Review of “A Bride of Convenience” by Jody Hedlund

Hedlund, Jody. A Bride of Convenience. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-0764232978 | $15.99 USD | 384 pages | Historical Romance/Christian Fiction

Blurb

Unemployed mill worker Zoe Hart jumps at the opportunity to emigrate to British Columbia in 1863 to find a better life and be reunited with her brother, who fled from home after being accused of a crime.

Pastor to miners in the mountains, Abe Merivale discovers an abandoned baby during a routine visit to Victoria and joins efforts with Zoe, one of the newly arrived bride-ship women, to care for the infant. While there, he’s devastated by the news from his fiancee in England that she’s marrying another man.

With mounting pressure to find the baby a home, Zoe accepts a proposal from a miner of questionable character after he promises to help her locate her brother. Intent on protecting Zoe and frustrated by his failed engagement, Abe offers his own hand as groom. After a hasty wedding, they soon realize their marriage of convenience is not so convenient after all.

In the series 

#1 A Reluctant Bride

#2 The Runaway Bride

Review

4 stars 

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

A Bride of Convenience is the third book in Jody Hedlund’s Bride Ships series, although it can be read as a stand alone. However, her historical research remains impeccable as always, and I’ve loved exploring different perspectives of the Bride Ship Brides through both of the books I’ve read so far. 

Marriage of convenience isn’t always a favorite trope of mine, but Hedlund makes it work here depicting Zoe and Abe getting into the situation due to the young child Zoe finds herself caring for. I liked how each of them are struggle to figure out what the other expects in this new marriage, as well as grappling with some former potential love matches from their past who try to interfere.

The characters themselves are also relatable, Zoe especially. I admired her compassion for others,  which led her to taking the baby in, even though it made her marriage prospects a bit dimmer, and she bonded with Abe due their shared love for helping others. But I also liked that they did have flaws and could learn from each other. 

This is a solid installment in the series and another great book by Jody Hedlund. I recommend this to anyone who loves sweet/inspirational historical romance. 

Author Bio

Jody Hedlund is the author of over twenty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

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Review of “Carousel Dreams: 4 Historical Stories” by Susanne Dietze, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, and Teresa Ives Lilly

Dietze, Susanne, et. al. Carousel Dreams. Uhrichville, OH, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-1643524702 | $14.99 USD | 448 pages | Historical Romance/Christian Fiction

Blurbs

4 Stories of Love Spun at Historic Carousels
 
Experience the early history of four iconic carousels that draw together four couples in whirling romances full of music and charm.
 
Sophia’s Hope by Cynthia Hickey
1889 – Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard
Sophia Blackwell is living the life of the wealthy, but on the outskirts of total acceptance. Drake Moreland believes her above his station. A misunderstanding between them threatens to shatter their dreams before they’ve begun.
 
The Art of Romance by Patty Smith Hall
1895 – Crescent Park Amusement Park, Riverside, Rhode Island
An interview with the artist painting the Crescent Park Carousel is what reporter Thomas West needs. Instead he finds Wells’s daughter, Jane, who is hiding secrets he’s desperate to uncover. Jane must do everything she can to save her ill father’s reputation . . .and her heart.
 
Carousel of Love by Teresa Ives Lilly
1910 – Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania
For Tamara Brand, spending the summer at Expedition Park impersonating her wealthy debutante employee seemed like a dream come true until she meets Blake Conner; just a Carnie who runs the carousel. He seems to be the type of man, she would like to get to know better if she weren’t pretending to be someone she isn’t. But, is Blake who he appears to be?
 
The Carousel Wedding by Susanne Dietz
1922 – Balboa Park, San Diego, California
For June Lowell, administrator at the Natural History Museum, being with curator Martin Howard is as thrilling as a ride on the carousel by the museum, but a relationship is forbidden by management.

Review

I received a ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reivew.

Sophia’s Hope by Cynthia Hickey

3 stars

The highlight of this story is Hickey’s eye for detail, engrossing the reader in late nineteenth century Martha’s Vineyard, as well as the carousel bit that is the theme for this collection. The romance, while sweet and one of my favorite tropes (a high ranking woman and lower class man), I found the story a bit underwhelming and lacking a ton of substance.

