4 Apr 2022

Reviewed: Never Leave Me by Jody Hedlund

 Waters of Time #2
January 4th 2022, Bethany House, 368 Pages
Print Ebook and Audio

In the last stages of a genetic disease, Ellen Creighton has decided to live out her remaining days at the estate of her longtime friend Harrison Burlington. Harrison cares deeply for Ellen, but as a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, he's never allowed himself to get serious in a relationship. However, he's desperately trying to save her by finding the holy water that is believed to heal any disease.

When he locates two flasks, Ellen refuses to drink one of them because she believes the holy water killed her sister and father. In an effort to convince her to take it, Harrison ingests the contents first, and when Ellen witnesses the effects, she can no longer deny the power of the substance in the bottles. Dangerous criminals are also seeking the holy water, and Ellen soon learns they will go to any lengths to get the powerful drug--including sending her back into the past to find it for them.

Bestselling and award-winning author Jody Hedlund plunges you into the swiftly flowing river of history in a race against the clock in this breathtaking, emotional second Waters of Time story.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I finally got around to reading (or listening to) the sequel to Come Back to Me, Jody Hedlund's Medieval time travel novel, a novel I had a personal connection with, but I will say no more.
Overall, I did like this story. I especially liked seeing more of Harrison, Lord Burlington. He's a wonderful man and totally deserves to be with the woman he loves. I did love the slow burn relationship between Ellen and Harrison, even whilst both of them are denying their feelings for one another.
I like a couple of other reviewers, never really connected with Ellen though. She seemed more like an arcetype than a character and didn't act at all like someone who had known Harrison most of her adult life. Which was meant to be her backstory.

In the previous novel, I felt the world building and the method of time travel was quite credible. Well, as "credible" as time travel can be. You know what I mean. It was scientifically and historically interesting. Here..... not so much. It seemed to have become overused to the point of becoming common, almost tropey. Just some things with regards to the time travel and its effects on the body seemed to be resolved far too easily. To the point that one was left asking why they did not simply do that before.
The other thing which annoyed me was the parts of the novel set in the 14th century. These didn't feature very strongly in this story, more of which was set in the present day.

I also found they were far, far weaker than in the first novel and there seemed to be a couple of cliches about the period which kind of annoyed me. We're told for example in the Middle Ages didn't use Opiates because they thought they were of the Devil. Umm, hate to be that person, but what about the Cadfael novels? Or even seen the TV adaptations? Brother Cadfael's extensive use of "Poppy Juice" in the 12th century wasn't something Ellis Peters just made up.
The idea that one could just have a person burned accused of witchcraft and burned witch willy-nilly on the basis of --- anything. Basically.
Nope. The laws which permitted the burning of heretics in England weren't even passed until 1401, nearly 20 years after this novel is set.

Actually, I really felt that I was reading recycled scenes from one of Hedlund's previous novels For Love and Honor at one point. Since that was a YA Fairytale Romance, it felt kind of off. As did the use of the Marriage of Convenience trope late in the novel. It wasn't really necessary and didn't add anything to the story.

I liked some of the earlier parts, and especially liked meeting the new character of Nicholas, but those parts kind of annoyed and the way that the action kind of ended abruptly. I don't want to give anything away, but after all the build-up the last few chapters seems rather anti climatic and left a lot unresolved.
Also, I think the motivations of the villain/villains should have been given more attention.

                                                      **Spoiler Alert**

Why did the modern villain have the same surname as the villain in the 14th century? The explanation for this just didn't feel plausible. They both wanted the Holy Water, 600 years apart. Are we supposed to believe the whole family had just been evil and greedy for more than 6 centuries ?) It might have been more interesting if the author decided to make the villain a time traveller as well, who had chased the protaganists to the past, or was in cahoots with his modern counterpart 

Finally, I thought there were a couple of things that weren't really wrapped up very well. Although someone has mentioned there may be a 3rd novel in this series, and I thought there was only 2. So maybe it was being left open for the next book? A 3rd book would be fun, as I'd like to find out what happened to some of the secondary characters.

Thanks to Netgalley and Revell Books for an Arc of this title. This in no way influenced my review, and all opinions expressed herein are my own.

View all my reviews

3 Apr 2022

Reviewed: Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen

     December 7th 2021, 414 Pages, Bethany House
                         Print, Ebook and Audio

News of her brother's worrisome behavior spurs Miss Rebecca Lane to return home to her village. Upon her arrival, he begs her to go to nearby Swanford Abbey, a medieval monastery turned grand hotel rumored to be haunted. Feeling responsible for her brother's desperate state, she reluctantly agrees to stay at the abbey until she can deliver his manuscript to a fellow guest who might help him get published--an author who once betrayed them.

