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.




Review: The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund

 The Runaway Bride: Bride Ships #2 

March 3rd 2020, Bethany House

Print, Ebook and Audio 


Haunted by mistakes in her past, will she ever again trust her heart to another?

Wealthy Arabella Lawrence flees to British Columbia on a bride ship, still bearing the scars of past mistakes. One of the few single women in the boomtown, she immediately attracts suitors, but she is determined not to find herself trapped again by making a poor choice.

Vying for her hand are two very different men. Lieutenant Richard Drummond is a gentleman in the Navy, held in high esteem. Peter Kelly is the town's baker who has worked hard to build a thriving business. He and Drummond not only compete for Arabella's affections, but also clash over their views of how the natives should be treated in the midst of a smallpox outbreak.

As Arabella begins to overcome her fears, she discovers someone in dire need—a starving girl left behind by her tribe. Intent on helping the child, Arabella leans on Peter's advice and guidance. Will she have the wisdom to make the right decision, or will seeking what's right cost both her and Peter everything?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I finally got around to reading this book after more than a year. I liked it a lot, and it was quite strong for the second novel in a series.

Arabella and Peter were both great characters and the story did a good job of exloring some of the social issues and condiitions facing the characters. Arabella was meant to represent a woman of the middle classes instead of a working class poor woman. For the most part, her character seemed realistic, although I think her secondary love interest was a bit of a charicature.

I didn't think the faith messages were heavy handed either. The characters had doubts but they did not seem contrived, nor were they condemned for having them.

I was not sure about all the langauge. The term "bakehouse" seemed to be an Americanism, but I did not notice very many of these.

Thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read this title. I was not required to write a posiitve review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Review: The White Rose Resists by Amanda Barratt

 May 26th 2020, Kregel Publications 

Print, Ebook and Audio 

Inspired by the incredible true story of a group of ordinary men and women who dared to stand against evil.

The ideal of a new Germany swept up Sophie Scholl in a maelstrom of patriotic fervor--that is, until she realized the truth behind Hitler's machinations for the fatherland. Now she and other students in Munich, the cradle of the Nazi government, have banded together to form a group to fight for the truth: the White Rose. Risking everything to print and distribute leaflets calling for Germans to rise up against the evil permeating their country, the White Rose treads a knife's edge of discovery by the gestapo.

Annalise Brandt came to the University of Munich to study art, not get involved with conspiracy. The daughter of an SS officer, she's been brought up to believe in the f�hrer's divinely appointed leadership. But the more she comes to know Sophie and her friends, the more she questions the Nazi propaganda.

Soon Annalise joins their double life--students by day, resisters by night. And as the stakes increase, they're all forced to confront the deadly consequences meted out to any who dare to oppose the Reich.

A gripping testament to courage, The White Rose Resists illuminates the sacrifice and conviction of an unlikely group of revolutionaries who refused to remain silent-no matter the cost.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Beautiful story. I've seen the movie about Sophie Scholl but this really bought her story and that of her companions to life. The courage and heroism of the young students who opted for passive resistance when each faced with the horrors of the Nazi regime and the immorality of the Fuhrer's vison. The girls obviously weren't soldiers on the front, but each came to terms with what was happening in their country in various ways.

Although I knew how the story would end (at least for the Scholls) I found myself rooting for them all the way through and listening through gritted teeth at their increasing reacklessnes. These were students barely out of their teens after all, whose passion got the better of them in the end.

Like her last novel about Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Amanda Barratt has given us another story about shining lights and the power of love in the midst of evil, and the people who were willing to stand up to it in their own way.

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

25 Aug 2021

Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter Review

 Hearts on the Heath # 2
Bethany House, Ebook, Print and Audio
April 20th 2021, 351 Pages


Aaron Whitworth hasn't had control over most aspects of his life, but he's always taken pride in being an honorable businessman and better-than-average horseman. When both of those claims are threatened, he makes the desperate decision to hire the horse trainer of a traveling circus as a temporary jockey for his racehorses.

Sophia Fitzroy knows that most horsemen don't take her seriously because she's a woman, but she can't pass up the opportunity to get away from the tumultuous world of travel and performing. As she fights for the right to do the work she was hired for, she learns the fight for Aaron's guarded heart might be an even more worthwhile challenge.

