Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Book Review & Giveaway: The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch

About the Book:

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man's grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

Click here to read an excerpt.


My Thoughts:

The Indebted Earl by Erica Vetsch started off strong, catching my attention right away. Captain Charles Wyvern’s gentlemanly manners, loyalty, and determination make him a strong male lead. His relationship with Sophia starts off respectfully distant due to their circumstances. By the middle of the story, the pace felt slow as an abundance of additional characters joined the novel. However, once the romantic tension started growing and certain plot events entered, my interest returned. Charles and Sophia’s romance remains clean, sweet, and admirable throughout. By the last third, I could not put the book down.

The Indebted Earl stands as the third novel in the Serendipity and Secrets series by Erica Vetsch. Although this novel works well as a stand-alone, I enjoyed seeing Marcus and Charlotte from The Gentleman Spy (book two) and recommend reading their story prior to The Indebted Earl.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


About the Author:


Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.  


Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. 


A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England. 


Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor), Instagram (@EricaVetsch) and Pinterest (Erica Vetsch).



Author Interview (Courtesy of I Read With Audra Blog Tour):


Erica Vetsch brings her much beloved Serendipity & Secrets series to a close with the highly anticipated release of The Indebted Earl (Kregel Publications). This latest installment tells the story of Lady Sophia Haverly, the free-spirited and energetic younger sister of Marcus Haverly readers will remember from The Gentleman Spy, and Captain Charles Wyvern, a longtime naval officer trying to find his footing on dry land.


Q: The Indebted Earl is the final release in your Serendipity & Secrets series. Can you give us a recap of the series up to this point and introduce us to your new book?


The Serendipity & Secrets series is three books about three men who come into titles unexpectedly and the women who capture their hearts. In The Lost Lieutenant, a soldier is granted an earldom as a reward for bravery on the field of battle . . . but he is suffering from partial amnesia and cannot remember what he did to earn the title. In The Gentleman Spy, the new Duke of Haverly is wrestling with keeping separate his public life as a duke of the realm and his secret life as a spy for the Crown. And in The Indebted Earl, a naval captain inherits a title and an estate, three young wards, and the care of his late best friend’s fiancé and mother, all while trying to get back to his life at sea.

Three unexpected titles, three unexpected marriages, and three stories of secrets, love, and testing whether God is truly sovereign.


Q: Both Lady Sophia Haverly and Captain Charles Wyvern feel a responsibility to care for someone that is left behind. From where does that sense of duty come?

Lady Sophia’s care of her fiancé’s mother is born out of her love for him. She was also instilled from birth with the social customs of noblesse oblige. As a woman of noble birth, she has an obligation to live up to that nobility by behaving nobly. While her fiancé is at war, he has entrusted her with the care and companionship of his mother, Lady Richardson. Sophie is delighted with the responsibility, because it allows her to demonstrate her love, and it gives her a bit of freedom that living in her older brother’s household would not afford.

Captain Wyvern naturally shoulders responsibility for his ship and his crew. As the leader, everyone under his command is also under his care. This responsibility extends to the dependents of his crew, including the fiancée of his late best friend. Charles feels he bears the blame for his friend’s death, and he must attempt to make some sort of amends. His natural leadership abilities cause him to throw his mantel of responsibility over Lady Sophia, Lady Richardson, the three waifs who wash up on his shore, and the estate and community he’s inherited.


Q: Can you give us a quick lesson in peerage and the hierarchy of society during this time period?

There are five ranks of nonroyal peerage in Britain: duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron, in descending order of rank. Most titles were entailed, meaning they passed from father to son, or to the next closest male in the lineage. Often a peer would also hold subsidiary titles at the same time, and his heir would be given use of one of the lesser titles as a courtesy. For example, an earl may also hold the subsidiary title of viscount, and while the earl is alive, his son would use the lesser title of viscount until he came into his inheritance.

The British aristocracy during the Regency period was quite small compared to the entire population of England. The government was divided into the House of Lords (where one must be a member of the peerage to have a seat) and the House of Commons, which was open to any elected official. Land was most often owned by members of the peerage. As the Industrial Revolution gained momentum, more and more commoners became wealthy, which caused some friction. As the wealth of a member of the peerage declined, they might look outside their exclusive set to marry some of that new money.


