Giveaway, Blog Tour, and Review: The Gentleman Spy

gentspyby Erica Vetsch

Series: Serendipity & Secrets (Book 2)
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (July 28, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082544618X
ISBN-13: 978-0825446184

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He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?


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“He supposed that someday he would have to forgive the child for being a girl.”

From the first line of the book, I was drawn right in.

Marcus Haverly never wanted to be the next Duke of Haverly. He is coerced into marriage and the chosen bride is Lady Charlotte Tiptree. Charlotte is not one to simper in the background and soon she is completely changing Marcus’ life.

I loved that the heroine is described as plain. So many books have the heroine be unbelievably gorgeous. I also love that she has a brain. Marcus and Charlotte have so much in common and can have intelligent conversations.

Fans of Rebecca Connolly’s London League Series and Kristi Ann Hunter’s Haven Manor Series will love The Gentleman Spy.

Between the characters, the mystery, and the pace of a good plot, it kept me from wanting to put the book down.

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The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection – Review

victorianbridesby C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstad, and Erica Vetsch

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1683227190
ISBN-13: 978-1683227199

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Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love?

Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley
1837 Framlingham, England
How can widow Ophelia Hanover give her son a perfect Christmas when his guardian, the Earl of Litton, arrives early to take permeant custody of the boy?

One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase
1855 Devonshire, England
Wounded soldier Tristram Nowell returns home to indulge his mother’s wish for a family Christmas—and encounters Marianna Granville. Can he forgive the former heiress who jilted him years before?

Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher
1857 Elmira, New York
SarahAnn Winnifred overcomes orphanhood apprenticing with pioneering doctors. Rufus Sedgwick, relocating his English estate, seeks help for his ailing Mum. Christmas reveals the secret wish of both hearts—for love.

The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew for help.

Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze
1875 County Durham, England
This Yuletide, Bennet Hett, Viscount Harwood, offers Lady Celeste Sidwell matrimony and the Star of Wonder diamond necklace, as their fathers arranged. When the diamond disappears, will they find a greater treasure?

Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad
Chicago, Christmas 1880
Widowed harpist Beatrix Kent believes love can only come once in a lifetime, but this Christmas, carpenter Hugo Sherman hopes to pull on the musician’s heartstrings and prove her wrong.

The Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch
1880s London
Melisande Verity might be in over her head trying to create the perfect Christmas window display, but if she succeeds, will she finally attract the attention of her boss, Gray Garamond?

A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer
London, England, Christmas 1899
Lady Ashleigh Pendleton is hosting a houseful of guests for Christmas when railroad executive Christopher Campbell unexpectedly arrives from America with a mysterious agreement signed by their fathers before their birth.

The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach
1900. Small town along the Potomac near Washington DC
A glass ornament. Love letters tied in red Christmas ribbon. Lily Morningstar and British antiquities expert Andrew Stapleton are drawn into a family secret that binds their hearts together.


This is a collection of 9 stories of romance that take place at Christmas time during the Victorian era. Overall it was a very enjoyable read that I would recommend.  My favorite story from the collection was Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley.

 

One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase

Marianna Granville is the companion to Tristram Nowell’s aunt. Tristram is not happy to see Marianna again because he believes that she turned down his proposal years ago because she wanted to please her father and marry for money.  After the financial ruin and death of her father, Marianna and Tristram’s positions have now reversed but does their love remain after all these years?

This story reminds us that we should know all the facts in a situation and we shouldn’t hold on to grudges.

I liked the use of switching between time periods. It helped keep the novella moving along at a great pace.

I found some scenes in this story that reminded me of Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

 
Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze

Lady Celeste Sidwell and Bennet Hett, Lord Harwood, are to have a marriage arranged by their fathers unless they are able to stop it. They both have work they want to continue before even considering marriage and they hardly know each other.  Will solving a mystery bring them closer together?

I liked the characters in this story.  There was some predictability in the plot but it was still an enjoyable read.

 
The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach

Lily Morningstar is an aspiring writer. Andrew Stapleton is an expert in antiquities. They have been anonymously writing to each other for a year. Now they want to work together to figure out who wrote some love letters that Lily found.

Lily seems more in love with having a Christmas wedding with holly, ivy, and candles, than with an actual marriage or husband. Their relationship also seems pretty superficial. Lily seems flaky and acts like a child.

I just couldn’t get into the story and didn’t feel invested in the characters.

 
Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher

“It isn’t my home.  It’s just where I live.”

SarahAnn Winnifred is training to be a doctor and Rufus Sedgwick’s mother is her patient. The Sedwicks had to leave England for Elmira, New York and Rufus is rebuilding their English home there for his mother.

