29 Feb 2020

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah E. Ladd

Cornwall Novels #2
January 7th 2020, Thomas Nelson, 352 Pages
Print, Ebook and Audio 

Cornwall, England, 1818
Julia Twethewey needs a diversion to mend her broken heart, so when her cousin invites her to Lanwyn Manor, Julia eagerly accepts. The manor is located at the heart of Cornwall’s mining industry, and as a guest Julia is swept into its intricate world. It’s not long, though, before she realizes something dark lurks within the home’s ancient halls.

As a respected mine owner’s younger son, Isaac Blake is determined to keep his late father’s legacy alive through the family business, despite his brother’s careless attitude. In order to save their livelihood—and that of the people around them—the brothers approach the master of Lanwyn Manor with plans to bolster the floundering local industry. Isaac can’t deny his attraction to the man’s charming niece, but his brother has made clear his intentions to court the lovely visitor. And Isaac knows his place.

When tragedy strikes, mysteries arise, and valuables go missing, Julia and Isaac find they are pulled together in a swirl of strange circumstances, but despite their best efforts to bow to social expectations, their hearts aren’t so keen to surrender.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was a great second installment in Sarah Ladd's new series 'The Cornwall Novels'. Its her third series, and I'd say its right on form. There are two brothers from a mining family (ala Poldark) an old house, rumours of hidden treasure and a curse.
The beginning of the novel is quite spectacular, and sets the tone for the rest of the story. A love triangle between Julia and the two brothers Isaac and Matthew Blake. Both seem to have something to hide. Something strange going in in Lanwyn manor, where someone seems to be out to drive Julia's family away. 

There are faint shades of the classics here, and some of Julie Klassen's more gothic novels. The romance doesn't overtake the story, and there is no instantaneous love. Which makes for a more realistic read.
Overall, The Thief of Lanwyn Manor was a very satisfying story, that taps well into the current fashion for tales set in Cornwall, without being cliched or pedestrian. My only complaints were a couple of Americanisms (saying 'write her' instead of 'write to her'), but they didn't really detract from the story. 

Recommended for lovers of Regency/Victorian fiction, and existing Sarah Ladd fans.
Thanks to Netgalley and the the publisher for approving my request to read this title. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

17 Feb 2020

DawnKing by Janalyn Voigt: Final in Series Review

Tales of Faeraven #4
February 1st 2020, Harbourlight Books, 342 pages 
Print and Ebook

A prince marked for death, a princess without a kingdom, and a world at war.Unlikely travelers band together to accomplish the impossible—bring peace to their kingdom. But traitorous forces are at work, and a treacherous hand is destroying everything they accomplish.

Honor and soul-searching bring the travelers to hidden truth, and when a sacrifice is made, the broken-hearted band of misfits must cleanse the evil from their midst to free their world...or lose everything.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

 The Tales of Faeraven series is finished: but what a finish! Its magnificent. There's plenty of action and family drama, but also some clever allegory and a wonderful redemptive story for one of the characters. Well, more than one actually, as the redemption theme underpins the story.
Even when everything appears lost, the Dawnking offers a promise of hope. He never forces himself on anyone, nor does he just do the easy thing but appears when the need is greatest. Yet the characters can still choose to reject his advice.

Dawnking is more of a story about journeys than the other books. The characters get separated and have to survive and protect those they love, as well as confronting their secrets, worst fears and past demons. The conclusion is satisfying and ties up the loose ends but too too easy, nor does it come over as contrived, as in some novels.

There were a couple of parts that were hard to follow, but maybe a re-read will remedy that :) Overall, it was just an excellent conclusion to the Fantasy series, which characters old and new, and some vague echoes of classics such as the Chronicles of Narnia.

The only complaint I had was a couple of references which kind of jarred me out of the Medieval style setting, and weren't in the previous books. Not sure why they were in this one but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the story.

I would recommend The Tales of Faeraven series to all fantasy and allegorical fantasy lovers. Although its not overly allegorical, there are some elements here. I would recommend starting at the beginning with the first novel Dawnsinger, though. Its been a long wait, but readers can now get hold of all 4 books to complete the story.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a PDF of this title. I was not part of the official Blog Tour and I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

16 Feb 2020

The Piper's Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson

Hagengheim #10
December 3rd 2019, Thomas Nelson, 304 Pages, 
Print Ebook and Audio  

 A plague of rats. A giant beast outside the village walls. A host of missing children. And one young woman determined to save her people.

In 1424 Hamlin, Katerina faces threats from all sides. An outbreak of rats has overtaken the village, a mysterious beast is on a killing rampage of the village's children, and Katerina's evil stepfather is a dark presence inside the walls of her own home. Katerina is determined to hunt and kill the Beast of Hamlin herself before more lives are lost.

When Steffan, the handsome but brash duke's son, comes to town seeking glory and reward, Katerina decides he might be the ally she's been looking for—even though the only gentle thing about him seems to be the sweet music he plays on his pipe. But there's more to Steffan than she suspects, and she finds herself drawn to him despite her misgivings.

Together Katerina and Steffan must stop the enemy from stealing the children of Hamlin. But their interference might create an even worse fate for the entire village. Melanie Dickerson delivers another exciting fairy-tale journey of intrigue and romance in this reimagining of the classic Pied Piper story.

 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

I'm not really familiar with the Pied Piper of Hamelin story, so I thought this was a worthy retelling. It's a little darker than some of Melanie Dickerson's other retellings, and just as a note to parents touches on some mature content.

I loved Staffan. He's that perfect mix of strong, manly, yet vulnerable and hurting from past mistakes. I wouldn't call him a rake as he wasn't immoral inn that sense. More a wayward or prodigal son.

Katerina, yeah wasn't so keen on her. At least she acknowledged her arrogance and rudeness at the end, unlike other female characters in previous titles by this author.
 Her stepfather's evil is just too obvious. He's barely even convincing as a creep, and at times what he did came over as so over the top he could have been acting. His men were almost cartoonish in their badness.

The plot was interesting, at least initially when you want to find out what's happened to the children, but that's revealed just over halfway through and then it just be gets sort of choppy and all over the place.

Also there were various scenes that came over as implausible , not did I care for most of the fight scenes. I get it. Swords strapped to your back look way cooler than the usual hanging at the side, but you would think that guys would learn their lesson about practicality when people kept stealing their weapons. Nobody ever managed to do that to Staffan though. Odd.

Finally some of the characters attitudes came over as too modern to be credible for the time period. And although they do things like going to confession I don't know sometimes the religion seemed a little modern too.

I'd certainly still recommend this author's work and keep reading her future titles, but I don't think I'm the target audience at 31 and not having teenage daughters.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a PDF of this title. I as not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

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