Tag Archives: Historical Christian Fiction Novellas

Friday Flashback: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book One in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep

My Review

If you enjoy stories with mystery and intrigue, twists and turns keeping you guessing at who is orchestrating the events, quick short reads (only 192 pages) and best of all-tied up with a Christmas bow-then Bleakly Manor is the perfect short story for you!

I don’t usually like mystery/suspense stories. However, Michelle Griep’s first book in her series, Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, exudes just the right amount of inscrutability, that you will be reading quickly to get to the “who is doing it?” and then you’ll wish you’d savored it just a little longer.

Although there are some intense, mildly violent scenes, the story overall is one of trying to recover what each person feels they have lost. Some of the characters, like most people, are more at peace with themselves and God than others. Hence some are more pugnacious and crueler than others.

Don’t expect a happy time at Christmas in Bleakly Manor; it isn’t there in an overt or obvious way. Nonetheless, the ending (and the explanation of the traditions) provides the skinny Christmas bow.

I’m looking forward to the next edition in the series, and there is a sneak peek at the end of the book!

I received this book from Barbour Publishing. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Review

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle Griep Quick Review/On Tour with Celebrate Lit

Pretend I am courageous.

Pretend my heart still beats.

Pretend all manner of blissful things…

And I shall find him alive.

So begins the first story in Michelle Griep’s three novella book, Ladies of Intrigue.

I enjoyed this collection of novellas. I sometimes prefer novellas with a common thread. However, Michelle Griep’s novels of three different locations and times were perfect.

Each story’s heroine has obstacles to overcome where she must rely on her faith in God, her wits and her intuition.

The stories are perfect for a quick read, especially as winter seems to be dragging on, for these stories are lively and well-paced.

I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit through NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

3 Page-Turners Under One Cover from Reader Favorite Michelle Griep!
Can truth and love prevail when no one is as they appear?

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady

Cornish Coast, 1815

When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?

The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!)

Dakota Territory, 1862

Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.

A House of Secrets

St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890

Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit michellegriep.com.

Guest post from Michelle

3 Reasons to Read Historical Fiction

Believe it or not, some readers snub historical fiction, preferring instead to stick to contemporary reads. Several have good reason to, simply preferring one genre over another. But others have never given historical fiction a try. If you fall into that camp, here are some reasons you should consider reading a tale from the past.

         1. Historical fiction books are not as boring as your high school history class.

Does the thought of endless names and dates make you break out into hives? Good news! Historical fiction is a painless way to glean some historic facts without mindless memorization. You can experience a different era and culture vicariously through heroes and heroines that live on the pages of yesteryear.

2. Makes for great conversation.

In a world that prides itself on keeping up with the Kardashians, dare to add a little cultural zest to your next dinner conversation. Reading historical fiction arms you with interesting tidbits of things that’ve happened in years gone by.

3. Because truth is timeless.

Some people yearn to go back to a simpler time. The truth is, though, that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the historic side of the fence. People have had tough issues to deal with no matter the era. . .but therein lies a great reason to read historical fiction: truth is timeless. Be it ancient, biblical, medieval, Victorian, or anything in between, truth never changes.

In my new release, Ladies of Intrigue, you’ll experience all these things and more. Find out about the smuggling trade in Cornwall in The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady. Learn about the rough and dangerous life on a military fort during the 1860s in The Doctor’s Woman. Find out why the gilded age wasn’t as glittery as we often think in A House of Secrets.

Don’t be doomed to repeat history. Grab a cup of tea and master it with a great read!

