Christmas Book Review: “Merry Ex-Mas” by Courtney Walsh

It’s that time of year already, and I’m totally happy about it! I’m talking about time to read Christmas stories. I have quite a few on my TBR from last year still, so here’s hoping I get to some this season. The first one I have crossed off my list is a new RomCom release from author Courtney Walsh: Merry Ex-Mas.

About the Book

I haven’t been home for Christmas in eight years.

But that’s about to change. This year, I’m traveling to my small hometown to convince my producer to make me the permanent host of Good Day Denver.

The plan: Charm viewers by sharing my favorite family Christmas traditions, and in turn, get the likes, clicks and shares to land the job.

Not the plan: Running into my ex-boyfriend.

In my house.

For Christmas.

But here he is, a guest of my mother, who apparently had more trouble letting go of Max Weber than I did.

Unfortunately, he is as handsome and charming and talented and annoying and frustrating and flirty as ever.

Even more unfortunately, he seems to have a plan of his own—to convince me to give him a second chance.

Which is not happening.

There’s just one problem—my viewers love him. More than that, they love us. Me and Max. My ex.

The boy who broke my heart.

The boy I now have to fake flirt with to win over the hearts of my viewers.

But it’s not their hearts I’m worried about. . . it’s mine.

Merry Ex-Mas is a sweet, small town, second chance romance with a dash of not-so-fake flirting, a tiny bit of enemies to lovers and just enough forced proximity to make things sizzle.

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Review

Merry Ex-Mas by Courtney Walsh is an ADORABLE, hilarious, romcom of a Christmas story, filled with Christmas traditions and an emotional second chance romance. When Marin’s trip home turns into an opportunity for a work promotion, a little forced proximity and fake dating come into the mix with Max — and he’s clear up front his flirting will NOT be fake 🙂

There’s something about Courtney Walsh’s stories when she uses a second chance trope (delightedly, there have been a few!): she writes just the right amount of history and angst for the reader to be curious and invested in the couple from an early point. In Max’s case, especially, I liked that he is certain of his goals and endgame where Marin is concerned nearly from the beginning. They have to work through grief and hurt to get back to a healthy place in their relationship with each other and their perspective on life, and they do so in a way that’s realistic and natural. Themes of identity and belonging come into play amidst all the twinkling holiday traditions and banter.

A few of my favorite little things about Merry Ex-Mas: I swooned when Max bought Marin her favorite coffee creamer; Marin’s mom, Lydia, is hilarious and discerning; talk of genuine smiles; Marin’s clumsiness; the phrase “leave room for Jesus”.

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

Recommended Reading: Literary Influenced Fiction

Hello friends! It has been a while since I shared a Recommended Reading post. Also, in the past, I’ve shared lists of Reading for Janeites and 10 Favorite Jane Austen-Esque Romances, so in keeping with that sentiment, I’m sharing some more books influenced by classic literature. These go beyond Austen’s influence and draw from other classic novelists, sometimes subtly or directly.

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman | The Laura of the title is, in fact, Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House fame, and the setting of the book includes De Smet and the tangential influence Laura had on a pupil, then later that child’s granddaughter.

Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan | The wardrobe in question is that of C. S. Lewis’ Narnia chronicles, and Lewis appears as a character in this fictional story of siblings, hope, and grief.

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep | This story pays homage to the classic Frankenstein and Mary Shelley and tells a tale of sibling connection alongside a Regency romance.

John Eyre: A Tale of Darkness and Shadow by Mimi Matthews | As the title indicates, this is a gothic retelling of Brontë’s Jane Eyre and *spoiler alert* elements of Dracula. It flips the genders and expectations of the classic tales, telling a story of bravery, allies and romance, and the battle between light and darkness.

The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews | Combining elements of the fairytale Beauty and the Beast with aspects of The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery, this wonderful bookish tale has a swoony romance and a perfect HEA.

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner | While I can’t pick one author that has obvious connections to this fictional story, at its center is a book store and literature in many forms plays a big role in the story. An earlier, related book by Jenner, The Jane Austen Society, has closer ties to that prominent lady.

