The Lady and the Highwayman – Review

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by Sarah M. Eden

Series: Proper Romance Victorian
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (September 3, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1629726052
ISBN-13: 978-1629726052

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Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1865 Victorian London. She is also a well-respected author of “silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories—the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Mr. King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats, intelligent detectives solving grisly murders, and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Mr. King started taking all of his readers. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of  authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the social and political causes of their working-class readers. The group knows King could be an asset with his obvious monetary success, or he could be the group’s undoing as King’s readership continues to cut into their profits.

Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. As a fellow-author, she is well-known among the high-class writers; perhaps she could be persuaded to make some inquiries as to Mr. King’s whereabouts? Elizabeth agrees to help Fletcher, if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered. What neither author anticipated was the instant attraction, even though their social positions dictate the impossibility of a relationship.

For the first time Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.


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The excellent first line drew me right in!

Fletcher Walker has crawled his way up from the gutter with just his swagger. He goes wherever he wants, acting like he belongs, and no one questions him. Fletcher is a different kind of a hero who is very vulnerable. Now that he is successful writing Penny Dreadfuls, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from, and he gives back to those who need it.

Elizabeth Black is all prim and proper in order to keep people interested in her school. However, that is just a facade for her adventurous spirit.

Fletcher and Elizabeth both write Penny Dreadfuls and the chapters switch between their points of view as well as the Penny Dreadful stories themselves.

I’ve never been in to over the top, exaggerated novels, but Elizabeth’s story was fun and interesting. Fletcher’s was interesting as well, but it was sad, and real, and raw. Especially because it came from a place he knew from growing up in the slums. I liked how the Penny Dreadfuls intertwined with the overall story.

Even with their success, Fletcher and Elizabeth are drawn together with their desire to educate those who are often overlooked like females and the poor.

Historical fiction is my favorite, and I love learning new and interesting things during different time periods. I love that Eden drew inspiration from real life author Elizabeth Caroline Grey who was rumored to write Penny Dreadfuls and Silver Fork novels.

There was an overall mystery throughout the book that I really enjoyed. The ending is very cute, but I still wish I had answers to some questions.

I have read almost all of Sarah M. Eden’s books, and she is one of my favorite authors. This book seemed a different style than others I have read from her, but I really liked it and completely recommend it.

Blog Tour and Review: A Lady’s Maid

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by Jen Geigle Johnson

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications (August 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 152440845X
ISBN-13: 978-1524408459

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Molly O’Malley, lady’s maid to the progressive Lady Amanda Halloway, is determined to continue the life’s work of her lost love, killed in the Peterloo Massacre. But when her efforts and a trip to Lady Halloway’s charitable orphanage culminate in her own abduction, Molly’s eyes are opened to the horrifying crimes transpiring in the city’s slums. Despite the risks, she broadens her mission and is drawn ever closer to the peril all around them.

Thomas Flaherty, a footman in the Halloway household, has been with Molly from the beginning, but he fears she will never trust him with her heart. Even though her cause and happiness are of foremost importance to him, his loyal patience is tested by the fears that keep her at a distance. But with their safety on the line, Thomas is resolved to sacrifice everything for the woman he loves.

Risking their lives and their love, Molly and Thomas and a team of nobles on their side will stop at nothing to empower the powerless, no matter the personal cost.


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Molly O’Malley is a lady’s maid. She tragically lost the love of her life ten years ago. She wants to love again, but she is afraid of what she stands to lose. Thomas Flaherty is a footman in the same household. He loves Molly and has patiently waited for her, but he worries she will never be ready to let him in.

I liked hearing from the working class of Thomas and Molly. Though Molly has a very unusual relationship with her employer, because it is so friendly and casual. I loved hearing more about the orphanage and the children.

The summary on the back of the book gave no hint that there would be two other major characters and many chapters would be told from the point of view of Lord Annesley and Lady Chloe. Chloe is shy, but she finds her voice fighting for women’s suffrage. Due to his father’s poor choices, Annesley is forced to act like a puppet for the villain of the story, Theo. The longer he follows Theo, the more he is pulled away from Chloe.

As a side-note, I found it funny that it seemed like every character in the book winked. A lot.

During this period of history, there were positives like the fight for a woman’s right to vote. There were also the devastating events like the Peterloo Massacre, child slaves, and brothels.

“If it was important enough for him to die for, then it is important enough for me to live for.”

Molly, Thomas, Lord Annesley and Lady Chloe came from different social classes but all came together to fight for what they believed in.

“Suffrage was the great unifying topic.”

Historical fiction is my favorite genre. I enjoy when authors research an era and weave historical events into their book in an interesting way. Some speeches in the book during the suffrage rally were direct quotes from those who really fought for women’s right to vote. Coughing during the political speeches was so juvenile. I was surprised to find out that people actually did that.

