Friday, December 23, 2016

A look back at 2016 and a look forward to 2017

Here are some authors and books I enjoyed in 2016 and books I'm looking forward to in 2017. What authors did you discover and want to read more of their books?

Sarah M. Eden - Loved The Sheriffs of Savage Wells in 2016. Looking forward to three new books from Sarah in 2017! 

Julie Daines -  Loved Willowkeep and Eleanor and the Iron King. Looking forward to reading more books by Julie.

Taylor Dean - Loved Chasing Fireflies and look forward to reading other books by Taylor.

Nancy Campbell Allen - I have had books by Nancy on my to-read shelf and this year I read My Fair Gentleman. Looks like I need to get going on her other books on my shelf. 

Michele Paige Holmes - I have read several books by Michele in the past, but one of my favorites this year was Between Heaven and Earth. I wonder what she's working on for this year.

Annette K. Larsen - A couple of years ago I read Just Ella. This year I read the rest of the books in the Books of Dalthia series. She had twins this year so I don't know if there will be more in the Dalthia series, but I would love it if there were.

Donna Hatch - I had read The Stranger She Married previously and this year read the other books in Donna's Rogue Hearts series. Are there more coming this year? I hope so.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Reformer by Jaima Fixsen (The Power of the Matchmaker series)

The Reformer by Jaima Fixsen (The Power of the Matchmaker series)

Summary from Goodreads:
Mary Buchanan has bigger worries than the radical journalist moving in next door who’s spoiling her father’s digestion: unrequited love for a footman, a fractious aunt, patiently awaiting her destiny…

Already she’s nearly eighteen. No sign of destiny yet, but Mary’s certain he’ll be handsome.

Then she meets the reformer, this Mr. Samuel Brown. Destiny is closer at hand than Mary has supposed—if she can just get Mr. Brown to realize it.


3.5 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My review:
This last book the Power of the Matchmaker series has a different feel than the others. 

First, Miss Pearl is never called Miss Pearl in this book. If you've read the other stories, you know it's her. If you haven't read the other stories, you know it's the matchmaker, but it just isn't as overt as some of the other books.

Second, this story has more mature content. There is talk of sexual intercourse and how it is done in a round-about way. I was surprised when I read it. It isn't too graphic, but definitely discussed more than in any of the other books.

Third, the romance isn't as "sweet" as some of the others. There is a bit of a love triangle and lovey feelings aren't discussed as much. 

Having said all of this, I still like this book. I don't love it like I did some of the other Power of the Matchmaker books, but I find it an interesting read based on the time period and the situation the characters are in. Like some of the other Power of the Matchmaker books, it takes me to a time and place I don't know much about and I find that engaging. 

Warnings: Talk of sexual intercourse

I would let my 15 year old read this book after I warned her that there would be talk of sex in it.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo


Thursday, November 10, 2016

To Move the World by Regina Sirois (Power of the Matchmaker)

To Move the World by Regina Sirois (Power of the Matchmaker)

Summary from Goodreads:
Eve Brannon never had to bother planning out her future. In the Yorkshire dales where life is harder, it is also simpler. Next in line to inherit her family's farm, she will raise another generation of children and sheep high in the uplands of England. Waiting until next year when she is 19 to marry her father's handsome hired hand, Alan, is the detail she added herself. 

But in 1939 even the most stalwart corners of the world are vibrating with the tremors of change. Eve's long-anticipated proposal comes on the wings of losing Alan to the Royal Army and at the brink of the farm's profitable war years the sheep herd is decimated by a mysterious illness. With her steady future suddenly in the clutches of a capricious fate, Eve is introduced to Jonathon Doran, a land manager anxious to prove himself in a crisis, and she discovers that the solid earth beneath her feet is moving after all.


4 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
This is the next installment of The Power of the Matchmaker series. Twelve authors got together and are releasing 1 book a month for this entire year of 2016. Each story has an appearance by Miss Pearl, the Matchmaker. To Move the World is the 10th book, or October's installment.

This story takes place in England just before World War II. The main character is convinced that there is no war coming. She won't accept it. As she sees her friends enlisting, she can no longer ignore that change is coming.

