Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue?
Sarah Drayton is eager to spend time with her best friend at her crumbling Northumberland castle estate. Matrimony is the last thing on her mind and the last thing she expects to be faced with on a holiday. Yet she finds herself being inveigled into a marriage of convenience with her friend’s rakish brother.
When James Langley returns to his family’s estate, he can’t be bothered to pay attention to his responsibilities as the heir. War is raging and he wants only distraction, not serious tethers. But his roguish ways have backed him into a corner, and he has little choice but to obey his father’s stunning decree: marry before returning to war, or else. Suddenly he finds himself wedded to a clever and capable woman he does not love.
Sarah craves love and a place to belong, neither of which James offered before returning to the battlefront. Now everyone around her thinks she married above her station, and they have no intention of rewarding her for such impertinence. It isn’t until her husband returns from war seemingly changed that she begins to hope they may find real happiness. But can she trust that this rake has truly reformed?
When tragedy strikes, this pair must learn to trust God and his plans. Will they be destroyed . . . or will they discover that even in the darkest depths of night, the morning still holds hope?
While most stories set in Regency England focus on the rich, the young, and the beautiful, award-winning author Carolyn Miller decided she wanted to give readers something different for a change. Her new Regency Wallflowers series follows the commoners, away from the hustle and bustle of 1810s London, out in the Lake District of England. She tells the stories of women who are slightly older and have few prospects for marriage, women who might be considered “wallflowers.”
Midnight’s Budding Morrow is the second book in the Regency Wallflowers series. The first book in the series is Dusk’s Darkest Shores.
“God is a Redeemer, One who turns the weak into the brave, who can use the broken ones to save.”
I cannot love Midnight’s Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller enough. A Regency Romance, Midnight’s Budding Morrow explores themes of drunkenness; depression; plus, searching for acceptance and deep, forever love. Miller also presents the flip side. Redemption and forgiveness are centerpieces of this amazing novel I couldn’t read fast enough.
Unfortunately, the inferiority that plagues Sarah Drayton may be far too easy for many readers to identify with. James Langley’s behavior is also easy to imagine. Miller has done a great job of producing realistic, imperfect, and relatable characters, whose growth will depend upon whether their faith can rise to meet the challenges.
I loved the way that we see the maturation of both characters, as they grow into the roles they have been called to fulfill. Yet, both are imperfect, which drives the novel, along with the machinations of shrewd and conniving tertiary characters.
I could not read this book fast enough, yet I wanted to savor every word, every scene. And I ugly-cried. Books rarely make me cry. These people of Miller’s-for they are no longer merely characters on a page- will live on with me for some time. This novel hit every sweet spot in my requirements for memorable, top-of-its-category Regency Romance. Problems are impossibly deep, God’s Grace is deeper.
I received a copy of the book from the I Read with Audra tour. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
“Nothing mattered. No one would remark on her absence. She was nothing. Nobody. Of no value. Of no importance. She was a failure. A failure as a wife. A failure as a mother. She had failed to be accepted.”
“God didn’t see her. He didn’t care. He hadn’t cared before, so why would He pay attention now?”
“Broken, but being healed by God.”
“It is most wonderful to see how God can restore the brokenhearted, and free those who have been bound to their pasts.”
“When we’re in the depths of midnight’s pain and darkness, we cannot see that God is still working goodness for tomorrow.”
Magnificent!! This Regency Romance Catapulted to the top of my Top Ten Reads in 2022!!
About the Author
AuthorCarolyn Miller is an inspirational romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.
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. She enjoys music, films, gardens, art, travel, and food.
Miller’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.
Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series
Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn’t spent much time with her parents and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They’ve been living double lives as government spies–and they’re only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family’s legacy.
Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors–not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.
Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents’ last mission?
Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance.
Wow! This is only the second book I’ve read by Erica Vetsch, but The Debutante’s Code just pushed Vetsch into my must-watch authors.
An adventurous and resourceful debutante, fresh from finishing school, Juliette’s biggest desire is to return home to get reacquainted with the parents she has missed for seven long years. Unfortunately, upon entering society, she finds herself in the care of a drunken uncle and an overbearing dowager duchess. When Lady Juliette makes a surprise discovery about her parents, can she reconcile the faith they taught her with what she now knows to be true?
Daniel Swann of Bow Street, a young police constable, has humble beginnings that his superior never tires of reminding him about. Yet, when he meets Juliette Thorndike following a robbery at a wealthy residence, he is intrigued.
I fell in love with both of these characters. Juliette is kind, intelligent, and so brave, and willing to learn all she can about her new calling. I felt her pain and confusion in my own soul over her parents’ absence. Daniel Swann… well, for starters, Swann is very close to the word Swoon. Perhaps there is a connection! Poor Daniel!! He has parental issues, too. Plus, his job is in jeopardy because of unfair bias. The closer Daniel gets to Juliette, the more he realizes she is not who she seems.
