Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! This week it’s time travel from contemporary times to a Medieval setting + romance, with a hint of an archaeological hunt in the mix. All of these elements combine in the 2003 film Timeline (starring Gerard Butler *heart eyes* and a young Paul Walker) and in Jody Hedlund’s “Waters of Time” duology, books Come Back to Me and Never Leave Me.
With an ensemble cast and an archaeological-centered task, the players in Timeline travel to 14th century France amidst dangers of war to fetch an old friend they believe to be there. A nefarious group in the present tries to antagonize and foil their plan to return home, while an impending siege on a castle looms. A couple threads of romance play out in the story, but Gerard Butler’s heroic part is my favorite — with his Lady Claire.
These two novels follow the adventures of two sisters, one on a quest for holy water for healing and the other for closure. Both involve scenes and characters from the 14th century in England, with rivalries of knights, romance, and adventures. These novels echo the film in their clever plots and elements of the past influencing — and sometimes changing — the present. Both feature daring heroes and strong heroines, with happy endings and some interesting archaeological treasure hunting that has its basis in real history. And, if you’re like me and your FAVORITE part is usually the romance, Come Back to Me features an intelligent pairing of a heroine from the present and a gallant (swoony) knight from the past. Never Leave Me‘s romantic pairing is a long-established friendship-to-lovers situation. I would recommend reading these in order for the full arc of the story and the important sister dynamic.
Are you a fan of time travel or Medieval stories? Do you have book or movie recommendations similar to these? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Today I’m a part of a blog tour for Becky Wade’s Turn to Me, the fantastic conclusion to her Misty River Romance series. While these books feature different couples and can all be read as standalones, I highly recommend reading them in order for the bigger friendship arc.
His promise will cost him far more than he imagined.
Guilt has defined Luke Dempsey’s life, but it was self-destructiveness that landed him in prison. When his friend and fellow inmate lay dying shortly before Luke’s release, the older man revealed he left a string of clues for his daughter, Finley, that will lead her to the treasure he’s hidden. Worried that she won’t be the only one pursuing the treasure, he gains Luke’s promise to protect her until the end of her search.
Spunky and idealistic, Finley Sutherland is the owner of an animal rescue center and a defender of lost causes. She accepts Luke’s help on the treasure hunt while secretly planning to help him in return–by coaxing him to embrace the forgiveness he’s long denied himself.
As they draw closer to the final clue, their reasons for resisting each other begin to crumble, and Luke realizes his promise will push him to the limit in more ways than one. He’ll do his best to shield Finley from unseen threats, but who’s going to shield him from losing his heart?
Turn to Me by Becky Wade concludes the Misty River Romance series and gives readers the long-awaited story of the enigmatic Luke Dempsey as he keeps an inconvenient promise to Finley’s father – working for her animal shelter while providing protection and assistance in an adventurous final birthday treasure hunt. This story features a deep perspective of grace, a swoony romance, endearing and realistic characters, and a gorgeously fleshed out setting in the mountains of northern Georgia. Readers of the previous book in the series, Let It Be Me, will delight with occasional sections from Ben Coleman’s perspective as he moves on from heartbreak and develops a tentative new friendship with a sweet woman named Akira.
Finley and Luke are seeming opposites in many ways, but their common sense of honor unite them from their first interactions. Their conversations and banter highlight their chemistry, with Luke’s snarky sense of humor shining through at the BEST times! While Finley’s plans to “restore” Luke to society and wholeness through her friendship and encouragement are successful, I love that he challenges her to think and choose to hope in a future she had given up on.
I personally find an intangible something very relatable in the dynamics and relationships of Becky Wade’s stories. It is that key style element which elevates her stories in the genre. For Finley and Luke, it is their struggles to risk their hearts for love and to work through hard things in their lives. I especially find the parts of the story where Luke is processing the grief and loss of a sibling, and talking through his self-labeled responsibility, to be touching.
