Thursday, September 21, 2017

Love Remains

Love Remains
By Sarah M. Eden

Since the accident that left his younger brother blind, Tavish O'Connor has been trying to hold his family together. Desperate to help Finnbarr, and to restore hope to all of his family, he sends for a teacher for the blind. Cecily Attwater, who starting losing her own sight as a child, knows that she can help Finnbarr--if he and his family, proud Irishmen who dislike her for her for being an Englishwoman will let her. While she and Tavish butts heads at first, their mutual goal of helping Finnbarr draws them together, but even as they become closer, they know the animosity between the Irish and the English will make a future impossible.

I have been waiting for this book for years! (Tavish was my favorite character in the first two books in the series, so I've been waiting for him to have a chance to find love.) I was a little worried about the book and if it'd be as satisfying as I hoped, and it totally was. I loved seeing Tavish and Cecily come to understand each other and help each other. It was hard seeing the O'Connors, who I love, treat Cecily the way they did, as well as seeing Finnbarr (who might be my second favorite character in the series) be so broken initially, but I thought it was realistically written. I loved the humor in it, in spite of darker themes and situations. I hope there will be many more books in this series, and I can't wait to reread this one!

5 stars.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Love and Other Consolation Prizes

Love and Other Consolation Prizes
By Jamie Ford
When the World's Fair comes to Seattle in 1962, Ernest Young's reporter daughter JuJu wants to know more about Ernest's connection to the first World's Fair (then called the Alaskan Yukon Pacific Expo) held in Seattle in 1909. As he faces his daughter's questions, as well as dealing with his wife's health issues, Ernest reflects on his early life--when he, a half-Chinese, half-white immigrant, was a raffle prize at the fair. When the winner--the owner of a brothel--claims him, Ernest finds himself with a family of sorts for the first time and in love with two girls--Maisie, the daughter of the brothel owner, and Fahn, a Japanese servant. This book was absolutely engrossing. In some ways it's not an easy read, seeing the heartache and hardship in Ernest's life, as well as the experiences of Fahn and Maisie. It's a sobering look at the way Americans essentially kidnapped Asian people and auctioned them to the highest bidder and at racism, hypocrisy, and more. However, it's also so much more than that, with a collection of unforgettable characters and relationships. It looks at human nature, and at survival, and at love, and it's so well-written, alternating between Ernest's early life and his life in 1962. I was a little nervous about how it was going to end--but I loved it. Ernest is one of those characters you just fall in love with, and his story is definitely worth reading.
5 stars.



 Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for allowing me to read an ARC. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Dangerous Legacy

A Dangerous Legacy
By Elizabeth Camden

Lucy Drake, a telegraph operator for the Associated Press, and her brother Nick have been caught up in a family feud for years--their grandfather invented a plumbing valve that his brother ended up making a fortune off of. Lucy and Nick, following in their father's footsteps, want the valve to be used to help everyone, not have the price so high only the rich can afford it, and they're in a legal battle with their uncle, aunt, and cousin, over the family legacy. Although it means sacrificing just about everything, Lucy is determined to see the battle through to the end.

Sir Colin Beckwith, a British aristocrat who heads up a rival news agency, needs to find a wealthy wife in order to save his family's estate, Whitefriars--which means he has no business getting involved with Lucy, who doesn't have at the fortune necessary to save his crumbling home. But as he learns about Lucy's family battle--and the larger secrets her foes are hiding--he can't help but becoming involved.

 I've read all of Elizabeth Camden's books, and while I have enjoyed all of them, this one is my favorite. It was fascinating. The plot was so interesting, with twists and turns and historical tidbits that made me want to learn more (like the completion of the AP's Pacific Cable and the controversy over whether to build a canal through Panama or through Nicaragua); there was a fair bit of action and it kept me guessing about how things would play out. I loved the banter between Lucy and Colin; they made me laugh so many times. It's fast-paced and entirely gripping. I highly recommend this one. 5 stars.

 I received a free copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Heart on the Line

Heart on the Line
By Karen Witemeyer

When Grace Mallory's father uncovers evidence that a rich silver mine owner isn't actually his father's true heir, he is determined to give the evidence to the Pinkertons. Before he can, however, he's murdered and Grace has to find a way to hide herself--and figure out what evidence her father possessed. She finds safe harbor in Harper's Station, a women's colony, and sets up her life there working as a telegraph operator. Through her work, she becomes "friends" with a fellow operator, Mr. A. Although she has never met him in person, their after-hours telegraph conversations are dear to her. And when word comes down the line, Mr. A--Amos Bledsoe--shows up in Harper's Station to help the woman he's never met. Drawn to "Miss G" through their conversations, Amos has wanted to meet her--and when he realizes she's in danger, he heads out immediately to help her. Meeting her in person, he finds she's everything he hoped and more, and he'll do anything to keep her safe.

