Sunday, July 14, 2019

Book Review - Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham

Book Synopsis
For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people's mail.

Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the dead letter office, and she dreams of something more--a bit of intrigue, perhaps a taste of romance. When she comes across a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love, it becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

But when Penny's undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter, and yet . . . she finds herself caring--perhaps too much--for the one who wrote it.

My Review
Penny Ercanbeck's story begins in 1883 in Washington, D.C.  She is working as a clerk at the dead letter office. Her job is to read letters that have not reached their recipient and send them on to their rightful owner if possible.  She finds a letter from a man named Thomas Connor.  He writes to a woman named Clara whom he loved and lost.  There are more letters from Thomas to Clara that follow.  Since Clara's address is nearby Alexandria, Virginia, Penny makes a day trip to try to return the letters.  When that proves impossible, she decides to travel to Azure Springs, the small town where Thomas has relocated.  She realizes her interest has grown beyond the letters to the man who wrote them.

I wanted to read Yours Truly, Thomas from the description.  I have always loved letters and love epistolary novels.  I find the idea of a dead letter office with someone long ago sorting and redirecting mail fascinating.

Penny is a very likeable character.  She's kind and genuinely cares about others (perhaps to the extent of taking her job a bit TOO seriously!).  She has had a difficult time since her father's death, and has tried to turn her life around with her work and friends.  She even has a lovable dog named Honey (short for Honeysuckle).

Thomas is also a very sympathetic character.  He has endured a tragic loss and moved to rebuild his life.  The connection between Penny and Thomas is immediate, and I enjoyed their interactions. That said, I did get a bit frustrated with Penny with her lack of directness.  I wish she would have been more forthcoming with Thomas about her reason for being in Azure Springs.

Which brings me to Azure Springs -- what a delightful little town!  I enjoyed reading about it - the boarding house, the town dance, the caring, small town atmosphere.

Yours Truly, Thomas is inspirational fiction, and fans of Christian historical fiction will enjoy this novel with a unique setting and premise. 

Author Bio
Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, but they'd insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn't stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Book Review - The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery

Book Synopsis
The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…
As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?
Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.
Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!

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My Review
The Summer of Sunshine and Margot is the story of two sisters.  Although Margot and Sunshine are fraternal twins, they are not very much alike.  Margot is an etiquette teacher.  Sunshine is a freespirit working as a nanny.  The one thing they have in common is terrible taste in men.  One summer, though, things change.  Margot goes to work for a famous (and somewhat scandalous) actress who has a handsome son.  Sunshine falls for the father of the little boy she is taking care of.  Can things change for them both in the space of a summer?

I always enjoy Susan Mallery novels.  She does such a good job at writing women's lives, and her characterizations are always enjoyable.  I wanted to read this novel because I like her work -- and I really enjoyed this book.

Margot and Sunshine were very relatable and sympathetic characters.  Margot wants to be so proper and she is really challenged by her etiquette client Bianca, who has an issue with self control.  Bianca's son, Alec, a scholar who lives in a repurposed monastery and studies ancient texts, is the polar opposite of his mother;  he is so restrained that he has a hard time connecting emotionally.

Sunshine is my favorite character.  She is very warm and sweet natured but has a tendency to get involved much too quickly with men who inspire her to leave her everyday life, traveling or moving suddenly, abandoning responsibility.  She finally has a stable job as a nanny to a little boy named Connor.  Connor's father, Declan, is a landscape architect who is a recent widower.  Sparks fly between Sunshine and Declan but they are both wary because of the situation and timing.

I really liked all the lead characters and couldn't put the book down because I wanted to see what would happen with these possible relationships.

There are some fascinating details in this book.  I enjoyed reading about Declan's work as a landscape architect, and Alec's home (a former monastery) was especially interesting.  There are secrets waiting in the attic and the cellar, and Margot makes time to explore while she is staying there.

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot is a wonderful summer read -- the setting, the characters, and the fast moving storyline make this a perfect book for a vacation or for a weekend read. 

There is also some real depth to the characters of Sunshine and Margot, and their desire to break out of longstanding patterns.  For this reason I also think this would make a wonderful summer book discussion pick.

Author Bio
#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages.Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway - Guilty as Charred (A Cook-Off Mystery) by Devon Delaney

Book Synopsis
Sherry Oliveri has attained celebrity status after winning the America’s Good Taste Recipe Contest with her delectable New England Crab Cake Sliders. But now that she’s back home in Connecticut, she’s got to deal with something else fishy . . .

