Thursday, January 27, 2022

Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks

Beyond the Lavender Fields 
By Arlem Hawks 
Published by Shadow Mountain 
Publication Date: February 1, 2022 

Description: 
1792, France 
Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles √Čtienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory. 
A bourgeoise and a royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that per-haps they have more in common than she thought. 
As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and MarieCaroline wonder if a r√©volutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together in a world that forces people to choose sides. 

Review:
This is a very well-written historical romance. The French Revolution is not my favorite setting for a book, so I was a little apprehensive going into this but with how much I liked Arlem Hawks' previous book, Georgana's Secret, I couldn't pass this up, and I'm glad I didn't. Gilles was such an interesting character to me; his doubts and his concerns and questions just made him so realistic. (I think his questions about his own beliefs will resonate with readers battling with their own political beliefs and how they may agree with certain elements of a political party but not all.) I really enjoyed the ways Caroline challenged his thinking and how they came to understand each other better. The romance was sweet (and sometimes funny), which was a great balance to such a heavy setting. Really well done. 
4.5 stars.

About the Author: 
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. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in print journalism, and she lives in Arizona with her husband three children. 
For author interview requests, please contact Callie Hansen at chansen@shadowmountain.com 

Advance Praise: 
“With each successive encounter, Gilles has with Marie-Caroline...makes him realize that people, like politics, are full of complexities and nuances. Historical fiction fans will revel in Hawks' (Georgiana's Secret, 2021) refreshingly different, perfectly evoked period setting that seamlessly captures both the drama and danger of revolutionary-era France, while romance readers will appreciate the sweet love story the author expertly threads through the plot.” —BOOKLIST 


Purchase links: 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

To Disguise the Truth (The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency #3) by Jen Turano

 

To Disguise the Truth (The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency #3)
By Jen Turano
Published by Bethany House
Publication Date: January 18, 2022

Description:
When Arthur Livingston arrives out of the blue at the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, anxious to hire the agency to seek out a missing heiress, Eunice Holbrooke realizes her past has finally caught up with her. 
Having fled from the scene of her grandfather's murder seven years before, Eunice is a lady with secrets--the most important that she is the missing heiress Arthur is seeking. She has no intention of allowing him to learn she's been disguising herself, especially when she has reason to believe Arthur could hold her responsible for her grandfather's death. 
In order to avoid Arthur and conceal her real identity, Eunice takes on another case that requires her to go deep undercover. With secrets from the past--and Arthur--appearing wherever she looks, she wonders how she will ever uncover the truth behind her grandfather's murder. Will what she discovers set Eunice free or place her in peril's way? 

Review:
This book was so much fun to read. Jen Turano's trademark humor shines bright, so I do recommend either reading this where people aren't around or being prepared to explain why you're laughing out loud! There are so many awesome lines in this book! There's a lot going on in this story, which could make it feel convoluted, but it totally comes together and works well. From the beginning of the series, I've been so curious about Eunice and what her story is--and it was so much more interesting than I could have guessed. Eunice is great character, strong but also vulnerable, and I loved getting to know her in this book. I also enjoyed seeing Eunice and Arthur come to appreciate one another, and I was delighted to see the romances of beloved secondary characters as well. Another great book from a terrific author! 
4.5 stars. 
I read an ARC provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Choices of the Heart by Sarah M. Eden

Choices of the Heart
By Sarah M. Eden
Published by Mirror Press

Description:
Burke Jones began his life as a nameless orphan, dreaming of one day being a renowned doctor with a home and family to call his own. Sophie Kingston, daughter of an influential East Coast family, was destined to be an important and beloved part of Baltimore Society. Life has not gone quite as either planned. 
Now living in the home of a family friend, Sophie joins the lady on a journey to the tiny town of Hope Springs in Wyoming Territory. It is unlike any place she’s ever known. And the resident doctor is a mystery as well. Burke knows he isn’t the success he’d always imagined he would be, and seeing it through the eyes of this newly arrived Society lady only drives that home. 
As Hope Springs begins to weave its magic, Sophie discovers more than she’d ever imagined, in both the town and its doctor. And Burke, who has always guarded his heart, begins to wonder if there might be more to life than he has previously imagined. Their futures, however, do not lie along the same path or in the same destinations. Fate has once again proven unkind. Can Hope Springs work yet another miracle? 


Review:
I have loved this series from the first book, so I am thrilled every time a new book or novella is published. This story was just such a pleasure to read--or, listen to, since I did the Audible version. Even though this is a novella, the characters were still well-developed and totally endearing. I love Sophie, with her straightforwardness and her enthusiasm, and Burke, with his goodness in spite of his insecurities. I also loved them together--Burke appreciating Sophie for who she is and Sophie helping Burke to examine who he is and what he really wants most. It was also wonderful to revisit other favorite characters from the series. I just enjoyed everything about this story, and I can't wait for more from this series! 
5 stars

 I read (listened to) a copy provided by the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.