 I love all of Karen Witemeyer's books, and my favorite tends to be whichever one I just read, but this one might be hard to top. There are so many wonderful things about this book. I love the fact that Amos isn't the typical hero--he's not the strongest, handsomest guy around, but he just might be the sweetest. I love how he uses his strengths to help Grace. Grace is a terrific protagonist. I loved seeing their growing relationship and their friendship as they work to solve the mystery and try to keep Grace safe. The plot kept moving quickly and was very interesting, with twists and action and suspense; I love how the telegraph played such a big role. (Side note: one cool thing about the Harper's Station series is seeing women in their professions.) I also really, really, really loved the side-story with Helen. I can't say more without spoilers, but it was a great subplot. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wholeheartedly recommend it.

Although this is the second book in a series, you don't have to read the first one for this to make sense...but you should read the first one because it's a great book, too.

Friday, July 7, 2017

All That Makes Life Bright

All That Makes Life Bright
By Josi S. Kilpack

When Harriet Beecher and Calvin Stowe wed, they find that their different personalities and styles make adjusting to married life more difficult than they anticipated. Although they love each other deeply, they have different expectations and styles; Calvin thrives on order and thriftiness and wants his wife to develop her homemaking skills, while Hattie wants time to work on projects, especially her writing, and doesn't particularly care for cooking, cleaning, or other household tasks. Is there a way for Hattie to be true to herself and still care for her family?

I enjoyed the romantic aspect of this book and thought it was realistic in portraying the struggle to make a marriage work. While a lot of romances focus on the relationship before marriage, it was interesting to see how to develop and nurture love after the wedding. While there was a more serious, darker tone, to this book than a lot of romances (due to the worry and heavy feelings of Hattie and Calvin as they struggle to make their marriage work), I found that to be refreshing and realistic--and ultimately, hopeful, because relationships aren't all sunshine and roses, and they do take work and effort and sometime they're just hard. I think Kilpack did a great job conveying the struggles and emotions, particularly Hattie's struggles with feeling like she's losing herself as she tries to care for her family. Very well done.
4.5 stars.
I read an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Romancing Daphne

Romancing Daphne
By Sarah M. Eden

Daphne Lancaster is used to being ignored and rejected, so she isn't anticipating Lord Tilburn's attention to her--even though she has admired her since a brief encounter with him, in which he was kind to her, when she was twelve. So when he seems interested in her, she's inwardly thrilled--but when she finds out that his father forced him into a courtship with her, she is heartbroken. For his part, James never intended to court Miss Lancaster; he agreed to be civil and pay a little attention to her; when his father threatened to cut off not only his funds but his brother's and mother's as well, James is torn, knowing it's not fair to a young lady to have someone forced into caring for her but also wanting to take care of his family. When he finds himself coming to know Daphne, he finds that she is delightful, but the truth of how his attentions began threatens to ruin everything. James must find a way to convince first Daphne's formidable brother-in-law, the Duke of Kielder, who will not allow anyone to hurt his family, and then Daphne herself that he can be trusted.

I was a little apprehensive as I started this book, because Adam (the Duke of Kielder) is such a forceful character, that he would take center stage and Daphne would be overshadowed--and indeed, at the outset, it almost felt like the book was more about Adam than Daphne (at least in the chapters from James' POV). However, as the book progressed, I got to see more and and more of Daphne and Adam was moved to the sides more--which was brilliant because it realistically depicted how James's perspective and emotions shifted. I loved having another glimpse of Adam--he's one of my favorite characters and I laugh out loud at some of the things he says--but I also liked seeing both Daphne and James find their voices. This is another excellent book from Sarah M. Eden! Can't wait for more!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart

Miss Whitaker Opens Her Heart
By Jennifer Moore

Daniel Burton is sent to New South Wales as a convict--but when he arrives, he's pardoned and given the chance to become a landowner instead.He is grateful for his fresh start and is determined to make the most of it. He is intrigued by his neighbor, Sarah Whitaker, who arrived in Australia as a child and has become a successful businesswoman on her own. She seems a constant contradiction. While she has a strong dislike for the native people and convicts, believing them incapable of truly changing, Daniel also sees more in her--but can their fledgling feelings survive the truth of Daniel's background?

I think what I like most about Jennifer Moore's books is that she takes a familiar time period (Regency era) and brings in a different location. It's so interesting to see what life was like in other parts of the world during that era. I also liked seeing how Sarah had become who she was--and also how she began to change. Another great book from Jennifer Moore.

4 stars.

 I read a copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.