The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear
This book is part of Barbour’s The Daughters of the Mayflower series and is set during the Civil War. Shannon McNear’s letter to readers in the front of the book was amazing at setting the tone for the story and the historical research/details. If you choose to read the book, DO NOT miss that letter. It really spoke to some of the complexities of the Civil War.
The story itself was less action-packed or suspenseful than I thought it would be based on the description, however, it did pick up in the last quarter of the book. Reading this story gave me a look at the life of those forced to house and nurse those considered to be the enemy and all the complexities involved. The interactions between characters were believable, the love story sweet and slow, and the history was well researched.
I recommend this book to those who enjoy Civil War stories that focus on a look at the homefront, complex family situations, and slow romances born during times of personal stress and growth.
Genre: Historical Romance, Battle of Chickamauga, 1863
Can Love Form Amidst Tensions of War?
During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.
What I loved: History is always a key element for me. However, what really grabbed me was actually the author letter in front of the story. It really spoke my heart about the complexities of the Civil War which is often painted in broad strokes of black and white, right and wrong.
Favorite Character and Why: I enjoyed all the characters, but I think the dad was my favorite. He was a sweet old man who loved the Lord and extended that love willingly to the enemies living in his house.
Rating and Why: Four stars. It was a little slower paced than I expected, and though very well written, it was a story I could set down, walk away from and come back to later. I will, however, likely read it again when in the mood for a story of that pacing.
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The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden
Elizabeth Camden’s books never fail to astound me with the depth and breadth of her research, and the Spice King was no different. The historical depth was astounding, having a deep understanding of political history, its impact on the food production industry, and the lives of vastly different characters. The amount of research she must have completed in order to bring this part of history to life must have filled a public library building if combined together. In addition to that, the character development of Gray Delacroix was extraordinary. I haven’t read his personality type developed so well and likable before. It was truly a fascinating story with a solid and believable romance line.
If you love a story steeped with a rich history, fully developed characters, and a love story which stands the test of deep personal and political struggles, you will enjoy The Spice King.
Genre: Historical Romance, Washington D.C., 1900
Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building his very successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before it spirals out of control, he returns to his ancestral home to save his brother and sister before it’s too late.
As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.
Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?
What I loved: The historical depth continues to blow me away. Every aspect of life in 1900 was thoroughly researched and communicated in such a way as to bring it to life. No history book has ever been able to give such a well-rounded look at a single slice of history.
Favorite Character and Why: Gray Delacroix was well developed. Though he was a very serious and flawed man, he was likable and reached hero status.
Who would like this? If you love a story steeped with a rich history, fully developed characters, and a love story which stands the test of deep personal and political struggles, you will enjoy The Spice King.
Rating and Why: Five Stars. The combination of history and character development really drove this rating.
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Last Chance Wife by Janette Foreman
I don’t know if you have heard the news, but Love Inspired is bringing back their Historical line for a limited time. I didn’t even know the line existed until after they’d already closed it, so with the announcement of the new line, I decided to read a dozen or so first chapters and pick out which story grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. Janette Foreman’s story was exactly that!
This was such a fun twist on mail-order brides and love letters. Winifred is a disgruntled mail-order bride ready to admit defeat and return home, however, first she must earn her way back home. Ewan begrudgingly puts an anonymous ad out for a mail-order bride–and his cut and dry expectations flare Winifred’s frustration with men to new heights. She picks up a pen and immediately writes to “Business Man” and signs it “Thoroughly Disgruntled,” never expecting to actually send the letter. Of course, it gets sent, and I have to say, I love the results.
Last Chance Wife is a story that will have you giggling, grinning, and turning the pages all night long.
Genre: Historical Romance, Mining Camp, 1878
Her Secret Suitor
When six-time mail-order bride Winifred Sattler is stranded in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, she’s grateful to find a temporary position at Mr. Ewan Burke’s business until she can return home. Ewan is handsome, but stuffy and serious—her complete opposite. Unlike her new anonymous correspondent, Mr. Businessman, who appreciates her bubbly optimism.
To keep his mining company afloat, Ewan can’t be distracted by Winifred’s vivacious beauty. He needs a no-nonsense wife. Someone like Miss Thoroughly Disgruntled, the only respondent to his recent ad with whom he truly connected. In person, Winifred and Ewan don’t get along, but in their letters they’re falling in love. Will they discover a perfect match in each other?
What I loved: I loved the letters the most! It was so fun seeing them interact in person and then through the written word. It truly made my heart swoon.
Favorite Character and Why: Although Ewan appears to be a stiff, stand-offish person on the outside, he proved to be a multi-layered hero who steals your breath with his generous heart.
Who would like this? I’d recommend it to anyone who loves sweet romances with heroes who are generous on the inside but appear rigid on the outside, and heroines who are independent and capable but not perfect.
Rating and Why: Five Stars. It was a fun, quick read with a unique twist on letter writing and mail-order brides.
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Hello my lovelies!
Long time no see. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been absent for a few weeks and for good reason. The marvelous, amazing, newborn Momma, Savanna Kaiser was hard at work developing my new website. I didn’t want to add any more content and make her job harder so I’ve held off.
BUT NOW I get the incredible honor and joy of introducing you to my critique partner and friend, Patti Stockdale and her debut historical romance, Three Little Things.
TO CELEBRATE PATTI’S DEBUT, BE SURE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY AT THE END OF THIS POST
Patti Stockdale has returned to her home state of Iowa after moving around the country for years. She’s a freelance writer and previously worked as a director at a nonprofit, an administrative assistant, and a corn detasseler – a big challenge since she’s five foot one. Love letters her grandparents exchanged served as the inspiration for Three Little Things.
