I just absolutely love the books Joanna Davidson Politano writes. She is truly the only first person POV author I can count on to pull me in and never let me go. Her latest release is no different for me in that regard. Though life was busy and I had to rely on taking sips of the story in the car rides in between picking up and dropping kids off, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, the audio was so great, when hubby and I finally had a couple hours alone with nothing to do, I read the print copy as I listened to the audio while cuddled up against my hubby. TV shows just have no appeal when you can be reading one of Joanna’s books. Her lovely complexity of writing and keeping the reader guessing is well displayed and I loved following the mystery of it all. It’s definitely one I recommend and will be giving copies away at Christmas.
Genre: Historical Romance, Victorian England
Raina Bretton is a rag woman in London’s east end when a handsome stranger appears in a dank alley and offers her a glittering smile and a chance for adventure. Rothburne Abbey has a unique position for her, one that will take her away from her hardscrabble life and give her a chance to be a lady. Things she could only dream of might be coming true. But some dreams turn out to be nightmares.
Though Raina has traded squalor for silk and satin, something about the abbey is deeply unsettling. As she wrestles with her true identity, the ruin, decay, and secrets she finds at the heart of the old mansion tear at her confidence and threaten to reveal her for who she really is. Only one man stands between her and the danger that lurks within–and only if he decides to keep her biggest secret hidden.
What I loved: Finding Lady Enderly is a multilayered story. I love the mystery behind the story, the twists revealed, and the spiritual parallels which can be drawn. And who of course doesn’t love Sully? The poor man just wants to love and keep this stubborn woman safe. I’m sure my husband can relate to Sully. I’m always getting into trouble.
Favorite Character and Why: I really love Raina. You understand her struggle and fears, as well as get to grow with her. She really as a beautiful growth arc. And I can’t not mention Sully. The man is the sweetest thing, and hearing his voice on the audio? I still hear his swoony accent in my head.
Who would like this? If you love mystery, subtle romance, and literary connections, you’ll love this book. The way Sully and Raina communicate is absolutely amazing. It makes me want to sneak one of my husband’s books away, mark a page, and underline something to say him.
Of course, he reads ebooks, and the print books aren’t exactly romance, so sigh. I guess I probably shouldn’t underline the threats of death. Not unless, he forgets to pick up the dirty laundry again. 😉
Rating and Why: Five stars. I really love the way you just get swept into the story into another time and place. It doesn’t even feel like you are reading first person, which is an amazing accomplishment in my opinion.
Each novella in this collection has been released yearly, with the newest one being released in a collection containing all three. Since I have already reviewed 12 Days at Bleakly Manor and A Tale of Two Hearts, I will focus this review on the third story, The Old Lace Shop.
While the first two stories are written in typical Michelle Griep style, The Old Lace Shop is written in first person present. Since this is the least favorite of my reading styles preferences, I’ll admit it took a little longer than normal to lose myself in the story as I adjusted. Even so, I enjoyed the story itself immensely.
I loved how it felt like an echo of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell–available as a BBC miniseries that has usurped Pride and Prejudice as my favorite. (Sorry Mr. Darcy lovers. Mr. Thornton has won my heart, even if his changes are more subtle.)
The Old Lace Shop Blurb
Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.
– Blurb from Amazon.com
What I loved: My favorite part of it was all the little nods to North and South. (At least, I connected them with the book/TV miniseries.) I love seeing a picture of life in the lace mills of Northern Victorian England, and all the social aspects that play into that.
Favorite Character: This is a toughie. Edmund reminds me so much of Mr. Thornton, the imperfect hero. I also dearly love Flora. I beautiful little girl, full of character.
Who would like this: Anyone who enjoys first person perspectives, second chance romances, fans of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and those who love a historical peek at industrial Victorian England.
Rating and Why: I gave this a four star rating. The collection has a great set of stories. The first person perspective in the last story was such a deviation from my expectation and comfort level that it actually detracted from the story for me, even though I still enjoyed it. The collection is still one I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of Michelle Griep and Victorian England.
You can purchase your copy at the following retailers:
This week I decided to share my comfort reads, the books I run to when I just want something familiar and comfortable. What is your favorite comfort book?
In no particular order, here are my top ten favorites to re-read:
Brentwood’s Ward by Michelle Griep – Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.
