May RCR: The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain

May RCR: The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain

CONGRATULATIONS Winnie on winning a copy of The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain. (Entry via Rafflecopter)

Welcome to the fifth month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the Wild West Period, and I chose a reread. The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain by Lucette Nel is such a fun read, and I enjoy mixing up the reading challenge with traditionally published and indie published (self-published) authors of good quality.

Once you read my review, don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy.

*Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Want a bookmark with the monthly themes? Fill out this Google Form.*

THE BOUNTY HUNTER’S BARGAIN BY LUCETTE NEL

The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain is part of a wider series written by multiple authors which are all read as stand-alone novels. As is par for the course with Lucette Nel, her book is filled with laughter, tough relationships, redemption, and a hint of danger. The characters have individual problems that contribute to a wider picture and draw them closer to one another as they learn forgiveness of each other and the past. The romance is sweet and humorous, and there is a twist I didn’t see coming. I fell in love with the unique characters, from the boarders and Emily to Annabelle and Jack. I need Annabelle to come to my house when she is stressed though. I am not a stress cleaner and that woman can really make a place shine. 😉 You’ll just have to read it to find out what I mean.

This quick read would be great for anyone who loves stories of redemption, second chance love, and western settings.


Genre: Historical Romance, 1868

Plot Overview:

Can love withstand new betrayals and old hurts?

Jack Sullivan has a runaway wife to return and a bounty to collect. A gunshot lands him at the feet of Annabelle Lawson and jeopardizes a promise he can’t afford to break. Can he set aside his heart and focus on what he came to do?

Annabelle Lawson had finally picked up the fragments of her heart. Why did Jack have to crash back into her world? She may have to care for the injured bounty hunter, but she refuses to help him cash in on his professed ‘easy money’. Nor will there be a second chance at claiming her heart.

What I loved: I really enjoyed the relationship and tension between Annabelle and Jack. They knew each other well, yet still managed to misread each other as any real couple does. The struggle between moving forward and clinging to past hurts permeated multiple relationships.

Favorite Character and Why: I love ALL the characters, but I really loved Annabelle. She was a mix of strong woman and vulnerability. I could see quite a bit of myself in her because she always did what needed to be done while trying to shield her heart and failing miserably.

Rating and Why: Four and a half stars. The story was well-developed and well-written. There were a couple of things I would have loved to see more of, but everything was completely satisfactory.

Purchase Link: Amazon


Reading Challenge Giveaway

Comment with what you read for this month’s challenge to be entered to win a print copy of The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain by Lucette Nel. This giveaway is open to U.S. and International Residents who are legally able to enter. If an international winner is picked, they will get a $10 Amazon Gift Card. I’m sorry. Book Depository does not carry this book. Comment or use Rafflecopter for extra entries by 11:59 pm on June 7th to be eligible to win. Happy reading!

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To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano

To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano

*New feature to my website: Share your own historical fiction review to potentially be shared on my website. Check out this page for details.

To Steal a Heart

by Jen Turano

I have always loved Jen Turano books . . . I just forgot how much until I read this one. It’s probably been a couple of years since I’ve picked up a Jen Turano book–not for lack of want, but for lack of time to read all the great books out there. Since I had a 3 hour round trip drive to my ACFW chapter meeting, I decided to listen to an audiobook that I also had the print copy of. It’s a good thing I did. Do you remember how I didn’t make the April Reading Challenge? Well you can blame Jen Turano. I ended up reading her book that weekend instead of the one I was supposed to read for the challenge. Oops.

Jen’s books are always packed full of humor, wit, danger, and unique characters. This story brought the levity I needed to a stress-packed month while also giving me the danger, mystery, and crime that I desire. I absolutely cannot wait to continue reading the series. Once a street thief, Gabriella has grown into a respectable woman with a heart of gold and a willingness to do whatever it takes to clear the name of a fellow boardinghouse mate. . . even if it brings her former partner and best friend back into her life. Gabriella isn’t the only whose had a lifestyle change, Nicholas has not only changed his ways, he’s done the impossible and moved into the social circles of the famed Four Hundred. Danger and social differences threaten to break apart the bond they once shared.