As secrets come to light and past vulnerabilities are confronted, will Aaron and Sophia sacrifice their former dreams and forge a new one together--against all odds?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


I enjoyed this second installment in Kristi Ann Hunter's new series. There were a few of the normal issues with American terms and mannerisms imported into 19th century Britain. The one which stood out the most her was the way the characters ate: with only a fork in the American manner, instead of using a knife and fork, as would have been the norm in polite British society at this time.

However, that was my only real niggle with the story. Otherwise, it was a great story with an unsual setting. I liked the Irish heroine, and the walk on roles by the protaganists of previous stories by this author.

Thanks to Bethany House for allowing me to read a galley of this title. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed herein are my own.

29 Jun 2021

Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2021


Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Tuesdays! It has been so long since I've participated in this meme, hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl blog

Today the theme is Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2021. These are books I am anticipating personally and want to read or will be reading at some time soon. They may or may not be on other people's lists. 

A Midnight Dance by Joanna Davidson Politano: Victorian Romance, Releasing September, Revell Publishing. 

The Ice Swan by J'Nell Cieselski: WW1 Historical Romance, Releasing July, Thomas Nelson. 

J'nell Cieselski's latest novel, featuring a Russian Princess who fled from the Revolution. 

Crossed Lines, by Jennifer Delamere: Georgian Historical Romance, Releasing August, Bethany House. 

The second novel in Jennifer Delamere's Love Along the Wires series, featuring women working in the Telegraph Network in the early 20th century.

The Barrister and the Letter of Marque by Todd Johnson: Historical Mystery , Releasing August, Bethany House 

This is a mystery/Gothic novel set in Regency London, and looks to be right up my street. One of only two books on this list written by a man. 

 As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin: WW1 Historical Romance, Releasing November, Bethany House.

Master Wycliffe's Summons by Mel Starr: Medieval Mystery Releasing September, Lion Fiction. 

The upcoming 14th novel in Melvin Starr's ongoing mystery series, featuring a surgeon in 14th century England. This series is a favourite and I snap up the latest installment each year.

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep, Regency Romance, Releasing November,  Barbour Fiction 

Michelle Griep's upcoming novel promises a Gothic Romance with shades of Frankenstein and a female travel writer. 

John Eyre by Mimi Matthews, Victorian Historical Romance, Releasing July, Perfectly Proper Press. 

A gender-swapped Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre. 

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen, Regency Romance, Releasing December, Bethany House

Julie Klassen is another go-to author for me, and I try to read her latest novel each year. Her Regencies usually feature adventure, mystery and authentic historical and geographical details. 

The 10th and final book is Dauntless,  The final novel in the 11th Century Age of Conquest Series by Tamara Leigh, due out later this year also makes it onto the list.

We don't know what the cover looks like or have an exact release date yet. 

 Well, these are are my picks. What are yours? Do you like the looks  of any of these. 

1 Jun 2021

Dusk's Darkest Shores by Carolyn Milller: Audra Jennings Blog Tour and Giveaway!

 Regency Wallflowers #1
320 Pages, May 18th 2021, Kregel Publications
Print and Ebook 

How can a meek wallflower help a returning war hero whose dreams are plunged into darkness?

Mary Bloomfield has no illusions. Her chances for matrimony have long since passed her by. Still, her circumstances are pleasant enough, especially now that she has found purpose in assisting her father with his medical practice in England's beautiful Lake District. Even without love, it's a peaceful life.

That is until Adam Edgerton returns to the sleepy district. This decorated war hero did not arrive home to acclaim and rest, but to a new battle against the repercussions of an insidious disease. Mary's caring nature cannot stand to see someone suffer--but how can she help this man see any brightness in his future when he's plunged into melancholic darkness, his dreams laid waste by his condition?

Adam wants no charity, but he's also no coward. If this gentle woman can work hard, how can he do less? Together they struggle to find a way forward for him. Frustration and antipathy slowly develop into friendship and esteem. Then a summer storm atop a mountain peak leads to scandal--and both Mary and Adam must search the depths of their closed hearts for answers if they hope to find any future path with happiness at its end.

