Posted in Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational

Love and Lavender (2021)

About the Book

Book: Love and Lavender

Author: Josi S. Kilpack

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Release Date: November 2, 2021

Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, she was sent away as a child and, knowing her disability means marriage is unlikely, she devoted herself to scholarship and education.

Now working as a teacher in an elite private girls’ school, she is content with the way her story has unfolded. When her uncle Elliott Mayfield presents her with the prospect of a substantial inheritance if she marries, Hazel is offended. What kind of decent man would marry for her money? Besides, she loves her freedom as a professional, respected woman. When she hears rumors of the school possibly being sold, however, she knows she must consider all her options.

Duncan Penhale has a brilliant mind and thrives on order and process. He does not

expect to marry because he likes his solitary life, shared only with his beloved cat. When Elliott Mayfield, his guardian’s brother, presents him with an inheritance if he marries a woman of social standing, Duncan finds it intrusive. However, with the inheritance, he could purchase the building in which he works and run his own firm. It would take an impressive and intellectual woman to understand and love him, quirks and all.

Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, receive their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But when Uncle Mayfield stipulates that they must live together as husband and wife for one year before receiving their inheritances, Hazel and Duncan reluctantly agree. Over time, their marriage of convenience becomes much more appealing than they had anticipated. At the end of the full year, will they go their separate ways or could an unlikely marriage have found unsuspecting love?

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Advanced Praise

“What a lovely romance. The historical details, the depth of the authentic characters, and the realistic dialogue all contribute to an immersive story. [A] beautiful and inspirational story about loving people just as they are.”— Katie Jackson, Regency Proofreading

“Phenomenal. This book was phenomenal. The very best in the series.”— Lyssa Armstrong, For Where Your Treasure Is

“This love story was unique and such an uncommon take on a marriage of convenience! [S]weet and well worth the wait!”— Ashley Johnson, Bringing Up Books

“Beautifully written, sensitive, poignant addition to the Mayfield Family series.”— Susan K., The Flipped Page

About the Author

Josi S. Kilpack has written more than thirty novels, a cookbook, and several novellas. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Best Novel 2015 for “Lord Fenton’s Folly, and has been a Utah Best of State winner for Fiction. Josi loves to bake, sleep, eat, read, travel, and watch TV–none of which she gets to do as much as she would like. She writes contemporary fiction under the pen name Jessica Pack.

Josi has four children and lives in Northern Utah.

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My Thoughts

Love and Lavender by Josi Kilpack is a rare gem. Unique is the best word to describe this lovely story. From the storyline to the characters to the love story itself, I can honestly say I’ve never read a book quite like this one. Hazel is a beautiful woman, but a woman who never believed marriage could be an option. She has spent the majority of her life away from her family — a family who got rid of her because of a deformity. Duncan is not your typical hero. He is not selfless. He is not smooth and savvy. He doesn’t make a girl swoon. But in his own way, he is seriously perfect for Hazel. And, as it turns out (shockingly so to Hazel), Hazel is just the woman Duncan needs. Is this the most passionate of love stories? Nope. Is it a genuine love story? Yep, totally. Love and Lavender is a beautiful illustration of real love — the kind you have to work at every single day. The kind of love that doesn’t seem like love on the surface, but if you take a step back and really examine the relationship it so clearly is authentic. My most favorite aspect of this slow-burn romance is just how different the relationship is between Hazel and Duncan. They are not your typical romantic couple … and I LOVE this! It’s so refreshing to read about a couple who is truly unique. They are both broken people who have some hurts, hurts that have made them a little prickly and different. But hurts that have also made them strong, independent, and capable people. People who are strong enough to be the partners each one needs — even though it takes them some time to realize this fact. I like this story because not only is it one I won’t soon forget, but because I feel I can relate to it. I’ve read a lot of romance stories in my day, and while I always enjoy them, relating to them is sometimes difficult. I’m not rich, stunningly gorgeous, poised, or perfect. I have defects and flaws. I’m definitely not the heroine in a romance novel. And, that’s the cool thing about this novel — neither is Hazel. She’s one of the realest characters I’ve ever read. And so is Duncan.

Love and Lavender is the first novel I’ve read by Josi Kilpack, but it will not be the last. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this story and its characters. I cannot recommend this story enough. If you are in the mood for a high-quality, well-written, engaging Historical Romance that’s truly a unique read, well, then Love and Lavender is the book for you.

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.


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

The Inns of Devonshire (2021): Spotlight Post

About the Book

Book: The Inns of Devonshire: Timeless Regency Collection (Book 18)

Authors: Sally Britton, Annette Lyon, & Deborah M. Hathaway

Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction

Publisher: Mirror Press

Release Date: October 5, 2021

The Seventh Star Inn, by Sally Britton — After years of looking after one another, Susan Baxter and her mother view their neighbors in Totnes as family. When a new landlord inherits the leases on their homes and businesses alike, Susan dreads knowing her world could change at the whim of a stranger. But when she meets Collin Stonecroft and his inquisitive daughter, her feelings shift quickly from cautionary to hopeful. Collin has lived in the confines of London boarding houses all his life, and he’s determined to give his daughter more. They check into the Seventh Star Inn with plans to return to London as soon as possible, but both find Miss Baxter and her local history lessons far too enchanting to leave behind. When Susan learns of Collin’s proposed changes to her beloved neighborhood, will she be able to help him see that some things are perfect the way they are?