Q: Last year you had your first research trip to England planned that, of course, got postponed. Are you planning an even bigger and better trip for the future?

I am! Though nothing is set just yet, I am planning to get to England. My list of must-see places continues to grow at an alarming rate. Hopefully, with the pandemic reducing in severity, world travel will again become an option for more people, and I will be winging my way to England to experience all the places I now read about.

Included on my itinerary are some places that are found in the Serendipity & Secrets series: Hatchards bookstore, Hyde Park, Oxfordshire, and Portsmouth to name only a few. And hopefully a few places that will inspire new stories.


Q: Will you be sad to let this trilogy—your first Regency series—go? What can readers look forward to next?

There’s such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in seeing this series completed, but to answer your question . . . YES! I am so reluctant to let these stories and characters go that I’m bringing some of them back in my new series, the Thorndike & Swann Regency Mysteries!

The first book, The Debutante’s Code, should arrive in the fall of 2021 and features Lady Juliette Thorndike and Bow Street Runner Daniel Swann in a fast-paced tale of intrigue, espionage, and art thievery!


Giveaway:









Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Review: Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee

About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old Lorena Leland’s dreams of a rich and fulfilling life as a writer are dashed when the stock market crashes in 1929. Seven years into the Great Depression, Rena’s banker father has retreated into the bottle, her sister is married to a lazy charlatan and gambler, and Rena is an unemployed newspaper reporter. Eager for any writing job, Rena accepts a position interviewing former slaves for the Federal Writers’ Project. There, she meets Frankie Washington, a 101-year-old woman whose honest yet tragic past captivates Rena.

As Frankie recounts her life as a slave, Rena is horrified to learn of all the older woman has endured—especially because Rena’s ancestors owned slaves. While Frankie’s story challenges Rena’s preconceptions about slavery, it also connects the two women whose lives are otherwise separated by age, race, and circumstances. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming?

Read an excerpt from Under the Tulip Tree on the publisher's website.


My Thoughts:

Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee boldly invites the reader into the lives of Frankie, a 101-year-old former slave, and Lorena (Rena), a struggling writer, whose family once owned slaves. Frankie is an especially fascinating character. The way she talks – both her word choice and forthrightness – captivated me and made her the star of this novel in both timelines. Despite her tragic past, she bestows love on all those around her, treating all as family.

Although Under the Tulip Tree is based on the Federal Writers’ Project from the late 1930s, it is a work of deeply moving historical fiction. Sometimes the story felt very sad, and I paused reading as needed. The novel deals with themes of hatred, forgiveness, and racial reconciliation. I appreciated that hope prevailed for both Frankie and Rena.

Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee stands as the best book I have read so far in 2021. I read it with my church’s ladies book club and it generated plenty of discussion. I highly recommend this novel to readers of historical fiction.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Friday, March 26, 2021

First Line Fridays: Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today, I'm sharing the first line from Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen.

"Sloane Kelley stood in the lobby of the Sedgwick County Museum of History, the thick buffalo robe hanging warm and heavy on her arms."

Have you read Roots of Wood and Stone?

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love for you to share your book's first line!

Happy reading!



About the Book:

This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God's plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.


First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Monday, March 22, 2021

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

A Tapestry of Light JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Tapestry of Light

Title: A Tapestry of Light
Author: Kimberly Duffy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release date: March 16, 2021
Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Calcutta, 1886. 

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women. 

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie's English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home. 

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn't forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub


EXCERPT 


Ottilie set her packages on the table beside the settee and drew the shawl from its wrapping. She carefully unfolded it and laid it over Mrs. Winship’s lap. As Ottilie pulled the reticule free, she watched Mrs. Winship’s fingers trace the intricate embroidery edging the ruffle, her nails catching the elytra splayed in a floral pattern.

“Your mother was quite good. How do I know she didn’t do this work?”

Ottilie’s brows rose. “You don’t, I suppose, but why would I take on work I’m not qualified to do?” She held out the reticule.