Misunderstandings and communication are major issues in this story. SarahAnn and Rufus almost lost a chance to be together because they misunderstood and didn’t communicate. They also both misjudged each other when they first met. Rufus also almost missed a relationship with his father because of a misunderstanding.

SarahAnn grew up in an orphanage and didn’t have a family. Once a week she returns to care for the orphans.

Some of my favorite scenes were with the orphans, especially the three brothers.

I like the connection that we are never orphans though God’s adoption.

 
A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer

During the first Christmas without her mother, Lady Ashleigh Arrington must play the perfect host even though she feels she lacks elegance refinement and sophistication.

Her hosting abilities are tested when Christopher Campbell returns from her past. Christopher is an American whose family was friends with her mother.  Eleven years earlier he liked to play tricks on her and set a fire, almost burning down the house.

In their youth, their mothers agreed to an arranged marriage for their children and to get out of it they must be engaged or married by that Christmas Eve.

I liked the childhood stories and wish there were more of them. I also would have liked this novella to be longer, then their falling in love wouldn’t have been so fast.

 
The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Eugenie Mott is expected to marry Horace Ontevreden who is over 20 years her senior. Before a commitment is made, Eugenie’s father dies.

Percy Gladstone is a barrister whose family is unexpectedly visiting him for Christmas.

There were too many characters and too many things going on. It seemed like there were a ton of side characters briefly mentioned that may be from other side stories. (I confirmed this after reading the book)

I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters.

I did like that some of the story was based on real historical events.

 
Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley

Geoffrey Landson, Lord Litton, comes to collect his ward Joshua from his widow mother, Ophelia Hanover, right before Christmas

Before Ophelia married her husband, she shared a past with his cousin Geoffrey.  Geoffrey kissed Ophelia on a dare but she believed he never really loved her.  Now years later he is back to claim her son and his ward after her husband’s death.  Both must search their feelings from the past or lose a future together.

Geoffrey was always reckless and willing to be dared to do anything until his most recent dare almost costs him his life. Now he has vowed to turn that life around.

I found this story very interesting and I liked the characters.

I also thought how the paper stars were used at the end was cute.

 
Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad

Hugh Sherman’s daughter is taking music lessons from the widow Beatrix Kent. As Beatrix’s feelings for Hugh grow, she must decide if she is willing to lose what she loves for him.

This story is about characters who hold on to anger from the past and blame others. It also is about deciding if people are worth more to you than things.

I don’t like when people suddenly compare their late spouse to their current love interest, and they always seem so negative about the late spouse.

I thought it was funny that Hugh seemed so intimidated by picking out a doll for his daughter Clara.

Overall this was a cute story.

 
The Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch

Melisande Verity is the department head for chocolates and confections. She is chosen to do the stores Christmas window display even though most believe a young woman can’t do it justice. As Melisande’s boss’s grandson, Gray Garamond oversees the work on the display.

Gray’s biggest concern is making a profit which he believes is more important than people.

There was a chasm between the two and Melisande felt she was putting on a false persona when she was in Gray’s world.

I had never heard the name Melisande and it wouldn’t roll off my tongue.  I would pause every time I got to her name until I changed her name to Melissa in my head.

I enjoyed this story but I wish they had a little more of a connection.

The Regency Brides Collection: 7 Romances Set in England during the Early Nineteenth Century – Review

regencybridesby Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Nancy Moser, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (November 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1683223713
  • ISBN-13: 978-1683223719

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Romance is a delicate dance bound by rules and expectations in Regency England…
Seven couples must navigate society’s gauntlet to secure the hand of true love….

Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago.

Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism.

Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans.

Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret.

Esther is empowered to choose between two men.

Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash.

Jamie and William face a daunting London season together.

Will their faith grow and love prevail in a time when both were considered luxuries the elite could not afford?


Barbour Books brings us another great collection of Regency stories.

First Comes Marriage by Amanda Barratt
Young naïve Charity finds herself in a compromising situation and must marry Captain Luke Warren to save her reputation. As soon as the vows are read he returns to sea for 3 years without a word and he ignores her letters. When he finally returns, will they be able to have a real marriage or just a marriage of convenience?

Overall, I liked the main characters. However, Luke is supposed to have repented but he returns to his vices later in the story which is worrisome.
At the end of the story I was left with lots of questions, like what happens to the sister and the father.

Masquerade Melody by Angela Bell
After her father died and the estate is entailed, Lady Adelaide must become a companion to her spoiled cousin and hide her musical talents.

Colonial Walter comes back from Waterloo with a loss of faith in God after his brother’s death.

Can music help them overcome their past and provide a hopeful future?

Lydia was a mean selfish person but I didn’t like the captain deceiving her and pretending to like her.