The Truth about Mr. Blackmore, by Annette Lyon — Leigh’s life at the Old Grey Inn is drudgery broken by flights of fancy thanks in part to novels by Simon Blackmore. When Mattias McGrady comes to the inn for a fortnight, Leigh captures his attention. A relationship develops, and she dreads the end of his stay, which will mean a return to an unhappy life. An urgent letter to Mattias leads to him inviting Leigh to an event that stands to change both of their lives forever. If all goes well, Leigh will have a life of her choosing after all. But half-truths and lies have a way of complicating matters. When their plans go awry, Leigh loses her reputation and Mattias almost surely loses his career. Can either of them find happiness?

The Coachman’s Choice, by Deborah M. Hathaway — Ever-reliable Mary Thorne has helped her widowed mother run The Golden Mermaid Inn for years. She spends her days greeting guests, ensuring the inn runs smoothly—and dodging flirtatious remarks from passing coachmen. But she’s far too busy to pay any attention to such men, even the enticingly attractive Mr. Northcott. Known far and wide for his horsemanship, punctuality, and dallying reputation, Robert Northcott relishes his life as a coachman, especially his freedom to flirt with numerous women from inn to inn, all without the messy details of commitment. There’s just one woman who’s immune to his charms: the lovely, single landlady of The Golden Mermaid. Robert is determined to win Mary over, just as heartily as she is determined to keep her distance from him. But his carefree life is threatened when his pursual of Mary becomes more than just a game.

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About the Series

Since 2015, Mirror Press has been publishing the Timeless Regency Collection, a curated anthology of novellas and short stories set in early 19th century England. Featuring bestselling authors from the historical romance genre, the series has hit the USA TODAY bestselling list and charted at #1 at Amazon.com. Learn more about the series and other anthologies published by Mirror Press at their website.

About the Authors

Sally Britton is a wife, mother, and author who loves the world of romance, received her BA in English from Brigham Young University, and reads voraciously. She started her writing journey at the tender age of fourteen on an electric typewriter, and she’s never looked back.

Sally primarily lives in Oklahoma with her husband, four children, and Izzie the Aussie Shepherd. She loves researching, hiking, and eating too much chocolate.

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Annette Lyon is a USA Today Bestselling author. She’s won a Whitney Award (2010) and is an eight-time recipient of Utah’s Best of State medal for fiction and short stories. She’s the author of more than a dozen novels, even more novellas, a cookbook, a grammar guide, and some 120+ articles. She’s worked as a professional editor for publishers and bestselling authors and graduated cum laude from BYU with a degree in English.

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Deborah M. Hathaway graduated from Utah State University with a BA in Creative Writing. As a young girl, she devoured Jane Austen’s novels while watching and re-watching every adaptation she could. She finds inspiration for her novels during her travels with her English husband to the United Kingdom, where she draws on the beauty of the country in such places as Ireland, Yorkshire, and her beloved Cornwall. Be sure to sign up for Deborah’s Newsletter to stay updated on new releases, free and discounted Clean Romance novels, and more!

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Join the virtual book tour of THE INNS OF DEVONSHIRE, a collection of novellas by bestselling authors Sally Britton, Annette Lyon, & Deborah M. Hathaway, October 4-17, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in Regency romance, historical romance, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of the release of the 18th book in the bestselling Timeless Regency Collection with a spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new anthology set in Regency England.

BLOG STOPS

Oct 04 Fire and Ice (Review)

Oct 04 Austenprose (Excerpt)

Oct 04 Timeless Novels (Review)

Oct 05 Lu Reviews Books (Review)

Oct 05 Beauty in the Binding (Spotlight)

Oct 05 For Where Your Treasure Is (Excerpt)

Oct 06 Probably at the Library (Review)

Oct 06 Our Book Confessions (Review)

Oct 06 Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Oct 07 Literary Time Out (Review)

Oct 07 Reading with Emily (Review)

Oct 08 Bringing Up Books (Review)

Oct 08 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

Oct 09 Becky on Books (Review)

Oct 09 Books and Socks Rock (Review)

Oct 10 The Christian Fiction Girl (Spotlight)

Oct 10 Heidi Reads (Review)

Oct 11 My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)

Oct 11 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review)

Oct 11 Wishful Endings (Review)

Oct 12 So Little Time… (Excerpt)

Oct 12 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Spotlight)

Oct 12 Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Oct 13 Austenesque Reviews (Review)

Oct 13 Storeybook Reviews (Excerpt)

Oct 13 Rosanne E. Lortz (Review)

Oct 14 From Pemberley to Milton (Spotlight)

Oct 14 Chicks, Rogues and Scandals (Excerpt)

Oct 14 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)

Oct 15 A Darn Good Read (Review)

Oct 15 Relz Reviewz (Spotlight)

Oct 15 Reading is My Superpower (Review)

Oct 15 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Oct 16 My Bookish Bliss (Review)

Oct 17 The Book Diva Reads (Spotlight)

Posted in Historical Fiction, Suspense

The Girl in the Painting (2021)

About the Book

BookThe Girl in the Painting

Author: Tea Cooper

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: March 9, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

A young prodigy in need of family. A painting that shatters a woman’s peace. And a decades-old mystery demanding to be solved.

Australia, 1906

Orphan Jane Piper is nine years old when philanthropist siblings Michael and Elizabeth Quinn take her into their home to further her schooling. The Quinns are no strangers to hardship. Having arrived in Australia as penniless immigrants, they now care for others as lost as they once were.

Despite Jane’s mysterious past, her remarkable aptitude for mathematics takes her far over the next seven years, and her relationship with Elizabeth and Michael flourishes as she plays an increasingly prominent part in their business.

