The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake

The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake

The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake

I picked a copy of this book a thrift shop while on vacation in Amish Country. With the entire extended family in the car with us, I sat in the back with the shorter people–vertically challenged here–and I discovered I get car sick if I play on my phone or stare out the back windows too long. Oddly enough, I’ve also discovered that if I read a book, I can push aside motion sickness. Thus I snatched the first Christian book that looked interesting I could find. (Not an Amish fiction gal.)

I found The Bride Bargain to be a fun and distracting read. The play on a match-making scheme plot was delightful and entertaining. The hero and heroine were believable and engaging. I also found delight in all the little details of country life, life on a wagon train, and details you don’t typically find in a novel like this one. There is something to be said for nailing the end though, and there was just something off about the conclusion that made me give it a four-star instead of a five. Without giving spoilers, I found some of the character reactions a little unbelievable. I still enjoyed the ending, but not perhaps as much as I hoped I would.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy the wild west, small-town settings, match-making plots, and strong-willed women.


Genre: Historical Romance, Nebraska Territory, 1855

Plot Overview:

When Clara Fields and her aunt are kicked off their wagon train, a store owner in Buttonwood offers a chance at redemption. Desperate, she agrees to find a bride for the man’s son—a stalwart bachelor. Will Clara’s faith and wits help her wrangle a resolution to The Bride Bargain?

What I loved: I loved all the match-making schemes of Josiah and then Clara. I don’t want to spoil the story, but let’s just say some of it is comical.

Favorite Character and Why: Midge is a little girl Saul (the hero) rescues, and I just lover her little soul. She’s had a rough go of it, but she grows and becomes quite the character. Her love for Saul and her desire to please leads to some fun co-conspiracy.

Rating and Why: Four Stars. The ending really knocked it down from a five to a four. Still completely enjoyable, I just didn’t find the character reactions to be in line with what I expect to be real.

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A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden

A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden


A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden

I simply could not wait to read this story, especially when I discovered the hero was a Secret Service agent. The male POV of The Spice King enthralled me and I couldn’t wait to get inside the head of a Secret Service operative, especially during the early days of their protecting the president. As always, Elizabeth Camden brought a historical and political backdrop that brought this story to life in ways no other author could. I have a deeper understanding not just of the characters of that time but also the history of our nation. It was truly fascinating. Especially seeing Caroline Delacroix’s role in the White House and shepherding Mrs. McKinley through her social and political life was truly fun. The Spice King is still my favorite of the two, but I really enjoyed The Gilded Lady. I highly recommend this book to readers who love a fully developed historical setting, stories with flawed but admirable characters, and romances that take their time with plenty of sparring.


Genre: Historical Romance, Washington D.C., 1900

Plot Overview:

Caroline Delacroix is at the pinnacle of Washington high society in her role as secretary to the first lady of the United States. But beneath the facade of her beauty, glamorous wardrobe, and dazzling personality, she’s hiding a terrible secret. If she cannot untangle a web of foreign espionage, her brother will face execution for treason.

Nathaniel Trask is the newly appointed head of the president’s Secret Service team. He is immediately suspicious of Caroline despite his overwhelming attraction to her quick wit and undeniable charm. Desperate to keep the president protected, Nathaniel must battle to keep his focus fully on his job as the threat to the president rises.

Amid the glamorous pageantry of Gilded Age Washington, DC, Caroline and Nathaniel will face adventure, danger, and heartbreak in a race against time that will span the continent and the depth of human emotion.

What I loved: Elizabeth Camden never fails to take my breath away with the full breadth of her writing. It’s not just a story, it’s history coming alive in ways I never understood. I particularly loved the depth of character of Caroline. She isn’t the woman you expect, but in a way she is. It was a joy to get to know her and connect with her, even if I don’t share many of her interests.

Favorite Character and Why: Caroline was an incredibly complex woman. I loved all the layers to her, the struggles she faced, and the pure humanness of her. It was so good to see he POV of things and the devotion she has to her twin brother Luke.

Rating and Why: Five Stars. The full breadth of history is astounding, and the way Elizabeth Camden presents it is engaging and believable. The romance was believable and I loved all the little squabbles sprinkled throughout. Oh! And Mrs. McKinley was a hoot to get to know. I am so glad I did not have Caroline’s job.

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The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

This has been one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever written and thus will be a little different than normal.

I have been a long-time fanatical fan of Michelle Griep and couldn’t wait to read this book. However, when I received it, I discovered she’d changed up her writing style, which for most people doesn’t matter, but for me made it impossible to fully enjoy. The heroine is written in first person present. I struggle with first-person in general, add in the present tense, and no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t sink into the story. I spent several months revisiting and retrying, but in the end, I just gave up.

If first person present doesn’t bother you, this story will be another one of Michelle Griep’s great reads. Her depth of character, storyline, and spiritual aspect seemed spot on. (I did skim through the story to get an idea of the plot and understand all the praise that was being given for it.) I will always recommend Michelle Griep’s books, and she will remain my favorite author as far as her previous books go, and I will keep watching her new releases in hopes of the day she returns to the third person style I loved.

