An Old-Fashioned Texas Christmas – Review

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by Karen Witemeyer

File Size: 5485 KB
Print Length: 165 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2019)
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B07YCVH1G4

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Celebrate the joy and warmth of the holidays with two historical romance novellas from Karen Witemeyer, including a brand-new story that provides a glimpse into what the Archer clan has been up to.

“An Archer Family Christmas”
It’s Christmas Eve, 1893, and the entire family has gathered to celebrate the holiday. This day is always bittersweet for Jim and Cassie, who lost a child on Christmas Eve three years earlier. Cassie has devoted herself to being the favorite aunt of the Archer children, whisking her nieces away to a nearby schoolhouse to create decorations for the Christmas tree that the men and oldest boys are venturing out to chop down.

When an unexpected knock at the schoolhouse door reveals a desperate pregnant woman on the run from a dangerous outlaw, it’ll take a Christmas miracle–and the entire Archer clan–to make sure no danger befalls the child born on this beloved holiday.

“The Gift of the Heart”
A widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs for a fresh start, but with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love as the holidays draw near?


An Archer Family Christmas

Before you pick up this book, make sure you have plenty of time because you will not want to put it down. Also, be prepared for “all the feels”. This book will make you very emotional.

Those who have read others in the series will enjoy the return of their beloved Archer family and new readers will fall in love with Jim and Cassie.

There is such a love and loyalty in the Archer family.

“They didn’t need words. Their hearts could read each other perfectly.”

 

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Karen Witemeyer creates characters who are not perfect. She has the ability to make her characters strong while also being incredibly vulnerable.

I loved the Biblical connection to the Ruth and Boaz story. Besides the names, there were so many little connections as well.

Beauregard “Bo” Azlin was one of those characters you feel an instant connection to. The back story of Bo’s childhood where his mother considered him damaged goods is heart breaking. Bo tried to be fair to everyone and not give special treatment but he also helped protect those in need. I liked the scene where Bo is holding the heirloom and vowing to keep it safe for Ruth. It was also sweet how he liked to keep the heirloom near his heart.

Witemeyer’s books always contain some funny moments. When Bo calls the stray cat a miscreant, little Naomi mistakenly believes that the cat’s name is Miss Creant. Bo and Naomi have a number of sweet and funny conversations.

While this felt like a very complete story, I want it to continue. I’m not ready to leave these characters.

Author Interview, Blog Tour and Review: Secrets and Suitors

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by Joanna Barker

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc. (October 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1524411728
ISBN-13: 978-1524411725

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Reluctantly returning to London for yet another Season, shy Nora Hamilton has nearly given up hope that she will ever find the love match she longs for. After all, the one man she does harbor feelings for—her closest friend, James—has made it perfectly clear he views her as just that: a friend. With James traveling half a world away and Nora’s father pressuring her to marry for wealth and status, Nora is forced to set aside her desire for love and accept the future she has always dreaded.

Until James returns unexpectedly and Nora’s feelings once again rush unbearably close to the surface. Determined to save what is left of their friendship, Nora ignores her own heart and allows herself to be swept up in the London Season, soon finding herself the object of two very different gentlemen’s affections. Though she should be thrilled, both men come with a glaring fault: neither is the one man who holds her heart.

But there is much more at stake than heartbreak. When long-kept secrets are laid bare, Nora must face the fears that have plagued her all her life and decide what true love is worth.

*Secrets and Suitors has received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly.*


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Nora always wanted to be in the background at social events and after two seasons in London she still hadn’t had a serious suitor. After receiving pressure from her father, she makes a bargain with him that she will marry Mr. Weston (a man she barely knows) if her two younger siblings are allowed to join her for the season in London. She also makes her father agree that she can continue being friends with her childhood neighbor James.

After time away at his family plantation, James is suddenly back in Nora’s life. He wants to still be her friend, but there is often a seriousness about him.

“A fancy could be forgotten, and I was determined to forget it.”

While back for a third season, Nora is torn between her feelings for James, a new acquaintanceship forming with Lord Worthington, and a commitment to Mr. Weston.

“James was my best friend, yes, but my heart yearned for so much more. He was the one who understood me best, who made me laugh, who listened to me.”

