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Shadows of the White City, #2 The Windy City Saga by Jocelyn Green

About the Book

Title: Shadows of the White City

Series: #2, The Windy City Saga

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: Bethany House

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have–a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears–until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World’s Fair, and Sylvie’s world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose’s violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, they’re taken on a search that points to Rose’s long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong? 

My Impressions

I’ve never been to a World’s Fair, but after reading Jocelyn Green’s Shadows of the White City, I felt like I had. Ms. Green vividly describes the setting so well. I can almost see the massive buildings, feel the pressing of the huge crowds, hear the violin and orchestra music and smell the food aromas of the many countries represented on the Midway. Green tells us the Museum of Science and Industry is one of the original 1893 World’s Fair buildings, so I can only imagine what the whole fair settlement must have been like, teeming with crowds.
Into this surreal setting Green inserts Sylvie Townsend, single, middle-aged Mimi to 17-year-old Rose. While Rose is longing to spread her wings and is searching for her biological family, Sylvie is holding on to her daughter tightly enough to suffocate her. As Sylvie struggles to sort out her relationship with Rose, she leans heavily on her neighbor, concertmaster Kristof. Kristof, in turn, struggles with his talented but slothful brother. We also see Meg, Sylvie’s sister, who is more prominent in the first book.
Sylvie has a lot of re-evaluating of her life attitudes to do. Will she emerge bitter at God, Jozefa, and Rose, or will she be better? Kristof is a bit of a stuffed shirt, albeit with a tender heart. He makes a journey of self-discovery as he helps Sylvie and tries to deal with Gregor. He is a romantic, fluid character to cheer on he begins to view life through different eyes.


Green’s poetic description of the orchestra music is entrancing. She obviously understands music well. Her research is impeccable, shown in her incredibly detailed descriptions.
Twists are subtle. In several places, I felt like I knew what would happen, but a bit of a change causes the story to flow differently than expected.
This book can stand on its own, but you will get so much more out of it if you read book one first.

Notable Quotables:

“It wasn’t Father’s timepiece I wanted. It was his time.”

“…you can stop striving to earn a place you’ve already been given. You’re already a beloved child of God. You can’t perform your way into or out of His family.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher. All opinions are my own, unsolicited.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.

The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.

Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, strawberry-rhubarb pie, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.

Visit her at jocelyngreen.com.

More from Jocelyn

(Provided courtesy of Jocelyn’s blog and Bethany House)

  1. Shadows of the White City takes place in Chicago during the World’s Fair of 1893. What is so special about this setting?
    The World’s Fair itself was spectacular. With my heroine, Sylvie Townsend, acting as a part-time tour guide, readers get an inside look into many aspects of the Fair. Part of what made it such an amazing place was that, in addition to six hundred acres of the world’s most
    impressive accomplishments and inventions, people from all over the world connected in one place. The Midway, especially, played host to cultures from across the globe, opening people’s eyes to other perspectives they’d never considered before. Now add to all of this the
    fact that, outside the dazzling fairgrounds, Chicago and the entire nation were in the midst of a financial depression. The juxtaposition of splendor and hardship is always a poignant one.
    1. What kind of research went into this book?
      So much. There is a ton of information available on the World’s Fair. Aside from reading every book and article that seemed relevant for my story (and then some), I toured Chicago with a guide who designed a tour based specifically on what I wanted to know and see before I started writing the novel. On the same trip, I spent time in the Chicago
      Historical Society’s archives and the Newberry Library, reading primary source material. A second trip to Chicago gave my daughter and me a chance to experience other aspects
      important to the novel, such as a concert with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a visit to the Art Institute, and a stop at the Palmer House hotel.
  2. In what ways do you relate to the character of Sylvie Townsend?
    Sylvie is a book-loving introvert who doesn’t like crowds but enjoys public speaking when the topic interests her. That’s me, completely. On a deeper level, I understand Sylvie’s tendency to keep a tight rein on her daughter, Rose. As a parent of a teenager, I identify with
    that struggle to find the right balance of letting my daughter make her own decisions and mistakes as part of growing up and wanting to protect her from them. As Sylvie finds out in the novel, that desire to protect can lead to both a grasping for control and the realization of
    how very little we do control. I relate to all of this.
  3. This is your second novel in The Windy City Saga series. We’ve gotten to know sisters Meg and Sylvie pretty well by now. Who will be the focus of the third book?
    Book 3 in the series will pick up with Meg’s adult daughter Olive in 1915, which is when the Eastland Disaster took place in the Chicago River. You’ll meet Olive as a child in Shadows of the White City, and she’ll be twenty-nine when we focus on her story. Each book in this
    series explores a seminal part of Chicago’s history and how the Townsend family overcomes in the face of change and trials.
  4. Are the novels in this series classified as mysteries?
    Readers will discover that these novels have an element of mystery to them, but they remain firmly in the historical fiction genre. The main priority of the story, as ever, is given to the developing characters and the history-in-the-making around them.
BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, LibraryThing Early Readers, NetGalley, Revell

