The Lost Letter
by Mimi Matthews
I’d heard A LOT about Mimi Matthews books from many of my writer friends, and when I saw a freebie go up, I decided to give her a try. I will say, I didn’t realize that she wasn’t specifically Christian Fiction, and she was pretty heavy on the “steamy” side of romance while still keeping a closed-door and never having anything occur between unmarried couples. While I’d still classify it as clean romance, it might be a little spicier than some are used to or willing to read. I had no problems with it, but felt I should warn others since it took me so off guard when I first read it. Also, there is some cussing.
This Regency romance had a bit of a Beauty and the Beast feel to it with the hero being a wounded war veteran turned recluse and she seeing past all of that. I enjoyed the conniving little sister who worked hard to get Sylvia to visit her brother and rescue him from the dangerous hold of depression. The miscommunication of the past between Sylvia and Sebastian took only a conversation to solve, but the wounds of the past made it believably difficult to accomplish. I really enjoyed how Miss Matthews brought everything into its right and happy conclusion.
I recommend this book for fans of Regency-era novels that are clean but contain scenes that aren’t as chaste as holding hands or pecks on the cheek. Fans of beauty and the beast type stories, second chance love, epistolary romances, and characters with strong internal struggles.
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
A Proud Beauty
When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves her destitute and alone, society beauty Sylvia Stafford finds work as a governess in a merchant’s household in Cheapside. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood…until a mysterious visitor convinces her to temporarily return to her former life–and her former love.
A Scarred Beast
Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia once fell in love with. Badly scarred during the Sepoy Rebellion, he has withdrawn to his estate in rural Hertfordshire where he lives in near complete seclusion. Brooding and tormented, he cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited–and even less for the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.
A Second Chance
A week together in the remote Victorian countryside is the last thing either of them ever wanted. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily-ever-after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?
What I loved: How well the wounds were played out in each character’s individual story, and how they really drove character action.
Favorite Character and Why: I love how the sister did what she had to in order to get Sylvia to go to her brother and then convinced her to stay when things did not go as expected.
Who would like this? I recommend this book for fans of Regency-era novels that are clean, but contain scenes that aren’t as chaste as holding hands or pecks on the cheek. Fans of beauty and the beast type stories, second chance love, epistolary romances, and characters with strong internal struggles.
Rating and Why: Five stars. The writing was everything I was told to expect (except a little steamier) and very well done.
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The Captain’s Confidant
by Ashtyn Newbold
While I typically only read Christian Fiction, at the recommendation of some readers here and elsewhere, I have begun looking into some clean historical romance when the ebooks are free to download. The Captain’s Confidant is one of those I downloaded for free and picked up off my Kindle when stuck at an extra-long doctor’s appointment. For complete transparency, this book is completely clean but lacks a spiritual growth element, so if that is a non-negotiable for you, there are tons of other Regency-era Christian Fiction you can read.
I was pleasantly surprised by The Captain’s Confidant. There were a significant number of flashbacks, something I don’t usually care for, but they were managed well and felt crucial to the story. It especially helped me to understand why the heroine, Bridget Northcott, refused to fall in love with anyone else other than the hero, even though he’d only been the childhood companion of her brothers and had gone off to sea years ago. Initially, her reason for turning down suitors felt childish to me, but I quickly came to see how the idolization of the man led her to make those decisions. And while there wasn’t a specific spiritual thread, I did appreciate Newbold’s showing Bridget’s growth of overcoming her idolization and growing to appreciate the hero (Colin Foster) for the man he was and not the man she made him out to be in her head. Actually, both characters’ growth arcs were realistic and VERY well done.
As far as the romance goes, the forbidden love line was well managed and had unexpected twists that I really enjoyed. I loved the interaction between Colin and Bridget, the secret exchange of letters, the protective brother stepping in when necessary, and just how it all played out. The Captain’s Confidant was a sweet romance that has stuck with me, even weeks after having read it in a one-night binge. Sweet romances aren’t typically my preference. I tend to lean toward danger and suspense mixed in with my romance, but this book was exactly what I needed and could appreciate during a particularly stressful time. I will definitely be reading more stories from this author and series.
I recommend this book for fans of Regency romance, secret romances, forbidden love, clean reads, characters with strong growth arcs and believable challenges, and those who especially like love letters.
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Era, England
An accidental letter, a long-lost love, and a slew of secrets.
