Monday, January 12, 2015

An October Bride by Katie Ganshert

She wants to make her father's dream come true. She doesn't realize her own dream has been in front of her the whole time.

Emma Tate isn't a risk taker, so everyone in her small Midwest town is surprised when she suddenly becomes engaged to lifelong friend Jake Sawyer. No one but Jake and Emma know the true reason they're getting married-so Emma's dying father can walk her down the aisle.

While Jake and Emma plan an autumn wedding together, it becomes clear that their agreement has a few complications-the biggest being their true feelings for each other.
This was a sweet and enjoyable novella. I love Katie Ganshert's books, and this novellas was no exception. The characters were quirky and interesting, and the ridiculous situation that the main characters got themselves into was very amusing, especially as new complications kept arising. The characters had strong relationships with their family and friends, and they soon rediscovered their feelings for one another as well. It was sweet to see how they worked through their differences and discovered what really mattered.

I received this novella from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain’s elite.

When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London’s East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love—and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.

Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky was an interesting read, but it did not appeal to me nearly as much as the first novel, The Governess of Highland Hall. The plot of Daughter of Highland Hall was less riveting and did not contain as much suspense nor romantic intrigue. I still connected to the characters, but not as much as I did in the first novel. However, I did appreciate the interactions between Katherine and her relatives as well as with Jonathan. Despite the less compelling plot, I did find the characters to be well developed and interested. Katherine grew significantly as a character between the first and second novel, and she continued to grow and to find a relationship with God in this novel. I also enjoyed learning more about Julia's brother Jonathan and about his struggle to choose between being a missionary abroad and a doctor for the less fortunate in England. Both of these main characters were interesting, but I was disappointed that Julia and William seemed to be less developed in this novel. Obviously they were only minor characters in this novel, but I did wish they had had more development in this novel instead of being ignored and considered only as parent figures for Katherine. Overall, I thought Daughter of Highland Hall was good but not as nearly as intriguing as the first novel. I would definitely recommend reading these novels in order.

I received this novel from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray

One woman’s search for the truth of her sister’s disappearance leads her to deceit and danger in 1893 Chicago.

Rosalind Perry has left her family’s rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. However, Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family—she’s at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister’s mysterious disappearance.
Reid Armstrong is the handsome heir to a silver fortune. However, his family is on the periphery of Chicago’s elite because their wealth comes from “new money” obtained from successful mining. Marriage to Veronica Sloane would secure his family’s position in society—the lifelong dream of his ailing father.
When Reid begins to realize that Rosalind’s life may be in danger, he stops thinking of marriage prospects and concentrates on helping Rosalind. Dark things are afoot in Chicago and, he fears, in Sloane House. If he’s not vigilant, Rosalind could pay the price.

Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray was an intriguing and exciting novel that explored both the lure of the Chicago World Fair in 1893 and the dark secrets that the elite of society try to hide. The plot line was well written and contained moments of mystery, suspense, danger, romance, and tragedy. I liked how the plot started out slightly sinister and mysterious, but by the end the danger had increased significantly and actually ended in sadness for one of the characters. While I was saddened by the course of events, I did appreciate the complexity of the plot development. I also enjoyed the plot setting of 1893 Chicago and the author's descriptions of the exhibits and flavor of the World Fair as well as the poverty stricken areas and the homes of the rich that surrounded it. The contrasts between the three locations were masterfully explored, and the themes that she developed from these contrasts were also well developed. Some of these themes included trusting others, honesty, not abusing one's position in society, and respecting people regardless of their societal position. Many characters in this novel were disrespected and mistreated because of their low position in society, and it was only by showing and accepting God's love that some of their characters changed their views about the importance of societal position.

The characters were also well developed and interesting. I liked both Reid and Rosalind, and I enjoyed their interactions with one another as they tried to understand one another. Both were strong characters who had to face difficulties and to move past their differing social positions. They also had to interact with other minor characters, which also added to the depth and the intrigue of the story as they tried to discover who was behind the mysterious disappearance of Rosalind's sister. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to reading Shelley Gray's next Chicago novel.

I received this novel from Booklook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.