Best-selling author Carolyn Miller is back with a fresh series that will not only thrill readers eager for more of her work, but bring in new fans looking for beautiful writing, fascinating research, deftly woven love stories, and real faith lived out in the Regency period.



                                               My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Carolyn Miller has delivered another excellent and multi-layered Regency tale with Dusk's Darkest Shores.

It is peopled with interesting, complex yet sympathetic characters and explores real life scenarios (some controversial) with sensitivity.
These aspects make it more than just a straight out romance, and add to the human drama of the story.
Readers will know that I don't always appreciate novels in which the religious themes come over as forced, heavy handed or preachy. Thankfully, you get none of that here, instead they are woven into the story and come naturally.
Characters do question their faith, and wonder why terrible things happen to Christians, and the answers are not always forthcoming, but they still cling to their faith.

I personally also loved the little dog Frank, whom I count as one of the major characters in the story.

Thanks to Audra Jennings for accepting me on the Blog Tour of this title. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

23 May 2021

The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano Review

400 Pages, Print, Ebook and Audio 

October 20th 2020, Revell

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1865 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelings--mostly negative ones--about the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa's search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words.

Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Very enjoyable Victorian novel, featuring a woman who wants to be a doctor as the main protaganist. It was an excellent story of love lost, found and rediscovered, and the conflict between love and duty, which also explored subjects such as gender roles and the differences between social classes.

The faith message was put across well, without feeling preachy or like on was being hit over the proverbial head. These days, Victorian fiction tends to have to stand out from the crowd, and this one does it with the air of mystery, and the ususual subject matter without being inaccurate.

It sort of reminded me of a Julie Klassen novel, although they are set slightly earlier in the Regency period.

Thanks to the publisher, Revell for an e-galley of this title to review. I was not required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed are my own.

30 Apr 2021

The Sword and the Secrets by Jan Davis Warren Celebrate Lit Tour Post and Giveaway


About the Book


Book:  The Sword and the Secrets

Author: Jan Davis Warren

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Release date: April 20, 2021

When Julianna’s final mission proves more deadly than she imagined, help comes from the most unlikely of places.

Raised in a castle on the remote border of England and Scotland, Lord John Stanton is the last male heir of his royal lineage. He has the responsibility to marry and carry on the family name, but a secret vow to God, after a near-fatal battle wound, could change his future from royal heir to humble servant of the church. His journey to the monastery to become a monk is interrupted when he meets a dangerous, but beautiful, woman who has plans and secrets of her own.

Abandoned by her father and raised in an institution as property of the Crown, Julianna Westerfield longs to be free to pursue love and have a family of her own. Trained to be a spy and assassin, she has a chance to earn her freedom by completing this last and most dangerous assignment. Her mission to uncover a murderous plot and the identities of the Black Guard has already cost several agents their lives, and now the assassins are after her. To survive she must depend on a handsome monk and his cantankerous donkey.

Was it divine intervention that caused John and Julianna’s paths to cross? Can they put aside their differences and join forces to deliver stolen papers containing vital information to the king in time to save countless lives?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review: ⭐⭐

I'm sorry. I genuinely do not relish giving books by other Christian authors and especially ones I agreed to review through Celebrate Lit negative reviews, but I have to be honest.

This book has a good concept, and it was kind of a good story (female spies/agents and a "spy school") but it should not have been Medieval Fiction. I mean it. If it was Fantasy, I could forgive most of what is to come, but it was marketed as Historical Fiction. As such, the bar is set higher.

The mistakes and inaccuracies are so frequent and egregious as to be painful. This novel is meant to be set around the early 13th century (1200s) in the reign of King John.

Yet the characters eat potatoes (from the Americas and not introduced to Europe until the mid 1500s.
Smoke tobacco pipes (ditto)
and drink tea from teapots - even later, tea wasn't introduced to Britain until the 17th century (1600s)

 Oh, they also drink brandy in decanters, have tea trays, girls go to school, learn in mixed classrooms, and study "science". Castles have studies and Dining rooms etc.

One of the worst errors was how a character was described as a "Protestant". I mean, I've come to expect Medieval fiction to have a version of Christianity that is more akin to modern American Evangelical Christianity than anything which existed in the Middle Ages, but to actually use the term "Protestant" is something else.
The term did not exist until at least the late 1500s, and it would have been as meaningless to a person in the 13th century as the term American.

