The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep
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.
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Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle Griep
This was the only book from Michelle Griep that I was hesitant to buy. Why? Because I already own the three novellas separately in the collections they originally showed up in. However, I am glad I ended up doing it anyway. It was so much nicer to just be able to pick up this collection and know that all the stories I love from her on in one place and easy to find.
Although I owned all of them previously, I’d only actually read one of the collections. So by having it all in one place, I was able to read the other two without feeling guilty about not reading all the other books in the collections. (Reader’s guilt is a real thing, ya’ll. Either that or I’m just so OCD that I can’t not finish an entire book–and that is an even more likely explanation.)
Genre: Historical Romance, 1815 England, 1862 Minnesota, and 1890 Minnesota
The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady
Cornish Coast, 1815
When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?
The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!)
Dakota Territory, 1862
Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.
A House of Secrets
St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890
Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.
What I loved: I loved having all three books in one easy place to grab. It has been especially helpful as I’m studying how to craft a novella, and who better to study but one of my favorite authors? The writing is as magnificent as ever, the stories engaging and gripping, and the heroes swoon-worthy.
Favorite Character: The female characters are all spunky. I love their vitality and grit. It is hard to pick a favorite. Hero-wise, Isaac Seaton stuck out as my favorite. Call me a bad girl, but I love the dark, rugged characters with hearts of gold that grow and change.
Who would like this: If you love stories with romance, great historical details, and a dash of mystery, you’ll love these stories. They are especially great for those who need a quick read.
Rating and Why: Five-stars because the writing and stories are still great, even though they are novellas. It’s hard to have a novella feel complete and satisfying in just around 100 pages each story.
Which novella would you choose as the most intriguing to read?
12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep
I cannot believe I have been so remiss in posting my review of one of my favorite Christmas stories! And since I am planning my semi-annual Christmas tea theme around the Once Upon a Dicken’s Christmas series, it is time to correct this error.
Michelle Griep has never written something I did not thoroughly enjoy, and this series is no exception. So sit down, snuggle in, and prepare to have your appetite whet, because this book and next week books are not to be missed!
Genre: Historical Romance, London 1850
Overview of Plot:
When Clara receives an invitation to stay twelve days at Bleakly Manor, it comes with a handsome reward, enough money to support herself and her aunt. The catch is, she must stay the entire twelve days. What could be so bad about staying at a country manor?
But when she arrives, a handful of odd guests have been invited, including the man who left her standing at the altar and ran off with her family’s fortune.
Benjamin Lane was falsely accused of embezzlement and rushed through a trial that couldn’t be called just. Just before he is to be shipped off to Australia, he is given a shot at freedom, but he must stay twelve days at Bleakly Manor and never set foot off the grounds under the threat of death. Desirous to have the chance for justice he arrives, only to find Clara, the woman who betrayed him.
Not everything is as it seems. As Clara and Benjamin begin to make sense of what happened to them, dangerous accidents begin to occur. Can they survive Bleakly Manor long enough to have a second chance at life and love?
Favorite Character and Why:
This one is so hard, but as much as I adore Clara and Benjamin as the main characters, Miss Scurry is my absolute favorite secondary character. She is quirky and wise, yet a vulnerable soul. I’ve had a Miss Scurry type figure in my life, and all I can do is smile in remembrance every time I read her character.
What I liked:
What don’t I like? Michelle Griep is one of my absolute favorite authors. She has an incredible ability to pull you into the story and draw you so deep you become the character. But it is not that gift alone. Her stories always have an intensity about them that draws me in. The danger, the real characters, and even the quirky ones. This story, in particular, was filled with great surprises and nods to Charles Dickens himself, and I absolutely loved the mystery behind it all. *sigh* A Christmas story at its very best. Oh, yes, and I can’t forget all those wonderful historical details. *swoon*
Who would like this:
Anyone who loves stories of redemption and second chances or stories with mystery, danger, and love set to a Christmas theme. I think almost anyone would love this story, but you’ll have to read it to find out.
A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love?
England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.
But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.
Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.
What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
Links for purchase:
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I am so incredibly blessed to have Erica Vetsch as a guest today to whet your appetite for a wonderful writing resource written by her and nine other award-winning authors. You won’t want to miss Writing from the Trenches or Erica’s answer to the question, Am I done yet?
