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 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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The Making of Mrs. Hale – Review

halecoverby Carolyn Miller

Series: Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope (Book 3)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (November 27, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825445353
ISBN-13: 978-0825445354

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Marry in haste, repent in leisure–Mrs. Hale is about to find out how painful that repentance can truly be.

Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn’t turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn’t know where–or if he’s ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they’ll forgive her. Especially now that she might be carrying a baby from her brief marriage.


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The Making of Mrs Hale is the third in the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope Series. Julia appears in the first book, Winning Miss Winthrop. I suggest reading that and Miss Serena’s Secret before reading this book. There are a number of characters that have appeared in previous books. Some characters are even from Carolyn Miller’s other series Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace. I loved The Elusive Miss Ellison and really enjoyed seeing those characters again.

This book is more raw and serious than most books I tend to read. This is a story about forgiving others and forgiving yourself. And most importantly we need to seek forgiveness from God.

I often have a hard time sympathizing with heroes in the rake to redemption story-lines. Especially if they continue to struggle with their problems. While reading this story I was wishing that Julia’s brother Jon would have a talk with his friend Nicholas to get a better perspective. I understand Jon wanting to protect his sister, but he really needed to adjust his attitude to be more Christian like. This reminded me that I needed to work on my attitude on forgiving people as well.

I liked seeing the different stages of Christianity. Nicholas seemed to be very strong in his faith and able to help others. Julia and Thomas were still learning their way. Thomas’ father had a mindset that turned people away from God. He was a preacher yet he was always telling people what they did wrong in a very unloving way and telling them that they would never be good enough.

Sections of the book switched between the present and the past. There were a lot of unexpected elements and I liked that I didn’t know what was coming next. Though it did seem like everyone wanted to kick Thomas while he was down.

There are often stories that involve a character running off to get married at Gretna Green but we don’t often get to hear what happens after the marriage. While I enjoy reading a light-hearted funny story, I think it is also important to read stories like this. I feel that by reading about the person behind the sin it helps us to be more forgiving and understanding.

The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love through the Generations – Review

heirloomcoverby Kristi Ann Hunter, Karen Witemeyer, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (October 2, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780764230783
ISBN-13: 978-0764230783

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In Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Fulbright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local businessman. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?


I love the idea behind this book of an heirloom because passed through the generations. And what better time than Christmas? 🙂

 
Legacy of Love by Kristi Ann Hunter

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Having read all of Kristi Ann Hunter’s published works, I had a feeling I would love this one as well. She writes such interesting, unique, imperfect characters. Not only are they more realistic, but you really want to root for them to get their happy endings.

Randall Everard is a third son.  I never really considered a third son’s life during this time period. He is neither the heir nor the spare, and he is just trying to find his place.  There is no set path for him, which has both positives and negatives.

Sarah Gooding is seen before in the Haven Manor series. I love when stories are interconnected, though this book can be read as a stand alone.

I loved how much Christmas was in this story and how it fit together so well. I also loved the message that you should be able to live your life no matter what age you are.

The scene with Sarah playing the piano was hilarious and one of my favorites.

Though I would love to spend more time with the characters, it has the feel of a full length novel and doesn’t feel rushed.

 
Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer

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Like Hunter, Witemeyer is another one of my favorite authors. As a member of her “Posse”, I love that she dedicated the story to us!

Karen Witemeyer also 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.

 
A Shot at Love by Sarah Loudin Thomas

It took me awhile to get into this story.  The beginning was inundated with hunting and gun talk. While I don’t have a problem with hunting for need, I don’t like the “sport” or bragging that was involved.  The second half of the book was a lot more enjoyable for me.

I liked that Fleeta was a different kind of character.  She wasn’t “girly” and she liked the same jobs and hobbies that were usually only thought of for men.

Jack the bird was a fun little character and I liked the cousins.

I have read a novella by this author that I enjoyed and I own a few other books that are on my TBR list that I look forward to reading.

 

 
Because of You by Becky Wade

I want to start out by saying that I read over 200 books a year and out of those 200, less than 5 are contemporary. And those contemporary ones are usually by favorite authors of mine.  I just tend to find issues with a lot of contemporary books.

In the first few pages, I began to be turned off by the usage of some “trendy” modern words but was still very open-minded. Then there was the character Maddie. Maddie has been pining for Leo for years, including the time he was married to her friend. She didn’t seem to find anything wrong with that.  Then after his wife dies and he is interested in Maddie, she suddenly feels like she is betraying her friend.

Maddie spends a lot of time taking pictures for her Instagram. That in and of itself didn’t bother me. It was the fact that she would be in the middle of a conversation involving charity and she would have to stand up and take 50 shots trying to get the perfect photo of her salad and chips. Seriously? And I know some people like to look at food pictures for some reason, but a salad and chips? Then when Leo doesn’t understand, she calls him “quaint”.

