 19th century in the U.S. I love reading and writing about that era, with all its wildness and changes. There’s something about the time period with its mixture of challenge and simplicity (or at least our romanticized perceptions of it!) that draws me. Plus, I love the West. It’s home to me, and I find its history fascinating.

Thank you, Amber, for graciously agreeing to the interview! I’m so glad your journey shaped this story.

About AmberAmber Stokes Author Pic

Amber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she’s always considered home. Learn more about Amber’s books at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com.

Social Media Links

Twitter: @SeasonsHumility

Blog: www.seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com

Website: www.seasonsofastory.blogspot.com

Pinterest: pinterest.com/seasonshumility

Goodreads: Amber Stokes

Google +:  +AmberStokes

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Share in the excitement of Amber’s new release with a special starry giveaway! You can enter to win one of three prize packs using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to U.S. residents only.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MTVjZWUzOTdmNzNhZTBkM2QzNmI4OTkwN2ZjZDVhOjM1/