The Art of Romance by Patty Smith Hall

4 stars

Stories where one partner or the other is hiding a secret can be hard to do, but this one is done well, with Jane having good reason for keeping the secret, and there being enough tension and conflict, as well as a believable resolution to said conflict once all was said and done. 

Carousel of Love by Teresa Ives Lilly

5 stars

This one was adorable, with two people from opposite sides of the tracks each pretending to be what they aren’t. I love that, in spite of the barriers, Tamera and Blake were able to find each other and recognize that they were who meant for each other. 

The Carousel Wedding by Susanne Dietze

4 stars

A sweet story highlighting obligations keeping sweethearts apart, with a well drawn backdrop of Prohibition. It’s not the most memorable story, but I enjoyed seeing how June and Martin overcame the obstacles thrown at them.

Author Bios

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the award-winning, RITA®-nominated author of several romances who’s seen her work on the Publisher’s Weekly, ECPA, and Amazon Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

Patty Smith Hall is a multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour Publishing. Married to her hero of 33+years, Danny, and the mother of two extraordinary women, she calls North Georgia her home.

Multi-published and Amazon and ECPA Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She had several historical romances release through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold close to a million copies of her works since 2013. She has taught a Continuing Education class at the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers conference, several small ACFW chapters and RWA chapters. You can find her on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. She and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s best well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs, two cats, three box turtles, and two Sulcata tortoises. She has eight grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”.

Teresa Ives Lilly has authored a variety of Christian and Clean Novels and Novellas romance and mystery, historical and contemporary. She has written several chapter books and one picture book. She has also authored over two hundred unit studies for public and private schools.

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Review of “The Green Dress” by Liz Tolsma

Tolsma, Liz. The Green Dress. Uhrichville, OH: Barbour Books, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-1643524757 | $12.99 USD | 256 pages | Christian Fiction/Historical Romance/Romantic Suspense

Blurb

Fiction Based on Strange, But True, History
True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through a unique stories of historical romantic suspense. Collect them all and be inspired by the hope that always finds its way even in the darkest of times.
 
In Boston, 1886, Harriet Peters commissions Sarah Jane Robinson to make her a new dress. Both widows are struggling to make ends meet, and they strike up a quick friendship. Harriet feels sorry for Sarah Jane, who has suffered so much loss in her life. But Harriet’s friend, Dr. Michael Wheaton, has concerns that death seems to follow Sarah Jane in mysterious ways Still, Harriet can’t imagine any deceit in her friend, who she comforts through the deaths of her daughter and nephew. Will Harriet’s trusting nature lead to her own demise as a persistent stomachache starts to plague her?

In the series

The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma

The Yellow Lantern by Angie Dicken

The White City by Grace Hitchcock

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear

Review

4 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

I love true crime, especially so the True Colors series from Barbour seemed right up my alley, and The Green Dress in particular introduced me to a serial killer I hadn’t previously known about, Sarah Jane Robinson.

Through the fictional leads, Harriet and Michael, a friend of Sarah’s and the local doctor respectively, I felt the growing unease about the mortality of those close to Sarah was well conveyed, balanced with a sense of goodness and hope to counteract the pure evil of her actions. 

Both Sarah and Dr. Beers are so well drawn to elicit a chill up the spine of the reader as Tolsma hints at their malicious intent and actions. While to an extent they steal the show from the POV characters, this is only right given the tone of the book and the balance between Christian fic which leans toward a heavy spiritual center and romantic suspense which features those dastardly villains.

This is a wonderful book that has a compelling suspense plot that introduced me to a historical figure I now want to know more about. If you love true crime, especially women serial killers, then I think you’ll enjoy this book. 

Author Bio

Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. Her novella, Under His Wings, appeared in the New York Times bestselling collection, A Log Cabin Christmas. Her debut novel, Snow on the Tulips, released in August of 2013. Daisies Are Forever released in May 2014. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. Please visit her blog at www.liztolsma.blogspot.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@LizTolsma). She is also a regular contributor to the Barn Door blog. 