Soon, Rebecca starts seeing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey's cloisters at night. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past--including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick--baronet, magistrate, and former neighbor--who long ago broke her heart. Now a handsome widower of thirty-five, he is trying to overcome a past betrayal of his own.

When the famous author is found dead, Sir Frederick makes inquiries and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the author, including Miss Lane and her brother. As Sir Frederick searches for answers, he is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. .


 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I've enjoyed Julie Klassen's novels for years, and this one was no exception. Shadows of Swanford Abbey sort of reminded me of some of the author's previous work, but its also different enough to not be repetitive. I love Rebecca and Frederick's romance/former beaus who come together again story.

Writing, women's roles and mental health are all subjects dealt with in this story. I love that more and more Christian authors are starting to address mental health in thier novels, and doing it in a realistic and sensitive way. This is something which needs to be explored more.

Don't let that serious stuff put you off though, this book was still fun and intriguing and keeps you turning pages. The romance is great and the faith elements were well handled. It is about forgiving yourself as much as forgiving others.

Thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to download an ARC of this title. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own

1 Feb 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Names in the Title

 Welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday post, hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl.

 Its been so long since I've taken part in TTT, but I loved the sound of today's one. "Books with Names or Character Names in the Title". So here is my list. Some I have read, and some are in my TBR pile. 

                     The Children of Hurin by J.R.R Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien 

Hurin is one of the lead characters, so this counts, and the novel is about his children.

The Children of Hurin was an edited and expanded version of a story from Tolkien's Silmarillion which his Christopher Tolkien worked on for years to bring it to the stage where it could be published as a self-contained novel in its own right.

It was Tolkien's attempt to write a tragedy, but there are totally elements of other Mythology in it too, what with a dragon and a talking sword- and elves. Of course there are elves. 


Beren and Luthien by J.R.R Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien 

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The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien 


                                                         Really needs no explanation. 


The Brides of Mayfair Trilogy by Linore Rose Burkard 

Others Not Complete Series:

Lady Regan's quest is the second in a series..... 

and Grace By Contract is the first in a series of stories loosely based on Fairy Tales by Rachel Rossano...

Seventh Century Fiction from Sacristy Press: Both these novels are about early English Saints.


Have you read any of these especially the Tolkien ones? What are your Top Ten?

29 Jan 2022

Enamored by Jody Hedlund Review

 Knights of Brethren #1
November 9th 2021, Northern Lights Press, 252 Pages
Print and Ebook 


During a time when legends were born . . .


A princess in need of a husband, a young Sage who cannot have her, and a web of deceit that threatens their love.

Having been raised by her childless aunt and uncle, the king and queen, Princess Elinor finds herself the only heir to the throne of Norvegia. As she comes of age, she must choose a husband to rule beside her, but she struggles to make her selection from among a dozen noblemen during a weeklong courtship.

With aspirations to become the wisest man in the land, Maxim is summoned home by his father Rasmus, a Royal Sage. Reunited with Elinor, once his closest friend, Maxim is quickly enamored with her even though he can never be considered a prospect for her husband.

Elinor’s feelings for Maxim are rekindled too . . . until she learns he has been unwillingly drawn into Rasmus’s scheme to take control of the throne. With the kingdom under attack both from within and without, can Elinor and Maxim overcome the deceit spinning around them? Or will it destroy their love once and for all?

The real story of Excalibur


 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I confess, I wasn't sure what to make of Jody Hedlund's latest Medieval Fantasy Romance. I personally don't like it when anything is plugged as "the true story" of any Legend, because there are always going to be people who take such claims seriously and think its all true.
I also wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea of my country's greatest Legends being picked up and dropped in what is basically just a barely disguised fantasy version of Scandinavia which might be recognizable to fans of How to Train Your Dragon.

AFAIK, The Arthurian Legends, unlike Robin Hood, aren't some universal stories that can be translated to any culture or country... they're British (even many of the names are Welsh) were born The British Isles, in these Isles they should remain. They are not a Viking Saga.

In the end, I didn't find there was really too much in the way of Arthurian Legends here, or maybe I just didn't notice it? I think Maxim is meant to be vaguely based on Merlin, but its more the young and attractive BBC version of Merlin than the old man if that's the case.