Unfortunately for the reader, this book ends without a solid conclusion. We must wait for book two to see what develops in many ways. I will be first in line!
The epilogue and author’s notes are essential parts of this book. There are links to more information on certain items of interest.
I received a copy of this book from the author through I Read with Audra via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all thoughts are solely my own.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Magnifcent! Vetsch Becoming a New Fave Author!!
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 is the author of many novellas and novels, including the popular Serendipity & Secrets Regency series and the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series
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.
Do you have a fiction lover on your holiday shopping list? Look no further for a gift suggestion! Just in time for the gift-giving season, award-winning author Erica Vetsch is kicking off her new Thorndike & Swann Regency mystery series with the release of The Debutante’s Code (Kregel Publications). This new series combining a historical setting, romance, and mystery has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes. With that combination, where can you go wrong?
Q: Introduce us to the new Thorndike & Swann Regency Mystery series which has been described as Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes.
This story has been a long time in the making! It has to be almost ten years ago that I first thought up the story idea, and originally, it was set in Gilded Age New York. But when I began writing stories set in Regency England, I realized the original tale could easily be adapted to the Regency Era.
Our heroine longs to be reunited with her parents and have her debut season in London, but her plans go awry when her parents do not meet her at the docks and are, in fact, missing. She discovers that she comes from a long line of spies for the Crown, and she has a choice, either to finish what her parents started, or turn her back on her heritage and become the socialite she assumed she would be all along. Her mind is made up when murder is afoot.
Our hero is a Bow Street Runner, one of London’s earliest policemen, and he’s on the hunt for a stolen painting…then other valuables from the same shipment of rare items disappear one by one, and an art dealer is found murdered in his gallery. Each clue leads our hero closer and closer to the thief and killer, but he’s disconcerted to find that his chief suspect has become the debutante he finds so attractive.
Q: Tell us more about your leading lady, Juliette Thorndike.
Juliette is fresh from finishing school in Switzerland, where she has been for several years. Because of Britain’s ongoing war with France, her parents determined a cloistered school in Switzerland was a safe place for her to remain, especially while they were doing daring deeds for the monarch. Juliette is an accomplished toxophilite, avid reader, puzzle solver, and good dancer.
Most of all, Juliette yearns for her family to be reunited. She was a child when she was sent to Switzerland, and she longs to know her parents as an adult. They have been in frequent communication via letters, but it isn’t the same as being together in person. When she discovers that her parents have kept such a dire secret from her all these years, she wonders if she’s ever known them at all.
Q: Juliette has a somewhat fantasized view of who her parents are, yet she really hasn’t spent that much time around them. What happens to make her realize she’s never really known them at all?
They’ve hidden so many things from her—from her heritage to their activities and hidden rooms in their house. She has created an image in her mind of what life will be like once they are reunited, but now she wonders if any of it is even possible, much less probable.
She’s always felt secure in her parents’ love, but if they can lie about something so big, what else have they lied about?
Q: Why does Juliette not only feel abandon by her parents, but abandoned by God?
We often form our views of a Heavenly Father from our experience with our earthly parents, for good or for ill. Juliette has not been ill-treated by her parents, or at least she didn’t think she had, but if they could abandon her on the eve of her coming out in society (in what should be the most important year of her life), can she trust anything about them?
Their priorities clearly don’t line up with hers. They put their work ahead of their daughter. Is that fair? Is that right?
They’ve taught her that God is with her, that He will never abandon her, but can she trust what they have taught her when they can lie so easily?
Q: How have Juliette’s parents been preparing her to be a part of the “family business” even though they haven’t been a physical presence in her life? A variety of ways, starting with protecting her from the truth when she was very small. They also took great care in the school they chose for her to attend. She’s conversant in French and some Italian as well as English, has been taught the skills required of a young lady in the British aristocracy, such as dancing, deportment, music, and art.
But she’s also learned a great deal of history, logic, and rhetoric in her curriculum, as well as archery. All skills that will aid her if she chooses to follow in her parents’ footsteps as a spy for the Crown.
And her father added another twist. He wrote to her often, but always in code. A different code each time, growing more complex as she grew and became more adept at deciphering his codes.
Juliette comes to realize that her parents have been preparing her for her future role, but she doesn’t realize how quickly her skills will be tested.
Q: A Regency novel is not a Regency novel without a swoon-worthy hero. Just who is Daniel Swann?
Ah, Daniel. He’s had very little say in his life up to now, being the illegitimate son of a household servant. He’s done every chore that can be found on a country estate, from being the boot boy in charge of cleaning and polishing all the shoes, to helping the groundskeepers and gardeners with the weeding and planting, to working in the stables and riding the master’s horses out to exercise. In his own way, he’s been training for his future, too.
