Sunday, May 2, 2021

A Proper Scoundrel by Esther Hatch

A Proper Scoundrel 
By Esther Hatch 
Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: May 10, 2021 

As the successful owner of multiple railroad lines, Diana Barton is all too accustomed to fending off suitors seeking to stake their claim on her wealth. In order to keep the wolves at bay, Diana has contrived the perfect plan: appeal to the most notorious rake in London, the Baron Lord Bryant, to ruin her reputation and scare off the worst of the time wasters. The ruse will be no hardship—she’s secretly been fascinated by the man for years. 
Lord Bryant is well aware of his questionable reputation. Indeed, he has cultivated the image carefully, and the last thing he wants is a wife. But when he’s approached by the younger sister of a business associate, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he cannot help. However, when he sees for himself what she is up against, Bryant grudgingly offers his assistance. Faced with his most complicated entanglement yet, Bryant is firm in his conditions—and Diana knows that to get romantically involved with Bryant would spell certain heartbreak. But as the counterfeit couple grow ever closer, the line between truth and lies becomes blurred, threatening both Lord Bryant’s well-laid plans and the future of Diana’s railroad business.

EEK! I've been looking forward to reading this book for so long, and it didn't disappoint. This book is easily one of my favorites of the year and one that I want to reread immediately! I've been eager to read Lord Bryant's story and get to know him better; he was such an intriguing character. Seeing his back story and why he did the things he did was so interesting. Diana Barton was also a terrific character. I loved seeing her determination to run her railroad business and how capable and intelligent she was. The two of them were perfect together; every interaction was just so much fun to read. I loved how they teased each other but also challenged and supported each other. I loved the whole book, but the final couple of scenes were especially fabulous. I adored everything about this book! 
5 stars. 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher/author. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright (Blog Tour)


Join the virtual blog tour of A CAPTAIN FOR CAROLINE GRAY (Proper Romance Regency), Julie Wright’s highly acclaimed historical romance novel March 1 – 28, 2021. Over forty 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 an English ship bound for India!

Caroline Gray's third season in London society ends as badly as her first two—no marriage proposal, no suitor, not even a glimmer of an interested prospect. She suspects it's because she is far too quick to speak her mind to men who are put off by her forthright opinions, her eager intellect backed by a formal education, and her unconventional ideas about the future. She is far more daring than demure to suit the taste of her class. Besides, Caroline thinks there will always be next season to find a husband. 
However, her family's dwindling income leaves Caroline with only one choice to secure her future: a one-way ticket to sail with the Fishing Fleet to India, where the son of a family friend waits. If the match doesn't work, Caroline cannot return home. 
Captain Thomas Scott loves the thrill of the open sea, and as commander of one of the ships of the Fishing Fleet, he ferries scores of young English girls to the shores of India to find husbands. The voyages pay well, but he struggles to understand why families would allow young women to be matched with total strangers so far away. 
The trips have always been routine and uneventful—until this trip's first night's dinner with one Miss Caroline Gray. She engages in a lively political conversation, presenting opposing viewpoints to the conventionally opinionated gentlemen at her table. Captain Scott is secretly amused and delighted at her boldness, not to mention quite drawn to her beauty. 
The rest of the passengers are shocked by her behavior and Caroline finds herself an outcast, suffering harsh judgments from the other passengers. However, she finds an unlikely ally in Captain Scott which quickly draws them closer. 
Both know an arranged marriage awaits Caroline at the end of their voyage, yet the attraction between them is undeniable. Caroline will have to decide if she will honor her mother's wishes and marry a man in India whom she has never met, thus securing a future for her and her mother, or be brave enough to throw convention to the wind and commit to love a sea captain. He may be enchanted by her bold and unconventional ways, but will his love and admiration last? 