Mrs. Winship didn’t reach for it. She picked up the shawl and shoved it at Ottilie before leaning back against the settee. With an elegant yawn, she gave a wave. “I’m sure you’re qualified, but I’m looking for something exceptional. Damaris is reaching an age where even our money won’t be enough to turn a man’s head. She needs to look spectacular. Especially with all those Fishing Fleet girls coming and stealing the Raj’s best men.” She pressed her fingers to her temples, and her eyes drifted shut. “It’s a shame your mother is no longer here. I had something spectacular in mind.”

“Mother!” Damaris’s rebuke covered Ottilie’s small gasp.

Ottilie focused on the paper-wrapped shoes she held in her arms. She didn’t want to show this foreign woman the gift she’d made for the most precious person in Calcutta. Didn’t want her pale fingers prodding the embroidery and picking apart the memories Ottilie had tucked away of hours snipping wings and beading thread and giggling in the lamplight, impatiently anticipating Maji’s joy and pride and the sight of her small, perfectly arched foot slipping into something beautiful again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kimberly Duffy 

Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio, via six months in India. When she's not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. She loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. He doesn't mind.

CONNECT WITH KIMBERLY: Website | Facebook | Instagram

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a print copy of A Tapestry of Light, A Mosaic of Wings, and Recipes from an Indian Kitchen!

A Tapestry of Light JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight March 22, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 29, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours 

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Book Review: Stronger Every Day by Janell Rardon

About the Book:

Fortify your emotional health.

As a trauma-informed professional life coach, Janell Rardon spends a good deal of her day-to-day work with brokenness--broken families, broken relationships, broken hearts and souls. In response to the pleas of her clients, she developed a set of emotional-health tools to help them repair the broken parts of their lives. In Stronger Every Day, she shares these powerful tools with you, showing you how to

  • transform pain into meaning
  • experience secure attachment with God
  • shape healthy thoughts
  • shift from shame to self-compassion
  • practice healthy assertiveness
  • set mental and emotional boundaries
  • understand triggers and defense mechanisms
  • regulate emotional highs and lows
  • cultivate healthy human connection
With inspiring Scriptures, quotes, prayers, personal stories, and case studies, Rardon sets you on the path of emotional health so that you can be stronger than ever--every day.


My Thoughts:

Stronger Every Day by Janell Rardon combines Christian spirituality with modern mental health practices. I currently see a therapist once a week and we explored together the material presented in this book. In both our opinions, the content is solid and healthy.

I found Stronger Every Day by Janell Rardon immensely helpful as I continue to navigate my post-trauma life and strive to grow emotional healthier. The introduction presents Janell Rardon’s ideology and specific “Heartlifting” practices. I loved that crafting a vision for victory sits at the start. Once I began this book, I spent greater time with my journal, writing out my thoughts, experiences, and questions.

Following the introduction, each chapter presents one emotional health tool (secure attachment, cognitive reframing, healthy assertiveness, etc). The chapters begin with an explanatory portion that includes stories, Scripture, and examples. The final three parts of the chapter are loaded with specific intentions: envision, educate, and establish. These sections include various responsive prompts: prayers, affirmations, reflection questions, journal prompts, etc. With gentleness and care, the author encourages the reader to consider thought-provoking questions (which led to more journaling for me). Stronger Every Day requires mental effort and time investment, but I found the rewards worthy of the effort.

I recommend Stronger Every Day: 9 Tools for an Emotionally Healthy You by Janell Rardon to anyone who want to improve his or her mental and emotional health.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Friday, March 19, 2021

First Line Fridays: The Piano Teacher by Kristie Self

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today, I'm sharing the first lines from The Piano Teacher by Kristie Self.

"The darkness lay heavy that night, unbroken by any slivers of moonlight."

Have you read The Piano Teacher

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love for you to share your book's first line!

Happy reading!



About the Book:

She longs to escape a dreadful secret from her past, but can she ever run far enough to truly forget?

Melody Creston is left penniless following the death of her father. Desperate to escape the threat of an unwanted and dangerous marriage, she flees to the small village of Roderick Glen in the English countryside to begin life anew as a pianoforte teacher. She is hired to teach the daughter of the Earl of Rockingham and soon falls in love with the quaint village and its quirky residents. Despite her newfound freedom, she is haunted by the secrets of her past, as well as the constant fear that she will be discovered and forced to return to London.