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, February 23

The Power of Words, February 23

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 23

Blogging With Carol, February 24

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 24

Mary Hake, February 24

Kathleen Denly, February 25

Genesis 5020, February 25

Splashes of Joy, February 25

For the Love of Literature, February 25

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 26

Faery Tales Are Real, February 26

Through the Fire Blogs, February 26

Blossoms and Blessings, February 26

Inspired by fiction, February 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 27

Back Porch Reads, February 27

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 27

A Baker’s Perspective, February 28

Andy Carmichael, February 28

Stories By Gina, February 28

Emily Yager, March 1

Multifarious, March 1

A Reader’s Brain , March 1

Baker kella, March 1

Bibliophile Reviews, March 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 2

Remembrancy, March 2

Just the Write Escape, March 3

Bigreadersite, March 3

Inspiration Clothesline, March 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 4

Vicky Sluiter, March 4

Ashley’s Bookshelf, March 4

Book by Book, March 4

Kat’s Corner Books, March 5

Inklings and notions, March 5

Living Life Free in Christ, March 5

The Morning Chapter, March 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 6

Pause for Tales, March 6

Simple Harvest Reads, March 6 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Daysong Reflections, March 6

Texas Book-aholic, March 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 7

Janices book reviews, March 7

A Humble Cup of Lukewarm Tea, March 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, March 8

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, March 8

Carpe Diem, March 8

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card and a free copy of Ladies of Intrigue!!

Be sure to comment on blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/da8c/ladies-of-intrigue-celebration-tour-giveaway

(I updated this to reflect my review which was somehow deleted!!)

The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection: 9 Women Dream of Perfect Christmases during the Victorian Era by C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstad and Erica Vetsch

My Review

Who doesn’t love the magic of Christmas at any time of year? Add the mystique of the Victorian Era, coupled with the enchantment of Christmas brides, and you have the recountal of a memorable time in history.

Nine authors have come together to write nine stories of men and women finding unexpected, but much-welcomed, love.

I traveled from the United States to England and back again. I felt the cold, stinging of sleet and heard the pinging of it hitting the window. I was entranced and breathless from the beautiful snow as it fell softly to the ground, covering it in pure white. I smelled the pungent fir and pine Christmas trees, along with the wassail and roasting goose. I felt despair, confusion and joy-just as the personalities portrayed did.

I am familiar with many of the authors and enjoyed reading their works. A few were new to me. However, I look forward to reading additional creations of theirs, too.

The fun thing about novellas is you can curl up in your favorite reading space and read as much or as little as you want. If you are like me, you’ll read the entire book in one sitting!!

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Experience a Dickens of a Christmas

Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love?

Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley
1837 Framlingham, England
How can widow Ophelia Hanover give her son a perfect Christmas when his guardian, the Earl of Litton, arrives early to take permanent custody of the boy?

One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase
1855 Devonshire, England
Wounded soldier Tristram Nowell returns home to indulge his mother’s wish for a family Christmas–and encounters Marianna Granville. Can he forgive the former heiress who jilted him years before?

Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher
1857 Elmira, New York
SarahAnn Winnifred overcomes orphan hood apprenticing with pioneering doctors. Rufus Sedgwick, relocating his English estate, seeks help for his ailing Mum. Christmas reveals the secret wish of both hearts–for love.

The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels
1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew for help.

Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze
1875, County Durham, England1875
This Yuletide, Bennet Hett, Viscount Harwood, offers Lady Celeste Sidwell matrimony and the Star of Wonder diamond necklace, as their fathers arranged. When the diamond disappears, will they find a greater treasure?

Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad
1880, Christmas, Chicago, Christmas
Widowed harpist Beatrix Kent believes love can only come once in a lifetime, but this Christmas, carpenter Hugo Sherman hopes to pull on the musician’s heartstrings and prove her wrong.

The Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch
1880s London
Melisande Verity might be in over her head trying to create the perfect Christmas window display, but if she succeeds, will she finally attract the attention of her boss, Gray Garamond?

A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer
1899, Christmas, London, England, Christmas 1899
Lady Ashleigh Pendleton is hosting a houseful of guests for Christmas when railroad executive Christopher Campbell unexpectedly arrives from America with a mysterious agreement signed by their fathers before their birth.

The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach
1900, Small town along the Potomac near Washington, DC
A glass ornament. Love letters tied in red Christmas ribbon. Lily Morningstar and British antiquities expert Andrew Stapleton are drawn into a family secret that binds their hearts together.

Third Peek at Soon to be Released Books!

