Book Review

ARC Book Review: To Capture His Heart (Matchmakers #2) by Nancy Campbell Allen

Rating: ★★★
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 288 pages
Author: Nancy Campbell Allen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: October 12th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Seaside, England, 1886

Eva Caldwell is an accomplished and well-known photographer who often works with the local constabulary to assist in documenting crime scenes, which means she also often works alongside the handsome and charming detective, Nathan Winston. She appreciates his intellect and how he treats her like an equal, but Eva’s heart is still healing from a past relationship, so, for now, she decides to keep her feelings for Nathan a secret.

One evening, Nathan arrives on her doorstep asking for a personal favor. Would Eva be available to photograph his mother’s legendary, week-long dinner party and matchmaking event? The catch is that Eva would also have to pretend they are courting in order for Nathan to avoid the many single women seeking his attention.

Though wary of the charade, Eva agrees. Spending a week with the two things she loves most—her detective and her camera—sounds simple enough. And if she wants to imagine that Nathan’s pretend courtship of her is real, well, what’s the harm in that?

But when a criminal from Nathan’s past threatens revenge on the detective, Nathan must be extra vigilant to keep his mother and the rest of the partygoers safe. He confides in Eva, and as the two work together to solve the mystery and apprehend the criminal, they find that they might capture more than they expected—each other’s heart.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain for the ARC.

SIMPLE.

I wanted to love this more than I did, but there were a few things holding me back.

The romantic suspense and murder mystery aspects were a good addition to the plot. A dry story of a house party needed the umph that the mystery brought. I adore that Nathan was a detective because that’s one of my fav careers to come across, book wise, and he a hero to cheer for. Not to mention the fact that he’s been into Eva for ages? We love a man who falls first.

Within the romance I thought things felt very vanilla? There was this great start with a fake dating scheme that too quickly turned into–well–nothing. They went ahead and admitted feelings to each other and that was that! I didn’t get any angst or great build-up. But if you’re looking for what I would still call a sweet romance that has some little dates sprinkled throughout you’d enjoy this one.

It’s super fast paced and I did like the writing style. A few things ultimately didn’t click for me and that happens.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: mild
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, attempted murder

Instagram || Goodreads || The StoryGraph

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

BOOK SUMMARY:

A TURN OF THE CENTURY ROMANCE

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.

SOMEWHAT CHARMED.

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

Instagram || Goodreads || The StoryGraph

Book Review

Book Review: A Proper Scoundrel (Proper Scandals #3) by Esther Hatch

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 256 pages
Author: Esther Hatch
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Release Date: May 10th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

As the successful owner of multiple railroad lines, Diana Barton is all too accustomed to fending off suitors seeking to stake their claim on her wealth. In order to keep the wolves at bay, Diana has contrived the perfect plan: appeal to the most notorious rake in London, the Baron Lord Bryant, to ruin her reputation and scare off the worst of the time wasters. The ruse will be no hardship—she’s secretly been fascinated by the man for years.

Lord Bryant is well aware of his questionable reputation. Indeed, he has cultivated the image carefully, and the last thing he wants is a wife. But when he’s approached by the younger sister of a business associate, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he cannot help. However, when he sees for himself what she is up against, Bryant grudgingly offers his assistance. Faced with his most complicated entanglement yet, Bryant is firm in his conditions—and Diana knows that to get romantically involved with Bryant would spell certain heartbreak. But as the counterfeit couple grow ever closer, the line between truth and lies becomes blurred, threatening both Lord Bryant’s well-laid plans and the future of Diana’s railroad business.

LOVED THIS STORY.

I’m so glad that I finally got to read Lord Bryant’s story!!! It was well deserved and beautifully written.

I adored Diana. I love the way she’s portrayed even a society/time period that didn’t look kindly upon a businesswoman. It’s fantastic seeing this in regency romances and I couldn’t get enough of her resilience and savvy skills to do what was needed.

And of course I looooved Lord Bryant. My sweet, tortured cinnamon roll soul. He met his match in Diana and their flirtatious banter was on point. The tender moments with hands touching, eyes locked had me swooning. I could use 100 more of those scenes and it would never get old.

Some of the antics were a bit different than I imagined for the story (like the Lady Emily sub-plot). That is my only minor complaint. This book had me loving every moment Lord Bryant swaggered into Diana’s rail business and Mrs. Oliver conveniently slipped away.

Everything was unconventional for a regency and their relationship and that is my favorite aspect of Hatch’s stories. They feel fresh and so incredibly romantic. I look forward to reading her next book.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: brief physical altercation
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a spouse

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: A Proper Charade (Proper Scandals #2) by Esther Hatch

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 224 pages
Author: Esther Hatch
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Release Date: May 1st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Lady Patience Kendrick was born to a life of privilege, and with the London Season looming, she finds herself facing unprecedented pressure to adhere to the rules of society. Unfortunately, the free-spirited young woman is anything but proper. Patience’s elder brother, a former military man, bemoans his sister’s antics – but when he accuses her of incurable frivolity, it is simply more than she can bear. Determined to prove her brother wrong, Patience undertakes a drastic experiment: she will disguise herself as a maid and demonstrate her ability to work as hard as anyone.

Taken on as household staff by her brother’s former general, Patience soon learns that willingness and ability are two very different things. While her plan sounded promising in theory, the reality is that she is out of her depth – and the irresistibly charming son of the house isn’t helping matters. Patience soon finds herself embroiled in a charade far more complicated that she imagined. With both her pride and her heart at stake, she is determined to prove her brother wrong – even as her plans spiral delightfully out of control.

A DELIGHTFUL GEM.

Another great Esther Hatch read. Wow do I lover her books!! This was definitely no exception and I found myself continually smiling throughout.

I loved Patience! She was charming and boisterous. I thought the whole charade concept was humorous. I liked that Patience was full of heart and wanting to find growth within herself. She showcased a lot of great characteristics and this all played out so well.

Add in an admirable, just wanting to be loved hero, Anthony and I was smitten. They were able to be genuine with each other and both worked towards finding their place in the world. I was unsure how everything would work out between them, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t overdone. I actually thought it was all very romantic, and very Anthony (IYKYK).

So much of this was intensely sweet and made my heart want to gush. The only thing I didn’t like was how long a certain ex stuck around for longer than necessary [which is a reading pet peeve of mine]. Besides that, I love these characters, I love these unique regency stories and I’m so excited to read the next in this series.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses

Instagram || Goodreads