This book did do something though that light romantic fantasy hasn't done for a while with me, and that's get me thoroughly immersed, and I did rather like it. Hence the rating. I loved Maxim as a character. His quirks and inner turmoil, and what's all this stuff about Royal Sages?
The inclusion of dragons in the novel could have cheapened it, but it was done well, even if the references to them bonding with people seemed vaguely akin a certain animated movie franchise aforementioned.

There were only a couple of parts I found less than impressive. One of them was the Sword of the Magi (c'mon it’s meant to be Excalibur...) loosing itself from a - cedar case for the One True King. 

I know. A cedar case. Can we just have a stone please? A rock? At very, very least some kind of Reliquary?
It just sounds so unimpressive as though the sword was a Clarinet or violin or something. Is the one true King meant to whip it out and play a solo?

Second, Elinor. I kind of didn't mind her at first, but the way she starts acting towards the end was inexplicable and felt really, really forced.

Also, this has to be said, the whole choosing a husband on the day of her 18th birthday before she can assume the status as heir to the throne, and "Oh yes let's have a contest/test so you can pick the best one!" seems really familiar somehow.
An Uncertain Choice, anyone? Please don't be a clone of Lady Rosemarie, Elinor. Please don't. This is a whole new story in a whole new world, you don't have to be her....

This was a nice clean Medieval Fantasy Romance, and the series does have promise. I will read the next one, I just really really hope it doesn't fall into to trap of recycling storylines and rehashing characters from the author's previous work.
Especially when you've got the vast wealth of storytelling fodder that is the Arthurian Legends to work with.

25 Jan 2022

A Conspiracy of Prophets by Suzannah M. Rowntree Review

 Watchers of Outremer #4
January 6th 2022, Bocfodder Press, 520 Pages
Print and Ebook

Genre: Historical (Low) Fantasy
Setting: Antioch, Modern Day Turkey

The last thing Lukas Bessarion wants is to warn the crusaders…yet if he refuses, a bloodthirsty demon will seize power.

Syria, 1098: After a gruelling siege, the crusaders finally capture Antioch—but within days, the besiegers become the besieged. Clawing for survival in a doomed city, the Franks turn to a new power for help: the mad prophet, Peter Bartholomew.

Plagued by his own unwanted visions, Lukas Bessarion knows the vicious Bartholomew is controlled by the demon Lilith, now growing in power. But none of the Franks—from naïve ladies to murderous counts and princes obsessed with political rivalry—seem worth saving.

Worse, if Lukas accepts his destiny as a prophet, he’ll need to renounce earthly power—like his father’s enchanted lance, hidden beneath Antioch. With the Lance, he hopes to avenge his beloved Ayla and lead his own people to victory.

But Lukas isn’t the only one who wants the Lance.

Lilith’s thirst for blood is insatiable. And to satisfy it, she will stop at nothing to gain control of Lukas, the Lance, and the entire crusade…

The Watchers of Outremer historical fantasy series continues with this dark and thrilling sequel to SPFBO finalist A Wind from the Wilderness!


                                               My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


 A Conspiracy of Prophets is the Fourth novel in the Watchers of Outremer series, and continues the story of Lukas Bessarion, the eldest son of a Syrian Byzantine family who was catapulted forward in time when the magic ritual of an Arab sorcerer Khalil went wrong. He ended up 400 years in the future, in the midst of the First Crusade, with his home city facing invasion by hordes of "pilgrims" from France and across Europe.

Now, nearly a year later, Lukas is a lost soul. Following the murder of his beloved Aayla at the hands of the Frankish knight and his nemesis Everard le Puiset Lukas is bent on revenge. That and recovering the priceless artefact which his father recovered shortly before the catastrophic event which separated them.

The Bessarion Lance, which the Crusaders believed to be the famous Spear of Destiny, is closely guarded and in the hands of his enemies.

I would say that the two stories involving Lukas have been somewhat darker than the other novels in the Watchers of Outremer series, involving Marta and John Bessarion (Lukas’s sister and father) respectively, but it was nonetheless a wild rollercoaster of a ride through history and the complex web of shifting alliances and political intrigue. Did I say that before? Pretty sure I did.

Necessity, as the old saying goes, produces strange bedfellows, and so Lukas ends up helping his sworn enemy and befriending his sister, Emoleta, a young woman who is not a watcher, but appears to be a Prophetess, and has as much pain and darkness in her past as him. Just to add, I love Emoleta. 