Lord Henry Roderick is the younger son of the Earl of Rockingham and has no desire to obey his father’s wishes and help his brother attend to their family’s estate, Cheswick Park. Carefree and fun-loving, his reputation as a scoundrel often hides the true nature of his heart. Upon meeting Melody, he is instantly captivated by the beautiful piano teacher, and is determined to do whatever it takes to win her heart and become the man she needs.

Melody is intrigued by Henry and encourages him to follow his own path as he searches for his purpose in life. Shy and reserved, she is reluctant to admit her feelings for him, but as they grow closer, he begins to break through the barriers of fear and mistrust that surround her heart. As their love deepens, she becomes increasingly afraid of what will happen when he learns the truth of her turbulent past. Can love forgive a secret hidden in the shadows when it is exposed to the light of day?

Brimming with laughter, love, emotion, and heart, this first book in The Ladies of Roderick Glen series introduces us to the citizens of Roderick Glen as they follow their dreams and discover that one’s heart is always happiest near the friendly faces of home.



First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: The Power of 1440 by Tim Timberlake

The Power of 1440 JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Power of 1440 by Tim Timberlake, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


The Power of 1440

Title: The Power of 1440
Author: Tim Timberlake
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: March 9, 2021
Genre: Christian Life/Personal Growth

A thirty-day story-driven manual to celebrate the importance and blessing of each of the 1,440 minutes we are given every day, written by an up-and-coming lead pastor of a global church. 

The son of a preacher, eighteen-year-old Tim Timberlake’s tragic and painful personal story of the sudden loss of his father began his journey toward seeing the benefit and blessing of each day. And not just to get through it, but to exhaust every opportunity of potential of that day, moment by moment, fulfilling his God-given purpose. 

Today Pastor Tim inspires others to approach each day with its 1,440 minutes in a way that they live out their own God-given purposes and passions. Comprised of thirty bite-size chapters, The Power of 1440 is a day-by-day manual to help readers deal with topics like forgiveness, perspective, mistakes, rest, and living a life that matters. He says, “Win some, learn some . . . but never lose.” 

Every day should be magnificent, not mundane; filled with delight, not drudgery; and a grand adventure, not a grind. It is possible to make today and every day truly remarkable.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub


EXCERPT


TODAY IS ALL YOU’VE GOT

Those words— Today is all you’ve got— are more than the caption on a cat poster or a slogan on a meme. It is more than an inspirational thought on a greeting card.

Trying to unlock the power of 1440 in your life without under-standing the truth of “today is all you’ve got” would be like trying to start your car without the key. It’s theoretically possible but a whole lot harder. Here’s what you need to know.

The past is gone. Totally beyond your reach or your ability to control. You can try to repair damage done in the past or relive a moment that was pleasurable— but only today.


The future is a fantasy and also completely outside your grasp. You can prepare for the tomorrow you want or take steps to avoid one you’d rather not live through today and nowhere else.

Sure, your personality is made up of your memories and your aspirations. But the part of your life you actually live, without exception, is the part happening right in front of you right now.

Imagine you are going on a trip tomorrow. You can pack your bag today, plan what you will do when you get there, buy a ticket, and book an Uber to the airport. But there is no way to get on the plane and travel across country until tomorrow. That moment has to arrive in the present before you can live it, so why bother trying? That’s what worry is about: trying to live a moment that is either long gone or hasn’t yet arrived.

Why is it so important to grasp this fact? Because your biggest enemies in the quest for a more abundant and rewarding life can seem like big, bad warlords who are seriously entrenched in these two provinces of your mind: the past and the future. Time— any time but the present—i s the part of your life occupied by all your worry, fear, doubt, anxiety, guilt, anger, boredom, and regret. Try to live there instead of today, and more often than not you’ll take a beating from thoughts that don’t serve you now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tim Timberlake

Tim Timberlake is the lead pastor of Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida and Creedmoor, North Carolina.  He is a gifted communicator and teacher who has the ability to communicate to people from all walks of life. His sense of humor, combined with his in-depth Bible teaching, gives the listener and reader the tools to transform their lives from the inside out. Tim is a graduate of the Pistis School of Ministry in Detroit, Michigan. He is an avid sports fan and a cultural thought leader.