While the friendship-and-romance is the heart of the story, themes of forgiveness and an organic sense of the characters’ faith are all important parts that make up this impressive whole. I love the daring of the treasure hunt with personal clues leading Finley on a journey of discovery. The various pets and DOGS (tiny, fierce Agatha in particular!), the collection of cacti, Luke’s automobile knowledge and restoration, CeCe’s wisdom, Trish’s Christmas songs, Ben and Akira’s encouraging friendship, and Luke’s family are more small things I enjoyed.
I am a little sad to say goodbye to these “Miracle Five” characters with this last book in the series. The concluding chapters, with heart-wrenching moments and a certainty of HOPE, are perfectly written.
Thank you to the publisher, Bethany House, for the review copy. This is my honest review.
Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! In fitting with the season, I am featuring Christmas-centric books and a movies today — two pairs of them, actually.
A reporter’s quest for a scoop lands the heroine at a political dynasty’s Christmas gathering under false pretenses. Then, she and the hero strike up an agreement for a fake-dating relationship that complicates his family matters and her original intent tenfold. It has a lead couple with FANTASTIC on-screen chemistry, and one of the cutest first-kiss moments in Hallmark history.
This novella features a couple in a fake-dating relationship at Christmas time in a small town. The hero and heroine’s families are very active in their lives, complicating family gatherings and allowing for some hilarious situations. The hero, too, has a background in journalism. I love how Jenny B. Jones incorporates humor and depth into the relationship dynamics.
The Nativity Story is just that: a dramatic visual of the Biblical story of Mary, Joseph, their journey to Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus. Exceptionally filmed and cast, I often enjoy rewatching this during the Christmas season.
This novella follows a similar timeline and journey of Mary and Joseph through the time of Jesus’ birth. It allows the reader an intimate point-of-view of that time which gives Mary and Joseph a relatable voice and highlights the extraordinary plan of God to use mankind to bring His son into the world.
Have you seen either of these movies? Do you read Christmas stories this time of year? Do you have book recommendations similar to these? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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?
Welcome to another post where I pair books and films with similar themes or content! Today’s post features an absolute FAVORITE Victorian miniseries and three books with similar themes or settings. I’m talking about North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and the ultimate BBC miniseries adaptation from 2004 starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.
Like the novel by Gaskell, each of these books I’ve chosen have an English setting, romance thread, and similarities to the classic, yet I would recommend them as unique stories with vibrant characters of their own.
This work contrasts society, economics, and family bonds through the eyes of its hero and heroine. More than just a romance, I appreciate how the novel and series dive deeper into social problems of the times and the difference one person, or one business owner, can make in the lives of even a small group of people. The romance progresses slowly as outside factors bring the hero and heroine together, begrudgingly at times, then to finally see through each other’s eyes the world around them. I especially love the book’s POV of Mr. Thornton, as I feel he is better understood in that context than his brooding persona in the series.
This Victorian story is mostly set in Manchester and its hero is the owner of a successful cotton mill, much like Mr. Thornton. The backgrounds and contrasts of the protagonists are similar, too, but beyond that, it paints a poignant story of healing and purpose. The couple are married for most of the story, so that makes for emotional glimpses into their life and challenges, and, a unexpectedly sweet romance.
This Regency story has parallels in the name “Milton” and in the societal clash of the hero and heroine. Like Margaret of N&S, Miss Milton has a demanding family that pulls her in many directions. My favorite aspect of this story is how her friendship with the hero is very encouraging. She learns courage and standing up for herself as the story progresses yet doesn’t waver from her initial character.
I couldn’t leave this last Christmas novella off the list! A Holiday by Gaslight ticks all the boxes for a Victorian Christmas story: decorating the country estate, plenty of mistletoe, a cozy library, and a sparkling romance. The initial misconceptions of the hero and heroine are nods to N&S, as are the ways they find common values and intellect once they look past superficiality. Author Mimi Matthews is a pro and this novella is a fantastic introduction to her stories!
Are you a fan of North and South? Do you have book recommendations similar to this classic? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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?