Nora has a completely different relationship with each of her three suitors. She and Mr. Weston are practically engaged, and she doesn’t even know his first name.

“He had run halfway across the world the last time I had given signs of having feelings for him. What would he do now if I were to give the slightest hint that he still held a piece of my heart?”

When Nora and James are together it feels like the air in the room changes. They are comfortable with each other because of being best friends growing up, but now there is tension and secrets between them.

“I would pay dearly for such a skill right now, to peer into his mind and discover all his tightly held opinions and secrets.”

This book is told in the first person, so we only know Nora’s point of view. When I first started reading it, I wished it also told James’ point of view. I was often wondering what was going on in his head. As it turns out, I loved that there were things I didn’t see coming. I was truly surprised by some of the secrets, and I liked that I didn’t know what would happen next.

I liked that it was not just about the romance, it was also about a broken family trying to find their way.

Besides the strong main characters, there were some lovable side characters like Ralph. He was absolutely adorable. Ralph’s relationship with Nora reminds us that we have to be careful with the promises we make, and his relationship with James made them both even more endearing.

Secrets and Suitors is a sweet story that also has a lot of deeper meaning. This book earns a well deserved five stars.

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


Interview with Joanna Barker

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Do you have any future books in the works? I would love a story about Ralph!

I’m currently working on a sequel to my debut novel, The Truth about Miss Ashbourne. This new book features Rebecca Rowley, the sister to the hero of that story, and I am having so much fun with it! But one day I would so love to write a story for Ralph! He deserves his own happy ending, doesn’t he??

Was there something that inspired you to write Secrets and Suitors?

I wanted so badly to write a best friends love story, and I went through about eight different versions of this story before deciding on the plot. What finally helped me nail down the idea was hearing Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” on the radio and realizing it described so perfectly the story I wanted to write. This song brought to life James Allen’s character, and if you listen to it after reading Secrets and Suitors, you might see how the chorus inspired the garden party scene ?

Do you like writing novels or novellas better? And was it harder working with other authors when you were writing All Hearts Come Home for Christmas? 

It always seems like the grass is always greener for me! When I’m stuck in the murky middle of drafting a novel, I always wish I was writing a novella. But when I’m running out of words for a novella, I’m longing for the word count of a novel! But I think novels are my true love. There’s a depth that’s generally only possible through spending more time with the story and characters, and I love to dig in deep. Oh, and I am extremely wordy, so that might be part of it, haha! I actually loved working with the other authors so much! All three of them are incredibly talented and kind, and I just felt lucky to be a part of the project.

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Miss Adeline’s Match – Review

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by Joanna Barker

Paperback: 263 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications (April 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1524408808
ISBN-13: 978-1524408800

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Miss Adeline Hayes is the perfect lady’s companion: pleasant, conversational, and unceasingly proper. But when her closest friend, Charity Edgeworth, breaks off her arranged marriage without explanation, even Adeline’s superior skills are put to the test. Charity’s father banishes the two young women to the country, sending Adeline with a charge to find Charity a husband or suffer dire consequences.

As Adeline takes on the role of reluctant matchmaker, she discovers more than one obstacle in her path. Not only does Charity prefer escaping in books to socializing, but Adeline soon finds her own attentions distracted by the standoffish–and irritatingly handsome–Mr. Evan Whitfield. Amidst an eventful foxhunt and the unexpected arrival of Charity’s former betrothed, Adeline simply doesn’t have time for a battle of wits with Evan. But the two are continually drawn together until Adeline begins to question her tightly guarded convictions about love and marriage.

However, when secrets are revealed and truths made known, Adeline must face her most fearsome obstacle yet: herself.


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Adeline Hayes is a companion who must always appear perfect and act properly.  She is put in a tough spot between her employer, her family, and her best friend.

Evan Whitfield comes off as brooding and standoffish, but he is hiding a deep hurt from his past and only wants to be a better and more worthy person.

Adeline and Evan both feel drawn to help people and that draws them together. Evan is older and already learned from his mistakes, while Adeline still has a lot of growing up to do.  Adeline reminded me of Jane Austen’s well-intentioned Emma who tried matchmaking but always ended up making things worse. Evan has Mr. Darcy’s brooding down, but he seems friendlier. 