Any reader who enjoys banter, humor, adventure, danger, unique characters, and stories of friends to more will love this book.


Genre: Historical Romance, 1886, New York CIty

Plot Overview:

After a childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she’d put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. In the middle of breaking into a safe that holds the proof to prove her friend’s innocence, Gabriella is interrupted by Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend–until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agreed to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he’d be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.

What I loved: I am a huge fan of the combination of humor and danger, while still maintaining a realistic relationship strain. The characters were delightful, the crimes exciting, and the Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency an absolute joy to watch grow.

Favorite Character and Why: The pairing of Gabriella and Nicholas is wonderful. I love their connection, the banter, and the romance. However, Daphne stole the show for me–which makes me absolutely delighted that she gets her own book next! Not only is Daphne an author, but she’s also an absolute mess and a hoot! 

Who would like this? Any reader who enjoys banter, humor, adventure, danger, unique characters, and stories of friends to more will love this book.

Rating and Why: Five stars. It was such a fun story, one I will certainly be rereading.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon     Barnes and Noble    Baker Bookhouse    Books-a-Million     Book Depository     Bookshop.org     Christianbook.com     Get It Local     Indiebound.org


Have you ever read a Jen Turano book? Which ones? If you haven’t, does her story sound appealing to you?

Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection

Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection

Seven Brides for Seven Texans Romance Collection

Stories by: Erica Vetsch, Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Keli Gwyn, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, and Lorna Seilstad

5star

This is the first novella collection that I absolutely fell in love with. The stories are all so connected that it feels like one book. This and the Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers have become two of my favorite rereads. In fact, it’s a series I constantly thrust upon all who come to my house in search of books to borrow. I confess to keeping an extensive library for lending so that I have an excuse to buy more books.

Collections always take me longer to read than just a normal book, just because it is broken up into separate stories, but this one took me way less time than normal. Why? Because I thoroughly enjoyed how connected the stories were. This is a collection you don’t want to miss.


Genre: Historical Romance, Texas, 1874

Plot Overview:

Seven brothers must marry within 1874 or lose their inheritance.

Meet the seven Hart brothers of the 7-Heart ranch in central Texas. Each man is content in his independent life, without the responsibilities of a wife and children—until their father decides 1874 will be the year his grown sons finally marry, or they will be cut from his will. How will each man who values his freedom respond to the ultimatum? Can love develop on a timeline, or will it be sacrificed for the sake of an inheritance?

First Comes Love by Gabrielle Meyer
As the youngest Hart, Hays has never been first at anything—so he’s determined to be the first to marry. He sets his sights on the new teacher, Miss Emma Longley, but he soon discovers Emma wants nothing to do with marriage, ranching, or Texas and plans to leave Hartville in two short months. Will Hays’ charm be enough to convince her to stay?

The Heart of Texas by Lorna Seilstad
With Texas awash in outlaws, Ranger Chisholm Hart takes his oath to protect the citizens and their property seriously. When he meets feisty, independent Caro Cardova who can face a band of vigilantes, ride as well as a man, and shoot from the hip, he must decide if he can make room in his heart for both the state he loves and the woman who’s stolen his heart.

The Truest Heart by Amanda Barratt
Despite his father’s edict, Travis Hart is determined never to marry. The one woman he cares for is a distant memory, and he won’t settle for a loveless union with anyone else. Yet when Annie Lawrence re-enters his life, the spark of romance he thought extinguished, bursts into flame anew. But guilt binds Annie to her past, and Travis fears that once again, he will have to watch the woman he loves walk out of his life—this time forever.

A Love Returned by Keli Gwyn
When Coralee Culpepper declined his proposal, Houston Hart left Texas for the gold fields of California. But when his father’s edict brings him home, will Coralee—the only woman to ever claim his heart—accept him for the man he is, or will she cling to the stubborn notion that she must marry a rancher in order to be happy?