What do you get when you combine a present-day graduate student, a veteran doctor from 1947, a mysterious book, and London in the time of Charles Dickens? A new Amy Matayo novel, of course! Before Time Runs Out is her first in a unique concept “Charles & Company Romance” series featuring some time travel, depth, romance, and, of course, humor. Read on for more about the book and my take…
Graduate student Bree Sanders is failing the one class she needs to get her degree. So when her professor gives her an ultimatum—ace her dissertation or risk having to repeat her final semester—she knows she has to pull out all the stops. After scrambling for an idea, she decides to create her own Ghost Club, a club that blames ghosts for unsolved crimes, the same type of club originally founded two centuries ago by Charles Dickens.
What she doesn’t expect is to find an original copy of one of Dickens’ early works, or to be transplanted into Dickens’s actual ghost club meeting, circa 1870, the instant she picks it up.
When Bree shows up in nineteenth-century England wearing cut-offs and an old t-shirt, her only option is to hide. The Cambridge of 1870 won’t look kindly on a woman dressed like her. So, when Theodore Keyes finds her tucked behind a bookcase at the Trinity College library and immediately demands to know where she came from, she knows he doesn’t belong here either. Turns out she’s right; the same book caused him to time-travel from 1947 almost three months ago and he’s been stuck in England since.
Together, the two vow to work side-by-side in their search for the lost book that will take them home. But as their feelings for one another deepen, Theo and Bree are caught between a desire to return to the lives they each left behind, and the knowledge that if they find the book, they won’t be able to leave together.
In the end, they each must decide which sacrifice is worth making—the one that will cost them their hearts, or the one that could cost them their very existence.
Author Amy Matayo bravely tackles a neat concept in Before Time Runs Out, a FUN time travel romance for fans of book lovers and Victorian England. With the snark and surprise hit-you-in-the-feels depth I’ve come to expect from her, this adventure is a unique experience in examining what-ifs and the contrasts between eras with humor and romance.
Matayo’s authorial voice shines through in the juxtaposition of time periods and characters. It highlights the differences of the eras with humor and deep meaning. Some of my favorite elements and examples include: corsets, pop culture references, candles, books, crimes, walking sticks, top hats, SIBLINGS, responsibility, Google (and the historical lack thereof), grace and second chances.
While there are many facets of this novel to enjoy, I love the heroine and hero the most. Bree is smart, sassy, and driven, with relatable emotional baggage revealed along the way. Theodore (or THEO as Bree calls him) is courteous, strong, and capable, with a backstory I was eager to hear more about. I like how he proves the character of a gentleman is a timeless asset, no matter the decade or century. In a sly way, Matayo uses their pairing to contrast with today’s societal norms in illustrating the qualities of a true romantic hero/heroine and the importance of respect and trust in such a relationship. Their whirlwind of a friendship-turned-romance is fraught with challenges, adventure, and some fantastic heart-sharing moments that make their unlikely situations believable and something to root for.
I recommend this book for any fans of Dickens, literature, sci-fi time travel, Timeless the TV show!, and Amy’s everyday snark 😉 (if you follow her on social media, you know). I’m so excited this is a series — I’m already looking forward to more time spent in the era of Dickens in the next book!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.
Today’s little review features the last book in Beth White’s “Daughtry House” series, following three sisters in Reconstruction era Mississippi. I have enjoyed all three books in this series, but this one might be my favorite!
A Reckless Love by Beth White
On the trail of an elusive enemy, cynical, war-damaged lawman Zane Sager crosses paths once more with Aurora Daughtry, the vivacious Mississippi belle he once admired from a distance. As his defenses start to crumble, the criminal he’s been pursuing reminds him that that no one he loves is safe. Ever.
A Reckless Love offers an opposites-attract romance within a unique historical setting. I appreciate its perspective on the restoration period after the Civil War, including a bit of “western” flair (even with its southern setting), with its cast of rangers, Pinkertons, and outlaw activities.
The relationship between feisty, talkative Aurora is wonderfully contrasted with Zane’s straightforward and quiet strength, allowing for plenty spark and humor amidst all the drama.