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

About the Book

Book:  The Moonlight School

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Haunted by her sister’s mysterious disappearance, Lucy Wilson arrives in Rowan County, Kentucky, in the spring of 1911 to work for Cora Wilson Stewart, superintendent of education. When Cora sends Lucy into the hills to act as scribe for the mountain people, she is repelled by the primitive conditions and intellectual poverty she encounters. Few adults can read and write.

Born in those hills, Cora knows the plague of illiteracy. So does Brother Wyatt, a singing schoolmaster who travels through the hills. Involving Lucy and Wyatt, Cora hatches a plan to open the schoolhouses to adults on moonlit nights. The best way to combat poverty, she believes, is to eliminate illiteracy. But will the people come?

As Lucy emerges from a life in the shadows, she finds purpose; or maybe purpose finds her. With purpose comes answers to her questions, and something else she hadn’t expected: love.

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

“Oh, my stars and garters!” By the time I reached the 2nd chapter, my grin was firmly in place, stretching from ear-to-ear. Fisher recounts this remarkable tale of the real Cora Wilson Stewart, who campaigned for literacy in the Kentucky mountains, woven into fiction in a compelling, unforgettable novel. The Moonlight School is everything I’ve come to expect from Fisher and more. This is a tale of triumph of faith, perseverance, and a love for one’s neighbor’s plight that motivates action. The end brings so many pieces together, with twists I wouldn’t have seen coming.
Lucy is a very special heroine, changing from inept, unconcerned city-girl to caring, daring, and brave young woman, ready to fight for the rights of the mountain people.
Fisher gives creates a believable live triangle with Lucy and Andrew and Wyatt, then another with Lucy, Fin, and Angie. None of the characters are perfect, but some reach towards community betterment, while others reach only for what will benefit them. It is the ones who look out for the mountain folk who are “silent” that we learn to love. They share the following sentiment:
“The only way to lift people is to teach them to lift themselves. Literacy is the only road to true freedom… literacy gives a voice to the silent.”
I was amazed by the discovery that Cora makes through Miss Mollie that turns her educational philosophy upside down. I was also amazed by the natural teaching ability of Angie and her willingness to share with others when she is so antagonistic towards Lucy. I was proud of Lucy for tackling a job that she isn’t the best at yet filling in because she is needed. The original pronunciations of the mountain folk make the book authentic, while the explanations of their need to hang on to their culture from the Old Country, caused me to think differently than I had before. A hearty five stars to this beautiful book from Suzanne Woods Fisher!


I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit and NetGalley, as well as Library Thing. These are my own, unsolicited opinions.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Carol award winner Suzanne Woods Fisher writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, Suzanne is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, ranging from non-fiction books, to children’s books, to novels. She lives with her very big family in northern California.

More from Suzanne

I’m Suzanne Woods Fisher, the author of The Moonlight School. This historical fiction will release on February 2, 2021, and is based on a true story featuring Cora Wilson Stewart, a Kentucky educator way ahead of her times. In 1911, Cora had a crazy idea—to open rural one-room schoolhouses in her county on moonlit nights to teach illiterate adults how to read and write.

So what happened next? Well, it’s so astonishing that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Instead, I hope you’ll read the book and find out for yourself.

In the meantime, this infographic provides a fascinating look at illiteracy THEN…and NOW. Makes you want to thank your teachers, doesn’t it?

Blog Stops

Inklings and notions, January 30

Batya’s Bits, January 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 30

CarpeDiem, January 31

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 31

A Novel Pursuit, January 31

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, January 31

The Avid Reader, February 1

Bliss Books & Jewels, February 1

lakesidelivngsite, February 1

Connie’s History Classroom, February 1

She Lives To Read, February 2

For the Love of Literature, February 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 2

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 3

Through the Fire Blogs, February 3

Texas Book-aholic, February 3

Inspiration Clothesline, February 3

Fiction Book Lover, February 4 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 4

Blogging With Carol, February 4

Lis Loves Reading, February 4

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 5

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 5

Simple Harvest Reads, February 5 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

HookMeInABook, February 5

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 6

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 6

Artistic Nobody, February 6 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For Him and My Family, February 7

EmpowerMoms, February 7

The Write Escape , February 7

Mary Hake, February 7

Older & Smarter?, February 8

deb’s Book Review, February 8

Splashes of Joy, February 8

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 9

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 9

Beauty in the Binding, February 9

Blossoms and Blessings, February 9

Remembrancy, February 10

Bigreadersite, February 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 10

By The Book, February 11

Wishful Endings, February 11

Vicky Sluiter, February 11

Pause for Tales, February 11

Spoken from the Heart, February 12

Hallie Reads, February 12

To Everything There Is A Season, February 12

Southern Gal Loves to Read, February 12

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1068d/the-moonlight-school-celebration-tour-giveaway

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Beauty among Ruins by J’Nell Ciesielski

About the Book

Book:  Beauty Among Ruins

Author: J’Nell Ciesielski

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: January 12, 2021

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?

