Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey

by Abigail Wilson

As many of you know, first-person perspectives are NOT my favorite. An author really has to engage me and make me forget I am in the first-person in order for me to really get through the story. That being said, I needed an audiobook to listen to on a road trip that would have a bit of mystery, danger, and romance. The blurb for this story intrigued me enough to make me willing to try and listen to a first-person point of view novel. (And I totally blame Erica Vetsch’s The Lost Lieutenant and The Gentleman Spy for sending me on a Regency binge.)

I was pleasantly surprised, enough so, that I am considering going back and listening to and/or reading the first two books in the series. Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey is a standalone book, although it is connected to other stories. I am sure there are little antidotes I missed by reading out of order, but I still found the story engaging and believable. While not always able to suspend the thought of being in first-person, I loved the unusual marriage of convenience story. Elizabeth and Lord Torrington proved to be unique characters who drew me in. Lord Torrington especially was an unexpected kind of man. I struggled to make him out just as Elizabeth did, but found him a hero whose company I enjoyed.

If you like the first-person point of view, marriage-of-convenience stories, mysterious heroes, danger, and mystery, I highly recommend this Regency story.


Genre: Historical Romance, England, 1815

Plot Overview:

In this new Regency romance, a young unwed mother must protect her heart from the charms of her convenient new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life.

When the widowed Lord Torrington agreed to spy for the crown, he never planned to impersonate a highwayman, let alone rob the wrong carriage. Stranded on the road with an unconscious young woman, he is forced to propose marriage to protect his identity and her reputation, as well as his dangerous mission.

Trapped not only by her duty to her country but also by her limited options as an unwed mother, Miss Elizabeth Cantrell and her infant son are whisked away to Middlecrest Abbey by none other than the elder brother of her son’s absent father. There she is met by Torrington’s beautiful grown daughters, a vicious murder, and an urgent hunt for the missing intelligence that could turn the war with France. Meanwhile, she must convince everyone that her marriage is a genuine love match if her new husband has any hope of uncovering the enemy.

Determined to keep her son’s true identity a secret, Elizabeth will need to remain one step ahead of her fragile heart, her uncertain future, and the relentless fiend bent on her new family’s ruin.

What I loved: The plot itself was incredibly fascinating. The dance of romance, family drama, and danger intrigued me and kept me on my toes. It was a delightful distraction from a long boring drive.

Favorite Character and Why: Lord Torrington was a puzzle. I truly enjoyed getting to know him. He was far from a perfect hero, but he was a man whom I could respect and grow to admire. The man’s soft heart was shown in some rather unexpected ways.

Rating and Why: Five Stars. I was pleasantly pleased that despite it being first-person, the story was fully engaging. I waited in my car for twenty minutes after I got home, just so I could finish the story.

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Letters for Phoebe by Sally Britton

Letters for Phoebe by Sally Britton

Letters for Phoebe

by Sally Britton

 

This story was recommended to me by a critique partner because it has elements similar to a story idea we were discussing. Since I was traveling across the country and there are long periods on a plane where you can’t have your laptop open but you can have your phone open, I read this quick story during those times.

I have to say, I really enjoyed the interactions of Phoebe and Griffin. It was well-done and one of the most believable stories centered around secret letter writing that I have ever read. This story is part of a series written by several authors about friends who make a vow only to marry for love just before they leave finishing school. However, life never works out as it seems. Watching Phoebe maneuver the social scene to find a suitable match while getting hints and help from a secret, an unidentified friend was fun. Griffin’s anonymous help turns out to be more than he bargained for. I really can’t say more without giving more of the plot away.

If you are looking for a quick, sweet read. This is your choice. I love the inclusion of the letters and the believable romance the develops along with its complications.


Genre: Historical Romance, England, 1808

Plot Overview:

When Phoebe starts receiving anonymous letters, she never once thinks the most irresponsible man in London is her correspondent. Or that she will fall in love with him.

Phoebe Kimball grew up believing in love, but after failing to find a gentleman capable of capturing her heart, she has turned more practical than romantic. She is determined to find a husband in London this Season. If only the annoying Mr. Fenwick would stop appearing every time she sets her cap at someone! When an anonymous letter arrives warning her that her current target is unsuitable marital material, Phoebe begins a relationship with the letter writer that promises something more than a practical alliance.

Griffin Fenwick does not usually care for women on the hunt for a husband, but Miss Kimball’s quick wit and refusal to admit she enjoys his company intrigues him. When he realizes the gentlemen on her list of eligible bachelors is full with scoundrels, he warns her the only way he can – through a letter. As he comes to know Phoebe better, he soon realizes he wishes to put his own name on her list. If only she liked Griffin as much as she liked her anonymous correspondent.

When Phoebe realizes its been Griffin writing her all along, will she put aside practicality for love, or spurn Griffin for even trying to woo her?

What I loved: The complications of this letter writing are believable, and it makes for the perfect enjoyable romance. It is definitely one I will reread. I might even pick up the rest of the series.

Favorite Character and Why: Griffin. The poor guy is a goofball with a serious and protective side. I really enjoyed getting to know him.