My Review: 
This is another great book from the Proper Romance line. Although enemies who fall in love isn't one of my favorite tropes, I really enjoyed it in this case. It was a little reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice, with Thomas having preformed opinions about women who travel to India to make a match in general and then Caroline in particular, and Caroline quickly disliking Thomas. Caroline was an engaging protagonist, and I could really empathize with her struggle as she felt she had to choose between being herself and being accepted. As for Thomas, there were a few times I wanted to smack him upside the head (it certainly took him long enough to apologize when he needed to!), but his stubbornness made him realistic and I appreciated how he wasn't put off by Caroline's intelligence and strong opinions. Having their interactions take place on a ship bound for India was a refreshing break from the typical Regency setting; I really enjoyed seeing some details of ship life. I do wish a bit more of the book had taken place in India itself, though; it would have been really interesting to get a better feel for the culture and customs at the time. The ending felt a little rushed, but all in all, I found this book to be well-written and very satisfying. 4 stars. I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

Advance Praise
"A charming historical romance in which smarts and sass are vindicated."— Foreword Reviews 
"…a delightful, not exactly traditional Regency romance. Teen readers will enjoy this adventurous journey with its proactive heroine and exotic settings."— Booklist, starred review 
"An unconventional woman finds herself at home at sea in this stirring Regency from Julie Wright…This adventure is sure to entice fans of historical romance."— Publishers Weekly

About the Author:
Julie Wright wrote her first book when she was fifteen and has written over twenty novels since then. She is a Whitney Awards winner for best romance with her books Cross My Heart and Lies Jane Austen Told Me, and she is a Crown Heart recipient for the novel The Fortune CafĂ©. 
 She has one husband, three kids, one dog, and a varying amount of fish, frogs, and salamanders (depending on attrition). She loves writing, reading, hiking, playing with her kids, and watching her husband make dinner. She hates mayonnaise.



BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE                   

  • March 01      My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt)
  • March 01      Austenprose — A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
  • March 02      Storeybook Reviews (Review)
  • March 02      Lu Reviews Books (Review)
  • March 02      Bookworm Lisa (Review)
  • March 03      Probably at the Library (Excerpt)
  • March 03      Our Book Confessions (Review)
  • March 03      Lady with a Quill (Review)
  • March 04      The Caffeinated Bibliophile (Review)
  • March 04      Fire & Ice (Review)
  • March 05      Literary Time Out (Review)
  • March 05      Among the Reads (Review)
  • March 06      Books and Socks Rock (Review)
  • March 07      Encouraging Words (Excerpt)
  • March 08      So Little Time… (Review)
  • March 09      For Where Your Treasure Is (Review)
  • March 10      Laura’s Reviews (Review)
  • March 10      My Bookish Bliss (Review)
  • March 11      Heidi Reads (Review)
  • March 12      Reading with Emily (Review)
  • March 13      The Christian Fiction Girl (Review)
  • March 14      Silver Petticoat Reviews (Excerpt)
  • March 15      Austenesque Reviews (Review)
  • March 16      The Lit Bitch (Excerpt)
  • March 16      Greenish Bookself (Review)
  • March 17      Inkwell Inspirations (Review)
  • March 18      A Darn Good Read (Review)
  • March 19      Relz Reviewz (Review)
  • March 20      Book Confessions of an Ex-Ballerina (Review)
  • March 20      Christian Chick’s Thoughts (Review)
  • March 21      Jorie Loves a Story (Review)
  • March 22      From Pemberley to Milton (Review)
  • March 23      Gwendalyn’s Books (Review)
  • March 23      Historical Fiction with Spirit (Review)
  • March 24      Captivated Reading (Review)
  • March 24      Books, Teacups, & Reviews (Excerpt)
  • March 25      Roseanne E. Lortz (Review)
  • March 26      Cup of Tea with that Book, Please (Review)
  • March 26      Randi Loves 2 Read (Review)
  • March 27      Library of Clean Reads (Review)
  • March 28      The Bibliophile Files (Review)

A Captain for Caroline Gray: Proper Romance Regency, by Julie Wright

Shadow Mountain Publishing (March 2, 2021)

Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (336) pages

ISBN: 978-1629728469



Monday, March 22, 2021

Until Vienna by Heather B. Moore


Until Vienna (Romance on the Orient Express #3) 
By Heather B. Moore 
Published by Covenant Communications 
Publication Date: April 1, 2021 