I loved the main couple!

While this was a shorter story it felt very complete, though I would love a sequel with Quinby’s story.

Three Little Matchmakers by Susanne Dietze
Caroline, Henry and Esther all play together as children. As they grow, Caroline becomes governess to Esther’s 3 children. After Esther and her husband die, Caroline brings the children to their uncle Henry who wants to dismiss her and send the children to school. Will the children’s matchmaking attempts make them a family again?

I found it strange the Henry was so worried about becoming his father, yet he tried to copy him by being boring and stoic all the time.

I loved the stories of Caro and Henry’s past and how the children tried to recreate their adventures.

This was such a cute story!

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady by Michelle Griep
Isaac smuggles to regain what was stolen from him. On his last run, he meets Helen who was arriving to tend to her sick father.

Helen locks away the negatives of the world by pretending that everything is fine even though her father is dying.

After finding out his enemy is involved, will Isaac lose Helen’s trust by going against his promise to not smuggle again?

This story had a strong theme of trusting in God to provide us with what we need.

When I Saw His Face by Nancy Moser
Esther is thrilled when her step-daughter is married off and she can live a quiet life.

Chester has been waiting six years to marry Esther. She agreed that she would when her step-daughter married. Now that the time has come, will a stranger change their plans?

I had a really hard time finishing this story. Esther is everything that a Christian shouldn’t be. She is incredibly shallow and fickle. She complains about gossips, yet she trashes her step-daughter to anyone who would listen. Her step-daughter lost her father at a very young age and instead of helping her, Esther writes her off as a brat.

Instead of trying to get something out of the sermons and prayers she just tunes them out and later trashes the preacher to others.

Esther strings Chester along for six years and then only agrees to his proposal because she is afraid of losing him. Then she lies and cheats on him. Chester never had the opportunity to learn how to read. He justifies it by saying he doesn’t need to know how to read to do his work and Esther calls him an ignorant fool.

She meets a stranger and falls in “love” with him after a few days.

This story was my least favorite and I recommend skipping it.

The Highwayman’s Bargain by MaryLu Tyndall
While on her way to London to marry her fiancé, Sophie’s carriage is held up and she is kidnapped by her childhood friend who is trying to save her from marrying a moral less rake.

This was another story that had the theme of trusting in God and His time, even when life is hard.

Sophie thinks she has to choose between her parents’ health and a happy future.

I was surprised that Sophie couldn’t see her fiancé for what he was sooner and his reasons for wanting to marry her were awful.

I liked this story. I did predict the ending but still enjoyed it.

Jamie Ever After by Erica Vetsch
Jamie had been in love with her best friend’s brother William since she was a girl.

William was injured in the war and believes himself to be a shell of a man and no woman would love him.

During Jamie’s first season,  William’s cousin threatens to compromise her and force her to marry him.  Williams’s sister Polly begs her brother to marry Jamie and save her.

Will William be willing to believe in love and have a real marriage? Will Jamie get her happily ever after?

This story was about facing our biggest fears and overcoming them.

I loved William and Jamie and thought they were so good together. They needed each other.

I also loved the dogs in this book. Dogs seem to know people’s true selves even better than people.

This story had a great pace. I would love a continuation of it!

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection: Nine Stories of Poverty and Opulence During the Gilded Age – Review

ragscover.jpgWritten by Michelle Griep, Susanne Dietze, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books (July 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1683222636
  • ISBN-13: 978-1683222637

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Love Flourishes during America’s Gilded Age

Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.


Union Pacific Princess by Jennifer Uhlarik

Young Dora, her uncle William and her cousin Becca, leave Boston to join Dora’s father at the railroad camp where he works after four years apart.

Gage is at the railroad camp trying to stay under the radar to gather information that will help his Indian friends.

When dynamite goes off, Gage injures himself protecting Dora and Becca and exposes himself to Dora’s father, the very person Gage was hiding from.

-A lot of times I feel like novellas leave me feeling like there is a lot missing or it ends abruptly. This one didn’t. It was fast passed but didn’t feel rushed and I liked how the author used the passing of time to move the story along.

-I like how the characters aren’t perfect, like when Gage realized he was still learning when he compared the treatment of his Indian friends with that of the slaves.

-This was one of my favorite novellas in the collection.

The Right Pitch by Susanne Dietze

Winnie loves playing baseball but fears that this will be her last time playing a charity game with the Liberty Belles before she has to give it up to marry.

Beck had his heart broken when he was younger and is afraid to risk it again.
Will risk or precaution win out?

-This was a cute story. There was a lot of baseball in it and if you don’t like baseball, you might not enjoy it was much.