Adeline’s best friend Charity is running from a broken engagement. I found the story-line between her and Henley very interesting and wondered if there was more to the story than she overheard. I also don’t know why she shared all her secrets with Adeline but it took her so long to tell her the one involving Henley.

Joanna Barker writes very realistic characters which means at times I’m not always happy with them. Addie makes a number of really poor choices. There are legitimate reasons why she made these decisions, but they were still wrong.  Barker’s books are also interesting and non-predictable. It always seemed like the worst timing when I had to put the book down to get something done.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“My heart belonged to no one, and I intended to keep it that way.”

“How little I felt then, caught up in my own world, in things that were not so very important.”

“There was nothing like a child’s honesty to keep one humble.”

“If I find a person who can move beyond the more frivolous topics of conversation, I find it worth my time to know them better.”

An Unwelcome Suitor (Entangled Inheritance #4) – Review

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by Ashtyn Newbold

Series: Entangled Inheritance (Book 4)
Paperback: 228 pages
Publisher: Independently published (September 6, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1690633816
ISBN-13: 978-1690633815

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Falling in love with her sister’s suitor had never been part of her plan.

After losing her parents, Elizabeth Watts and her two sisters are taken under the care of their great-aunt, who has promised them her estate upon her death. From a young age, however, Elizabeth has learned not to expect to keep things that can be taken away. An unforeseen change in the will reveals that Elizabeth and her sisters may have the estate, but only if the eldest weds Dr. Luke Pembroke, their great-aunt’s beloved physician, who needs the estate just as desperately as they do.

Knowing her sister to be in love with another, Elizabeth is appalled when she begins courting Dr. Pembroke, intent to sacrifice her own happiness. Nothing if not determined, Elizabeth makes plans to sabotage the courtship. With her schemes underway, she quickly learns that her sister’s suitor is nothing if not clever—nothing except, perhaps, handsome, kind, and infuriatingly charming. When the feelings between them become impossible to ignore, Elizabeth discovers that love has a scheme all its own, and it might just be the most determined of all.

An Unwelcome Suitor is part of the ENTANGLED INHERITANCE series, a set of stand-alone regency romance novels. Look for the complete collection of stories by these incredible authors:

A Provision for Love by Heather Chapman

His Unexpected Heiress by Sally Britton

The Rivals of Rosennor Hall by Rebecca Connolly

An Unwelcome Suitor by Ashtyn Newbold


This is one of those times that I know authors would say, “sorry not sorry” because you stay up until 5AM reading their book all in one sitting.

I loved the witty banter between Elizabeth and Luke, and the mischief she got into was hilarious.  There was a great chemistry between them, and they played off each other well.

On the serious side, this book also focused on being selfless and giving up someone you love because you were obligated to help your family. Your decisions do not only affect yourself.

I was worried with how things would wrap up in the end, but I was very happy with the outcome.

An Unwelcome Suitor is part of the Entangled Inheritance series. Each book is written by a different author and is a stand-alone.

Blog Tour and Review: All Hearts Come Home for Christmas

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by Sarah M. Eden, Anita Stansfield, Esther Hatch, and Joanna Barker

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications, Inc. (September 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1524411094
ISBN-13: 978-1524411091

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Christmas at Falstone Castle by Sarah M. Eden

The Dowager Duchess of Kielder eagerly anticipates spending Christmas with her son and his family. Though their relationship has been strained, the duchess is determined to heal the chasm. Even with the help of the widowed local vicar, her plan will take a Christmas miracle. But during this magical season, anything is possible . . . even two second chances for love.

The Heart of Christmas by Anita Stansfield

When a chance meeting brings together a gentle seamstress and a widowed banker, each lonely soul finds a first hint of hope. As their lives become entwined, it will take Christmas spirit to guide a broken family to love and healing.

‘Tis the Season to Be Daring by Esther Hatch

Elizabeth Davenport has had quite enough of the London Season. Determined to evade a parade of unsuitable suitors, she seeks help from the one gentleman who has no regard for Society’s rules. All of Society knows Lord Hawthorne is not interested in marriage, yet he cannot deny Miss Davenport’s unique charm. And as the Christmas season works its magic, their charade begins to feel less like playacting and more like love.

The Christmas Dress by Joanna Barker

Seamstress Nell Addington is thrilled when her childhood friend Jacob Hammond commissions a dress for his sister. But when Nell realizes her feelings for Jacob run far deeper than friendship, an unexpected snowstorm—and some holiday cheer—may convince them both that love is worth fighting for.


Christmas at Falstone Castle by Sarah M. Eden

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Sarah M. Eden always pulls you right in from the very beginning. The first chapter with little Adam is so heartbreaking.

“Father had taught him to be a duke.

Adam fortified his seven-year-old heart. If Mother didn’t love him, he wouldn’t allow himself to love her or long for her or need her. The pain in his heart was so enormous he knew he wouldn’t be able to bear it if he couldn’t relieve it somehow.

He simply wouldn’t care. About her. About anyone. Not ever again.

I am a duke now. Dukes don’t cry. And dukes don’t need people.

Seeking Persephone is one of my favorite books from Sarah. I love the characters! It was so great to see them again, especially with the addition of little Oliver. Adam and Persephone have such a sweet relationship, and I love seeing the dangerous duke’s sweet side with his son. Adam has the best dry sense of humor, and Persephone is so perfect for him.

Coming into the story I viewed the dowager fairly negatively. She left her only child, and the few times she saw him she called him her poor boy while pointing out his flaws.

While this was a story about the Dowager Duchess of Kielder and Roswell Duncan the local vicar, my favorite parts were with Adam, Persephone, and Oliver.


The Heart of Christmas by Anita Stansfield

“Staring at the cracked hearts, Addie felt as if she were looking at a clear and undeniable representation of the three people who lived in this home, the people she’d been hired to care for, the people she’d grown to love. Their hearts were broken, and Addie wanted nothing more than to find a way to help mend the cracks so they could find new happiness in their lives and share life like a family instead of simply living completely separate lives beneath the same roof.”

Theo, his daughter Becky, and Aunt Marla have been living in the same house for almost ten years. They mostly live their lives separately, however. Theo is naturally shy and keeps his emotions to himself, and the aunt doesn’t like to talk about anything sad. Becky believes she is to blame for her mother’s death and chooses to act out like her friends as school. Though truth be told, she doesn’t seem to act out much for a child her age. She seems fairly normal.

Addie wants to do her job the best way she can, and in addition she really wants to help the people she works for come together as a family. She is often described as a kind person and hopes to improve the lives of others. I was a little confused with Addie’s opinion of Becky. Becky presents herself as a skeptical child, however, Addie describes as “peevish” and “cantankerous” after only a short first impression.

I had a hard time getting into this book. I think a large part was because the book is almost entirely written as descriptions with not a lot of dialogue. I prefer more of a combination between the two. The characters also didn’t seem to have much of a connection to each other, and I didn’t feel any connection to them.


’Tis the Season to Be Daring by Esther Hatch

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Elizabeth fears she lives a boring life only knitting and embroidering. She doesn’t know who she can truly be until she meets Charles.

I love the way Charles is with children. The scene with his niece was one of my favorites. It was sweet and funny and you see a whole other side to him than the moody one that avoids the matchmaking mamas in the ballrooms.

These two are so adorable together!

I sometimes have a harder time connecting to characters in shorter stories, but these characters were really well developed, and I loved them.

There was a nice combination between romance and comedy. Charles and Elizabeth were able to have serious conversations as well as be comfortable and joke with each other. I liked the joke about the booties and the 12 children.

“Our eyes met, and in the firelight his shone an almost iridescent blue. And in an instant I knew. Whoever was lucky enough to marry Lord Hawthorne would live this way. She would have laughter, love, entertainment, and belonging. There would be trust and conversation. Oh, the conversations—always on the verge of laughing, but never at the expense of others. I stepped back away from him as a fire in my chest grew to be more painful and hot than the bowl of brandy in front of us.

I wanted to be that woman. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Lord Hawthorne, not just the next few days. I had allowed myself to be too long in his company, and now it was too late. No matter how we left things, I would never be the same.”


The Christmas Dress by Joanna Barker

Jacob and Nell grew up together, though they did not socialize a lot with each other. Years later they are reunited in an awkward yet cute way.

