This year has been filled with so many amazing books! Every single book on this list earns a 5 star rating and comes highly recommended. Some of them are now even some of my favorite reads of all time. Thank you so much to all these authors, and all the other authors out there, for everything that goes into their books; the worlds they create for us to escape into, the characters we come to care for, the research needed for all the rich history. There is so much that I am deeply appreciative of. Thanks for an incredible year of books!
THE SEVENTH STAR INN by Sally Britton After years of looking after one another, Susan Baxter and her mother view their neighbors in Totnes as family. When a new landlord inherits the leases on their homes and businesses alike, Susan dreads knowing her world could change at the whim of a stranger. But when she meets Collin Stonecroft and his inquisitive daughter, her feelings shift quickly from cautionary to hopeful. Collin has lived in the confines of London boarding houses all his life, and he’s determined to give his daughter more. They check into the Seventh Star Inn with plans to return to London as soon as possible, but both find Miss Baxter and her local history lessons far too enchanting to leave behind. When Susan learns of Collin’s proposed changes to her beloved neighborhood, will she be able to help him see that some things are perfect the way they are?
THE TRUTH ABOUT MR. BLACKMORE by Annette Lyon Leigh’s life at the Old Grey Inn is drudgery broken by flights of fancy thanks in part to novels by Simon Blackmore. When Mattias McGrady comes to the inn for a fortnight, Leigh captures his attention. A relationship develops, and she dreads the end of his stay, which will mean a return to an unhappy life. An urgent letter to Mattias leads to him inviting Leigh to an event that stands to change both of their lives forever. If all goes well, Leigh will have a life of her choosing after all. But half-truths and lies have a way of complicating matters. When their plans go awry, Leigh loses her reputation and Mattias almost surely loses his career. Can either of them find happiness?
THE COACHMAN’S CHOICE by Deborah M. Hathaway Ever-reliable Mary Thorne has helped her widowed mother run The Golden Mermaid Inn for years. She spends her days greeting guests, ensuring the inn runs smoothly—and dodging flirtatious remarks from passing coachmen. But she’s far too busy to pay any attention to such men, even the enticingly attractive Mr. Northcott. Known far and wide for his horsemanship, punctuality, and dallying reputation, Robert Northcott relishes his life as a coachman, especially his freedom to flirt with numerous women from inn to inn, all without the messy details of commitment. There’s just one woman who’s immune to his charms: the lovely, single landlady of The Golden Mermaid. Robert is determined to win Mary over, just as heartily as she is determined to keep her distance from him. But his carefree life is threatened when his pursual of Mary becomes more than just a game…
This collection brings you three delightful stories from three different authors. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I loved that each story was different.
The Seventh Star Inn by Sally Britton
Collin lost his wife many years ago, and he is now raising their daughter Beth. He has spent years working as an accountant for White’s before inheriting property in a little town called Totnes.
Susan was raised as the vicar’s daughter, but after her father’s death, she and her mother worried they would be left for the poor house. However, the people of Totnes took care of them while making it feel loving and not like charity. Susan is now a 28 year old spinster when Collin enters town as her new landlord.
The two opposing views when people look at historic architecture is so prevalent in today’s society. Some people see it at face value as just being old. But some people see all the history behind it and what that means. They see the people that once were, the uniqueness and the character to the structures, and all the stories that took place during the years.
The Truth About Mr. Blackmore by Annette Lyon
Mattias is a writer who is hiding his true name since his publisher doesn’t think his Irish name will sell books. He travels for inspiration and finds himself staying at an Inn that Leigh works in.
Leigh works for her uncaring aunt and uncle who own the inn. She uses books to escape her reality.
I really liked Leigh and Mattias together. This was such a cute, whimsical fairy tale.
The Coachman’s Choice by Deborah M. Hathaway
Robert Northcott is a coachman with major commitment issues who wants to stay unattached and responsibility free.
Mary Thorne has been hurt by a coachman before, and she wants to avoid the flirtatious Robert at all cost.
This was a well developed story with excellent characters that I came to care for in a very short period of time. Due to the shortness of novellas, sometimes it can be hard to develop a connection between characters. I love how the author used the timeline of the coaching schedule to move the story along.
Miss Emma Arlen’s position as a companion never included distracting her mistress’s suitors, but when a handsome Italian ambassador arrives determined to find an English bride, Emma happily takes up the cause.
Emma Arlen has spent a decade as a member of the duke’s family, in the position of companion to his daughter and ward to the duke himself. She would do anything to show her support to the ducal family for their love and kindness. When Lady Josephine begs Emma to distract a most determined Sicilian suitor, she agrees at once. How hard can it be to keep one man entertained for a few weeks?
