Friday, January 22, 2016

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

The Lost Heiress is the first in Roseanna White's Lady of the Manor series, and it follows Brook as she leaves all she has known in Monaco to a family she has never met in England. I really enjoyed this novel. The plot was quick paced and well written, and it was filled with danger, romance, suspense, and tragedy. The characters were well developed, and I enjoyed watching Brooke get to know and to interact with her family as well as the servants. The villain was appropriately evil, though I did wonder how they did not figure out beforehand how much of a problem he was. The reader got an inside look into his character and intentions that the characters did not have. Brooke and Justin were an interesting couple; having been friends since childhood, they had to work out how to be more than that while at the same time both dealing with different, difficult circumstances. I also liked Brooke's cousins and one of the other Duke who will have a main role in the second novel of this series. Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to The Reluctant Duchess when it comes out soon!

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It's where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she's beautiful.

Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother's neglected duties. Home on leave, he's sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter's daughter. He's startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him--one of Wesley's discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.

Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she'll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.

Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family's estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?

The Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen was a poignant novel that illustrates the danger of a certain type of man and how God can redeem even the most broken of circumstances. I thought this novel was very well written with a wonderful combination of suspense, betrayal, danger, and a dash of romance. At times I thought the story wandered a little, but overall, I was pulled deep into the story, and I wanted for Sophie and Stephen to find a way to make it work out. The characters were by far the best part of the novel. They were realistic and well rounded, each with their own combination of strengths and weaknesses. The story was in third person, but it alternated between Stephen, Wesley, and Sophie's point of view.

Wesley was the (almost) sympathetic villian of the story. I thought that he correctly demonstrated the fallenness of man and took to the extreme how we all are apart from a relationship with God. He did experience growth as a character, but he tried to do it on his own apart from seeking completely after God, so in the end, it was a failure. Sophie was my favorite. Despite her initial sins, she did turn back to God, and she grew as a young woman as she learned to trust in God and to be trustworthy. I did think God could have been included a little bit more to explain the growth in her character. Stephen was a good character, but I did sometimes think that there could have been more time spent on his development. He did change as his feelings for Sophie grew, and I did appreciate his strength of will and moral character, however.

The other minor characters were also well written, and some of them also experienced growth throughout the story, though again, it seemed to be without a reliance on God. Overall, I enjoyed the complexity of this story and the way that the different characters and plotlines all worked together. However, I did wish that the successful growth in many of the characters was more clearly shown to be through God instead of individual's strength of will.

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

Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Stories

Four Southern women are at a turning point in history . . . and in their own hearts.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
The Civil War cost Savannah Darby everything-her family and her home. When Aidan Bedford, an attorney from Boston, buys the Darby estate, he hires Savannah to redecorate. Can she find a mysterious treasure before her job is finished?
An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray
When Russell Stark returns to Fort Worth, he's determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother's homestead, he discovers that she is very ill and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.
A Heart So True by Dorothy Love
Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.
Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
Emily has a secret: She's in love with one of the freedmen on her family's plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.

All four of these novellas were very well written and kept me enthralled the entire time. I felt like all four showed different aspects of life after the Civil War and reflected how lives were changed in the war's aftermath. I enjoyed the relationships that were developed in each of the novellas, and I thought that all were well done, especially considering the brevity of a novella. A Heart So True is set in the same community as Dorothy Love's Hickory Ridge Romance and includes familiar characters from that series. I enjoyed watching Abigail learn to stand up for her feelings and choose the right path for her life instead of what was expected.
An Outlaw's Heart is heart wrenching and sweet as Russell and his old flame learn how to move past the past and find love together again.
Love Beyond Limits is a startling look into what it means to stand up for what is right and to face the racial prejudices that existed following the Civil War.
I also really liked To Mend a Dream, though I did think that the relationship was the most rushed in this novel. However, I liked how the two main characters interacted together and their eventual trust in one another as they discovered one another's secrets. Overall, I really enjoyed all four of these novellas, and I look to reading more novels by these four authors.

I received this novel for free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund

In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.

His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself.

Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different.

But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love.

Jody Hedlund weaves a fascinating and compelling story of the relationship between Luther and Katharina in this novel. The plot line moves at a slow but still interesting pace, and it includes moments of danger, suspense, romance, and heartbreak. The story is told in third person, but it alternates between Luther and Katharina's perspective so that the reader has an idea of how each is feeling during the changing circumstances. The characters of this novel were fairly well developed. Luther and Katharina spend most of the novel at odds with one another even as they deny the attraction they feel in exchange for cutting words and angry tones. I thought that it seemed a little drawn out and unrealistic at times, and the other minor characters did not add that much to the story. However, I enjoyed watching both Katharina and Luther grow as individuals and as a team. They both learned how to yield and to respect one another. Overall, I enjoyed this book even though its style is very different than many of Jody Hedlund's other novels.

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

Book info

She sells priceless antiques. He sells livestock by the pound. Is he really the man to make a bid for her heart?

After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the people who could ruin them forever, they track it to the Missouri Ozarks and make an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house and all its holdings before the painting can move again.

Upon crossing the country, however, Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt Ballentine, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count---but no mysterious painting---Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings was an amusing, entertaining novel that featured the exploits of one Miranda Wimplegate and her disastrous run in with a Wyatt Ballentine. The story line of this novel is fun and relatively quick paced and is filled with danger, comic relief, suspense, and, of course, romance. There are times that the story jumps to unbelievable heights, but overall, it is well written and highly intriguing. The characters are fairly complex and certainly interesting as Miranda and Wyatt are from very different backgrounds, and Miranda's grandfather is a whole other situation by himself. I do think that the relationship that begins between Miranda and Wyatt feels a little rushed, but I do like how it plays out in the end. The other minor characters each add their own flavor to the story, especially the people that are located in the small town where Wyatt lives. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel by Regina Jennings, and I would highly recommend it to any reader who loves a fun romance that still contains a good splash of truth and suspense.

I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

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About the author:

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

Connect with Regina: website, Twitter, Facebook