Posted in Clean Read Romance, Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational

Georgana’s Secret (2021): A Blog Tour + an Excerpt

About the Book

BookGeorgana’s Secret

Author: Arlem Hawks

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Release Date: January 12, 2021

A Regency romance on the high seas. Two hearts yearning to find a safe harbor, and possibly, a lasting love.

As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. While trying to adjust to a new crew, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.

Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband are quickly slipping away.

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About the Author

Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. With her travels came an interest in history, especially the history of her English heritage. When she isn’t writing, Arlem is baking her characters’ favorite foods, sewing Regency dresses, learning how to play the tin whistle, and water coloring. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two children. Having previously published four historical romance novellas, Georgana’s Secret is her debut novel.

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Praise for Georgana’s Secret

Fans of sweet love stories as well as readers who fondly remember those marvelous old traditional Signet Regencies will quickly succumb to the siren song of Hawk’s expertly crafted novel, which delivers the perfect blend of Jane Austen-smart romance and Patrick O’Brian flavored seafaring adventure. Teen romance readers will cheer on the plucky heroine as she finds the courage to forge her own path in life and love.”— Booklist, starred review

“Hawks crafts a spellbinding tale featuring rich characters and raw emotions set against the atmospheric backdrop of sea life in all its danger and beauty. Georgana is a tough protagonist holding her own in a world dominated by men, while Peyton’s charm and sensitivity marks him as a true gentleman. A hidden identity, flirtation, and treachery make for a rousing tale to captivate lovers of historical romances.”— Publishers Weekly

Arlem Hawks wove a magnificent tale of adventure and deception and delivered a happy ever after that was as unconventional as the rest of the story. With so many stories of romance out there, it is refreshing when one comes along that is very different than the stories that I am used to. A little adventure always livens things up fabulously.”— Emily Flynn, Reading with Emily

“This tale felt sweepingly cinematic at times and was both action-packed and heart-wrenching with an immersive narrative.”— Katie Jackson, RegencyProofreading.com

My Review

Click HERE to read my thoughts on this excellent story!

An Excerpt

Georgana sat at one of the windows, letting the light of the full moon flood the paper in her lap. The ship’s creaking seemed louder in the stillness of night, interrupting her father’s quiet snores. He’d drawn the curtains around his hanging cot to block out the soft light. It was a rare moment of solitude.

She skimmed her pencil across the blank page, outlining the crest of a wave.

Grandmother had never let her draw the sea. Or people. She said it kept them wallowing in their past. Now Georgana drew only the sea. Wave after wave washed over pages in her sketchbook. Something about the sea compelled her to draw it night after night. Was it the delicate foam that adorned a gentle crest, or the strength of a surge as it crashed against the hull? The sea could be whatever it wanted. It never had to ask permission.

She sketched so many pictures, she’d started discarding them out the window when her father wasn’t looking. The drawings weren’t particularly beautiful, so it wasn’t a loss to watch them melt into the sea. Grandmother had never let her forget what a poor artist she was, and Georgana still heard the woman’s critiques hissing in her ear as she drew.

Georgana set down her pencil and placed her hand against a cool windowpane. Moonlight skipped across the ocean’s black surface. Lanterns, tiny dots poking through the darkness, twinkled to mark the position of the merchant ships.

A laugh drifted down from the quarterdeck, disrupting the quiet. Georgana grasped the handle on the window and cracked it open. The laugh sounded too jovial for Jarvis and too deep to be Moyle. Must be Lieutenant Peyton.

She listened as she continued her drawing. She couldn’t make out words, but the cheerful hum of conversation soothed her.

The lieutenant hadn’t stopped giving her attention, something Fitz and the other ship’s boys added to their list of grievances against her. Though they kept quiet in his presence, they harassed her more frequently now. She rubbed her knee, still sore from the confrontation a week ago. Lieutenant Peyton was harming more than helping, but he didn’t see that. Just like her father hadn’t.

Georgana squeezed her eyes shut and tugged at the back of her hair. Father had done what he thought was best, stealing her away to be a cabin boy. On board, Grandmother couldn’t reach her. She couldn’t even find her.

Flashes of memory shot through Georgana’s mind. Blood on her hands. Tears rushing from her swollen eyes. Grandmother standing over her with the poker.

The scar running across her palm had faded, but a little ridge that ran from wrist to fingertip still pressed against her pencil as she drew. Her grandmother’s anger over Georgana’s mourning for her mother had come to a blazing head that night. Perhaps Georgana’s display of emotions had run her patience too thin. The beating that ensued had been the worst of Georgana’s life.

And Papa, nearly mad with grief, stole her away that very night. They told Grandmother she’d gone to a school in York. A lie. In the heat of her pain and his outrage, the deception had seemed the best plan. With Georgana on board, Papa would know she was safe.

But sailing the seas with her father had not been what she’d imagined. Though she insisted he not fret his decision, after three years, she worried as much as he did of the damage to her reputation should she be discovered. Grandmother might have let her out in Society by now. She could be married and settled far away from the woman. Many girls were by eighteen.

Lieutenant Peyton laughed again, and Georgana leaned in toward the window. Her ear rested against the crack, reaching for the carefree joy of the sound. For all the trouble he was causing, she wasn’t sorry he’d joined the crew, if only because of the sound of his laughter and his easy smile.