And since I haven’t done a giveaway in a couple months (sorry, moving has interrupted life), check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway at the end.
Am I Done Yet?
Guest post by Erica Vetsch
In a recent edition of Writer’s Digest, I read an article about Writer’s Block, and what causes it. The author posed the theory that there are three basic causes of Writer’s Block, and they are all related to fear.
Fear of Failure.
Fear of Success.
Perfectionism. (Fear of not getting it perfect.)
Most writer’s have faced these fears on more than one occasion, but today, I’d like to address the third fear, perfectionism.
When I’m painting a room, I know when I start and when I’m done. When I’m mopping the floor, I know when I’ve reached the end of the chore. When I run a marathon (Okay, who am I kidding, I don’t run.) but if I did, you can be certain I would know where that finish line was so I could stop.
We can sit, staring at the blinking cursor on the blank page, too afraid to put down a word because we know in our hearts it won’t be the PERFECT word. But here’s the thing.
You can’t edit a blank page.
Give yourself permission to write a bad first line, bad first page, bad first chapter, bad first draft. Anything can be improved upon by editing, and if you’re aiming to be a professional writer, editing is a MUST. Nothing is best-written the first time around. So just write. I’ve been known to type in “WRITE THE BEST FIRST LINE EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND” at the top of the first chapter, just so I can get over that hurdle and get into the story without worrying about crafting the perfect opening line before I even know my characters and story that well. Just write, not searching for perfection, but searching for your story.
Eventually, you will type the words “The End.” That’s when a different type of work begins. The editing. The polishing. The tweaking.
And because writing is a unique art form where the possibilities are endless, you can tweak and polish and edit forever in the search for perfection.
So, how can you know when enough is enough, how can you know when you’re done? Here are a few guidelines:
- When your deadline arrives. There’s nothing like a ticking clock to let you know when it’s time to hit send on that manuscript.
- When you find yourself changing the manuscript but not improving it. When you change the heroine’s off-white shoes to ecru, beige, sandstone, ivory, winter white, taupe, etc. You’re not improving the manuscript, you’re just changing words here and there, a process that you can go through forever.
- When you’ve read and reread it so many times, it all sounds like dreck and you’re sure it’s awful.
The search for perfection is an illusion when it comes to fiction. Because fiction is art, because it is a creative thing, and because perfection is in the eye of the beholder. We can obsess and fixate and drive ourselves crazy searching for an impossible measure of perfection, dampening our enthusiasm for the project and sucking the joy out of being a writer.
When your deadline arrives. Hit Send! When you’re merely swapping words around and making changes that don’t improve the manuscript, call it done! When you have read and reread to the point of numbing your mind, stop!
Perfection is impossible, but excellence is not. Write your story, edit it to the best of your ability, send it out into the world…and then get to work on the next story in your heart.
And to help you on your way with that next great American novel, I’ve teamed up with some other writers to share our years of experience. Pick up your copy of Writing From The Trenches: Tips & Techniques From Ten Award-Winning Authors. Here’s a blurb:
TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:
Villains We Love to Hate
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing
At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.
Writing from the Trenches is available for e-book purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!
Writing from the Trenches Giveaway
Now here is your chance to win an e-copy of Writing in the Trenches. For your chance to win, you must do both of the following:
1. Leave a comment with a writing craft questions or a question about the writing process. (In 2019, I am hoping to have a monthly post that will help writer’s on their journey and readers to have a glimpse into the writing world.)
2. Enter using the Rafflecopter link below.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE
Giveaway opens 9/18/2018 at 12:01AM (EST) and ends 9/24/2018 11:59PM (EST). Winner will be notified by email and on the next blog post.
*Legal Jargon: No Purchase is necessary. This contest is open to all readers in the world, 18 years and older who are legally allowed to participate in such a giveaway as allowed by their local laws. The Write Call does not exchange prizes for reviews. Reviews are appreciated, but not required.*
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep
(Book 3 of the Daughters of the Mayflower Series)
I love Michelle’s books and this one didn’t fail to entertain. This book is the third in a groundbreaking series written by different authors put out by Barbour Books following the lineage of women starting at the Mayflower. While very loosely connected, it is a fun concept.
