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.

Miss Wilton’s Waltz – Review

wiltoncoverby Josi S. Kilpack

Series: Proper Romance
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (May 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1629724130
ISBN-13: 978-1629724133

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Lenora Wilton has spent her life hiding behind the keys of her beloved pianoforte and the vibrancy of her younger sister, Cassie. But Lenora is ready for a change and travels to Bath to live with her Aunt Gwen and teach music at an all-girls’ boarding school. She is different in Bath—more comfortable with herself—and enjoys the freedom and independence of her new life there.

When Lenora meets Aiden Asher, she finds herself attracted to him, but her unexpected feelings become more complicated when she learns that Catherine—Lenora’s newest and most troublesome student in the school—is Mr. Asher’s niece. Catherine is a difficult student, and Lenora works hard to make progress with the girl.

When the chemistry between Lenora and Aiden increases, they share a passionate kiss by the River Avon, and Lenora feels it is the beginning of a new forever—until she learns that Aiden has withheld an important detail about his life that changes everything.

Lenora closes her heart to him, and Aiden, caught between his obligation and his heart, must do what he can to make amends. And Lenora, after years of hiding from everyone and everything, faces a decision only she can make.


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The Vicar’s Daughter was my favorite book written by Josi S. Kilpack, so I was extra excited to read Miss Wilton’s Waltz.  While Miss Wilton’s Waltz is a stand alone book, you will love it even more if you have read The Vicar’s Daughter.

I always felt bad for Lenora in the Vicar’s daughter. Though Cassie was always meant to be with Evan, Lenora’s personality held her back from a lot of things in life. It seemed she was finding her braver self in Bath when she fell in love with a man she didn’t know was engaged bringing her back to the girl she used to be.

The characters were all written as realistic people with a lot of depth who found themselves in complicated situations. I like that everything wasn’t so simple and straightforward.

Catherine’s situation really resonated with me. There are so many children with tough childhoods that make them act out and people give up on them. I love how dedicated they are to helping her. I also like that they realize things won’t ever be perfect and to look for the good in the improvement.

I would love a future story that features Catherine.

Some of my favorite quotes:

You fight for what is important to you

Avoiding pain was not the same thing as healing. Being safe was not the same as being right.

 

Winning Miss Winthrop (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope #1) – Review

36809331by Carolyn Miller

  • Series: Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 27, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0825445337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0825445330
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Years ago, the man who stole Catherine Winthrop’s heart rejected her–and she’s never recovered from the grief. Now tragedy has brought him back into her life. This time it isn’t her heart he’s taking, it’s her home and her family’s good name.

Jonathan Carlew’s serious demeanor and connection to trade, not to mention the rumors surrounding his birth, have kept him from being a favorite of the ladies, or their parents. Now, suddenly landed and titled, he finds himself with plenty of prospects. But his demanding society responsibilities keep pressing him into service to the one woman who captured his heart long ago–and then ran off with it.

These two broken hearts must decide whether their painful past and bitter present will be all they can share, or if forgiveness can provide a path to freedom for the future.

Set in the sumptuous salons of Bath, Regency England’s royal breeding ground for gossip, Winning Miss Winthrop is the first volume in the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series. Fans of the wholesome and richly drawn first series won’t want to miss this new set of characters–or appearances by their old favorites.


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My favorite book of all time is Persuasion, and Winning Miss Winthrop reminds me somewhat of it.

Catherine Winthrop and Jonathan Carlew fell in love but ended their relationship after a misunderstanding. Years later they are forced back together when Jonathan becomes Lord Winthrop.

The characters in this book had a number of misunderstandings and a lot of that stemmed from their lack of communication.  They also assumed way too many things.  If they had just been better at communicating, it would have cleared up a lot of things.

I liked the main characters, however, I do wish there were more interactions between Catherine and Jonathan.

The next book in the series is Miss Serena’s Secret (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope #2) which I am looking forward to. I am even more excited to read The Making of Mrs. Hale (Regency Brides: Promise of Hope #3).

The Lady and the Gent (A London League Novel) – Review

gentby Rebecca Connolly

  • Series: London League, Book 1
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Phase Publishing (February 1, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1943048495
  • ISBN-13: 978-1943048496

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A woman of great fortune…

Margaret Easton needs a husband, and she needs one now. Her parents are convinced that only a European will do, but Margaret wants nothing more than to stay in England. The trouble is that there is only one man Margaret can think of, or rather, one she cannot forget, and he wouldn’t do as a husband at all. Then she finds herself in his care unexpectedly, and her hunt becomes even more complicated than she could have ever imagined.

A man of great mystery…

Rafe Thornton has never said more than ten words to Margaret Easton, but she is rapidly becoming the sole occupant of his thoughts. She is distracting him from his operative work as the Gent, and keeps him from his usual focused nature, which he doesn’t mind at all. When she stumbles into his world, his work and his emotions collide, forcing him to choose between saving the Crown, and protecting his love.


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The Regency is my favorite time period, and I love a book with mystery, adventure and romance. The Lady and the Gent has it all!

I have read all of Rebecca Connolly’s Arrangement Series novels and the mysterious, heroic and intriguing Gent has shown up previously making me want to read more about him. He did not disappoint. The Gent is just as strong and tough as you would expect him to be, yet he is gentle with children and the heroine Margaret.  He keeps an air of mystery but you get to learn more about who he is.

“Ten seconds was not enough today. Not nearly enough.”

Margaret and Rafe Thornton (the Gent) have one of the sweetest romances ever.  It does seem like their romance develops at a fast pace, yet at the same time it feels like they have known each other longer through their “ten second moments”. I loved the theme of the ten second moments through out the book, especially at the end.

The story-line with the gypsies was also very interesting. I hadn’t known a lot about them during this time period and I liked how it showed how they could be misunderstood.

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

I am really looking forward to the next book in the series and hope we will see the Gent again.

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!