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

I don’t usually think a book is movie-worthy, but J’nell Ciesielski’s latest, Beauty among Ruins, has me wishing for a movie or theatre adaptation. I just finished this wonderful novel written as only Ciesielski can. Beauty among Ruins brings us an immediately likable heroine in beauty Lily, a rich socialite who longs to fulfill a greater role in life than what society dictates, and have fun doing it. We also see the loose beast image contrast in Alec McGregor, who though unable to fight in WWI due to an injury, opens his aging estate, Kinclavoch, to convalescing soldiers. The beauty aspect appears as Lily Durham, banished to England, actually ends up in Scotland as a nurse at Kinclavoch and turns the ideas of staid, emotionless, nursing upside down. But most importantly, we see the thawing of brooding, burdened, and emotionally dead Kinclavoch owner Alec. Can their growing love and his metamorphosis survive the repeated calamities that follow Lilly’s arrival to Alec’s beloved Kinclavoch?


If the main characters’ emotions and interplay weren’t enough to build a play or movie, Ciesielski has built a strong supporting cast, which I would love to see acted out. I think there would be some Academy Awards for supporting actors and actresses here!! I just loved even the antagonists, as they filled their roles so well. Some characters weren’t clearly all black or white. I loved Lily for seeing the need in one particular person most would have seen as an enemy. I also loved the peeling back of her parent’s pasts until we could finally see their true feelings. And whew, that involved a lot of layers!
I appreciated the glossary of Scottish words at the end of the book, as opposed to the beginning. Points for both the publisher and the author here. I am not a big fan of a lot of early information for a reader in the beginning. It is too easy to skip over those seemingly “nonessential” addendums that keeps me from the meat of the book. In the end, I am ready to savor extra historical bits, glossaries, or study questions, all of which truly enhanced this great book.

Notable Quotables:
“Situations are simple. It’s the people who twist them up.”

“ ’Tis a hardiness we’re born with.” Though not all. Some were made to suffer no matter the strength in their hearts.

“Kindness always deserves recognition.”

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. I also bought a copy. These are my own unsolicited opinions.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!!

About the Author

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.

More from J’Nell

Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins

Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me. No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.

Lily and Alec took me by surprised with how much I fell in love with them. Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy o boy were there fireworks!

You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather  and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully readers will feel that through these pages.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, January 27

Fiction Aficionado, January 27

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 27

Wishful Endings, January 28

Genesis 5020, January 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 29

lakesidelivingsite, January 29

Reflections From my Bookshelves, January 29

Connect in Fiction, January 30

Connie’s History Classroom, January 30

CarpeDiem, January 30

Artistic Nobody, January 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 31

Rachael’s Inkwell, January 31

Where Faith and Books Meet, February 1

Rebecca Tews, February 1

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1

Texas Book-aholic, February 2

As He Leads is Joy, February 2

Robin’s Nest, February 2

Older & Smarter?, February 3

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 3

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 4

Remembrancy, February 4

Inklings and notions, February 4

Mia Reads, February 5

Joanne Markey, February 5

Splashes of Joy, February 5

Mary Hake, February 5

Betti Mace, February 6

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 6

For Him and My Family, February 6

She Lives to Read, February 7

deb’s Book Review, February 7

The Write Escape, February 7

Simple Harvest Reads, February 8 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Novels Corner, February 8

To Everything There Is A Season, February 8

Blossoms and Blessings, February 9

Pause for Tales, February 9

Lis Loves Reading, February 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, J’Nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of the book and an audiobook copy of The Socialite!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10688/beauty-among-ruins-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite

Cold Case Pursuit by Dana Mentink

About the Book

Book:  Cold Case Pursuit

Author: Dana Mentink

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Cold Case Persuit

A cold case solved by the K-9 unit…

but the past is not so easily escaped.

Decades after her parents’ murders, Penelope McGregor’s grateful the killer’s finally been identified—until he comes after her. Now Detective Tyler Walker and his K-9 partner, Dusty, must protect Penelope and catch the culprit…while making sure his little girl stays out of the crosshairs. But can the single father outplay a killer whose endgame will leave no one safe?