No this is not Emoleta she's a fictional character, but I love this picture, OK?

She's incredible, and I want to see more of her. I sincerely hope she returns in the Lukas next novel, but I am not sure I can wait three years to see her again!

As historical events and personal allegiances collide, the mythological and fantasy elements of this series come to the fore. One of the leading figures of the Crusade is under the influence of the ancient demon Lilith, who thrives on chaos, violence and evil and the character's battles begin to transcend the physical.

All the time, through the novel, one hopes that Lukas will make the right choices and conquer his own inner demons, but the path he chooses makes his ending uncertain.

What I do love is how the author managed to develop some of the secondary characters in the story, to the point that they actually emerged as more sympathetic if not likeable and more important to the narrative than Lukas, including the Le Puiset siblings.

I do personally wonder if that is one of the emerging themes of this story, that the characters choices can determine not only their destiny, but the fate of entire nations and peoples. As someone who has read history, I have a fair idea of what's going to happen when the Crusaders reach Jerusalem, but I wonder how the author will incorporate that into the story.

A Lukas seems to be morphing into something more like an anti-hero one wonders what the ending of his story will bring. It seems like there's no coming back from a shocking decision he makes towards the end of this novel (which I won't give away because it would be a major spoiler) but who knows how it will pan out?

Thanks to Suzannah Rowntree for sending me an ARC of her amazing novel. This didn't influence my review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Content warning: These novels cover territory that readers of traditional religious and Inspirational novels might find very dark. An ancient demon, Lilith appears in physical form and likes to tease and torment characters with her evil, their own actions, and her wicked, sardonic sense of humour (what else would one really expect from a demon?).

There’s a couple of references to her possessing people, and demigods from the ancient past also make an appearance. There are references to human sacrifice and other rituals, which whilst not graphic may prove disturbing to some readers, as well as some rather more graphic violence.

I don’t think the books in this series are suitable for preteens, and discretion is advised even fore some teenage readers.


24 Jan 2022

The King's Mercy by Lori Benton Review: Again, better late than never

June 4th 2019, Waterbrook, 400 Pages
Print and Ebook

Genre: Historical Fiction
Period: Mid 18th Century USA (pre Revolution)

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king's mercy--exile to the Colony of North Carolina--he's indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey's slaves--and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant's heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father's overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. 

As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees.
Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he's faced with the choice that's long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex's very life.


 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The King's Mercy was originally concieved of as the retelling of an account of a man who was touched by the story of an escaped slave from one of the Letters (or epistles) in the Bible. However, like many stories it took on a life of its own and went in directions the author didn't plan for.

What emerged was a rich story set in mid-18th century America. Alex McKinnon was a man with nothing to lose deprived of family and friends and sent alone to a strange land. Joanna was a woman who appeared to have everything, but with a family facing ruin and unable to help the people she cared about.

The story follows Alex's journey towards faith and redemption. "The King's Mercy" was an apt name, as his tortured and wounded soul sough purpose and freedom before discovering mercy, faith and love where he did not expect them. Joanna has a similar arc, realizing that some friends can't be trusted and that adversity can impact people in very different ways. It did a good job of describing the lives of enslaved people in 18th century America, and didn't shy away from some of the more unpleasant realities.

The only downer for me was that I felt the story was a little too complicated, and there were too many "side characters" with their own stories. This, by turn, made the narrative a little confusing and choppy in some places.

I would certainly consider reading more novels by this author in future as this was a great introduction to her work.

I requested an Arc of this title in 2019 and subsequently purchased the ebook of my own volition. All opinions are entirely my own and this did not influence my review.

23 Jan 2022

Books I read Last Year: The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson

August 23rd 2021, Bethany House, 407 Pages
Print, Ebook and Audio

Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 19th Century London and surrounding counties

As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he's a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king's regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter--the sole proof his actions were legal--has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady's distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he'd imagined.


My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book looked to provide a welcome break from my usual Regency romances, so I snapped it up (on Netgalley) quite quickly, and I am glad I did.
The Barrister and the Letter of Marque was something akin to a Sherlock Holmes Mystery crossed with a legal thriller. William Snopes, A London barrister (a type of lawyer specializing in courtroom advocacy and litigation) has to represent a noble client. As he looks into her case, he discovers dangerous secrets in high places.