Her eyelids grew heavy, and her head sank against the windowsill. She dozed, ears filled with the gentle lapping of waves and the new lieutenant’s pleasant voice.

Excerpt taken from Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks, pages 23-25.

BLOG TOUR

Join the virtual blog tour of GEORGANA’S SECRET (Proper Romance Regency), Arlem Hawks’ highly acclaimed debut historical romance novel January 11 – February 14, 2021. Over forty-five popular blogs specializing in historical romance, inspirational fiction, and Austenesque fiction will join in the celebration of its release with excerpts, spotlights, and reviews of this new Regency-era novel set aboard a Royal Naval ship.

Georgana’s Secret — A PROPER ROMANCE BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:

Jan 11 My Jane Austen Book Club Excerpt

Jan 11 Austenprose — A Jane Austen Blog Review 

Jan 12 Wishful Endings Review

Jan 12 Lu Reviews Books Review 

Jan 13 Lady with a Quill Review

Jan 13 Timeless Novels Review 

Jan 14 Reading is My Superpower Review

Jan 14 The Bibliophile Files Review 

Jan 15 Randi Loves 2 Read Review

Jan 16 The Christian Fiction Girl Excerpt

Jan 17 Nurse Bookie Review

Jan 18 The Silver Petticoat Review Review

Jan 18 Heidi Reads Review 

Jan 19 Bookfoolery Review

Jan 20 Captivated Reading Review

Jan 21 Greenish Bookshelf Review 

Jan 21 Bookworm Lisa Review

Jan 22 Among the Reads Review 

Jan 23 Gwedalyn’s Books Review 

Jan 24 My Bookish Bliss Review 

Jan 25 Wishful Endings Excerpt

Jan 25 Christian Chick’s Thoughts Review 

Jan 26 Relz Reviewz Review 

Jan 27 The Lit Bitch Review 

Jan 28 Reading with Emily Review 

Jan 29 Books, Teacups & Reviews Review 

Jan 30 A Darn Good Read Review 

Jan 31 From Pemberley to Milton Spotlight

Jan 31 Impressions in Ink Review 

Feb 01 Austenesque Reviews Review 

Feb 02 Laura’s Reviews Review 

Feb 03 Literary Time Out Review 

Feb 04 Chicks, Rogues & Scandals Excerpt

Feb 05 The Bluestocking Review 

Feb 05 Library of Clean Reads Review 

Feb 06 The Caffeinated Bibliophile Spotlight

Feb 07 So Little Time… Spotlight

Feb 08 The Readathon Review

Feb 09 The Book Diva Reads Excerpt

Feb 09 Books and Socks Rock Review 

Feb 10 Our Book Confessions Review

Feb 10 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen Spotlight

Feb 11 Rosanne E. Lortz Review 

Feb 11 Jorie Loves a Story Review

Feb 12 Fire & Ice Excerpt

Feb 13 Cup of Tea with that Book, Please Review

Feb 14 Book Confessions of an Ex-ballerina Review

Posted in Christmas Lit, Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational, TBR Challenge

Thawing the Viscount’s Heart (2020)

About the Book

BookThawing the Viscount’s Heart

SeriesBelles of Christmas: Frost Fair, #3

Author: Mindy Burbidge Strunk

Release Date: November 7, 2020

Genre: Sweet Regency Romance, Christmas Lit

Spending Christmastide with her was the last thing he wanted.

After the death of her father, Gabriella Babineaux, left France to live under the protection of a family friend in England. The Frost Fair on the Thames seems the perfect place to begin her introduction into English Society, but when she bumps into a gentleman on the ice and he dismisses her merely for being French, she worries she will be a dismal failure at the upcoming Season. How will she ever find love if she cannot even fit in?

Aaron Campbell returned from the Napoleonic wars to assume a family title that was never meant to be his. A fact his mother never fails to point out to him. Hoping to escape his responsibilities for a few hours, Aaron attends the Frost Fair where he bumps into a French girl whose voice triggers unpleasant memories of betrayal. Now he cannot seem to push the voice from the past out of his mind. When Aaron returns to his country estate for Christmastide, the last thing he expects is to spend the holiday with the woman from the fair—the woman who reminds him of all he’s tried to forget.

As their time together passes, Aaron begins to see differences between the woman in his house and the one who betrayed him. But can he allow himself to overlook her heritage and instead see her as the woman he loves?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Thawing the Viscount’s Heart by Mindy Burbidge Strunk is a lovely Historical Romance. The plot is engaging and kept me turning pages well into the night. The characters are unique and endearing. I found Aaron and Gabby to be well-developed protagonists, and I loved getting to see each character’s unique perspectives throughout the story. The chemistry between Aaron and Gabby is spectacular. Electric sparks fly whenever they’re in the same room, which made the swoony moments seriously breathtaking. Overall, Thawing the Viscount’s Heart is a wonderful read that got me into quite a happy, smiley, Christmas mood!