But when Elizabeth reacts in terror to an exhibition at the local gallery, Jane realizes no one knows Elizabeth after all—not even Elizabeth herself. As the past and present converge and Elizabeth’s grasp on reality loosens, Jane sets out to unravel her story before it’s too late.

From the gritty reality of the Australian goldfields to the grand institutions of Sydney, this compelling novel presents a mystery that spans continents and decades as both women finally discover a place to call home.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

The Girl in the Painting by Tea Cooper is a phenomenal read. I was hooked from the first page and stayed up late several nights to keep reading. My favorite thing about this novel is that it is so unique and intriguing. This is actually my favorite thing about Tea Cooper’s novels — they are all so interesting and so different from anything else in literature today. Cooper takes seemingly insignificant things and turns them into the most captivating of stories. In this book, the reader is treated to a little romance, a ton of mystery, and a great illustration of what it means to be a family.

One of the things I suffered when I gave birth to my daughter was a brain bleed. The subdural hematoma occurred on the side of my brain that deals with language and memory. The first thing I had to overcome was a 64-day long migraine. Yes, it took 64 days for the migraine to dissipate. It was awful. Then, I had to relearn words. This was one of the most frustrating aspects to my recovery because I felt I knew the words — I could feel them hovering on the edge of knowing — but I couldn’t see or say them. My brain was a hazy fog. I also had to come to terms with all the memories I had lost. Random smells or pictures or sounds would make me feel like I should remember something, but for the life of me I could not figure out what it was. I would get so sad and depressed because I felt like my life had been stolen from me and I didn’t know how to get back on track. The brain injury also caused mood swings — one minute I would be totally normal, then I would be angry, then I would cry like a baby. All of this emotional upheaval would come suddenly and out of nowhere. I felt like I was taken hostage by a brain that needed healing and I had NO control or say over the healing process.

So why am I telling you all this? Because one of the characters in The Girl in the Painting suffers from repressed memories. When she was four, she went through something traumatic but her brain has been hiding the event from her for fifty years. I felt drawn to Elizabeth’s character because I can fully relate to her moments of frustration and mood swings caused by her lack of memory. To know something is wrong with you, but to not know what is excruciating and embarrassing. Cooper did a great job crafting Elizabeth’s character. As someone who personally dealt with memory issues, I can tell you this one facet of the story is spot on. I also have to admit to appreciating the sense of catharsis that came from reading this book. Some of the reactions and emotions that Elizabeth experiences, and then the way she acts after her memory-loss moments when she’s embarrassed by her sudden and seemingly out-of-character outbursts, made me feel so not alone. I wasn’t crazy when I was going through my episodes. I just had a hurt brain that needed to heal just like the protagonist of this story has.

I know my review is super personal and totally random, but I think it still reflects what a unique story The Girl in the Painting is. This book has it all — a well-written and highly engaging plot, mystery that kept me turning pages well into the night, and amazing attention to historical detail, so much so I felt like I was transported back in time to early 20th century Australia. This book is stellar and is not one you will want to miss.

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from Thomas Nelson Publishers 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, Historical Fiction, Suspense

The Merchant and the Rogue (2021)

About the Book

Book: The Merchant and the Rogue

Author: Sarah M. Eden

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Release Date: August 17, 2021

London, 1865

Vera Sorokina loves reading the Penny Dreadfuls and immersing herself in tales of adventure, mystery, and romance. Her own days are filled with the often mundane work of running the book and print shop she owns with her father. The shop offers her freedom and an income, and while she is grateful for the stability it brings to her life, she often feels lonely.

Brogan Donnelly was born and raised in Ireland, but has lived in London for several years, where he’s built a career as a penny dreadful writer. He has dedicated himself to the plight of the poor with the help of his sister. But with no one to share his life with, he fears London will never truly feel like home.

Brogan and Vera’s paths cross, and the attraction is both immediate and ill-advised. Vera knows from past experience that writers are never to be trusted, and Brogan has reason to suspect not everything at Vera’s print shop is aboveboard. When a growing criminal enterprise begins targeting their area of London, Brogan and Vera must work together to protect the community they’ve both grown to love. But that means they’ll need to learn to trust each other with dangerous secrets that have followed both of them from their home countries.

Purchase Links

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About the Author

Sarah M. Eden is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning Proper Romance series novels including The Lady and the Highwayman and Ashes on the Moor. Combining her passion for history and an affinity for love stories, Sarah crafts smart, witty characters and heartfelt romances. She happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library and dreams of one day traveling to all the places she reads about.

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My Thoughts

The Merchant and the Rogue by Sarah M. Eden wins my award for book with the most highlights. When I say there is so much to love about this story, I mean it! I’ve heartily enjoyed each novel in this series, but book #3 is my favorite. I found the plot wonderful and totally engaging. The characters are excellently crafted. It was fun getting to see many of the characters I grew to love in previous installments in The Merchant and the Rogue, and I really fell for the new characters, especially the children, Olly and Licorice. The relationship and romance that grows between Vera and Brogan are very realistic and relatable, and I felt it grew at a good pace. I also REALLY loved the many, many timely themes discussed in this story. As I said above, I highlighted this book like crazy. As much as I feel this book can be read and loved by anyone, I think it would really make a great book-club choice. It would lend to some good conversations.

