The Best-Laid Plans – Review

by Sarah M. Eden

ASIN : B08PW54CQ5
Publisher : Covenant Communications (January 1, 2021)
Publication date : January 1, 2021
Language: English

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Newton Hughes has long dreamed of pursuing a career in law, an acceptable choice for a gentleman of status and wealth. His parents, however, disapprove of his ambition, urging him instead to take his rightful place as a gentleman of leisure—with a suitable wife of their choosing, of course. 

Ellie Napper would like nothing more than for her parents to abandon their incessant efforts to marry her off to the greatest possible advantage. Her lack of matrimonial enthusiasm drives her family mad, but she refuses to feign frivolity in order to make herself more palatable to potential suitors. 

When Ellie and Newton are introduced through their mutual acquaintance, Charlie Jonquil, they commiserate over their shared plight. In desperation, they hatch a plan: Ellie and Newton will feign an interest in each other—enough to convince their parents not to push them toward unwanted matches but not enough to cause whispers or expectations. Their plot quickly spirals out of control, but the greatest complication is the one they didn’t see coming: their plan never included falling in love.


My Review

Ellie Napper has always had her fun, intelligent, and slightly outspoken personality pushed down by her family. They want her sister to shine, so Ellie is supposed to quietly stay in the background and follow their directions on who they want her to marry.

Newton Hughes dreams of being a barrister. His family believes that a gentleman having an occupation is beneath them.

With the help of their mutual friends Charlie Jonquil and Artemis Lancaster, Newton and Ellie plan to fake their relationship to appease their parents.

No matter if it is a novel or a novella, Eden always draws the reader in with her characters. They are so memorable, and you wish you could know them in real life.

I loved the story, but felt the ending was a little abrupt. I hope Charlie’s story will at least mention how Newton and Ellie are doing.

Yes, this is a lead up to Charlie and Artemis’ story which so many of us greatly anticipate reading. However, I also loved this as a standalone and as Newton and Ellie’s love story.

Top 20 Books of 2020

Losing yourself in a good book was even more important this year than in previous years. I am so thankful for these amazing writers that share their work with us. Here are the Top 20 Books in 2020.

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The Gentleman and the Thief – Review

by Sarah M. Eden

ISBN-10 : 1629727903
Paperback : 368 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-1629727905
Publisher : Shadow Mountain (November 3, 2020)

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A gentleman scribes penny dreadful novels by night and falls in love with a woman who is a music teacher by day—and a thief at night.

LONDON 1865

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?


The Gentleman and the Thief is the second in the series, and I suggest reading The Lady and the Highwayman first so you can learn more about the Dread Penny Society. I think if people start with this book, they might get confused about some things.

The format of the book is the same as the last one. You have chapters from the viewpoints of the main characters, but you also have excerpts from their Penny Dreadfuls. I really enjoyed the cute ghost story that Hollis wrote.

Though based on historical things like the time period and the dreadfuls, Eden makes this story seem fresh and unique.

This book is Ana Newport and Hollis Darby’s story, however, I loved that we got to see Fletcher and Elizabeth from the first book.

The Gentleman and the Thief feels more about the mystery and the Dread Penny Society than the romance between Ana and Hollis. While I enjoyed the story, I wish Ana and Hollis had spent more time together, and that their relationship was more developed.

There will be things that resolve in this book, but other mysteries will continue in the next book in the series. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Blog Tour and Review: Forget Me Not (The Gents Book #1)

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by Sarah M. Eden

Paperback : 256 pages
ISBN-10 : 1524413356
ISBN-13 : 978-1524413354
Publisher : Covenant Communications (September 7, 2020)
Language: English

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A Georgian Romance

Nottinghamshire, 1785

After losing too many of his friends and family to early deaths, Lucas vowed to live life to the fullest. And after traversing the world, he has returned from his adventures to find his family and home as he left them-except for Julia. The little girl he left behind has blossomed into a captivating lady, a lady who makes it clear she despises him. With little hope of reconciliation, the former friends are blindsided when their parents make a shocking announcement. Lucas and Julia have been betrothed without their knowledge and are to marry immediately. Now Lucas must rely on the help of his closest friends to win the heart of a lady who loathes him-a lady he s coming to love more deeply every day.


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Coming into this story I already had a feeling I would love it because of how much I love the stories of their children.

Those who have read the Jonquil’s books and the Lancaster’s will love seeing some beloved characters in this book. I love little Adam so much! However, this is a standalone book and the start of a new series. If you have not read the other books, there will be something special with coming into the story fresh not knowing anything that will happen in the future.

Looking at this story on its own, I always love the trope when people are friends as children and then meet up again as adults and fall in love. This book even throws in a twist to that.

Sarah Eden books are so hard to put down. The characters always have so much depth and they feel so real, the storylines pull you in, and there is always so much emotion you feel while reading her stories.

This time period is not one I read as often and I enjoyed hearing about all the fashions. I’m really glad that a number of them went out of style, like the powdered hair and wigs, and the structure in the dresses.

I cannot say enough about how much I love Sarah Eden’s books. Her stories keep you always wanting more of them and you get characters you will never forget.