One aspect to this story that really made me take note is how Gabby is treated by others. Gabby is French, born and raised, but is in Britain awaiting her first London Season. Her guardian is a British Lord who brought her from France to England so she could find herself a husband. At the time of this story, Britain is at war with France so tensions run high as soon as Gabby opens her mouth to speak. Because she is French and cannot hide her accent very well, many of the British people she comes into contact with spurn her immediately. Many refuse to see Gabby as Gabby and choose to see her as France. Painted with a broad stroke, Gabby is THE enemy on Britain’s soil. My heart hurt for Gabby. Of course, once people get to know her they mostly love her, but it’s the hate she always encounters, the ugliness spewed at her, that hurt me deeply. What struck me the most is how some characters hate just to hate. What a horrific, dark, sad life to choose to live when one hates just because. Imagine all one is missing out on. But Gabby is amazing. She never really lets anything get her down. She always extends an olive branch. When it is accepted, she is grateful and gives her whole heart to the relationship, but when it is not she just moves on. In this, I found Gabby to be quite a remarkable heroine!

Thawing the Viscount’s Heart is a really sweet read that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. If you are looking for a well-written, heartfelt Regency Romance that will also get you into a holiday spirit then Thawing the Viscount’s Heart is the book for you.

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on November 6, 2020, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Clean Wholesome Romance, Contemporary Clean Read, Inspirational

Nicole (2021)

About the Book

BookNicole

Author: Sarah Monzon

SeriesSewing in So-Cal novel, #3

Release Date: January 7, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Lit

Who has time to date when she’s trying to raise a miniature human by herself AND save the planet from its irresponsible inhabitants? Not to mention my winning personality (snort) and my curves-have-curves figure (eyeroll) don’t exactly attract the opposite sex. Unfortunately, none of these reasons have stopped my best friends and SoCal sewing sisters from taking on the archaic role of matchmakers, and they’re not beneath a little bribery if that’s what it takes to get my cooperation. Let’s just say everyone has their weak spot, and donations to my favourite charities is mine.

If I were to consider a romantic relationship, my dream guy certainly wouldn’t be immature, everything-is-a-game Dr. Drew Bauer. The man raises my body temperature faster than global warming does the Earth’s! But life seems determined to keep throwing us together, especially now that one of my SoCal sewing sisters is engaged to his best friend, in which case there can only be one of two outcomes:

1. I kill him in a fit of annoyance.

2. My common sense escapes me, and I fall in love with him.

Honestly, I’m not sure which would be worse.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

I’m not going to lie, I wanted to read this book simply because of its title. I love when I get to read about characters who have my name. I know that’s goofy, but I’m a goof! The fact that it’s a Sarah Monzon novel just guaranteed it was going to be a great read. Nicole was the super-fun, highly engaging read I needed to escape into this past Thanksgiving. It has everything I’ve come to love in Monzon’s writing — a fast-paced plot that kept me turning pages voraciously, well-crafted characters who are equal parts endearing, unique, and realistic, witty banter between the hero and heroine, and discussions on timely themes and ideas. Nicole is a great Contemporary Romance that I recommend wholeheartedly.

What I enjoyed the most about this story is the discussion on perception. Why are we humans SO quick to judge before getting to know someone? Why do we focus on physicality and skin color and hairstyle and fashion sense and sex appeal when we first meet others? There is a fantastic scene at the very beginning of the story where Nicole is judged immediately for her sex appeal and is found wanting. It is such an angry-making scene I wanted to jump into the novel and throat-punch the jerk-face judger. Of course, I didn’t jump into the book, I just forced my husband to listen to me as I discoursed on the fate of shallow, ignorant, self-focused men. He was thrilled to listen, I’m sure of it. Don’t stress about Nicole — she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and adequately putting this meanie-head into his proper place. But what I love about this scene is who is watching. Dr. Drew Bauer just so happens to be at this restaurant when this awful encounter ensues. He sees and hears everything and wants to pummel the guy for being so shallow and rude. Instead, Drew decides to be Nicole’s “date” once the rude man leaves her before their date ever really began. Drew and Nicole appear to be nemeses. Drew drives Nicole crazy because he loves to push her buttons. Drew is a doctor. Doctors observe, listen, test, and diagnose. Drew has discovered that what Nicole really needs is to lighten up and allow some fun into her life. But he didn’t come at this conclusion because of initial encounters. No, Drew took the time to get to know Nicole and realize that she needs her buttons pushed to get her out of her comfort zone — being serious ALL the time. Drew’s actions are a great reminder for all of us — we need to stop judging by initial meetings and shallow dictates and instead judge by the content of the whole package. Especially in today’s age, I feel this is a lesson we all must take to heart immediately. Our shallow perceptions are doing some really bad things to our society.

Nicole is a really fun and easy-going Contemporary Romance that will leave readers feeling satisfied and smiley. There’s introspection, reflection, and discussion on serious things. There’s laughter and button pushing and banter. And there is friendship and romance. Nicole has it all and I HIGHLY recommend this read.

Note: While Nicole is the third story in the Sewing in SoCal series, it is a stand-alone story and can be read easily without having to read book 1 and 2. However, I do recommend reading the books in order because Nicole and Drew’s at-odds-with-one-another relationship begins in book 1. At the very least, understand that when Drew sits down at Nicole’s table in chapter 1 it is not the first time they have met.

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Sarah Monzon, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Clean Wholesome Romance, Contemporary Clean Read, Inspirational

The Cul-de-Sac War (2020)

About the Book

BookThe Cul-de-Sac War

Author: Melissa Ferguson

Release Date: November 10, 2020

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. She’s had more jobs than she can count, and she plans to move as soon as the curtains fall on her less-than-minor stage role at The Barter—the oldest live performance theater in the US. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. Her dreams are coming true . . . until life at the theater throws her some curve balls. 