Of the many, many wonderful topics discussed in this book my favorite is the idea of taking a stand against evil. Of the three stories told in this book, two of them deal with a very, very “bad” guy. In the main story, it’s actually a cabal — a group so heinous they are able to manipulate and threaten community members, friends, and family against fellow community members, friends, and family. In the penny dreadful, the main character, Tallulah, must battle a fear dearg — a demon — or lose her very life. In both stories, the solution to the heroes’ and heroines’ conflicts is clear — stand and fight no matter how scary the situation appears. In both stories, the main characters begin their quests against evil by bringing the community together, by showing one another that they have each other’s back. Once the community realizes they are not in the fight alone they are more than willing to do what is necessary to take back their communities and their lives. I LOVE so much this illustration of good, regular people coming together to fight against an evil that initially seems too big to be defeated. I feel like today we good, regular people are in the fight for our very lives too, but unlike the characters in this excellent story, we are forced to fight this battle alone. It makes me sad, but reading this book has given me some hope. I just need to find my fighting community.

The Merchant and the Rogue is an excellent story. One I highly recommend. If a well-written Historical Romance filled with suspense and intrigue sounds like the read you need then I highly recommend this excellent story.

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.


Special Offer

Please help Sarah M. Eden get her latest novel, THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE, to hit the New York Times best-seller list by purchasing a copy between August 15-22, 2021.

Everyone who submits a copy of their receipt and fills out the form during the week of August 15-22 will receive The Merchant and the Rogue – Swag Bundle. Supplies are limited, so act today. Please visit the Swag Bundle webpage for details.


Blog Tour Stops

Join the virtual book tour of THE MERCHANT AND THE ROGUE, Sarah M. Eden’s highly acclaimed historical romance, August 16-29, 2021. Thirty-five popular on-line influencers specializing in historical romance, mystery/suspense, and inspirational fiction will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in London, England.

Aug 16 Among the Reads (Review)

Aug 16 Austenprose (Review)

Aug 16 Reading is My Superpower (Review)

Aug 17 Literary Time Out (Review)

Aug 17 Getting Your Read On (Review)

Aug 17 Heidi Reads (Excerpt)

Aug 17 Laura’s Reviews (Review)

Aug 18 Our Book Confessions (Review)

Aug 18 Bookworm Lisa (Review)

Aug 19 Fire & Ice (Review)

Aug 19 From Pemberley to Milton (Excerpt)

Aug 20 My Bookish Bliss (Review)

Aug 20 Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)

Aug 20 Storeybook Reviews (Excerpt)

Aug 21 Bookish Rantings (Review)

Aug 21 The Calico Critic (Review)

Aug 22 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)

Aug 22 Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt)

Aug 23 My Jane Austen Book Club (Spotlight)

Aug 23 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Review)

Aug 23 Reading with Emily (Review)

Aug 24 Wishful Endings (Review)

Aug 24 Relz Reviewz (Review)

Aug 24 The Book Diva Reads (Excerpt)

Aug 25 Bookfoolery (Review)

Aug 25 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)

Aug 26 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)

Aug 26 Nurse Bookie (Review)

Aug 27 So Little Time… (Excerpt)

Aug 27 Probably at the Library (Review)

Aug 27 Bringing Up Books (Review)

Aug 28 Books and Socks Rock (Review)

Aug 28 The Bibliophile Files (Review)

Aug 29 Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)

Aug 29 A Darn Good Read (Review)

Posted in Clean Wholesome Romance, Historical Fiction, TBR Challenge

With Love, Louisa (2021)

About the Book

Book: With Love, Louisa

SeriesLarkhall Letters #3

Author: Ashtyn Newbold

Release Date: July 14, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance

An innocent letter is only dangerous when it falls into the wrong hands.

Louisa Rosemeyer is a lady with no money, no parents, and, regrettably, no husband. Left with no place to go, she writes a letter to her aunt, Mrs. Irwin, asking for an invitation to live with her. Ever cautious and optimistic, Louisa hopes the trip will bring the new beginning she has been searching for.

After being forced out of his childhood home, Jack Warwick lets Mrs. Irwin’s house, happy to be away from his family and their many squabbles. Haunted by his past, he drowns his loneliness in drink, and with it, his better judgment. When a letter arrives at his new house, addressed to the previous occupant, Mrs. Irwin, from her niece, Jack writes an incoherent reply, inviting the young lady to come stay…an event which his drinking causes him to forget.

When the chaos surrounding Louisa’s untimely arrival at Jack’s house causes a scandal, there is only one way to mend her reputation: Marriage. As Jack’s feelings for Louisa grow, he realizes there is only one way to mend himself: To be loved by Louisa. Devastated to be married to a near stranger, and a scoundrel at that, Louisa closes off her heart. She has always planned to marry for love. But she quickly learns that love has plans of its own.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

There is so much to love about With Love, Louisa by Ashtyn Newbold. Each novel in the Larkhall Letters series just keeps getting better and better. In this installment, we get Louisa’s story. Louisa is Alice’s sister, the heroine from book 1, and Bridgette’s best friend and companion, the heroine from book 2. At the start of this story, Louisa is in a predicament. Her sister is newly married and expecting her first child. She is also living on a fixed income and doesn’t have the room to take in Louisa. Bridgette is also newly married and has moved away from Larkhall. This leaves Louisa alone at Larkhall with Matthew, Larkhall’s bachelor owner. While Matthew is like Louisa’s brother in many ways, he isn’t biologically related. As innocent as their relationship is, Society will never accept Louisa’s living in Matthew’s home as anything appropriate as long as she is just Matthew’s sister’s best friend. So, Louisa decides to write to a distant relative in the hopes that this woman has room for her in her home. Louisa receives a letter back from whom she believes is her relative granting her permission to come live with her. Louisa is off on a new adventure. Along the way she encounters Jack Warwick and her life changes in an instant.

