Beauty & the Beast is my favorite fairytale. This was a decent retelling, but the writing wasn't quite as...refined as her first book. I really liBeauty & the Beast is my favorite fairytale. This was a decent retelling, but the writing wasn't quite as...refined as her first book. I really liked Lord le Wyse and his backstory. His character was well-crafted. However, Annabel annoyed me greatly. Oh the DRAMA. It felt too contrived. In my mind, and this is my opinion, "Belle" needs a much more resilient head on her shoulders. The danger with the bailiff needed to come more from him and less from Annabel's reaction to him. I was more annoyed than convinced I'm saddened to say. Overall, the romance was good, and I read the story in one day, but would probably not pick it up again, my to-read stack is just too tall....more
An enjoyable if predictable clean medieval romance. Though I knew from almost the first page how things would end up, I didn't know how events would uAn enjoyable if predictable clean medieval romance. Though I knew from almost the first page how things would end up, I didn't know how events would unfold. I recommend it to those who like clean historical romance with elements of faith....more
There was a lot to like about his book, especially the first half. Something felt off about the last half though. Like it was rushed and incomplete. IThere was a lot to like about his book, especially the first half. Something felt off about the last half though. Like it was rushed and incomplete. I would have preferred a little less convenience regarding plot wrap up and more emotional development. I will give this series another chance and read the next book, but if it leaves me feeling less than satisfied I won't bother with any more....more
Deadly Alliance, the third and final installment of the Espionage series, takes place during the final year of WWII. Peter and Genevieve are the mainDeadly Alliance, the third and final installment of the Espionage series, takes place during the final year of WWII. Peter and Genevieve are the main characters, who both have way more war and espionage experience than any young person should. Almost as soon as they are reunited, the war separates them. Their duties take them far from each other, and one circumstance after another makes it almost certain they will never survive, let alone find each other again.
Peter has several of his closest war buddies with him, but Genevieve is very alone. She stays busy at the hospital, but the war has taken too much for her to feel happy without Peter. He is determined to do his duty for his country and the men that are serving with him. While he hopes to be united again with Genevieve and live the rest of his life by her side, Peter knows that sometimes the only option is to make the ultimate sacrifice.
The story is told mainly from Peter and Genevieve’s points-of-view, with a large focus on events occurring in the fight between the Serbians and Croatians, the Partisans and Chetniks, located in Yugoslavia. The characters encounter several battle scenarios and devastated villages that show the face of war in that area of the world. The author’s style isn’t flowery or roundabout but straightforward, intended for an audience of men and women who enjoy reading WWII fiction and prefer a hint of romance.
Deadly Alliance takes the reader along as the characters move from one seemingly insurmountable circumstance to another. I haven’t read a lot of WWII fiction but I can see that Deadly Alliance and the other books in the Espionage series are well-researched. I follow A.L. Sowards on Goodreads so I see how many WWII books she reads. This knowledge comes through in how easy it was to slip into the time period each time I picked up the book.
I appreciated Peter and Genevieve’s devotion to doing whatever they could to end the war, even at the risk of their own lives. They go through some emotional experiences, however, they have been at war for some time now and witnessed many things no one should ever see. At times they are simply resigned to their circumstances, or hardened by previous events. I was anxious for both the war to end, and to find out what would ultimately happen with our heroes. Just when I thought all was said and done, the author threw in a twist that had me in some serious suspense.
Overall, Deadly Alliance is an enjoyable and satisfying conclusion to the series. I would recommend the Espionage series to anyone who enjoys clean, well-researched historical fiction, particularly WWII fiction. While LDS elements are present, it isn’t a major theme of the book. I look forward to more from A.L. Sowards, and can’t wait to see what she has in the works....more
More like 4.5 stars. Engrossing story that pulled me in and kept me there until I was done. I even read in the car, which is dangerous ground for someMore like 4.5 stars. Engrossing story that pulled me in and kept me there until I was done. I even read in the car, which is dangerous ground for someone who gets motion-sick as easily as I do. I found the writing style fresh and interesting. I would happily read another novel by Julie. ...more
This story is one reason I am happy for the opportunity to review A Match Made in Texas. Having read the first twA Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer
This story is one reason I am happy for the opportunity to review A Match Made in Texas. Having read the first two books in the Archer Brothers series (Short-Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher), I was excited to read Neill’s story. He is the youngest of the Archer brothers, and it was fun to see him all grown up and making his way in the world. Clara’s story is a tragic one, but it is easy to respect her for the strength and courage she shows in the face of difficult circumstances.