It is such and honor and blessing to have you here to celebrate the release of your debut! Before we dive in to the detailed questions, I would love to hit you with my fast five.
CC: Sweet or Unsweet Tea?
PS: Unsweetened and decaffeinated. Loose-leaf blueberry is my favorite.
CC: Oh, blueberry sounds interesting! I’m going to have to find some and try it!
CC: Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?
PS: The beach is my go-to vacation spot.
CC: The older I get, the more I like the beach. It is so relaxing!
CC: Homebody or Love to Travel?
PS: I’m a homebody who loves to travel.
CC: That is a sweet combination! The best of both worlds.
CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?
PS: My husband rises at 5:30 for work, so that’s usually when I start my day too.
CC: Bless you, friend. No one should be up that early. LOL
CC: Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?
PS: I love bookmarks, but I can’t ever find one when I need it.
CC: You created some beautiful bookmarks for your release! Of course, you probably mailed all of those out.
I feel like even though I’ve known you for a couple of years now, that I know you even better after that. So now to the even more fun stuff!
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
PS: I either wanted to be a ballerina or operate the cash register at Van’s Grocery.
CC: That is so adorable! I can see a younger version of you dressed in a tutu playing with a toy cash register.
CC: What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?
PS: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 Whenever I’m struggling, either physically or emotionally, the verse delivers peace.
CC: That is such a powerful verse. I agree it’s one to turn to in times of struggle for a measure of peace.
Now for one of my favorite parts! Introducing your book! So here is the blurb for Three Little Things.
One forbidden love. Two broken hearts. Three little things.
Hattie Waltz should forget the troubled neighbor leaving for boot camp in 1917. He forgot about her ages ago. It had always been the Waltzs verses the Kregers, his family pitted against hers. When she hands him a farewell gift, a chemistry lesson unfolds. The good kind.
Arno Kreger can’t leave Iowa or his old man fast enough. He’s eager to prove his worth on the battlefield and stop blaming himself for his brother’s death. Before entering the train, he bumps into Hattie. He’s loved her forever, always from the sidelines, because nobody crosses Hattie’s pa.
One innocent letter soon morphs into many. Arno and Hattie share three little secrets in each letter and grow closer together. But he’s on his way to a war across the ocean, and she’s still in her father’s house. Their newfound love will need to survive dangers on both fronts.
CC: So, Patti, which character was the most fun to create? What made them fun?
PS: My favorite character to write was Jeb, the protagonist’s brother. He dropped out of school early and starts reading the dictionary to expand his vocabulary.
CC: I did love Jeb and his sort of know it all attitude, too. Just like a brother.
This story has a special place in your heart. Can you explain why?
PS: Three Little Things is inspired by letters my maternal grandparents exchanged. Initially, I tried to tell their story. But there were too many gaps, and I couldn’t assign flaws to my grandparents.
CC: Grandparents are always perfect in our eyes aren’t they. I love that they exchanged letters and you can follow their romance through it. What a sweet way to get to know them better.
How did you select the names of your characters?
PS: To honor my grandparents, I used their first names: Arno and Hattie in Three Little Things. Another character is named after my paternal grandmother: Lena. I also ask friends to tell me their grandparents or great-grandparents’ names. Then, I pick my favorites.
CC: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this interview. I just have one more fun question for you. What would be your writer mascot and why?
PS: I’d choose a sweet teddy bear as my mascot. They’re snuggly, friendly, and make me smile.
CC: Awww, that sounds an awful like someone I know. Except we don’t cuddle, but I’ll take one of your hugs any day.
Now to my reader friends, in order to celebrate my wonderful friend’s debut, I’d like to offer you a chance to win an e-book copy of Patti’s debut. This giveaway is open internationally and will end on March 2nd at 11:59 PM (EST). To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Circle of Spies by Roseanna White
Circle of Spies is the third and final book in the Culper Ring series, but you don’t necessarily have to read the others to enjoy the last, although I HIGHLY recommend it as you will get connections missed otherwise. This particular story takes place during the last months of the Civil War and full of espionage and tension.
As I prepare to write my own Civil War series, it was a great way to get my mindset in the time period. As always her characters have special gifts that make them stand out. The heroine, Marietta, has a photographic memory. This comes as a curse which she eventually learns to accept as a gift. It truly was a fascinating read with historical details that really got my mind working.
Genre: Historical Romance, Civil War, 1865 – Baltimore
1865―Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy, but the family legacy of espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unknown to her, the Knights of the Golden Circle―a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union her brother died for―has been meeting in a hidden lair beneath her home. Faced with the secrets of her late husband and his brother, whom she thought she could trust with anything, Marietta’s world tilts out of control. Can she right it by protecting a Union agent infiltrating the KGC?
Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn’t just their inner workings that baffle him―it’s the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet…so much more.
Do they dare trust each other in this circle of intrigue? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Slade stymie the enemy long enough to see their beloved country reunited?
What I loved:
History is always a big one for me, but I enjoyed then tension and ending action of this one. Everything seemed to go a believable path while still keeping me on the edge of my seat.
Favorite Character and Why: It’s hard to put my finger on one, but Grandpa Thad is definitely still a favorite of mine.
Who would like this? Anyone who enjoy American history, especially Civil War fans. The romance in this one is a bit different, but realistic of two broken people learning to become new in Christ. If you like danger, history, and characters with unique gifts, this is definitely a go to read.
Rating and Why: Four and half stars. I love the history, tension, and action of the story.
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