The case involves a ship which engaged in privateering in the Indian Ocean. A Letter of Marque was essentially licensed piracy, allowing a vessel to sieze enemy ships and thier goods. Without it, such vessels and their crews could be arrested as pirates.
As the story, and the cast develops It turns out to be about a lot more than just a lost Letter of Marque. There are twists and turns aplenty, loyalties and relationships are tested, and there is a smattering of romance.

Although I did appreciate the "use" of place in this novel, and how it incorportated so many places, both inside and outside London, there were a couple of things which annoyed me. The tendency to include the noun "County" after the name of every other county.

Sussex County, Essex County, etc. That's not how place names work in Britain. Sussex and Essex are counties, but counties are ancient regional designations. Ergo, when someone talks about what county they come from, or are living in, they just say the name of the county.
They will simply say "I am from Lancashire", not "I am from Lancashire county" because everyone knows Lancashire is a county.

I'd certainly recommend this as an introduction to Todd M Johnson's work, and I think the author has gone through a lot of effort to familiarize himself with the workings of the English legal system.

Thanks to Netgalley for approving my request for this title. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Between Two Shores By Jocelyn Green Review: Better Late than Never

February 5th 2019, Bethany House, 409 Pages
Print and Ebook

Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 18th century Canada, Montreal


The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval would rather remain neutral in a world tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the Seven Years' War against her wishes when her British ex-fiancé, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel claims he has information that could help end the war, and he asks Catherine to help him escape.

Peace appeals to Catherine, even if helping the man who broke her heart does not. But New France is starving, and she and her loved ones may not survive another winter of conflict-induced famine. When the dangers of war arrive on her doorstep, Cathering and Samuel flee by river toward the epicenter of the battle between England and France. She and Samuel may impact history, but she fears the ultimate cost will be higher than she can bear


My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I finally read this, after like two years. Between Two Shores was a really good book, and I think the standout aspect was that it turned out not to be a romance at all, at least not in the traditional sense or with the traditional conclusion.
Kind of like Great Expectations, it showed that you can love someone, without necessarily being together or acting on those feelings.

I have read two other books by this author, and I think BTS was the most complex in terms of storyline, characters, and the historical backdrop, but also the one I enjoyed the most. Katherine's character arc was incredible. Even Samuel's was, but to a lesser extent, and its really good how the conclusion was presented without vilifying him for his choices.

The only thing I found a little confusing was how the timeline kept jumping back and forth. Other that that though, it was a wonderful evocation of the lives of a family caught between two worlds and cultures, and later of a community torn apart by a conflict which was not of thier own making.

Thanks to Bethany House for approving my request for this title on Netgalley. I purchased the ebook of my own volition as well

21 Dec 2021

Review: The King's Hand by Anna Thayer

 The Knight of Eldaran #2
May 2014, Kregel Publications,
Print and Ebook 

Like many from his village, young Eamon Goodhand dreamed of joining the Gauntlet, the army of the overlord Eldered. Now he is about to complete his training and swear his loyalty to Eldered and his commanders, the Hands, who uphold Eldered's tight control of the land. Entering into the service of the Gauntlet, Eamon's gifts, particularly his potent Sight, quickly become valuable to his superiors and he advances to the command rank at a speed that arouses the suspicions of fellow officers.

However, Eldered's bloody rule, and Eamon's personal friendships, start to challenge the young soldier's assumptions about what might be true, and worthy of service. And soon Eamon must conceal a fatal secret: he is sworn to both Eldered and to Hughan, the rightful king of the land. Yet he may not forswear the vows he has uttered in all good faith so however he serves, his name will be traitor.

As tensions and military skirmishes increase, Eamon finds himself trusted by both his masters. How can he possibly maintain his integrity, act justly to his fellow officers of the Gauntlet, and act on behalf of all the warring people of the land?


 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


 I bought this novel four years ago, and only got around to reading it now. It is the second in a trilogy of fantasy novels set a world that resembles Medieval or Early Modern Europe. The King, the rightful ruler of the River Realm is pitted against The Master, a malevolent individual who holds terrifying powers, and rules as a tyrant through his Hands.

Behind the Master is an even more sinister entity, The Throned who often manifests as a voice in the head of any who bear the mark, a sign of allegience to him. Controlling their thoughts and planting seeds of fear and doubt.
In this second volume, we follow Eamon still reeling from terrible mistakes he made in the first novel, and a personal betrayal. He struggles to reconcile his allegience to the King with his service to the Master as a quarter hand, or a local ruler.