Because I like the Archer brothers, I do wish this story was a full-length novel so I could spend more time with them, however A Cowboy Unmatched is a complete and satisfying romance. I look forward to future releases from Karen Witemeyer.
An Unforseen Match by Regina Jennings
Grace O’Malley was a schoolteacher until her fading sight kept her from doing her job. The school board has purchased a small, rundown homestead for her and she’s fed through the generosity of the residents of Dry Gulch. Her pride has definitely taken a hit, but she has little choice and almost no other option available to her. The homestead desperately needs work–repairs that she can’t see well enough to do–so when Clayton Weber answers a newspaper ad that she didn’t place, she accepts his help.
Clayton is grateful that Grace can’t see the mark left years ago by troublemakers who falsely accused him of being a horse thief. He only accepts the work in Dry Gulch to help pay for the horse he needs to run in the approaching land race. Clayton is reserved around others and does his best to keep his scar hidden from curious stares. He’s a bit gruff, but Grace accepts him in a way he hasn’t experienced since before he was attacked. He never expected to find a woman like Grace on the way to claim his dream–land of his own.
I really liked Grace. It’s heartbreaking to read of Grace’s sight slowly being taken from her, but she manages to keep her spirits up. It took a while for me to “get” Clayton, though, and I never quite loved his character. At times, their dialogue was confusing to me. For example, I expected Grace to be upset at something Clayton had said, but she laughed, and I read back over it wondering if I had missed a joke. I think perhaps there were some missing cues for the reader so they could better grasp the emotion of the exchange.
Their first kiss was great. No details, but the experience certainly grabs the reader. Grace’s reaction afterward was so honest, I couldn’t help but smile. The scene in the barn when Grace goes looking for Clayton was emotional and touching, as was the scene in the house after Grace woke up, certain her sight was completely gone. Overall, a nice romance that fans of Christian historical romances will enjoy.
No Match For Love by Carol Cox
After Lucy Benson’s father passes away, her life changes forever. Not only is she alone in the world, she has nothing left. Her father’s poor investments, discovered only after his death, mean that everything must be sold. Living on the charity of her friend’s parents, Lucy jumps at the chance to earn her own way as companion to an aging widow.
Only after arriving in North Fork, Texas, does Lucy learn that Martha Simms is not a frail old lady waiting out her remaining days, but a spirited and capable woman. Her nephew, however, is concerned for her mental state. Andrew Simms’ windmill business is bustling, and he can’t spend as much time on the ranch as he would like. When his aunt begins talking about strange things happening on the ranch, he wonders if she is becoming senile. He hires a companion for his aunt, never expecting someone like Lucy. After a rough start, Lucy and his aunt quickly become friends. But Andrew finds himself wanting to be more than Lucy’s friend…
I liked all three of the main characters: Lucy, Andrew, and Martha. Lucy’s father intended to marry her off to someone with money and station, so he insisted on having servants perform the domestic chores. She has little to no experience with cooking or cleaning, but is an eager and quick learner. Martha is spunky and direct, but is patient with Lucy and they soon enjoy each other’s company. The more time she spends with Martha, the more Lucy is convinced that she is of sound mind. But how can she convince Andrew that the strange events coinciding with each full moon are really happening?
There is a decent amount of suspense in the story due to the strange events on the ranch. There are also some sweet romantic moments between Lucy and Andrew that carry no pressure to jump into anything physical. The reader also gains insight into who is most likely playing matchmaker for the couples in each novella. There is a fast, intense climax that felt a teeny bit rushed, but in the end, it’s a nice clean romance with a dose of suspense for good measure.
Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy
Hannah Taylor is both schoolmarm and mother to her younger siblings. She has resigned herself to becoming a spinster, despite being all of 22 years old. The only other single, church-going man in Dry Gulch is shy, awkward Marcus Whitfield. He is constantly avoiding her and has only spoken a handful of sentences to her over the last six years. He takes his coffee break about the same time as she leaves the school each day, and they walk the two-minute distance to the diner together, Hannah making all of the small talk. She doesn’t understand the depth of Mark’s feelings for her and he can’t find the words to tell her.
So he kisses her.
