Book Talk Tuesday: THE UNSEDUCIBLE EARL

I love love love this book! The attention to historical accuracy and detail makes it a cut above most historical romance. The Victorian mores and attitudes are captured perfectly. But instead of being dry or superficial, The Unseducible Earl is full of emotion, poignancy, and heart.

UnseducibleEarlVictoria Thorne is a Nightingale nurse recently returned from the Crimea and hired by the Earl of Cheriton to nurse his brother, also a Crimea vet, back to health. As Victoria cares for Jamie, she is also able to deal with her own issues that linger from living and working in a war zone. At Cheriton Court, she expected to work hard, to help patients with her skills, and to face some opposition. She never expected the intense attraction she feels for the earl–the betrothed earl.

Robben Merrick is betrothed to a woman who is perfect for him. On paper. He doesn’t love her, but he expects affection will come. It is time for him to marry and produce an heir. He’s grateful his fiancee is willing to postpone their announcement while his brother is still battling for his life, even though he’s out of battlefield danger and safe at home at Cheriton Court. His growing feelings for his brother’s nurse are not part of his plans. And he cannot act on them, even if it feels like he is sentencing himself to a loveless marriage and a broken heart.

Humphreys is a wonderful writer. I felt every bit of Victoria and Robb’s attraction and brokenness.

There are a couple of sub-plots that added to the depth of the story and made the ending even more satisfactory.

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Book Talk Tuesday: MRS. OSWALD CHAMBERS

I finished this book two weeks ago but I needed some time to absorb it all before I talked about it.

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I’ve read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers many times. Sometimes it’s my daily devotional for the year. Sometimes I just pick it up and read random days. But there’s always a copy nearby that I can easily get my hands on.

I had no idea the work, the calling, the sacrifice that went into making copies of this book so readily available to readers.

Michelle Ule has crafted a story that is part biography, part history, and part devotional in its own right.

Mrs. Oswald Chambers is, on the surface, a biography of Gertrude ‘Biddy’ Chambers, Oswald Chambers’ wife and widow. It starts with her early life, moves to meeting Chambers, falling in love, and their decision to marry and minster together. They married in 1910, had a daughter in 1913, and he died in 1917. A short marriage, but one with lasting and far-reaching impact.

Biddy trained as a secretary and took shorthand at 250 words per minute. She wrote 301838_MrsOswaldChambersUle_Posts11down all of his sermons, homilies, lessons, and talks, then transcribed them. After her husband’s death, she began to compile various selections and released them as books under his name.

I loved Mrs. Oswald Chambers! Michelle Ule crafted a story that is compelling, humbling, and thought-provoking. If I’d been widowed with a small child, while living in a foreign country near a war zone, I don’t think my inclination would be to continue to serve God while living in poverty. Biddy did that, not only willingly, but with a faith and a calling that never faltered.

I highly recommend this book and I suggest you run and grab your own copy. It will change you.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: The Engagement Plot

I’m working on a trilogy of novellas set on reality dating shows, so when The Engagement Plot appeared on my radar, I decided to request a review copy.

I’m glad I did.

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Hanna is a charming heroine and Will is an appealing hero. The story begins after they meet and get engaged on a show call The Price of Love. Hanna is a Christian and she kept her virtue and values front and center during the show which ended with Will on one knee and offering her a ring. During the airing of the finale Will said something that caused Hanna to break off the engagement.

We catch up with them about eight months after the show’s finale when Will arrives at Hanna’s Minnesota home to apologize. Her first inclination is to throw him back into the blizzard, but as they spend a few days together, they see a way to save both her reputation and his job, so the engagement plot is on.

Overall, I enjoyed this a lot and it kept me turning the page. It is definitely a Christian romance, but the faith elements rise organically from the characters.

Hanna and Will each had their own reasons for going on the show, for ending the engagement, and for concocting the new engagement plot. I have a few quibbles with some plot points, but they didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

The Engagement Plot is a fun and charming story of romance, second chances, and true love persevering against all odds. I recommend it!


I received an advance copy of The Engagement Plot in return for an honest review.

Book Talk on a Thursday

It’s no surprise to any regular readers here that I adore Susan Mallery and her books. I just finished SECOND CHANCE GIRL, the second novel in Mallery’s new Happily Inc series.

book-cover-second-chanceCarol is the animal preserve keeper. Yes, Happily Inc, set in the desert of Southern California, has a wild animal preserve. And Carol takes care of the animals. She’s particularly concerned with Millie, the giraffe. Giraffes are herd animals and Millie is lonely. Carol starts a fund-raising program in town to purchase more giraffes.

Matthias Mitchell is the fourth of the five Mitchell guys to get his story. He’s a ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ type of guy. Who’s incredibly good looking and Carol is crushing on. He’s also a talented glass artist who creates plates and vases instead of the sculptures he’s capable of and that his father and brother are known for.

Carol believes she’s nothing special, so she’s reluctant to put her heart on the line for Matthias. Matthias knows he’s avoiding the hurt and obsession he’s observed in his parents’ marriage.

There’s also a subplot involving Carol’s sister, Violet, and a dashing English duke.

Because this is a Mallery romance and because the name of the town is literally Happily, you know how things turn out. But what I love about Mallery is that her characters are real people and they respond to their situations like real people.