CONNECT WITH TIM: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a print copy of The Power of 1440!

The Power of 1440 JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight March 15, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 22, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours 

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Book Review & Giveaway: Can't Buy Me Love

Can't Buy Me Love JustRead Blog + Review Tour 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Can't Buy Me Love by Andrea Christenson presented by Susan May Warren, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK


Can't Buy Me Love

Title: Can't Buy Me Love
Series: Deep Haven Collection #2
Author: Andrea Christenson presented by Susan May Warren
Publisher: Sunrise Publishing 
Release Date: March 16, 2021
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

He can’t buy his way out of trouble this time…

Housekeeper-slash-entrepreneur Ella Bradley prides herself on being ready for anything. After all, with a father who died—and lied to her—and a stepmom and stepsister who despise her, she has no one else to depend on. But on the biggest night of her life, she’s unprepared to be trapped in an elevator with the man of her dreams. 

Wealthy prince-to-a-fortune Adrian Vassos wants nothing more than to shed his reputation as a party boy and prove that he is a savvy businessman. Even, a gentleman. But when he’s trapped with a woman who knows his reputation but not his face, he gives into the temptation to be someone else—and lies. 

When serendipity brings them together again—this time to work off community service—can their combined sentences spark a new ending? Maybe…if Adrian’s lies don’t find him out. Again. 

The magic of Deep Haven enchants in this modern-day Cinderella story.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound | BookBub

BOOKS IN THIS SERIES


MY THOUGHTS 

Can’t Buy Me Love by Andrea Christenson and Susan May Warren mixes a modern-day Cinderella story with some unique plot turns, moderate character development, and a sweet romance. Ella and Adrian’s initial meeting snagged my attention and set the stage for much of this novel and its unusual predicaments. Christian fiction rarely harbors stories involving community service and this novel offered refreshingly original scenes. Having worked in the legal field, I found some of the legal procedures (or lack thereof) questionable, but I suspended my cynicism in favor of giving the story a chance.

The creativity in Can’t Buy Me Love shined, but when I finished the final page, I wished the story had been deeper. Ella and Adrian’s personal issues linger through the story until they resolve quickly toward the end. I cheered when these two had their breakthrough moments, but longed to see the benefits/consequences play out. It felt very much like they grasped a truth, took an initial action on it, and then the story was over.

Can’t Buy Me Love by Andrea Christenson and Susan May Warren lands as the second installment in the Deep Haven Collection series. While this novel integrates characters from Warren’s original Deep Haven series and Christianson Family series, Can’t Buy Me Love works perfectly fine as a stand-alone novel. I have read some of the original books, but not all, and I enjoyed catching cameos of prior characters. Fans of the original series will likely enjoy visiting Deep Haven with these new characters.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS


 

Susan May Warren is the USA Today best-selling novelist of 80 books. With more than 1.5 million books in print, she is beloved by reviewers and readers around the world. Visit Susan at www.susanmaywarren.com.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN: Website | FacebookInstagram | Twitter

Andrea Christenson lives in a Minneapolis, MN suburb with her husband and two daughters. When she is not busy homeschooling her girls, she loves to read anything she can get her hands on. She believes that a great loaf of artistic bread can turn a meal into a masterpiece. Andrea’s prayer is to write stories revealing God’s love.

CONNECT WITH ANDREA: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter 

Merging the creative energies of best-selling authors Susan May Warren and Lindsay Harrel, Sunrise Publishing is the matchmaker for established authors who want to build on their current success for future growth and aspiring authors looking to break out, build an audience, and hone their writing skills.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card + 3 Can't Buy Me Love ebooks (one ebook for the winner and two to give to friends)!

Can't Buy Me Love JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight March 16, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 23, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours 

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Second Chance Cowboy by Claire McEwen

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Second Chance Cowboy
(Heroes of Shelter Creek, #5)
By Claire McEwen
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 210 Pages
March 1, 2021 by Harlequin Heartwarming

He was her first love…
But some things she can’t forget

Busy small-town veterinarian Emily Fielding is finally ready to take on some help. The best man for the job, however, is Wes Marlow—who broke her heart in high school. Though Wes has a way with horses and a way of melting her resolve, Emily needs to keep things purely professional. Wes left her once—will he do it again? Because she can’t lose her heart a second time…

Heroes of Shelter Creek
Book 1: Reunited with the Cowboy
Book 2: After the Rodeo
Book 3: Her Surprise Cowboy
Book 4: Rescuing the Rancher
Book 5: Second Chance Cowboy

(Affiliate links included.)


