Posted in Historical

Siri Mitchell’s Love Comes Calling

About

A girl with the best of intentions.
A heart set on Hollywood.
An empty pocketbook.

That’s all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She’s tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can’t deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she’s not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It’s simple: avoid Griff’s attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call…with her very own Griff as the target.

Review

Siri Mitchell does a fantastic job of picking up small historical facts and really running with them. I really felt like I had been transported to the 1920s with this one. There’s telephone operator girls, speakeasies, and flappers. There’s also Ellis. Ellis is an interesting heroine that, for the most part, I really liked. I will say, that someone let me in on a spoiler that I felt like I was glad to know ahead of time.* I will post said spoiler at the end of my review in case you want to go into this novel blind, but I will say, because I knew the spoiler, I was able to find Ellis endearing as opposed to annoying. Okay, now for the rundown:

What I liked:

The dedication (and really the theme of the whole novel): for everyone who has ever wished they could just be like everyone else. Um, yes. Who hasn’t wished that at some point? This really made Ellis easily identifiable and lovable.

The time period. It’s just on the edge of modern with old school ways. I’m really beginning to enjoy books written in the 1920s.

The romance. It’s a different kind of romance. This is not boy meets girl and likes her. This is boy already likes girl. Therefore, I will say, this novel is not romance centered, but I still loved every moment that Griff was with Ellis.

It’s a very easy read. I found myself surprised that I was almost finished with the book at one point.

Spiritually, I love that the novel shows that you are just who God created you to be. It also deals with whether or not you can legalize morality since it is really a heart issue. Good thinking points.

What I didn’t like:

Ellis decides to solve a mystery that potentially has murder at the root of it…by herself. I just wasn’t sure what she was hoping to accomplish half the time. Also, at times, it did feel that Ellis acted years younger than her age because she seemed to have almost no concept of how others think (unless this was because she was wealthy…I haven’t decided).

Overall, a very cute story.

Romantic Scale: 7.5

**I received this novel from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

 

 

*[Spoiler Alert: Ellis has ADHD.]

Advertisements
Posted in Historical

Tamera Alexander’s A Beauty So Rare

About

A gripping love story set against the backdrop of a stunning antebellum mansion

Pink was not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war–and still had one to fight.

Eleanor Braddock–plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty–knows she will never marry. But with a dying soldier’s last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America–and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path–building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows’ and children’s home run contrary to Eleanor’s wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground–and a love neither of them expects. But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

From the USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexander comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society–and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.

Review

Can you believe we went a whole year without a book from Ms. Alexander? I can’t either. She was completely missed, and I was so excited to get my hands on this new book of hers. Here is the breakdown:

Things I like:

The romance. No one quite does romance like Ms. Alexander. She does my favorite kind: friendship romance. The novel has that slow build that you can just watch unfold on the pages. Eleanor learns every facet of who Marcus is and vice versa. By the time I finish the novel, I have the utmost faith that they love each other and that their relationship would last. Nothing is rushed, nothing is contrived and when you get to that moment in the end all you want to do is sigh (sidenote: if you love Jane Austen movies, you will love this book).

Eleanor is an amazing heroine, and I don’t say that lightly because I’m so hard on my heroines. I love her straightforwardness. I love her vulnerability. I love that when people (ahem, Marcus) make mistakes, she doesn’t make it all about her or make a mountain out of a molehill. I love that she acts like a friend and not a woman scorned when surprises arise. There is probably only one thing Eleanor does that didn’t fit her character (according to my kindle I was about 93% in), but otherwise, hats off to you my dear.

This novel is a history lovers dream. The historical facts are interwoven so beautifully, I kept wondering if some of these characters were real people. I learned so much and yet not once did I feel like the author went off on a tangent to teach me a history lesson. Let’s not forget that this is right after the Civil War which is one of my favorite eras to read about combined with Western European history (another favorite of mine). I couldn’t get enough (you would think those two things would clash, nope).

We are back at Belmont with Ms. Acklen and you get a completely different viewpoint of her. She was the same women in A Lasting Impression and yet not the same. I really liked the newness that was brought to her character.

Spiritually, I liked watching Marcus develop and grow in his faith, while watching Eleanor learn that God can answer our prayers in the most unique ways.

Things I didn’t like:

I will say, that as much as I love long novels and get excited about them, this novel did start to feel long by a certain point, most likely because all the “big things” seemed to be wrapped up fairly early on and I could only see success with the rest of the story. That said, for me this didn’t detract from the novel too much.

Okay, I’m going to say this: this novel, though it has different characters and different issues and concerns, does seem almost interchangeable with the previous novels that Ms. Alexander wrote. I don’t know how exactly, I can’t put my finger on it. But something about the feel of the story made me feel like I had read it before. Again, I love her books so this wasn’t a problem, but I did want to note it.