I would call the Knight of Alderaan "allegorical", but I am not sure that is the correct term. Its not an allegory per se, although its very clear The King, Hughan Brennuin is the Christlike figure. The author is, by background, a Tolkien scholar, and her books are high fantasy after the order of Tolkien without trying to ape or copy him.

What is satisfying about this novel is that the protaganist actually undergoes developement in the course of the novel. He developed in the first one too, but even more here. Eamonn is truly a man torn, but makes a conccious choice to try to maintin morals in integrity in a world rife with corruption and evil. However, this isn't shown to be easy or without cost. His struggles and flaws are real.

I look forward to reading the 3rd and final novel soon.

Content warning: There is the occasional use of what I would call "British" swear words in this novel, including the word b****rd. This is used as an insult to refer to Eamon's supposedly illegitimate birth, and so I would consider it contextual, but I just mentioned it in case its an issue for some people.

I would not avoid the book on this basis, but some might wish to.

5 Dec 2021

The Debutante's Code by Erica Vetsch: An Audra Jennings Blog Tour Post

 Thorndyke & Swann Regency Mysteries # 1
7th December 2021, 320 Pages
Kregel Publications 

Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series
Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn't spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love.But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They've been living double lives as government spies--and they're only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family's legacy.
Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors--not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.
Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents' last mission?

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I signed up to Audra Jennings blog tours and read an E-pub of this title.

Regency and Mystery aren't always two genres that work well together, but I think Erica Vetsch did a grand job with this title, which is supposed to be the first in a new series. There were plenty of twists, turns and excitement in the mystery storyline.

 Juliet began by believing that she was engaged in a relatively harmless treasure hunt, following various clues given to her by her father, but becomes embroiled in the middle of a dangerous mystery. Identity is a major theme in this story, Juliet is shocked be revelations about her parents, whilst Daniel Swann is an outsider who is judged for the circumstances of his birth and held in disregard because of his occupation.

 I think this was explored more with Daniel's character than Juliette's. Although since this was the first book in a series, there may be more character development in the next story. The only detail which didn't ring entirely true was the spying subplot. I'm not sure why spies would be interested in a glorified art theft. Not exactly a threat to national security. 

Still maybe I have been watching too many spy thrillers.

Overall though this was an enjoyable novel and I look foward to later installments in the series. I would recommend this to everyone who enjoys Regencies and Historical Mysteries. 


Enter the Giveaway Today 

7 Nov 2021

Review: A Bride of Convenience by Jody Hedlund

 Bride Ships #3 

June 30th 2020, Bethany House 

Print, Ebook and Audio 


Unemployed mill worker Zoe Hart jumps at the opportunity to emigrate to British Columbia in 1863 to find a better life and be reunited with her brother, who fled from home after being accused of a crime.

Pastor to miners in the mountains, Abe Merivale discovers an abandoned baby during a routine visit to Victoria and joins efforts with Zoe, one of the newly arrived bride-ship women, to care for the infant. While there, he's devastated by the news from his fiancee in England that she's marrying another man.

With mounting pressure to find the baby a home, Zoe accepts a proposal from a miner of questionable character after he promises to help her locate her brother. Intent on protecting Zoe and frustrated by his failed engagement, Abe offers his own hand as groom. After a hasty wedding, they soon realize their marriage of convenience is not so convenient after all.


                                                   My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


  I did enjoy this book as the last one in the trilogy (Mrs Hedlund actually wrote another one and published it seperately), and I liked Abraham's character in particular. Zoe. Meh. She was likeable, but I fear she was also a borderline Mary Sue. You know the type. A person who has no flaws, and is perfect. Kind, loving, generous, the ideal woman who everyone adores.

I think what I liked most about this series was the setting, late 19th century Canada. The little known historical detail of "Bride Ships", ships of women sent to the early Candadian settlements to provide wives for the local trappers and miners provides the basis of this series, which is interesting.

What I didn't like:

- Abraham being referred to as "Pastor Abe". This sounded far too American. 19th century Brits did not generally refer to clergymen as "Pastor". We don't even now, except in like Baptist or Evangelical churches. Anglican Clergymen- which Abraham is supposed to be, are generally referred to as Ministers or were called Parsons historically.

- "okay". 1860s Boston slang does not belong in 1860s Vancouver. This just came across as jarring.

I would certainly recommend this series, its just this novel wasn't my favourite title in it.

 I requested this title from Bethany House via Netgalley of my own volition was wasn't required to write a positive review. I recieved no compensation and all opinions experssed are my own.




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