Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden

About the Book
Luke Delacroix has the reputation of a charming man-about-town in Gilded Age Washington, DC. In reality, he is secretly carrying out an ambitious agenda in Congress. His current mission is to thwart the reelection of Congressman Clyde Magruder, his only real enemy in the world.
But trouble begins when Luke meets Marianne Magruder, the congressman's only daughter, whose job as a government photographer gives her unprecedented access to sites throughout the city. Luke is captivated by Marianne's quick wit and alluring charm, leading them both into a dangerous gamble to reconcile their feelings for each other with Luke's driving passion for vital reforms in Congress.
Can their newfound love survive a political firestorm, or will three generations of family rivalry drive them apart forever?

My Thoughts
I have been absolutely loving this series and I think as a whole it just might be my favorite work of Camden’s to date!
I love the way the stories are intricately connected telling a story as a whole while also being three individually complete works. And the way that this is reflected in the covers is definitely one of the coolest things ever!
I have loved Luke since the moment we first met him and I have been anxiously awaiting his story! He was as charming as ever but we also got to see his maturity and his drive for justice that had developed over the years. He was a bit reckless at times but it often served him well and the world needs people who aren’t afraid to jump in and get their hands dirty in the name of justice!
I had a love/hate relationship with Marianne. I appreciated the way she saw and captured the world through her camera lens and she had a genuinely kind heart that just wanted the best for everyone. But her naïveté and blind loyalty when it came to her family got a little bit frustrating at times, especially since her family was awful and did nothing to earn it. Also (and this is going to be super vague to avoid spoilers) when she had the chance to speak up and come clean about something and she didn’t even though she knew someone was suffering unjustly for what she’d done, I lost a lot of respect for her.
Overall though I did enjoy the romance between the two of them and they were really cute together!
One of Camden’s greatest strengths as an author is the way she weaves history into the very fabric of her stories, and this book was no different! The surprisingly captivating journey to see that there were regulations in place for what was put into food that was being sold was honestly something I’d never thought of before this series but now I know so much about it! And the parts about the changes they were making to the landscape of our nation’s capital that we see today were extremely interesting to me!
I enjoyed the way the story played out and watching them fight for justice while also learning that it doesn’t always come how you imagine it and that there is room for grace as well. There was a bit at the end that seemed a little off the rails, connected but I didn’t fully understand why the author went the direction she did-it kind of felt like that moment in old musicals where a random song and dance routine is thrown in that just makes you scratch your head. But in the end I thoroughly had a delightful time reading this book and I was definitely sucked into the plot! I’m looking forward to whatever the author has in store for us next!

Meet the Author
Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical novels set in Gilded Age America featuring clever heroines and richly layered story lines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Awards and have appeared on the CBA bestsellers list. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books. Learn more at www.elizabethcamden.com.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Longing for Lily by Tara Grace Ericson

About the Book
A rift twelve years in the making, and a second chance to do it right.
Lily Bloom is confident, capable, and better off alone. She experienced true love once, and she thinks she’ll never find it again. Instead, she throws her energy into building her event business at Storybook Barn, helping others take the dive into happily ever after.
Josh Elliot is the life of the party, with a successful photography business and wonderful friends. But there is something missing. He never had a doubt about the woman God made for him, but he failed her twelve years ago. Forever isn’t in the cards for them, but since she started hosting weddings at Bloom’s Farm, he is tortured with the unobtainable love of his life nearly every weekend.
Lily’s wedding venue and Josh’s photography business bring their worlds colliding once again, bringing old wounds to the surface and forcing the question: is what happened twelve years ago going to keep them apart forever? Or can God rescue the pieces of the love they once shared?

Longing for Lily is Book 4 in the popular Bloom Sisters Series. Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but this family will have you coming back for more!

My Thoughts
Josh has intrigued me since I first met him in Hawthorne’s novella and I was so happy that he was getting his own story!
And he was a great hero, he’d made mistakes in the past but had found forgiveness and was striving to be a better man. His heart never wavered from his love of Lily but he also listened to the Lord’s leading on when to pursue her and when to wait.
Lily was a bit of a tough one for me, she definitely was the prickly stubborn sort and had some massive walls up. I could understand how her past choices shaped who she was and caused her to pull away but I also got annoyed with the way she made assumptions about how people would react and made decisions for them.
It all worked out in the end though and Josh displayed some Christ-like love as her kept showing up for Lily even when she was pushing him away.
It was also fun to catch up with the other Bloom family members and their relationships! Looking forward to Rose’s story next!

Meet the Author
Tara Grace Ericson lives in Missouri with her husband and two sons. She studied engineering and worked as an engineer for many years before embracing her creative side to become a full-time author. Her first book, Falling on Main Street, was written mostly from airport waiting areas and bleak hotel rooms as she traveled in her position as a sales engineer. She loves cooking, crocheting, and reading books by the dozen. Her writing partner is usually her black lab - Ruby - and a good cup of coffee or tea. Tara unashamedly watches Hallmark movies all winter long, even though they are predictable and cheesy. She loves a good “happily ever after” with an engaging love story. That’s why Tara focuses on writing clean contemporary romance, with an emphasis on Christian faith and living. She wants to encourage her readers with stories of men and women who live out their faith in tough situations.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

About the Book
Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country--or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she'll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed--and wake up the folks back home.
In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party--to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.
This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.