I’m not a desert person, so I don’t love the location of Happily Inc as much as I loved Fool’s Gold, but I understand it was time to move on.

As usual in many of Mallery’s books, there’s an adorable pet. Matthias ends up taking care of his mom’s beagle, Sophie, for most of the book. She gets into trouble and generally ends up leaving a trail of mayhem behind.

SECOND CHANCE GIRL is a charming and fun romance and I’m eager for more from Susan Mallery.


I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. Done and done!

Book Talk Tuesday: YOU SAY IT FIRST

Finally! It’s summertime and the reading is light and funny.

Susan Mallery’s usual summer offering of a trio of Fool’s Gold books has arrived.

Well, sort of.

Okay, not at all.

Mallery released a women’s fiction story earlier this summer. (I loved it!)

And at last, one of my favorite small town writers has released a new, small town, fun, light romance novel. So ignore the calendar, it may be mid-August, but summer is now officially here.

cover-you-say-it-firstYOU SAY IT FIRST is the first of Mallery’s new Happily Inc stories. Happily Inc is a small town in the desert of southern California. It’s a wedding destination town and many of the local businesses cater to the wedding industry.

Pallas Saunders inherited Weddings In a Box from her former boss and the original owner. Although Pallas had planned to go into the family banking business, she finds she enjoys the wedding planning and is touched by the generosity of Gerald, who willed her the business. She wonders what she did to earn Gerald’s love and trust.

Nick Mitchell (a familiar character to Fool’s Gold fans) has recently moved to town to be further away from his father closer to his two younger brothers. He’s an artist killing time before his next commission takes him overseas. He ends up working for Pallas, restoring some wooden panels she uses in wedding decor.

They hit it off and pretty soon are falling in love. Except they each think it’s a short-term fling, only for fun. Pallas’s mother is demanding and controlling and Pallas isn’t used to dealing with people who don’t expect anything from her. Nick has seen his father’s passion for his art subsume the whole family while his mother’s passion for his father dwarfed her own health and needs. He learned the lesson well: Passion consumes everything. And he’s not interested.

As their relationship grows, Pallas learns that the best love is freely given, not earned and not demanded.

Pallas’s work has some challenges and her circle of friends rally around her to help her grow the business into something special. This also introduces the reader to some of the characters who will soon have their own stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for the next one. Although I miss Fool’s Gold, Happily Inc appears to have many of the elements that made Fool’s Gold so special. I look forward to getting to know more of Happily Inc’s citizens and journey with them to finding their own Happily Ever Afters.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I honestly loved it!

 

 

Book Talk Tuesday: A MATTER OF TRUST

I do love me some Susan May Warren. And while it seemed a little odd to be reading about snow boarding and high mountain snow rescues in the middle of August, it actually helped me ignore the 100+* days outside.

A-Matter-of-Trust-CoverA MATTER OF TRUST is the third entry in Warren’s Montana Rescue series and is as good and compelling as I’ve come to expect from her.

Gage Watson was a extreme sports snowboarding champion. Until someone died. Gage lost his sponsors, his career, his faith, and his essence. He’s working in Montana now, on the PEAK Rescue team.

Ella Blair, state senator, big sister, and one-time love of Gage’s, has traveled to Montana to stop her brother from doing something foolhardy, even stupid: follow Gage’s renowned descent of one of Montana’s most challenging mountains. But to stop her brother, she has to see Gage again and keep a terrible secret.

Gage and Ella end up making the descent together, following her brother’s trail, hoping to find him before a storm hits the mountain.

Warren is a gifted writer and her descriptions of the snow, the snow boarding, the treachery of the mountain, and its hidden dangers took me right to the mountain with the characters. I tried learning to snow ski in my thirties and Stud Muffin and I decided it was a sport that you had to learn when you were young and fearless. So even though I’m not a skier, I felt the rush of the icy air, the crunch of the snow layer, the huff of frozen breath in the morning.

The other PEAK Rescue characters appear and I’m eager to get to Pete and Jess’s story. Oh, and Ian and Sierra’s, of course.

I loved this gripping and enthralling installment and I’m looking forward to the next.

 

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Jane Steele

I love mysteries. I love spunky heroines. I love humor and dry witty banter. I love Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.

Imagine my delight to discover JANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye.

Jane SteeleJANE STEELE is part homage to JANE EYRE, part fair play mystery, part Sikh primer, part romance, part faux-memoir, and a complete pleasure to read.

Young Jane Steele lives in the Victorian era, with her French mother in a guest house on an English estate. Her mother tells Jane that she is the rightful owner and heir to the estate.

The story begins with Jane confessing to the reader her first (yes, first) murder. After the death of her mother and her cousin, young Jane is sent to a boarding school. A truly horrible boarding school. Think more Little Princess/Jane Eyre and less Hogwarts.

The story follows Jane through her school, to London, then back to her estate home, now occupied by the dashing Charles Thornfield, his young ward, and his butler Mr. Singh.

Some of the reviews on Amazon describe this book as “Jane Eyre as a serial killer,” or “Dexter meets Jane Eyre.” These both miss the mark. There is death, but there is also justice, love, honor, and grace.

I loved this one!