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Review of “Dead Silence” by Robin Caroll

Caroll, Robin. Dead Silence. Uhrichville, OH: Shiloh Run Press, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-1643523316 | $14.99 USD | 320 pages | Christian Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Blurb

Political games can be deadly…
 
Elise Carmichael is a court sign language interpreter who reads lips all the time. As a widow with a young son who is deaf, lip reading is simply second nature, until the day she reads the lips of someone on the phone discussing an attempt to be made on a senator’s life—a senator who just happens to be her mother-in-law. Before she can decide what she needs to do, she receives the information that her son is rushed to the ER and she must leave. Then she later sees the news report that her mother-in-law has been shot and killed. But when she comes forward, her life, as well as her son’s life, may now be in the crosshairs of the assassin.

Review

3 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

I’m not sure how to feel about Dead Silence…it’s objectively a good book, but it didn’t engage me as much as I hoped upon initially reading the premise. 

I did like Elise and felt her character delivered on what was promised. I liked her concern for her son, and how her skill with reading lips fed into the plot. And there’s a beautiful moment with her late husband’s Bible that I found particularly touching. 

But my investment with the mystery element flagged, due to it being slow moving and the choice of repetitive telling vs. showing killing the suspense. Ultimately, the reveal didn’t feel earned. 

While I didn’t love this, I think it’s an “it’s not you, it’s me” thing, especially since I’ve fallen into a bit of a slump following the gloriousness of a previous read. I think if you’re a Christian fiction reader, and happen to like mysteries, it might still be worth trying. 

Author Bio 

Robin Caroll grew up in Louisiana with her nose in a book. She still has the complete Trixie Belden series, and her love for mysteries and suspense has only increased with her age.

Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her published novels.

Best-selling author of thirty-plus novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes Southern stories of mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance to entertain readers. Her books have been recognized in several awards, including the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in the South.

Robin serves the writing community as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW.

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Review of “A Gilded Lady” (Hope and Glory #2) by Elizabeth Camden

Camden, Elizabeth. A Gilded Lady. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-0764232121 | $15.99 USD | 352 pages | Christian Fiction/Historical Romance

Blurb

Caroline Delacroix is at the pinnacle of Washington high society in her role as secretary to the first lady of the United States. But beneath the facade of her beauty, glamorous wardrobe, and dazzling personality, she’s hiding a terrible secret. If she cannot untangle a web of foreign espionage, her brother will face execution for treason.

Nathaniel Trask is the newly appointed head of the president’s Secret Service team. He is immediately suspicious of Caroline despite his overwhelming attraction to her quick wit and undeniable charm. Desperate to keep the president protected, Nathaniel must battle to keep his focus fully on his job as the threat to the president rises.

Amid the glamorous pageantry of Gilded Age Washington, DC, Caroline and Nathaniel will face adventure, danger, and heartbreak in a race against time that will span the continent and the depth of human emotion.

In the series 

#1 The Spice King 

Review 

5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

It’s been awhile since I picked up an Elizabeth Camden book, and A Gilded Lady is a great reminder of what U like about her work. While I did not read book one, I feel for the most part it does function as a stand-alone, although I do think it would have made the appearances of the recurring characters feel a bit more relevant. 

I love a story that writes about historical politics in an intimate way, and exploring the lives of President and Mrs. McKinley through the eyes of a Secret Service agent and the First Lady’s secretary was fascinating. And given that McKinley is one of the four presidents who was assassinated throughout US history (and the assassination is a plot point in the book), I like how this book explores the poltical tensions both at home and abroad, especially with mentions of other similar tragedies that were occurring at the time, as well as Camden’s note at the end about how the asdassination itself impacted Secret Service procedures going forward. 

Caroline is a compelling character. While I got the impression, both from other reviewers who read book one and the depiction of tension later in the book between her and Annabelle (heroine of book one), I felt that, beneath the charming facade, she had a good heart, especially with her focus on saving her brother. And her relationship with the moody Ida McKinley is a sweet one, with Caroline calming her in times of trouble. 

Her stubborn, yet charming nature makes for great interactions with Nathaniel, who is set in his ways and very by-the-book. Seeing them grow past their differences and learn from each other is incredibly rewarding. 

I very much enjoyed this book, and look forward both to catching up with book one and continuing with book three. If you love sweet/inspirational historical romance, I recommend this one highly. 