As I stated above, there is a lot to love about this book. The plot is excellent. Again, I felt compelled to read this story well into the night. I was highly engaged right from the beginning and hated to have to put it down. The characters are all excellently crafted. I feel like both Louisa and Jack are highly relatable and very endearing characters. What I appreciate the most, though, is the discussion about forgiveness. Jack is a man who lives with bone-crushing and soul-sucking guilt and shame. When he was a teenager an accident occurred on his family’s estate and he has completely and totally blamed himself ever since. Jack has even gone so far as to separate himself from his family entirely, and he drinks and gambles to dull the pain. In a nutshell, at the start of this story, Jack has basically hit rock bottom. Then he meets Louisa and his life changes in an instant too. After a super quick wedding, Jack finds himself married to a woman he does not deserve. Louisa is too good for him and he doesn’t know what to do, how to think, what to tell her, etc. Slowly, he comes to really love Louisa, but the guilt and the shame he carries refuses to abate. He takes two good steps forward in becoming the man he thinks Louisa deserves only to take ten steps back once he allows his guilt and shame to get the better of him. Everything comes to a head, and he finally confides in his wife. She asks him the BEST question, “Have you asked for forgiveness?” I love this question. We humans get so caught up in the idea of being too bad for forgiveness that we often forget that sometimes all it takes to achieve forgiveness is to ask for it. How many of our hurt relationships could be fixed if all we did was open our mouths, admit our feelings and failings, and ask for forgiveness?

With Love, Louisa is a highly engaging, unforgettable love story. I am so glad I took the time to read this book. If you are in the mood for an excellent Regency Romance then I highly recommend With Love, Louisa by Ashtyn Newbold.

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on July 23, 2021, 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 Captain’s Confidant (2021)

About the Book

Book: The Captain’s Confidant

SeriesLarkhall Letters #2

Author: Ashtyn Newbold

Release Date: February 27, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance

An accidental letter, a long-lost love, and a slew of secrets.

For as long as Bridget Northcott can remember, she has loved her brother’s closest friend, Colin Foster. She loved him long before he grew up, became Captain Foster, and long before he left her behind for a life at sea. Although she knows her feelings will never be returned, Bridget cannot help but turn away every suitor in the hopes that one day Colin will come back to Larkhall and see her for what she has grown up to be—refined, elegant, and the precise opposite of the silly girl he once knew.

When winter brings Colin’s unexpected return, he too has changed. Once carefree, he is now cold, hard, and distant. Determined to unravel the mysteries of Captain Foster, Bridget writes her thoughts in a note, one she never meant to send. As a hesitant friendship grows between them through their letters, Bridget determines to keep her heart uninvolved. But when her facade begins to break, she realizes the childhood silliness she abandoned might just be precisely what is needed to pull him back to shore.

Faced with a choice between loyalty and selfishness, love and letting go, Bridget must find the strength to confide her own secret in Captain Foster before the man she loved is lost forever. But there is only so much she can do when she discovers a match between them is what she has always feared—forbidden.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

OH. MY. WORD … this book is FANTASTIC! I loved every second I spent reading The Captain’s Confidant by Ashtyn Newbold. Everything about this story is so good, and it is truly a book I did not ever want to put down. In book one, The Ace of Hearts, readers meet Bridget, her brothers, Bridget’s companion and best friend, Louisa, and Miss Tabitha Terrell. We learn in book one from Bridget that her heart belongs to Captain Colin Foster and always will, which is an important fact that allows the heroine in book one the go-ahead to seek after the man who holds her heart. We also learn that Miss Tabitha Terrell is rather horrible. In fact, she is Bridget’s nemesis. This is important info that comes into play big time in The Captain’s Confidant. Because of this, I highly recommend reading book one first before reading The Captain’s Confidant. As much as I loved book one, I could not wait for Bridget and Colin’s story. I knew it would be excellent, but I was totally unprepared for just how deeply this book affected me emotionally. The chemistry and romantic tension between Bridget and Colin took my breath away. Their heartaches wrecked my heart and made me cry a few times. And as far as heroes and heroines go, Bridget and Colin are excellently written. I love their friendship, their deep loyalty towards one another, and their respect for each other’s present circumstances. I love how they always try to do the best thing, or what they perceive as the right thing, for one another. They are great examples of what it means to be a selfless friend. I also appreciate how they are not afraid to confront one another when issues arise and speak the truth when it needs to be heard. Bridget and Colin make each other better people — something we should all strive to have in our own lives: people who make us want to be better. My most favorite aspect of this novel is the amazing letters Bridget and Colin secretly pass to each other. I loved this! I would get as excited as the characters when another letter was waiting in their various secret hidey spots. I know this sounds goofy but I really found it super sweet and super fun, and I loved how it made me excited to get back to the story when I did have to put the book down for a minute or two.

I could go on and on gushing over this book, but then I definitely would spoil the story. I don’t want to do that because The Captain’s Confidant is an experience and I don’t want to ruin a single second for anyone. Suffice to say, this Historical Romance is outstanding. It is one I will not soon forget. If you are in the mood for an excellently written Romance with endearing and unforgettable characters then this is the book for you!

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on March 11, 2021, 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 Ace of Hearts (2020)

About the Book

Book: The Ace of Hearts

Series: Larkhall Letters #1

Author: Ashtyn Newbold

Release Date: April 14, 2020

Genre: Historical Romance

A secret venture, a regrettable love letter, and a heart he can’t afford to lose.

