Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review of "A Most Noble Heir" by Susan Anne Mason

Set in England in the late 1800's, Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that they have both been working for his father, the Earl of Stainsby, for the last number of years (she is the housekeeper, he is the stable hand). Not only is this a serious shock, but it immediately affects his plans to purchase a farm and marry his longtime love, Hannah. Hannah is a kitchen maid in Lord Stainsby's household, and she has loved Nolan practically from their first meeting when they were young teenagers.

Lord Stainsby never knew he had a son - he was told the child died with the mother at birth, and for years has mourned their loss. However, in the years to follow the Earl has now become a grumpy man. Although not cruel, he can't be described as kind, thoughtful, or flexible. Due to all of the rules that constrained English aristocracy at that time, Lord Stainsby is not at all ok with his newly discovered heir marrying the kitchen maid. He is determined that his son will marry within his station, and his heart has been hardened by his past experiences in love.

There is a lot of back and forth about this love match - and IMO the main character's choices seem to lack consistency rather than demonstrate character development. I had a hard time with their "thought processes" and found the friction and conflict annoying, rather than compelling. One question I found myself asking repeatedly was, "If these two (Nolan and Hannah) have supposedly loved each other for all of these years, why the doubts? Why all the questioning and back and forth on their convictions - is there any trust?!?" It just didn't seem solid or believable.

Overall, this book was acceptable; I just can't truthfully say that I loved it. There are some very fun supporting characters, but the main characters rarely ceased to be irritating to me. Again - an opinion - you should certainly check it out for yourself! This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review of "The Kremlin Conspiracy" by Joel C. Rosenberg

In the opener of this new series from Mr. Rosenberg, he first peeks back at 1999 where the stage was being set for later potentially cataclysmic world events: the crowning of the new Russian President Aleksandr Luganov, the political rise of his future son-in-law lawyer Oleg Kraskin, and the back story of soon-to-be hero, Marcus Ryker.

Broken into seven "parts", we go back and forth between the point of view of not only our main characters, but also some short lived ones. It is an interesting way the author has chosen to paint the picture overall, and I really enjoyed this style of writing.

I'm finding it a little challenging to properly describe/review this book! There are many twists and turns that, if described, will completely spoil the many surprise elements in the book that the author has done so well.

I can say, the characters are compelling, the story line is believable and timely, and this book is of course, very well written. It also won't hurt to let you know that Lawyer Oleg becomes the Russian's President's right hand man and trusted confidant; Marcus becomes a Marine and eventually joins the Secret Service; and lots of people die. :/  I am eagerly awaiting the next installment of this story! Highly recommended!

I was provided a copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Review of "The Masterpiece" by Francine Rivers

It's been a while since I've read a book by Francine Rivers, and I forgot just how epic (and epically great!) her books are! "The Masterpiece" is no exception.

Single mom Grace Moore is laser focused on bettering her life and situation. Initially thinking she would put her son up for adoption, she finds that she cannot, but continues to live with the family who was going to adopt her baby. The mother of that family is becoming far too attached, but Grace doesn't see a way to fully be on her own yet. She is sent by a temp agency to be the new personal assistant of temperamental artist Roman Velasco. He immediately realizes how special Grace is; although she recognizes his appeal, she immediately realizes he is likely dangerous to her fragile emotions and convictions, and she agrees to work for him with some serious boundaries.

Both Grace and Roman have a multi-layered past, and it continues to affect them deeply, sometimes with more far reaching consequences than they realize. Although they have made serious errors in judgment and have some deep secrets, Grace and Roman desperately want to be known and emotionally whole.

The author reveals the main characters' backstories in waves, and does so in a way that is engaging without it becoming a gimmick or perpetually frustrating the (this) reader. There were surprises, some twists and turns I didn't initially see coming; but that in hindsight made perfect sense for the story. This book was excellent - engaging, interesting, and I am delighted to strong recommend it.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review of "The Saturday Night Supper Club" by Carla Laureano

I have been waiting for a new book from Carla Laureano for a while now, and it did not disappoint!

The first book in her new "Supper Club" series, this tells the story of recently disgraced Chef Rachel Bishop. Even after receiving the coveted James Beard Award and successfully opening her own restaurant, Rachel apparently does not have enough cache to survive the social media storm that hits her in the wake of a true misunderstanding.