Because I bought an extra copy beside my ARC, I am doing a giveaway of the extra print copy so that you might have the chance to read the book and enjoy it. Just because it wasn’t my favorite doesn’t mean you won’t love it. 🙂 To enter, you must be a contiguous United States resident, leave a comment here on the blog (see the question below), and provide your email. I recommend using this format: name (at) someplace (dot) com. This giveaway will end Sunday, September 13th at midnight Eastern Standard Time. Winner will be announced on Tuesday’s blog post and contacted by email. 🙂

I apologize to my international readers, I promise another give away will be coming soon that will open to you as well.

ANSWER: What has been your favorite read this year? (Don’t forget to include your email.)

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep

What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common?

Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity.

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy is the second book in the Serendipity and Secrets series from Erica Vetsch, and this book was just as enjoyable as the first. I can’t wait to preorder and read the third book. This story definitely had more of a flair of danger, espionage, and suspense. Y’all, Marcus was one of those swoony heroes for me, and maybe it’s just that I have a thing for lawmen type characters, but I really think it is just because he is such versatile and confident character. The poor guy is a bit delusional, too, with flaws that make him real but still admirable. I love watching him grow beyond the great spy he already was into a more rounded man and husband. Charlotte was strong and someone I could look up to. I spent a good portion of the book cheering when she did something that showed her heart or showed her growing confidence. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but the complexity of the story was something I just drool over. Can I say I want to write like her when I grow up? LOL It was definitely a book I will read over and over again.

I highly recommend this book to readers of the Regency era, marriages of convenience, and complex plots mixed with danger and intrigue.


Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, 1814

Plot Overview:

He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

What I loved: The spy theme just really satisfied my need for action and intrigue. And I love how the poor Duke’s expectation that everything could stay in its box was brought to reality.

Favorite Character and Why: I loved both Marcus and Charlotte, for different reasons than Evan and Diana, but Aunt Dolly really tickled me. I loved her heart and the way she inserted herself into both Marcus’s and Charlotte’s lives.

Rating and Why: Five Stars. This is a series I will reread over and over. First The Lost Lieutenant and now The Gentleman Spy. Both books scratched my itch for romance AND danger.

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The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

Fans of Regency and Marriage of Convenience stories will be delighted by this tale of a hero — who can’t remember the event that made him a hero — and a woman with her own secrets united by the Prince Regent’s wishes. I have been eyeing this book for months but other reading commitments kept it sitting on my TBR pile. I have finally settled into a routine of evening reading, and this book was my first pick.

Guys, I really enjoyed this one even more than I expected, and I had high expectations. I loved the mystery, the complex connections, and oh my goodness, the relationship development between Evan and Diana. They both had so much to learn in those early days, and Erica Vetsch handled it so well. This was the type of story that shows marriage as it can really be, not all rainbows and butterflies. Watching these two learn each other’s strengths and to play off of them was so heart-warming. I loved this story so much, I went ahead and bought the second book and read it as soon as it arrived in the mail. (So guess which one will come as my next review. Tee hee hee.)

I highly recommend this book to readers of the Regency era, marriages of convenience, and complex plots mixed with danger and intrigue.


Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, 1813

Plot Overview:

He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

What I loved: The relationship development between Evan and Diana is so fascinating. I love the push and pull to learn to trust each other with their darkest secrets. It was probably one of the best romances I have read to really depict those struggles realistically and in a way that also makes you fall in love with the characters.

Favorite Character and Why: I have to say I really loved Evan and Diana equally. In fact, they almost seem one character–just like any husband and wife are one in Christ–and it wasn’t because they seemed the character. They just belong together so well that I can’t separate them in my head as liking one more than the other.

Rating and Why: Five Stars. This is a story I will reread over and over. If it isn’t obvious yet, this is a story I will be gushing over for a while.

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Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

This book was chosen for my online Christian Historical Romance Book Club, and I just finished listening to the audiobook this weekend. First, I highly recommend the audiobook as the narrator did a wonderful job changing voices to match the characters. As for the story, I enjoyed it as well, although perhaps not in the same manner as I would a light-hearted novel. This story was ripe with emotions, family drama, and a touch of romance. If you have a family member who is dealing with PTSD or dementia, it can be a hard read or an enlightening read. It just depends on where you are in your personal life. For me, I loved the depth of character development and a glimpse into the challenges others face in their lives. The details of living through the fire were so gripping it felt as if I were there experiencing it with the characters. The mystery entwined with the story was well done and complex. While the ending was happy, it didn’t pretend the life-long effects of PTSD go away. You left the family knowing they would continue to face challenges but face them together with fortitude and faith.

I recommend this story for anyone who enjoys deep characters, tough issues, family drama, and a romance that stands true.


Genre: Historical Romance, Chicago Fire, 1871

Plot Overview:

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

What I loved: I think my favorite part was experiencing the fire with the characters. It brought to light a historical event I’d read about in ways which I’d never considered. It helped me to better relate to friends who have had to evacuate due to wildfires. The details were just so real I’ll never view that tragedy the same way again.

Favorite Character and Why: Stephen was a complex character who I loved and sympathized with. The poor man had endured so much during the Civil War and Andersonville, and yet he was forced to continually face it through PTSD. His grow arch was complex, believable, and heart-wrenching. Parts of his thought patterns reminded me of a dearly loved one and helped me to understand them just a bit better.

Rating and Why: Four and a half stars. The story was heavy, in a good way, but also in a way I’m not sure I am likely able to read again. I would recommend it to everyone, but it was an emotionally hard read for me.

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