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
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
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
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
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?
WOW, it has been a long time since I’ve featured a beginning line for First Line Fridays! It’s never too early in the year to talk about Christmas, though, OR the fun kind of romance Pepper Basham writes, like The Mistletoe Countess. I have been excited about this novel for a long time! I “met” Freddie and Grace in an earlier version and I’m anxious to spend more time with them, their grand estate, a mystery, Grace’s sleuth antics, and guaranteed kisses.
EPIGRAPH & FIRST LINE:
Every fairy tale needed an appropriate castle.
Gracelynn Ferguson gripped the Model T’s window frame and leaned forward, breath caught in a suppressed gasp.
Today’s topic is “My Ten Most Recent Reads”. I’m sharing 3 I’m reading now, plus the last 7 books I finished. I consider myself a slow-to-moderate reader, so my list stretches back to books I read in March.
My 10 Most Recent Reads
Let It Be Me by Becky Wade | Contemporary romance meets a little family drama. I’m LOVING the depth to these characters!
Is It Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh | I’m currently enjoying the audio version of Cody and Lou’s second-chance-romance story set in idyllic Nantucket. It makes me want to plan a trip!
Hope Between the Pages by Pepper Basham | This charming, bookish love story connects generations of heroines in the present and WWI era with a little mystery spanning Appalachian and English settings. My Review
Dearest Josephine by Caroline George | This smart epistolary YA novel has a completely unique storytelling approach, making one of the characters a part of the story itself. My Review
The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch | Regency-era romance with a found family + a little marriage of convenience trope, this one wraps up a great series yet reads as a standalone. My Review
Love at First by Kate Clayborn | This general market romance will give you ALL THE FEELS with its beloved-and-quirky characters, a bespectacled hero, and an enemies-to-lovers trope. My Review on Goodreads
Before Time Runs Out by Amy Matayo | If you like time travel-meets-Dickensian London stories with a little adventure and romance, this story is for you! My Review
Did you share a TTT post this week? Have you read any of these books?
Today’s feature is HOPE BETWEEN THE PAGES by Pepper Basham, a new novel in a historical split-time series by multiple authors set at American landmarks. The setting of Biltmore and Asheville lets author Pepper Basham’s love of the Blue Ridge and Biltmore to shine through (any of her social media followers KNOW she’s a frequent visitor in all seasons!).
Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.
Stories held power and everyone told one, whether the characters within the story knew it or not.
Hope Between the Pages, chapter one
Hope Between the Pages is a beautiful story of love, longing, identity, and story– both fictional stories and the story of a legacy one life can leave. A split time format means this novel has TWO romances with two intelligent and wonderfully complementary couples. Basham’s portrayal of how fiction informs and influences real life is an integral part of this story of hope.
The characters and their journeys are at the center of the brilliance of this novel. As Clara searches for the history and truth of her grandmother Sadie’s life, she learns of a heroic man named Oliver and, eventually, finds a sweet hero of her own in the shy-but-absolutely-charming Max. Threaded through it all are themes of bravery and courage and the truths found in story. Treasured letters found by Clara, and shared through the historic POV of Sadie, add to the whimsy of the story, and the deepening romance between Sadie and Oliver — two unlikely friends who recognize kindred spirits and identity reach beyond social or familial definitions.
Now to talk about the heroes of the story <3. Oliver is SO KIND and good! I love how he really sees Sadie’s beauty and recognizes her sweet spirit. Their romance is fairytale-esque at times and bittersweetly realistic at others. MAX is the perfect friend to Clara, understanding her heart quickly and encouraging her in tiny ways. He’s a contemporary hero with an old soul, complete with bow ties, suspenders, gardening AND kitchen skills, and the best banter with Clara!
Hope Between the Pages had me crying and laughing in the span of pages. It was emotionally resonating for me, as I relate to Clara in several ways (especially in her close relationship with her parents!). Lovers of books, family history, or Appalachian and charming English settings will enjoy this latest whimsical and deeply emotional story from author Pepper Basham.
P.S. I hope Clara’s cousin, Robbie, gets his own happily-ever-after someday!
Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.
More quotes I love:
“…it’s okay for your dreams to be different than what you thought they were going to be.” He winked. “That’s called growing up.” -Robbie
Don’t you realize, we’re two halves of the same whole. We understand one another at the heart level. No amount of money or prestige can deny such kinship as this.
…she’d come to England to save her bookshop, not engage in awkward dialogue with a clearly reticent Englishman.
No fairy tale in all the world painted love as beautifully as this. No novel touched my heart with such an odd combination of visceral weightiness and sheer joy. Only in the pages of Scripture had I found anything so beautiful, showcasing what it meant to be so loved for exactly who I was.