Alex Kanin inadvertently triggered Rachel's storm, and although it was never his attempt to damage anyone's reputation - quite the opposite, in fact - he has decided to track her down to make it right. They decide to create the Saturday Night Supper Club; Rachel's vision and expertise, with Alex's connections. Alex never dreamed that he will find Rachel to be so much more than he ever imagined, and he just may be falling in love with her. Rachel is equally intrigued by Alex but has some serious relational baggage to deal with, not to mention the reinvention of her career. Will these two independent and successful-in-their-own-right individuals learn how to create something even better than a pop up restaurant - together?

I was provided a copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Review of "A Song Unheard" by Roseanna M. White

You guys. This series is so, so, good. Roseanna M. White is quickly becoming a favorite author.

The second book in her Shadows Over England series (set in the beginnings of WWI) features the next sister, Willa Forsythe. Willa is an untrained violin savant as well as an expert thief, and both things work perfectly for this assignment from the mysterious Mr. V.

Lukas De Wilde is one of the best violinists of the time - and he knows it. He genuinely loves music AND all of the perks that accompany a man of his status! Although he is not a horrible person at heart, he has been living quite selfishly. Lukas' recently deceased father was a cryptologist, and everyone is looking for the "key" (including Willa). When he finds out that his mother and sister were driven from their home in Louvain by the occupying Germans, he goes to find them and is shot in the process. Unsure if they are dead or alive, out of necessity he goes on a fundraising tour where he meets the very interesting Willa Forsythe.

With intrigue, secrets, romance, and much more - this book is incredibly easy to recommend! I especially appreciated learning more about Willa's backstory and then watching her change and grow. I would suggest reading the first book...well, first; although I suppose you could read A Song Unheard as a standalone, I believe you will enjoy it much more after reading A Name Unknown (Rosemary's story) first.

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

A Song Unheard (Shadows Over England Book #2)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review of "The Ladies of Ivy Cottage" by Julie Klassen

Book #2 in the Tales from Ivy Hill series, the author seamlessly picks up where #1 left off! Featuring Rachel Ashford this time, the 'supporting cast' also includes her friends Mercy Grove and Jane Bell - the three friends are in different places in life, but enjoy living and working in Ivy Hill and provide support for each other.

Eight years have passed since Rachel Ashford was briefly courted by Sir Timothy Brockwell. Jane, Timothy, and Rachel grew up together, but many things have changed for all of them over the years. When we left Rachel Ashford in book #1, she had recently been forced from her home and she moved in with the Grove ladies; she also received a marriage offer from gentleman Nicholas Ashford (a distant cousin) - the one who inherited her home. His affection and interest in Rachel seems to be genuine, but is she truly able to move on from her feelings for Timothy? And just what does Timothy think?

Mercy Grove has long known she is not the most attractive in the room, and has resigned herself to focus on her beloved girl's school. She is full of ideas to expand and grow, and although she longs to be a wife and mother, does love her students and her life. When her parents (who own the home in which she lives and her school resides) come for a visit, bringing a potential suitor AND an ultimatum, how will she handle it?

This series has such a great FLOW, but it is definitely best read in order. The author has woven perfectly together the stories of the different ladies in the village. Some mysteries are solved; others are created - which only means I can't wait for #3!

This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review of "Out of the Ordinary" by Jen Turano

Jen Turano is such an interesting author! She takes a historical era and beautifully illustrates the time period (you can easily picture how it was to live then) - but then, the twist! She writes with a more modern viewpoint, with sparkling characters and witty dialogue. This book is legitimately laugh out loud funny! It also includes a mystery, intrigue, and a sweet romance.

Gertrude Cadwalader is a paid companion to Mrs. Davenport, a society lady who has a penchant for "borrowing" things that Gertrude is all too regularly required to return. No one can say Gertrude has not taken one for the team about 47 times too many, but it's pushes her over the top when it occurs at her dear friend's engagement party.

Harrison Sinclair has long valued Gertrude's friendship and admired her character. Now, as she is in trouble and needs his assistance he realizes just how deep his feelings have become. The supporting cast is delightful, and this book is well written. This book is a stand alone novel but your reading experience will be enhanced by enjoying Apart From the Crowd Book #1 first.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano