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

vicarcover

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

wordscover

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!

The Governess of Penwythe Hall (Cornwall #1) – Review

governesscover by Sarah E. Ladd

Series: The Cornwall Novels (Book 1)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 16, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0785223169
ISBN-13: 978-0785223160

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Cornwall was in her blood, and Delia feared she’d never escape its hold.

Cornwall, England, 1811

Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request for her to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she’s tried desperately to forget.

Jac Twethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced, he battles both grief at his brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess—and the mystery shrouding her past—proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

“Brimming with dangerous secrets, rich characters, and the hauntingly beautiful descriptions Sarah Ladd handles so well, 1800s Cornwall is brought vividly to life in this well-crafted tale that kept me glued to the pages. What a brilliant start to a new series!” —Abigail Wilson, author of In the Shadow of Croft Towers

The Governess of Penwythe Hall is a delightful and emotionally gripping tale that will tick all the boxes for any Regency lover: romance, history, and enough unpredictable intrigue to keep you up past your bedtime.” —Kristi Ann Hunter, author of A Defense of Honor

“Lovers of sweet and Christian romance alike will fall in love with Delia’s strength amid the haunting backdrop of her tragic past and the Cornish coast. Throw in a handsome leading man willing to turn his life upside down for the children in Delia’s charge, and you have a story you can’t put down.” —Josi S. Kilpack, Whiney Award–winning author of the Mayfield Family series


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Sarah E. Ladd is an author I can always depend on to provide me with excellent stories full of interesting plots and beloved characters. She has a strong voice in the Regency book world and Jane Austen fans will be drawn to her.

The Governess of Penwythe Hall brings us the story of Cordelia Greythorne and Jac Trethewey. They both carry secrets of the past that guard their hearts, but will opening up help them to heal?

Delia is governess to five children who have recently lost their father. Attached to these children, Delia follows them to their new guardian’s house in Cornwall. Cornwall holds the secrets of her past, and she has sworn to never return. Jac Trethewey is now in charge of his nieces and nephews. He has spent their lifetimes being estranged from their father.

Delia does not like to let many people in. She thinks that she has to rely on herself in order to hide from her past. Jac lost a lot from his fight with his brother and now he is trying to regain some of the missing years with his nieces and nephews.

I loved all the children. They all had such great personalities and you hurt for all of them while they grieved their loss. Jac was wonderful with the children. I like how he wanted them to not only have their formal education but he taught the boys estate business; even tasks that would normally be for the workers. Jac was often told he was spontaneous yet he wanted to get involved in all the tasks that the estate depended on in order to make it successful for many years to come. While he was spontaneous in some things, there was actually a lot of thoughts behind his plans.

While this book was full of tender relationships, it was also full of intrigue.  There were a lot of unanswered questions throughout the book, and I wanted to keep reading and not put the book down.

Ladd really has a way of describing things. There is the perfect amount of detail to picture things and feel fully immersed, yet you never feel like there is too much information. Her descriptions involve all the senses. Here is an example of her incredible writing skills that will not give away any spoilers:

“She retreated down the cliff, back the way she came. The winds that had come so strongly off the sea weakened as moorland gave way once again to orchards and then to the verdant lawn. The sea air’s salty tang was soon masked by the scent of apple trees and freshly cut grass, but the dormant memories had been revived by the familiar scene, and she doubted they would leave her in peace.”

While Regency fans will especially love The Governess of Penwythe Hall, fans of all eras will be able to appreciate this wonderful story on healing and what it means to be a family.

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #1) – Review

herocover by Carolyn Miller

Series: Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley (Book 1)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 19, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825445892
ISBN-13: 978-0825445897

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Can a proper noble lady find a future with a fossil-hunting man of faith?

As the daughter of Viscount Aynsley, Caroline Hatherleigh knows every rule of society–and she’s always followed them precisely. But when she visits south Devonshire and encounters a fossil-hunting scientist and his sister, her assumptions about what is right are shaken. Questions she has never considered about the importance of friendship and faith suddenly confront her–and her comfortable understanding about how the world works is thrown off balance. What if God wants to be the center of her life, rather than merely a social obligation?

Gideon Kirby loves science, and hunting down proof of past lives is a joy he won’t willingly give up. But his scientific leanings are being challenged both by his personal beliefs and by local smugglers in the Devonshire countryside. And every day his sister’s illness becomes more desperate, her care growing more demanding. Adding a viscount’s daughter to the mix is a complication Gideon never expected–especially since he must stay far away from this young woman he’s falling for in order to protect his beloved sister’s secret.

When a mysterious stranger visits the village, that secret will be exposed, no matter how Gideon fights. Then tragedy strikes in a smugglers’ cave. And the threat of scandal may lead to broken hearts and passionless propriety. Will the shaky bond these two have nurtured be strong enough to overcome their differences–or will the trust they’ve withheld from each other tear three lives apart?


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A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh is the first book in the Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley series. Even though this is a new series, I think it would be helpful to have read The Making of Mrs. Hale.

One of the things I love about Carolyn Miller’s books are that they are so unique. I love the regency era and have read so many books that take place during that time, yet I feel like I learn something new in each of Miller’s books. She clearly does her research. She also writes real characters who are not perfect and who are still growing, and we want to cheer them on in their journey. As much as I have enjoyed reading all of Miller’s books, this one is my favorite.

Caroline Hatherleigh has grown up in a very privileged bubble. She is the daughter of a Viscount and wants everyone to know it. She has been raised to act a certain way and is the standard of a society lady. Caroline has always struggled with having friends because she likes to make things about herself and only takes from the relationship.