I can’t remember the last time I read a kiss with almost no detail that sizzled like that one. Very clean, but…wow. After this kiss, circumstances are such that, despite nothing unseemly happening, both fathers insist they wed. Though everyone knows Hannah’s reputation and they trust her, they also know how long Mark has loved her and turn that Sabbath afternoon into an impromptu wedding celebration. One of the best parts of this story is when Hannah and Mark talk in his parlor after the wedding celebration. I love the meeting of hearts that occurs there, the sincere communication between husband and wife.
I don’t think I’ve read anything by Mary Connealy before, but I am excited to seek out her novels. I have a feeling I’m going to like them very much.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: Received a free digital galley from NetGalley. Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the opportunity to read and review A Match Made in Texas....more
This past year I have been delighted to discover many enjoyable short-story romance collections. I really liked Carla Kelly’s Borrowed Light series, aThis past year I have been delighted to discover many enjoyable short-story romance collections. I really liked Carla Kelly’s Borrowed Light series, and am happy to be able to review this Christmas Collection.
The stories in this collection are conveniently arranged in order of my favorites, starting with “The Christmas Ornament.” I got a kick out of two fathers playing matchmaker with their children, as well as the two main characters, James and Olivia, who were both too intellectual to fit in with the ton. I related to their love of learning and education, and found James’s occasional bumbling to be kind of charming. Suffice it to say, apologizing is something he quickly became skilled at doing.
Peter Chard in “Make a Joyful Noise” is a character I really liked. He is a good father, a hard worker, and even takes over his mother’s duty to find singers for the annual choir competition when she is called away to help care for sick grandchildren. When the woman he has seen walking across his property from time to time sits in front of them at church one Sunday, he hears her voice and knows she must be a part of their choir. Rosie finds herself in unfortunate circumstances when her father, whom she travels with in the army, is killed. She has no protection and no choice but to marry a selfish cad of a man, the son of Peter’s neighbors who nobody cares for much at all. When he falls out of a window while drinking with friends and dies, she appears at his family’s home, a surprise to everyone. They consider Rosie a burden and treat her as such. Peter, however, is soon smitten by more than her lovely voice.
In “An Object of Charity,” Captain Michael Lynch finds himself on shore while his ship is in dry dock for repairs after a harrowing skirmish in the blockade. He is unhappy about the situation, much preferring to remain at sea. While staying in his favorite boarding house, he is approached by a young woman, Sally, and her little brother, Thomas, who are looking for their uncle, the man who had served as Captain Lynch’s first mate until his recent death in battle. He is the one to break this unfortunate news to them. When he discovers the two siblings later, shivering in the dark by the docks, he realizes their situation is much worse than he suspected. He takes them into his care, deciding to go home for Christmas for the first time since a falling out with his father and older brother 22 years earlier. Things at home are both better and worse than he expected, yet Sally brings a long-absent peace back into his life.
I learned something new about the Christmas traditions of Regency era Spain in “The Three Kings.” Sarah and her brother James are caught in a predicament while doing research in France and James is shot and killed. Sarah is determined to get their research back to England, but there are French troops everywhere and she is basically on her own to find refuge across the front lines of the English army. She is placed in the charge of a Spanish colonel who will escort her to Ciudad Rodrigo so she can continue on to England. Before they can depart, the encampment is attacked and she is swept to safety by Colonel Luis Sotomayor. They make their way across the countryside, managing to stay ahead of the French troops, until events escalate near a village where Sarah learns more about the colonel than she or her heart could have expected.
All in all I enjoyed all of the stories, though the first two were my favorites. If you are in the mood for a little romance as the Christmas holiday approaches, this collection from Carla Kelly may be just the thing for you.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: received a free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review...more
The romantic in me enjoys the occasional mail-order bride/marriage-of-convenience story. The concept of a man having three failed mail-order bride attThe romantic in me enjoys the occasional mail-order bride/marriage-of-convenience story. The concept of a man having three failed mail-order bride attempts definitely caught my attention.
Julia had been very hurt by the two men closest to her, so she had some trust issues with men. That, compounded by the fact that Everett resembled the man she was hurt by most, created an awkward first encounter for the two. Everett longed for a companion, enough to have asked three mail-order brides to venture out West. Through different courses of events, none of those marriages occurred. He was resigned to being alone for the rest of his life, though a good friend and neighbor thought otherwise.