Luca, the Conte di Atella, left his home in the newly formed Kingdom of the Two Sicilies under the direct orders of King Ferdinand I. Luca’s duty as ambassador to England includes everything from negotiating better trade agreements to strengthening the bonds between the two nations. If possible, by marrying a lady of high birth. When he optimistically sets his sights on Lady Elinor, Miss Arlen consistently disrupts his plans. The more time that passes, the more he realizes he does not mind at all.
Continually in the conte’s company, Emma recognizes in him a spirit of adventure and nobility like she has never witnessed before. When the time comes for him to go, will she be able to part with him and keep her heart intact?
Emma Arlen always tries to stay happy and positive, but I felt bad that she is always being used by people who just want to get closer to the Duke’s daughter.
As someone of Italian descent, I had an extra soft spot for the character Luca and everything connected to the Italian culture. The scene where Luca and Emma make pasta is one of my favorites. It even makes me want to try my hand at making pasta myself. I also loved learning all the history and politics of Italy during this time. I am ashamed to say I didn’t know much about it.
I loved Andrew and the Duke’s daughter Josephine! They had a fun relationship, and I can’t wait to see where that goes.
This was a very sweet story, and I loved the characters and the history.
The last thing Dannie needs is a Victorian gentleman on her ranch, playing cowboy while she’s trying to save her family’s livelihood. Will high stakes and high emotions lead to heartbreak?
Evan Rounsevell, second son to the Marquess of Rothwell, is running as far from his family and responsibilities as he can. His fascination with cowboys takes him from English shores to the Arizona desert, but the days of showdowns are over, and Tombstone, Arizona, is a respectable town. With no funds left, and no desire to call on his affluent family for rescue, Evan seeks a position as a cowboy at a ranch on its last leg.
Daniella Bolton’s fiancé left when the drought of 1893 crippled the KB ranch, but that’s just fine by her. She doesn’t need a man to help her save her family’s land. Especially not an Englishman who looks down on her style of living, like Evan does. She loves her life on the ranch, and no outsider could ever understand what it means to be loyal to the land and her family’s way of life.
Being a cowboy is harder than Evan thought, but as he works to earn his place on the ranch, his heart opens up to the beauty of the desert… as well as that of Dannie Bolton. Watching Evan fight for the ranch she loves makes Dannie realize that not all men are afraid of hard work and troubled times, and loving Evan might be just the salve her wounded heart needs. But when Evan’s family summons him home right when Dannie needs him most, the feelings of betrayal from her former fiancé’s flight return tenfold.
Does Evan dare risk his tenuous relationship with Dannie to fulfill his family responsibilities? Or will leaving Arizona be the worst mistake of his life?
This book has a likeable cast of characters, a unique plot, and it combines some of my favorite time periods and locations.
As the younger son of a Marquess in England, Evan Rounsevell doesn’t have a lot of focus in life. However, he does dream about life in the wild west of America.
Daniella Bolton has been burned before in love and now only wants to work hard at her family’s ranch and ignore the handsome British greenhorn.
Evan gets judged instantly for his upbringing, but he is a hard worker and a fast learner. Dannie bothered me at first with how rude she was to him, and it took a little longer to warm up to her.
I really liked the theme that in America you could choose what to make of yourself instead of just taking the path that was handed to you. This was especially the case for Evan where he wouldn’t have been given a lot of choices if he stayed in England.
I like reading Historical Westerns. I do wish there were a little more historical details added to the story from this time period.
This book, along with many others I have read, and almost every Hallmark movie, seems to think Bostonians think poorly of people from other areas, when Southerners and Westerners are the ones always saying how cold, and heartless Boston people are. Just so you know Hallmark, we like people from all areas, and while the weather may be cold, we aren’t. 🙂
I read the description for the next book in the series, Copper for the Countess, and I am really looking forward to Frosty’s story. He was one of the most intriguing characters in Sliver Dollar Duke.
A duke’s governess, a gentleman scientist, and a castle full of flowers is the perfect setting for a summer romance.
As the new governess to the duke’s family, Alice Sharpe must learn to control her impulsive ways. Employment in the duke’s household is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and could mean living in comfort the rest of her days. Unfortunately, her first encounter with the duke’s neighbor, a handsome scientist, proves she may not be ready for the austere role of governess.
Rupert Gardiner has one goal: to have his work in botany published by the Royal Society. He is fortunate that his neighbor, the duke, believes in him and enlists Rupert to make a record of all the flora on the castle grounds. But Miss Sharpe’s spontaneity and continual appearance during his work is a rather annoying distraction. At least, that’s what he tells himself.
While Alice struggles to adapt to her new role, constantly battling who she is and the person she believes she must become, she cannot help but admire Rupert’s intelligence and focus. The more often they fall in together, the more her admiration deepens. But could a gentleman such as he ever fall in love with the governess?
Alice Sharpe has spent her life as the unwanted family member. She is treated like a burden passed around from house to house and eventually becomes a governess for a Duke’s family. People have always wanted things from her and have never valued her. Instead of becoming bitter, Alice likes to make the best out of the situation.