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

I just recently started reading Dana Mentink’s novels, but I wish I had discovered her sooner. Cold Case Pursuit by Dana Mentink is a realistic, romantic suspense tale that I really enjoyed. Tyler and Penny are both relatable people. Both are flawed and feel unloved by at least one parent. Yet, I want to cheer for them as they work through their respective baggage to discover they have value in the sight of God and others. Their pasts do not have to define them. Don’t we all need to learn that?

A friend of mine loves evil clowns, so I enjoyed the story as if through her eyes. I also appreciated the close sibling relationship we see between Penny and Bradley.

Dana Mentink captivated my attention from start to finish.
If you like romantic suspense, young children, or dogs, Cold Case Pursuit will give you plenty to love.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving these thoughts, while no positive feedback was required. All opinions are solely my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!!

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over forty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Poisoned Pen Press, and Harvest House. Besides writing, she busies herself puttering around her Northern California backyard. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the  nutty terrier, and a chubby box turtle. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.)

More from Dana

I love book covers with adorable children on them, don’t you? There’s something so angelic about those wee folks on the covers. I have two bear cubs myself, young adults now, and I love them devotedly. Tell you what though. Sometimes, just occasionally mind you, they were a wee bit naughty. Don’t tell anyone, but one reason I enjoyed writing Cold Case Pursuit so much is that hero Tyler is the single dad of a little girl named Rain who is….er…a handful. Sure, she’s adorable, but she’s prone to disobedience and the occasional tendency to flush things down the toilet. So in addition to the edge of your seat pursuit of a murderous clown killer, there are the shenanigans of a precocious preschooler, a highly trained yet distractible police K-9, and a romance that doesn’t exactly run smoothly. Fun to write? You betcha! I hope you enjoy coming along with me on this True Blue adventure!

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 19

KarenSueHadley, January 19

Bigreadersite, January 19

Through the Fire Blogs, January 20

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 20

Remembrancy, January 21

Genesis 5020, January 21

By The Book, January 21

For the Love of Literature, January 22

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 22

CarpeDiem, January 22

Texas Book-aholic, January 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 23

Blogging With Carol, January 23

Inklings and notions, January 24

Fiction Book Lover, January 24 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Batya’s Bits, January 24

Betti Mace, January 25

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 25

Labor Not in Vain, January 25

Hebrews 12 Endurance, January 26

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 26

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 27

Lighthouse-Academy, January 27

Older & Smarter?, January 27

Artistic Nobody, January 28 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Splashes of Joy, January 28

Mary Hake, January 28

For Him and My Family, January 29

Simple Harvest Reads, January 29 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Pause for Tales, January 29

deb’s Book Review, January 30

Hallie Reads, January 30

To Everything There Is A Season, January 30

She Lives To Read, January 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 1

Daysong Reflections, February 1

Bizwings Blog, February 1

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dana is giving away the grand prize of a Mentink giveaway bundle, including a $50 Amazon gift card and a tote bag!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/105ab/cold-case-pursuit-celebration-tour-giveaway

BLOG, Celebrate Lit Publishers, Celebrate Lit Tour

Restoring Fairhaven, #6 Merriweather Island, by Carolyn Miller

About the Book

Book: Restoring Fairhaven

Author: Carolyn Miller

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Love hurts, or so the songs say, so who wants it?

Taking on her ailing father’s gardening business on Merriweather Island, Samantha Green only wants to escape her ex and to make her father proud.

But Sam gets more than she bargained for when Greener Gardens accepts the job of restoring the gardens of a reclusive writer, Max Fairhaven, whose historical novels about romance and unrequited love litter bookstore shelves and movie marquees all over the world.

Max much prefers the fictional world to the real, and the gardening girl’s interruptions means he’s driven from his writing cave far too often for his liking.

How’s he supposed to craft stories with her distracting him all the time?

Things change when he learns something of Sam’s family challenges, and his admiration slowly kindles. With his secretary’s goading, he’s forced to confront the past, while facing the fact that he needs to change in order to avoid a lonely future.

Gentle pruning and a whole lot of banter forges a friendship between this not-so-Southern belle landscaper and the half-British author. But is their budding attraction enough to grow into a flourishing happily-ever-after?

Restoring Fairhaven is the final “Merriweather book,” but don’t forget to embark on a tour of the next island in this series featuring five islands, six authors, and a boatload of happily-ever-afters.

The Independence Island Series: beach reads aren’t just for summer anymore.