Georgina Ballard has been disappointed in love more than a few times, a fact that she is uncomfortably aware of amid her sister’s wedding preparations. When her elderly aunt Rowena bids Gigi to accompany her on an art tour across Europe, Gigi hesitates but eventually resigns herself to the train journey alongside a group of aged art connoisseurs, if only to mollify her aunt. 
Once aboard the Orient Express, Gigi is pleased to discover that not everyone on the tour is in their twilight years: Clyde Haskins, an energetic young art professor from the University of London, will serve as the group’s tour guide. Clyde is equally intrigued that a young lady has joined the tour, and Aunt Rowena and her friends immediately set out to play matchmaker. Clyde and Gigi both find humor in Aunt Rowena’s antics despite knowing that each is determined to keep their heart carefully guarded. Yet, the enchantment of their European exploration weaves an undeniable spell between them. When their journey ends, can their holiday love story endure the obstacles of real life? 

I really liked the setting as well; the glimpses of the Orient Express made me want to go book a spot in a sleeper car and the stops on the art tour had me longing to go on a tour of my own. I also enjoyed seeing Gigi and Clyde fall for one another. I didn't love the main conflict in their romance; I won't give away what it is in order to avoid spoilers, but my personal preferences have always made this type of conflict one that I just don't care for. However, I did like how Clyde finally got to the point of reconciliation and the conclusion of the book. This is a good choice for those looking for a sweet historical romance. 
3.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Prince of Spies (Hope and Glory #3) by Elizabeth Camden

Prince of Spies (Hope and Glory #3) 
By Elizabeth Camden 
Published by Bethany House 

 Luke Delacroix has the reputation of a charming man-about-town in Gilded Age Washington, DC. In reality, he is secretly carrying out an ambitious agenda in Congress. His current mission is to thwart the reelection of Congressman Clyde Magruder, his only real enemy in the world. 
But trouble begins when Luke meets Marianne Magruder, the congressman's only daughter, whose job as a government photographer gives her unprecedented access to sites throughout the city. Luke is captivated by Marianne's quick wit and alluring charm, leading them both into a dangerous gamble to reconcile their feelings for each other with Luke's driving passion for vital reforms in Congress. 
Can their newfound love survive a political firestorm, or will three generations of family rivalry drive them apart forever? 

If I introduced this book by saying an important element of the plot was the actions that led to the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, I'm not sure many people would be interested--and yet, Elizabeth Camden has made it fascinating in this book. Luke's work on the "Poison Squad," where volunteers ate food additives to test how safe they were (or, weren't) and his concerns about food safety were so interesting! Marianne's job as a photographer working for the government was also really interesting, particularly how she was photographing the area that would become the National Mall. All the historical details were woven into the story so well, and I loved reading all of them. The characters were great as well, Luke as he's trying to serve a purpose and Marianne as she struggles with her family secrets. Their romance was fun but also sweet, as they helped each other and brought out the best in each other. Great book! 
4 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Monday, February 1, 2021

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

A Dance in Donegal 
By Jennifer Deibel 
Published by Revell 

To fulfill her mother's dying wish, Moira Doherty moves from Boston to the rolling green hills of 1921 Ireland to teach in a village school. She doesn't expect to fall in love--or to uncover a scandalous family reputation her mother left behind years ago. 

The strongest aspect of this book was the look at Irish culture--the language and the customs were beautifully conveyed. The setting was really, really well written. The plot, however, didn't quite work as well as I hoped it would and there seemed to be inconsistencies that just weren't developed enough to make them feel plausible. For instance, Moira is initially welcomed by a local family--despite them knowing Moira's mother's scandalous secret--and yet, when Moira aids one of her sick students, Aedach, a young man, they suddenly take that a sign that she's immoral and shun her. As for the sick young man, the interactions with him frankly confused me; I never really understood how old he was supposed to be. On the one hand, it was scandalous that she was alone in his home with him, but on the other hand, he's referred to more than once as a child. So, the community's reaction to Moira helping him was confusing as well; if she's helping a sick child, why would anyone be upset about that? If he's not that young, like on the verge of finishing up school and it's truly improper for Moira to be helping him, why aren't others more willing to help? There's a sexual assault in the book that felt somewhat contrived, like it was thrown in without a good enough reason, particularly as the repercussions for it (both what happened to the perpetrator and how the victim would really have to deal with it) weren't addressed. When Moira's "secret" is finally revealed, that revelation came a little too easily, and again, the repercussions weren't really addressed. I liked the opening of the book, and I loved the final scene, but the middle just wasn't as well-developed as it could have been. 
3 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 25, 2021

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

When Twilight Breaks
By Sarah Sundin
Published by Revell

Munich, 1938. 
Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country--or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she'll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed--and wake up the folks back home. 
 In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party--to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind. 