Faced with her stepbrother’s betrayal and an unwanted marriage, Alice Rosemeyer accepts an invitation to the estate of Larkhall. Determined to earn her future security without a husband, she begins operating as the anonymous Ace of Hearts, writing love letters on behalf of the men eager to secure a match at the close of the London season. If she can manage to keep her identity secret, her reputation intact, and avoid the arrogant house guest, Mr. Thomas Herring, she might just call herself successful.

When Thomas Herring’s sister marries an indebted man because of a love letter, he has no choice but to marry into money himself. Invited to stay at Larkhall, he sets his sights on the wealthy sister of his host. When she appears indifferent, he stumbles upon an advertisement: a gentleman offering assistance in matters of the heart. An ace, so he is called. But when he turns out to be she, and also a guest at the same house, his task is further complicated—especially as Alice proves herself to be as captivating as she is clever.

With reputations, secrets, and more than one heart at risk, Alice and Thomas become trapped in a game with no rules, a game neither intended to play. Had they been wrong to play love for a fool?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

I admit that I purchased The Ace of Hearts by Ashtyn Newbold because of its cover. It’s really pretty and it called to me. Then I read the back cover and knew I had to read this book ASAP. Unfortunately, life hit me hard and I completely forgot about this book until about a week ago when I was cleaning out my Kindle. I am sorry it took me so long to get to because The Ace of Hearts is a great story — a total Historical Romance #mustread! The Ace of Hearts is a great Historical Romance where the pages simply fly by! I hated when I had to put this book down. The enemies-to-lovers trope is not typically my favorite, but I really love how it’s utilized in this story. My issue with the trope stems from the harshness of the characters when they are enemies. It’s usually so in-your-face harsh that I struggle to believe when the hero and heroine finally fall for one another. But in The Ace of Hearts, the hero and heroine do something amazing — they actually communicate. And, not just at the 3/4 mark. They have genuine conversation and get to the bottom of their initial issues pretty early on in the story. Yes, there is still conflict and struggles they have to deal with as the story progresses, but the initial “enemy” feelings dissipate efficiently. It’s nice to read a story where the characters act like adults and clear the air early rather than drag out the hate through most of the plot. In fact, if more authors utilized the enemies-to-lovers trope as Ashtyn Newbold does in this book I would be inclined to read more of those types of books. There’s nothing more annoying than to read almost an entire book where the characters don’t communicate well and act immaturely towards one another only to find out their reason for hating one another is just a simple misunderstanding that could have been cleared up early on in the narrative. Another aspect that I loved about this story is how well Alice and Thomas problem solve together as friends. I know that sounds like a goofy thing to like, but for me it really works well in this story and adds to their friendship and romantic chemistry. Both Alice and Thomas have serious financial issues. They never whine or gripe about it. They vent to one another their concerns, but they never whine. I LOVE it! Instead, they act as friends and listen to each other. They come up with potential solutions. They talk things out. When things seem like they won’t work out, they encourage each other to not give up. Alice and Thomas’s relationship is a good illustration of what a great relationship looks like.

There is actually quite a bit more I could say about this lovely story, but instead I’m just going to highly recommend you pick up a copy of this novel ASAP if you haven’t already done so. If you enjoy a solidly good Historical Romance then The Ace of Hearts is definitely the book for you!

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on April 15, 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 Read Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational

Isabelle and Alexander (2021): A Blog Tour + My Review

About the Book

BookIsabelle and Alexander

Author: Rebecca Anderson

Genre: Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, Victorian Romance

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time to combine the upper-middle-class wealth of her father’s coal mines with Alexander Osgood’s prospering Northern country textile mills. Though not a man prone to romantic gestures, Alexander is well-known as an eligible bachelor. His good looks have turned more than one head, so Isabelle is content to think of herself as Alexander’s wife.

However, her marriage is not what she expected. Northern England is nothing like her home farther west in the lake country. Cold, dreary, and dark, the soot from the textile mills creates a gray hue that seems to cling to everything in the city of Manchester. Alexander is distant and aloof, preferring to spend his time at the mill rather than with her at home. Their few conversations are brief, polite, and lacking any emotion, leaving Isabelle lonely and desperately homesick.

Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander suggests a trip to his country estate. Isabelle hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know her new husband without the distractions of his business. But the change of scenery doesn’t bring them any closer. While riding together on horses, Alexander is thrown from his and becomes paralyzed. Tragedy or destiny? The help and care that Alexander now needs is Isabelle’s opportunity to forge a connection and create a deep and romantic love where nothing else could.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP| DESERET BOOKGOODREADS

About the Author

Rebecca Anderson is the nom de plume of contemporary romance novelist Becca Wilhite, author of Wedding Belles: A Novel in Four Parts, Check Me Out, and My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions. Isabelle and Alexander is her debut historical romance novel.

