Friday, May 13, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - The Sweetheart Locket by Jen Gilroy


My Review

In San Francisco in 2019, Willow and her mother Millie take a DNA test that has baffling news. Willow travels to England to learn more about her grandmother's past, and the story of Maggie Wyndham starts to unfold. During World War II, Maggie fell in love with one man, and then another ... and did secret war work that put her life in danger. As Willow unfolds the story of Maggie's life, she finds her own life changing too ... with new purpose, new work, and even a new romance.

I wanted to read The Sweetheart Locket because of the World War II setting. I love novels from this time period.

This is a historical novel with a dual storyline. There is the story of Willow and her mother Millie in 2019, in both San Francisco (their home) and England (where Millie was born). There is also the story of Maggie, Millie's mother, beginning in 1939 in England. It is a complex story with lots of movement back and forth in time. Readers meet the three generations of women in the family and also Maggie's friends, and the men who are central to their lives.

I loved this book from the start -- both Maggie and Willow, the central characters, are so likable and have such interesting lives.  Maggie's life is actually extraordinary, with Resistance work and a tangled personal life.

The Sweetheart Locket is an engrossing book - I barely put it down during the time I was reading it, and I planned my time around more reading! I really felt like I got to know the characters because they were so well drawn. The historical details were also beautifully told. I loved the way little haunting details from World War II would show up unexpectedly in present day life as well. Maggie's story - and the secrets of her life - was unveiled slowly through the course of the book.

I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It is one of my favorite reads this year, and I plan to look for more books by this author.  

Book Synopsis

What if the key to your present lies in the past?

London, 1939

On the eve of the Second World War, Canadian Maggie Wyndham defies her family and stays in England to do her bit for the war effort. Torn between two countries, two men and living a life of lies working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Maggie’s RAF sweetheart locket is part of who she is…and who she isn’t.

San Francisco, 2019

Over twenty years after Maggie’s death, her daughter Millie and granddaughter Willow take a DNA test that’s supposed to be a bit of fun but instead yields unexpected results. Willow has always treasured her grandmother’s sweetheart locket, both family heirloom and a symbol of her grandparents’ love story. But now she doesn’t know what to believe. She embarks on a search for the truth, one she doesn’t know will reveal far more about herself…

A gripping and heart-breaking dual timeline novel about love, loss and buried secrets, The Sweetheart Locket is perfect for fans of Lorna Cook, Rachel Hore and Suzanne Kelman.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Author Bio

Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home.

A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.

A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London. Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.

Visit Jen online at www.jengilroy.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

Enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card! 

The giveaway is open to the US, UK, and Canada, and ends on May 20th. Embed Code: 

The Sweetheart Locket

 


 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - The Viscount's Lady Novelist by Alissa Baxter


My Review

The Viscount's Lady Novelist is a Regency era historical novel.  It features Harriet Linfield, who plans to have a life as a writer and set her estate up as an orphanage for children in need. These plans are thwarted when she is courted by Oliver, Viscount Wentford, who wants to marry her and mine coal on the estate. Sparks fly despite this, and despite the differences in Harriet's creative temperament and Oliver as a man of science. Will a romance work between them?

I wanted to read this novel because it is the second in the Linfield Ladies Series. I absolutely loved the first book in the series, The Earl's Lady Geologist. This novel is similar in tone and structure, and it was a fun continuation of the series.

My favorite thing about this novel (and the series in general) is the strength and intelligence of the protagonist. She wants far more out of life than a woman in the Regency period expects.  I also enjoyed the interplay between Harriet and Oliver, who connect but also who are very different people.

The Viscount's Lady Novelist started a bit slowly for me but quickly picked up speed, and I enjoyed the read.  I recommend this novel for fans of historical fiction, historical romance, and anyone who enjoys a Regency setting.

Book Synopsis

Harriet Linfield is a lady novelist who has been disillusioned by love. She sets out to write more realistic tales about the emotion when she returns home to Linfield Court for the summer. Vowing to avoid any romantic entanglements along the way, she focuses instead on her writing and her plan to turn the estate she inherited from her uncle into a refuge for orphans.

Oliver, Viscount Wentford, is determined to restore his family fortunes. But his plans for the estate he inherited are in direct opposition to the wishes of Harriet, his new neighbour. Upon meeting her, Oliver is amused when, in response to his provocative comments, she informs him that she intends to make him the villain of her next book. But his amusement swiftly turns to dismay when circumstances align to show him in that exact light.

When an enemy comes back into Harriet’s life, she sees that love isn’t as clear-cut as the romantic tales she pens. But will the viscount manage to discard his villainous mantle to become Harriet’s real-life hero?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Author Bio

Alissa Baxter was born in a small town in South Africa and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. At the age of eleven, she discovered her mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. The first Heyer novel she ever read was Sylvester and she was hooked on Georgette Heyer after that. She read and reread her novels, and fell totally in love with the Regency period and Heyer’s grey-eyed heroes!

After university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she began writing her first Regency novel, before moving to England, which gave her further inspiration for her historical romances.