A Cross-Country Trip through Regency England Brings Intrigue, Rogues, and High Adventure
The must-read conclusion to Michelle Griep’s Bow Street Runners Trilogy
The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick – Everyone thought little Sunny had perished with Lady Gallagher in storm-tossed seas off the Arabian coast, but the beautiful toddler had been found, taken to the palace of Darhabar, and raised as the ruler’s own child. Now the emir, Ahmad Khan, is sending her home, and Sunny’s uncertain, new life is completely in God’s hands.
The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick – When the king commands Bracken to marry, high-spirited Megan is chosen to fulfill the edict. Unskilled in the ways of love, Bracken finds Megan captivating, yet cannot seem to voice his feelings until he almost loses her forever.
A Rumored Fortuneby Joanna Davidson Politano – Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first.
When Comes the Spring by Janette Oke – Elizabeth, the cultured young schoolteacher from the East, has braved the western frontier and spent a year teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Now she and Wynn are planning their wedding and their new life together at his outpost in the far north. While Wynn is accustomed to life in the north, Elizabeth is not. Can their love for each other sustain them through a harsh winter, loneliness, and rigors of life without any of the conveniences they’re used to?
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can’t bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.
Seven Brides for Seven Texans – 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?
No One Is Too Tough to be Loved Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures.
Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake – When “Big Tim” Creighton spies the mincing fop headed toward Forsaken Ranch, he is appalled. Thankful his boss isn’t around to witness the arrival of his kin, Tim decides he’ll turn “Fancy Pants” Hathwell into a man worthy of respect. Lady Sydney Hathwell never intended to don men’s attire, but when her uncle mistakenly assumed she was a male, the answer to her problems seemed clear. When her deception is exposed, will she be forced to abandon her hopes for family…and true love?
And a bonus…
Plots and Pans by Kelly Eileen Hake – The ability to follow orders—his orders—is the #1 job requirement for anybody joining cowboy Tucker Carmichael’s cattle drive. He knows that on the Chisholm Trail a moment’s hesitation can mean death. So when his partner’s headstrong sister, Jessalyn, joins their team as chuck wagon cook, sparks start to fly! Is God “stirring up” romance?
Hello fellow bookies! I’m traveling the country in an RV with my family this month, so I thought I’d make it easy on myself and do book lists with various topics this month, and first up is CHRISTMAS IN JULY!!!
It seems everyone has their own version of Christmas in July, and I figured why not? Some of these I have reviewed and the links are included, and some are just on my TBR pile. Links to those lead to Amazon. If you have a favorite, list it in the comments so I can add it to my TBR pile!
London, 1853: Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott reads and dreams of someday becoming a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn. William’s bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his scheming cousin. William asks Mina to be his pretend bride. When the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.
A Match of Sorts by Lucette Nel – As Christmas approaches, widowed Reverend Caleb Brennan needs a wife, or his vengeful father-in-law will take his young daughters. Bounty hunter Grace Blackwell refuses to owe a debt to any man, especially one as charming as Reverend Brennan. To repay him for saving her life, Grace agrees to pose as his mail-order bride. If their ploy is discovered, Caleb could lose his daughters. But in their pretense, the reverend and the bounty hunter might just both lose their hearts.
The Widow’s Captive by Lucette Nel – On the run with two small children and a third due within weeks, Adeline Spencer seeks refuge in an abandoned cabin. Sheriff Jonah Hale is determined to prove himself worthy of his badge, even if it means riding into a blizzard to check on a crazy miner. When Jonah reaches the cabin, he’s caught off guard by a pretty and very pregnant young woman wielding a skillet. Bound to a chair while the storm rages, and as Christmas settles in around them, he must find a way to earn Adeline’s trust…and perhaps her heart.
The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection – Enter the heartland of historical America at Christmastime through twelve inspiring romance novellas from acclaimed Christian authors. Meet Alma, Lucy, Esther, Marilee, Polly, Deborah, Annabelle, Sophie, Maddie, Karen, Arabella, and Kate who are surprised by how God brings them the desires of their hearts. Watch as faith, romance, and heartfelt gifts open each of their hearts to love.
3 Talented Seamstresses, 3 Christmas Romances Return to Christmases of yesteryear with three seamstresses who use their talents to succeed in the late 1800s. But can love also be stitched into their lives?
A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs – As warm as a woolen scarf on a cold winter’s eve, A Wreath of Snow is a tender story of love and forgiveness, wrapped in a celebration of all things Scottish, all things Victorian, and, especially, all things Christmas.
Siblings forge new paths and find love in three stories filled with the wonder of Christmas. Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.
