Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Julie Wright
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: March 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Caroline Gray’s third season in London society ends as badly as her first two—no marriage proposal, no suitor, not even a glimmer of an interested prospect. She suspects it’s because she is far too quick to speak her mind to men who are put off by her forthright opinions, her eager intellect backed by a formal education, and her unconventional ideas about the future. She is far more daring than demure to suit the taste of her class. Besides, Caroline thinks there will always be next season to find a husband.

However, her family’s dwindling income leaves Caroline with only one choice to secure her future: a one-way ticket to sail with the Fishing Fleet to India, where the son of a family friend waits. If the match doesn’t work, Caroline cannot return home.

Captain Thomas Scott loves the thrill of the open sea, and as commander of one of the ships of the “Fishing Fleet,” he ferries scores of young English girls to the shores of India to find husbands. The voyages pay well, but he struggles to understand why families would allow young women to be matched with total strangers so far away.

The trips have always been routine and uneventful—until this trip’s first night’s dinner with one Miss Caroline Gray. She engages in a lively political conversation, presenting opposing viewpoints to the conventionally opinionated gentlemen at her table. Captain Scott is secretly amused and delighted at her boldness, not to mention quite drawn to her beauty.

The rest of the passengers are shocked by her behavior and Caroline finds herself an outcast, suffering harsh judgments from the other passengers. However, she finds an unlikely ally in Captain Scott which quickly draws them closer.

Both know an arranged marriage awaits Caroline at the end of their voyage, yet the attraction between them is undeniable. Caroline will have to decide if she will honor her mother’s wishes and marry a man in India whom she has never met—thus securing a future for her and her mother—or be brave enough to throw convention to the wind and commit to love a sea captain. He may be enchanted by her bold and unconventional ways, but will his love and admiration last?

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC. All opinions are my own!

ROUGH SEAS.

This book was a bit of a hit and miss for me.

I did enjoy the regency romance aspect. And I did like Caroline as one of the main characters. She had a bold nature and allowed her education to shine. Caroline was more progressive and free-thinking which was a nice change of pace. I didn’t always love Captain Scott. He had some repetitive dialogue and was rather stubborn for way too much of this. They had some sweet moments and cute banter at least. Really enjoyed the good kissing scenes too.

The setting is what kind of dragged for me. With things set mostly out at seas it made any added drama really feel dramatic. I caught myself wanting to roll my eyes sometimes because it was a clear way to try to progress the story without really doing so. A shorter book with less fluff would have made the pacing better.

The overall journey was successful. I liked the ending and wish there would have been an epilogue! I wanted a touch more of Caroline and Thomas.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical altercations, stormy seas, child abuse (one of the boys on the ship is beaten off screen by someone)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Georgana’s Secret by Arlem Hawks

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Arlem Hawks
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: January 12th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

1811, HMS Deborah

A Regency romance on the high seas.

As a young girl, Georgana Woodall dreamed of beautiful dresses, fancy balls, and falling in love. However, when her mother dies, she cannot face a future under the guardianship of her abusive grandmother and instead chooses to join her father on his ship disguised as his cabin boy, “George.”

Lieutenant Dominic Peyton has no time in his life for love, not with his dedication to His Majesty’s Royal Navy claiming his full attention. Determined to prove himself to his new captain, he strives to be an exemplary officer and leader. When he sees the captain’s cabin boy being harassed by the crew, he immediately puts a stop to it and takes the “boy” under his wing. After discovering a number of clues, Dominic deduces that George is really a woman. Knowing that revealing the cabin boy’s secret would put her in serious danger from the rowdy crew, Dominic keeps silent and hides his growing affection for her.

Georgana is quickly losing her heart to Dominic’s compassion and care but is convinced nothing can come of her affection. She cannot continue to live her life on the sea, and having already missed too many seasons in London, her chances of being welcomed back into polite society and finding a suitable husband have slipped away.

Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for a copy of Georgana’s Secret in exchange for a review.

A HIGH SEAS SECRET ROMANCE.

I was fairly swept away by this tale. I found it full of adventure, some daring antics, and a romance. A great combination for an affair on the high seas.