This last book in the series continues with the loose ends from the previous stories and wraps them up nicely. I enjoyed seeing the cast of characters reunited and working together to solve the mystery threads and to further their community with their goals of justice and fairness. This is a recommended series for fans of post-Civil War stories, slight mystery, and historical romance!
Thank you to Revell for the review copy. This is my honest review.
I have enjoyed all of the novels in Karen Barnett’s “Vintage National Parks” series for their wonderful natural settings and looks at life through varied park inhabitants – rangers, staff, tourists, guides, and artists. This series is more of a collection as each novel has told a unique, standalone story set in a different national park.
Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.
A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.
Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?
The setting of Yellowstone
comes alive in this “vintage” story of dreaming by Karen Barnett. A
well-paced tale of friendship, strength, and a little adventure unfolds in a
picturesque setting that makes me want to visit ! I thought it was an
insightful and curious look at Depression era events and culture, too, with
characters I want to be friends with!
One small element of this story I really appreciate is the distinction between education as separate from wisdom and leadership abilities. One does not require the other. This is shown through a learning disability of one specific character. The way Karen Barnett presents this situation is considerate while it emphasizes the worth of this individual as a child of God.
I think Ever Faithful is a
flowing, easy to read story. Character driven at its heart, it shows the
journeys of Elsie and Nate as they experience a season of life with great
changes and possibilities. The setting is vivid and wonderfully essential to
bringing out the passion in the characters – Elsie’s desire to teach and Nate’s
quest to prove himself. When their paths intersect, they develop a friendship
that brings out the best in each other and shows them both their worth and God’s
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.
With author Courtney Walsh’s latest release, we return to the fictional town of Harbor Pointe for a story of second chances, family, and romance. Just One Kiss is the third book set in this quaint town and reads as a standalone, though you will delight over learning more about the straightforward and bright teenager, Jaden, who had an important role in book 2, Just Let Go.
He broke her heart. Now, he’s back, and he’s determined to show her what they had isn’t over. . . and he can prove it with just one kiss.
Single mother Carly Collins likes predictability. However, when her son Jaden’s health is threatened, her neatly controlled world is tossed into a tailspin. Nothing is certain anymore, especially her feelings for Josh Dixon, Jaden’s father, her first love and the man responsible for shattering her heart sixteen years ago.
When Josh Dixon walked out of Harbor Pointe, he left behind his only shot at a real family. Now a successful tech mogul, the town rebel has found a cause—ensure his son’s recovery and prove to Carly and Jaden that he’s not the same guy he was back then.
Carly and Josh are forced to wade through messy emotions and questions that have gone unanswered for years, which would be easier if not for the pesky feelings, every bit as strong and impossible to ignore as they ever were.
Will forgiveness win, giving Carly and Josh a second chance at love . . . or will the past prove too much to overcome?
A small town romance about first love second chances and how our most beautiful life might look nothing like we planned.
Courtney Walsh never fails to make me smile, swoon over the romance, and cry over the deeply emotional moments in her stories. Just One Kiss is further proof! I loved it!
Part rekindled love, part family drama, and part small town charming, this story has no qualms with facing the hard questions of life, likes the “whys” and the challenges of extending grace for second chances.
I have read several reviews of this book noting it is Courtney Walsh’s best yet. While I can’t pick a favorite of her books (I have really loved them all!), I can say that Walsh is at the top of her storytelling game with Just One Kiss. The way it balances serious themes with lighthearted moments, just the right amount of drama and romance, surprises that really deepen the story, and even details like *showing* the backstory of Carly and Josh through flashback scenes all impress me. The combination of hallmark-like moments (dress shop!) with weighty moments in hospital waiting rooms and the vulnerability of opening your heart (letting go of anger) and offering someone a second chance all work to make this an impactful story.
Just One Kiss is a book I will return to and love just as much upon rereading. There is a relatable humanity in all of the characters, through their flaws, dreams, and questions, that makes it memorable and unique. Its message of forgiveness and the simplicity of grace is desperately needed in our world.
Thank you the the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.