Tag Archive | historical

The Secret of Pembrooke Park (Book Review)

I’m typicaly a prolific reader but struggled with Julie Klassen’s latest Regency-era historical fiction, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Typically in cases like this I wouldn’t even post a review but as I received a free copy from Bethany House, I am obligated to do so.

Abigail Foster is trying to save her family from financial ruin. Ever practical, and in search of inexpensive housing they agree to travel and live at Pembrooke Park, a home abruptly abandoned eighteen years past. Mysteries abound including the story that there is hidden treasure in the mansion. Abigail hopes to find it and restore her family’s fortune.

The local curate is welcoming and as much as his family knows the history of the place. His only warning is that strangers might come to search for the treasure. Mysterious letters and hidden rooms provide diversion in her quest as does the handsome pastor. Maybe she’ll find both love and treasure. . . or danger.

This book is indicative of some others from this publisher which contain far more detail than necessary to tell the story. I found myself bored and easily setting it down for days on end with no real desire to pick it up again. I love Regencies but this is not a traditional light, sweet, Regency. It is a historical novel. While well-written it was not what I anticipated and coming in at 456 pages seemed too long of a book for the story to be told.

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Year of Jubilee (Book Review)

Peggy Trotter’s debut novel, Year of Jubilee is an 1850’s historical romance to tug the heartstrings. year of jubilee

 

Jubilee Stallings is isolated and alone, barely surviving. Orphaned and now widowed, she struggles to accept the new property owner, Rafe Tanner, a cousin to the abusive man who had been her sorry excuse of a husband. With his arrival, her dreams of living peacefully in her home are dashed.

Rafe had run away from the betrayal of his fiancée, now married to his best friend. He longs for peace and quiet and had sworn off marriage or any hopes of a wife and family. But meeting the terrorized and skittish Jubilee, he offers her a marriage in name only as they both strive to work together to make the property self-sustaining.

A trip home to visit his family and introduce them to his new bride, he begins to realize that their masquerade of being a young couple in love is in fact truth. But Jubilee lives in fear of her new husband and navigating that along with the families romantic notions and a jealous ex-fiance make the trip a joy and pain.

Rafe determines to win the heart of his wife. Surrounded by new friends communication get snaggled and confused as emotions cloud their relationship. As Jubilee faces her fears, can she love Rafe enough to let him go, much less keep him as her own? Could she overcome her fears and scars from her past to find a new future with a man worthy of her trust and love?

This is a powerful story, filled with gripping realism and heartache and reveals some of the reality of how difficult life was during this period of time, especially for young women tortured, abused and left with no resources. Peggy Trotter handles the story with tender care and deep emotion and gives us a hard-won happy ending that reflects the joy of jubilee, freedom, and Christ’s redemptive power to change our hearts and lives.

Tide and Tempest (Book Review)

Tide and TempestI am given opportunities to review books and was thrilled to read Elizabeth Ludwig’s newest novel, Tide and Tempest

I knew I was getting a historical romantic suspense and was transported into the world of Irish immigrants and their struggle to fight for their country’s freedom as well as adapt to life in a the new world of America.

It’s been two years since Tillie McGrath left her Irish home, against the wishes of her parents, to travel with her fiancee to America. He died before they could arrive and Tillie has forged a new life for herself, moving past her grief and loss and personal shame over some of her own choices. She now lives in New York boardinghouse, has a steady job and plans to open an orphanage. Maybe she would never marry and have children of her own, but she would care for others. Living a life of hard work and service in an effort to purge her soul of her own sins, her life comes to an abrupt change.

Captain Keondrick Morgan had never forgotten the young Irish lass who had been heartbroken on his ship. Following a life of duty though, precludes marriage. When he discovers that Tillie’s fiancee had been murdered, he worries now that maybe whoever did it might also be after Tillie. Morgan will do everything in his power to keep the invisible threat from succeeding.

Accompanied by his younger brother, Cass, Morgan struggles with stronger feelings for Tillie, who he believes he can never have. At the same time he starts to unravel a threat more deadly than he ever expected. Now he will do everything in his power to keep Tillie safe, even if it means giving his own life or losing her to the affections of his charming brother.

This book starts out slow as it builds the characters and the rich picture of the evil that is simmering behind the scenes. There is a light touch given to the faith of the characters. It is most fun when things really start to move forward with the action and the complexity of the underground societies that exist and could eventually bring about the demise of them all.

With a beautiful ending this book qualifies as a happily-ever-after. If you love historicals and some suspense, this is a great read.

I was given a copy of the book, by Bethany House, in exchange for this review.

Head in the Clouds (Book Review)

Head in the CloudsI’ve enjoyed several of Karen Witemeyer’s historical romances and when I stumbled across Head in the Clouds, I couldn’t resist.

Adelaid Proctor wears yellow as her dad told her she was his sunshine. But dad is gone and all she has left now is a beautiful horse and the ability to teach.  She longs for a home, a family of her own. Through a series of strange events she finds herself in the middle of Texas working for an English aristocrat turned sheep farmer, Gideon Wescott.

Gideon hires Adelaid with some misgivings. She was the only governess who seemed capable of connecting with Isabella, his ward who had become mute at the death of her mother on the voyage over. Gideon’s heart ached to hear the little girl’s laughter and chatter once again, but he had a ranch to run and couldn’t be there for her all the time.

