Book Review

ARC Book Review: Hearts of Briarwall by Krista Jensen

Rating: ★★★
Audience: Gilded Era Romance
Length: 288 pages
Author: Krista Jensen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: August 2nd, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads



Lydia Wooding is fascinated by the latest inventions the new century brings, including motorcars. She longs for the independence they represent and believes that women should have a say in the future of the industry—just as they should have a say in suffrage, adventure, and, of course, love.

Spencer Hayes is a man of practicality and innovation, but he lacks the financial backing to make his dream a reality. When he contacts his childhood friend, Andrew Wooding, about a promising business venture, he is invited to Briarwall Manor to discuss the terms. Once there, he is surprised to find that Andrew’s once shy, younger sister, Lydia, has grown into a young woman of beauty, wit, and a bit of fire. Even better, the two share a passion for motorcars.

Andrew, however, is wary of cars, having lost his parents in a tragic auto accident when he and Lydia were young. And he’s not sure a relationship between his sister and Spencer is the best idea—not when Sir Lawrence is available and could match both Lydia’s social status and her fortune.

Torn between risking their hearts and being loyal to their dreams in an era of whirlwind change, Spencer and Lydia anchor themselves with the determination they both share: to live life to its fullest.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain for an ARC.


I really loved Jensen’s previous contemporary (Miracle Creek Christmas) so I took a chance here on reading her first book set in a different time period. Some things worked for me and others didn’t.

The romance was sweet. I did enjoy the characters together and by the end I thought they had believable chemistry. I just didn’t feel enough heat (and not in a steam way), in a general sort of manner. Spencer was smitten from the get go and that was adorable there were some missing aspects that I needed to feel more connected to their relationship.

I liked the turn of century setting and the plot surrounding motor cars. That was new to me in this genre and I liked seeing some of the tools of the trade. Occasionally these scenes were a bit extended, so I’m glad they wrapped back into parts of the backstory.

There’s some good friendships here. I love the woman bonding together and the activism they were working for at the time (being suffragettes). A bit too silly, for instance, I really don’t understand the Wendy flying thing? BUT, women supporting women is always a great addition.

I’m curious what other books will line up in this series with other friends and family members.

Overall audience notes:

  • Gilded Era Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: low
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of both parents (car wreck), grief depiction

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