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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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Krista Jensen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: September 8th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


Riley Madigan escapes to the sleepy mountain town of Miracle Creek after her relationship with an A-list actor ends badly. At least for a time, she hopes her new job as a high school art teacher will bring her the peace and quiet she is looking for. The last thing on her mind is love.

Mark Rivers was a firefighter until he got trapped in a wildfire and suffered third-degree burns on his face and body. After a year of recovering, Mark is trying to piece his life back together but struggles both emotionally and psychologically. He’s been a recluse until he forces himself to attend his niece’s school play and sees Riley, the school’s art teacher. Immediately, Mark feels a connection to her. Maybe it’s the kind way she greets his niece or the way the art she created for the school play is reminiscent of his late mom’s artwork. Either way, Mark feels driven to get to know her, but first he’ll need to build up the courage to talk to her. 

When Mark asks Riley to work on a special nativity, he finds himself falling for her, particularly because Riley doesn’t seem bothered by his scars. Is her affection for him real or is she simply overcompensating, pretending he’s not different. One thing’s for certain, in a small town that views Mark as a fragile hero, it’s hard to pursue a relationship without everyone in his business. And although Riley has sincere feelings for Mark, is she really ready to risk her heart?

Broken hearts and lives are mended as the town of Miracle Creek comes together to celebrate a Christmas to remember. 

Thank you to Shadow Mountain publishing for the ARC. All opinions are my own!


And boy did I really enjoy that fact.

This was such a sweet book. Oh so sweet. And I picked it up with that mindset which made me love it all the more. The atmosphere definitely screams holiday as this primarily takes place in the fall. It made me want nothing more than to curl up with hot chocolate and a sweater. Absolutely felt this setting.

I loved the way Riley and Mark’s relationship developed. It was wholesome and kind. I found myself smiling at their banter and interactions. This wasn’t something they just fell into, but had to work for, together. Riley struggling with commitment and finding a place to belong while Mark worked through PTSD and finding peace with who he is now. While communication wasn’t always entirely open, I thought everything felt real. The tender quiet moments versus the arguments was well balanced.

Riley’s character more often frustrated me because I just wanted her to see what was right in front of her. She had a good thing going, and still wanted to flirt with her old ways. These issues at least didn’t overshadow the story and I found everyone easy to love by the end.

There is a bit of Christian Christmas aspects, such as a main plot point circles around a nativity scene. I had no problems with this and didn’t feel like anything was in my face about religion. It was more subtle and fit in with the plot well. Miracle Creek Christmas was a beautifully written book that will definitely have me checking out more books by this author.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance (proper)
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, see Trigger warnings
  • Trigger warnings: PTSD from a near death experience involving a forest fire (and losing a loved one in said fire)

Author Bio:

Krista writes contemporary romance, historical romance, and fantasy. She has lived in lush Oregon and rugged Wyoming, but Washington is her beloved home state. She likes to choose familiar settings for her stories and is grateful to have such inspirational places to choose from. She is a mother of six, gramma of three, a gardener and cook, loves to travel, laugh, and hike, and lives to make the best of what she’s been given. Find her on Instagram @kristajensenbooks.

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