The change for Eve comes in several ways. Not only does her beau enlist in the army, but her sheep farm is decimated by an unknown illness. As much as Eve and others try, there is nothing they can do to stop the illness. Her life seems to be turning upside down. These challenges bring Eve to a new level of maturity. She discovers her strength, her wants, and her needs. She no longer ignores the world outside of her area.

This book brings the romance in the form of a love triangle. Eve has been "in love" with Alan for years. But when her world opens up to new possibilities, she meets Jonathan. Both love interests have positive and negative qualities. Miss Pearl helps Eve discover what her feelings are toward these 2 men.

I am a little disappointed with the ending of this book, but I also understand why it is the way it is. As a reader, I don't always get what I want and that is OK. The book is an interesting story about a time and place I haven't read much about. And, I always love seeing how Miss Pearl makes her appearances in each story. 

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Place for Miss Snow by Jennifer Moore

A Place for Miss Snow by Jennifer Moore

Summary from Goodreads:
Miss Diana Snow is everything a British chaperone should be—she finds satisfaction in order and depends wholly upon the rules of decorum as she negotiates the isle of Greece with her young charge. But Miss Snow's prim and proper exterior masks a disquieting past: orphaned and alone in the world, she has only her stiff upper lip to rely on. When a brief encounter with a handsome stranger challenges her rules of propriety, Diana is unwittingly drawn into an adventure that will turn her ordered world upside down.

Alexandros Metaxas is a Greek spy working to recruit individuals to the cause of revolution. His mission seems to be going perfectly until he encounters Diana Snow, a captivating—if slightly cold—beauty. When their paths cross again, the ill-fated reunion threatens all Alex has been fighting for. But more importantly, it places Diana's life in jeopardy. There is only one way to save her: they must put themselves at the mercy of the most powerful pirate family in the Mediterranean. Soon, Diana is plunged into a fantastic world of gypsy curses, blood feuds, and unexpected romance. But when a bitter vendetta places her in mortal danger, will she have the courage to fight for life and love?


5 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
Jennifer Moore has become one of my favorite authors in the last year or so. Her attention to real history gets me involved in the stories she writes on a whole new level. This book is no exception.

This story takes place in Greece during the time of the Ottoman Empire. The main characters of this story become involved with Pirates and the Greek Revolution. This is a period of time and place that I know nothing about. I love that Jennifer Moore introduces me to history and initiates an interest in me. Every time I read one of her books I'm on Google finding out more.

Jennifer Moore is great at introducing a time and place in history and wrapping it in an intriguing and romantic story. I love watching the main characters develop their relationship. In this story, Diana Snow (or as the local Greeks call her "missno") finds herself. She has been invisible most of her life and in this story she discovers herself. She finds that she likes who she is. What a wonderful thing for any of us to discover!

Warnings: none

I would let my 15 year old read this story.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Deseret Book
Seagull Book


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Timeless Regency Collection: A Country Christmas by Josi S. Kilpack, Carla Kelly, and Jennifer Moore

Timeless Regency Collection: A Country Christmas by Josi S. Kilpack, Carla Kelly, and Jennifer Moore

Summary from Amazon:
SAINTS AND SINNERS by Josi S. Kilpack. When Neville Franklin’s best friend Burke wants to wager who can kiss Eloise first, Neville puts a stop to it. Eloise has been his friend since childhood, and, well, she’s off-limits. Especially to Burke. As Burke pursues Eloise and claims that she has a tendre for him, Neville becomes more and more protective of the girl he grew up with. On the night of the Christmas ball when Eloise appears in a dress that clearly shows that she is no longer a girl, but a beautiful woman, Neville realizes that his protective feelings toward Eloise have turned into something greater. But now, Neville’s best friend stands in his way.

THE CHRISTMAS ANGLE by Carla Kelly. Sailing Master Able Six is on half-pay with the British navy, biding his time during the uneasy Peace of Amiens and the resumption of war. Meanwhile, he’s invited to teach young pupils at the home of a vicar outside of Plymouth. There, he unexpectedly meets Meridee, the spinster sister-in-law of the vicar. From the moment Able sees Meridee, he’s entranced. When she asks him about his past and discovers his remarkable yet troublesome gift, he realizes he’s finally found someone who can care for all of him. Sadly, Able’s low station and half-pay gives him no way to provide for a wife. Meridee’s lack of dowry and dependence on relatives makes their union impossible at best. But isn’t Christmas a season of hope?

THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Moore. Archie Clawson wants nothing more than to give Jane the perfect Christmas. Since her troubled childhood, she’s not experienced a Christmas with all the trimmings. To top off the perfection, he also plans to ask her to marry him on Christmas Eve. But as he and his friends, including Jane, travel to his country home, they are caught in a snowstorm and discover that notice of their arrival did not get through to the house staff. Worried over the disappointment he must be causing Jane and the complete shift in their planned Christmas, Archie fears that he’s misinterpreted her kindness towards him and lost her favor forever. 


4 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
I love these Regency collections from the Timeless Romance line. It is definitely my favorite time period to read about.

Each of these stories takes place at Christmas time and the characters live or travel to the country to celebrate the holiday. In the summary for "The Christmas Angle", it says "Isn't Christmas a season of hope?" I think all 3 stories are hopeful. The characters overcome difficulties to find happiness. I really appreciated the character of Jane in "The Perfect Christmas". I don't often read about characters with panic disorders, let alone that kind of disorder in the Regency time period. Again, each of these stories brings a sense of hope and love at that magical time of year, Christmas.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this story.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon
BN
Kobo


Monday, October 10, 2016

The Lady of the Lakes: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott by Josi S. Kilpack

The Lady of the Lakes: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott by Josi S. Kilpack

Summary from Goodreads: 
It's 1796 and twenty-four-year-old Walter Scott is in love. For the past few years, he has been engaged in a long-distance courtship, writing love letters to his childhood sweetheart, Mina.

Though both Walter and Mina are young and from different stations in society, they share the same love of literature, a passionate temperament, and a restless heart. They know their love is meant to be. Walter feels sure Mina is the muse he needs to bring every dream of his life to fruition. But the distance between the two lovers proves too great, and when Mina meets the handsome and charming William Forbes, she is swept away, and the two quickly announce their engagement.

Brokenhearted, Walter takes refuge in the lake country of England where he resigns himself to a life of misery and heartache. But then he meets Charlotte, a French girl, who, at twenty-six, has resigned herself to the fact that she will never find love. Despite their age difference, the two become cautious friends, but Charlotte's quiet disposition and keen mind intrigue Walter. She is so different from Mina, yet perhaps, for Walter, it may be that his perfect match is a woman who calms him and helps him keep his feet on the ground. Though wary of risking his heart a second time, he finds himself falling deeply in love with her.

In the end, he is able to forgive Mina, forget his heartbreak, and forge ahead in a new relationship, realizing that there is a vast difference between a man's "first love" and his "true love."

4.5 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
I have not read any books by Sir Walter Scott. Although I have heard of him and some of his books, I am not familiar with his history or his writing. Josi S. Kilpack has taken historical information and woven it with her creativity to create this fictionalized story of Sir Walter Scott. I found myself googling information constantly throughout my reading of this story. The author did an excellent job of creating a compelling story within the historical timeline and known facts.

The beginning of this book was painful for me to read. There wasn't anything wrong with the writing or story telling.  But having read the synopsis and also doing the aforementioned googling, I knew that Walter Scott was going to get hurt. I didn't want to read about his heartache. I was afraid to face it. I kept putting off reading or reading a little here and a little there. Once the "deed" was done and Walter's heart was broken, I was able to delve more consistently in to the book. In fact, once I passed that point, it took me less than 2 days to finish it.

I appreciated reading about Walter Scott's growth from a young love struck teenager to a mature man. His emotional journey is one that I think many of us face to some extent. We start with one dream and as we mature it shifts and evolves as our lives and circumstances change. This can be related to romance, but also to our education, careers, and goals. 

I loved the relationship between Walter and Charlotte. They worked so well together and discovered that honesty brought them much happiness. Often in the early stages of relationships (and sometimes even after), we tiptoe around each other trying to figure out what the other person is thinking or what they want. It was refreshing to see these two be honest and forthright with each other and to see how it blessed their lives.

