Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower
By Nancy Campbell Allen

Hazel Hughes enjoys her work healing alongside Dr. Sam MacInnes and is grateful for his friendship and kindness, even as she wishes that a romantic relationship with him were possible. But she knows she's not his equal socially, and so she contents herself with work and learning. Her life takes a drastic turn, however, when Dravor Pretescu, a Romanian count, comes to London, finds Hazel, and tells her that she is his niece and has a twin sister who is gravely ill and needs Hazel's help. Hazel has long had visions of her twin, without understanding what they mean, and while she senses something isn't quite right with the count, she also can't leave her sister to suffer.
When Hazel agrees to travel to Romania, there's no way Sam is going to let her go without him. He trusts the count even less than Hazel does, and as he and Hazel work together to try to figure out his secrets, he finds his underlying attraction to Hazel growing even more; she's beautiful and intelligent and his perfect match--but if they're going to have a shot at a future together, first they have to save her sister--and possibly themselves.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters--Sam and Hazel are both smart, capable people who understand the value of knowledge and learning. (Maybe it's the former librarian in me, but I loved their many forays to the library!) I liked seeing how they worked together and depended on and trusted each other.
The pacing was really good and the story moved steadily. This is an interesting mix of genres--romance, steampunk, fantasy, mystery, etc.--but it works well. I'm not really a steampunk fan, but I've enjoyed this series because it focuses on the characters and plot with the steampunk elements complimenting the story, not overwhelming it. I did feel like the ending was a little quick--at 93% finished, I was really worried there was going to be a cliffhanger ending because it didn't seem like it could wrap well in the remaining pages. It did have a good ending but it was a little rushed. Although this is the third book in a series, I think it can be read as a stand-alone.

4 stars.

I read an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Expected publication date: August 6, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Guarded Heart

A Guarded Heart
By Heidi Kimball

Three years ago, Eleanor Hayward fell for Edmund Fletcher and thought he cared for her, too. However, he broke her heart and then scandal rocked her family, leaving Eleanor shunned by society and isolated. When her cousins reach out to her, indicating that they want to help her reenter society, Eleanor accepts and goes to their estate, never imagining that Edmund has inherited a neighboring estate and she will run into him time and time again, breaking her heart all over again.

Edmund Fletcher has spent the past three years getting over the woman who betrayed him, and he's less than pleased to keep running into her. He wants to put her out of his heart and mind once and for all and plans to move forward with asking another woman to marry him, but when he finds out what really happened three years before, letting go is made much harder.

This was a very enjoyable story. The plot was really engaging, and the characters were realistic and well-developed. This was very well written, particularly the characters' emotions. I also really liked how the book started off by alternating between the present and the three years prior; I liked being able to see what had happened between Eleanor and Edmund and not just get a summary of it thrown in somewhere.
4 stars.

 I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Daughters of Northern Shores

Daughters of Northen Shores (Blackbird Mountain #2)
By Joanne Bischof

Norgaard fled his beloved home on Blackbird Mountain after attacking his brother Thor's beloved, Aven, and has spent the past four years working on sailing crews around the Atlantic. Running away hasn't made it possible for him to forget what he has done, though, and the time comes for him to stop running and try to make amends. Returning home, however, will be the most difficult thing he's ever done, as it means owning up to what he has done and trying to regain the trust that he has shattered. When he returns, he finds Thor and Aven wed and expecting a child--but Thor is also deathly ill and their enemies, the Sorrels, have made it clear that they're ready for a fight to end their longstanding feud. While the family doesn't exactly welcome Haakon with open arms, they need his strength and expertise to protect their home and one another.

Ah! I love Joanne Bischof's writing style. It flows so well, with wonderful descriptions and great word choices. I also love her characters, with flaws right alongside their strengths. These characters just capture your heart--from Thor, with his deafness and his strength and his tenderness, to Haakon with his wildness that can't quite overshadow that deep-down goodness, to Aven who loves fiercely and faces life with such courage--and you just can't help but root for them and be swept up in their stories. I loved the first book in this series, and I"m glad to be able to emphatically state that this book is just as lovely and enjoyable to read. One of the best of 2019! 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.