For as long as Bridget Northcott can remember, she has loved her brother’s closest friend, Colin Foster. She loved him long before he grew up, became Captain Foster, and long before he left her behind for a life at sea. Although she knows her feelings will never be returned, Bridget cannot help but turn away every suitor in the hopes that one day Colin will come back to Larkhall and see her for what she has grown up to be—refined, elegant, and the precise opposite of the silly girl he once knew.
When family circumstances bring Colin’s unexpected return, he too has changed. Once carefree, he is now cold, hard, and distant. Determined to unravel the mysteries of Captain Foster, Bridget writes her thoughts in a note, one she never meant to send. As a hesitant friendship grows between them through their letters, Bridget determines to keep her heart uninvolved. But when her facade begins to break, she realizes the childhood silliness she abandoned might just be precisely what is needed to pull him back to shore.
Faced with a choice between loyalty and selfishness, love and letting go, Bridget must find the strength to confide her own feelings in Captain Foster before the man she loved is lost forever. But there is only so much she can do when she discovers a match between them is what she has always feared—forbidden.
The Captain’s Confidant is a sweet and clean standalone regency romance novel, book two in the Larkhall Letters series.
What I loved: The characters struggles and their growth through trials. The romance they developed and the struggle to remain only as friends out of respect to family and other commitments really made it an interesting read.
Favorite Character and Why: While I loved both Bridget and Colin, I actually grew to love Tabitha–the villain of the story. I can’t explain why without exposing the story, but just know it has to do with how we come to know and understand her throughout the story.
Who would like this? I recommend this book for fans of Regency romance, secret romances, forbidden love, clean reads, characters with strong growth arcs and believable challenges, and those who especially like love letters.
Rating and Why: Five stars. I was truly impressed with the handling of the characters and their struggles. The struggles felt realistic even if at times I was skeptical–like how a childhood crush could cause a woman to decline suitors out of love to a man she hadn’t seen since her youth. Newbold did a fantastic job and I will be reading her other stories as well.
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What about you? Do you read clean romance? What other titles would you recommend that are clean, but possibly not categorized as Christian Fiction specifically?
See the bottom for a quick announcement my writing journey.
This was a great break from the chaos of life and, for me, was easily read in a night, but I tend to binge read.
As you may guess, I have a weak spot for stories with Pinkertons, Secret Service Operatives, U.S. Marshalls, Texas Rangers… you get the pictures, so it was a no-brainer for me to pick this story up.
I really loved how all the aspects of the story tied together. From the beginning, every detail had meaning. My little brain loved connecting the dots as the story progressed.
The hero, William, was a strong and focused agent, but really fumbled with his responsibilities for his sudden family. Elsie really does become a necessary part of their family. I love the inner struggles to try and stay aloof from the trio living under his borrowed roof.
Elise was a great teacher with a heart for children, which leads to the predicament of being almost forced into caring for William’s niece and nephew. I love how her relationship with the children grow and how she helps provide healing for two very hurt children
While it was mostly a predictable story, it was the relaxing read I needed to escape from the world.
When schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell meets rugged William Benton on a train platform in Albany, it appears they have nothing in common. He isn’t the sort of fellow a proper young woman of the 1890s would ever speak to, much less become involved with. But when she arrives at her small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Elsie is offered a job as caregiver for this mysterious out-of-towner’s niece and nephew, who’ve been tragically orphaned. Heartbroken for them, she accepts.
Unknown to her, William is an undercover Pinkerton agent posing as a lumber-company foreman. He’s never wanted family—his work is too dangerous. Yet as Elsie transforms his house into a home and he spends time with the children, he feels drawn to family life—and to Elsie.
As a good Christian, Elsie is troubled by William’s secrets…though she does find him intriguing. And when a sinister figure from her past arrives, Elsie and William will have to trust in faith and newfound love to protect their unlikely family from danger.
– Blurb from Amazon.com
You can purchase the book from the links below.
Amazon.com BarnesandNoble.com ChristianBook.com
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Just a quick note to share that the first 15 pages of my Work in Progress finaled in the ACFW Virginia Crown Awards. While I did not “win”, it was an honor to be a finalist. Curious to know what the entry is? Only my November newsletter subscribers will get a sneak peek. So if you are interested, sign up for newsletter above or by clicking this link: Newsletter Sign-Up.