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

I enjoyed this island Cinderella/combination Beauty and the Beast story, Restoring Fairhaven, by Carolyn Miller. After a couple of deep historicals, this lighter, easy-to-read contemporary romance of Samantha Green of Greener Gardens landscaping business and Max Fairhaven, a famous author, was just what I needed. Miller includes a good look at a struggling landscaping business that Sam reluctantly takes over for her father.


It is a wonder what a change the love of God and a good woman can affect in a man’s soul. I also appreciated seeing how love caused Max to want to give of himself, to move beyond the little world that had bound him after the death of his wife, Meggie.
There were a couple of ongoing sinister elements that I thought were ended and dismissed too quickly given the importance they played in the drama. Come to think of it, if this is indeed a fairytale retold, it would make much sense for at least some of the bad elements to quickly disappear.


This is book six in The Merriweather Island: Independence Islands series. This book seemed to be able to stand on its own.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. These opinions are solely my own, voluntarily submitted.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher.A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop, Miss Serena’s Secret, The Making of Mrs. Hale, A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh, Underestimating Miss Cecilia, and Misleading Miss Verity, all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Koorong, etc Her contemporary novels include Restoring Fairhaven and Regaining Mercy, as part of the Independence Islands series.

More from Carolyn

I’m a long time lover of gardens, plants, flowers and trees! I’m married to a horticulturalist, who once upon a time worked at Lyme Park, the site of Mr. Darcy’s magnificent Pemberley from the 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, and who has also worked at Kew Gardens in England.

Some of my garden and plant highlights include visiting Blarney Castle’s Poison Garden in Ireland, New Zealand’s Hamilton Gardens, Dunrobin Castle in Scotland, Frederik Meijer Gardens in Michigan, the redwoods of Yosemite, California, Butchart Gardens in Victoria Island, Canada, and Jardin Botanique in Montreal, Canada.

I love to post pictures of flowers and trees on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/carolynmillerauthor/)  and have included pictures of some of these places at my website (www.carolynmillerauthor.com) I have incorporated some of the gardens and plants in a number of my historical novels, including the gorgeous gardens at a castle in Scotland where I set Misleading Miss Verity.

I’m so excited to be introducing readers to my new contemporary books, where I can bring some of my love of gardens (& my hubby’s expertise!) to a new audience. Restoring Fairhaven sees readers introduced to a range of gardening experts who together will bring the gardens of the Independence Islands back to life.

If you’re someone who has enjoyed The Secret Garden, or Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart, you’ll be sure to enjoy this story of a reclusive writer and the gardening guru sent to restore his gardens – and his heart.

Happy reading!

Carolyn

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, January 16

lakesidelivingsite, January 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 17

April Hayman, Author, January 17

A Novel Pursuit, January 17

Texas Book-aholic, January 18

Rebekah Reads, January 18

Blogging With Carol, January 18

Inklings and notions, January 19

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 19

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 20

Mary Hake, January 20

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 21

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 21

CarpeDiem, January 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, January 22

Cultivating Us, January 22

Kathleen Neely, January 22

Livin’ Lit, January 23

Ashley’s Bookshelf, January 23

Simple Harvest Reads, January 23 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Older & Smarter?, January 24

Artistic Nobody, January 24 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

For Him and My Family, January 25

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, January 25

Inkwell Inspirations, January 25

deb’s Book Review, January 26

Blossoms and Blessings, January 26

Joanne Markey, January 26

She Lives To Read, January 27

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 27

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, January 28

Splashes of Joy, January 28

Godly Book Reviews, January 28

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 29

Daysong Reflections, January 29

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carolyn is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon prize and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/105a8/restoring-fairhaven-celebration-tour-giveaway

ARC, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, PB, Purchase, Revell

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Tidewater Bride

Author: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Released: January 2021

Genre: Historical Romance

Selah Hopewell, Virginia Colony’s most eligible woman, is busy matchmaking for a ship of brides, though she has no wish to wed.

Xander Renick is perhaps the most eligible tobacco lord in the settlement, but he is already wedded to his business and still grieves the loss of his wife, daughter of the Powhatan chief.

Can two fiercely independent people find happiness and fulfillment on their own? Or will they discover that what they’ve been missing in life has been right in front of them all along?

My Impressions

For those who know the story of Jamestown, John Rolfe, and Pocahontas; comes this amazing reimagining from the pen of historical fiction maestro Laura Frantz. In Tidewater Bride, we reconnect with bits and pieces of the past lives of three friends, to find out what keeps two of them from being romantically involved after the death of the beloved third. Frantz paints beautiful Virginia scenery, two, make that many, cultures at odds with each other, striving for survival and supremacy in a wild and untamed land. Romance beckons but struggles to stay aflame amidst the winds of distrust and treachery which threaten. When you finish with this novel, you will be amazed at what you have learned about the political climate of the times, the way people groups treated each other, and the strength that some individuals showed in standing true to honest principles. “True Word” is a name given Alexander Renick because he was one of very few the “Naturals” I love that designation) could trust.