Through more outside influence, he was removed from his mother’s care, sent to boarding school, and then to Oxford with the understanding that his guardianship would end at his 25th birthday, which is fast approaching. Then he will be in command of his life for the first time…but he wonders if he’s up to the task.
Q: Daniel has a bit of a mysterious past himself—one that even eludes him even though he’s a detective. How has his past directed his career choice?
Daniel has no idea who his mysterious patron is, and he is forbidden from searching out his identity. He’s given other rules he must follow, including cutting off all ties with his mother. He was a bewildered, homesick child, wrenched from his home and shipped off to boarding school, and he believes his mother was only too glad to be rid of him, otherwise why would she agree to such a terrible thing?
Daniel studied art and history at Oxford, unsure of what he would do for a career, but when a Bow Street officer shows up to investigate a murder in the Oxford Canal, Daniel is hooked on detective work. With the help of his hidden patron, he secures a job at Bow Street, against the wishes of his new superior officer, who is always looking for a reason to dismiss Daniel.
With his past so shrouded in mystery, his current situation tenuous, and his future racing toward him at his 25th birthday when his patronage will cease, Daniel focuses on being the best detective he can be and hopes things will all work out.
Q: What kind of research was required to write a mystery set in the early 1800s? What are some of the methods detectives of the day would have to depend on?
There was quite a bit of research involved in this one, from police procedures to art history. Much studying of maps and the hierarchy of society, the lives of British spies, and fitting it all into the current political and social situations of the times. I had fun deciding upon the various items that would go missing, from statues to jewelry to artwork, and deciding upon different ways each piece could be acquired.
As to the police methods of the day, the Bow Street detectives didn’t have our current levels of forensic science to help identify culprits. They relied upon eyewitness testimony, circumstantial evidence, catching someone red-handed, and by following the paperwork/money trail. Some things have not changed. The main motives for lawbreaking still fall into three categories: money, power, and sex. Who has it, who wants it, who wants to deny someone else from acquiring it? And in Regency times, the detectives were still looking for motive, means, and opportunity. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The Debutante’s Code is my first true mystery, and it’s all wrapped into a heist story, so layering those different threads together was a new adventure for me.
Q: Fans fell in love with the characters from your Serendipity & Secrets series. Is there any chance we might see some familiar faces make a cameo in your new series?
I am delighted that the Thorndike & Swann mysteries take place in what I like to call the “Haverly Universe” first created in the Serendipity & Secrets series. In The Debutante’s Code, several characters from the S&S series reappear, including the Duke of Haverly, Marcus, his duchess, Charlotte, and the Dowager Duchess of Haverly, who is a personal favorite of mine.
Though there is a host of new characters in The Debutante’s Code, as the series unfolds, more of the S&S cast will come into the stories.
Q: Can you give us a tease of what to expect in the remainder of the Thorndike & Swann series?
The next book, Millstone of Doubt, begins with a bang! Literally! A grist mill on the Thames explodes, but when the rubble and dust are cleared, a man is found dead, not from the explosion, but from a gunshot! Was the mill blown up to cover the murder? Who would want the mill owner dead? Daniel and Juliette put their heads together to sort out the crime, while Juliette juggles her new career as a spy and a debutante, and Daniel uncovers many of the secrets he needs to piece together the puzzle of his past. Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor) and Instagram (@EricaVetsch).
Hampton Hall’s new owner has the villagers of St. Hampton Heath all aflutter—all except Lavinia Ellison. The reverend’s daughter cares for those who are poor and sick, and the seventh Earl of Hawkesbury definitely does not meet that criteria. His refusal to take his responsibilities seriously, or even darken the door of the church, leave her convinced he is as arrogant and reckless as his brother—his brother who stole the most important person in Lavinia’s world.Nicholas Stamford is shadowed by guilt: his own, his brother’s, the legacy of war. A perfunctory visit to this dreary part of Gloucestershire wasn’t supposed to engage his heart, or his mind. Challenged by Miss Ellison’s fascinating blend of Bluestocking opinions, hoydenish behavior, and angelic singing voice, he finds the impossible becoming possible—he begins to care. But Lavinia’s aloof manner, society’s opposition and his ancestral obligations prove most frustrating, until scandal forces them to get along.Can Lavinia and Nicholas look beyond painful pasts and present prejudice to see their future? And what happens when Lavinia learns a family secret that alters everything she’s ever known?