And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor. 

Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she can’t move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast. 

Bree isn’t the only one who’s a tad competitive, and Chip is more than willing to fight fire with fire. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson is, in my humble opinion, a perfect Contemporary Romance. This story is so engaging and engrossing I literally lost time. Reading hours passed in minutes. I absolutely adore Bree and Chip and their insta-attraction-hate-love relationship. I found the pacing between the insta-attraction to hate to friendship to admitting romantic feelings very well done. Nothing feels too soon or too unrealistic. The pranks Bree and Chip pull on one another were some parts shocking and all parts hilarious. This story made me laugh out loud, but it also brought tears to my eyes. The Cul-de-Sac War illustrates real life — life-like characters, real-life issues and struggles, and real-life mistakes — and I appreciated that in this fictional escape. It turns out, this story was the cathartic read I didn’t even know I needed. Truly, The Cul-de-Sac War is a must-read story!

There really is so much to love about this novel. Ferguson brings up several compelling themes. I particularly appreciate the discussion on the dream of life we have when we are young versus reality. When we are young, for the most part, we dream about the golden-age of adulthood. We imagine this golden-era of adulthood as being a rosy-colored time of prosperity, freedom, and friendship and love. We imagine amazing well-paying jobs, fun nights out with friends, and falling in love with “the one.” But reality is different. I’m not sure there ever is a “golden-age” of adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, there are some seriously amazing moments that take place during the adult years: meeting new friends, being promoted at your job, falling in love with your spouse, holding your child for the first time, etc. These are all amazing moments, but that’s all they are — moments. In reality, adulting is hard. It’s dealing with bills, illnesses, family turmoils, politics, waking up EVERY DAY to go to work, making dinner, budgeting, and recognizing that life is NOT stable ever. Chip, the superb hero of The Cul-de-Sac War, has dreams. He wants the house, the girlfriend, and the job. He is absolutely willing to put in all the hard work to get these things, but life constantly chooses to go against Chip’s perfect plans, and it’s so frustrating. But that’s the point. We humans are not in control. We live in a fallen, unstable world. The only thing we have control over is HOW we behave and act as life hits us in the face every day. While Chip does sort of understand this fact because life has hurt him some in the past, it is fun as the reader to watch as Chip navigates his life and his plans once he meets Bree. Boy, is his life turned upside down!

The Cul-de-Sac War is a seriously excellent Contemporary Romance. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s well-written, witty, hilarious, and romantic. It’s not standard fluff, but rather it’s full of substance. I implore you to purchase a copy today. You won’t be disappointed you did!

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christmas Lit, Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational, TBR Challenge

All is Mary and Bright (2020)

About the Book

BookAll is Mary and Bright

SeriesBelles of Christmas: Frost Fair, #2

Author: Kasey Stockton

Release Date: October 24, 2020

Genre: Sweet Regency Romance, Christmas Lit

He’s found the woman he wants to marry—it’s a shame she is already engaged to someone else.

Mary Hatcher traveled to London to procure a trousseau for her upcoming marriage. When she attends the Frost Fair and meets a different man that ignites her interest, she tamps down the unwelcome feelings. But when her host’s son arrives at dinner and she learns he is the man she met at the Frost Fair, she has a new challenge: she must spend the Christmas Season in the same house as him without falling in love. 

Andrew Bright, the Earl of Sanders can never live up to his father’s legacy, so why bother trying? When he runs into a charming woman at the Frost Fair and later learns she is his mother’s guest, he is overjoyed. At least, until he learns of her engagement. But friendship with her is better than nothing, until she threatens to push him into doing what he has long avoided—stepping into his father’s shoes.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Kasey Stockton has become my new favorite author. I discovered her excellent writing when I read The Jewels of Halstead Manor. I knew after that read I had to get my hands on more of her novels. When I saw she had a Regency Christmas novel releasing, I rushed to pre-order it immediately. Am I glad I did! All is Mary and Bright is an excellent read. I loved every minute of this story. The storyline is highly engaging, sweet, and satisfying. The characters are well-crafted, realistic, and unique. And the romance is perfect. It begins as a sweet attraction but slowly blossoms into something much more. This story had me smiling from ear to ear and it definitely helped me get into the Christmas spirit.

Andrew Bright is the best part of this story. He is tall, dark, and handsome. He is commanding and powerful when he needs to be, but he is also genuinely sweet and thoughtful. What makes Andrew the best hero is manyfold. First, he may be handsome and commanding as the Earl of Sanders, but he is truly just a book nerd at heart! Yes, I find this particularly swoony … and so does Mary, the heroine of our story. Andrew loves novels, loves visiting bookstores, and longs for a woman he can share his book thoughts with. How perfect is that?! Second, Andrew actually longs to do well by others. He wants to make the lives of others better. He wants to be like his father, whom he believes is the paragon of what it means to be a man. At first, Andrew feels like a failure in comparison to his deceased father, but comes to realize that what really matters is a heart that longs to serve. So, he begins to serve others to the best of his abilities and chooses not to be held back by what he thinks are his shortcomings. Finally, what makes Andrew an excellent hero is his attention to detail. Andrew is a man who watches, who sees things where others might not, and then he acts based on the information he has gathered. The best is how he grows to anticipate Mary and her feelings and needs. He really does become one of the sweetest heroes I’ve ever read. In my humble opinion, Andrew makes this novel a real winner!