The premise for peace among the settlers and the Naturals is amazing, and my heart broke and cheered for those brave souls involved. I loved the growth we see in Selah, Renick, and Shay. May there be more parents like Selah’s and Shay’s, who taught their children to be colorblind to skin tone, but to examine the mettle of another’s the soul. And may we be careful not to assume and judge that which we don’t know for fact about another.
So much history woven into fiction from Laura Frantz, and so much romance, suspense, and intrigue that you’ll be spellbound.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and the publisher and through NetGalley and Library Thing. I also bought copies as prized gifts. All opinions are my own. No positive review was required.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!!

I love Laura Frantz’s books. Tidewater Bride may be one of my faves.

About the Author

Christy Award-winning author, Laura Frantz, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. When she’s not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State.

According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Foreign language editions include French, Dutch, Spanish, Slovakian, & Polish.

Readers can find Laura Frantz at http://www.laurafrantz.net

Giveaway

Doesn’t EVERYBODY Love to Read Laura Frantz?

If YOU would like to win a free copy of the book, Tidewater Bride, by Laura Frantz, I have two paperback copies to give away. Some things you want to know:

  1. You must live in the continental US to enter.
  2. This is a quick giveaway, closing Wednesday evening, 9pm EST.
  3. You must reply comment on this post with your email so I can contact you if you win.
  4. I will be drawing two names of entrants out of a hat, and mailing the books parcel post the end of this week. Good luck!!
BLOG, New-to-Me Author, Purchase

Decoy Valentine by Shannon Kent

About the Book

Title: Decoy Valentine

Author: Shannon Kent

Publisher: Kindle Edition

Released: January 2021

Genre: Christian Romantic Suspense, Mystery

FROM FAKE RELATIONSHIP TO TRUE LOVE

A broken engagement drives Susanna Kelly back to her hometown of Sweetheart, Texas and the arms of its quirky, lovable citizens. But her peaceful return to her roots is shattered when heart-shaped notes with sinister messages start appearing. The support of Daniel Sheppard, Asian American bestselling author and her childhood friend, gives her a much needed ally amidst the turmoil. He offers to play the role of her boyfriend to discourage the stalker, but Susanna resists. Pretending to be a couple? And with Daniel of all people? Who would buy it?

The note writer’s mind games force her to reconsider. Susanna accepts Daniel’s crazy plan, but her heart acts up whenever she’s near her decoy valentine. Comfortable, uncomplicated Daniel has turned into a full-grown man who makes her senses spin. As she tries to sort out her feelings, the make-believe romance has the opposite effect intended. Harmless notes turn into life-threatening accidents, and Daniel and Susanna must find out who’s behind the chaos before they can decide if their temporary relationship is a heaven-sent gift meant to last forever. 

My Impressions

Susannah Kelly is having a bad day. Or a bad three weeks, at least. Plus an unwanted suitor who can’t take a hint. How should she protect herself from the all-too familiar paper heart notes sent by a stalker, plus the wannabe boyfriend? Daniel Sheppard, Susannah’s best friend who has become a best-selling author in his three years away from Sweetheart, Texas, thinks he has the solution. Just be his valentine.

“It will never work,” she said. “No one will believe it. They’ll know we’re faking.” “We’re not faking.” Daniel met her on the porch, stuck his hands in his jacket pockets, and leaned against the railing. “You didn’t want to lie. Remember? We’re an honest-to-goodness couple.”

Author Shannon Kent sets Decoy Valentine in a small Texas town, preparing for their annual Candy Hearts Festival. The trope of (best) friends to couple is combined with a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and humor. The little town seems chock-full of quirky characters that by turns are very fun to know or very irritating. I would enjoy seeing more of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, including Lannette and Elise. While this was not a chiller, there were certainly some scary vibes going on, and Kent does a great job portraying realistic, flawed, lovable and unlovable characters. Now that Daniel and Susannah have their act together, I hope we see another lovelorn couple from this town.

Fave Quotes:

The Bible says I have to forgive you, but I don’t have to hug you.

Daniel was determined to go through with this crazy charade. She squeezed her eyes shut and prayed under her breath. “Please, God. Don’t strike us both with lightning.”

She was so tired of being the strong one. Why couldn’t someone else save the day for a change?

