Monday, November 28, 2016

The Lady of the Lakes

In 1796, 19-year-old Walter Scott finally feels as though he may be ready to openly court and earn the hand of his childhood sweetheart, Mina.  Despite differences in their social status, Walter never doubts his love, or their eventual future together.  When Mina-- whose parents do not approve of Walter-- meets a dashing man from her own social sphere and quickly accepts his proposal, she crushes Walter's passionate heart.  Convinced he has forever lost the love of his life, Walter escapes to the lake country of England where he meets a woman who could not be any more different than Mina.  Charlotte-- a french orphan who has just accepted her future as a spinster-- finds herself drawn to Walter, but is too practical to expect him to feel for her what he felt for Mina.  Can Walter look beyond his heartache and learn to appreciate a love born of friendship and respect?  Will Charlotte be brave enough to even let him try?

Josi S. Kilpack tells an absolutely enchanting tale based on the true love story of Sir Walter Scott in The Lady of the Lakes.  The historical detail is both accurate and riveting, and Kilpack's storytelling is nothing short of excellent.  Even though I knew that Mina would prove inconstant, I still couldn't help but feel Walter's devastation.  Walter, Mina, and Charlotte are all exceedingly well-developed and believable characters who beg the reader to turn page after page.  I enjoyed every moment of Kilpack's quest to show the difference between one's "first love" and "true love."

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

For the Record

Betsy Huckabee longs for a bit of independence and adventure, but living with her uncle's family and working for his small-town newspaper will never get her either.  When a dashing new deputy arrives in Pine Gap to solve a vigilante problem, though, she finds a perfect inspiration for a romantic serial to send the Kansas City papers she has been applying to unsuccessfully for years.  Will the exaggerated stories featuring the mysterious newcomer earn Betsy her freedom, or cause more trouble for everyone involved?  

Fleeing false accusations of impropriety, deputy Joel Puckett leaves his beloved Texas to prove himself by bringing law and order back to Hart County.  Will he be able to sort out the complicated politics and loyalties of Pine Gap's residents in time to earn their respect?  When Betsy's articles bring trouble back to his doorstep, will he be able to forgive yet another woman for jeopardizing his career?  

In For the Record, Regina Jennings picks up the enchanting and entertaining story of Pine Gap, Missouri.  I've absolutely loved Betsy since her appearance in Jenning's first installment of this series, and have long looked forward to hearing her story.  Joel is the perfect combination of brooding bachelor and honorable lawman to be wonderfully swoon worthy match for plucky, free-spirited Betsy.  With her typical subtlety, Jenning's asks tough questions of her readers while simultaneously telling an entertaining story.  Is there true justice outside the law?  Is one's reputation more important than the truth?  I thoroughly enjoyed this trip back to the Ozark Mountains and the compelling adventures that take place there.  

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

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Pattern Artist

English housemaid Annie Wood has always worked hard to improve her station in life, and dreams of someday becoming a lady's maid.  When her hopes are dashed by the machinations of others, Annie takes the daring step to make a life of her own in New York City.  From a night spent on the streets and a crowded room above a bakery, to the sales floor at Macy's, the design department of the Butterick Pattern Company, and eventually the fashion houses of Paris, Annie's talent and optimistic attitude take her on an adventure to achieve the American dream.  

Nancy Moser's The Pattern Artist is charmingly packed full of fascinating historical detail. The reader gets a realistic glimpse of life in 1911 New York from a variety of perspectives.  Despite the engaging historical flair, however, most of Moser's characters lacked depth.  I honestly had a difficult time finding many of them believable, or even likable.  Annie is certainly plucky with a good amount of gumption, but also somehow equally insecure and indecisive.  Her constant second-guessing of every single choice presented to her not only grew tiresome, but rendered her love story-- which barely deserves to be called such-- completely unsatisfying.  I can generally overlook some mechanical and developmental issues for a compelling romance, but The Pattern Artist couldn't even credibly manage that.  

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas

Fashion artist Priscilla Hutchens has traveled to Texas from Cincinnati to find and adopt the orphaned children of her estranged brother.  When she arrives at Fort Bliss, though, she discovers that the twins aren't as alone as she had thought.  Major Elliot Ryder has cared for the children of his beloved sister since her death, and has no intention of allowing Priscilla to take them back East.  Will either of them be able to put aside their prejudices in order to do what's best for their niece and nephew?  

In My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas, Erica Vetch has the potential to tell a romantic tale of sacrifice, forgiveness, and compromise against a western backdrop, but falls short.  From page one, the reader knows that Priscilla and Elliot will mend fences and overcome differences.  I anticipated them meeting in the middle: Elliot would realize that the Army is only a job, not his entire identity, and Priscilla would accept that the difficult Army life is worth embracing for true love.  Instead, Elliot gets exactly what he wants, and Priscilla sacrifices everything.  First of all, Priscilla's qualms about raising children at a remote Army outpost are absolutely valid.  Elliot has not provided them with adequate supervision, care, or education.  I struggled with the fact that Priscilla lets go of these valid objections for no good reason but that she's attracted to Elliot.  Worst of all, Elliot actually remarks that his oath to the Army with "always come first."  Wrong.  Deal Breaker.  Go back to Ohio, Priscilla.  As a military spouse myself who has so far survived 10 deployments, I concede that the life I have chosen requires sacrifice.  I also know, however, that the covenant my husband I made before God absolutely comes before his job.  The Army may need to come before Priscilla's every desire, but any real man would put her legitimate needs above a job.  As a result, I simply could not accept Elliot as a romantic lead worthy of Priscilla's devotion.  

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