Everett had no idea what was headed his way, but when he learned what had been arranged, he was open to the idea. Until he saw how pretty the woman was. He knew a woman that looked like that could have whatever man she wanted, and would eventually leave him like the others did, so he distanced himself from forming any attachment to her. This, despite his kind nature, made him come across as a bit of a jerk, but only toward her.
Once they were married, and Everett’s unhusbandly-like treatment of Julia was pointed out to him, he did his best to form a better relationship with her. Julia, however, was slower to open up because of her traumatic past, certain Everett would reject her. While they got along fine, there was no real closeness between them because of her fear.
The most tender scenes for me were when Everett stayed and prayed at Julia’s beside, and the final scene of the book. I did feel that Everett’s final struggle initially came across as more harsh than conflicted, but the events that followed were satisfying and full of emotion. There were a few weak spots here and there, but nothing that kept me from finishing.
A Bride for Keeps is an enjoyable read that fans of Christian historical romance will like. I look forward to the next book from Melissa Jagears.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review -- www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: I received a free digital galley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
As with the first book, Longing For Home, I feel inadequate to express how much I enjoyed Hope Springs. I devoured every word of it. The wait to readAs with the first book, Longing For Home, I feel inadequate to express how much I enjoyed Hope Springs. I devoured every word of it. The wait to read the conclusion of Katie’s story was bittersweet for me. I longed to know how things would turn out for her, yet I didn’t want my time in Hope Springs to end.
I was pulled into the story from the first sentence. The townspeople’s struggle with pride, resentment, hate, compassion, and forgiveness makes this more than a good romance. I don’t remember turning any pages except for the last one because that meant it was over. Things ended as I hoped they would, even if the journey was more difficult and heartbreaking than I expected.
Hope Springs is a satisfying conclusion to a well-loved series. If I could have one wish, it would be to visit Hope Springs again in the future through another character. The Longing For Home series has become an all-time favorite of mine and I highly recommend it.
Review first published on LDS Women's Book Review -- www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: free review copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review...more
In As You Are, we read about Corbin Jonquil, one of the quietest of the Jonquil brothers. He is brilliant, especially with horses, but he struggles toIn As You Are, we read about Corbin Jonquil, one of the quietest of the Jonquil brothers. He is brilliant, especially with horses, but he struggles to express himself to others. When he is won over by the beautiful smile of the mysterious woman who has moved into a nearby cottage, he longs to get to know her. Considering how difficult it is to speak to his own family, carrying on a conversation with Clara seems an impossible endeavor.
Corbin is so endearing. I couldn’t help but love him, even though I cringed (and laughed) at some of his attempts to get Clara to notice him. He was trying so hard, not realizing that it was enough just to be himself. Clara is a very likable character. Because of her past, I related well to her. I love that there is a bit of suspense in As You Are, as well as several cameos of characters from Sarah’s other books.
I look forward to each new book in the Jonquil Brothers series. (Good thing there are lots of brothers!) As grateful as I am for the digital review copy of As You Are provided by Covenant, I will be buying a copy of the physical book as well. First, I need Sarah to sign it for me, then it will be placed on the bookshelf reserved for my treasured Sarah M. Eden collection.
Review originally published on LDS Women's Book Review - www.ldswbr.com FTC FYI: free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review...more
Shadows of Valor is a story of ladies and knights, including one with a secret identity, in a tale of intrigue, valor, adventure, and seemingly unrequShadows of Valor is a story of ladies and knights, including one with a secret identity, in a tale of intrigue, valor, adventure, and seemingly unrequited love. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a light romantic read that isn’t heavy on historically accurate dialogue and doesn’t shy away from what some consider romance novel cliché. Shadows of Valor fit this mood for me, and I was pleasantly entertained reading about Elsbeth and her dealings with The Shadow and Sir Calan.
The pace of the story kept things moving well and the writing was enjoyable. There were a few things I noticed in the uncorrected proof that I hope were caught before final publication, ie., “had to of” instead of “had to have”, as well as a few phrases that felt too modern for the story. The intrigue and all of the “bad guys” are easy to figure out almost from the beginning (which could be intentional), yet Shadows of Valor is still a fun, quick read that many readers who like historical/medieval romance will enjoy.
4.5 stars. Fun, well-written, with great characters. Loved the story. It slowed just a bit in the last third, probably because I was so anxious to fin4.5 stars. Fun, well-written, with great characters. Loved the story. It slowed just a bit in the last third, probably because I was so anxious to find out how the story would end. Highly recommended....more