I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author. I was under no obligation to leave a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

When Shannon Kent earned an M.A. in Journalism, she never imagined her first published work of fiction would be inspired by TV shows from a faraway land. She loves the wacky, romantic world of Korean dramas and likes to share her opinions with fellow fans under the pen name Dramarookie at the Dramas with a Side of Kimchi blog.

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

A Bride of Convenience, #3 The Bride Ships by Jody Hedlund

About the Book

Title: A Bride of Convenience

Series: #3 The Bride Ships

Author: Jody Hedlund

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: June 2020

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Unemployed mill worker Zoe Hart jumps at the opportunity to emigrate to British Columbia in 1863 to find a better life and be reunited with her brother, who fled from home after being accused of a crime.

Pastor to miners in the mountains, Abe Merivale discovers an abandoned baby during a routine visit to Victoria and joins efforts with Zoe, one of the newly arrived bride-ship women, to care for the infant. While there, he’s devastated by the news from his fiancee in England that she’s marrying another man.

With mounting pressure to find the baby a home, Zoe accepts a proposal from a miner of questionable character after he promises to help her locate her brother. Intent on protecting Zoe and frustrated by his failed engagement, Abe offers his own hand as groom. After a hasty wedding, they soon realize their marriage of convenience is not so convenient after all. 

My Impressions

Reading A Bride of Convenience by Jody Hedlund, I wondered how I waited so long to read this book. Hedlund’s The Bride Ships series’ third book was a real pleasure. I enjoyed the history Hedlund accurately wove into the narrative about Canadian mining towns, English brides, and the smallpox epidemic that the Vancouver native Americans endured in the mid-late 1800s. It was sad to see such a great amount of prejudice and mistreatment against the native Americans.

Zoe is a great heroine, rising from a ”nobody” to somebody who stands tall because of her character. And then there’s loveable, rather hapless Abe, struggling to figure out exactly what direction God wants his life to take. I felt like Abe was torn between what people such as the Bishop told him he should do, and what God was leading him to actually do. Will Abe choose comfort or honor? My favorite secondary character is Mrs. Moresby. What a difference she made in the brides’ lives.

A Bride of Convenience is a delicious serving of English bride ships and Vancouver history with a side of social commentary wrapped up in compelling romantic prose that will keep you eagerly reading from the first page to last. A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the author and publisher through NetGalley. I am voluntarily leaving this review. All opinions are my own. 

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over thirty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards including the Christy, Carol, and Christian Book Award.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

ARC, Barbour, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, PB, Purchase

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep

About the Book

Title: The Thief of Blackfriars Lane

Author: Michelle Griep

Publisher: Barbour

Released: January 1, 2021

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Mystery

There’s Often a Fine Line Between a Criminal and a Saint
 
Constable Jackson Forge intends to make the world safer, or at least the streets of Victorian London. But that’s Kit Turner’s domain, a swindler who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning the rich to give to the poor. When a local cab driver goes missing, Jackson is tasked with finding the man, and the only way to do that is by enlisting Kit’s help. If Jackson doesn’t find the cabby, he’ll be fired. If Kit doesn’t help Jackson, he’ll arrest her for thievery. Yet neither of them realize those are the least of their problems.

My Impressions

Love historicals of the Victorian era? Love a Christian message seamlessly woven into the narrative? Michelle Griep has such a “silver pen” (compare to a “silver tongue” that our heroine Kit Turner has), that I could easily follow her into the underbelly of London. Not many authors could describe the shenanigans of Constable Jackson Forge and his enemy-turned-conspirator Kit the way Griep does. Griep tucks historical fact, English geography, and mystery, romance, and suspense into one mesmerizing, achingly beautiful story. The Thief of Blackfriars Lane grips you and refuses to be expunged from your mind much like the horrible smells of the sewer refuse to leave our unlikely hero’s clothes. For those who love surprises, there are plenty of twists and turns. There are also some very thought-provoking questions raised. Why does God allow failure and tragedy, instead of rescuing us from them? Kit doesn’t understand, and Jack helps console her:

“Yet it is often in tragedy where we find our life’s purpose, and that purpose is to love God and man.”

Are right and wrong clear-cut and absolute? Jack thinks they are. Can Kit teach him to think differently?

“…most of life dwells in the murky grey between right and wrong. Misfortunes will come and go, but through it all, our main duty is to keep loving God and keep loving man.”

Can you judge a book by its cover? If we’re referring to people, Griep proves that to judge based on the apparent cover is faulty at best, dangerous at worst. If we are referring to a book, I judge any of Michelle Griep’s books by one criterion: if her name is on it, it bears the mark of excellence. You would do well to buy it.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author and publisher. I also bought a copy, because a Griep is too good not to share. I am voluntarily leaving my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!!

(I have yet to find anything by Michelle Griep that I haven’t loved!)

About the Author

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

Barbour, BLOG, Celebrate Lit Tour, Favorite, NetGalley

The Gold Digger, #9 True Colors by Liz Tolsma Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  The Gold Digger

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre:  Christian/Historical/Suspense

Release Date:  December, 2020

The Gold Digger

Men Are Disappearing in LaPorte, Indiana

Book 9 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Fiction Based on Strange, But True, History

In 1907, shy but loyal Ingrid Storset travels from Norway to support her grieving sister, Belle Gunness, who owns a farm in LaPorte, Indiana. Well-to-do widow Belle, who has lost two husbands and several children, provides Ingrid with enough money to start a small business. But Ingrid is confused by the string of men Belle claims to be interviewing for her next husband. When Nils Lindherud comes to town looking for his missing brother, who said he was going to marry Belle, Ingrid has a sinking feeling her sister is up to no good.

Click here to get your copy!


My Impressions

The Gold Digger, #9 True Crimes by Liz Tolsma is yet another compelling, chilling read of romanticized history. Each book in this series is extremely well-written and researched, and The Gold Digger is no exception. I love the historical notes at the end from Tolsma.
The 1907 town of LaPorte, Indiana, is the scene of widower Belle Gunness‘s successful hog farm. A Norwegian immigrant, Belle provides everything she and her children need except a man’s loving care. Many men have answered Belle’s lovelorn ads for a match, but her sister, Ingrid Storset, is surprised no one stays to take the matrimonial plunge. When Nils Lindherud appears, searching for his missing brother, events crescendo to a finale that will make the strongest head spin.
To start The Gold Digger is to set other duties aside to give this incredible historical romantic suspense your undivided attention. The taut storyline, the knowledge you’re going to learn of some horrific crime (and in this series, often a spree), and the budding suspense mesmerize with a dark fascination.


Yet there is light in this tale. In the building romance between Ingrid and Nils. In the familial love we see between Ingrid and those in her sister’s family, and in Nils’s and Sven’s family. There is also light in the hope in God and His comfort, companionship, and love, as well as His help. The faith aspect was well-woven into the tale. It made me have hope that I can have greater faith to trust God completely, even if I don’t like the outcome of a situation. My fave quote is as follows:

“God will be on one side of you, and I’ll be on the other.”
Looking for ways to use it in real life!

I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. I am voluntarily leaving this review, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!

About the Author

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.

More from Liz

This story was so much fun to write, and the research was so interesting. It has to rank up there with one of my favorite books to write. That’s what makes my job the best around.

There are a great number of characters in The Gold Digger who are historical. Many of the places I mention are also historical. I had the pleasure of spending a day in LaPorte, Indiana, to research the book and take some pictures they had in the museum there. Research is one of my favorite aspects to writing. I could have spent much, much longer losing myself in the museum and in the archives. Good thing my cousin, who I was staying with, called me to let me know that it was getting dark and she had dinner ready, otherwise who knows how long I would have been there. Probably until they kicked me out!

One thing that the people of LaPorte would want you to know is that they really are nice people and that their town is a nice town. Lots of good people have been born there or have lived there over the years, including Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, William Mayo, who founded Mayo Clinic, and William Scholl, who found Dr. Scholl’s. They kept emphasizing to me while I was there what a great place LaPorte is. Judging by their friendliness and helpfulness, I would have to agree.

To help you better visualize the characters and setting, here are some photographs of the real people and places that appear in The Gold Digger.

Enjoy the book!

Liz

Blog Stops

Connie’s History Classroom, December 17

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 17

Genesis 5020, December 17

Pause for Tales, December 17

Artistic Nobody, December 18 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Sodbuster Living, December 18

21st Century Keeper at Home, December 18

Older & Smarter?, December 19

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 19

Blossoms and Blessings, December 19

The Write Escape, December 19

For the Love of Literature, December 20

deb’s Book Review, December 20

Blogging With Carol, December 20

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 21

lakesidelivingsite, December 21

Betti Mace, December 21

Inklings and notions, December 21

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 22

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, December 22

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 23

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 23

CarpeDiem, December 23

Hallie Reads, December 23

Remembrancy, December 24

Christian Bookaholic, December 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 24

Writing from the Heart Land, December 25

Splashes of Joy, December 25

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 25

Through the Fire Blogs, December 26

Rebecca Tews, December 26

For Him and My Family, December 26

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 27

Bigreadersite, December 27

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 27

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 28

Mary Hake, December 28

Texas Book-aholic, December 29

Godly Book Reviews, December 29

Daysong Reflections, December 29

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, December 30

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, December 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of The Gold Digger!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/104fc/the-gold-digger-celebration-tour-giveaway