The development of the connection between Dominic and Georgana was sweet. I liked how it grew out of friendship, but that also her secret didn’t stay secret too long. I hate when it’s dragged out and then leaves me flustered when everything comes out. This worked really well in that there was still plenty of time for them as well as the story as a whole.

I loved Georgana’s strong yet reserved nature. Trying to do the best she could in the situation she ended up in. Her nature to reach out rather than fight back was great, but I definitely loved when she fought back too. She and Dominic really had chemistry from the get go and I adored their banter and tender moments.

This was filled with a lot more than a bunch of people on a ship. I liked having scenery changes with landings, crossings with other ships, and back at home. This mix up kept everything from getting too stagnant and like I was stuck on a ship. It’s a regency story that has a vibrant and different setting.

I enjoyed the sweet little epilogue at the end and felt satisfied with how things worked out for all of the characters.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Proper Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: ship battles, physical altercations, severe wounds and illness

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts (Steampunk Proper Romance #4) by Nancy Campbell Allen

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Steampunk Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Nancy Campbell Allen
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: October 6th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A steampunk retelling of Cinderella.

Emmeline O’Shea is determined to save the world—single-handedly, if necessary. A strong voice for societal reform, she is the natural choice to deliver a key speech at the end of the International Shifter Rights Organization’s week-long Summit in Scotland.

But when a death threat arrives at Emme’s home, she is immediately placed into protective custody, watched over by none other than her personal nemesis, Detective-Inspector Oliver Reed. The two have crossed paths many times, with disastrous results, but now they will have to work together in order to reach the Summit before midnight of the last day in order to ensure legislation is passed to protect the Shifter community.

As unseen enemies close in around Emme and Oliver, they struggle to reach Edinburgh by any means necessary, only to find Emme’s vindictive stepsister, Oliver’s vampire brother, and a dangerous political minefield awaiting them in Scotland.

Even more difficult is their own refusal to admit that the fiery animosity that once burned between them might be turning into the heat of romantic passion. Could a straitlaced policeman determined to uphold the law and an outspoken activist willing to break the rules ever find true love? Or will all their dreams shatter like glass when the clock strikes midnight?

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

CHARMING AND INTENSE.

Before we dive in, I have NOT read the other books in this series. I don’t feel like I was lost on anything. I recognized what were the previous couples from books, but since I didn’t know their story it didn’t phase me one way or the other! I think this can be read as a standalone if you wanted to!

This was a charming read! It’s been awhile since I’ve read anything steampunk and it was fun to read in this sub-genre again. I liked the world that was built and the mechanisms that were used to fit the theme.

Emme was a stubborn and brave heroine. I thought her match-up with Oliver was fantastic. His more firm, yet relaxed personality connected well with hers. Even though things seemed sped-up (which is occasionally hard for me to get behind), I thought the speed here worked well. I felt the chemistry between them and love some tender endearments between characters. And their banter made me smile too!

I can’t say it was a heavy Cinderella retelling. You really noticed it at the end, but that was about it. This didn’t have any affect on my rating, just something I noticed. I do think some of the action that happened was too easily solved. There wasn’t ever a time where I was legitimately concerned for a character.

This was a good, quick proper romance. After reading this I am interested in going back to read the other books in this series!

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical / Steampunk Proper Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, kidnapping, paranormal creature attacks

Author Bio:

Nancy Campbell Allen is the author of seventeen published novels and numerous novellas, which span genres from contemporary romantic suspense to historical fiction. In 2005, her work won the Utah Best of State award, and she received a Whitney Award for My Fair Gentleman. She has presented at numerous writing conferences and events since her first book was released in 1999. Nancy received a BS in Elementary Education from Weber State University. She loves to read, write, travel, and research, and enjoys spending time laughing with family and friends. She is married and the mother of three children.

Visit her at nancycampbellallen.com, on Instagram @authornancycampbellallen, on Facebook at nancycampbellallen, or on Twitter @necallen.

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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

BOOK SUMMARY:

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!

A HALLMARK MOVIE IN BOOK FORM.

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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