What an excellent book from Sarah Sundin! This was fascinating on so many levels. The characters are terrific and multifaceted. I loved how Evelyn and Peter both had strengths and weaknesses and experienced growth throughout the book, with Peter revising his political opinions and Evelyn learning to open her heart to both Peter and God. I also liked reading about both of their jobs; the details were so interesting! The plot was equally engaging and I couldn't wait to see how each scene would play out and how things would ultimately work out. Sundin also did a great job with the setting, showing so many details as the Nazis enacted more and more anti-Semitic laws and actions. There were so many things about the story that could relate to today's political climate, which could make for some particularly interesting book club discussions. 
Really, really well done. I'm marking this as one of my best books of the year! 

I read an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Georgana's Secret by Arlem Hawks (Blog Tour)

Georgana's Secret 
By Arlem Hawks 
Published by Shadow Mountain 

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. 

My Review:
This book hooked me from the start. The idea of a young lady posing as a cabin was intriguing, but it was Lieutenant Dominic Peyton who just completely drew me. He was just such a wonderful character--I loved how he was so concerned about his mother and her well-being and then how, seeing a lonely, bullied boy on board, reached out to "him." I did occasionally wish George didn't tear up quite so much, but at the same time, her backstory made it understandable and believable--and made those moments when Georgana did actually stand up for herself that much more gratifying. The details about ship life were excellent; they really helped me feel like I knew what life on board would have been like, and they were woven into the story really well. There was also plenty of action. All in all, this was a totally enjoyable read and I'm already picking it as one of my favorites for 2021. 
I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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

"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 

AUTHOR BIO: 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. 

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. 
Jan 11 My Jane Austen Book Club 
Jan 11 Austenprose — A Jane Austen Blog 
Jan 12 Wishful Endings 
Jan 12 Lu Reviews Books 
Jan 13 Lady with a Quill 
Jan 13 Timeless Novels 
 Jan 14 Reading is My Superpower 
Jan 14 The Bibliophile Files 
Jan 15 Randi Loves 2 Read 
Jan 16 The Christian Fiction Girl 
Jan 17 Nurse Bookie 
Jan 18 The Silver Petticoat Review 
Jan 18 Heidi Reads 
Jan 19 Bookfoolery 
Jan 20 Captivated Reading 
Jan 21 Greenish Bookshelf 
Jan 21 Bookworm Lisa 
Jan 22 Among the Reads 
Jan 23 Gwendalyn's Books 
Jan 24 My Bookish Bliss 
Jan 25 Wishful Endings 
Jan 25 Christian Chick's Thoughts 
Jan 26 Relz Reviewz 
Jan 27 The Lit B$tch 
Jan 28 Reading with Emily 
Jan 29 Books, Teacups & Reviews
Jan 30 A Darn Good Read 
Jan 31 From Pemberley to Milton 
Jan 31 Impressions in Ink 
Feb 01 Austenesque Reviews 
Feb 02 Laura's Reviews 
Feb 03 Literary Time Out 
Feb 04 Chicks, Rogues & Scandals 
Feb 05 The Bluestocking 
Feb 05 Library of Clean Reads 
Feb 06 The Caffeinated Bibliophile 
Feb 07 So Little Time… 
Feb 08 The Readathon
Feb 09 The Book Diva Reads 
Feb 09 Books and Socks Rock 
Feb 10 Our Book Confessions 
Feb 10 Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen 
Feb 11 Rosanne E. Lortz 
Feb 11 Jorie Loves a Story 
Feb 12 Fire & Ice 
Feb 13 Cup of Tea with that Book, Please 
Feb 14 Book Confessions of an Ex-ballerina