Again, Josi S. Kilpack fictionalized parts of the history to create this lovely story. It was hard at times to read knowing that these were real people who experienced these things. I hurt for them and rejoiced with them. The author truly brought me in to this time and space and now I will run to the library to find works by Sir Walter Scott.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can purchase this book next year in January. Or preorder now at 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt (Power of the Matchmaker)

King of the Friend Zone by Sheralyn Pratt (Power of the Matchmaker)

Summary from Goodreads:
From the Power of the Matchmaker series:

Esme Taylor has an amazing fiancĂ©, a lifelong best friend, and a problem. 

The problem stems from the fact that her best friend is named Hunter and, well. . .he’s kind of (totally) hot. It’s hate at first sight when her fiancĂ©, Jon, and Hunter meet. Jon’s convinced that Hunter is in love with Esme, and that Hunter must be out of the picture if their upcoming marriage is to succeed.

Esme thinks Jon is paranoid.

The truth is, Jon’s not that far off. Hunter is in love with his best friend and always has been. What Jon has wrong, however, is that Hunter never had any plans of ruining Esme’s happily ever after. Hunter wants what’s best for Esme, even if that’s not him.

When Jon pushes hard to end Esme and Hunter’s friendship, opposition comes from the most unlikely of places. It’s an eccentric lady with a cookie cart who suggests a different solution to Esme’s problem: Hunter and Esme should give each other a chance.

They’ve both thought of the possibility over the years—of course they have. But with a ring already on Esme’s finger and a heap of hurt feelings and broken trust in the mix, there hasn’t been a worse time to explore the depths of their feelings for each other.

Both Esme and Hunter think it’s time to move on and leave childhood crushes in the past. The question is: Can one woman and the taste of one cookie change their minds?


4 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
When I read the summary I thought, "Oh it's My Best Friend's Wedding" in a book! Well, the concept is a story that has been told. However, I found that I couldn't put this book down once I got in to it. I was so engrossed in these characters' stories that I wanted to know how everything resolved.

These 2 main characters were definitely likable. However, they made stupid choices. We all make stupid choices. I get that. But their choices were really what drove the conflict in this story. Sometimes I wanted to reach through the ereader and strangle them. 

Luckily, these 2 decide to be honest...with themselves and with each other. Once the honesty comes in to play, these characters face even more challenges. Again, I was very interested in seeing how these characters resolved their feelings and came to a happy ending. And with the Power of the Matchmaker series, you know there will be a happy ending.

This book, being part of the Power of the Matchmaker series, had Miss Pearl, the Matchmaker, helping Esme and Hunter through their unresolved feelings. I loved reading about Miss Pearl being a cookie seller. The concept of the cookie (you'll have to read to find out!) was so fun to read. Miss Pearl has "played" many roles in the different books and this one was one of my favorites.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon


Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Fall of Lord Drayson by Rachael Anderson

The Fall of Lord Drayson by Rachael Anderson

Summary from Goodreads:
Who is he really? A high and mighty lord or a lowly servant?

When Colin Cavendish, the new earl of Drayson, informs Lucy Beresford that she and her mother need to vacate the house they've called home for the past two years, Lucy is fit to be tied. They have no money, no relations they can turn to for help, and nowhere to go. How dare the earl break the promise his father had made to the Beresfords without so much as a twinge of conscience?

Fate plays her hand when Lucy discovers the earl unconscious and injured in the middle of the road. When he awakens with no recollection of who he is, Lucy seizes the opportunity to teach the earl a much-needed lesson in humility and tells him that he is nothing more than a mere servant. Her servant, in fact. 

And thus begins the charming tale of a pompous lord and an impetuous young woman, caught together in a web so tangled that it begs the question: Will they ever get out?


5 Stars

Received an ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
This was an unexpected read. When I read the summary I immediately thought I knew where the story was going to go. Thank you, Rachael Anderson, for writing something different than expected.

In this story, Lucy put Lord Drayson in the position of being her servant after he lost his memory. There were many funny scenes as Lord Drayson tried to do tasks that he was unfamiliar with. And the banter that ensued between Lord Drayson and Lucy was great to read.

