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.