High school English teacher by day, writer by night (or very early morning), she loves hiking, Broadway shows, food, books, and movies. She is happily married and a mom to four above-average kids.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAMGOODREADS

Praise for Isabelle and Alexander

“Anderson’s first foray into historical romance is an atypical, yet satisfying story set in Victorian Manchester’s upper middle class. Hand this to readers looking for a book that navigates the peaks and valleys of two strangers attempting to make a life together despite the hardships life throws at them.”— Library Journal

“Isabelle transitions from an unaware, leisure-class woman to a more enlightened spouse and supporter of the working class. Intimacy and romance develop between Isabelle and Alexander because of simple gestures, like a long look or a thoughtful gift, and their conversations. Their slow, stately courting is reader appropriate for any age or audience. Manchester also gets its due as a place of grit and incredible production. Descriptions of bustling mills reveal their impact on the couple’s family and its fortunes. Isabelle and Alexander is an intimate and touching romance novel that focuses on women’s lives in the business class of industrial England.”— Foreword Reviews

“Isabelle must use her quiet spunk, busy mind, and compassionate spirit to woo her husband in a wholly new way. Anderson’s debut is a lovely northern England Victorian romance about confronting the seemingly impossible and the power of empathy. Anderson also addresses the time period’s treatment of physical and intellectual disabilities. Most of all, she beautifully depicts love in its many forms beyond romance, such as compassion, patience, and vulnerability; and her characters illustrate the ways that these expressions of love carry us through even the darkest hours. Isabelle’s loving and persevering fervor and devotion will resonate with any caregiver’s heart.”— Booklist

My Review

In the first discussion question at the end of this book the question begins with this statement: “Isabelle and Alexander is not a typical romance.” I wholeheartedly agree. Isabelle and Alexander is unlike any Romance novel I have ever read. This is a story of true love — of real and substantial love — and it is a novel I will never forget. I am blown away by the experience I just had with this story. It isn’t a case of, “I had all the feels,” but rather it is a case of, “I don’t even know how to describe the depth of all the feels I had!” I don’t know if that makes any sense, but truly this is a story that has made a lasting impression upon me.

I feel this story will resonate the most with someone who has experienced trauma early on in his or her marriage or other significant relationship. Isabelle and Alexander join in an arranged marriage and things are prickly from the very start. Then a very BAD accident happens and their already tumultuous marriage is literally tested beyond anything either one could ever imagine. Yes, this is certainly not your typical lovey-dovey romance. This story is hard and painful and frustrating and devastating, but it’s also filled with fight, courage, hope, awakening, and love. There is no flirty, witty dialogue. There are no sweet, longing looks across the ballroom dance floor. But there is choosing to love every minute, every day. There is choosing to respect rather than react every minute, every day. There is learning to put self aside and being present for a partner every minute, every day. And wouldn’t you know it, out of this hard work blossoms real, true, deep love. A fantastic TRUTH to share with readers! Reading Isabelle and Alexander is hard, not because it is slow-paced or boring, but rather because it confronts the reader with a mirror and in this mirror the reader cannot get away from evaluating his or her marriage (or a relationship in general if the reader isn’t married). It makes one stop and consider, “Am I in my relationship for me, for what I can get? Or am I a partner in my relationship working to better the relationship for the both of us?” I admit, this story had me seriously self-evaluating, which, to me, is a testament of truly outstanding literature.

Isabelle and Alexander is a powerful story about finding one’s self and discovering true, lasting love. This novel is a stellar example of masterful storytelling. I highly, highly recommend Isabelle and Alexander. This is a story you, dear reader, will NOT want to miss.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Shadow Mountain Publishers, 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 blog tour of ISABELLE AND ALEXANDER (Proper Romance Victorian), Rebecca Anderson’s highly acclaimed historical romance novel, May 3–16, 2021. Over forty popular blogs specializing in historical fiction, inspirational fiction, and Victorian romance will join in the celebration of its release with spotlights, exclusive excerpts, and reviews of this new Victorian-era novel set in Manchester, England.

Blog Tour Stops

May 03 Lu Reviews Books (Review)

May 03 Timeless Novels (Review)

May 03 Our Book Confessions (Review)

May 04 Literary Time Out (Review)

May 04 My Bookish Bliss (Review)

May 04 The Book Diva’s Reads (Excerpt)

May 05 Heidi Reads (Review)

May 05 Laura’s Reviews (Review)

May 05 Wishful Endings (Review)

May 05 Gwendalyn’s Reviews (Review)

May 06 Margie’s Must Reads (Review)

May 06 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen (Excerpt)

May 06 Relz Reviewz (Review)

May 07 Randi Loves 2 Read (Spotlight)

May 07 The Reading Frenzy (Review)

May 07 Nurse Bookie (Review)

May 08 The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)

May 08 The Bibliophile Files (Review)

May 09 Reading with Emily (Review)

May 09 Fire and Ice (Spotlight)

May 10 My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)

May 10 The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Review)

May 10 Booked Solid (Review)

May 10 From Pemberley to Milton (Spotlight)

May 11 Greenish Bookshelf (Review)

May 11 Captivated Reading (Review)

May 11 The Green Mockingbird (Review)

May 12 For Where Your Treasure Is (Excerpt)

May 12 Bookworm Lisa (Review)

May 13 Books, Teacups & Reviews (Spotlight)

May 13 Library of Clean Reads (Review)

May 13 Robin Loves Reading (Review)

May 13 So Little Time (Excerpt)

May 14 Eli’s Novel Reviews (Review)

May 14 The Lit Bitch (Review)

May 14 The Bluestocking (Review)

May 15 Reading Is My Superpower (Review)

May 15 Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)

May 15 A Darn Good Read (Review)

May 16 The Silver Petticoat Review (Excerpt)

May 16 CozyNookBooks (Review)

Posted in Historical Fiction, RomCom

Manor for Sale, Baron Included (2021)

About the Book

Book: Manor for Sale, Baron Included

Series: A Romance of Rank #1

Author: Esther Hatch

Release Date: February 25, 2021

Genre: Historical Rom-Com

She has everything Lord Farnsworth wants, including his manor.