I think that what makes the above so unacceptable for me is that these aren't just things only historians or specialist scholars would know. 5 minutes research on Google is enough to find out that there were no potatoes, tobacco or tea in Medieval Europe.

Seriously, there was nothing remotely "Medieval" about this novel, except the characters using swords. Why? I mean no disrespect here, but why set a novel in the Medieval period at all if you're not even going to get the basic details right? Because they get to have cool swords?

It would have worked as a Regency. It set in the Regency or Victorian Era it would have been great, although one of the leading female characters is a rather hideous Mary Sue. Or Victorian Steampunk fantasy or something. The possibilities are endless. Just not as Medieval historical fiction.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for accepting me on the Blog Tour for this title. I was in no way influenced by them, nor was I required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed herein are my own

About the Author

Jan Davis Warren is a mother, grandmother, and a young-at-heart great-grandmother. Her wonderful husband passed away the same year she won the ACFW Genesis Award for Romantic Suspense. That win and many others are encouraging reminders that God wants her to continue writing even in the tough times. Learn more at www.janwarrenbooks.com.


More from Jan

The Sword and the Secrets is a Historical Romantic Suspense. It is written as a Medieval Christian fiction story set in England around 1209. I chose to keep the historical details to a minimum because of the inconsistency I found in researching this particular time and place. I humbly apologize to you lovers of more in-depth historical facts. I would’ve loved to have traveled to England for more hands-on research but the pandemic made that impossible.

I live in a once-rural area in Oklahoma. Urban development is fast encroaching transforming peaceful pastures into busy neighborhoods. I know it’s called “progress”, but I miss knowing all of my neighbors by name. In the good-old-days, my husband and I loved raising our children here on the farm. As a family, we had all kinds of poultry and livestock, so I can’t resist including a variety of animals in my stories from time to time.

Rosita and her daughter, Daisy, were two of our favorite donkeys on the farm. I’ll never forget when Daisy was born. I think her ears were almost long as her legs. Speaking of donkeys, did you ever hear the story about how the donkey got its cross? I included it in the book.

Precious is the name of the donkey in The Sword and the Secrets. Her mother was killed when she was but a few days old, and she was raised by an old woman who took her into her home and treated with the care and affection of the child she never had. Needless to say, Precious is smart and creative when it comes to getting her way. When her elderly master is about to die, the woman is directed by God to entrust Precious into Lord John Stanton’s care.

For the war-weary hero of this story, Lord John Stanton’s secret battlefield vow to serve God and the Church became more complicated when he was charged with the responsibility of caring for the contrary donkey. His intent to walk to London to join a monastery was supposed to be peaceful and most of all, solitary. It wasn’t until after John accepted the animal that he found out that the donkey’s elderly master had taught Precious not to budge unless first called by name. It was to keep her from being stolen, which served her well. But the name sticks in the hero’s throat every time he must submit to calling her Precious to make her move.

John’s plans also never included protecting a beautiful spy with secrets of her own.

The heroine, Julianna Westerfield was a fun surprise to me. As the story took shape in my mind, I thought the hero would meet the heroine by coming to her aid against brigands. Perhaps she was a princess fleeing her wicked guardian, etc. That however was not the way the story unfolded. As I came to Julianna’s part, I realized she had a colorful past of her own.

I love it when the story develops into something I never expected.

The beautiful heroine of The Sword and the Secrets, Julianna Westerfield is not the princess I first envisioned but an indentured servant. She was abandoned as a child at the Grandfork Institute for Higher Learning. It is an institution run jointly by the Crown and the Church for the sole purpose of training spies and assassins to do their bidding.

I hope you’ll join John and Julianna (and Precious) on their quests and perchance uncover their deepest secrets.

May God bless and keep you and draw you ever closer to Him.