They have now both lost their fathers. Nell lost her father years ago, but still fiercely misses him and remembers all the good times. Jacob just recently lost his father, but they didn’t get along, and Jacob hadn’t seen him in the five years before his death.

It seems a little harsh for Jacob to not see someone ever again because they did not get along. Especially because that someone was his father and in staying away, he was also staying away from his sister.

I had to laugh when Nell mentioned multiple times that Jacob’s sister Alice shouldn’t wear black, because she is pale and has dark hair. Alice and I share these features, and I often wear black.

Joanna Barker is a newer to me author. I have only read Beauty and the Baron. I enjoyed “The Christmas Dress” and look forward to reading her other books.

“He lifted her burdens without even seeming to be aware that he did it, so naturally kind and thoughtful was he.”

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


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Discovering Grace: A Regency Romance (Inglewood #2) – Review

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by Sally Britton

Series: Inglewood (Book 2)
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Blue Water Books (August 7, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1947005189
ISBN-13: 978-1947005181

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To avoid being sent across an ocean, Grace switches places with her sister. The only man aware of their deception? A dear friend, and her secret love.

Grace Everly has no desire to set sail for the Caribbean, unlike her adventurous twin sister, Hope. Thanks to her sister’s irresponsible behavior and subsequent banning from the journey, Grace’s father decides to send her in Hope’s place. Desperate to remain where things are familiar, Grace proposes an unthinkable plan: that she and sister switch places. They only have to keep up the act long enough for Hope to board a ship in London. When the man who has stolen Grace’s heart learns of their secret, things get more complicated.

Jacob Barnes, soon to be ordained a vicar, has known Grace and Hope his whole life. Though close to both sisters, he’s dreamed of courting Hope for months. When he realizes his friends have switched places, putting the woman he admires out of his reach, he agrees to help with the subterfuge despite his bruised heart. As he watches Grace stumble in her acting abilities, attempting to change who she is, he realizes how much she means to him. But how does he tell her, without risking their friendship?

The deception puts their relationship to the test. As Grace hides her heart and her identity, Jacob examines his feelings, and no one in their community will be happy when the truth is discovered.


A week after reading Discovering Grace, I find myself randomly thinking about scenes. I can remember many things so vividly which is a testament to Sally Britton’s incredible writing. Her characters are unique and have so much depth, the story-lines are always interesting, and her writing style is outstanding.

Grace had always lived in the background of her twin sister.  She finally was not only able to stand on her own but also realize that she is good enough just as she is.  Jacob had grown up with Grace and Hope and thought he knew everything about them.  He was very clearly wrong. I loved Grace Everly and Jacob Barnes together.

This book is the second in the Inglewood series after Rescuing Lord Inglewood. It can be read on its own, though the previous book is excellent, and I suggest reading it as well.

I am very much looking forward to Saving Miss Everly.

The Baron’s Rose – Review

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by Mindy Burbidge Strunk

File Size: 2849 KB
Print Length: 228 pages
Publication Date: August 15, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B07TQFWBTR

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Hell, hath no fury like a woman scorned. Good thing he likes a challenge.

Rose Allen was supposed to be duchess when next she came to London. Instead, she was thrown over in favor of her sister. Now, no respectable gentleman, let alone a man of title, will have anything to do with her—except a fortune hunter desperate for her large dowry.

Not only had Lord Oliver Brandon just lost his father, but he had discovered the family coffers are empty. If he is to save his family from total ruin, he needs to find a solution and fast. When approached with an offer for a marriage that includes a handsome dowry, he doesn’t know whether to thank his good fortune or curse his bad luck—because the match also comes with a discontented wife.

In choosing a marriage of convenience, Rose and Oliver may forfeit their pride, but what of their hearts?


Rose Allen was pretty horrible in the first book An American In Duke’s Clothing when her sister and the Duke fell in love. I liked the struggle in this book of watching her try to grow to be a better person. She was the one having a hard time forgiving herself, and because of that she doubted everyone.

There were some really sweet little moments between Rose and Oliver, and the meaning of the flowers Oliver gave her was interesting.

I suggest reading An American In Duke’s Clothing first. Not only is it one of my favorite books, but you will get Rose’s full backstory and be better able to appreciate her growth.