There were times I was frustrated with Lucy. We, as readers, have a broader vision and I so wished she would make different choices. However, in life, one doesn't have the broader vision and these two characters made mistakes like we all do.

Lord Drayson began the book as one person. During his memory loss, he evolved. It was pleasant to read his thoughts and watch his discoveries about himself.

The development of the relationship of these 2 main characters was lovely. It was slow and friendly to start and then there were times of great passion as well.

I appreciated the way this story resolved. Again, the story took unexpected turns and I liked that the ending wasn't completely predictable. The one thing you could count on though was a happy ending.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Timeless Romance Anthology: Blind Date Collection by Annette Lyon, Sarah M. Eden, Heather B. Moore, Victorine E. Lieske, Rachel Branton, and Sariah Wilson

A Timeless Romance Anthology: Blind Date Collection by Annette Lyon, Sarah M. Eden, Heather B. Moore, Victorine E. Lieske, Rachel Branton, and Sariah Wilson

Summary from Goodreads:
Three Historical Romance Novellas:

THE PROMISE THAT KATY DID, by Annette Lyon: After the death of Sue Ellen, the closest thing she has to family, Katy knows it’s time to leave the house she’s lived in as a guest and start over in the city. She quickly secures a job, but before leaving, she must honor the unusual promise she made to Sue Ellen on her deathbed: meet with Mr. Balmer. The elderly gentleman arranges for his grandson Barrett to escort her to a town dance. That evening, shy Katy quickly feels at ease with her partner. If her new position weren’t taking her from town morning after next, perhaps something could develop between them. But Barrett may not feel the same about her, and besides, they don't have enough time to find out.

A LADY OF SENSE, by Sarah M. Eden: Eleanor Sherwood has lived her entire life under her parents’ thumb with little hope of escape. When they choose the unbearable Mr. Broadstead to be her future husband, she begs her father for another option. He arranges for her to meet Peter Havensham, who quickly proves himself a good and kindhearted gentleman, completely different from Mr. Broadstead, and utterly undeserving of a forced engagement. Eleanor cannot bring herself to prey upon Peter’s honor, but neither can she imagine a life with Mr. Broadstead. What is a lady to do when faced with such an impossible choice?

A SECOND CHANCE, by Heather B. Moore: Virginia needs a new start in order to recover from her broken marriage and vicious gossips of her neighborhood in Boston, so when her best friend Millie invites Virginia to Chicago, she goes to live with her friend’s family. But when Millie asks Virginia to participate in a double-date, Virginia knows she’s not ready to start dating again. Reluctantly she agrees, only to find out that Max might just be the man who can repair the cracks in her heart.

Three Contemporary Romance Novellas:

BRAELYNN’S BLIND DATE, by Victorine E. Lieske. When Braelynn agrees to go on a blind date, she thinks she’s hit the jackpot. Tyler is gorgeous and the perfect gentleman. Of course she should have known it was too good to be true. It turns out that Tyler really wasn’t Tyler, but a random stranger who went along with Braelynn’s mistaken assumption. So, she chalks it up to a dumb mistake until she gets to work Monday morning and discovers that her gorgeous blind date is now her new boss.

BIANCA’S HOPE, by Rachel Branton: A blind-date-gone-wrong is not the way Bianca would have chosen to celebrate the news that she might be losing her business, but saying no to the sister who took care of her after their mother’s death proves impossible. So for one date, one torturous evening, she’ll endure the company of an infuriating, heartless man she has no intention of ever seeing again. She doesn’t expect her heart to have other plans. Bianca soon learns that sometimes the unexpected is not only what you need, it’s exactly what you’ve been waiting for all along.

BLIND SPOT, by Sariah Wilson: Ria has prepared most of her life to meet her prince, trouble is, her mother keeps yanking her back to reality. So when Ria reads about a country teeming with princes, she drops everything and applies to grad school. But every blind date goes wrong, and while Ria commiserates with her roommate Tessa and Tessa’s totally un-prince-like brother Paolo, Ria discovers that all the things she thought she wanted in a man are far from what she really needs.