To read more about the fight for the freedom of the lower classes, you can find Lady Amanda and Lord Nathaniel’s story in The Nobleman’s Daughter.

While I received a complimentary copy of this book, I was not required to write a positive review.


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Blog Tour and Review: The Redgrave Murders

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by A. L. Sowards

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc. (July 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1524409456
ISBN-13: 978-1524409456

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When her father is murdered, Evie must prove her boyfriend innocent and find the real criminal before he kills again.
Loss is inevitable, as Evie Hampton knows all too well. But despite losing her mother to cancer and her older brother to a war, she knows she’s one of the lucky ones. After all, she still has her father, a distinguished professor of medieval history. And she has Gary Redhawk, the man she loves despite the emotional scars he carries from the Second World War–and despite her father’s opposition to their relationship.

When Evie’s car suddenly careens off the road, she chalks it up to poor maintenance or sheer bad luck making another appearance in her life. Little does she know a host of hardships is just beginning–the car was her father’s, and the brake lines were deliberately cut. Someone wants them dead–but why? All fingers point to Gary, a man with a troubled past and no solid alibi, but Evie is unwilling to believe he’s involved. Determined to uncover the truth, she begins to piece together a startling picture of deception and vice. But as she closes in on the truth, it is clear that someone is determined to silence her–and the next attempt on her life may be a deadly success.


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The Redgrave Murders is listed as a romance and suspense story which peaked my interest. I read almost all historical fiction, but haven’t read a lot from this time period.

Knowing the summary of the book, the first chapter did not immediately draw me in, but I became interested soon after. I am not used to stories being written in the first person, and I think it threw me off a little at first.

While the story is about the solving of murders, the characters all seem realistic and raw. My favorite character was Gary Redhawk.

Gary makes you immediately feel protective of him. Being in the Indian reform school, and then being a POW must have really been traumatic for him. Of course, this would not make him innocent of the issues that arise against him, but there is something that seems innocent and vulnerable about him from the very beginning. You slowly get to learn more about his history, and I felt even more of a connection to him.

Gary felt that he was broken after the war. He still had nightmares every night, and he worried about hurting others. My favorite scenes were when Evie was trying to break down Gary’s walls and show him he could still be loved. Everyone is broken. We are just broken in different ways.

Since the book is written in first person, I felt that I didn’t learn as much about Evie Hampton’s past. The letters from her brother at the beginning of each chapter helped some.

Evie’s father is a history professor, and I loved hearing about the decor of their house. My favorite was the suit of arms that they named. I would love to know what happened to it.

There are a lot of intense issues in this book. PTSD is a major theme. There is also a minor character who is a pedophile and continues to be non-repentant. The PTSD was especially interesting to me. During this time, many men returning from war were written off as having psychological issues if they displayed any symptoms at all. Yet there was no real help for them.

The main characters are in an interracial relationship which causes a lot of conflict with others. Gary has been through so much, and I loved the lighthearted comment he made after someone made a derogatory comment about him.

I liked the pace of the book. There were a lot of things happening, but it didn’t feel rushed. I also liked that things didn’t feel predictable. It felt like I was trying to solve the case right alongside Evie.

If you enjoy an excellent blend of romance, action and mystery, be sure to checkout The Redgrave Murders.

While I received a complimentary copy of this book, I was not required to write a positive review.


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By Hook or By Rook (London League #4) – Review

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by Rebecca Connolly

Series: London League, Book 4
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Phase Publishing (July 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1943048843
ISBN-13: 978-1943048847

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The most dangerous journeys…

Jeremy Pratt is a spy for the Crown, and one of the best. He had been in more dangerous situations than he can admit, and has always come out unscathed. But escorting his colleague’s cousin home to her family, even in disguise, just might be beyond his skills, and the temptation beyond his ability to withstand.

May be ones of the heart…

Helen Dalton is convinced there is more to this man escorting her than meets the eye, and something familiar about him, as well. There is only one man in the world who looks at her so intensely, banters with her so easily, and makes her blush so furiously. And when he manages a daring and heroic rescue, she wonders if she ever knew him at all.


By Hook or By Rook is the newest installment in the London League series by Rebecca Connolly. I love this series! There is a thread that continues through every book in the series, but the book can be read as a stand-alone.

Jeremy Pratt (Rook) has been interested in Helen Dalton for over a year, but it has never gone beyond some casual flirting in the ballrooms. When Jeremy is asked to protect Helen from a suspected attack during a journey to her brother, he reluctantly agrees.

Rook and Helen have a unique relationship with the fun bantering, but they also have sweet moments. During the journey, Helen threatens to kick Jeremy. In a moment of annoyance, he tells her that he will kick her back. This threat eventually turns into sweet moments with them gently kicking each other often.