Ya’ll are probably getting tired of my raving about Michelle Griep books, but THIS ONE, The Noble Guardian, is my absolute favorite of hers, and I NEVER thought anything would surprise my first love of Brentwood’s Ward. Samuel Thatcher is the most swoon-worthy hero ever. Absolutely my type. Dark, brooding, protective, tough, but entirely a softy on the inside. Yes, it is one of those books that I will force everyone I know to read, and multiple copies have already been ordered for gifts–whether they want them or not. I finished this book a couple weeks ago in the midst of traveling and I’m still flying on a high. And that cover? I am not one to stare at men or think much on appearances, but I could really stare at that cover all day long. So yeah… definitely a favorite. You have to pre-order this baby. Enough gushing, on with the review!
Genre: Historical Romance, England, 1815
Life couldn’t be better for Abigail Gilbert—but it’s been a long time in coming. Having lived with a family who hated her, it’s finally her time for love. Abby sets off on a journey across England to marry one of the most prestigious gentlemen in the land—until highwaymen upset her plans and threaten her life.
Horse patrol captain Samuel Thatcher arrives just in time to save Abby. But she’s simply another victim in a job he’s come to despise. Tired of the dark side of humanity, he intends to buy land and retire. Abby pleads with him to escort her for the rest of her journey. He refuses—until she offers him something he desperately needs to achieve his goal. . .money. Delivering her safely will give him more than enough to buy property.
So begins an impossible trek for the cynical lawman and the proper lady. Each will be indelibly changed by the time they reach her betrothed, if they don’t kill one another first—or fall in love.
What I loved: This book contained everything I love: a stubborn, strong heroine; a fiercely protective hero who is mysterious (and killer-handsome); villains that make your boots shake; fight scenes which make you hold your breath; a love that blooms naturally; and surprises that make me keep turning the pages long after bedtime… even when I have to get up at a ridiculously early time.
Favorite Character and Why: Is that really a question? Samuel Thatcher is my new book boyfriend as some of my reader friends claim to have. Holy moly! That man’s character and strength are enough to make a girl fan herself. He’s not perfect, but land’s sake, he is one I enjoy reading.
Who would like this? Anyone who craves adventure and danger with their romances, strong lawmen heroes, wonderful historical details, and stories set in England.
Rating and Why: Six stars. It is a book that makes me want to go and change the few six star ratings of other books to fives. Seriously, the best book I have ever read from Michelle Griep, and the best book ever for what I would call Historical Romantic Suspense. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. Do you feel the love for this book? LOL
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher/author. The above opinions are my own and are in no way influenced.*
I finally had time to dig into my older books TBR pile and pulled out a favorite author. This was another great one. Michelle took the marriage of convenience trope and flipped it on its head in a satisfying way.
Genre: Historical Romance, American Frontier, 1770
The wild American wilderness is no place for an elegant English governess
On the run from a brute of an aristocratic employer, Eleanor Morgan escapes from England to America, the land of the free, for the opportunity to serve an upstanding Charles Town family. But freedom is hard to come by as an indentured servant, and downright impossible when she’s forced to agree to an even harsher contract—marriage to a man she’s never met.
Backwoodsman Samuel Heath doesn’t care what others think of him—but his young daughter’s upbringing matters very much. The life of a trapper in the Carolina backcountry is no life for a small girl, but neither is abandoning his child to another family. He decides it’s time to marry again, but that proves to be an impossible task. Who wants to wed a murderer?
Both Samuel and Eleanor are survivors, facing down the threat of war, betrayal, and divided loyalties that could cost them everything, but this time they must face their biggest challenge ever . . .Love.
What I loved: Historical details are always a favorite of mine, and I really loved how the complexities of frontier life were displayed, especially for the heroine. To change from the pampered life of England to the comparably savage struggle of the frontier was fun to live through. I learned so much, and of course, I loved the romance. The struggle between the two to learn to love and trust each other was a slow thing, like a stew cooked to perfection takes hours and hours. Love is not rushed and I really enjoy that.
Favorite Character and Why: Samuel definitely won me over. He was a complex character, a puzzle to be figured out. He was both a man you loved and accepted as imperfect. He was real.
Who would like this? Anyone who loves frontier stories, romance, action, and danger. Also, if you love marriages of convenience, this is a fun story that breaks some of the molds.
Rating and Why: Four and a half. Michelle continues to be one of my favorite authors, and this story is no different. I will certainly be reading this one again. Her details were fantastic, the plot great, and the romantic tension consistent all the way to the end.