4.5 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
I hear the words "Blind Date" and I cringe a bit. In general, we all have bad associations with blind dates. That is part of what makes this collection so fun.

I admit, I prefer the historical stories in this collection. But that is mostly because I prefer historical stories in general. They carry me to another time and place. In the historical stories, the blind dates are not what we think of as blind dates today. Yes, they are dates with someone the character doesn't know. However, the dates seem to be set up from a more simple and innocent place than we think of blind dates today.

In the contemporary stories, we read about more typical blind dates...one friend sets up another friend with someone they think will get along well. They actual call them "blind dates" in the contemporary stories. 

With all 6 of these stories, I'm glad that the characters didn't have a blind date, fall in love instantly, and live happily ever after. Each story has some conflict, some small, some big. It gives the stories more interest. At the same time, we know going in to these stories that they will have a happy ending of some sort. I personally like that. It is part of the reason I love the A Timeless Romance Anthology collections. I look forward to reading stories that have clean and happy romance.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this collection.

You can purchase this collection:
Amazon
Kobo
Barnes and Noble


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Between Heaven and Earth by Michele Paige Holmes (Power of the Matchmaker series)

Between Heaven and Earth by Michele Paige Holmes

Summary from Goodreads:
Cassandra Webb’s every waking minute is devoted to being a great mother and wife. She takes five-year-old Noah to the library each week, volunteers in his kindergarten class, and even coaches his soccer team. She makes sure her husband’s uniforms are always laundered—even though he hasn’t worn them the last six years—always has his game day snacks on hand, and meets him for date night every Friday—which consists of one sided conversations at his bedside and watching his favorite take out remain untouched. 

Pearl, a mysterious visitor at the care center, suggests that it is only Cassie’s love still tying Devon to Earth when he has been ready to move on to Heaven for quite some time. If Cassie will but open her eyes and heart, she will discover the path she should travel, one that will bring relief to Devon and much joy to her own life. But Cassie vowed never to give up on him. She never has and she can’t now, even after meeting hapless, single soccer-dad Matt.


5 Stars

Received ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
I find it interesting to read books about issues I have never thought of. This book brings up a situation that I think most of us never think about or at least never think will happen to us. I asked myself repeatedly while I read this book, "What would I do?" I asked my husband, "What would you do?" The story brings up questions of commitment, fidelity, joy, stagnancy, and hope.

I consider this a love story, but not a typical one. There are multiple loves in this story. The main character loves her husband, she loves her son, and, in the course of the book, falls in love with another man. Cassie loves others so much that she loses herself. I appreciate the reminder in this book that we each need to love ourselves to be able to love others. That means taking time to build ourselves up, taking time to find our own joy. It doesn't mean being selfish and thinking only of ourselves. But it does mean that we can give so much more when we are in an emotional place to do so. It does mean being self aware and knowing what we can do to be in that emotional place to love others and serve others.

This book got me thinking, a lot. I was glad to be able to have a conversation with my husband about some of the issues brought up in the book. I was happy to see Cassie work through her "rut" and find more joy, find more hope, and find more love.

Warnings: Death, loved one in permanent vegetative state

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can buy this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble



Monday, August 1, 2016

Timeless Regency Collection: Summer House Party by Regina Scott, Donna Hatch, and Sarah M. Eden

Timeless Regency Collection: Summer House Party by Regina Scott, Donna Hatch, and Sarah M. Eden

Summary from Goodreads:
A ENGAGEMENT OF CONVENIENCE by Regina Scott: Kitty Chapworth is nearly a spinster, and an orphan living on the charity of her uncle, with nothing to recommend her for the marriage mart. Her primary purpose is relegated to acting chaperone for her cousins until she can see them successfully married. Kitty remains focused on her duty even though she knows her future is bleak. When Quentin Adair returns from a long ten years working in Jamaica and proposes a wild charade to Kitty, she agrees, although the plan might reawaken her old feelings for Quentin. Can a reformed rake convince the perfect chaperone to overlook propriety for love?