“His smile, though fleeting, soothed her heart, and she hesitantly kicked his shin. His eyes remained on hers, his throat worked in a swallow, and then, very faintly, he tapped his foot against hers.”

I also loved the scene with them holding hands under the door.

“A soft sound below her caught her attention and she looked down.

The tips of a few fingers had slid under the door, resting against the floor and seeming to hold a very faint tremor in them.

Helen stared at them, still grinning, only now her eyes began to prickle with tender tears. She sniffed them back, then sighed as she laid her fingers atop his, gasping quietly when they curled against hers.

An accompanying almost gasp echoed from the other side of the door.”

Despite Jeremy and Helen finding love, things do not tie up so neatly. Rook has a dilemma of leaving the woman he loves in order to protect her.

This book is clean, however, it does have cursing.

While this book focuses on Rook, there is quite a bit of my favorite series character Gent in it. His book is the first in the series, The Lady and the Gent. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest reading it.

It’s hard enough to wait between books in this series, but waiting after the end of this book might be like going through Rook’s torture.

Underestimating Miss Cecilia (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #2) – Review

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by Carolyn Miller

Series: Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley (Book 2)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: KREGE (July 23, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825445906
ISBN-13: 978-0825445903

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Shy, sweet Cecilia Hatherleigh has always been in love with Edward Amherst, the boy next door. Yet he’s never seen her as anything but the quiet girl in the background as he flirts with the other vivacious women of the ton.

When a near tragedy brings Edward’s attention to his family duties, this prodigal son decides he needs to settle down with a proper wife. Cecilia hopes to convince him to choose her—but God may want her to forget the wayward nobleman and put her future in His hands alone.

These two try to find their way toward happiness, but prejudice, political riots, and the changing face of England’s societal structures begin to block them at every turn. Can their struggles turn to triumph—or will their paths permanently diverge?


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Carolyn Miller brings us a story about what happens when the Prodigal Son comes home.

Cecilia Hatherleigh has always held a candle for Edward who not only does not love her, but has said some unkind things about her.

Before dedicating his life to God, Edward Amherst lived a sinful life. He is now trying to turn his life around and redeem his past by using his background in law to help gypsies, the Irish, and orphans.

Cecy is also trying to help those that need it by writing anonymously to the papers. She is having a hard time living with her non-believing parents who belittle her faith.

Having two sisters with strong personalities, Cecy is often talked over and has chosen instead to remain quiet, which often means she is overlooked.

She has never liked what many women talk about in those days like fashion and the weather. Women were expected to be more simple, and bluestockings were looked down on. Cecy wanted to not only know about important news, but she wanted to help people.

I really appreciated the research the author did in learning of the historical events during this conflicted time period and weaving them into the story. I had not known a lot of the gypsy history during this time or the pagan rituals.

Those who enjoyed The Weaver’s Daughter by Sarah E. Ladd are sure to love Underestimating Miss Cecilia. They are both very eye-opening into the working man’s life during this time period.

Ned and Cecy grew up right next to each other, yet they really didn’t know one another. While it is very realistic, I wish that it hadn’t taken jealousy for Ned to finally notice Cecy. I also found that the part with Ned and Cecy after the major event in the book seemed rushed.

I have often read the story of the prodigal son in the Bible and wondered what happened to everyone after his return. Underestimating Miss Cecilia is a very interesting take on the concept.

This is the second book in the Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley series, however, it can easily be read as a standalone. I am looking forward to youngest sister Verity’s story next in Misleading Miss Verity.

The Heart of a Vicar (The Jonquil Brothers #6) – Review

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by Sarah M. Eden

Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications (June 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1524408611
ISBN-13: 978-1524408619

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Young love is all too fleeting, as Harold Jonquil painfully discovered years ago when Sarah Sarvol, the niece of a neighboring landowner, captured his heart. After an idyllic few weeks in the throes of blossoming love, reality intervened. They could have no future. Following their disastrous parting, Harold attempted to push aside thoughts of love and regret, but Sarah has never left his heart. Now, years later, he has achieved his lifelong aspiration of becoming the local vicar. However, the role proves more difficult than he imagined. He feels hollow and uninspired—until the most important person in his past returns, challenging him as no one ever has.

When Sarah’s ailing uncle summons her back to the family estate in England, there is only one person from her past she is reluctant to see again: Harold Jonquil, the only man who has ever claimed her heart. But when she comes face-to-face with her former beau, she hardly recognizes the aloof and dull man before her. She is determined to help Harold rediscover the passion he once felt toward his chosen profession. Soon, despite their exasperation with each other, they cannot deny the stirring of feelings long buried—but is it too late for second chances?


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In true Sarah M. Eden fashion, we have complex characters that we really care about (how could we not love the Jonquils!) and beautiful moments as well as funny ones. This book has everything you could ask for.

