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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: Bay City Belle (In Old California #2) by Shirley Kennedy



Print Length: 227 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press (July 17, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: Before the war, Belle Ainsworth led a life of pleasure and privilege in the deep South. Five years after losing her fiancĂ© at the Battle of Gettysburg, she is still alone, with no prospects for marriage among the remaining men of her acquaintance. But out west, there are possibilities. And when Belle answers an ad for a mail-order bride and boards a train to San Francisco to meet wealthy restaurateur Robert Romano, it's with the hope of at last making her dreams of family come true.

When the train is robbed, Yancy McLeish, a disillusioned Union Army hero, rescues Belle from her attackers—and lays claim to her heart. But Belle has pledged her troth to Romano and intends to honor that commitment. It's a decision she soon regrets, for her groom-to-be is nothing like his letters. As she plots a course to escape Romano, Belle prays that road can lead her back to the safety of Yancy's arms, where she believes she was always destined to be…


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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was my first time reading a book in this series, so I can vouch that it can be read as a stand alone. I can also say that this is not the only book I will be reading by this author as I loved Yancy and Belle's story!! 

Belle was definitely a bit too stubborn in some instances, however I think given her past, it was completely understandable. You could definitely feel the chemistry between her and Yancy, but one thing that I found commendable about this novel is the fact that the author managed to convey the depth of the feeling without it coming across as being "shoved" down our throats. It felt natural - much like the relationship between Yancy and his niece and nephew did. 

I also very much enjoyed the older woman whom Belle befriends during the course of the story. She definitely added to the overall story and I would love to see more of her and the children she has in her care in the future

I would definitely recommend this story to those who enjoy well written historical novels with interesting characters, and different story-lines that intersect to make for a realistic and enjoyable experience. I would read more from this author.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


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                                 Bay City Belle is available from Amazon.com

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review: A Lady's Guide to Passion and Property (Husband Hunters #2) by Kate Moore



Print Length: 239 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press (July 3, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: Lucy Holbrook has recently inherited her father's south London inn, the place she's always called home. Now her fashionable friends, arming her with The Husband Hunter's Guide to London, are urging her to sell the establishment and become a society lady, just as her father always hoped. Lucy would rather toss the little book into the hearth—she could never desert the alehouse or its patrons, including an elderly blind man who depends on her care. But she may need every bit of good advice when a handsome stranger arrives with a secret agenda and a baffling crime to solve...and Lucy finds herself navigating a most dangerous attraction!


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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

One thing I have to mention is that I have not read the first book in this series, and while I had no trouble understanding this story and the characters contained within, I have to wonder if the first book also included passages from the husband hunters book at the start of each chapter. Because for me, I felt those passages took away from the overall plot instead of adding to it. 

I feel that this story held its own and stood out among the bevy of spy stories already in circulation to such an extent that the husband hunting guide wasn't needed. I didn't care that Lucy way in London hunting a husband. I cared more about who wanted to hurt Adam (the blind man in her care), and what other mysteries the other spies would uncover. 

I adored these characters, from the major to the minor and every cast member in between this story made it easy to not only enjoy the differences in the characters, but also to see how they added to the overall arc. There were so many different threads being woven throughout that it is obvious the author knows how to write an engaging story. 

This story will appeal to those who enjoy a well written historical novel that focuses on romance and mystery. I would read more from this author! 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


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              A Lady's Guide to Passion and Property is available from Amazon.com

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: Dauntless (The Shaws #2) by Lynne Connolly


Print Length: 286 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press (June 26, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: The Shaws are one of Britain's most influential, dynamic families, but one Shaw prefers to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, the limelight can shine behind-the-scenes...

Lady Drusilla Shaw may be a bit introverted, yet she has the observant mind of a writer, capturing all of society's quirks and scandals. But when the novel she's been working on disappears from her room, that is just the beginning of her problems. Confident, magnetic Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, has taken an interest in Dru, and when he proposes, she is both thrilled and anxious. Her book depicts a ruinous family story that is uncannily similar to Oliver's real-life, not to mention libelous. The manuscript could surface at any moment—and eventually it does, in published form, for all to read.