Overall, very good.

Romantic scale: 9.5

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Historical

Julie Lessman’s Dare to Love Again

About

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he’s a fraud just like all the rest of the men she’s cared for. Does she dare love again?

The lushness of the glorious Gilded Age beautifully showcases Lessman’s passion as a writer in this engaging love story written with humor and heart. From the glamour of San Francisco’s Nob Hill to the seedy gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, Dare to Love Again is a journey to find a love that never fails. Fans will love revisiting the world of the cousins McClare, and new readers will seek more of Julie’s passion-filled novel

Review

Having read the first novel in this series, I knew I had to read the second. Here are some things I noticed about this novel:

Logan. He’s my favorite character in the whole series so far. I like the way he thinks, I like the way that he reacts, I like his expectations. You can sense that he is an extremely powerful man and yet weak for his family. He creates problems for Nick, but I like that too because it makes him seem more real. I especially love that he loves Caitlyn. I personally find that their own story has a tendency to overshadow the “main romance” (though I will say there is a moment where I think Caitlyn is unfair to Logan). Let’s not forget that Logan also has something he has to reveal to his family and I was so upset when the book ended right when he was about to make the big reveal (book three you are on my radar!)

Allie and Nick. I will say, that it took me a minute to get invested in this relationship. I was lost for a second in their intense dislike for each other and amidst all the name-calling that went on. But then there was a switch. It probably has to do with the fact that their relationship didn’t follow the “typical” deception story. Nick is a very straightforward kind of guy (though if you read this book….well…that’s all I’m going to say) and I so liked that about him. And Allie is equally straightforward. No shy heroines here. Allie’s reason to learn jiu-jitsu, however, well I was with Nick. This girl had no real sense of the world. I think you don’t prove anything to anybody by being able to walk around in bad neighborhoods at dark. That said, when Allie finally gets a chance to use her jiu-jitsu is a great moment.

Spiritually, there is this great theme of forgiveness and how we have to learn to trust God particularly when things don’t go our way. In this world we are going to have tribulation and Jesus already promised that we would overcome it. With his help, we won’t become bitter about our circumstances. It really is a great point that is really shown beautifully in this novel.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I wasn’t ready for it to end!

Romantic Scale: 9

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Historical

Tamara Leigh’s The Kindling

About

“’TIS SAID FAMILY CREATES A MULTITUDE OF SINS.”

Helene of Tippet is not her father or her brother’s keeper. Yet when she is enlisted to use her healing skills to aid a fallen knight, the secret she holds close threatens to visit her family’s sins upon her. Now she is in danger of loving where she should not—a man of the nobility, and one who has cause to despise her if ever he learns of the blood that courses through her veins. Dare she reveal herself? Dare she trust a warrior so bitter and intent on revenge? Dare she love?

Sir Abel Wulfrith, a man bred to battle, has the scar to prove one should never trust a woman. But when he is wounded by his family’s enemy, he finds himself at the mercy of one who could prove his undoing. Now he faces a battle against which no strategy can prevail, no blade can defend, no heart can escape unscathed. Can he forgive Helene the sins of the father—more, the sins of the brother? Can he reclaim his faith? Can he love?

Review

What I Liked: I’m always so excited when Ms. Leigh releases a new book and I now know that I can count on her for good medieval romance. But I will say, that initially, I thought that Abel and Helene didn’t really need their own book because clearly there was something going on between them in book three.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were entitled to their own book. Helene is probably one of my favorite heroines in the series. She’s smart, capable and extremely straightforward. Have I mentioned that I love straightforward heroines? They have a hard time keeping a secret and Helene does have one. Abel was an interesting hero because at times he was hard to like. There were many times when I wanted to say get over it already! But he well redeems himself in the end.

Spiritually, I enjoyed watching Helena pray and even struggle at times to be obedient. Her faith felt realistic. And Abel has to learn to turn to God particularly when things don’t go his way.

What I Didn’t Like: It did seem a bit longer than it needed to be in the sense that I felt like a certain someone was creating a problem that wasn’t really there.

Overall, enjoyable. I so like the Wulfriths and I am really excited about the last one that comes out next year!

Romantic Scale: 8.5

Posted in Historical

Liz Tolsma’s Snow on the Tulips

About

The war is drawing to a close, but the
Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war
widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to
protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.

When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their  lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

As she nurses Gerrit back to health,
she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within
herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully,
despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the
Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage
imaginable.

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit
as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her
heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will
end before it even begins.

Review

This novel is gripping right from the start. I can think of very few scarier situations than living in countries occupied by the Nazis in WWII. And this novel manages to convey that feeling of constant urgency and fear right from the first page.