There really is so much to love about All is Mary and Bright. This book packs a real punch in just under 250 pages. It’s a well-done Regency Romance that will keep the reader turning pages well into the night and will help get them into the holiday spirit. I highly recommend this wonderful story and look forward to reading more novels by Kasey Stockton.

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on October 23, 2020, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction

The Gentleman and the Thief (2020): A Blog Tour + My Thoughts

About the Book

BookThe Gentleman and the Thief

Author: Sarah M. Eden

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Release Date: April 7, 2020

A standalone novel in The Dread Penny Society set in 1865 London brimming with secrets, scandal, suspense, and romance.

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

Purchase Links

AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryBookshopBookbubGoodreads

About the Author

Sarah M. Eden

Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances, including 2019’s Foreword Reviews INDIE Awards Gold Winner for Romance, The Lady and the Highwayman, and 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, Healing Hearts. She is a two-time “Best of State” Gold Medal winner for fiction and a three-time Whitney Award winner. Combining her obsession with history and her affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting deep characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library.

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Advanced Praise

  • “The real joy in Eden’s follow-up to The Lady and the Highwayman (2019) is the furthering of the overarching crime story and the work of the Dread Penny Society as Hollis and Ana pursue a chaste romance. Eden excels at exploring the realities of Victorian life and class differences. Once again, chapters of penny dreadfuls written by the characters are interspersed throughout, with Hollis’ story about a school for ghosts offering particular delight. Fans of Eden’s smart series will be thrilled and impatient for the next installment.”— Booklist, starred review
  • “Every time I thought my racing heart just couldn’t take the suspense anymore, I’d turn the page and smile.”— Bookconfessions
  • “Eden writes it well, so thoroughly researched that you’re transported and in Victoria England. Great suspense and romance.”— Leslie, Books and Socks Rock
  • “Undeniably clever, suspenseful, well-researched, and deftly written…”— Katie Jackson, RegencyProofreading.com
  • “Charming, suggestive, and featuring rich historical details, The Gentleman and the Thief has the elements of a gritty, juicy penny dreadful.”— Foreword Reviews

My Thoughts

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden is a great read. I enjoyed every minute of this fun story and very much appreciated the escape it afforded me this week. The characters in this novel are the best! From upper-crust elites to devastatingly poor street urchins, and those with hearts of gold willing to do whatever it takes to save the lives of those less fortunate to those who relish belonging to the seedy underbelly of London society, this novel truly portrays a unique and well-crafted cast of characters sure to delight any reader. Hollis and Ana, our hero and heroine, clearly have chemistry very early on but are hesitant to declare their feelings because both are keeping some BIG secrets. But as they spend more time with one another, as they grow more comfortable in each other’s company, their relationship blossoms into something genuinely sweet and realistic. In addition to the excellent characters, I was thrilled to read more penny dreadful serials. In this novel readers are treated to two new installments — one a delightful romantic mystery and the other a super fun ghost story. I found myself as excited and engaged in these serials as I was in the main story.

Hollis is an excellent hero with a relatable issue. He is a full-fledged member of the Penny Dreadful Society, but because he’s not originally from the mean streets as the other members are he often feels like the outsider. And, it doesn’t help matters that his fellow PDS members only see him as a socialite. But what’s really frustrating to Hollis is that he doesn’t really belong to the upper-crust set either as his family coffers are basically empty. Hollis is a man without a place and he just doesn’t feel like he fits in anywhere — that is until he meets Ana. What I appreciate about Hollis is his need to be seen for who he truly is. Too often we judge others by what we see or hear, or by first impressions only, and we never really get to know the true person. What a shame this is! How many friendships might we be missing out on because we judge too hastily?

The Gentleman and the Thief is a fantastic Historical Romance/Suspense novel I highly recommend. It’s engaging, it’s fast-paced, and it’s so much fun. Purchase yourself a copy today — you won’t be disappointed that you did!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Shadow Mountain Publishing, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


BLOG TOUR INFO

Join the virtual online blog tour of THE GENTLEMAN AND THE THIEF, Sarah M. Eden’s highly acclaimed second novel in The Dread Penny Society series, November 2 through November 29, 2020. Forty popular blogs specializing in historical mystery/suspense, historical romance, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with exclusive excerpts, spotlights, or reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.