Sherry’s making a guest appearance on a local radio show when the news comes in: Poppy Robinson has been found dead in the town’s community garden. Sherry was supposed to be taking questions about her win in the national cooking competition, but instead the callers start dishing dirt.

Poppy and Sherry were both involved in the vegetable garden, and while Poppy may have been a bit priggish, it wasn’t anything that called for a shovel to the back of the head. There was already trouble brewing, with the owner of the land threatening to renege on their agreement, and this murder has taken tensions to a new level. Now while Sherry’s organizing a Fourth of July cook-off event, she’s also got a murder investigation on her plate . . .

Includes Recipes from Sherry’s Kitchen! 

Author Bio
Devon Delaney is a wife, mother of three, accomplished cooking contester, recent empty nester, and lifelong resident of the Northeast. She has been handsomely rewarded for her recipe innovation over the last twenty-plus years, including a full kitchen of major appliances, top cash prizes, and four trips to Disney World. She has also won the Grand Prize in a national writing contest for her “foodie” poem “Ode to Pork Passion.”
Check out Devon’s website at: and find her on Instagram –

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Book Review and Giveway - Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries

Book Synopsis
From New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries comes a sparkling new series about an oft-widowed mother’s grown children, who blaze through society in their quest for the truth about their fathers . . . and in the process find that love just might conquer all . . .

A series of stepfathers and a difficult childhood have left Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, 5th Duke of Greycourt, with a guarded heart, enviable wealth, and the undeserved reputation of a rogue. Grey’s focus on expanding his dukedom allows him little time to find a wife. But when his mother is widowed yet again and he meets the charmingly unconventional woman managing his stepfather’s funeral, he’s shocked to discover how much they have in common. Still, Grey isn’t interested in love, no matter how pretty, or delightfully outspoken, the lady . . .

Beatrice Wolfe gave up on romance long ago, and the arrogant Duke of Greycourt with his rakish reputation isn’t exactly changing her mind. Then Grey agrees to assist his grief-stricken mother with her latest “project”: schooling spirited, unfashionable Beatrice for her debut. Now that Beatrice is seeing through Grey’s charms to his wounded heart, she’s having trouble keeping him at arm’s length. But once Grey starts digging into her family’s secrets, she must decide whether her loyalties lie with her family . . . or with the man whose lessons capture her heart . . .


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My Review
Project Duchess is the story of Beatrice Wolfe and "Grey," Fletcher Pryde.  Grey is a Duke in need of a wife, and Beatrice is an independent woman who is planning her debut.  Because Beatrice is from modest means, she aspires to marry a vicar or doctor.  When Beatrice and Grey meet, there is an instant spark, and they find they have much in common with their difficult childhoods.  But will this be enough for them to break tradition and find happiness together?

This is the first book in Sabrina Jeffries' new Duke Dynasty series.  A large cast of characters with a lot of background is introduced in the first few chapters.  It would be helpful to have a list of characters in the book for readers.

Once the book focused more on Beatrice and Grey, I became engrossed in their story. They are from different worlds but on an intrinsic level are so very alike.  I liked Beatrice's spark and independence, and Grey's kindness and strength.  There was a lot of back and forth between these characters with banter and a rollicking romance.

There is also a double mystery in the book -- there were two unexplained deaths in the past (Beatrice's uncle and Grey's stepfather -- both highly unsympathetic characters).  Grey works to solve the two murders, and that is part of the plot as well.

We are also introduced to Beatrice's brother and Grey's siblings -- I am guessing they will appear in future books in this series.  (I hope so!)

I enjoyed the setting of the country estate.  There is even a kennel with pointers and foxhounds, and the dogs appear several times in the book.

There are also a number of interesting historic details -- like funeral biscuits, and ruins constructed on the estate (a ruined abbey with a bell tower). 

I found Project Duchess a fun and entertaining read.  I think readers who enjoy historical romance and the regency period will especially enjoy this book.  I look forward to reading the next book in this series!

Author Bio
Sabrina Jeffries is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels and works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Whatever time not spent writing in a coffee-fueled haze is spent traveling with her husband and adult autistic son or indulging in one of her passions—jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and music. With over 9 million books in print in more than 20 languages, the North Carolina author never regrets tossing aside a budding career in academics for the sheer joy of writing fun fiction, and hopes that one day a book of hers will end up saving the world.


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We have two paperback copies of Project Duchess up for grabs! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. 

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Project Duchess