Oliver is bewildered by his new wife and her blasted book. Worst of all, how can he love a woman he no longer trusts? But when it becomes obvious that someone is taking their cues from the book in a series of attacks, he has no choice but to stick close to her. Their explosive connection in bed should take care of the heir-making, but for that to happen, Drusilla has to stay alive—and so does Oliver.


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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Honestly, from the description I expected there to be more than two ill-thought out plots that weren't even guaranteed to succeed. In fact, I expected a lot more from the premise than what I got. 

Don't get me wrong, this book is by no means horrible, but there are a few things that I feel could have been done to improve it overall. To begin with, I wish Oliver had just listened to Dru. At the first sign of her book, he flies into a justifiable fit of anger, however if he had just allowed her to explain instead of automatically thinking/accusing her of the worst, the pair could have worked things out so much sooner. In addition to this, he believes someone is out to harm her, but not only does he not tell her about his plan, but it doesn't even dawn on him that the release of the book may have something to do with it? The same can be said for Dru, ordered her maid to destroy it, but did not question her version of events after it was exposed.

As for Dru, sure, the things she wrote were not complimentary and would have caused the ton to shun her if they dared, but even when it came out that she was the author, she still refused to tell anything the truth. 

I will say that I enjoyed the twist at the end, even though I had suspected who was behind things. I would read more from this author!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


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                                   Dauntless is available from Amazon.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: A Gathering of Secrets (Kate Burkholder #10) by Linda Castillo


Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (July 10, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: When a historic barn burns to the ground in the middle of the night, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called in to investigate. At first, it looks like an accident, but when the body of eighteen-year-old Daniel Gingerich is found inside—burned alive—Kate suspects murder. Who would want a well-liked, hardworking young Amish man dead?

Kate delves into the investigation only to find herself stonewalled by the community to which she once belonged. Is their silence a result of the Amish tenet of separation? Or is this peaceful and deeply religious community conspiring to hide a truth no one wants to talk about? Kate doubles down only to discover a plethora of secrets and a chilling series of crimes that shatters everything she thought she knew about her Amish roots—and herself.

As Kate wades through a sea of suspects, she’s confronted by her own violent past and an unthinkable possibility.



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My Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Holy cow this book! Let me preface this review with that fact that although this is book number 10 in an established series, I have not read a single one of the previous novels. That fact however, did not keep me from devouring this one in a single day! I could not put it down! Every time I thought to put the book down, the author threw in a curve ball that I not only did not expect, but that kept me reading just so I could see how it played into what had happened. 

The plot was well-developed with complex and interesting characters (even without knowing Kate's backstory she was a character I not only liked, but was invested in). The story moves at a reasonable pace, giving just enough hints, and unexpected surprises to keep the reader guessing right up until the unbelievably satisfying conclusion. And that ending!! WOW!! I did not see THAT one coming! 

I would highly recommend this novel to those who enjoy well written "who-dun-it" novels that are absolutely better than they appear to be. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


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                             A Gathering of Secrets is available from Amazon.com

Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: How to Fall for the Wrong Man (Ladies of Passion #3) by Harmony Williams


Print Length: 286 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (June 29, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: If Mary Babington-Smith knows nothing else, it's that Lord Edwin Sutton kissed her. Regardless of who-kissed-whom, with the deed witnessed, they have no choice but to carry on with a temporary, fake, engagement. When Edwin sweetens the deal, offering Mary the money she needs to pursue her independence if she can play the lovesick fiancĂ©e for two weeks, Mary rises to the challenge. In two weeks, she'll have everything she wants, and this time she'll be the one to walk out of his life.

Despite Sutton's argumentative, self-assured nature, when Mary glimpses a sliver of the boy he used to be, she vows to peel away every layer of armor he uses to shield his emotions. Somewhere underneath that worldly exterior is the kind-hearted man she once loved, but in order to find him, she'll have to give him the power to hurt her...and he's already broken her trust once...