Sarah Sarvol has left America and returned with her brother Scott to England. Having spent time in the area as a child, she is returning to her uncle’s house so her brother can learn his duties as the heir. Her uncle has no use for females and considers her a poor relation. She is forced to live in the governess quarters and not socialize with others. Even through her trials, Sarah believes you make your own happiness and is a very outgoing and optimistic person.

Harold Jonquil has spent his life knowing that he would be a vicar, and he has been ridiculed by his brothers for it. They love calling him “Holy Harry” and using the term pious as an insult.

Harold has always looked up to his father and considered him exemplary. His goal is to emulate him and follow his advice. “Act well your part; there all the honor lies.” He believes that this means he must always be serious and hide all of his “strange” tendencies like climbing things like a monkey and singing songs about drinking.

Harold and Sarah were once sweet on each other until something happened that left them both heartbroken; and Harold soaking wet. Years later they are reunited and drawn together by a challenge.

I have been looking forward to reading Harold’s story. I knew there had to be a reason for him being so serious and proper all the time. This was not the story I expected. While the reasons behind Harold’s mask were similar to what I anticipated, I never expected the real Harold hiding underneath! He has some unusual and really fun quirks, and I loved seeing his relationship with Sarah. There is such a sweet tenderness with those two that is like calm in all the chaos.

Harold is so lonely and vulnerable. He is an introvert and has problems socializing with others. His belief of how the perfect vicar is to behave causes him to be even further separated from people, and he keeps his true self hidden. He is such a fun person when he is in personal settings and allowed to be himself. I loved his relationship with his housekeeper.

None of the Jonquil relationships are easy. They deeply love each other and grow closer together as they go through emotional and even heartbreaking times.

The Heart of a Vicar is the sixth book in the The Jonquil Brothers Series. So many beloved characters from previous books come back and even play large roles in the story. Philip and Sorrel have been such a special couple to me since the first book, and it is heartbreaking to see what they have to go through. Layton, another one of my favorite characters from a previous book, is still going through a lot of emotional turmoil as is his daughter. Just as in real life, things do not always wrap up easily. While this book can be read as a standalone, I love how many story-lines continue with previous characters. This book makes me want to binge read this entire series again.

More Than Words Can Say (Patchwork Family #2) – Review

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by Karen Witemeyer

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 4, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764232193
ISBN-13: 978-0764232190

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After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free. No family entanglements. No disappointing those around him. Just the quiet bachelor existence he’s always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away when the baker of his favorite breakfast bun is railroaded by the city council. Despite not wanting to get involved, he can’t turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. That person definitely isn’t the stoic lumberman who oozes silent confidence whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him.
When vows are spoken, Abigail’s troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. Can she put ever more trust in Zach without losing her dreams of independence?


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In More Than Words Can Say, Karen Witemeyer brings us a story about forgiveness.  We need to bring it to God,  forgive others, and forgive ourselves.  As Zach stated, we also need to make sure we are not going in circles by keeping one foot in the past. Furthermore, it is a story about learning to always put God first in our life.

Zacharias Hamilton grew up as an orphan and at thirteen made a patchwork family with fellow orphans Evangeline and Seth. After Evangeline and Seth each find their spouses, Zach sets out on his own.  Zach is known to communicate in nods and grunts and never share his emotions.   However, he is an incredible listener, and when he knows that someone is upset he wants to talk it out before the sun goes down.  I love how he wants to make the most of his marriage and how fiercely protective he is of his family. Zach being terrified of crying women is hilarious. Though it’s sweet that he actually stays to talk even when he is scared.

Abigail Kemp grew up learning to be a baker under her father.  After his death, the city council informs her that only a man is allowed to own a business. She is afraid of someone else having control over her bakery, so she looks for a marriage of convenience.

Abigail works hard, and she doesn’t complain. She is very practical and just does what needs to be done. While she may have a negative thought about someone, she tries to see the best in them.

Zach is good for Abigail. While Abby is a hard worker, she really lacks self confidence. Zach helps her really she who she is on the inside and out.

As a Martha myself,  I found the biblical talk on Martha very interesting. While God’s word must always come first, practicality is very important.

While Zach and Abby are confessing their pasts, there is also a powerful speech about not living life as a hypocrite.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  However, while Zach’s take on the “benefits” conversation was lighthearted and funny, there was too much talk about the physical side of marriage.  There were thoughts by both characters that were repeated too often.

The cover is cute with some traditional Witemeyer quirkiness to it, but the cover is missing a lot of Abigail’s correct characteristics.

More Than Words Can Say is the sequel to Evangeline Hamilton’s story in More Than Meets the Eye. I highly suggest reading them in order to know more about Zach’s history. And the prologue in More Than Meets the Eye is not to be missed!