Jan Davis Warren

Blog Stops


Debbie's Dusty Deliberations, April 20

Connect in Fiction, April 20

Texas Book-aholic, April 21

Inklings and notions, April 22

For Him and My Family, April 23

deb's Book Review, April 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, April 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, April 26

Connie's History Classroom, April 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, April 28

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, April 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 30

Romances of the Cross, April 30

CarpeDiem, May 1

Adventures Of A Travelers Wife, May 2

Mary Hake, May 2

Blogging With Carol, May 3



To celebrate her tour, Jan is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


9 Apr 2021

The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch: Blog Tour Review and Giveaway

Serendipity and Secrets #3 

March 23rd 2021, Kregel, Print and Ebook

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Period: Regency


Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man's grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The Indebted Earl was an enjoyable conclusion to Erica Vetsch's debut Regency series.
It might be unusual, but I think I might have enjoyed this one the most. It provided a clever take on the marriage of convenience trope whcih was not trite or corny.

Charles and Sophie are both hurting people, and both are suffering from what we would call survivor's guilt over the death of someone they loved. The same person, as it turns out. .Sophie's fiance was by turn Charles' best friend from the navy.
What begins as two people having to adjust to new circumstances becomes an interesting story of two young people learning to grow and as they take on the responsibiluty of an estate and three young girls. The irony is that both were seeking solitude and an escape, but life does not always give us what we want.

The slow burning romance, and messages about learning to trust made this a memorable and meaningful story. Unlike the others, where some of the themes felt a little forced this one seemed more natural and more lighthearted. I also appreciated how the protaganists in this story had connections with characters in the last two, but still stand alone.

My only complaints were a few details that didn't really fit the setting and were obviously put in for the benefit of modern readers. There;s no way, for example, that someone in 1814 England would have to explain who Nelson was to their fellow countrywoman. Nelson was a national hero. and a celebrity. I doubt there was anyone who didn't know who he was.

Thanks to Audra Jennings Blog Tours for sending me Netgalley widget for this title. I was not required to write a positive reivew and all opinions expressed herein are my own.


Erica Vetsch
is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 
Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.
A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.
Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).

27 Mar 2021

Lady Rosamund by Joyce Williams Review

 The Rose and the Ring #1

283 Pages, November 17th 2014, Redemptive Rose Fiction 

Print and Ebook



Genre: Historical Fiction- Medieval

Setting:  Scandinavia early 1400s

Strong-minded Lady Rosamund rebels at being a pawn in a political chess game that sets her up as the prize if Hanseatic sea captain Erik Branden defeats her father’s enemy.

Victorious, but injured, Erik stumbles on Burg Mosel's tower steps accidentally tripping the mechanism that opens a secret chamber and exposes a skeleton. His discovery solves a long-standing mystery and uncovers a deeper treachery. Can Erik’s integrity and love overcome Rosamund's fear and defiance?




        My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

 This was an enjoyable story, but I have the same criticisms as I do for many Christian novels with a "Medieval" setting.

- Religion. The religion of the characters is not Roman Catholicism. Not even close. There are references to priests, but their religion is modern Evangelical Christianity. They pray about who to marry, "God's plan for their life" etc.

Rosamund at one point reads a passage in a psalm and sees a reference to "man". She responds by thinking "well I'm not a man". I would have thought any reasonably educated 15th century person would have grasped that the word referred to all humans, not just the male gender.

- Historical details. 15th century castles generally did not have marble floors, reception rooms or halls. The architecture reads more like that of an 18th century manor house.

- This is meant to be set in Sweden and Denmark, and yet there is a reference to the Romans conquering the region. The Romans never got that far North. They never got further than Germany and Britain.

I'd recommend it, its a sweet story but not to be taken very seriously in terms of historical fiction. The characters were- OK. Rosamund was sort of a Mary Sue though. I found her a bit flat and boring.

21 Feb 2021

A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White Review

 The Codebreakers #3 

September 8th 2020, 272 Pages, Bethany House 

Print E-book and Audio

Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: London, 1918

Zivon Marin was one of Russia's top cryptographers, until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee after speaking out against Lenin and separated from his brother along the way, he arrives in England driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera--and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and recreating photographs. With her father's connections in propaganda, she's recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily. He sees patterns in what she deems chaos; she sees beauty in a world he thought destroyed. But both have secrets they're unwilling to share. When her photographs reveal that someone has been following Zivon, his loyalties are called into question--and his enemies are discovered to be far closer than he'd feared.