Alissa has lived in Durban and Cape Town but she eventually settled in Johannesburg where she lives with her husband and two sons. Alissa is the author of two chick-lit novels, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, which have been re-released as The Truth About Series: The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive and The Truth About Cats and Bees.

Alissa’s Linfield Ladies Series features women in trend-setting roles in the Regency period who fall in love with men who embrace their trailblazing ways… at least eventually. The Viscount’s Lady Novelist is the second book in this series, following on from The Earl’s Lady Geologist.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter to win a $30 Amazon Gift Card! The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.  

The Viscount's Lady Novelist


 

 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - Secrets of Rosenli Manor by Heidi Eljarbo


My Review

In 1898 Lilly Larsen learns that her Great-Aunt Agatha has passed away and she has inherited her large estate. As she moves into Rosenli Manor, she discovers a mystery about her own past and starts to look for answers.  At the same time she struggles to be taken seriously as an educated woman, and also finds romance.

I wanted to read Secrets of Rosenli Manor because I love historical fiction, am interested in the time period, and was intrigued by the Norwegian setting.

This is a short novel with a dreamy, fairytale-like tone. It was so unique and charming. This is the first book in the Mystery of the Modern Ladies Society series, and I certainly look forward to future reads.

Lilly is a likable protagonist who has a head for business in a time period when women were expected to be wives and stay at home. I admire her intelligence and courage as she faces unexpected danger while settling in at Rosenli Manor.

Her romantic interest, Paul, is a bit more enigmatic, but I hope there is more information about him in future books in the series.

Rosenli itself is almost another character in the series. I especially loved the details about the manor and the upstairs-downstairs life there.

I recommend this charming novel for fans of historical fiction, and especially for anyone interested in the turn-of-the-century time period. 

Book Synopsis

Betrayal and trust go hand in hand in the first book of Heidi Eljarbo’s new turn-of-the-century series.

It’s 1898, and Lilly has spent most of her life motherless and living with a father who never looks for a silver lining. When her great-aunt Agatha passes, Lilly’s existence takes a drastic turn. She packs her few belongings and moves into the old lady’s magnificent estate, Rosenli Manor.

In the days that follow, Lilly tries to understand who Agatha really was, and hidden secrets slowly rise to the surface. Her great-aunt’s glamorous legacy is not quite what Lilly had imagined. She must trust in newly forged friendships, and to her surprise, she discovers what it means to truly fall in love. But not everyone is happy about the new mistress of Rosenli.

Intrigue, mystery, and a touch of romance in the Norwegian countryside fill the pages of Secrets of Rosenli Manor.

Available on Amazon 


Author Bio

Heidi Eljarbo writes historical fiction. She grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and painter.

After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.

Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.

Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.

If you would like to know more, please visit Heidi’s website. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Secrets of Rosenli Manor & Of Darkness and Light by Heidi Eljarbo!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on April 29th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Rosenli Manor


 

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Book Review - Her Country Gentleman: Timeless Georgian Collection (Book 1), by Sian Ann Bessey, Sarah M. Eden, and Rebecca Connolly


My Review

Her Country Gentleman is a collection of historical romances set during the Georgian era. All are set in the British countryside.  "Spring in Tribbley Hall" is about Charlotte, who visits family friends in the countryside and finds romance with William Cheston as they work to solve the mystery of some missing sheep. "Love of My Heart" is about the adventures of Cordelia Wakefield who finds romantic sparks with a farmer when her family goes to stay in Scotland. "Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire" is about Martha Smith, who is sent by her mother to stay with country cousins after she declares she wants to marry for love. In the countryside she meets Benjamin Steele, who is working on a dilapidated estate.

I wanted to read this book because I love historical fiction. I read a lot of Regency era fiction and was intrigued by the Georgian setting of these stories.

I listened to the Audible version of this book, which was narrated by Kim Bretton. She has a wonderful voice and expressive delivery. She acted out the stories by changing voices for each character. I actually found this a bit distracting, and think I would have enjoyed a more traditional narration (without the voices and drama).

The stories are all well written with likable protagonists, sweet romances, and charming countryside settings. I love that there were animals featured in the stories and especially enjoyed the sheep in "Spring at Tribbley Hall."  

The romantic element of all three stories was very well done. I particularly liked the story of Cordelia and Sebastian in "Love of My Heart." They had a fun first meeting and developed a strong friendship - with romantic sparks - afterward.

The historical details were wonderful and the authors all evoked time and place so well. I especially liked the setting of "Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire."

I enjoyed Her Country Gentleman and would recommend it for fans of historical romance, and especially for anyone who is interested in the Georgian period.

Book Synopsis

London is not the only place to find love....

'Spring at Tribbley Hall'
by Sian Ann Bessey

When Charlotte's grandmother invites her to accompany her to Norfolk, Charlotte jumps at the chance to visit the sea and escape the fuss surrounding her sister's wedding preparations in London. Lord William Cheston, on the other hand, is most unhappy when his mother informs him that her old friend and a granddaughter are coming to stay. Not only is it lambing season, but he's also dealing with the mysterious loss of several sheep. The last thing he needs is a child underfoot.

