Review of “Daisies and Devotion” (Mayfield Family #2) by Josi S. Kilpack

Kilpack, Josi. Daisies and Devotion. Salt Lake City, Shadow Mountain, 2019.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1629725529 | 285 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

Daisies and Devotion is a great second installment in the Mayfield Family series. While the overall plot elements do more or less stand on their own, there is a lot of setup for the overall arc of the series in the first book, so I definitely recommend reading both, even if you don’t necessarily read in order.

And like the first book, it does take a little bit to warm up to the young couple to see their potential. There’s nothing initially off-putting about Timothy, but it’s hard having experienced unrequited affection, to see him act like dense, and even tactless, toward Maryann for a decent part of the book.

But they do have a strong basis of friendship, with Maryann tempering Timothy’s heightened expectations of a marriage partner from the beginning and Timothy somewhat returning the favor by helping out by working to improve her own dismal marriage prospects. And as I read on, I became more invested in their respective growth, with Maryann beginning to contemplate life as an independently wealthy woman within a few years if she does not marry, and Timothy slowly awakening to the idea that perhaps his perfect woman isn’t so much about the superficial things, but something a lot deeper.

This is a wonderfully deep friends-to-lovers story, with great character growth and relationship development, and the series shows a lot of potential to go in a lot of interesting directions, especially since, unlike the members who received their happy endings so far, there are some legitimate hell-raisers in the bunch. I would recommend this to fans of sweet historical romance.

Review of “Miss Wilton’s Waltz” by Josi S. Kilpack

Kilpack, Josi S. Miss Wilton’s Waltz. Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 2018.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1629724133 | 342 pages | Regency Romance

5 stars

I was so excited upon finishing The Vicar’s Daughter to find out that Lenora was getting her own book, but of course, me being me, I didn’t make time to read Miss Wilton’s Waltz when it first came out. But I feel like this is one of those books that I’m glad I waited for the right time for me to soak in and read, as I adored it.

I admittedly loved Lenora a lot more than Cassie in the first book, because I could relate to her social anxiety and some of the choices she made. And I was glad to see her get her story, and how her past experience with Cassie and Evan colored her current experience with Aiden and his fiancee.

I enjoy when a character has a strong moral compass, but their sense of honor and wanting to do the right thing still gets them into trouble, and Aiden did not disappoint in that regard. I like how he is not perfect, in that he is trying to figure out the best thing to do in terms of being a guardian for his troubled niece, and he faces the dilemma of his feelings for Lenora and a fiancee who is both insistent on keeping the engagement intact and taking control of aspects of his life in a manner he is increasingly uncomfortable with, and it had me uncertain as to how he would manage to make it all work out.

And Catherine herself was a surprise. While the child starved of love is a common trope when one of the romantic leads is their guardian, I enjoyed the twist Kilpack put on the trope this time, including discussing dyslexia in both a period appropriate and sensitive way.

I absolutely loved this book, and can’t wait to pick up more of Josi S. Kilpack’s books (I have her other 2018 title, Promises and Primroses, in my TBR, and I hope to get to it before book two releases). I would recommend this to all fans of sweet, Traditional Regency romance in the vein of Austen or Heyer.

Review of “All That Makes Life Bright” by Josi S. Kilpack

Kilpack, Josi. All That Makes Life Bright. Salt Lake: Shadow Mountain, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1-62972-341-9. $15.99 USD. 

5 stars

Josi S. Kilpack has once again introduced me to a historical figure who somehow managed to pass me by, yet managed to make the story come to life and improve my understanding of them beyond the mere footnote it was before. I was impressed with how Kilpack interpreted the many factors in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s literary and political development, and that, unlike many of the other prominent female authors in history, who spent most, if not all, of their lives unmarried and childless, she was a married woman and, as a result had to struggle to balance motherhood with indulging her creative spirit. And as Kilpack’s introduction makes clear, this factor makes her all the more relatable to many of the female writers of today, who are balancing families and writing…and sometimes a day job as well.

Working with and playing with the historical record, Kilpack also does a wonderful job showing the evolution of Harriet and Calvin’s relationship in their first year or so of marriage. And even though their lives were eventful, as indicated by the timeline at the end of the book and many outside sources, Kilpack’s isolating this time period and showing the happy resolution to their problems there, as well as a snapshot of their future, helps to provide a different definition of the happily-ever-after than in many purely fictional historical romances.