Excerpt

Emily scrubbed her palms across her forehead in a useless attempt to get her brain to focus. Nope. Wasn’t going to work. Between her lack of sleep and running into Wes this morning, she’d been as scattered as these papers on her desk all day.

The phone call with her mother just now hadn’t helped. Apparently, Wes had visited them today. He’d explained to her parents that he’d run away to save his little brother. Then he’d raised him on his own. All the years since Wes left, Emily had sustained herself with anger and indignation. But how could she stay angry when he’d been off doing something so heroic?

But she was angry. Maybe that made her a bad person, but he could have sent a postcard. Even just a few words. I had to help someone. I’m sorry. Anything would have been better than all that silence. All those years of wondering...of worrying...of simply not knowing.

This was ridiculous. Why was she letting someone she hadn’t seen or heard from since high school steal any more of her time and energy? There was so much work to get done. She glanced at the empty coffee mug on her desk. Nope, that was a bad idea. It was six in the evening, and coffee now would steal the sleep she so desperately needed tonight.

The thought of sleep inspired a jaw-aching yawn. Maybe she’d just go home and crawl into bed. She could come in early tomorrow and deal with all this work, as long as there were no other late-night emergencies on the horizon.

As if on cue, there was a knock on the clinic door. Lily, the receptionist, and both the technicians had already left for the day, so Emily pushed herself up from her chair and shuffled across the waiting room to answer. In a small town like Shelter Creek, people didn’t always make an appointment, especially if their animal needed emergency care.

Emily twisted the bolt on the door and pulled it open.

Wes was standing on the doorstep, cowboy hat in hand. Emily took a step back as some traitorous part of her heart lit up at the sight of him. She straightened her shoulders. Whatever her heart was up to, that was just muscle memory, nothing more. “Wes, what are you doing here?”



Other Books in the Series

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About the Author


Claire McEwen is an award-winning author whose strong heroes and heroines take big, emotional journeys to find their happily-ever-afters. She loves writing stories set in quirky small towns and romantic western settings. Claire lives by the ocean in Northern California with her family and a scruffy, mischievous terrier. When not dreaming up new stories, she’s a busy mom who also enjoys gardening, hiking, discovering flea-market treasures and wandering on the beach. A life-long bookworm, she always has her kindle close by.



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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Book Review: Beauty Among Ruins by J'nell Ciesielski

About the Book:

In Ciesielski’s latest sweeping romance, an American heiress finds herself in Scotland amid the fallout of the Great War, and a wounded Scottish laird comes face-to-face with his past and a woman he never could have expected.

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?


My Thoughts:

I quickly fell in love with Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski. This stand-alone novel features a lush Scottish setting that swept me away from reality. Gaelic words sprinkle throughout the narrative. I referred occasionally to the glossary when the sentence did not imply the meaning. However, the Gaelic use felt just right – enough to enchant, but not overwhelm, the reader.

Not only did I enjoy the setting of Beauty Among Ruins, but the characters and their development shined as I traveled through the novel. Alec, the laird of Kinclavoch Castle, emanates loyalty. Whether it is his family, his estate, his country, or the Tommies recuperating in his home, he strives to serve them all in his own way. Alec juxtaposes Lily, a spoiled American socialite full of selfishness and insubordination. An unexpected romance between this unlikely pair forces both to change and grow. I loved the character development and refinement, though Lily’s took some time. Her undesirable traits linger in the story which may not appeal to some readers. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski and I recommend to it anyone who enjoys clean, historical fiction.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.


Friday, March 12, 2021

First Line Fridays: Suitors for the Proper Miss by Jen Geigle Johnson

Happy Friday!

First Line Fridays is hosted by Hoarding Books and participants share the first line from a nearby book.

Today, I'm sharing the first lines from Suitors for the Proper Miss by Jen Geigle Johnson.