Author Bio 

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

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Review of “Of Literature and Lattes” by Katherine Reay

Reay, Katherine. Of Literature and Lattes. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-0785222040 | $16.99 USD | 336 pages | Christian Fiction/Women’s Fiction 

Blurb

Return to the cozy and delightful town of Winsome, where two people discover the grace of letting go and the joy found in unexpected change.

After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup and move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.

Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.

With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.

“In her ode to small towns and second chances, Katherine Reay writes with affection and insight about the finer things in life.” —KAREN DUKESS, author of The Last Book PartyFollow-up to The Printed Letter BookshopFull-length small-town romance (c. 86,000 words)Includes Discussion Questions

Review

2.5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Katherine Reay has frequently been recommended to me by some of my favorite inspirational writers, particularly her Austen inspired books. So, I was eager to give her a try with her latest, Of Literature and Lattes. And while it has a good idea at the heart of it, I just didn’t care for the execution. 

I love the cozy small town atmosphere, and hearing that she has another book set in the same small town is exciting, as I know what I might check out next. And of the characters and storylines, I enjoyed Jeremy and his relationship with his daughter Becca.

However, I never fully felt invested in Alyssa’s story, and there’s a plethora of other characters who I found too hard to keep track of. 

Admittedly this is a bit of an odd book in a genre I don’t read often (small town contemporary), so I think your mileage may vary when it comes to whether you enjoy this one. If you’ve been a fan of this genre in the past or like this author, I think you should make the call for yourself, 

Author Bio

Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of Dear Mr. KnightleyLizzy & JaneThe Bronte PlotA Portrait of Emily PriceThe Austen Escape and The Printed Letter Bookshop. Her first nonfiction book, co-authored with Rebecca Powell, will release February 2020. Katherine’s novels are love letters to books. They are character driven stories that examine the past as a way to find one’s best way forward. In the words of The Bronte Plot’s Lucy Alling, she writes of “that time when you don’t know where you’ll be, but you can’t stay as you are.”

Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. She then worked in marketing and development before returning to graduate school for a Masters of Theological Studies. Moves to Texas, England, Ireland and Washington left that degree unfinished as Katherine spent her time unpacking, raising kids, volunteering, writing, and exploring new storylines and new cities. Katherine writes full-time now and, as her kids go off to college, she finds the house increasingly quiet. Soon only she and her husband, with dogs Patch and Trip, will live at home outside Chicago.

When not plotting a character’s demise and long journey home, Katherine can be found walking (no longer running) the neighborhood, hanging out with her kids and friends, or – rarely and with great excitement – fly fishing. You can also find her all across social media chatting about life, literature, lattes and the world of books.

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Review of “Storing Up Trouble” (American Heiresses #3) by Jen Turano

Turano, Jen. Storing Up Trouble. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-0764231698 (paperback)/978-1493425082 (eBook) | $15.99 USD (paperback)/$10.99 USD (ebook) | 352 pages | Historical Romance/Christian Fiction

Blurb

When Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s Chicago-bound train ride is interrupted by a heist, Mr. Norman Nesbit, a man of science who believes his research was the target of the heist, comes to her aid. Despite the fact that they immediately butt heads, they join forces to make a quick escape.

Upon her arrival in Chicago, Beatrix is surprised to discover her supposedly querulous Aunt Gladys shares her own suffragette passions. Encouraged by Gladys to leave her sheltered world, Beatrix begins working as a salesclerk at the Marshall Field and Company department store. When she again encounters Norman on a shopping expedition, he is quickly swept up in the havoc she always seems to attract.

But when another attempt is made to part Norman from his research papers, and it becomes clear Beatrix’s safety is also at risk, they soon discover the curious way feelings can grow between two very different people in the midst of chaos.

In the series

#1 Flights of Fancy

#2 Diamond in the Rough

Review

4 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

While this is not my first Jen Turano book, this is the first in the American Heiresses series I’ve read. However, it stands perfectly well as a stand alone, and feel like you could start here, although I am intrigued to read the previous two books in the series now.

Turano has a few different elements at play: a whimsical, often humorous, writing style, great attention to detail, and a dash of mystery, and all of it comes together, without anything really feeling out of place.