Review of “A Heart Revealed” by Josi S. Kilpack

Kilpack, Josi. A Heart Revealed. Salt Lake: Shadow Mountain, 2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-60907-990-1. $15.99 USD. 

4.5 stars

Despite having enjoyed a couple of Josi Kilpack’s Proper Romances, I took a while to get around to her first one, because I heard it dealt with some darker themes. However, I found myself coming back to it recently, deciding to give it a chance.

And despite the fact that this was Kilpack’s first published romance, I found it very well-written with exemplary character development. There are a few minor anachronisms in terms of the manners of the time, and the language of the period, but it won’t be obvious to anyone who’s not a stickler for historical details, and wants a richly told story about redemption and change.

As Amber is the focal point for most of the story, I found her development very well-done. It can be hard to make someone who is callous and superficial and suddenly loses it all seem sympathetic, but you genuinely feel for her, as the world as she knows it is turned upside down, and almost everyone, including her own parents, rejects and ostracizes her. And in portraying her condition, Kilpack makes her relatable to any modern person who is different and has been treated ill by their society, while also adding the realistic, but grossly unfair fact that parent-child relationships throughout much of history have been distant at best, and with Amber’s best assets as a marriageable woman to benefit her family gone, they too treat her terribly.

Thomas is the type of hero I wish was more popular in romances. He is incredibly compassionate, being the only one who supported Amber when she fell from grace, and proved his love for her, even when she herself felt unworthy of it. Their relationship grows through their assessment of each others’ character and worth, and he is able to look past her physical deficiencies, in a rare reversal on the “Beauty and the Beast” trope.

 

Review of “The Lady of the Lakes” by Josi S. Kilpack

-Kilpack, Josi S. The Lady of the Lakes. Salt Lake: Shadow Mountain, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1-62972-226-9. Print List Price: $15.99.

5 stars

Having not read anything by Sir Walter Scott before, I was somewhat hesitant going into this book. But I found that not knowing much about him ahead of time meant that I could be much more swept up in the story, with there being some mystery for me as to how these characters would all end up.

I admire Kilpack for the amount of effort she put into working with historical records and developing an engaging story. In the chapter notes, she discusses the parts where she had to take poetic license, especially in cases where there just isn’t enough information available to know for sure what happened.

One of the aspects that I love that Kilpack developed a bit more was the obvious signs that Walter and Mina would not make a good match, and later contrasting it with the signs that Walter and Charlotte would make a good match, such as Mina’s disinterest in the theater and in riding, and making Charlotte’s love of the theater more fervent. And while Walter and Charlotte do not share all the same interests, I love that it’s obvious they are willing to accept the same type of lifestyle, whereas Mina’s station in life being all she’s used to is a small factor in her acceptance of William Forbes.

Review of “The Vicar’s Daughter” by Josi S. Kilpack

Kilpack, Josi S. The Vicar’s Daughter. Salt Lake: Shadow Mountain, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1-62972-280-1. Print List Price: $15.99.

4.5 stars

I picked up this book on impulse, in large part due to wanting to try more books in the Proper Romance series, but also because one of the characters mentioned in the back cover blurb was called Lenora (and I am a massive Lenora Bell fangirl). This put me at something of a disadvantage, however, as the blurb also makes it obvious that this book is not Lenora’s story, but that of her younger sister Cassie.

At the beginning, and at points throughout the book, I found Cassie a bit annoying, as she was somewhat self-centered, and had no concern for her sister’s limitations or how she could help, but more how the circumstances of her sister’s lack of suitors affected her. She does change over the course of the book, and I understand that is why she was written that way in the beginning, so we could see this personal growth. But as someone like Lenora, who deal with anxiety in social situations, I found her sister’s lack of concern prior to realizing what she might get out of helping her insensitive.

By the end of the story, Lenora has grown as well due to the experience, and while nothing to my knowledge has been announced concerning her own story, I feel like she should have a chance for her own happy ending, to give others like me with similar struggles with anxiety hope that they can grow more confident and possibly even find love.