When Charlotte and William first meet, he does not realize that the lovely young lady is the granddaughter in question, and she assumes that the man dressed in work clothes in the barn is a servant. A dinner party at the house introduces Charlotte to some of the gentry living nearby but cannot compare to her experience the next evening, when she and William battle to save the life of a newborn lamb.

Soon afterward, Charlotte stumbles upon a clue to William's sheep's disappearance. And when her life is placed in jeopardy, William is forced to choose between saving Charlotte and catching the thief.

'Love of My Heart'
by Sarah M. Eden

Cordelia Wakefield has never lived anywhere but London and is not overly happy when her family is forced to retrench to a small estate near Teviotbrae, Scotland. An ill-fated game of battledore and shuttlecock brings her face-to-racquet with Sebastian, who runs the home farm at nearby Teviot Castle. What begins as a clash of personalities, expectations, and preferences, soon leads to a friendship neither had expected. 


As the magic of Teviotbrae weaves its spell, the possibility of something more than friendship begins to blossom. But what future is there for a lowly farmer and a London lady?

'Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire'
by Rebecca Connolly

Martha Smith wants to marry for love, and will not be persuaded otherwise. She is highly sought after in Society for her beauty and status, but refuses to consider any suitor whose only claim is that his prospects meet with her mother's approval. Her widowed mother has had enough of Martha's romantic sensibilities, and is sending her to stay with unfortunate cousins in Wiltshire to show her that marrying for love is a risk that is too great.

Benjamin Steele, Lord Hillier, is working on his new and dilapidated estate when he first catches sight of the striking Martha Smith. Becoming Lord Hillier has only brought him a house that needs significant repairs, tenant farms that had been abandoned, and only the money he'd already possessed. He wants meaning in his life, and he's more than willing to work for it. Though worlds apart in all else, on this point they can agree: a life of meaning would change everything.

Author Bios


Sian Ann Bessey

Born in Cambridge, England, but grew up on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales, Sian left her homeland to attend university in the U.S. and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in English.

She began her writing career as a student, publishing several magazine articles while still in college. Since then, she has published historical romance and romantic suspense novels, along with a variety of children’s books. She is a USA Today bestselling author, a Foreward Reviews Book of the Year finalist, and a Whitney Award finalist.

She loves to travel and experience other cultures, but when she’s home, her favorite activities are spending time with her family, cooking, and reading.

 

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

 

Sarah M. Eden

Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today bestselling author of multiple historical romances, including AML’s “2013 Novel of the Year” and Foreword Review’s 2013 “IndieFab Book of the Year” gold medal winner for Best Romance, Longing for Home, and the Whitney Award’s “2014 Novel of the Year,” Longing for Home: Hope Springs. 

Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah lives with her husband, kids, and mischievous dog in the shadow of a snow-capped mountain she has never attempted to ski.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

Rebecca Connolly

Rebecca Connolly is the author of more than two dozen novels. She calls herself a Midwest girl, having lived in Ohio and Indiana. She’s always been a bookworm, and her grandma would send her books almost every month so she would never run out. Book Fairs were her carnival, and libraries are her happy place. 

She has been creating stories since childhood, and there are home videos to prove it! She received a master’s degree from West Virginia University, spends every spare moment away from her day job absorbed in her writing, and is a hot cocoa addict.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Book Review - Secrets from the Heart by Sean D. Young


My Review

Secrets from the Heart is a small town romance set in Clover Creek, Tennessee, which is near Nashville. Kira Davis is running her family's historic inn, the Red Rose Inn. She hires Franklin Bennett to work for three months as manager. The problem? Kira and Franklin's family have a longstanding feud based on the mysterious death of Kira's aunt years before.  As they get closer, they also work to solve the family mystery.

I wanted to read this book because I enjoy small town settings, and I liked the synopsis.

Secrets from the Heart is a charming read.  I really liked both Kira and Franklin; they are kind, decent people who want to make the inn a success, put the family feud to rest, and move forward with their new relationship.

The small town southern setting is delightful!  The author even includes two of the characters' family recipes:  The Davis Family Lemon Velvet Cake and The Bennett Family Lemon Supreme Cake.

This is the second book in the Clover Creek series. I have not read the first book, but had no problem reading and enjoying this book as a standalone. I would also enjoy reading the other books in this series, after enjoying this one.

I recommend Secrets from the Heart for fans of small town romance. It is a sweet story and would make a great Hallmark movie -- perfect for a relaxing weekend read!

Book Synopsis

In this charming small-town romance, it’ll take a miracle to dissolve the decades-old feud between the Bennett and Davis families. But as Franklin Bennett and Kira Davis uncover shocking family secrets, it might just take the love growing between them to set things right.

Author Bio

Sean Young has always been an avid reader. This Gary, Indiana native joined her first book club at the age of seven. A lover of the happily ever after, Sean uses her vivid imagination to craft heartwarming and passionate family love stories that deal with forgiveness, promise, romance and redemption. A certified wedding planner by trade, Sean continues to help brides plan the wedding of their dreams.