Gerrit is a hero in more than one sense of the word. His willingness to work on behalf of his country in the face of such intense danger made him someone who was easy to love on the pages. There were a few moments when I felt he was a bit too fearless and often demanded too much of that same spirit from others. That said, you can’t help but like Gerrit.

My heart just went out to Cornelia. She’s just trying to survive in a tough time. Watching her grow and develop over the course of the novel really made her feel real. Though Cornelia and Gerrit fell for each other a bit quickly for my taste, I like that the novel did not just end there and you got to see some real development.

Spiritually…where to begin? I loved the way Gerrit memorized scripture and meditated on it in regularly. You would have to, I think, to face such dangers on a regular basis. Piet brings up the complex issues of when to obey your government and when not to. Cornelia has to learn to trust God and lean on him in times of trouble; learning when to act and when not to act. And yet, none of these issues are forced down your throat. It’s all very subtle, but rings so true.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It captured my attention from the first page and had me thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. If you pick this book up, you will enjoy it.

Romantic Scale: 8.5

** I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Historical

Lisa T. Bergren’s Glittering Promises

About

For Cora Kensington, the Grand Tour was to be the trip of a lifetime. She discovered the family she never knew she had, and may have even found the love she longs for in Will. And yet her life has just become infinitely more challenging …
Hounded by journalists chasing the beguiling story of the newest American heiress, Cora fights to remain true to her past, reconcile her present, and still embrace her future. But as Will struggles with her newfound wealth, she begins to wonder if their love is strong enough to withstand all that threatens to pull them apart.
Complicating matters is the stubborn pursuit of Pierre de Richelieu and the increased demands on her time and attention. Cora must stand up for what she believes—regardless of how that might challenge current family and cultural norms—in order to remain true to who she really is.
And as she glimpses the end of the tour, Cora knows it’s time to decide Who and what defines her … and who and what does not.

Review

Glittering Promises concludes Cora’s grand tour. And what a tour it was. I will admit, if I was Cora, I would have wanted it to end a long time ago. The group faced kidnappings, deaths, illness, exhaustion and the list goes on. I felt a bit tired myself and more than a little thrilled when they finally got on the boat for America. To a certain degree the series felt a bit longer than it needed to be. That said, Cora was a wonderful heroine and I enjoyed watching her grow and fall in love.

I found the romance to be realistic even as it dealt with the issues that would surely occur in such a situation. Will was a terrific hero though a tad bit insecure (understandable). However, I will say that he was probably strongest in the earlier novels. The resolution to the kidnappings, however, did manage to surprise me.

Spiritually, I love Cora’s dependence upon the Lord and the fact that she listened to the Lord. You could really see her grow throughout the entire series and I liked who she became.

Overall, the novel was written really well, intriguing, and very much needed to read to bring closure to the series . I am not sure if it was my expectations (I wanted to see Cora back in Montana) that were disappointed or what, but, having read the whole of the series, it perhaps could have been condensed a bit.

Romantic Scale: 8

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Historical

Anne Mateer’s A Home for My Heart

About

Sadie Sillsby works as the assistant to the matron at the Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless Children and dreams of the day she’ll marry her beau, Blaine. But when the matron surprises everyone by announcing her own engagement, Sadie is suddenly next in line for the job. For a young woman who was once an orphan herself, a shot at such an esteemed position is a wish come true.

But the matron of the Home cannot be married. Is Sadie willing to give up her dreams of a life with Blaine and a family of her own? Is she prepared to forgo daily involvement with the children as she instead manages the financial, legal, and logistical aspects of the orphanage? And when it’s revealed that the Home is spending a lot more money than it’s taking in, can Sadie turn things around before the place is forced to close forever?

Review

Ms. Mateer does a beautiful job portraying a young woman’s love for those in need of it. By the time I finished the novel, I felt like I had been right there at the orphanage watching Sadie work on behalf of the children. I thought Ms. Mateer does a fabulous job of growing Sadie up. Sometimes it wasn’t easy to read, but by the end of the novel, I really liked who Sadie had become. The setting of this novel was fantastic and wonderfully done. This novel really works well as a historical fiction novel and if that is how you approach it, you won’t be disappointed.

The romance wasn’t that exciting for me. You already know that she has a beau from the ‘back of the book’, but the issue that gets between them seems a bit contrived. As a result, it made Sadie look bad because she came across as unnecessarily harsh to Blaine. That said, it all makes sense in the end, but since it doesn’t come together until the end, the romance, for me,  was not the driving force of the novel.

Spiritually, Sadie has to learn a lesson or two on trusting God and more importantly stopping to hear what it is that He says about situations. Beautifully portrayed.

This novel is written very well with well developed characters, though it’s not going to keep you on the edge of your seat, it is a nice treat to read.

Romantic Scale: 6

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**