BLOG TOUR STOPS

Nov 02 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review) 

Nov 02 The Lit Bitch (Excerpt) 

Nov 03 Getting Your Read On (Review)

Nov 03 Literary Time Out (Review)

Nov 03 Storybook Reviews (Review)

Nov 04 Heidi Reads (Review) 

Nov 04 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Spotlight)

Nov 05 Library of Clean Reads (Review) 

Nov 06 Relz Reviewz (Review) 

Nov 07 Probably at the Library (Spotlight)

Nov 08 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review) 

Nov 09 So Little Time… (Spotlight)

Nov 09 Captivated Reading (Review) 

Nov 10 Among the Reads (Review) 

Nov 10 Bookworm Lisa (Review) 

Nov 11 For Where Your Treasure Is (Spotlight)

Nov 11 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review) 

Nov 12 Books, Teacups & Reviews (Spotlight)

Nov 12 Fiction Aficionado (Review) 

Nov 13 Randi Loves 2 Read (Spotlight)

Nov 14 The Book Diva’s Reads (Spotlight)

Nov 15 My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)

Nov 16 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

Nov 17 Book Bustle (Review) 

Nov 18 Jorie Loves a Story (Review)

Nov 18 An Historian About Town (Review) 

Nov 19 Lu’s Reviews (Review) 

Nov 20 Reading with Emily (Review)

Nov 20 Books and Socks Rock (Review)

Nov 21 Bringing Up Books (Review)

Nov 21 Bookish Rantings (Review) 

Nov 22 The Bibliophile Files (Review)

Nov 23 Impressions in Ink (Review)

Nov 23 A Bookish Way of Life (Review) 

Nov 24 Bookfoolery (Review)

Nov 24 Wishful Endings (Excerpt)

Nov 25 Chicks, Rogues and Scandals (Review) 

Nov 25 Joy of Reading (Review) 

Nov 26 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

Nov 27 Fire and Ice (Review)

Nov 27 Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Nov 28 Impressions in Ink (Review)

Nov 28 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Nov 29 Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Posted in Christmas Lit, Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction, TBR Challenge

Her Silent Knight (2020)

About the Book

BookHer Silent Knight

Series: Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair, #1

Author: Ashtyn Newbold

Release Date: October 10, 2020

Genre: Sweet Regency Romance, Christmas Lit

For Selina Ellis, a crowded fair held on the frozen surface of the Thames is the perfect opportunity to meet with her secret suitor—the son of her family’s solicitor—without being caught. But when an acquaintance from her childhood, Sir Edmund, discovers their courtship, a bargain is struck. In order for Edmund to keep her secret, she must convince her mother to allow him to stay in their home for Christmastide, where he will be close enough to keep watch on her and her secret suitor…a man of whom he strongly disapproves.

Though he hadn’t planned on staying in London longer than his grandmother’s funeral, Sir Edmund cannot leave an innocent young woman like Selina in the grip of a man as manipulative as Mr. Skinner. Loyal to his new purpose, he sets out to thwart Selina’s efforts to marry Skinner, unleashing a rivalry between himself and Selina. When she matches his subterfuge with ease, and Skinner threatens to destroy all he has, Edmund must take a new approach—one with more risks than it’s worth.

As Selina’s feelings for Edmund shift from enmity to friendship, her uncertainty grows. She must choose whether love is worth sacrificing her pride. And Edmund must choose whether the price of his silence is worth losing his heart.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Her Silent Knight by Ashtyn Newbold is the first story I’ve read by this author but it will not be the last. This Regency Romance is a great read and fully put me in a holiday mood. I was so thoroughly engaged in the narrative that I read it in under 24 hours. I found the characters to be well-written, unique, and relatable. The romance between Selina and Edmund is sweet and grows naturally and realistically over the course of the story. I especially LOVE the witty banter between the hero and heroine. I have to admit I laughed out loud a couple of times! And, I appreciate the historical details. I have never heard of London’s Frost Fair, but it sounds like it was a once-in-a-lifetime historical event. I can only imagine the trepidation one felt walking on the frozen Thames. Personally, knowing my luck, I would have been the person to step on the one crack that would send me into the depths of the river. LOL!

Edmund is an excellent hero and my favorite character in this story. He is tall, dark, and handsome. He is literally a knight who will rescue Selina from certain peril! Edmund is a planner. He is aware that Selina has unknowingly found herself in a romantic predicament and so he makes a plan to save the day. But that plan doesn’t work the way he wants or in the best interest of Selina, so he takes a step back and plans better. I love this! It was fun to see Edmund’s brain in action and it was awesome to see him re-work his plan to better help the woman he comes to love. I also really appreciate Edmund’s sacrificial nature. Early in the story, we see that Edmund is trapped in blackmail. This blackmail involves Selina. Of course, it’s a seriously frustrating scenario for Edmund. How do you help someone when helping directly leads to you getting hurt? This is the question Edmund has to wrestle with in this sweet story. I will not spoil a single second of his journey through this pickle; however, I will say that Edmund truly is a knight in shining armor and it’s really fun to watch him save his fair maiden from a very persistent dragon.

Her Silent Knight by Ashtyn Newbold is a highly engaging, fast-paced, Regency Romance that I highly recommend. I had so much fun reading this story and can’t wait to read book 2, All is Mary and Bright. If you are in the mood for a lovely Regency Romance that will get you into the holiday spirit then Her Silent Knight is the book for you!

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on October 9, 2020, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction, TBR Challenge

The Lady and the Highwayman (2019)

About the Book

BookThe Lady and the Highwayman

Series: Proper Romance Victorian, #1

Author: Sarah M. Eden

Release Date: September 2, 2019

Genre: Victorian-era Romance

Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1830s Victorian London. She is also a well-respected author of ”silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories–the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Charles King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats, intelligent detectives solving grisly murders, and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Charles King started taking all of his readers. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the social and political causes of their working-class readers. The group knows King could be an asset with his obvious monetary success, or he could be the group’s undoing as King’s readership continues to cut into their profits.

Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. As a fellow-author, she is well-known among the high-class writers; perhaps she could be persuaded to make some inquiries as to Mr. King’s whereabouts? Elizabeth agrees to help Fletcher, if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered. What neither author anticipated was the instant attraction, even though their social positions dictate the impossibility of a relationship.

For the first time Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

What a fun read! In The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden the reader is actually treated to three books in one. The main narrative follows Fletcher Walker and Elizabeth Black, both notable authors in their own right. By day, Fletcher is a popular penny dreadful author who pens tales about street urchins and the ugly, sinister monsters out to get them. Pulling from his own childhood, Fletcher is never without a good yarn to tell. By night, however, Fletcher and his noble Penny Dreadful Society members do all they can to right the wrongs against the most vulnerable populations in London — the very poor, the very orphaned, and the very downtrodden. Over on the better side of the tracks, Miss Elizabeth Black is headmistress of a school for middle-class girls. Her goal is to give her students the opportunity to succeed in a world where they really don’t fit in — they aren’t quite poor enough to be considered urchins, but they certainly aren’t wealthy enough to be part of the elite. Elizabeth, however, is willing to do all she can to keep her students and her school afloat. While her students are all tucked into bed fast asleep, Elizabeth stays up late into the night penning penny dreadfuls herself, loving every minute of it and praying no one discovers her secret. Because if anyone in Society ever found out she wrote such lowbrow literature her school would be done quicker than you could say, “kill the canary!”

My favorite aspect to this story is the character of both Fletcher and Elizabeth. To say they are both brave would be an understatement. Fletcher was born and raised on the mean streets of London. His number one goal in life is to produce enough money through his penny dreadfuls so he can take care of the many children who find themselves in situations that he luckily absconded from. Fletcher’s entire life is dedicated to saving young street boys and girls from beatings, starvation, misuse, homelessness, and prostitution. Elizabeth’s character is quite the same. Although she did not grow up in a situation like Fletcher’s, she knows what it is to lose social standing. Elizabeth is not afraid of hard work and sacrifice, and she does just that in this story. What I love the most about Elizabeth is her ability to sacrifice her safety and security for the sake of one destitute and abused child. She doesn’t need the boy’s backstory. Knowing that a child is in danger and in need of her help is enough to throw Elizabeth into action. The world would be a much better and safer place if there were more Elizabeths and Fletchers in it.

As I said above, readers are treated to three stories in one in The Lady and the Highwayman. Book two and three in this novel are actually the penny dreadful serials by Fletcher and Elizabeth. I won’t go into detail in regards to these two story lines because they are delightful and I don’t want to ruin a thing about them. But, I will say that I am incredibly impressed. I can only imagine how intense it is to write one novel, but to write three unique plots in one book is quite the feat! I thoroughly enjoyed reading “The Vampire’s Tower” and “The Lady and the Highwayman.” I found both stories to be unique, engaging, suspenseful, and fun. And, I love how each serial shows a little bit more into the hearts and character of both Fletcher and Elizabeth.

The Lady and the Highwayman is a fun story and I’m really sad my time with Fletcher and Elizabeth is up for now. I definitely look forward to book two in this series, The Gentleman and the Thief, due to release on November 3. If you are a fan of penny dreadfuls, Victorian Romances, and/or just plain good storytelling then The Lady and the Highwayman is the book for you!

I purchased an eBook copy of this novel from Amazon.com on September 2, 2019, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Clean Read Romance, Clean Wholesome Romance, Contemporary Clean Read

As Easy as Cherry Pie (2020)

About the Book

Book:  As Easy as Cherry Pie

SeriesJustin Harbor #2

Author: Bell Renshaw

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: August 4, 2020

Maggie Petten has perfected the perfect pie—at least that’s what everyone who tastes her confections says. After years of hard work and thousands of pounds of sugar and flour, she’s presented with an opportunity to see her business grow. One that might just be too much for her tiny shop to handle.

Fletcher Knight can’t say no to those in need. When his father died, he found himself not only in charge of the family’s contracting business but also his younger brother. Certain he was prepared for the challenge, Fletcher learns the hard way that his kindness might be his weakness. After a few financial hits, the family business and his life are close to ruin, but once again, he finds it impossible to resist Maggie Petten.

Maggie isn’t in a position to be picky, but is she ready to work with Fletcher? After all, he was her worst (and best) first date experience a year ago, but his silence since then speaks volumes. Can she risk a few weeks of discomfort working with the man who might still own a slice of her heart if it gets her closer to her dream? Or is it safer to let the dream go?

When the project begins, discomfort is only the beginning. Things turn from awkward to disastrous leaving Maggie and Fletcher questioning their working relationship and more. As they work to overcome the difficulties and setbacks life and business throws at them, they begin to realize their differences make them a great team and together their success may cross from professional to personal.

Journey back to the small, coastal town of Justin Harbor, Oregon and let the warm, salty air surround you as this couple trips and stumbles into love.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

In several reviews I’ve seen for As Easy as Cherry Pie by Bell Renshaw, I’ve noticed one repeated sentiment — if you are a fan of Hallmark then you will love As Easy as Cherry Pie — and I absolutely agree. This novel has all the signature features of a solid, wholesome Hallmark tale. There is a sweet, engaging plot set in a cozy, tight-knit community. There’s a highly intelligent, very talented, big-hearted heroine and a handsome, compassionate, heart-of-gold hero. And, of course, there is a memorable cast of secondary characters that add, in their own unique ways, that extra charm always found in good Hallmark flicks.