Unfortunately for everyone, Isabella’s uncle has traveled from England to try to gain access to Isabella’s trust tht had already been contested in court. As they found out from Isabella’s mother’s journal, the death of the little girls’ parents were not accidental. Gideon fears for them all, and vows to keep “his girls” safe.

Together they work to keep the little girl safe, fighting terrible odds. Will Adelaid lose it all or gain the happily-ever-after kind of love she reads about in her novels?

This was a delightful story to read and tense at times as the suspense built. I love the pluck that all her female heroine’s have and their willingness to stand against the odds. If you like Karen’s historical romances, you will enjoy this one as well.

Brave New Century (Book Review)

Brave new century final coverBrave New Century is a lovely quartet of four novellas. Four women in search of their identity in the new century, 1900. The time is filled challenges, triumphs and responsibilities. Four stories. Four lives. Four loves. (Click here for a link to the print version of the book)

In the first story, Three Rings for Alice, Lisa Lickel highlights Alice Smith’s struggles to be a modern woman. Orphaned, she has to make her own way in the world and in a time when women are just coming into the workforce, it is fraught with uncertainty. Vowing to never marry, time and a secret love changes her mind with a decision to marry for no less than love. Even if the one she loves is only known as a voice on the telephone.

Paula Mowery’s tale, Forgiven, brings us Jessie Lee Capelle who wonders if she will ever have a loving family. When she meets laborer Henry Smith her dreams look like they will come true. When a surprising twist of history is revealed, can their love withstand the truth. Can they forgive?

In The Pocket Watch, Kathleen Rouser weaves a tale of Isabel Jones, an orphan in Detroit Michigan who’s only real desire is to know who her parents were. An accident brings her into the world of Dr. Daniel Harper and a pocket watch brings them together even as a special ring, left by Isobel’s mother, threatens to reveal terrible truths. Can love withstand these obstacles?

Teena Stewart tells the final story, Flames of Hope.  Lily McMinn’s Irish family operates a thriving mercantile n San Francisco. She enjoys visits by Gideon Light, a police officer. When a  violent earthquake destroys much of the city, countless people die. The crippled fire department is helpless to fight multiple fires raging out of control. Can Lily and her family survive the tragedy with the help of Gideon?

Love, romance, history. Four different stories but with these uniting themes. Step back in time and enjoy the journey these four women make. You’ll be glad you did.

To Win Her Heart (Book Review)

I’ve become a fan of Karen Witmeyer so when I had a chance to nab another free Kindle download of hers, I jumped. To Win Her Heart didTo Win Her Heart not disappoint.

Now, let’s just be clear. This is fiction. FICTION. Not real, let’s pretend and have some fun doing it. Karen does a good job of pairing two unlikely souls, a wealthy but jilted young woman and a blacksmith with a violent and criminal past. They bond over their love of books, but their budding romance is not without challenges. Between their differences in social background, wealth and secrets, there also lies someone who is out to destroy Levi to eliminate competition for Eden. The town Sherriff turns out to be a bit of a bully.

The coolest part of this story is Levi, along with his less exalted roots and his foray into fighting, landing him in prison, has another strike against him, he has a speech impediment. Karen does a masterful job of accommodating for this in giving Levi a love of literature and an unusual ability to use words that avoid the “s” sound. Perhaps this is not as significant a problem for someone who just enjoys a good book, but as a writer myself, I found myself in awe of her willingness to tackle that kind of task and the effort is enjoyable as no one would expect a man of his background to use the kinds of words he does, and she makes it believable.

Now, if you don’t like historical, western, romantic fiction – then pass this one buy. But if you have read any of Karen’s other works, I encourage you to give this one a go. I enjoyed the time spent in those pages.

Short-Straw Bride (Book Review)

I had seen promotions for Short-Straw Bride on Facebook and was intrigued. I saw the trailer and it whetted my appetite, which is unusual.  I went to Amazon to put the book on my wish list.  Then the opportunity came up with Bethany House to review it and I leapt at the chance. When I found out I would be mailed a copy I waited impatiently for it to come. I hesitated to read other things because I was so eager to read this story.

Short-Straw Bride is a historical romance written by author Karen Witemeyer. Karen has a gift for making fictional characters come alive.  This story, set in Texas, introduces a young girl, Meredith Hayes with a childhood incident with Travis Archer that spurs  myriad  dreams of love. All grown up and on the verge of a possible marriage, Meridith hears of a plot against the Archers and in desperation flees to their ranch to warn them of the impending danger.  Trouble does come and Meredith’s reputation ends up in shreds. Four Archer men need to determine which one will wed her.  After drawing straws, Meredith finds herself wed to the man of her childhood dreams, Travis, but wonders if he will ever come to really love her as she loves him.

The book goes beyond this initial development in their relationship to follow the rocky course of love and misunderstandings and is filled with adventure, hope and yes, romance. All the characters are well-developed and believable. Headstrong, feisty Meredith struggles to comply with a man who is used to being entirely in charge of everyone and everything around him, supplanting God in the process. A woman on Archer land changes everything for this solitary band of brothers and all of it for the better.

I look forward to reading more from this author. I loved Short-Straw Bride and had to re-read the last chapter again so I could sigh once more at the beautifully written ending. It was a book I had a hard time putting down and I enjoyed every minute spent in its pages.  Beautifully done, Karen. Ms. Witemeyer and Bethany House get two thumbs up for not only creating in me an appetite to read this book and by not disappointing me when I finally did.