My Thoughts
Sarah Sundin is the absolute queen on WWII era fiction and I will forever be one of her biggest fans!
I was admittedly a little bit disappointed when I heard that this book was a stand-alone and while the plot sounded a little bit different than Sundin’s normal fare I was still intrigued. And honestly, this book blew me away! One of the things that most impressed me was the way that the author took a lot of elements I don’t love in books and somehow perfectly balanced them so that I loved how every piece fit together.
I was poised to not love Evelyn’s character because typically female reporters trying to prove themselves in a “man’s world” always rub me the wrong way in fiction. But, while she was definitely a bold, no-nonsense type, she also had a soft side and she was rational about things to the point that I was fully on her side instead of rolling my eyes and wanting her to calm down. She was fiercely independent out of necessity but I loved seeing her walls come down and watching her learn that it’s okay to lean on someone else’s strength sometimes.
Peter was also a wild card. Starting off as he did with his thoughts on how things were going in Germany I wasn’t sure he’d get to hero status, but boy did he prove me wrong! We don’t often think about how Nazi Germany came to be the awful place it was with no one standing up against it. But the truth of the matter is that while countries like America were struggling in the 1930’s Germany was thriving and on the surface you can see how it would look appealing. Especially for someone in Peter’s shoes who had watched his father die because of a mob incited by their poverty. So while I didn’t agree with his stance, Sundin painted a clear picture of how he arrived there that didn’t make him an awful person. Though I was very happy when he started to see the truth of the dark side of a controlled country. His journey from admiration, to disbelief, to outrage, to fighting back was awesome to watch and I’m not gonna lie, I was legitimately proud of this fictional character! I also loved the way he not only accepted Evelyn’s, as she called them, sharp points, but admired her for them and loved the way they made her who she was. It was beautiful to watch her blossom under his unwavering appreciation for every part of her. Their romance was pretty much the sweetest and I was melting when they finally admitted their feelings!
Another amazing part of this book was the suspense level! I was on the edge of my seat and tense with worry more in this book than any suspense I’ve read in recent years! Both Evelyn and Peter were taking enormous risks over and over again and each time I swear my heart was going to pound out of my chest! I actually had to set the book down several times to take a breath before I could continue!
So if this excessively long review hasn’t convinced you already, let me just say it plainly, I absolutely adored this book and lovers of WWII fiction or just exceptional historicals absolutely need to read this book! You won’t be sorry!

Meet the Author
Sarah Sundin is the bestselling author of several popular WWII series, including Sunrise at Normandy, Waves of Freedom, Wings of the Nightingale, and Wings of Glory. Her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. The Sky Above Us received the Carol Award, her bestselling The Sea Before Us received the FHL Reader's Choice Award, and both Through Waters Deep and When Tides Turn were named on Booklist's "101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years." Sarah lives in Northern California. Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel

About the Book
All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother's descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother's wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.
After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira's mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she's journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends--and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced--as she seeks to navigate a life she'd never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.
Jennifer Deibel's debut novel delights the senses, bringing to life the sights, sounds, smells, and language of a lush country and a colorful people. Historical romance fans will embrace her with open arms.

My Thoughts
In a time where most of us aren’t traveling we need all the books set around the world to let us live vicariously! I have always been fascinated by Ireland and I was excited to step into a book that took me there in my mind. The descriptions were vivid and abundant and those who can’t paint pictures in their minds from what they’re reading will have no trouble transporting themselves to Donegal. I personally struggled with there being a little too much description and not enough dialogue but that may be just me.
The characters were sweet but I don’t know if classifying this as a romance is completely accurate, yes the couple ends up in a relationship but there wasn’t a whole lot of actual romance along the way which my romance loving self was really wanting more of.
Also, as a heads up for people that struggle with a different dialect in its written form this book was chock full of Gaelic words and words written the way that Irish folk pronounce them.
Overall this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but those who like descriptive sweeping tales are sure to find a new author to enjoy!

Meet the Author
Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher whose work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at www.jenniferdeibel.com.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, February 01, 2021

All Because of You by Lindsay Harrel

About the Book
Madison’s plans have fallen to ashes.
Because here she is, back in Walker Beach taking over her late aunt’s hardware store . . .
. . . and falling for the gorgeous bad boy from high school.
You know—the same jerk who made Madison’s high school days a living nightmare. The one who, somehow, doesn’t remember her.
But if the sparks flying between them are any indication, this time he will.
For the first time in his life, Evan is on the straight and narrow. He’s up for a promotion and helping Walker Beach recover from an economic downturn.
But doing the right thing for the town might mean putting the woman he loves out of business.
Yep. Evan’s in trouble—in more ways than one.
And though Trouble used to be his middle name, this time there’s no easy escape.
You’ll love this enemies-to-lovers sweet romance, because everyone enjoys stories about redemption and second chances.
This is Book 2 in the Walker Beach Romance Series, a clean and sweet collection about people finding love in a small town. Books can stand alone but are best read in order.

My Thoughts
Those who have been enjoying the Walker Beach series will enjoy this return to the close-knit small town. We got to meet Evan in the last book and this is his chance to find his happily ever after with the last person he expected. It was a bumpy road but they found their way to each other in the end.
If you’re looking for a Hallmark-esque lighthearted read check out this book and it’s predecessors!

Meet the Author
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She's held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she's not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.