A Gift in Secret by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Thomas Bolen dies, leaving a will that will change the life of this daughter as well as the Austin family that was wronged. Without revealing the stipulations of the will, Samuel Austin III must decide to keep Bolen Shipping and leave May Bolen penniless or marry her.

-I enjoyed this story but I think it would have served the plot better if it had been a longer novel. Not enough time passed for the characters to develop a real connection for each other.

-There were also things that felt unresolved like where they would live since May loves New York so much and Sam was at home on a boat. It would be a shame if he had to give that up completely.

For Richer or Poorer by Natalie Monk

Polish maid Ella is pretending to be of a higher class when dray driver Woody literally runs into her. Ella tries to hide her growing feelings for Woody due to her need to marry a wealthy man in order to bring her sickly family to America. Meanwhile, Woody is trying to establish an orphanage and hide from his past.

-The orphan storyline is something that is near and dear to my heart and I loved reading about them and their little personalities.

-I also liked when Woody translated for Ella while hiding at the church.

-Some of the scriptures quoted in the book were favorites of mine.

-I thought the ending was a little too neat but I still enjoyed the book and this was another favorite in the collection.

A House of Secrets by Michelle Griep

Amanda is determined to open a school for the poor to impress her father and the Ladies’ Aide Society. Her fiancé, Joseph, has plans of his own for the “haunted” house Amanda wants. Will keeping secrets tear Joseph and Amanda apart?

-I like books that have a mystery to them, although the readers were privy to the majority of the mysteries in this story.

-I also liked the message of waiting on those you trust and love, especially God.

Win, Place, or Show by Erica Vetsch

Beryl just wants to spend the summer taking riding lessons with her beloved horse Lacey and competing in the show at the Deep Haven Hunt Club. However, her parents have different plans for her that include marrying her off to Lord Springfield and selling Lacey.

Major Gard Kennedy is spending the summer teaching riding lessons and saving every penny so he can buy Arcturus as the perfect foundation Sire for his new stud farm.

When Gard falls for Beryl, will he risked everything he has worked so hard for?

-There was a lot in this story that was very predictable but I still liked it.

-The vast majority of the book focused on horses. Since I like horses, this was a positive for me but I think even those who don’t like horses as much as I do will enjoy it.

-Beryl’s parents both annoyed me. They were equally clueless as to their daughter’s obvious feelings and they had the wrong priorities. It was disappointing that Beryl even seemed to laugh about their priorities at the end. Stringing Lord Springfield along until after the business deal closed also felt wrong.

The Fisherman’s Nymph by Jaime Jo Wright

“Maybe you’re not the only one who is pushing through sorrow. Some, like you, turn to bitterness- And some make their penance by blaming themselves.”

Charles Farrington III hides his pain under the façade of a carefree, charming rouge. Abby never grieved properly after her mother’s death and she still blames other people for it. Can two grief-stricken souls help each other find peace?

Abby and her father host fishing retreats for the rich that Abby so despises and Charles and his friend Jonathan are their clients. Through Abby’s forced time with Charles, she must finally face her past.

-This book had a lot of descriptions and details about fishing which I am not a fan of, so this was a negative for me.

-This story also had a darker tone to it and I usually like to read books that are lighter and make me feel uplifted.

-And except for their shared grief and their “spark”, I didn’t see Abby and Charles as a potential couple.

-This wasn’t a bad story, it just wasn’t for me.

The Gardener’s Daughter by Anne Love

Magdalena “Maggie” Abbott loves to read and learn and she has a power with words. She spends her days working at the library and hiding the truth of her circumstances with others.

Wesley Graham was raised by his wealthy uncle and is expected to meet certain family expectations.

While spending the summer in their wealthy cottage home, Wesley meets Maggie at the nearby library and they begin an academic project together. Will Maggie’s secrets and Graham’s family obligations keep them apart?

-The pace seemed a little strange in this book. Some parts were drawn out and other parts seemed to move too quickly.

-My favorite part of the book was when they were working together at the library.

-I found it strange that Maggie thought she would hurt her father’s pride if she liked a wealthy man.

A Tale of Two Hearts by Gabrielle Meyer

After the death of Lucy Taylor’s father, she has to take on a job as a lady’s maid so she can help care for her family, especially her injured sister.

Eli Boyer dreams of racing and manufacturing cars one day and leaving his life as a footman behind. However, when he meets Lucy, he is coming to realize that his previous dreams may no longer be enough.

-As a fan of auto racing, I enjoyed reading about the early days of racing.

-I felt like I wanted to know more about Mr. Alexander and Mr. Walker’s past with Mrs. Walker that was briefly mentioned in the book.

I received an ARC but the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

This collection of novellas had a number of great stories. I rated it a 4/5 overall and would recommend it.