There are a few conversations with Maddie and her grandmother Fleeta. Comparing Fleeta from the previous story, who is a strong, independent woman, with Maddie makes Maddie’s personality even more surprising. Maddie’s mother, Laura, also seems flaky. And it was sad how a sentimental heirloom that has been passed down since the 1700s was treated.

There were some positives.  I liked Leo.  He was sweet and adorably awkward but was also loyal to his wife and a good father. I like that adoption was included in the book but the fact that the girls had been adopted wasn’t dwelled upon. And I loved that Charlie picked out a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Because of You wasn’t for me. As I mentioned though, contemporary fiction isn’t really my favorite genre.

Miss Serena’s Secret (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope #2) – Review

serenacoverby Carolyn Miller

Series: Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope (Book 2)

Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (July 24, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825445345
ISBN-13: 978-0825445347

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With devastating scars in her past, Serena Winthrop is sure no man can be trusted–especially not a man like the too-smooth Viscount Carmichael. His reputation as a flirt and a gambler is everything she despises. And the young artist makes sure that this disreputable heir to an earldom knows of her deep disapproval whenever they encounter one another.

Henry, Lord Carmichael, is perfectly aware of his charms. He’s gambled with plenty of ladies’ hearts as easily as he has with their husbands’ money. But lately he’s wondered if there’s more to life–and if his actions might prove unworthy of an admirable wife such as his friends have found.

When Serena’s guardian asks his best friend to protect his young ward, Henry promises to be on his best behavior and not to woo her. But the more he learns of her, the more he realizes she might be his best reason for changing his character.

Then the lady’s painting leads her to London infamy. Now Henry must choose between the life mapped out for him as the earl apparent and the love of his life. And Serena’s secret may mean the end of his titled family line.


If only I could function without sleep…

It was four in the morning before I finally forced myself to put the book down and the next day I was quick to pick it up and finish it.

This book was filled with an entire range of emotional moments that were: funny, romantic, tense, joyous… There were raw emotions, whether it was a child born into the world or a beloved character called home. I held my breath though a scene which is so unlike me and during another scene I literally dropped my jaw.  I was so glad no one was watching me while reading this book!

Carolyn Miller always has such interesting, dynamic characters. I love how she describes the scenery, and I can vividly picture it. As a landscape photographer I can relate with Serena seeing God’s work in His glorious creation and trying to capture it.

The parts with the children were some of my favorites. Like when Serena was trying to paint the bouncy children and they were asking her questions about Uncle Henry. I also liked the way Henry interacted with the children. Those scenes were so precious.

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Miss Serena’s Secret is not a story where things go perfectly, and that is one of the reasons why I recommend it. While it’s nice to read a story that is happy and positive all the time, it’s not very realistic. This book’s realistic scenarios remind us of how we all should live. Love endures all things. Bad things will happen but we must continue to love God and love others and see the good He provides us with.

At the end of Miss Serena’s Secret it shows a preview of Carolyn’s next book in the series The Making of Mrs. Hale. I am very much looking forward to it even more after reading that preview.

A Tangled Inheritance – Review

tangledcoverby Chalon Linton

Paperback: 218 pages
Publisher: Covenant Communications (February 1, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1524404616
ISBN-13: 978-1524404611

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Nora Ellsworth, darling of London society, has her choice of eligible suitors, but since childhood, she has been expected to marry Jonathan Browning, a gentleman whose wealth and stability will someday secure the futures of Nora and her mother and sister. The family estate will pass to an odious male cousin upon the death of Nora’s father, and when he suddenly takes ill, her need to marry well becomes vitally important.

As Nora struggles with the idea of marrying without love, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Devlin Fausett, a man with dark eyes and intriguing conversation. But Devlin’s reputation as an indebted gambler is difficult to ignore. Despite the rumors from the ton and the marriage decision before her, Nora is determined to befriend the dashing Mr. Fausett, and his charms soon make it all but impossible to remember her duty. Until she learns the truth of her fortune. There is a way to keep her family’s estate, but the price is high: Nora must wed, as soon as possible. Torn between two very different men, she must make the ultimate decision. Will she be guided by her head or her heart?


A Tangled Inheritance is a standalone book, however, I would suggest reading An Inconvenient Romance first. Not only is An Inconvenient Romance a good book, but it’s nice to see some characters show up in A Tangled Inheritance.

There were a lot of things I really liked about A Tangled Inheritance. I liked that Devlin Fausett is imperfect and we get to know his thoughts and reasons behind why he gambles.

I liked that Nora insists on standing behind a friend and supporting them regardless of the gossip surrounding them. A lot of people abandon others in times like this and care more about themselves.

When Devlin falls back on his old ways, Nora doesn’t let him get away with it. She make sure he knows what he did is wrong which makes him less likely to slip again.

I liked the fact that a lot of time passes and they really get to know each other as friends first.

I loved the relationship between Devlin and his mare Raven. Their relationship made it even harder when he lost her.

There was a mystery throughout the book which I enjoyed and the book moved along at a good pace.

Mr. Trenton reminded me of an evil version of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice.

A Tangled Inheritance was an enjoyable read that I would recommend.