For Love or Money by Susan Page Davis
Burned out of their house, Jane and her family move into a cave, where she discovers some hidden money. Crockett Hart comes to help them rebuild, and she asks for his help. When he learns where the money came from, he hopes it won’t keep their two families apart, because he’s falling for Jane.

Mail-Order Mayhem by Vickie McDonough
Austin’s best hope to marry quickly is a mail-order bride. But the bride who arrived seems more interested in one of the ranch hands. Her sister Rebekah, who is chaperoning, keeps apologizing. Austin is ready to send his bride packing. Could God have other ideas for a wife for him?

Love at Last by Erica Vetsch
When her former patient, Confederate officer Bowie Hart, shows up on her doorstep, Elise Rivers agrees to his marriage-of-convenience proposal. But as she gets to know her scarred and taciturn new husband, she realizes she has a chance to turn a marriage-of-convenience into the love of a lifetime, if only she can convince Bowie that he is worthy to be loved.

What I loved: My favorite part of this type of collection is the deep connection between each story. Instead of seven completely different stories, it feels like one overarching story when you get a peek at each swoon-worthy hero. And who doesn’t swoon over men whose duty in life is to protect and serve? Each hero is depicted with his own quirks and individual personality, but they all have the common thread of a commitment that goes beyond the standard citizen.

I also LOVED how this book was set in the same place as Seven Brides for Seven Texans. Characters from past books reappeared and you got to see bits and pieces of the Hart brothers all over again. Books that connect and series that connect in this way are my absolute favorite.

Who would like this: Anyone who loves historical stories with strong heroes, ranchers, stories of family ties, heroines who range from stubborn to docile, and dangerous situations that bring couples together. Those who especially like connected storylines will love this.

Rating and Why: I give this story 5 stars. If you haven’t figured it out, the connectedness of all the stories really bumps the rating up. However, the action, dialogue, and characters are all excellent. Some stories are better than others, but I can’t think of one that I did not enjoy, and usually, in a collection, there is one that I am meh on.

Purchase Links

Amazon     Baker Bookhouse     Barnes and Noble     Books-A-Million     Book Depository    Christianbook.com     Indiebound


Have you read this collection? Which story sounds the most intriguing to you?

April RCR: The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

April RCR: The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

It’s time for my April review of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the Civil War and Reconstruction Period. . . and I’ll be 100% honest. I didn’t get around to reading this month’s book! Between reading some unpublished books for critique partners, finishing edits, and trying to make progress on a 96,000 word rough draft, I just never made it.

By God’s blessing, one of the challenge participants in our Facebook HAD read the book and was willing to allow me to use her review for this month. I hope you weren’t like me and was able to get your book read. Don’t forget to comment on this post with what YOU read for the challenge. Would you recommend it? Details for the connected giveaway are below.

Without further ado, here is this month’s review of The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot.

*Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Want a bookmark with the monthly themes? Fill out this Google Form.*


The Sentinels of Andersonville

by Tracy Groot

Today’s review is provided by Staci, who can be found on Instagram @genreadblog. THANK YOU, STACI FOR SAVING THIS MONTH’S POST FROM DISASTER!!!

This is a very well-done novel about Andersonville and the citizens of nearby Americus.

The main female character, Violet, demonstrates what it is like to be fervent for a cause with blinders on. It’s something easy to do. Watching her blinders be removed was one of the many bright spots. Violet didn’t become any less a Southern supporter but did become more human.

There was quite a bit of dry humor throughout which very much appealed to me. I also enjoyed the way characters spoke to each other in literary ways. Meanings had to be discerned rather than given freely. This is definitely a novel that could be read a second time with much more picked up with each read.

The entire novel was thought-provoking. What amount of care and concern should be shown to prisoners? There is a whole lot of gray between none and Four Seasons treatment. Finding one’s own answer to that may be more difficult than you’d first think.

This is my second Tracy Groot novel and I look forward to reading others. I recommend The Sentinels of Andersonville for those that enjoy historical fiction.