"The path between the castle where Miss Lucy Standish lived and the stables was long and windy and well-travelled by herself."

Have you read Suitors for the Proper Miss? If not, check out the book blurb below and read my review.

What are you reading this weekend? I'd love for you to share your book's first line!

Happy reading!



About the Book:

She wants to marry a Lord, as Lordly and titled as possible. He wants nothing more to do with her than saddle her horses.

Miss Lucy Standish has wanted to marry a future duke for as long as she could remember. Days in the cold, with little coal for their small cottage and little to eat, she would dream of the days she saved all her sisters with a marriage to a man of such elevated title that they would never be poor again, that her children and their children forever would be cared for.

Mr. Conor Sullivan has never overstepped the lines of propriety. He does everything he can to treat Miss Lucy with respect. But his heart is overcome with love for the middle Standish sister, and he assumes he will spend his dying breath still wishing she were his.

But fortune changes for the Sullivan family. With new attention from the crown and past family secrets revealed, a path opens that just might mean happiness for Lucy and Conor. But will they be bold enough to seize the opportunity when it comes?

Read book Four in the Lords for the Sisters of Sussex Series for a hefty dose of delicious family relationships, Jane Austin type fun, and a delicious forbidden romance.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?


First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

Sunday, March 7, 2021

February 2021 Reading Recap & March 2021 TBR

My February 2021 Reads:

February blessed me with more reading time than January did. As you can see below, I exclusively read books I had received for review. I would like to get into my TBR stack of books I received for Christmas, but that might be awhile away still. Not complaining though, I love receiving books for review. In February, I finished:
  1. The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  2. Beauty Among Ruins by J'nell Ciesielski - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Review coming soon.

  3. The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark. - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  4. Stay with Me by Becky Wade - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - This was a second reading. Read my original review.

  5. Suitors for the Proper Miss by Jen Geigle Johnson - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  6. His to Keep by Sherrinda Ketchersid - ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  7. The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fischer. - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.

  8. A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel. - ⭐⭐⭐ - Read my review.
















Expected March 2021 Reads:

In March, I hope to read:
  1. A Dark Beauty by Clarissa Kae.

  2. Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green. - I started reading this book with by local book club, but did not manage to finish before our meeting. 🤦 However, I need to finish it because I have the sequel waiting for me. Read my original review here.

  3. Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green - sequel to Veiled in Smoke.

  4. Can't Buy Me Love by Andrea Christenson.

  5. What We Inherit by Jessica Pearce Rotondi - A step out of my normal genre, but it sounds so interesting!

  6. Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee - My local book club's selection for March.

  7. The Piano Teacher by Kristie Self.

  8. Stronger Every Day by Janell Rardon. - Currently Reading!





What will you read this month?

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Book Review: His to Keep by Sherrinda Ketchersid

About the Book:

He’s fighting for his inheritance—she’s marrying her sworn enemy.

When Ian McGowan attempts to claim Whitfield Castle as his rightful inheritance, he finds himself barred by a tempestuous lass who is entailed to be the bride of the castle’s new owner.

Claire Beaumont, the orphaned ward of Whitfield, has good reason to hate Scots, and she is not about to let a Scot enter her beloved home. But when the handsome knight steals into the castle and proves his claim on the land, she must face her ultimate nightmare—marriage to her sworn enemy—in order to save those she cares about most.

Restoring the failing Whitfield Castle while wooing his defiant intended proves more challenging than Ian anticipated. His struggles reach a crisis when his nemesis arrives at the castle, and he must overcome his past demons to prove his worth. He must fight for what is his to keep—and it could well cost him his heart.


My Thoughts:

His to Keep by Sherrinda Ketchersid features a romance with strong tension and positive themes about personal healing and growth. I enjoyed the enemies-to-lovers progression, though I partly think that Claire started admiring, if not liking, Ian too soon. The plot clips right along and some situations progressed quickly. I think I wanted the story to slow down and dig down deep into each character. Still, the themes about forgiveness and self-worth added a pleasing depth to the novel.

Overall, His to Keep by Sherrinda Ketchersid was a fun read. I especially enjoyed the medieval setting and unique customs presented. Due to mentions of “bedding” one another and the emphasis placed on it by certain characters, I recommend this book for older teens and above.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.