The Curse of Morton Abbey | An updated twist on The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett with adult characters instead of young ones, this story also has some influence from Jane Eyre within its mystery elements.

Before Time Runs Out and Only Time Will Tell by Amy Matayo | Both of these are part of her “Charles and Company Romance” series, as in Charles Dickens. They combine a few time shifting plot devices that allow the characters to travel back to Dickens’ London (book 1) and to trade places in life/circumstance in present day (book 2).

Isabelle and Alexander by Rebecca Anderson | While the influence of a classic is more subtle in this romance, as a fan of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, I was quick to note the similarities in setting and the personality contrast of the hero and heroine.

Your turn! Do you have any favorite stories influenced by classics? Have you read any of these books or authors?

Book Review, Blog Tour & Giveaway: “The Belle of Belgrave Square” by Mimi Matthews

It’s no secret around here that I love Mimi Matthews’ novels. Today I’m happy to be taking part in a blog tour for her new release, The Belle of Belgrave Square, the second book in her Belles of London series. Read on for more about the book + how to connect with Mimi, and stick around for my review and a fantastic tour-wide giveaway.

About the Book

A BookBub Best Romance of 2022

A London heiress rides out to the wilds of the English countryside to honor a marriage of convenience with a mysterious and reclusive stranger.

Tall, dark, and dour, the notorious Captain Jasper Blunt was once hailed a military hero, but tales abound of his bastard children and his haunted estate in Yorkshire. What he requires now is a rich wife to ornament his isolated ruin, and he has his sights set on the enchanting Julia Wychwood.

For Julia, an incurable romantic cursed with a crippling social anxiety, navigating a London ballroom is absolute torture. The only time Julia feels any degree of confidence is when she’s on her horse. Unfortunately, a young lady can’t spend the whole of her life in the saddle, so Julia makes an impetuous decision to take her future by the reins—she proposes to Captain Blunt.

In exchange for her dowry and her hand, Jasper must promise to grant her freedom to do as she pleases. To ride—and to read—as much as she likes without masculine interference. He readily agrees to her conditions, with one provision of his own: Julia is forbidden from going into the tower rooms of his estate and snooping around his affairs. But the more she learns of the beastly former hero, the more intrigued she becomes…

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Review

I absolutely adore this novel! It’s an enchanting spin on a bit of a Beauty & the Beast situation with a little influence from another favorite classic, The Blue Castle (L. M. Montgomery). Matthews is a master at combining tropes and charms and spinning a story uniquely stamped with her style. This one shines with its marriage of convenience setup, a Victorian setting, the only-one-bed trope, a bit of flair from the aforementioned classics, three impish children, and character cameos from earlier books.

Julia and Jasper are a new favorite fictional couple of mine. Their romance is equal parts tender, swoony, and steadfast. Their journey to each other is not an idealized fairytale, though Julia’s bookish habits set off events for him to sweep her off her feet. Seeing her find agency, encouragement, and belonging with Jasper, and them both finding footing with his children, are things I particularly enjoyed.

Which brings me to Jasper. #swoon He’s a brooding, serious hero who is a romantic at heart and HE. FALLS. FIRST. He blushes and shows unflinching patience when it comes to romancing Julia. His backstory coming to light proves him all the more worthy of admiration for his integrity and of Julia’s affection. This is, perhaps, the most tender romance Matthews has written, skilfully balanced with a hint of sensuality that makes the reader swoon at the simple detail of a touch or endearment between Julia and Jasper.

I appreciate the slight unconventionaliity of this storycin its genre, especially the way the characters seek to give little weight to society’s opinions. In subtle ways, the issue of a female’s role and limited ability to make independent choices are a part of the story. So, too, are bigger themes of loyalty, honesty, and justice.

Content note for my usual blog audience: this is a general market romance with a few era-fitting mild expletives and a closed door romance.

Thank you to the publisher for the advance ebook copy. I purchased the paperback for my shelves. This is my honest review.

Mimi Matthews photo: Mimi standing next to a horse

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

VICTORIAN READING ROOM

Join Mimi at her Victorian Reading Room Facebook Group for exclusive access as she shares her love of writing, historical romance, Victorian fashion, brooding heroes, independent heroines, and of course, her beloved pets!