I highly recommend pre-ordering this story.
Genre: Historical Romance, 1870, French and Indian War
Plot Overview: Mercy Lytton, a scout with keen eyesight raised among the Mohawks, and Elias Dubois, a condemned traitor working both sides of the conflict, must join together to get a shipment of gold safely into British hands.
What I loved: I loved the constant pace and tension. As usual, Michelle brings a wonderful collection of unique characters and surprises that are fun to read. The constant tension between who Elias really served made for an especially fun twist. I had my suspicions, but every now and then something would happen that would make me question who he really served.
*As a side note, I really enjoyed the author’s notes about the historical research and the bibliography so I could find out more.*
Favorite Character: Mercy and Elias were my favorites. Although, all the other side characters were a lot of fun and very tempting to select. I especially enjoyed Matthew as the overbearing protective father-figure, because who doesn’t like to believe there is a father-figure out there willing to protect you.
Who would like this: Anyone who loves adventure, women who do not fit the “standard” mold, espionage, traitors, danger, and history.
Rating and Why: I gave this a five-star rating because it was a fun, adventurous read that kept me up all night. As my time becomes more precious and lack of sleep more detrimental to productivity, staying up all night to read is a sure sign that the author has convinced me to set logic and responsibility aside.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher. The review above was influenced in no way by this and the above opinions are my own.
Join the discussion: Does genealogy intrigue you? Do you know your family tree or how far you can go back? Any interesting tidbits?
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More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (coming August 2018)
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (coming October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (coming December 2018)
The Innkeepers Daughter by Michelle Griep
Squee!!! Michelle has managed to sweep me away again.
I have been waiting for another Bow Street Runner Book since I first read Brentwood’s Ward (review here). As soon as The Innkeepers Daughter was up for preorder, I preordered it… and then I preordered again a few months later when I forgot I’d already bought it. Oops… luckily I did catch it before Amazon shipped them both, so now I have money set aside for the THIRD one she’s working on now. Squee!!
This book is so well written that I struggled to separate my reader-self from my writing-self. As gripped as I was by reading the story, I kept stopping to examine how she did it. Seriously, if you are a writer and want a good author to study deep POV and story world creation, Michelle is it. As a reader, you will absolutely forget you live in the 21st century and live in Regency England.
Alright enough swooning and rambling:
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency England
Plot Overview: Joanna struggles to keep her family’s inn afloat and if they don’t pay their debts by the end of the month, she, her mother, and her younger brother will be sent to the workhouse. Alexander Moore is a Bow Street Runner sent to conduct a mission off the books, one that if he is discovered could end his life with none of his friends or the magistrate who sent him to step in to help. Staying at Joanna’s rundown inn puts him in constant contact with the woman determined to ignore his unrelenting charm, but finding the traitor to the crown must come first or they could all end up dead.
What I loved: The number of historical fiction novels that fully encompass a detective story and romance well are rare in my opinion. My desire for a good, suspenseful mystery and a swoony romance are simultaneously met in this book. I kept trying to figure out who the traitor really was and wondering how Joanna and Alex would get together. The struggles were real and intense and completely fulfilled every desire this chica craves in a book.
As a writer, OH MY GOODNESS! I want to write like her. I am literally copying pages of her work and analyzing how she draws readers so completely into her world. I have examined pacing and story structure of other authors but never to the degree I am now. To master deep POV and story world is a goal of mine, and studying Michelle will definitely help me grow closer to that goal.
Favorite Character: Alexander Moore, no contest. I thought Brentwood was swoony, but Brentwood has nothing on Alex. Whew, doggie! *fans self* Strong, smart, compassionate, and yet a man of God. Oh, yes, it is a good thing he is a fictional character because I am already married.
Who would like this: Anyone who loves a good detective story, swoony romance, danger, interesting characters, down-right awful villains, and a strong story that submerses you so deep into its waters, you are in danger of drowning.
Rating and Why: This is a five-star story for me. Her mastery of deep POV and story world is a large part of that. Being so completely swept away and surprised at the end is very hard to do and she has done it again. And who wouldn’t give Alex a five-star score? *swoon*
Join the Discussion: What makes a book so good you can’t put it down?
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