Rating and Why: Five Stars. I will likely reread this novella several times because I found it so enjoyable. The quickness didn’t make the storyline any less believable, and there was just a quiet satisfaction that sang in my soul for a few days after.

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The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch

The Gentleman Spy is the second book in the Serendipity and Secrets series from Erica Vetsch, and this book was just as enjoyable as the first. I can’t wait to preorder and read the third book. This story definitely had more of a flair of danger, espionage, and suspense. Y’all, Marcus was one of those swoony heroes for me, and maybe it’s just that I have a thing for lawmen type characters, but I really think it is just because he is such versatile and confident character. The poor guy is a bit delusional, too, with flaws that make him real but still admirable. I love watching him grow beyond the great spy he already was into a more rounded man and husband. Charlotte was strong and someone I could look up to. I spent a good portion of the book cheering when she did something that showed her heart or showed her growing confidence. I won’t reveal any spoilers, but the complexity of the story was something I just drool over. Can I say I want to write like her when I grow up? LOL It was definitely a book I will read over and over again.

I highly recommend this book to readers of the Regency era, marriages of convenience, and complex plots mixed with danger and intrigue.


Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, 1814

Plot Overview:

He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

What I loved: The spy theme just really satisfied my need for action and intrigue. And I love how the poor Duke’s expectation that everything could stay in its box was brought to reality.

Favorite Character and Why: I loved both Marcus and Charlotte, for different reasons than Evan and Diana, but Aunt Dolly really tickled me. I loved her heart and the way she inserted herself into both Marcus’s and Charlotte’s lives.

Rating and Why: Five Stars. This is a series I will reread over and over. First The Lost Lieutenant and now The Gentleman Spy. Both books scratched my itch for romance AND danger.

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The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

Fans of Regency and Marriage of Convenience stories will be delighted by this tale of a hero — who can’t remember the event that made him a hero — and a woman with her own secrets united by the Prince Regent’s wishes. I have been eyeing this book for months but other reading commitments kept it sitting on my TBR pile. I have finally settled into a routine of evening reading, and this book was my first pick.

Guys, I really enjoyed this one even more than I expected, and I had high expectations. I loved the mystery, the complex connections, and oh my goodness, the relationship development between Evan and Diana. They both had so much to learn in those early days, and Erica Vetsch handled it so well. This was the type of story that shows marriage as it can really be, not all rainbows and butterflies. Watching these two learn each other’s strengths and to play off of them was so heart-warming. I loved this story so much, I went ahead and bought the second book and read it as soon as it arrived in the mail. (So guess which one will come as my next review. Tee hee hee.)

I highly recommend this book to readers of the Regency era, marriages of convenience, and complex plots mixed with danger and intrigue.


Genre: Historical Romance, Regency, 1813

Plot Overview:

He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

What I loved: The relationship development between Evan and Diana is so fascinating. I love the push and pull to learn to trust each other with their darkest secrets. It was probably one of the best romances I have read to really depict those struggles realistically and in a way that also makes you fall in love with the characters.

Favorite Character and Why: I have to say I really loved Evan and Diana equally. In fact, they almost seem one character–just like any husband and wife are one in Christ–and it wasn’t because they seemed the character. They just belong together so well that I can’t separate them in my head as liking one more than the other.

Rating and Why: Five Stars. This is a story I will reread over and over. If it isn’t obvious yet, this is a story I will be gushing over for a while.

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Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

This book was chosen for my online Christian Historical Romance Book Club, and I just finished listening to the audiobook this weekend. First, I highly recommend the audiobook as the narrator did a wonderful job changing voices to match the characters. As for the story, I enjoyed it as well, although perhaps not in the same manner as I would a light-hearted novel. This story was ripe with emotions, family drama, and a touch of romance. If you have a family member who is dealing with PTSD or dementia, it can be a hard read or an enlightening read. It just depends on where you are in your personal life. For me, I loved the depth of character development and a glimpse into the challenges others face in their lives. The details of living through the fire were so gripping it felt as if I were there experiencing it with the characters. The mystery entwined with the story was well done and complex. While the ending was happy, it didn’t pretend the life-long effects of PTSD go away. You left the family knowing they would continue to face challenges but face them together with fortitude and faith.

I recommend this story for anyone who enjoys deep characters, tough issues, family drama, and a romance that stands true.


Genre: Historical Romance, Chicago Fire, 1871

Plot Overview:

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

What I loved: I think my favorite part was experiencing the fire with the characters. It brought to light a historical event I’d read about in ways which I’d never considered. It helped me to better relate to friends who have had to evacuate due to wildfires. The details were just so real I’ll never view that tragedy the same way again.

Favorite Character and Why: Stephen was a complex character who I loved and sympathized with. The poor man had endured so much during the Civil War and Andersonville, and yet he was forced to continually face it through PTSD. His grow arch was complex, believable, and heart-wrenching. Parts of his thought patterns reminded me of a dearly loved one and helped me to understand them just a bit better.

Rating and Why: Four and a half stars. The story was heavy, in a good way, but also in a way I’m not sure I am likely able to read again. I would recommend it to everyone, but it was an emotionally hard read for me.

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