Genre: Historical Fiction, Civil War, Andersonville

Plot Overview:

Near the end of the Civil War, inhumane conditions at Andersonville Prison caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only one year. In this gripping and affecting novel, three young Confederates and an entire town come face-to-face with the prison’s atrocities and will learn the cost of compassion, when withheld and when given.

Sentry Dance Pickett has watched, helpless, for months as conditions in the camp worsen by the day. He knows any mercy will be seen as treason. Southern belle Violet Stiles cannot believe the good folk of Americus would knowingly condone such barbarism, despite the losses they’ve suffered. When her goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, however, she realizes she must tread carefully. Confederate corporal Emery Jones didn’t expect to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier’s wit and integrity strike a chord in Emery. How could this man be an enemy? Emery vows that their unlikely friendship will survive the war―little knowing what that promise will cost him.

As these three young Rebels cross paths, Emery leads Dance and Violet to a daring act that could hang them for treason. Wrestling with God’s harsh truth, they must decide, once and for all, Who is my neighbor?

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon     Barnes & Noble      Books-a-Million      Book Depository     Christianbook.com


Unlocking the Past Giveaway

Comment with what you ready by May 7th, 11:59 pm to be entered to win a print copy of The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot. Open to all US and International residents, where allowed. 🙂 Fill out the Rafflecopter for extra entries.

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The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch

The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch

The Indebted Earl

by Erica Vestch

I may or may not have ended up in the doghouse with my husband when reading this story. I made the mistake of starting it at 9 pm and then stayed awake in bed with my booklight on until 4 am…on a weeknight. In my defense, it was spring break and my hubby didn’t have to work the next day.

Ever since I read The Lost Lieutenant and The Gentleman Spy, I have been eager to read the third and final installment of Serendipity & Secrets. My eagerness was not disappointed. The story followed the typical marriage of convenience storyline with plenty of twists, turns, wit, and danger. The slow-grow of Sophie’s love for Captain Charles Wyvern was a joy to watch, and the Captain’s quick fall for Sophie was so sweet. The characterization of each person in this story was delightful and entertaining–especially the trio of orphans they must raise together. I look forward to one day reading their individual romances.

One of my favorite things is the story leaves you with the desire to read an already in-print final story of the Haverly family–Cilla’s. You can find that story in The Joy to the World: Regency Christmas Collection. (All of the above links are to my reviews of those stories.)


Genre: Historical Romance, 1814, England (Regency)

Plot Overview:

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business–or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life–especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero’s dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man’s grieving fiancée and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn’t opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed’s elderly mother, and she’s already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she’ll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he’s come to mean to her. Now she’ll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

What I loved: The character development of Captain Wyvern. That man has such a soft, responsible heart, but he also knows what he wants out of life. When things don’t go the way he expects, he steps up and does whatever is necessary to make things right.

Favorite Character and Why: I loved Captain Wyvern and Sophie, but my heart really latched on to Thea. Bless her soul, she is a lot like my son, and a lot like me. And Besty! Oh my, that girl was a dear! He puppy-dog following of Captain Wyvern was adorable. 

Who would like this? Readers who love regency, marriage of convenience stories, stories with a touch of mystery and excitement, and readers who love a series so well connected and planned.

Rating and Why: Five stars. The story was engaging, believable, exciting, and totally had my heart wrapped around the whole plot and characters. It is a book I will enjoy revisiting several times over. And we get to see Marcus from The Gentleman Spy again. He’s still one of my favorites.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Books-a-Million     Book Depository     Bookshop.org     Christianbook.com     Indiebound.org


QUESTION FOR YOU:

Have you read this series? What do you love or dislike about marriage of convenience stories?

March RCR: Trail of Fears by Sara Turnquist

March RCR: Trail of Fears by Sara Turnquist

Welcome to the third month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. This month focused on the Westward Expansion Period, and my choice of story was Trail of Fears by Sara R. Turnquist. Once you read my review, don’t forget to comment to be entered for your chance to win a copy.

