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.

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.

Recommended Reading: Historical Fiction with Gothic and Mystery Elements

Since autumn is my favorite time to read historical fiction that falls in the gothic, mystery, or otherwise atmospheric storytelling category, I thought I would share some recommendations of this kind!

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright | Review

This split time mystery and suspense novel takes readers to a manor on the shores of Lake Superior in contemporary times and the post-Civil War era with a haunted quality and a search for missing treasure.

Lost in Darkness by Michellle Griep | Goodreads

This Regency story combines elements of a Frankenstein-like tale with that of a romance as siblings contend with life-changing choices. I’m currently reading this one — expect a review soon!

A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber | Goodreads

The third novel in Huber’s Lady Darby Mystery series, this one finds the heroine and her inquiry agent counterpart contending with folklore and grave robbers in 1830 Scotland.

John Eyre by Mimi Matthews | Review

A retelling of the classic Jane Eyre, this one *slight spoiler* also combines elements of Dracula with a spooky and SMART gender flipped twist like only Matthews could pen.

The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood | Goodreads

This is a Victorian mystery full of suspense and a formidable heroine who comes into her own with agency and an unexpected romance. It considers the scenario of the classic The Secret Garden with grown-up leads and draws out themes of loyalty and sacrifice with some influence by Brontë’s Jane Eyre. (Review coming here on the blog next week!)

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Romances with HEART in the Title (Valentine’s Freebie)

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

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

Today’s topic is a Valentine’s Day Freebie! With all the talk of romance lately on the web, I’ve decided to feature 10 romances with “heart” in the title. Some of these I have read and LOVED, and some are still on my TBR. (titles linked to Goodreads)

10 Romances with HEART in the Title

Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh | Review

Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson | Review

A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz | Review

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack | Review

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham | Review

The Bound Heart by Dawn Crandall | Review

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof | Review

From my TBR

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh | This one just re-released with a new cover!

The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

What did you share for TTT? Have you read any of these books? Do you have more recommendations with “heart” in the title?