 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

  This novel was an excellent conclusion to the Codebreakers Series. One of my favourite things about Roseanna M. White books is how she weaves little known historical details and events into her story, whilst peopling them with colourful and realistic characters.

A Portrait of Loyalty is no exception, featuring Russian political refugees in the closing months of WW1. Not all however, are as they seem. Some are secretly Bolsheviks in disguise pursuing their own agenda.

Romance and family drama features into the story, but neither really detracts from the narrative, nor are the faith messages heavy handed. That's another thing I appreciate, actually, is how the religious traditions of the various characters are authentic and treated respectfully. Russian Orthodox come over as Russian Orthodox, not American Evangelicals with Russian accents, as in case with some novels.

Overall, a great conclusion to the trilogy, with some cameos from characters old and new.

Thanks to Bethany House for enabling me to read this title via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to write a positive review


10 Feb 2021

Beauty Among Ruins by J'Nell Ciesielski: Audiobook Review

  Published January 12th 2021 by Thomas Nelson 

Historical Fiction

Period: WW1 

Setting: Scottish Highlands 


 In Ciesielski’s latest sweeping romance, an American heiress finds herself in Scotland amid the fallout of the Great War, and a wounded Scottish laird comes face-to-face with his past and a woman he never could have expected.

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?



My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐

I enjoyed this title, but I wasn't entirely keen on the narrator. Her accent sometimes fluctuated between something that sounded more like Pakistani or Jamaican than English or Scottish.

Alex, Lily, and their supporting characters were excellent, even Matron proved not to be such a dragon at the end. I can identify with Lily being a little clumsy, getting lost and making mistakes involving her being made to do menial tasks all the time.

I did also appreciate the vague nods to various classic movies and novels in certain details. The geographical setting was realistic and well used too. I don't think there were any wild boars in Britain in 1915 though. Not even in the Highlands. They became extinct in the 1500s and weren't reintroduced until the 1950s.

I did spot a few Americanisms coming from the British characters, and I dunno, I why do all Scottish characters have to be these extreme nationalists? The English and Scottish actually have more in common that Americans like to admit.

An enjoyable historical novel which was little more lighthearted than some of the author's other offerings where the characters are on the front line of the war, or caught up in international intrigues.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for approving my request for this audiobook. I was not required to write a positive review.

24 Jan 2021

The Templar's Garden by Catherine Clover Review

 Maid of Gascony Series #1 

343 Pages, November 14th 2020, Duckworth Books 

Print and Ebook 


A young woman forced to fight for her beliefs. A chaplain with a secret that could determine the fate of a kingdom.

England, 1452. Under the reign of King Henry VI the country is on the brink of civil war after the Hundred Years’ War.

Young mystic Lady Isabelle d’Albret Courteault’s family is forced to flee the Duchy of English Gascony for a new and unforeseeable life in England. While they become established in the courts, Lady Isabelle discovers dark secrets about their chaplain and tutor. As their growing relationship places her in harm’s way, can she remain steadfast in her promises to uphold the monarchy and her faith?

Set amidst a period of grave uncertainty, this is the story of a woman learning to stand up for her beliefs in a patriarchal world - a beautifully crafted narrative of faith, love and grace


                                                   My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

This isn't my usual fare. I have to say it started out more as a traditional Historical Romance, and I'm not entirely sure I cared for the conclusion. It's ending up as more of a Da Vinci Code esque thriller featuring the Knight Templar and an ancient relic.

I gave 3.5 stars mostly because I liked the historical details, and the characterization was interesting, however I deduct a star for a few things

- Unnecessary rape scene (not graphically described)
- Buying into the unproven idea that Queen Margaret of Anjou's son was the product of an affair with the Duke of Somerset - spoiler alert, he probably wasn't.
- The general anti-Lancastrian bias, coupled with a bizarre anti-Protestant bias in which everyone who favours reform of the church/adheres to the doctrines of Wycliffe is literally a murderer, rapist, or adulterer. I would similarly disapprove if all Catholics were characterized as such too, in case anyone accuses me of being partizan.

I understand there are two more titles to come in this series, and I would be interested in reading them to finish Isabel and Richard's story, especially her adventures in Italy, but take it all with a pinch of salt.

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

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