The characters are definitely the best part. Beatrix is a daring heroine, not afraid to take risks due to her suffragist views, and I admired how she was so unconcerned with what society thought. 

Norman is also interesting due to his scientific pursuits, and I liked the banter between them as their relationship evolved. 

There are some other memorable characters, and my absolute favorite is the silly Aunt Gladys. Her antics with her friends are the best part of the book.

This is a fun, light read, and while it’s not a particularly memorable read, it’s pure fun with a helping of history, which I think can be great once in a while. I recommend this to anyone looking for a good solid historical rom-com.

Author Bio

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her at www.jenturano.comor https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/or on Twitter at JenTurano @JenTurano.

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Review of “The Lost Lieutenant” (Serendipity & Secrets #1) by Erica Vetsch

Vetsch, Erica. The Lost Lieutenant. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-082544617 (paperback/978-0825476006 | $15.99 USD (paperback)/$9.99 USD (ebook) | 304 pages | Regency Romance/Christian Fiction

Blurb

He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well? Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith. 

Review

3.5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Lost Lieutenant drew my interest due to having read and enjoyed a previous novella by Erica Vetsch, and wanted to try more of her work. And while this book was a bit of a slow start for me, I ended up enjoying once I got to the second half.

There were a lot of questions for me about the setup, since there’s a gap in Evan’s memory from his time abroad serving in the army. But I enjoyed how it all came together in the end, with it tying into the situation that Diana is in taking care of the child her sister died giving birth to.

One of the things I admired immediately was Diana’s devotion to her sister and doing right by her memory. Even though her father and brother behave less than honorably at various points throughout the book, I like how she was determined to see to the child’s welfare, despite the fact that it could jeopardize her own future.

Evan is also a likable character, thrust into a situation he did not expect nor want due to his heroics: being awarded a title and being married off to a woman whose father is set against him due to the Prince Regent’s endorsement.

However, the pacing resulted in my interest flagging at points. Once things started wrapping up, I kept wondering when it would end, instead of letting myself enjoy the admittedly cute, but drwn out ending. This is mostly a “me” thing, especially as I found myself more interested in other things and having to keep promising myself I would pick this back up.

This is objectively a good book, but it was perhaps not the best time for me to read it. I do think if you like a sweet Regency romance with a suspense plot, you will enjoy this.

Author Bio

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschA… where she spends way too much time! 

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Review of “The House at the End of the Moor” by Michelle Griep

Griep, Michelle. The House at the End of the Moor. Uhrichville, OH: Shiloh Run Press, 2020.

eBook | $10.49 USD | 978-1643525754 | 304 pages | Christian Fiction/Victorian Romance 

Blurb

What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common?
 
Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity.

Review

3 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

While I didn’t find my first experience with Michelle Griep’s writing all that memorable, I was still intrigued by The House at the End of the Moor, due to the Gothic feel and Griep’s mention that this was an homage of sorts to Jane Eyre. And while I still don’t think Michelle Griep’s books are for me and may be more hesitant in the future to pick one up, I still feel it does a good job for what it is. 

Griep does a great job at creating the sinister atmosphere of the setting and creating realistic stakes for the characters. The antagonist also gets page time from his POV, so it helps to amp up the suspense. And while I did question the choice to write Maggie’s POV in first person present tense, and the men’s both in third person past tense, once I got into the story, it bothered me a lot less. 

However, I did not feel one hundred percent invested in Maggie and Oliver as a couple, an issue I had with Griep in the past, and I can’t help but wonder if the disjointed nature of those style choices played a role in making the story feel less cohesive. However, I did particularly enjoy Oliver as a character, as a convict out to prove his innocence and felt he was the better drawn of the two. 

I think this is a pretty good book in theory…I just don’t particularly gel with Michelle Griep’s style. I am glad I tried her again though, and am a little disappointed to have been left cold by an otherwise compelling premise. However, Griep does seem to have a good following, and maybe if you’re looking for a slightly edgier Christian romance, this is a good one to try to see if you like it more. 

Author Bio

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, The Noble Guardian, A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore; but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of the contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

And guess what? She loves to hear from readers! Feel free to drop her a note at michellegriep@gmail.com

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