A PERFECT MATCH by Donna Hatch: Genevieve attends a summer house party hosted by her best friend who can't wait to introduce her to a gentleman she wants to marry, Christian Amesbury. After meeting him, Genevieve determines Christian is perfect . . . for her. Torn between loyalty to her best friend and the yearnings of her heart, Genevieve must first escape the attention of a powerful lord who's obsessed with her and who tries to rob her of any hope for a happily ever after.

THE PAUPERS’ HOUSE PARTY by Sarah M. Eden: It’s a rare event that Edward Downy and his brother are invited to a house party by a member of the ton. But when they arrive, Edward quickly realizes this house party is different than any other. All invited guests are quite destitute, fallen members of Society barely hanging onto their homes. The hosts of the house party, the Warricks, then make a stunning announcement—they intend to gift all their properties to one fortunate guest. As the guests race to impress the Warricks, Edward finds a fast friend in Agatha Holmwood, who shares his same aversion to the horrible expectations. But their growing fondness for each other only makes the game more painful.


4 Stars

Received an ebook from publisher in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
It is fun for me to go back in time to Regency England and all its rules and nuances. House parties are full of witty banter, stolen glances, and definitely rules of etiquette. These 3 stories put the reader right in the middle of all this fun. However, the stories are not typical or mundane. I am surprised by the different take each story brings to the House Party theme. I especially like Sarah M. Eden's The Paupers' House Party. 

I have preferred other collections, but this one is still enjoyable. AND, it is on SALE for $0.99 on AMAZON and Barnes and Noble and KOBO right now.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean (The Power of the Matchmaker)

Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean

Summary from Goodreads:
My sisters think I’m crazy.
But, I’ve never forgotten the mysterious woman from my childhood who told me Paul is the name of my one true love. 
She told me to search far and wide for him. 
I haven’t stopped looking ever since.
When I stumble across an article about a successful American entrepreneur named Paul who lives and works in China, I’m intrigued. When the opportunity to teach English in China presents itself on the same day, I know it’s not a coincidence.
It’s destiny.
My sisters say I’m chasing a dream.
Just like the fireflies we tried to catch on the warm summer evenings of our youth, the dream seems beyond my grasp. Will my quest for the elusive Paul always be just short of fulfillment?
My sisters tell me it’s a fool’s errand.
Until I remind them of the day we saw the Red Bird.
The memory silences them.
The Red Bird Incident remains inarguable—and proves my search for Paul is not a silly fantasy.
I will find Paul . . . I will.


5 Stars

I received an ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
I have been reading The Power of the Matchmaker books each month. If you've been reading this blog, you have seen the reviews. I have liked each of the books, some more than others, and some I connect with more than others. This one I really connect with. 

Within the first 2 chapters of this book, I get a pretty good feel of who Savannah Tate is. I don't know everything about her, I don't know all of her secrets, but I know her. Taylor Dean does an excellent job of introducing the reader to this character and creating interest in her and her life.  I definitely want to know more. I want to know what the "Red Bird Incident" is. I want to know what happened to her engagement to Paul Ellis. And, as I read portions of Chapter 2, Taylor Dean writes words that describe how I sometimes feel about social situations. Wow! She totally gets the shy/introverted mind process, at least mine. She writes:

"Social situations sometimes exhaust me. Not that I don't enjoy them. I do. Absolutely. But afterwards I need space, time to regroup and recover from the effort. For some reason, social situations take a lot out of me and I can only handle them in small doses. But it doesn't mean I don't enjoy them or need them."
"I don't enjoy situations where I feel at a loss for words. Every once in a while, I find myself searching for words and not finding them. That's when things get awkward."
"I hate the disconnect between my brain and my tongue. It's an innate part of me that I can't seem to fight, no matter how hard I try. The words stick in my throat.."

From the very beginning of this book, I'm hooked. Again, I want to know more. I want to know Savannah's past, but I also want to know what happens to her. Does she find happiness? Does she find Paul?  

The story follows Savannah to China where she teaches English. Savannah meets new friends, finds joy in teaching, and tries to push herself out of her comfort zone. There are successes and failures as she pushes herself, but that is what life is right? Savannah meets more than one Paul. I find her journey in finding "her Paul" interesting. I like seeing her look beyond her preconceived notions of what or who Paul is. We do find out what the "Red Bird Incident" is. And we do learn some of Savannah's other secrets. 