Lord Farnsworth would rather rot in debtor’s prison than sell the one place that feels like home to him—his mother’s manor. That is, until he meets the woman who wants to buy it. Sally Duncan is beautiful, intelligent, and as rich as a baron—a rich baron, not a cash-strapped one like Lord Farnsworth. She’s the solution to every one of his financial problems and is bewitching to boot. All he needs to do is sell her his beloved manor and then charm her to the altar, and the manor will be his again. Simple, right?

But nothing is simple when Sally starts tearing apart his ancestral home and renovating it in a way no one would consider tasteful. She is wreaking havoc on everything, but he cannot give up on owning his mother’s estate again, nor can he imagine anyone but Sally as his wife.

And so he sticks with his plan.

What a horrible mistake.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Manor for Sale, Baron Included by Esther Hatch is fantastic. I loved every minute spent in this book and I am so sad that my time with these characters is over. This is the perfect Historical Rom-Com for a girl (or guy) to escape into. The story is fast-paced and highly engaging. I found I could not tear myself away from this book! The characters are well developed, unique, and relatable. Lord Farnsworth — John — is my new favorite hero. He is SO clueless and SO un-smooth when it comes to women it’s highly amusing. He has this notion that because he is a baron and he exists he should therefore be the natural choice for women to swoon over. What woman wouldn’t be attracted to him?! What John expects life to be and what life actually is are two completely different things, and it is HILARIOUS to watch him navigate his one-sided courtship. And the things he does to secure Sally’s hand — HILARIOUS! Seriously, I will never look at squirrels quite the same again. Read the story … you will die laughing at the squirrel part. Sally, too, is excellently written. She is the perfect heroine to John’s inept, but charming, hero. I love how strong Sally is. She is her own boss for sure and she will not let anyone walk all over her. She does her best to ignore John but his charming self wears her resolve down, and they become quite excellent friends … and then more than that. I have to say that the two kissing moments in this book are super swoony and made my heart quite happy for these two lovebirds. There is truly so much to love about this book, but for me, the comedy is the star. I found it to be so well written. I laughed out loud and had to re-read passages to my husband so we could laugh together. Manor for Sale, Baron Included is the first novel I’ve read by Esther Hatch, but it most definitely will not be the last. This story is excellent and I HIGHLY recommend it. If you are in the mood for a well-written, funny, and delightful Historical Rom-Com then make sure to check this book out ASAP.

I purchased a copy of this novel in eBook form from Amazon.com on March 26, 2021, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Historical Fiction, Inspirational

The Paris Dressmaker (2021)

About the Book

Book: The Paris Dressmaker

Author: Kristy Cambron

Release Date: February 16, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquartersBut when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

Told across the span of the Nazi occupation, The Paris Dressmaker highlights the brave women who used everything in their power to resist darkness and restore light to their world.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron is not an easy read. It’s heavy and weighs on the reader like a thick cloak. Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a bad story or a boring read. Not even in the slightest. It’s just heavy and tense; it places the reader into the heart of Paris during Nazi occupation and doesn’t let up. This is a fully immersive read where the reader becomes a character experiencing the intensity of tyrannical authoritarianism. The Paris Dressmaker is a story that won’t let the reader go even after the final page has been read. It makes the reader think, it makes the reader compare the current day to the scary days of Nazi rule, and it makes the reader contemplate the future as an individual in a modern era that seems to be mimicking at supersonic speeds the mistakes of the past. The Paris Dressmaker is a story that has deeply affected me and has left me a little wrecked. The end of this novel is SO hope-filled and SO good, but it has left me wondering if there are any brave men and women in my day, like Sandrine and Lila, who will stand up and fight the darkness that is here, that is coming at breakneck speed, even though doing so goes against the loud majority. The Paris Dressmaker is not an easy read, but I believe it is an absolute must-read story.

The Paris Dressmaker is a complex, yet highly enjoyable, narrative. It is set-up to follow two main heroines as they experience Nazi-occupied France between 1938-1944. Time jumps a lot in this story between 1938-1944, so the reader must focus and pay close attention or details could be missed. The characters are brilliantly crafted. Sandrine and Lila become very real almost immediately. What I love most about both women is how relatable they are even though they come from very different worlds, and deal with very different challenges. Some issues transcend place and time, and this definitely goes for the very scary things both women have to deal with. My favorite thematic point is the one Sandrine deals with throughout the entire story — being brave enough to do what is right even when what is right looks wrong or goes against Society. Doing what is right is often a more difficult thing to do, but it’s really the only way to go. The Paris Dressmaker is an excellent historical novel in that the research is superbly done. I learned so much from this story. I had no idea about the “kept” Parisian women who felt it was safest to enter into relationships with German soldiers, I had no idea about the men and women who worked tirelessly in the FFI, and I had no idea people took it upon themselves to catalog all the stolen art and artifacts the Germans were pilfering from Parisian Jews in the hopes that one day they could return the stolen works. My eyes were truly opened to the plight of all Parisians at this time — rich, poor, old, young — and I could feel the tension and fear and hatred they felt towards the terrifying Nazis. Cambron definitely creates an amazing sense of place in this story. I don’t feel like I read history, I feel like I lived it.

There is so much more that could be said about The Paris Dressmaker. Honestly, this review can’t begin to do this book justice. It’s just that amazing a novel. If you are a fan of excellently written Historical Romances with an amazing sense of time and place, then I HIGHLY recommend The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron. This book is AMAZING!

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