READ AN EXCLSUIVE INTERVIEW WITH MIMI MATTHEWS

Discover intriguing insights into The Belle of Belgrave Square and Mimi’s writing life in this exclusive interview at austenprose.com.

Mimi has generously offered a fabulous giveaway for this book tour!

Giveaway period: October 3 – October 30

Terms & Conditions:

Giveaway hosted by Mimi Matthews. No Purchase Necessary. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Open to US residents only. All information will remain confidential and will not be sold or otherwise used, except to notify the winner and to facilitate postage of the book to the winner. Void where prohibited.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner (selected at random by Rafflecopter) receives a paperback copy of The Belle of Belgrave Square, signed and annotated by the author with personal comments, underlining of her favorite lines, and other highlights by Mimi Matthews.

Giveaway is open from 12:01 am Pacific time 10/03/22 until 11:59pm Pacific time on 10/30/22.

The winner will be announced on Mimi’s blog on 10/31/22.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Review: “Dangerous Beauty” by Melissa Koslin

Thanks for stopping by to read my review of Dangerous Beauty by Melissa Koslin, a thrilling new romantic suspense standalone story that combines action, a great twist, and a marriage of convenience.

About the Book
Cover image of Dangerous Beauty showing a woman facing away from the viewer with a cityscape in the background in tones of blue.

Liliana Vela hates the term victim. She’s not a victim, she’s a fighter. Stubborn and strong with a quiet elegance, she’s determined to take back her life after escaping the clutches of human traffickers in her poor Mexican village. But she can’t stay safely over the border in America–unless the man who aided in her rescue is serious about his unconventional proposal to marry her.

Meric Toledan was just stopping at a service station for a bottle of water. Assessing the situation, he steps in to rescue Liliana from traffickers. If he can keep his secrets at bay, his wealth and position afford him many resources to help her. But the mysterious buyer who funded her capture will not sit idly by while his prize is stolen from him.

Melissa Koslin throws you right into the middle of the action in this high-stakes thriller that poses the question: What is the price of freedom?

Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Review

Dangerous Beauty by Melissa Koslin is a story that delivers in the suspense and romantic drama genres, with moments of action balanced with great depth when an impulsive marriage of convenience (!!!) grows into a situation involving secrets, risk, trust, and emotional healing — with a story twist, of course!

I thought it clever that the reader gets Liliana’s POV mostly at first, letting the mystery of Meric, his unknown business activities, and other secrets uncover slowly along with her learning of each circumstance. The reader will gradually sense his involvement in something bigger and the danger surrounding it. While the subject matter of human trafficking is a sad reality, Koslin handles its portrayal with a balance of sorrow and hopefulness in the form of the people stepping in to stop its cycle.

Liliana is an admirable and smart heroine, and I was instantly in her corner. I appreciate how she grows throughout the story, overcoming much while facing some harrowing truths. Meric hides behind an enigmatic, cold exterior, but underneath is a vulnerable and fiercely protective hero whose own past motivates his work for good. His championing of Liliana and her strengths from the very beginning had me falling for his tortured heart right along with her :).

Fans of Susan May Warren and Dani Pettrey will enjoy Koslin’s captivating writing style — this is the first book of hers I’ve read, but it won’t be the last!

Thank you to Revell Reads for the copy of this novel. This is my honest review.

Review & Blog Tour: “Millstone of Doubt” by Erica Vetsch

Thanks for visiting my stop on the blog tour for Erica Vetsch’s historical romance and mystery, Millstone of Doubt, book 2 in her Thorndike and Swann Regency Mysteries series.

About the Book

A Bow Street Runner and a debutante in London Society use their skills to find the killer of a wealthy businessman, but the killer’s secrets aren’t the only ones they will uncover.

Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill’s owner dead of an apparent gunshot–but no sign of the killer.

Even though the owner’s daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, she may be the only one. It seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. But Daniel can’t take this investigation slow and steady. Instead, he must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage–and his job as a runner–comes to an abrupt and painful end. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him.

Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha’s bosom friend and has the inside knowledge of the wealthy London ton to be invaluable to Daniel. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case. But when her trusted instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation, Lady Juliette obeys. That is, until circumstances intervene, and she drops right into the middle of the deadly pursuit.

When a dreadful accident ends in another death on the mill floor, Daniel discovers a connection to his murder case–and to his own secret past. Now he and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out.

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Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and ACFW Carol Award winner and has been a Romantic Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Review

Millstone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch continues the escapades of Lady Juliette Thorndike and Daniel Swann as they make an unlikely pairing in solving a mystery. It exhibits the Regency era with flair, showcasing elements of society, class, adventure, LADIES’ ARCHERY (which was particularly fun!), crime, and a bit of romance. While this is the second in a series and follows the same main protagonists as the first book, The Debutante’s Code, I think it could be read as a standalone as it does a good job filling in many events of book 1.

The mystery is one that kept me interested and guessing for most of the story, with many what-ifs and possibilities complicating the facts and setting up the reader for a romp of a final reveal. Returning side characters make the story more colorful and interesting, too, and I particularly like the cameos of the Duke of Haverly, a beloved hero from another one of Vetsch’s series.

I appreciate the relationship between Juliette and Daniel as it establishes a rapport between them, delving deeper into their friendship and connection already established. It furthers the romance and portrays it as a slow-burn type pairing, especially considering their class divide of the time period. With a few more secrets revealed about Daniel’s benefactor, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next installment!

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

Review: “The Last Way Home” by Liz Johnson

Paperback copy of The Last Way Home on a table next to a vase of multicolored flowers (zinnias)

Welcome to my post about Liz Johnson’s latest book, The Last Way Home! It’s the second book in her Prince Edward Island Shores series, set on the idyllic and quaint Canadian island. Read on for more about the book and my thoughts…

About the Book

When Eli Ross left Prince Edward Island to join the NHL, he left a broken family behind. More than a decade later, he’s broke and headed home to an uncertain welcome. He wants to make things right with the family he wronged, but his mom’s business partner isn’t making it easy. To top it off, the coaching job he’s accepted turns out to be far more difficult than he anticipated.

For years, Violet Donaghy has put everything she had into making Eli’s mom’s ceramics shop a success, and she’s not eager to forgive the man who hurt the family that’s taken her in as one of their own. But when the kiln at the shop starts a fire that nearly destroys the studio, she’ll need all the help she can get to save the business and their summer income.

Can these two strong-willed people come together to mend the broken pieces of the Ross family? Or will the ghosts of the past continue to haunt them?

Return to Prince Edward Island for a romantic story of family, forgiveness, and the power of love.

Goodreads |Amazon | BookBub

Review

The Last Way Home is another fantastic, must-read contemporary romance by perennial favorite, Liz Johnson. With a transportive setting (Prince Edward Island!), a prodigal son homecoming, a prickly-at-first-but-totally-compassionate heroine, and strong themes of forgiveness and mercy, The Last Way Home balances lighter moments, a fun bit of hockey, dreams, and the protective force of family.

This story is so much more than the synopsis hints! I am pleased with the direction it goes, and how it draws Eli’s brothers (and mom) in to his life again. If you’ve read book 1, Beyond the Tides, it continues a mending of the brothers’ relationships and the thread of mercy began in that story.

The romantic relationship between Eli and Violet begins with a prickly partnership, develops into a sincere friendship, and sparks into the best kind of romance. I love every second of their journey, from their clever banter to their serious, soul-sharing conversations. They are the perfect complement for each other, especially as each of them comes to understand the common brokenness they share and their need for forgiveness and closure life. (And I LOVE how Liz Johnson uses their history to explore different kinds of forgiveness.) Besides their emotional connection, their kisses are pretty heart-stopping, too.

One other thing I want to mention is the bit of an unexpected road trip on which Eli and Violet embark. It provides for some interesting sharing between them because of their proximity, AND it sets up cameos from other by other PEI characters from Johnson’s Prince Edward Island Dreams series. I seriously smiled about a few things they get into involving mention of taco meat and Caden’s amazing pancakes.