Looking for a clean, Regency romance with Christian values? The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller is a good choice. This was my second time reading the novel, and I daresay, I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Lavinia Ellison is a poor reverend’s daughter who lives with her father and aunt in Gloucester, England in 1813. There is much ado when the newest Earl of Hawkesbury Hall returns to his country estate. Lavinia holds Hawkesbury guilty of many sins, and she is the one young lady unaffected by Nicholas’s wealth and prestige. Somehow, this makes her very interesting to the earl. I liked the quick wit that we see in Lavinia and Hawkesbury. Sometimes I wanted to shake them into talking to each other more honestly. Miller seems to make the point that pride and prejudice can be a two-way street. Lavinia is certainly quite surprised to discover this shortcoming in herself, while she holds many faults against Nicholas. “How often do we hold sins against others, whether they be petty, imagined slights, or even grave miscarriages of justice, while allowing our own weaknesses to slip through our fingers of blame?”
Miller’s prose holds dry humor that often caused me to grin, even as I wondered how long Lavinia and the earl could treat each other so poorly. An unexpected twist totally changes the story in a way I had totally forgotten and didn’t see coming. “A handsome appearance counted for naught unless matched by good character and actions.” So opines our heroine, yet the amount of change required of Nicholas was tremendous. I often forgot this as I got impatient with the earl’s indecisiveness and inability to choose one straight course of action.
Quite a few tidbits of wisdom are included in the novel, many of them spiritual. One that rang especially true: “All things are forgivable when we realize how much we’ve been forgiven.” The Elusive Miss Ellison is definitely a recommended read. I received a complimentary copy of the book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit. I am voluntarily leaving this review. All opinions are my own.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
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
Mr. Darcy has a lot to answer for, doesn’t he?
I’ve long been a fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, and my first historical romance, The Elusive Miss Ellison, was so fun to write as I worked to weave the social commentary of Jane Austen with the wit and romantic dash of Heyer, an unwavering Christian thread, and a dash of Aussie perspective.
I’ve been very fortunate to visit many of the settings used in my Regency Brides series (of series), including the Cotswolds, Brighton, Bath, London, Derbyshire and the gorgeous Scottish castle featured on the cover of Misleading Miss Verity, and have loved seeing readers respond so positively to these stories of hope, redemption, family and love.
I love to share images of my trips and what I envisage concerning these stories at my website (www.carolynmillerauthor.com) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CarolynMillerAuthor) and hope readers will enjoy being swept up into an age of ladies and true gentlemen, when the code of honor was paramount, and Mr. Darcy showed that first impressions can never be fully trusted, and that there is always something deeper to the story.
Respectability was all she needed to win his heart…and precisely what she lacked.
Miss Frances Fanshawe’s past is shrouded in mystery. Raised genteelly as an heiress to a fortune, she is forced to question everything after her mother dies and leaves her with only a single clue to the money. Unless she can locate her father or otherwise prove her heritage, not only the fortune but her very respectability is at stake.
In line for a baronetcy, Sebastian Arundell has no time for sorting out questionable tangles for young women with dubious histories. No matter if they are young, appealing, and have ridiculously large chocolate eyes to melt a man’s heart. But when it becomes apparent that other people are after Frannie’s supposed fortune, he is drawn to investigate. As the search deepens, Frannie falls in love with handsome, proper Sebastian. But if it only proves what he suspects—that she’s an illegitimate pauper—will all hope to win his heart be lost?
Whoa. This is a Dickensian Regency that will have you learning as you laugh,
wonder, and swoon with the story.
For all its ostentatious words, Miss Fanshawe’s Fortune by Linore Rose Burkhard is a
very clean, fun, and relaxing weekend read.
The first item that made me a happy reader was the inclusion of a glossary, timeline,
and map at the back of the book. These appendices are mentioned in the front, so
you know what tools are available, should you desire.
“Edward Arundell suspected from the moment he almost ran her down on
Monmouth Street, that Miss Fanshawe would be trouble.” Second inkling this will be
a great book. A great opening line.
A dear widow woman who has been ousted from society because of a terrible
accident, Mrs. Arundelle is both a delight and an enigma, as she holds a longstanding
grudge. Yet, she quickly insists that homeless Miss Fanshawe should be her society
companion and eventually, an inexplicable part of the family.
Of course, who would not love poor, sweet Frannie, who only wants respectability
and answers? I felt like I was watching a play, cheering for a romance between
Frannie and somewhat stern Sebastian (Beau).
Roadblocks to the romance and to any answers to Frannie’s ancestry are plenty. This
is where the unbiased observer can see just how far Sebastian goes in his search for
Frannie’s answers until the search becomes his quest, too. Got to love a gentleman
But if this were a play, the supporting actress award would have to go to Mrs.
Fanshawe. Bold, manipulative, shrewd, and cunning, she is also overbearing,
designing, and determined. What a character. She certainly drives a lot of the action.
Hopefully, others can put on the brakes.
If you like Regency romances with faith, mystery, and high-brow language of the ton,
then this is a great book for you.
I received a complimentary copy of this book, plus I bought my own. All opinions are
Linore Rose Burkard ( L.R.Burkard) is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first novel (Before the Season Ends) opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance (Falling In), and romantic short stories (ie., “Three French Hens”). Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.