Favorite quotes:

“You are building a new life; don’t forget to live it.”

“It didn’t do to believe in people. All she received in return for her faith in them was the echoing silence of empty corridors, days on end with her own loneliness, an unyielding back turned on her grief and pain.”

“She had very little control over her own life. But she was not helpless or voiceless. She would find a means of being her own defender”

“Life is meant to be lived, and that is best accomplished surrounded by people who make that life full.”

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Valley of Dreams – Review

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by Sarah M. Eden

Series: Longing for Home (Book 6)
Paperback: 303 pages
Publisher: Mirror Press (February 4, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1947152742
ISBN-13: 978-1947152748

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From the USA Today Bestselling author of the Longing for Home series, VALLEY OF DREAMS is a new romance novel set in the beloved world of Hope Springs.

Patrick O’Connor has seen far too much of the cruel and unforgiving world. Life has beaten him down relentlessly. Out of hope and out of options, he makes the terrifying and desperate decision to return home to the family he has lied to for years, the family he knows will never forgive him.

Widowed and nearly unable to care for her tiny daughter under the weight of extreme poverty, Eliza Porter jumps at the opportunity to leave behind the slums of New York City for the promise of a new life and a new beginning in the frontier town of Hope Springs.

Fate tosses the two of them together more and more often, while the burden of his tightly-held secrets and the ache of her abandoned dreams pull them further and further apart. Clinging to the whispered possibility of something more than the pain life has offered them thus far will require every bit of hope they can find in this peaceful but precarious valley of dreams.


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Through a number of books in this series we have grown closer to the O’Connor family. We feel their joys, and we feel their sorrows. This story will bring you through a journey of emotions. We grieve with them, laugh with them, and we rejoice when they find where they truly belong.

“Life hadn’t been all flowers and sunshine for the O’Connors.”

This family has suffered so much but stay together and support each other. Patrick O’Connor is not like the rest of his family. He feels that they are better off without him, and he let them believe he was dead for years. He used to be outgoing and funny but is now broken down and only wants to be left alone. Patrick is battling with his demons, but he returns to his family so they can fix him. He is gruff but tender, and he is so sweet with Lydia.

“He was a kindhearted soul, and such a thing was something that ought not be hidden.”

Eliza Porter is an extrovert who loves to laugh and is caring and strong. She has dreams that she worries are too big. She has also been going through hard times but wants to stay positive for herself and her daughter Lydia. Eliza sees Patrick as a mystery that she wants to solve.

“Happiness can be found even in the most difficult of situations.”

Finbarr and Emma’s story also continues in this book. I can’t wait for their own book and for more about the beloved O’Connors!

“Hope had brought them to this town. Love had built a life for them here. Beautiful, powerful, miraculous love.”

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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The Lady and the Highwayman – Review

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by Sarah M. Eden

Series: Proper Romance Victorian
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (September 3, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1629726052
ISBN-13: 978-1629726052

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Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1865 Victorian London. She is also a well-respected author of “silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories—the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Mr. King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats, intelligent detectives solving grisly murders, and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. They contain all the adventure and mystery that her real life lacks.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Mr. King started taking all of his readers. No one knows who King is, including Fletcher’s fellow members of the Dread Penny Society, a fraternity of  authors dedicated to secretly fighting for the social and political causes of their working-class readers. The group knows King could be an asset with his obvious monetary success, or he could be the group’s undoing as King’s readership continues to cut into their profits.

Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. As a fellow-author, she is well-known among the high-class writers; perhaps she could be persuaded to make some inquiries as to Mr. King’s whereabouts? Elizabeth agrees to help Fletcher, if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered. What neither author anticipated was the instant attraction, even though their social positions dictate the impossibility of a relationship.

For the first time Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.


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The excellent first line drew me right in!

Fletcher Walker has crawled his way up from the gutter with just his swagger. He goes wherever he wants, acting like he belongs, and no one questions him. Fletcher is a different kind of a hero who is very vulnerable. Now that he is successful writing Penny Dreadfuls, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from, and he gives back to those who need it.

Elizabeth Black is all prim and proper in order to keep people interested in her school. However, that is just a facade for her adventurous spirit.

Fletcher and Elizabeth both write Penny Dreadfuls and the chapters switch between their points of view as well as the Penny Dreadful stories themselves.

I’ve never been in to over the top, exaggerated novels, but Elizabeth’s story was fun and interesting. Fletcher’s was interesting as well, but it was sad, and real, and raw. Especially because it came from a place he knew from growing up in the slums. I liked how the Penny Dreadfuls intertwined with the overall story.

Even with their success, Fletcher and Elizabeth are drawn together with their desire to educate those who are often overlooked like females and the poor.

Historical fiction is my favorite, and I love learning new and interesting things during different time periods. I love that Eden drew inspiration from real life author Elizabeth Caroline Grey who was rumored to write Penny Dreadfuls and Silver Fork novels.

There was an overall mystery throughout the book that I really enjoyed. The ending is very cute, but I still wish I had answers to some questions.

I have read almost all of Sarah M. Eden’s books, and she is one of my favorite authors. This book seemed a different style than others I have read from her, but I really liked it and completely recommend it.