*Want more interaction and/or suggestions each month? Join the Facebook Group. Want a bookmark with the monthly themes? Fill out this Google Form.*

Trail of Fears by Sara R. Turnquist

Y’all, this book. I chose it because it covers a topic not often written about in fiction, nor is it often talked about in history more than a brief mention. While my family didn’t participate in the first Trail of Tears, they did the second during the latter half of the 19th century. It’s part of the reason why I don’t do the genealogy stuff. I could do parts of my family, but my mom’s family can only go so far back before much of our history becomes shrouded like some dark secret. Reading this book was like reclaiming a piece of my history that no one is willing to talk about. This book should seriously be required reading for every history class in America.

I am not an emotional reader. It takes A LOT for me to cry over a storyline. If an author can squeeze a few silent tears out of me, that is amazing. Y’all, I literally sobbed through the last quarter of this book. Trail of Fears did not shirk away from the hard truths of the Indian Removal Act. Through the story you walk through this pivotal point of history through the eyes of many crucial players: a senator and his aide, the captain of the group leading the Cherokees, the chief, the missionary’s parents, and of course the Cherokee heroine and white missionary hero. I have never seen such an even-hand, realistic portrayal of the struggles of all those involved and even the naivety of the real plight of all the Native Americans by the country at large. It was truly a book that brought a little talked about piece of history to life. This is one of those rare books that I want to shove into people’s hands and force them to read.

The romance story itself is not the usual story either. There are sweet moments, but it is definitely a love grown and tried through circumstances no one would wish to face. You know when you close the book, Thomas and Adsila will be able to survive anything because they survived the Trail of Fears together. I said it once, but I am saying it again, EVERYONE needs to read this book.


Genre: Historical Romance, 1850’s, Georgia

Plot Overview:

He’s a steadfast missionary. She’s a proud Cherokee. Can their love survive the brutal Trail of Tears?

Thomas Greyson believes God had called him to spread the gospel. He leaves his sheltered world behind to live among the native peoples and teach in their school. But as the government tightens its grip, not everyone is ready to listen to the gospel’s message of love… least of all the stubborn beauty who stole his heart. Adsila resists bending her knee to the white man’s God when Thomas seemingly tries to steal away the last remaining shreds of her heritage. Is she prepared to fight him tooth and nail? But when he stands with her people in the face of hardship, her soul begins to long for the curious stranger and his unshakeable faith. Against impossible odds and staggering loss, can Thomas and Adsila find the strength to follow their hearts’ true path? Trail of Fears is a stirring historical romance that captures the heartbreaking reality of the Trail of Tears. If you like spirited characters, personal journeys of faith, and enduring love stories, then you’ll adore Sara R. Turnquist’s gripping tale of survival and salvation.

What I loved: The honest, raw experience of reading this book. I feel like history has come alive in a way it never has before and I have a better understanding of a piece of history often rushed through in history classes. It was an emotional read that shook me and made me really think.

Favorite Character and Why: It is so hard to pick. The cast of characters in this book all worked together to make an experience I won’t forget.

Who would like this? Those who want an honest, hard look at a piece of history swept under the rug. Those who are concerned about the plight of others, their rights, and mistreatment. Those who want to read a story of love and faith developed and tried through adversity. And in my personal opinion, every single person in America.

Rating and Why: Six stars. I don’t give these out willy nilly guys. Very few EVER get that distinction. This story is unforgettable, raw, and exactly what every American needs to read to better understand our history, and how the plays forward into the present.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon    Books-a-Million      Book Depository      Bookshop.org.     Indiebound.org


Giveaway Time

To be entered to win a print copy of Trail of Fear by Sara R. Turnquist, comment with what book you read to meet this month’s reading challenge by midnight (EST) on April 7th. The winner will be emailed on the 8th and publically announced on the April 13th post. This giveaway is open to all legal participants locally and internationally. If the winner lives internationally, they will receive a copy through Book Depository where available. If not available, the winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card. For extra entries, participate in the Rafflecopter giveaway below.

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Comment: What did you read for this month’s reading challenge?

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