Following in her parents’ unfaithful footsteps, she doesn’t believe in God and thinks that you are only a sinner if you murder people. She would only attend church services for appearances.

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When Caroline hears that her friend, Ned, had been shot, she immediately daydreams about future suitors and doesn’t care about what could happen to Ned.

I had a hard time liking Caroline at the beginning and she had a lot of learning to do. After leaving London to avoid scandal, Caroline meets Gideon. Gideon is far beneath her socially, but she can’t help but be drawn to him.

Gideon is in Sidmouth trying to discover fossils while hoping to protect his sister and provide her with the medical help she needs.

While I thought of Caroline negatively from the beginning, I really liked Gideon from the start. He lives a faithful life and proves how showing a good example can bring people to God.

No one is perfect, and I always enjoy when a character can grow in faith during the story. Caroline learns an important lesson that we should all read the Bible ourselves so we can know what is truly in it.

A major theme in A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh is how someone who is a believer of God can also believe in science. There are some beautiful quotes in the book that talk about seeing God’s work and how there is no way it can be accidental. I found the fossil-hunting incredibly interesting. After reading the book, I even bought myself a few fossils.

Caroline’s sisters Cecilia and Verity were side characters in this book and will get their own books in the series. I am looking forward to reading about both of them!

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A Return of Devotion (Haven Manor #2) – Review

devotioncover by Kristi Ann Hunter

Series: Haven Manor (Book 2)
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (February 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 076423076X
ISBN-13: 978-0764230769

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Daphne Blakemoor was perfectly happy living in her own secluded world for twelve years. She had everything she needed—loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes on, and the new marquis has an undeniable connection to her past, everything she’s come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford’s main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.

They’ve spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, find a new path for the future together?


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A Return of Devotion brings us back to Haven Manor and the characters we have come to love in A Search for Refuge and A Defense of Honor. The book can be read as a standalone but is better appreciated if read after the previous two. A Search for Refuge is available for free on Amazon.

Haven Manor was created 12 years ago after Daphne Blakemoor had her son Benedict as a single woman. The haven was created to help children who were the result of similar situations. After William, Marquis of Chemsford, inherits the estate will Daphne lose the haven she loves so much?

Daphne has always looked on the bright side and after she has turned to God for repentance, she tries to find something good that can come out of it by caring for children like her son, Benedict.

I am glad Benedict has a story now. I have been interested in him from the beginning. I can’t imagine what Daphne has gone through not being able to tell him that she’s his mother. Though I know that in that time the alternative was usually that she would have to give him up and never know him. Benedict is very strong and talented for someone who is still just a boy.

I like Daphne’s thoughts on raising up the next generation like Moses but also not being allowed to enter the Promised Land because of her sin. While our sins can be forgiven, there is often a result from our sins.  Daphne forgives others and teaches the children that God loves everyone, but she doesn’t really feel forgiven or worthy of His love.

William is confused because he wants to act the part of a peer and not associate with servants, but he also wants to not be like his selfish father. He lives his life trying to do the absolute opposite of what his father had done.

Daphne has always been a dreamer. She is constantly imagining scenarios in her head and missing entire conversations. It was funny when William started daydreaming and missing parts of conversations which he hadn’t done before Daphne.

William and Benedict meeting for the first time was even more intense than I thought it was going to be. I felt so bad for what little Benedict was going through while trying to be grown up.

There were a lot of serious moments but there were some lighthearted moments as well. The readers are also given a very real and beautiful romance between William and Daphne.

“How very different they were and how glorious it was.”

It is not just a fairy tale. They have to go through a lot and they come out better for it in the end.

The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

“The past can be the stone that weighs you down or the foundation you build upon.”

Like Daphne, we need to learn that after bringing our sin to God and repenting, we need to learn to forgive ourselves.

“There’s life after forgiveness.”

The Lieutenant’s Bargain – Review

bargaincover by Regina Jennings

Series: The Fort Reno Series (Book 2)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 4, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764218948
ISBN-13: 978-0764218941

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Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, while her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to head to Denver and place her works in an exhibition or give up the dream forever. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she’s too terrified to recognize them as friendly.

Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to take her home–and plead his case once more.

He’s stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart–but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril–and tests Jack’s resolve to remain single.


My favorite genre is Historical Fiction and this book is a prime example of the reason why. Not only am I getting wonderful characters and a very unique plot concept from Regina Jennings, but due to her research I am also learning things from this time period that I never knew. With her excellent descriptions, I can even picture being at Fort Reno and the nearby reservations.

The characters are realistic and endearing. I always love when characters know each other as children, and the descriptions of Jack’s gawky childhood and cluelessness around women are perfect. He feels more comfortable in his house with books crowded all around him and believes that others should feel the same. Though he has a wonderful sense of humor.

I have always been amazed at people who could paint and Hattie makes use of her gift of painting in a wonderful way.

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I have read the previous books (Holding the Fort and Bound and Determined) in the Fort Reno series, and this book continues with the previous story-lines and characters. Willis even makes a subtle comment about camels which anyone who has read Bound and Determined will understand.

There is so much historical information packed in this book. I loved learning more about the Arapaho school and Fort Reno.

Some of my favorite scenes included Jack trying to impress Hattie at the reservation, many of the scenes at the Arapaho school, and the continuation of Daniel and Louisa’s story.

Jack’s book clutter reminds me of how much I love my kindle. With reading over 200 books a year, the books would take over if so many weren’t digital. I completely recommend adding this book to your collection, though I recommend getting this book in paperback. Every side of it is so pretty!