Thank you to Revell Reads for the paperback copy of this novel. I voluntarily purchased an ebook copy. This is my honest review.

COVER REVEAL! “Return to Satterthwaite Court” by Mimi Matthews

I’m thrilled to be a part of Mimi Matthews’ cover reveal for her upcoming 2023 historical romance, Return to Satterthwaite Court.

This novel is to be a double sequel which ties together two of my top favorites from her: The Work of Art and Gentleman Jim (which also has a handsome, newly updated cover), now collectively known as the Somerset Stories.

About the Book

From USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews comes the long-awaited sequel to her critically acclaimed novels The Work of Art and Gentleman Jim.

The only son of a famous love match, ex-army lieutenant Charles Heywood is determined to make amends for his past mistakes by giving his mother the impossible—the deed to her long-lost childhood home, Satterthwaite Court. But arranging to purchase the remote west country estate is more difficult than Charles ever imagined. The property is mired in secrets, some of which may prove deadly. If he’s going to unravel them, he’ll need the assistance of someone as daring as he is.

At one and twenty, Lady Katherine Beresford has already earned a reputation to rival that of her infamous parents. As skilled with pistols as she is on horseback, she’s never met an obstacle she can’t surmount—or a man she can’t win. That is, until she encounters the infuriatingly somber Lieutenant Heywood. But Kate refuses to be deterred by the raven-haired soldier’s strong, silent facade. After all, faint heart never won a handsome gentleman.

From the wilds of rural Somersetshire to the glittering ballrooms of early-Victorian London, Charles and Kate embark on a cross-country quest to solve a decades’ old mystery. Will the greatest danger be to their hearts—or to their lives?

The Cover!

Preorder Return to Satterthwaite Court here!

More About the Series

For more about the previous Somerset Stories books, visit Mimi Matthews’ book pages or check out my reviews:

The Work of Art website | review

Gentleman Jim website | review

Review: “The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie” by Rachel Linden

Thanks for stopping by for my review of Rachel Linden’s newest release, The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie. It’s a women’s fiction story with elements of romance and a little magical realism.

About the Book

An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she didn’t choose. . . . from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.

Lolly Blanchard’s life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother’s tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family’s struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner’s famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she’s lost.

As Lolly’s thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift–three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom hadn’t passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she hadn’t broken up with the only man she’s ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present. 

Goodreads |Amazon | BookBub

Review

I absolutely LOVED The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie! It has an engaging style, foodie elements (including the restaurant world, which Linden gets spot-on), tangible pacific northwest setting, plus a touch of wistful magical realism to explore life’s “what ifs” and regrets. I really enjoyed watching the heroine grow and learn through some introspective moments. I’d call this women’s fiction, but it does have a strong thread of a love story told through memories and a few chapters which flash back in the timeline. Of course this part made my romance-loving heart happy.

The deeper themes of the novel are explored with a good balance of hopefulness. I was rooting for Lolly’s happiness and closure through a rollercoaster of events and emotions she endured. Her plucky and inspiring Aunt Gert was a vivid side character whose influence made Lolly’s story happen in many ways. I was delighted each time she was on the page!

My favorite story element was the way Lolly’s experiences draw attention to the joys in the mundane of everyday life. Now I want to reread the novel, make a lemon pie, and grow a flower garden 🙂

Content note for my blog readers: this is a general fiction title (Linden has released previous books with inspirational publishers). The story does have a handful of very mild expletives and a vague mythical element which works as a plot device.

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

Mini Book Reviews, edition 4

Welcome to another round of mini reviews! Once again, these are books I read for “me”, not with any review or critique in mind, but are some I greatly enjoyed and wanted to share a bit about in this corner of the blogosphere. And, three of these were audiobooks I can highly recommend: Love’s Reckoning, In Honor’s Defense, and What Matters Most.

Please visit the Goodreads links in each title to learn more about each book!

Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz (The Ballantyne Legacy 1) | 1794 Pennsylvania, Historical Romance

An epic story of love strong enough to survive pressure, trials, and evil intentions yet still triumph. Eden is a gentle and kind heroine, and Silas is the best sort of hero with his determination and steadfast character.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read this Frantz novel! Now I can say I’ve read all of hers.