Unfortunately, while I did appreciate As Easy as Cherry Pie, I do have to admit that I struggled a bit. First, I am not a fan of Hallmark story lines. I know, I know, that’s crazy to admit but it’s true. I find Hallmark formulaic and I often get bored. My true issue with this story, however, is the relationship between Maggie and Fletcher. For most of the story, Maggie and Fletcher are so awkward with one another that the tension becomes uncomfortable. I never truly felt passion or real chemistry from either one of them. Both characters internally recognize that they like one another, but it never seems to play out in the story. There’s just too much miscommunication or no communication between the two, immature missteps that don’t make sense for a 28 and 31 year old to make, and odd fights between the two that made their love story feel less like a love story and more like a couple forcing the issue. I’m so disappointed that I didn’t love this story as I have loved every other novel/novella that Ms. Renshaw has written. I just needed Maggie and Fletcher’s relationship to have a little less conflict and a little more zing.

Please don’t let my struggles with Maggie and Fletcher’s relationship keep you from enjoying this novel, especially if you are a fan of Bell Renshaw’s stories. As I stated above, As Easy as Cherry Pie is definitely a home run for Hallmark fans. If you love a good Hallmark story then As Easy as Cherry Pie is the novel for you.

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Bell Renshaw, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Clean Read Romance, Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction

The Jewels of Halstead Manor (2020)

About the Book

Book:  The Jewels of Halstead Manor

Series: Ladies of Devon #1

Author: Kasey Stockton

Genre: Sweet Regency Romance

Release Date: March 22, 2020

She can only stay as long as the invalid needs her… so he makes it his business to need her forever.

When a cryptic invitation brings Giulia Pepper to her uncle’s remote estate in Devon, she arrives in dire need of a benefactor, only to discover that her uncle never sent her any invitation—nor does he want her there. Forced into a corner, Giulia must contrive a way to convince him to allow her to remain, just long enough to figure out where to go next.

Nicholas never asked for an earldom, but when an aged lord arrives at his door and tells Nicholas that he is next in line for the title, he willingly goes to Halstead Manor to learn the role. But someone isn’t pleased with the heir, and after a gunshot wound in the arm, Nicholas must discover who is out to get him.

When Giulia stumbles—literally—over a fallen man on the lane to Halstead, she has her answer: she can stay at Halstead and nurse her uncle’s heir back to health. But as mystery builds and danger mounts, will Giulia and Nicholas be able to solve the puzzle before the Earl forces Giulia to leave for good? And furthermore, can they manage to work together without losing their hearts in the process?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

I have just discovered a new-to-me writer and I must voraciously read all her books! For all those interested, the author is Kasey Stockton. If you have not heard of her, I HIGHLY recommend checking out all of her novels. The other night I just happened to see an ad for The Lady of Larkspur Vale on one of my social media platforms. The cover intrigued me so I immediately went to Goodreads to check it out. The premise sounds pretty good, but I saw it is book 2 in a series. Naturally, I had to check out book 1, The Jewels of Halstead Manor, because I cannot knowingly begin a series in the middle. That just doesn’t work for me. The Jewels of Halstead Manor sounded so good to me that I bought it right then and there from Amazon and devoured the story in three days. If it were not for my full-time job there is a good possibility I would have had this book finished in one 24-hour period, it’s that excellent a read!

There really is so much to love about The Jewels of Halstead Manor. It’s a Sweet Regency Romance, which means the reader gets to escape into a unique historical time period and the romance is swoony and filled with passion, but there is none of that bedroom stuff happening. I’m all for realism in my books, but I am definitely not into voyeurism. I found the characters well crafted. I adore Guilia’s character. She is independent, strong-willed, and highly intelligent, but she is also incredibly self-aware and can be vulnerable when she needs to be. Nicholas is one of my favorite types of heroes and he pairs very well with Guila’s wit, verve, and sense of adventure. Nicholas is handsome, charming, and intelligent, but what I love the most about his character is his ability to truly see Guilia. He pays attention, he listens, and he isn’t afraid to ask her the probing questions she needs to answer for herself. In addition to the hero and heroine, The Jewels of Halstead Manor boasts a lively cast of secondary characters who bring spunk or friendship or mystery to the storyline, and make the story all the more rich. I also appreciate the topic of self-reliance. Guilia is beholden to no one. She is a woman who can stand on her own two feet. She asks when she needs help, but she never takes advantage. And when life brings her surprises that scare her a little, she runs to no man. She stands tall and takes the next right step. This illustration of self-reliance is my most favorite aspect to this superb Regency Romance.

I could go on and on about The Jewels of Halstead Manor, there really is that much to love about this book. It’s highly engaging and hard to put down. If you are a fan of well-written Sweet Regency Romances then I highly recommend The Jewels of Halstead Manor. For now, I’m going to go check out all of Ms. Stockton’s novels and may purchase one or two or all of them! LOL!

I purchased a review copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon on August 13, 2020, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.