Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot – Book Review

Standard

PreludeForALord.cover

Prelude for a Lord is a Christian historical romance set in Bath, England. At twenty-eight, Lady Alethea Sutherton has no plans to marry. The unconventional, awkward young woman instead spends her time playing the violin – a scandalous instrument for a woman to play – and dreaming of turning thirty, receiving her inheritance, and escaping to Italy where her love of music will be understood. Lord Dommick is a music-loving Baron who cannot escape the terrors of his years spent fighting the French or the gossip that hounds his family. When an unknown thief goes to extreme lengths to obtain her violin, Alethea turns to Lord Dommick to find out what secrets it holds.

As an enormous fan of Jane Austen, I am always looking for good reads from the Regency period. Even though I have read a number of books from this time in British history, I had never encountered a plot that revolves around the distinctions between suitable and unsuitable musical pursuits for women of this time. This novel also takes place in Bath, rather than London, and I enjoyed the fresh setting and subject matter.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book. The romance unfurls slowly enough that it feels natural, and Alethea and Dommick are two characters that I felt would naturally be drawn to each other. The problems that separate them are also realistic without being boring, the characters are flawed enough to feel honest, and the plot contains just enough action to keep it interesting without taking away from the romance of the two characters. Ms. Elliot is obviously a talented author, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

This was a delightful read that I will be enjoying again. If you love clean Regency reads or historical romance with a hint of danger, give this one a try!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from all purchases made through these links, which allows me to buy more books and keep blogging!

Duty: a novel of Rhynan – Book Review

Standard

DutyFinalCoverRedoA

Tomas Dyrease, the newly made Earl of Irvaine and the village of Wisenvale, owes his good fortune to his king and the recent civil war. When his benefactor demands Tomas marry the cousin of a noble, he obeys. However, no one warned him that she wasn’t a typical noblewoman.

Brielle Solarius struggles to keep her village from starvation under the new Lord Wisten, her cousin. The men rode off to war and never returned. The remaining women and children face a dire winter if they do not find a solution soon. When she learns her cousin sold her into marriage to save his life, she isn’t surprised. However, she is taken aback by Lord Irvaine’s unpolished ways. Was this man a noble or a foot soldier?

Bound by the words of their vows, they face a rough future. They must forge a marriage while battling betrayal, accusations of treason, and villains from the past. Survival depends on their precarious trust in each other. Failure could mean death.

Rachel Rossano is one of the authors that I have randomly discovered through social media. To this day I have no idea who first recommended her, but after reading and enjoying one of her novellas and a short story, I am glad that I found her work.

Duty is an adventurous fantasy story with danger, adventure, and romance. From the very first page I found myself drawn into this world, cheering for Brielle in the difficult circumstances in which she finds herself. What I liked most about this book was the level of description. All the senses are engages as you hear the sounds, see the sights, and smell the smells of Rhynan. And while this is a fantasy book set in a well-developed world, it does not include any of the magic elements that can be controversial for some readers.

The plot, the characters, and the setting were great. There were only a few minor things that I did not like about this novel. The main issue is that, with so many characters, it is hard to keep track of them – especially as the characters travel a lot and separate into different groups. Also, at the very beginning I wondered what direction the story was headed. (The book begins with the main character discovering that her hand has been given in marriage to a man she has never met, so you can imagine where that could go…) Thankfully, the author is careful in her descriptions and “fades to black” at the appropriate moments.

If you are looking for a new fantasy read with adventure and romance, Duty is a great beginning. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from all purchases made through these links, which allows me to buy more books and keep blogging!

The Midwife – Book Review

Standard

TheMidwife

Since the day Rhoda Mummau was baptized into the Old Order Mennonite Church and became the head midwife of Hopen Haus, she’s been torn between the needs of the unwed mothers under her care and her desire to conceal the secrets of her past. Contact with the outside world could provide medical advantages, but remaining secluded in the community gives her the anonymity she craves.

Graduate student Beth Winslow is on a path she never would have chosen. Heartbroken after surrendering a baby to adoption, she devotes herself to her studies until she becomes pregnant again, this time as a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy—and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen House.

Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives to the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her past and those she thought she had left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.

I can count the number of Amish and Mennonite books that I have read on one hand. (Actually, I think the grand total before this book was two.) I’m just normally not a fan of the genre, so when I first saw the cover for The Midwife, I quickly glossed over it. But later, reading through descriptions of new releases, I was drawn to the story.

I have always found the concept of surrogate mothers to be interesting. What would it be like to shelter a baby in your womb, knowing that it wasn’t – and never would be – yours? The difficult situation that Beth finds herself in immediately drew me in, making me care about her character as I watched her struggle. At the same time, the pain and longing of Rhoda and Amelia’s situation encourage sympathy for their characters.

This was a beautifully written book with characters who were both well-developed and realistic. Choosing to write in the first person has allowed Jolina Petersheim a direct outlet between the emotions of the characters and her readers, and choosing not to wrap difficult subjects up in pretty bows lends realism to this story.

If I had judged this novel by its cover, I never would have read it. Now I’m glad that I didn’t let it stop me from discovering this journey. If you like Amish and Mennonite fiction or stories that make you think, I would recommend that you give The Midwife a chance.

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from all purchases made through these links, which allows me to buy more books and keep blogging!

Annie’s Stories – Book Review

Standard

Annie'sStories

The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.

Okay, the first thing that I have to say about this book is…. look at that cover! Now, most of the time I buy the Kindle version of books to save money, but sometimes I just have to have the paperback copy sitting on my shelf. I took one look at this gorgeous cover and fell in love with the colors, the setting of the photo, the model’s hairstyle… basically everything about it! Yep, this one is now sitting on my shelf.

So, now that I have elaborated on the cover, let’s get into what’s inside it! Basically this is the story of two very different people from different backgrounds who are trying to prove themselves in their own strength – one through establishing a library and the other through financial security. Both Annie and Stephen, the friendly postman, are orphans looking for love, acceptance, and a home. While Annie is an immigrant from Ireland who wants to start her life over and forget the horrible things that she endured in her native country, Stephen is an American who worries that he will turn out just like his father.

This was a sweet story that I found easy to get lost in. There were several things that I felt set it apart from other books of the period. First of all, I loved that so much of it was tied into The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. One of the very first conversations that the couple has is about the book, and as they are both avid readers I found it easy to connect with them. (How could you not like a guy who spends his spare cash on books?) And while this story does include a romance, it is not of the highly emotional variety. The two characters have only brief meetings, and it takes a while for them to forget the mistakes and hurts of their past enough to face the future. Personally, I found it refreshing to read a love story that, while sweet, was also more realistic that most. I also liked how much Irish culture was included. The author obviously put a lot of work into researching this story, and it definitely payed off.

If you love Christian historical fiction, Ireland, or learning about the conditions faced by immigrants definitely give this one a read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

The Story Keeper – Book Trailer

Standard

The Prayer Box has quickly become one of my favorite reads of this summer, and I am very much looking forward to reading Lisa Wingate’s next book The Story Keeper.

Successful New York editor, Jen Gibbs, is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing — until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk. Turning the pages, Jen finds herself drawn into the life of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men in the turn of the century Appalachia. A risky hunch may lead to The Story Keeper’s hidden origins and its unknown author, but when the trail turns toward the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place Jen thought she’d left behind forever, the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she’s willing to pay.

I love how this novel follows the same “format” as The Prayer Box (telling two parallel stories at the same time) but yet it has a completely different setting. I can’t wait to read it! What do you think? Are you excited to read The Story Keeper?

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission from all purchases made through these links, which allows me to buy more books and keep blogging!

Bridge to Haven – Book Review

Standard

BridgeToHavenCover

To those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra. Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.

To Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown. Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.

Over a year ago a friend who knew that I love Christian fiction suggested that I read some of Francine Rivers’ novels, particularly Redeeming Love. I added the book to my list, but it quickly got lost. (I have a LOT of books on that list!) Then when Bridge to Haven came out, I saw a lot of positive buzz about it. As I have mentioned previously, I tend to be a little cautious when approaching books that have received widespread praise, but I decided to give this one a try.