Laura’s Shadow by Allison Pittman (Doors to the Past 9) | 1891 and 1974 South Dakota & Minnesota, Historical Romance with Split Time Narrative

What a fascinating multigenerational story! With truly endearing heroines spanning two very different times, it shows human experiences that unite everyone and explores roles of women in very different times. Mariah’s story is one of contrasts, showing loneliness, contentment, and a hope that has influenced her family into the later timeline and POV of her great granddaughter, Trixie. Trixie’s quest to appease her GG Mariah and finding her own stride in career and love mirror Mariah’s figurative searching for peace.

I LOVE this story and can heartily recommend it to fans of historical fiction and romance. Anyone fond of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House fandom can also delight in the story world and realistic influences Laura has on these characters.

And oh, how I love House the cat and his character as a “catalyst” for a bit of Trixie’s romantic storyline! And RON. And his late night calls, love of grilled cheese, and his Mustang.

In Honor’s Defense by Karen Witemeyer (Hanger’s Horsemen 3) | 1895 Texas, Historical Romance & Western

This is everything I’ve come to expect and love about Karen Witemeyer’s romantic westerns! This one combines a touch of adventure, a good amount of humor, and a well-matched romantic couple — Luke and Damaris are so adorable together, from their meet cute to their tender friendship and unfurling romance. It was great to “catch up” with the rest of the horsemen and see the conclusion of their brotherhood play out with an appropriate HEA.

I really, really enjoyed the audiobooks of this entire series. With the fast pace of this one, I was happy to listen to it on a road trip with fewer breaks between segments.

What Matters Most by Courtney Walsh (Nantucket Love Story 3) | Nantucket, MA & Chicago, IL; Contemporary Romance

Courtney Walsh has delivered another relatable, emotional romance. This one pairing an unlikely couple who share a connection — one that the heroine, Emma, isn’t privy to for part of the story. This sets up a secret-keeping hero situation, which becomes slightly frustrating but completely believable due to the circumstances of Jamie’s past and his heart. I was rooting for them to find forgiveness for each other and for themselves, a deeper theme Walsh explores with aplomb. The return to Nantucket as a setting was picturesque and a perfect backdrop for this story to unfold.

see that develop. I really enjoyed the return to Edinburgh for the setting of A Wicked Conceit.

Audiobook Review: “An Hour Unspent” by Roseanna M. White

Thanks for dropping by to read my review of An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White, a book that wraps up her “Shadows Over England” trilogy. I have wanted to read this one for a while, and I’m so glad I finally got the audiobook copy and listened to it (mostly during drives!).

About the Book

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it. 

Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Review

The main thing to know about this book: Barclay Pearce is my new book boyfriend. 🙂

An Hour Unspent is an excellent work of historical romance for the inspirational market. It has everything I love about a great story and characters in the genre. With its early WWI timeline, plenty of intrigue and interesting things happen to Barclay Pearce on the homefront as he works as a procurator for the admiralty — a nice label for a former thief now turned honest. The heroine of the story, Evelina Manning, has an unlikely encounter with Barclay that turns into a friendship with lots of sparks.

I very much enjoyed seeing the larger cast of characters around these two, especially Barclay’s immediate family, interact and be meaningful to the story. I appreciate the deeper themes White has included, like those of loyalty, family, and sacrifice, that weave naturally through the story. Seeing Barclay find a measure of romantic love and being cared for (instead of being the caregiver) is good for the heart, as is seeing Evelina come into her own with her familial relationships and asserting her strength and capability with Barclay — who faithfully supports her.

The narrative as told by Liz Pearce in audiobook form is particularly enjoyable, especially as the accents of the characters transition through classes from a posh society tones to a fun cockney one. I recommend the other stories in this series, and the follow up connected Codebreakers series, for a full story world experience and many beloved characters.

Thank you to the publisher for the ebook copy. I purchased an audio copy. This is my honest review.

My thoughts on Shadows Over England Book 1, A Name Unknown | Book 2, A Song Unheard