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My Rating: 2 stars out of 5

The premise of this story was interesting, and had it not been for the main characters, I would have given it a higher rating. The one good thing this has going for it is although it is part three in a series, it can be read as a stand alone novel. 

Mary may think she's independent, but in reality she's pig headed and annoying. She consistently puts herself in dangerous situations with little care for her own well-being, but when Sutton shows any kind of concern she makes it seem like he's the one being selfish. She repeatedly picks fights with him, and accuses him of not allowing her to follow her ambitions when in reality he's using the common sense she lacks to keep her safe. 

Also, for someone who is so eager for her fake engagement to be over, she sure does run to his home (his arms, and his bed) on a nearly daily basis. In fact, I kept waiting for the cliche pregnancy out of wedlock plot twist, but thankfully that did not come. 

I also blame Sutton to an extent because Mary gave him ample opportunity to declare his feelings for her and he didn't. Nor did he give her the true reason behind his actions towards her. So much of the unnecessary drama between these two could have been avoided had they taken the time to be honest with each other and took the time to stop being so stubborn. 

I do believe there are people who will enjoy this novel (as evidenced by the 4 and 5 star reviews it has already accumulated), however this one was just not for me.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


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                    How to Fall For the Wrong Man is available from Amazon.com


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: What My Sister Knew by Nina Laurin


Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 19, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: We're not just siblings; we're twins. We're supposed to be able to read each other's thoughts. Although Eli is a few minutes younger, he always seemed older, always one step ahead.

It turns out that Eli kept many secrets. And he told many lies. So although he was once seen as the golden child-while I stood by as the silent sister-his web of deception led to a guilty verdict for the arson that killed our parents.

Now his thirteen-year sentence has been served, and Eli is free. But we are still bound by a secret. Which is dangerous because he has nothing left to lose, and I have everything.



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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This story started off strong, gripping the reader and making them wonder just what was going on and what secret Andrea was hiding. However, as the story progressed it became predictable to the point of tedious. In fact, the ending was so obvious that by the time I got to it, I just didn't care. Which was a shame as this story had a lot of potential to be the gripping psychological thriller it claimed to be. 

I do believe there are people who will enjoy this novel (as evidenced by the 4 and 5 star reviews it has already accumulated), however this one was just not for me.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


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                            What My Sister Knew is available from Amazon.com

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: A Lady Becomes a Governess by Diane Gaston


Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Harlequin (June 19, 2018)

From Goodreads.com: A most unlikely governess…

…with a shocking secret

Part 1 of The Governess Swap: Lady Rebecca Pierce escapes her forced betrothal when the ship she’s on wrecks. Assuming the identity of a governess she believes has drowned, she enters the employ of brooding Lord Brookmore, who’s selflessly caring for his orphaned nieces. Inconveniently, she’s extremely attracted to the viscount, with her only chance of happiness tied to the biggest risk: revealing the truth about who she really is…



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My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Although there were moments when the direction this story took was almost too obvious, I couldn't help but enjoy it. The interactions between Rebecca and Lord Brookmore's nieces were heart warming and exactly what those little girls needed. Even though it should have been obvious that she had no idea how a governess should act, I enjoyed how Brookmore continued to give her the benefit of the doubt after he saw the improvement in his nieces. I also enjoyed the way she was able to bring him out of his apparent loneliness - bringing him closer to his nieces in a way I doubt he would have been able to achieve on his own. 

I do believe the issues of Brookmore's betrothed and Claire's former employer as well as the dram surrounding each could have been handled a bit differently, but overall I am curious to see how everything is going to play out in the rest of this series. Now that Brookmore and Rebecca seem to have gotten their happily-ever-after, what is next?

Overall, I believe this story will appeal to those who love a good historical romance with a twist. I can't wait to read more from this author!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                           A Lady Becomes a Governess is available from Amazon.com