The story is written with months written at the Chapter headings. This helps the reader understand the time frame as Taylor Dean writes many flashbacks. I like that she did it this way. Miss Pearl, The Matchmaker, shows up in the flashbacks. And, through her miraculous power, she also shows up in the present. Miss Pearl continues to amaze me with her compassion and insight. She does have The Power of the Matchmaker.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Willowkeep by Julie Daines

Willowkeep by Julie Daines

Summary from Goodreads:
Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.
 


5 Stars

Received an ebook in exchange for an honest review

My Review:
This is the first book I've read by Julie Daines. I will definitely be checking out her other works. 

I have read historical fiction where the wealthy gentleman sweeps the pretty girl off her feet. Her life is changed, her problems are solved. Think Cinderella. One of the things I love about this story is that it mixes all of those typical stories up.

Here we have a woman who has nothing. She is literally living day to day on what she can scrap together. She is lifted up from this situation not by the love of her life, but by inheriting a fortune from an unknown-to-her relative. This throws her into a new world, one that is difficult in its own way. Charlotte, our heroine, is smart and resourceful. But in this new situation she needs help. She finds that help in Henry.

From the moment Charlotte meets Henry she has a friend and confidant. Henry helps Charlotte through her transition and at the same time faces his own problems. He doesn't want to burden her when she is going through so much herself. I love that these two characters both have trials in their lives and find relief from those difficulties with each other. 

An added layer to this story is Charlotte's sister. We learn through Charlotte's relationship with her sister some of the horrific history of this family. Charlotte's difficulties are not just learning how to live in a different economic circumstance. 

Some of this story is told through Charlotte's letters to Anne Boleyn. It is interesting to read how Charlotte sees Anne and uses this relationship. I love when a book gets me interested in history. This one does just that. 

This story is not a Cinderella story. The heroine is truly our heroine. In some ways, she is the one to "save the day". With both characters in need, they find peace with each other. They lift each other up to a better place. 

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Deseret Book
Seagull Book




Saturday, June 11, 2016

O'er the River Liffey (Power of the Matchmaker) by Heidi Ashworth

O'er the River Liffey by Heidi Ashworth

Summary from Goodreads:
Irish heiress Caroline Fulton knows this house party, ostensibly celebrating the victory of Waterloo, is really an audition: will she make a suitable wife? Her host, an English lord, has already won over her father, who’s determined to buy a title with Caroline’s dowry. She is far from taken with the baron, however, especially once she meets Niall Doherty, the impoverished, perceptive tutor to her host’s younger brothers. He shares her love of Irish fairy tales and seems to guard a troubled past…but neither quality will earn Caroline’s father’s approval. 

4 Stars

Received an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

My Review:
I have not read very much historical fiction set in Ireland. It is fun to jump in to another time and place and Ireland is a great place to jump! There is vocabulary to learn!

The Prologue is a bit confusing to me. For some reason, I have a hard time understanding who the characters are and how they are relating to each other. However, this is where we meet the Matchmaker! Unlike most of the other stories, this is the only place the Matchmaker, Miss Pearl, appears in person. She is referred to at other times in the book. (I did have to refer back to the Prologue later in the book to remember and understand better what had happened there).

Niall and Caroline make a good pair. They are both open to believing in fairy tales and Irish myths. They both enjoy spending time doing "fun" things, not traditional to the staid practices of the Irish and English gentry. They both see themselves as outsiders in their own ways.

There are some excellent secondary characters. I love the brothers and Caroline's best friend, Fiona. Oppositely, I hate Caroline's father. He is an excellent antagonist. My heart breaks several times in this book. That being said, there are wonderful moments of joy as well.

I particularly like when the characters leave the confines of the house party. Both Niall and Caroline have to struggle, but they are able to find a freedom through that struggle that allows them to pursue their own course in life. I like reading about people who are strong, who take their lives in to their own hands, often times at great sacrifice. 

Here is a fun account of  the "birth" of the cover on Heidi Ashworth's Blog. I enjoyed reading it.

Warnings: None

I would let my 15 year old read this book.

You can purchase this book:
Amazon