Rupert Gardiner is a gentleman who is staying at the Duke of Montfort’s estate in order to catalog the flora and fauna. He has a love mostly for the insects which turns off many people.
Rupert wants Alice’s help with his project, and he is intrigued by her. Alice just wants to stay in the shadows since she knows how tenuous her position in the household could be.
I loved the children in this story. My heart went out to little Geoffrey. How people could treat another human this way is appalling, especially an innocent little boy.
This was a very sweet story. The epilogue gives you a peek into the next book A Companion for the Count.
Nothing will keep Louisa from searching for an ancient fortune. Except perhaps a phantom who turns out to be a most eligible bachelor.
When Louisa Banner’s mother announces they are poor, she cannot help her misgivings when her mother sends her away to live with her great aunt in a tiny, Northumberland village. Louisa’s aunt also happens to live near the ruins of an ancient castle. Although Louisa insists she is not the least bit superstitious, tales of lost treasure and ghosts intrigue her.
When Louisa stumbles upon a forgotten graveyard, and a man whose name comes directly from a tombstone, she isn’t certain whether to run away in terror or stay and get to know the handsome spirit.
Erasmus Grey is cursed, and not only because he sometimes hears the voices of ghosts claiming to be his dead grandparents. While most men would count it a blessing to be a wealthy, eligible bachelor, Ras has no hope of finding a bride who will tolerate his stammer or his passion for writing Gothic novels.
Rather than succumb to the matchmaking mothers of London, he retreats to an old family estate at the behest of the ghostly voices. Though he manages to keep his presence in the country a secret, coming upon a lovely young woman during one of his rambles nearly undoes all his careful work. But when he realizes Miss Banner thinks him a ghost, Ras wonders if he might have found someone who truly understands him.
Treasures, castles, and ghosts combine in an autumn romance in a haunted wood.
October is the perfect month to read this book. There are spirits and superstitions, castle ruins, and a missing treasure to look for.
Ras had a very rough childhood being teased for his stutter. He seems to have withdrawn from a lot of the world but finds his voice in his writings. Louisa has keenly felt the loss of her father. Even more so when her mother sends away her governess and raises her with the sole goal of making a good match.
The main characters had a very interesting first meeting. It was strange but cute. I also liked the descriptions of the little town. The hidden away houses lent themselves to a mystery, and the town had a lot of history and passed down legends.
A Haunting at Havenwood is a fun addition to the Seasons of Change series that I have been enjoying.
“There are all sorts of people in this world, child. Those who love noise and distraction, and those who yearn for quiet and solitude. I think both have a place, and neither is wrong. If you take anything from our little gossip, I hope it is that there are many paths to happiness.”
When Phoebe starts receiving anonymous letters, she never once thinks the most irresponsible man in London is her correspondent. Or that she will fall in love with him.
Phoebe Kimball grew up believing in love, but after failing to find a gentleman capable of capturing her heart, she has turned more practical than romantic. She is determined to find a husband in London this Season. If only the annoying Mr. Fenwick would stop appearing every time she sets her cap at someone! When an anonymous letter arrives warning her that her current target is unsuitable marital material, Phoebe begins a relationship with the letter writer that promises something more than a practical alliance.
Griffin Fenwick does not usually care for women on the hunt for a husband, but Miss Kimball’s quick wit and refusal to admit she enjoys his company intrigues him. When he realizes the gentlemen on her list of eligible bachelors is full with scoundrels, he warns her the only way he can – through a letter. As he comes to know Phoebe better, he soon realizes he wishes to put his own name on her list. If only she liked Griffin as much as she liked her anonymous correspondent.
When Phoebe realizes its been Griffin writing her all along, will she put aside practicality for love, or spurn Griffin for even trying to woo her?
Letters for Phoebe is the first in a series of books about five friends. The next four novellas will be written by authors Joanna Barker, Megan Walker, Heidi Kimball, and Arlem Hawks.
The Promise of Forever After collection of stories is about five girls who attended school together and feel the bonds of sisterhood. A beautiful bracelet is passed around the group, and it is expected to bring them good luck and help tie each of them together.
When she was younger Phoebe Kimball always liked to go on adventures and often got herself into trouble. As she grows up and has to face serious issues she becomes more somber and loses her more daring side. Griffin Fenwick lives for fun. He loves to make people laugh and distract them from any issues they are facing.
Phoebe and Griffin meet while he is participating in a dual using dough. This certainly was a unique and funny way to bring the reader into the story.
Phoebe wants to marry someone her equal and when she pursues a relationship with a man that Griffin considers problematic, he takes it upon himself to secretly warn her through letters.
Letters for Phoebe is a Regency take on The Shop Around the Corner (You’ve Got Mail) and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I loved this story and I look forward to reading about the bracelet passing on to the other friends.