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)
I’m happy to be sharing a review today of a book by one of my very favorite authors: The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham. It is part of an ongoing “True Colors” series by publisher Barbour Books, featuring a different author for each standalone novel centered on a true story of American crime blended with a romance.
An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912
Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime
In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned.
The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.
Endearing characters (with a wonderfully sweet romance) are witness to real-life historical events The Red Ribbon, a brisk-paced, suspenseful look at history and culture in early 1900s Appalachia. Author Pepper Basham is her element with this enthralling tale, crafting a sweet interpretation of her signature romance skillfully blended with the drama of the year and customs of the mountain folk.
Basham has established herself with previous stories of historical romance with a dramatic flair and sweet contemporary romcoms. With The Red Ribbon, she proves her mettle in another facet of the genre, with a bit of romantic suspense! Basham carefully threads a story centered on her fictional couple but filled with real-life figures. Her patient research and heritage of story combines with her characters to paint a tale that’s both compelling and a beacon for belonging, yet still leaving the right amount of questions as to the truths and instigators of the real events.
One of my favorite things about this story is seeing the Ava through the Jeremiah’s eyes. Her feistiness and ever-capable personality are the perfect compliment to his quiet and steady ways. He recognizes this, and champions her heart for storytelling in the sweetest ways. She, in turn, realizes the blessing and place of “home” he wants to provide in her life. Beginning-of-chapter quotes from “family members” of both hero and heroine are another aspect that makes me smile and adds a hint of humor and wisdom to the story.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.
I’m thrilled to be sharing an excerpt today of The Thorn Keeper, my personal favorite of the series, as well as an opportunity through JustRead to enter a giveaway for the whole “Penned in Time” series. I’ve linked my reviews just below the covers of the whole series, so be sure and check out my thoughts, too!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: The Thorn Keeper Series: Penned in Time #2 Author: Pepper D. Basham Publisher: Vinspire Publishing Release Date: February 28, 2016 Genre: Historical Romance
With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope
Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.
David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pump fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.
When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.
From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.
Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her most recent historical romance, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge, showcases her Appalachian heritage and history, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.
Pepper loves getting to know readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You may also learn more about her on her website at www.pepperdbasham.com
“I’m truly fine,” he whispered to her. “Give me some gauze, and I shall see to the wound myself. You should help Michael.”
She answered by taking his sleeve in both fists and ripping the bloody cloth up his arm. With rebel brow still raised, she looked up at him. “Is it your desire to pass out on the floor as you take care of your patients?”
He scoffed. “Of course not.”
She glanced at the ceiling as if weighing his answer. “Good.” She focused her attention on his sleeve. As she peeled it back and wiped away the blood, the size and depth of the gash surprised him. It was at least two inches long and had barely missed the main vein in his forearm. “Then you must wish to develop an infection to such a degree we’d need to amputate your arm?”
She reached for a bandage by the sink. Her intention shone as clear as the needling look in her eyes.
“I’m capable of taking care of myself, Nurse Dougall. I’ve been doing it for quite some time before you entered my life.” He attempted to pull his arm free, but she pinched down tight enough to produce a wince.
“Pressure limits the blood flow.” A twinkle lit her gaze. “At least, a certain doctor in my acquaintance told me as much.”
His lips twitched against his will. “You’re incorrigible.”
“And you’re stubborn.” She leaned in and narrowed her eyes. “Not to mention struggling with a hint of pride.”
His smile broke free. He preferred her feisty wit over her distance any day. “Aware of that are you?
She poured peroxide over his wound, and he stifled another wince. “Personally, I am painfully aware of pride.” With gentle and confident movements, she began bandaging his arm, her fingers soft and swift. “It can cause some disastrous side effects, I’m told.”
Her touch, her subtle confession, reignited the deep longing within him he’d felt earlier. Its vibrancy spread through him with a more potent and pleasurable sting than the peroxide on his wound. Attraction? Yes, but something else, an emotion with a great deal more substance. Dangerous. Powerful. And something he wasn’t ready to embrace. Not with a wager hanging over his head that could possibly separate them forever.
Her raised brow nudged his reluctant admission. “Guilty.”
“I hear an excellent remedy for pride is good care, hot food, and a long nap.”
He tried to still the warmth branching out through his chest, to no avail. He internally repeated the words he’d so adamantly declared to his sister. Attraction was one thing but acting on it was another. “Is that so?”
She nodded and pinned the bandage in place. “Wise doctors heed such thoughtful advice.”
He looked down at her hand resting on his arm and another swell of tenderness and kinship gripped his chest. Their eyes met, tightening the growing bond, securing it against his will.
(1) winner will receive all three Penned in Time novels in print or ebook format plus a stained glass dragonfly!
Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 14, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on April 21, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
In light of all the craziness happening in the world right now, you might find yourself with extra time to read that book or series you’ve had on your shelf for forever. If you’ve read all the books in your house (Go you! I commend you!), and you’re looking to discover more great stories, I have compiled a list of 11 series you can binge-read NOW!
In my reading opinion, nothing is better than getting to breeze through a series back to back with NO WAITING until the next book is released!
I’ve listed these in order of historical era and genre, with Goodreads links to the series and some links to my reviews. And, confession time, all of these have some element of romance 😉
Delightful and deep Victorian romances, each of these couples have unique appeal (brooding, bookish, assertive, sweet, and redeemed rogue in the mix). I will reread these forever. The audio versions are wonderful, too!
My favorite EVER historical series — and I don’t say this lightly! All three books encompass one of the most transformative arcs of the heroine. The allegorical symbolism of redemption deeply embedded in this series blows me away every time I think about it.
Trouser-wearing lady detectives solve crime in Toronto on the cusp of world war with a colorful cast of secondary characters, and two (or three!) valiant love interests. Three full length novels, two novellas, and a short story offer pages of fun with these friends!
From the front lines to English hospitals and the US treatment of German residents, this romance series explores many facets of the era. Most outstanding, though, it its stories of love and redemption. Book 2 is my favorite!
This series shows how the Allied forces approached and carried out the Battle of Normandy, each by the sea, air, and land. Three estranged brothers find reconciliation and romance while serving in each branch during this pivotal battle. Oh, and each one references and reflects a Biblical story!
This series needs a seatbelt warning! The prequel novella and three novels follow a covert team around the globe as they work to eliminate a threat and save the day. Besides the kick-butt heroines, the team camaraderie is fun! Oh, and the slight supernatural elements are super cool!
Basically love letters to food and romance, this series courts identity and family as well as a perfect romance between imperfect people. The included recipes will make your mouth water, as will the heritage threads and few “trips” abroad.
Investigator and law enforcement friends find love amidst the chaos of solving crimes and puzzles in the Chesapeake Bay area and beyond. Fast-paced and memorable, a thread of a story ties all four books together to culminate in a final gripping tale.
This series has it all: romance, sisters, family, romance, books, mystery, romance, humor, chocolate, and a hint of suspense. Reading it will make you fall in love with the characters! The epistolary prequel novella and the midpoint Christmas novella are fully-developed and sweet, too!
Welcome to my annual “best-of” celebration! Like last year, I’m separating the categories of my yearly best-of lists over a few days. It’s going to take me a few days to talk about all the stories I loved in 2019!
I have exceeded my reading goals for 2019 according to my Goodreads reading challenge! If you’d like to see all of my 5-star reads and extensive reviews, just check out my completed Goodreads challenge or browse my blog archives. Each day leading up to New Year’s Day you’ll get a new post about my 2019 favorites:
I’ve been compiling this list for a while now, being the cat person that I am. Today’s freebie topic day is THE DAY to share it with the world! This is not a comprehensive list, but it is one of notable and beloved felines in fiction.
12 Best Fictional Cats
Narnia in A Match for Emma by Pepper Basham | This one is extra-special because Pepper mostly named Emma’s cat after my own cat, Narnia, whom I had to say goodbye to earlier this year
Banjo and Good Luck in The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery | Maud captures the true natures of cats with these two personality-filled pets!
Parcheesi Rose in Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan | Parcheesi causes some allergies um, problems that endear the hero to the heroine
Pip of the photo studio, Archie of the truck inThe Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright | These two cats offer personality and humor to some otherwise serious scenes! Archie, in particular, serves as an example of the hero’s tendency to rescue ❤
Perry in The Thirteenth Chance by Amy Matayo | Perry is a VERY pampered cat, whether he wants to be or not
Cats Who “Adopt” People
Agamemnon adopts Paul in Impossible Saints by Clarissa Harwood | While Lilia takes an instant liking to the stray, Paul’s reluctance is funny then sweet as the gray cat takes up residence with him anyway
Earl Gray adopts Kiera in A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber | from his meager barn cat beginnings, Earl Gray becomes quite the companion and art critic!
The “Bookshop Cat” adopts the ladies of The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay | this cat is catered to by all three ladies, but he specifically seeks out Janet when she really doesn’t want to be a cat person
Cats as Good Judges of Character
Dickens in Wedded to Warby Jocelyn Green | He comically doesn’t like a particular suitor of Charlotte’s
Magpie in A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews | Laura’s cat Magpie takes a particular liking to Alex from the start!
Your turn! Do you have any favorite fictional pets? Cats or Dogs? What did you pick for this week’s TTT topic? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!