Monday, April 9, 2018

The Innkeeper's Daughter

At the request of his mentor, Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambler and rogue to expose a plot against England’s king.  The best way to insert himself in the suspects’ inner circle, is to pursue Lady Louisa Coburn’s hand in marriage.  While he spends his days at the Blue Hedge Inn, however, he finds himself falling in love with the innkeeper’s daughter.

Preoccupied with trying to earn enough money to pay off the inn’s debts, Johanna Langley doesn’t have time for Alex’s flirtations.  Alex’s help around the inn eventually breaks down Johanna’s defenses, though.  Can Alex find and arrest the dangerous conspirators before Johanna finds out about his sham of an engagement?  Will both of their attempts to secure a future save them, or put everyone they love in danger? 

As usual, Michelle Griep takes readers on a fast-paced, intriguing adventure in The Innkeeper’s Daughter.  The plot’s twists and turns and the entertaining cast of characters made the novel nearly impossible to put down.  Griep uses Johanna’s desperation to keep her family out of the poorhouse, Alex’s need to complete one last mission, Mrs. Langley’s quiet wisdom, Mr. Quail’s antics, and Mr. Nutbrown’s oddities to tell a truly beautiful story.  This complexity makes Johanna’s and Alex’s love story compelling rather than frustrating, and the ending very satisfying.  The Innkeeper’s Daughter may very well be my favorite book from Griep yet. 

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Ashes on the Moor

After the death of her parents and most of her siblings, Evangeline finds herself thrust into a teaching position in the factory town of Smeatley.  In order to receive her inheritance and reunite with her remaining sister, she must lay aside the sophisticated Victorian values of her upbringing, and prove her worth and determination to her distant grandfather.  Irish brick mason, Dermot, has few friends in Smeatley either, and soon finds himself forming a grudging agreement with the schoolteacher.  Evangeline watches his young son while Dermot works in the evenings, and Dermot provides Evangeline with cooking lessons.  Barely able to understand the Yorkshire accents of her pupils, will Evangeline manage to earn their trust and make sufficient progress with their education?  Will her scheming aunt exaggerate her faults to her grandfather and keep the sister separated forever?  When she begins to feel more than friendship for Dermot, will her high-class past keep her from following her heart?

Sarah M. Eden tells a lovely story-- reminiscent of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South-- in Ashes on the Moor.  With fascinating descriptions of life in a factory town, and the unique struggles and accents found there, Eden's latest is full of historical detail.  Evangeline's complicated family relationships, struggles to reach her students, and compassion for Smeatley's inhabitants were believable and beautifully told.  Dermot, similarly, is an complex and compelling male lead.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the story and its characters, the finale seems a bit forced.  Despite pages and pages of struggle and complication, somehow everyone magically gets everything they want within the last chapter.  A more believable ending would have been infinitely more satisfying.  

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


After their father’s sudden death in the Caribbean island of Nevis, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters see no other way to recoup their sugar plantation’s losses than to sail across the Atlantic to take over the plantation themselves.  Still emotionally scarred by her first marriage, Keturah is determined to make her own way and never depend on a man again.  When the sisters arrive, however, the other sugar barons refuse to work with women, and conspire to ruin the Banning fortune.  Will Keturah choose the right people to trust in time to save her sisters and their fortune? 

Lisa T. Bergen tells a fascinating story of England and the Caribbean in the mid-1700s in Keturah.  Descriptions of harrowing sea voyages, beautiful islands, conniving sugar barons, simmering racial tensions, and a satisfying love story kept me hooked from beginning to end.  Keturah herself was a believable, relatable, female lead who absolutely deserved her lovely happy ending.  While I’ve not read any of Bergen's other novels, I will definitely call myself a devoted fan from now on.  I anxiously await the next addition to her Sugar Baron's Daughters series. 

I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Chance at Forever

Mercy McClain treasures her positions on the School Board and in the local orphanage in Teaville, Kansas.  Providing love and security for vulnerable children allows her to protect innocent lives from the bullying and trauma she experienced as a child.  When her primary tormenter—Aaron Firebrook—comes back to Teaville and applies for a teaching position, Mercy decides to keep him out of the school at all costs. 

Aaron has returned to Teaville in an attempt to make amends for his former behavior, but realizes that he may never earn Mercy’s trust.   When he takes a summer position as a gardener at Mercy’s orphanage, though, he sees it as an opportunity to show her that he has changed.  Will either of them be able to move past the pain of the past in time to keep the orphans safe, or even find true love? 

Melissa Jagears takes readers back to the ever intriguing Teaville, Kansas in her third installment of the Teaville Moral Society in A Chance at Forever.  I loved the first two novels in the series, and A Chance at Forever did not disappoint.  Jagears has a talent for weaving complex and emotional plotlines that have no obvious or simple solution.  Both Mercy and Aaron were exceptionally well-developed and fascinating to read about.  While the novel stands decently well on its own, I wish I had read the previous two installments more recently to better appreciate the plot.  Overall, I loved spending a long weekend back in Teaville and look forward to hearing even more of its stories. 

I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review was required, and all opinions are my own.