Reading during the COVID-19 Craziness has been a bit more difficult than normal for me. Books that normally hold my attention don’t, and even on the ones that do, reading a single novel takes nearly two weeks if not more, which is why there have been fewer reviews as of late. HOWEVER, A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter totally blew me out of the water (forgive the cliche).
While this was not a story of adventure and danger, it was filled with the best character development I think I have ever read and the character tension carried throughout the story was real and personal. If you want to get to know me better, read Daphne’s story. I identified with her in ways I’ve never identified with any other character, and William was equally well-developed. Seriously, this surprised me with how well it held my attention. More than one night while reading this I woke up in the middle of the night wondering about the characters. I should have just picked the doggone book up and finished it instead of trying to fall back asleep.
If you are an introvert who struggles to be around people or just in search of a book with characters who sweep you away and become real people, this is it. This is a story that will speak to your soul and leave you thinking about it for weeks after.
Daphne Blakemoor was perfectly happy living in her own secluded world for twelve years. She had everything she needed–loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes on, and the new marquis has an undeniable connection to her past, everything she’s come to rely upon is threatened.
William, Marquis of Chemsford’s main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.
They’ve spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, find a new path for the future together?
What I loved: The character development was astounding. I have never connected with a character so thoroughly as Daphne’s. On top of that, William was profoundly developed. I really enjoyed walking with both of these characters over the last couple of weeks.
Favorite Character and Why: Aside from connecting with Daphne, I would say my favorite character was Jess. That woman cracked me up and was the perfect foil for Daphne.
Who would like this? I’d recommend it to anyone who loves gentle stories with a personal tension that feels natural, deep characters who you can’t help but be connected to, and especially to the introvert who struggles to be around people. Daphne is your kind of person.
Rating and Why: Five Stars. It was a fun, deep, though-proking read that will stick with me for a while.
Reviewing collections has always been a little different. This is a novella collection I actually read a while ago and forgot to post about, so it’s been sitting in my draft box for months. I enjoyed having a print version in my hands, just because I’m not a huge e-book fan. Each novella is the kick off for a different series and whets your tongue for other reads.
“Three of Christian historical fiction’s beloved authors come together in this romantic and humorous collection of novellas featuring prequels to their latest series. New and loyal fans alike will enjoy these novellas previously released only as ebooks. Connealy’s The Boden Birthright journeys to the Old West, where ranch hand Chance Boden’s determination to be his own boss is challenged by his employer’s pretty daughter. Hunter’s A Lady of Esteem follows a Regency-era young lady whose chance at love and reputation in society are threatened by a nasty rumor. Turano’s At Your Request tells of a young woman who is humbled at her newly lowered status in society when she is reunited with the very man whose proposal she rejected.” – Amazon Blurb
The first novella, The Boden Birthright, kicks off The Cimarron Legacy with the father’s love story and the hint at a secret that threatens the life of Chance and his children during the series that follows.
“After the death of his wife, prosperous businessman Chance Boden heads west along the Santa Fe Trail with his son to escape the powerful control of his in-laws. He has plans to establish his own ranch, but instead he finds work with Frank Chastain, owner of a vast amount of land.
Chance doesn’t want to work for anyone, but Frank’s beautiful daughter, Veronica, gives him reason to delay buying his own holdings. With winter coming, no home in which to live, and Veronica’s offer to care for young Cole while Chance learns the ways of ranching in the desert, Chance has little choice but to accept the Chastains’ offer to stay on.
When Frank is attacked, his last wish is that Chance marry his daughter, but after dealing with his in-laws, Chance doesn’t want anyone coming between him and his son. Then, before Frank dies, his precarious hold on the land he received as part of an old Spanish Land Grant forces him to make a desperate choice to save Veronica’s inheritance–and also gives the men who attacked Frank a reason to come after his legacy.” — Amazon
The second novella A Lady of Esteem introduced me to a new-to-me author, Kristi Ann Hunter. I enjoyed the story and the lovely twists. I am definitely intrigued enough to check out the Hawthorne House series and follow the brothers and sister I met in A Lady of Esteem.
“Miss Amelia Stalwood may live in London at her absent guardian’s townhouse, but she’s never actually met any nobility; instead of aristocrats, her closest friends are servants. Quite by happenstance, she’s introduced to the Hawthorne family and their close family friend, Anthony, the reformed Marquis of Raebourne. They welcome her into their world, but just as she’s beginning to gain some confidence and even suspect that she may have caught Anthony’s eye, she’s blindsided by an unexpected twist in her situation accompanied by nasty rumors. Will she lose her reputation when the world that has only just accepted her turns its back on her, or will she rest in the support of the friends who’ve become like family and the man who’s shared his faith and captured her heart?” – Amazon Blurb
The final story, At Your Request was a bit shorter than I expected it to be and was a cute story typical of Jen Turano fashion. I haven’t yet read the Apart from the Crowd Series, but it was nice to be introduced to the upcoming characters and get a feel for what the stories will be like. ‘
“After her father lost the family’s fortune, Wilhelmina was cast out of the fashionable set and banished to the wallflower section. Taking a position as a social secretary to help support her family, she’s mostly come to terms with her new status. But when her old friend Edgar returns to New York society for the first time since she rejected his marriage proposal, she’s newly ashamed at how far she’s fallen–and how hastily she dismissed him years ago. Her strategy is to avoid a face-to-face encounter at all costs, but he seems to have other plans. Will Edgar take advantage of their now reversed positions and make her regret her refusal, or is there still hope for a friendship between them–or something more?
At Your Request is an e-only novella that gives an exciting introduction to Jen Turano’s new Gilded Age historical romance series, Apart From the Crowd! Includes an extended excerpt of the first full-length novel in the series, Behind the Scenes.” – Amazon
Overall, I really liked the collection for the ability to get introduced to three new series and to have physical copies of books I wouldn’t have had otherwise. All the e-book are free to purchase individually.
*I was provided a copy of this collection by the publisher. The opinion above is my own and not influenced in any way.*”