Book Review

ARC Book Review: Edward and Amelia by Karen Thornell

Rating: ★★★
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Karen Thornell
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Release Date: June 6th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The last thing Amelia Kennington wants is to participate in the London Season. But the daughter of a duke is not afforded such opinions. She must put forth a subdued facade, but beneath it is a well-hidden fire that surfaces only when provoked—such as when an overly familiar gentleman startles her and she falls into the Serpentine.

Edward Drayton, the Earl of Norwich, has gained a reputation as Society’s most decorated rake. And while there are benefits to such a reputation, it no longer gives him the satisfaction it once did. This Season, he plans to find a wife—except she seems to find him instead. And she is nothing like he expected.

Scandal is inevitable following Edward and Amelia’s ill-conceived meeting, forcing them to marry. Amelia’s disdain for this man she hardly knows is more than clear, and Edward’s pride is wounded before their marriage has even truly begun. Yet, against all odds, the two slowly let their guard down, discovering the truth of who they married. But when Society gossip, a sister’s jealousy, and long-held secrets threaten their budding relationship, the unlikely couple must determine if their unconventional love is strong enough to withstand the opposition they face.

Thank you to Covenant Communications and Netgalley for an eARC.

IT WAS SWEET.

I am always bound to pick up a marriage of convenience read and this was no different. I loved that aspect and watching Edward and Amelia (especially Edward) bumble around trying to figure out how the whole marriage and falling in love thing works.

Edward wad endearing. I liked his nature and I think his heart was in the right place even if his mind put together the most ridiculous ways of trying to woo Amelia. Gratefully she was taking no crap from Edward and actually made him work for it. Anytime these two were on page having a quiet moment by the piano or talking together and letting walls down I was charmed. I do think these two had fantastic chemistry.

I struggled with the plots involving Edith. Wow she had way too much control over this entire story. I did not like her at all and became increasingly frustrated that she was never put in her place until 98% of the book. It made the ending wrap up way too quickly and not get some of those satisfying moments to the antagonists. I’m glad that Edward and Amelia were able to have an adult conversation about rumors etc. and that the drama for by that point was significantly lessened.

There’s plenty of good things here even I was had some issues with it. I like Thornell’s writing and will continue to read her books. I love a good swoony cinnamon roll lead and Edward delivered.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: bullying, shaming

Instagram || Goodreads || The StoryGraph

Book Review

Book Review: A Lady in Attendance by Rachel Fordham

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Rachel Fordham
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Company
Release Date: June 1st, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Five years in a New York state reformatory have left a blemish on Hazel’s real name. So when she takes a job as Doctor Gilbert Watts’s lady in attendance in 1898, she does so under an alias. In the presence of her quiet and pious employer, Hazel finds more than an income. She finds a friend and a hope that if she can set her tarnished past in order, she might have a future after all.

As Gilbert becomes accustomed to the pleasant chatter of his new dental assistant, he can’t help but sense something secretive about her. Perhaps there is more to this woman than meets the eye. Can the questions that loom between them ever be answered? Or will the deeds of days gone by forever rob the future of its possibilities?

Rachel Fordham pens a tender tale of a soft-spoken man, a hardened woman, and the friends that stand by them as they work toward a common purpose–to expunge the record of someone society deemed beyond saving–and perhaps find love along the way.

NOT FOR ME.

Ugh. I loved the first book by Fordham I read, this one though…going to have to say, hard pass.

The premise is interesting. I liked the exploration of dentists at the time and how a lady in attendance assisted them in the day to day. I honestly wish there was more of this than where the story went. Gilbert and Hazel were mostly cute. I felt like poor Gilbert kept throwing his heart out there and even though Hazel wasn’t as terrible as she used to be, that she STILL dragged him along a bit too long.

What bothered me the most was the pacing. In 100 pages we already had our couple confirmed, no angst, just them. With 200+ more pages I wondered where in the world this was headed. Turns out, everyone decided to become detectives to clear Hazel’s name. A noble cause for sure, but I don’t know, I just didn’t like this turn. It took too long and I didn’t need the long dramatic story from it. Not to mention that the story also focused way too heavily on Hazel’s friend, Ina. Lots of confirmations about HER relationship, and HER struggles and what INA would do next. The story was about Hazel and Gilbert?!?!