When I started reading Bridge to Haven, my only knowledge of the plot was the official synopsis posted above. With no expectations of the story, I was surprised at how many of the books pages were devoted to detailing Abra’s journey to Hollywood. Rather than chronicling her journey home or beginning at the height of her fame, the novel literally opens with her birth and includes the events that ultimately led her to seek life in the spotlight.

It was no surprise to me that Francine Rivers is a talented writer; the scenes in this novel are well-structured and descriptive. However, I did feel that at times they were too descriptive. Abra makes some less than wise decisions that lead to her burning important bridges. While I realize that it is important for the reader to understand these events in order to connect with the characters, I sometimes felt that too many details (particularly related to physical intimacy) were included for the Christian fiction market.

Overall, I felt that this was a well-written story. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Christian fiction, with the disclaimer that it does include some themes that might make conservative readers uncomfortable.

Favorite E-books on Sale – August 9, 2014

Standard

I love filling up my Kindle with e-books when they are on sale. Lately I have seen some of my favorites for unusually low prices, so I wanted to share them with you! Please note that these are the current prices as of today, but they could change at any time. Check the price before you buy!

415z76ViDUL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

As You Are by Sarah M. Eden

Price: $1.99

A horse breeder by trade, Corbin Jonquil is more at home in the stables than in the ballroom of his sprawling estate. Corbin is the quietest of the Jonquil brothers and has always faded into the background, contentedly unnoticed. When a mysterious young widow, Mrs. Clara Bentford, moves into the neighborhood, however, Corbin quickly comes to realize that being noticed has its advantages. But how to catch the eye of the lady? According to his brothers, Corbin need only make a few simple changes to transform himself into the object of any woman’s desire—dubious advice, indeed. Following a series of misadventures, Corbin and Clara slowly lower the facades behind which they’ve been hiding, leaving Corbin shocked by the horrors that haunt the woman he’s coming to care for so ardently. When the menace of Clara’s past threatens to tear them apart and tensions mount, will the couple have the courage to fight for the promise of forever?

I discovered Sarah M. Eden on the recommendation of another blogger and quickly became a fan of her witty writing style. Her Regency romances are written in the style of Jane Austen and include some of the most hilarious characters I have encountered in fiction. This book is the third in her series about the Jonquil brothers. If you would like to read the first two books in the series check out Friends and Foes and Drops of Gold.

51cJUbHmpQL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

The Kiss of a Stranger by Sarah M. Eden

Price: $2.99

When Crispin, Lord Cavratt, thoroughly and scandalously kisses a serving woman in the garden of a country inn, he assumes the encounter will be of no consequence. But he couldn’t be more mistaken— the maid is not only a lady of birth, she’s the niece of a very large, exceptionally angry gentleman, who claims Crispin has compromised his niece beyond redemption. The dismayed young lord has no choice but to marry Miss Catherine Thorndale, who lacks both money and refinement and assumes all men are as vicious as her guardian uncle. Trapped between an unwanted marriage and a hasty annulment, which would leave his reputation tainted and Catherine’s utterly ruined, Crispin begins guiding his wife’s transformation from a socially petrified country girl to a lady of society. Their unfolding relationship reveals encouraging surprises for both of them, and privately, each of them wonders if theirs may become a true marriage of the heart. But their hopes are dashed when forces conspire to split asunder what fate has granted, and as a battle of wits escalates into a life-threatening confrontation, will it be possible for Crispin and Catherine to live happily ever after?

This book, also by Sarah M. Eden has quickly become a favorite. Despite it’s title, it is a clean, enjoyable Regency romance. As an added bonus, the main characters make a guest appearance in As You Are!

519MeCr2oqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears

Price: 2.99

Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won’t humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again–not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, and it’s just not possible she’s there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she’s determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?

I became a fan of Ms. Jagears after reading her free prequel novella Love by the Letter. (I would definitely recommend downloading it!) I’m usually not drawn to westerns or mail order bride stories, but this one held my attention!

Disclaimer: Links in this post are affiliate links. Whenever you make a purchase through these links I receive a small commission which helps me buy more books to read and discuss on this blog!