Before I burst with more things that didn’t work, I’m going to stop here. I know this is just one review so if the synopsis intrigues you, check it out! It could be way more for you than it was for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gun violence, murder, wrongful imprisonment, drug smuggling, parental abandonment

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 266 pages
Author: Joanna Barker
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Release Date: October 12th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She’s never been afraid of breaking the rules—until she risks breaking her heart

Constantly stifled by the rules of Society, spirited Rebecca Rowley enjoys finding ways to quietly—or not so quietly—rebel. But riding bareback and avoiding nosy neighbors are nothing compared to the thrilling secret she is keeping from her family.
When Rebecca’s quick thinking saves the life of a young girl, she unwittingly attracts the attention of the child’s dashing brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery. As that attention turns flirtatious, Rebecca is forced to tell him the truth: she is secretly engaged—to the one man her family would never approve of. Fortunately, Lieutenant Avery is a navy man with no wish to marry, or so they both assume as they enter into a friendship. Rebecca hopes to change her family’s mind about her betrothed, but the more she comes to know the handsome lieutenant, the more she wonders if she promised her hand too hastily.

After all her carefully laid plans are shattered during a family crisis, Rebecca must force her heart to decide. Should she stay true to the promise she made or fight for the future she’s only just begun to imagine?

SMITTEN.

Wow. I was blown away by this regency! It’s the first one from the author I’ve read and I found it enjoyable on many levels.

One of those being the unique nature of both Rebecca (the narrator) and Nicholas (the love interest). I loved that Rebecca rode bare-backed and was interested in learning how to shoot guns and other things that really added to her personality. Nicholas was a Navy lieutenant who was totally cool with Rebecca’s interests and willingly helped her improve those skills. They were such a match from the moment they met.

Which leads me to my 1/2 star deduction. I struggle with this across genres. I don’t like a current love that takes up most of the book. It takes away from the romance I’m trying to be fall for. Because it always creates instances of cheating (as it did here) and no amount of wording really makes me feel completely fine about it. This one did end that plot line better than I expected so I’ll give it that at least.

Overall, a really great regency. I love this genre, especially when swoony kisses are added in. The writing was beautiful and kept me captivated. The plot moved steadily and I loved the introspection from Rebecca. Even with that one issue I had I liked the way she easily acknowledged she messed up and could apologize and work towards her character arc. Many things to love on in this one!

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: gun use (not in a violent matter), recollection of a bad fall from a horse, medical trauma, depiction of difficult birth, cheating

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: Historical Fiction + Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 24th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Isabel Perez travels to Barcelona to save her sister Beatriz, she discovers a shocking family secret in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s new novel.

Barcelona, 1964. Exiled from Cuba after the revolution, Isabel Perez has learned to guard her heart and protect her family at all costs. After Isabel’s sister Beatriz disappears in Barcelona, Isabel goes to Spain in search of her. Joining forces with an unlikely ally thrusts Isabel into her sister’s dangerous world of espionage, but it’s an unearthed piece of family history that transforms Isabel’s life.

Barcelona, 1936. Alicia Perez arrives in Barcelona after a difficult voyage from Cuba, her marriage in jeopardy and her young daughter Isabel in tow. Violence brews in Spain, the country on the brink of civil war, the rise of fascism threatening the world. When Cubans journey to Spain to join the International Brigades, Alicia’s past comes back to haunt her as she is unexpectedly reunited with the man who once held her heart.

Alicia and Isabel’s lives intertwine, and the past and present collide, as a mother and daughter are forced to choose between their family’s expectations and following their hearts.

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC.

LOVED THIS.

I have been a fan of Cleeton’s since her first historical fiction book came out, and once again I completely enamored with a sweeping story of loss, love, and choosing your path. I truly loved getting Isabel’s story. She was an incredible main character. I like that she stuck to her personal truths, but allowed her self room for growth within them. Making the harder decision to find HER happiness and being the woman that she’s had to stifle for so long.

Interspersed were other POV chapters (one mentioned in the synopsis and one not!). It was really great not to have these chapters overwhelm Isabel’s own story. They drifted in at the right moments to add more background and understanding for present characters and found ways to pull at my heartstrings.

The love stories interwoven were romantic and sweet. I love the way Cleeton builds these in such a short time where I continually find myself reading with intense focus because I MUST HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. And while there’s a rise and fall to that ending, it’s good. It’s lovely. And it’s what sealed the deal on another incredible read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction + romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: closed door
  • Violence: mild blood/gore
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: war theme, air raids, teen pregnancy, infidelity, divorce, gun violence

Instagram || Goodreads || The StoryGraph