Authors

                       C.J. Chase

                                Susanne Dietze  

                         Rita Gerlach

                                Kathleen L. Maher

                              Gabrielle Meyer  

                                Carrie Fancett Pagels 

                            Vanessa Riley  

                                Lorna Seilstad 

                         Erica Vetsch 

Published by Barbour Books to be released September 1st.

A Plain and Sweet Christmas Romance Collection: Spend Christmas with 9 Historical Couples from Amish, Mennonite, Quaker, and Amana Settlements by Lauralee Bliss,‎ Ramona K. Cecil,‎ Dianne Christner,‎ Melanie Dobson,‎ Jerry S. Eicher,‎ Olivia Newport,‎ Rachael O. Phillips,‎ Claire Sanders and‎ Anna Schmidt

My Review

A Plain and Sweet Christmas focuses on how the Quakers, Mennonites, Amish and those from the Amana Colonies in Iowa either do or do not celebrate Christmas. Of course, there are romantic elements to each story. Surprisingly, some of the stories focus on married couples. However, just because you are married doesn’t mean there is no romance, right?

I enjoyed reading about the Amana Colonies. I have family members who lived in Iowa, so I’ve always been fascinated with the Amana Colonies. Unfortunately, I have never been able to visit them. Maybe one day I’ll get the opportunity. Having read these stories will help me to appreciate their history even more.

The compilation features authors whose books I’ve read before and some that are new to me. I am always excited to read a set of novellas like this because of the exposure to new authors, and A Plain and Sweet Christmas Romance Collection doesn’t disappoint! Also, there are some great recipes at the end of the stories; I can’t wait to try some of them out.

Each narrative is well-written with very different perspectives, some more heart-wrenching than others. Even so, if you are looking for a heartwarming, faith-filled book full of Christmas history, drama, hope and renewal, along with love and romance, then you are sure to enjoy A Plain and Sweet Christmas Romance Collection.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Enjoy a simple Christmas, sweetened by love, in historical communities of plain faith people. Four romances develop among the Ohio River Valley Quakers of the mid-1800s. Two Mennonite couples face influences from outside their old traditions. Two Amish couples from the early 1900s are affected by world events. And in an Amana community, childhood sweethearts are reunited. Each story also includes a recipe for a sweet traditional treat.

The Captive Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Susan Page Davis, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Lucy Thompson and Gina Welborn

My Review

The Captive Brides is a compilation of nine novellas in one book and is a mix of both favorite and new to me authors. I liked the play on words in the title, too.

In the first story, Love’s Labor Found, by Jennifer AlLee, I was shocked by the gruesomeness (for lack of a better word) of the story. I was also shocked at the callousness portrayed by the victim, though I will say the villain got what he deserved. In fairness to the author and the story, when a book elicits a strong reaction, it usually means it was well-written and developed. I perceived a cavalier attitude toward barbaric cruelty and found it disconcerting.

If I had been steeped in the seventeenth-century moral insensitivity, I might have found the plot less repugnant, but Love’s Labor Found is a novella with word constraints. I never felt fully in the seventeenth century, and I felt twenty-first-century revulsion for a setting in which torture, beatings and murder were the norm.

The cavalier attitude toward evil reminded me of a story (required school reading) I LOATHED, The Great Gatsby. Even Love’s Labor Found doesn’t deal with characters as horrific as The Great Gatsby’s but leaves the same sour taste in my mouth.

Several of the stories deal with abhorrent issues; others aren’t quite so repugnant. Some deal with horrendous acts of enslavement, while others deal with false accusations and arrest, a marriage of convenience, runaway slaves and other tales where women are “captive” to their situations.

Each narrative is well written and thought-provoking. Some elicit more emotion than others, but they overall show how faith and belief in God can draw you out of horrible situations into lives of hope and potential.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Love Brings Freedom in 9 Historical Romances

Journey along as nine historical women are about to make their escape from some of life’s greatest challenges. Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love?

Love’s Labours Found by Jennifer AlLee – Montserrat, West Indies, 1655
Temperance Simms only wanted a better life. Instead, she finds herself labeled a criminal and sold as an indentured servant. After a kind man saves her life, can Temperance trust that God will turn her sorrow into something beautiful?

His Indentured Bride by Angela Breidenbach – Pennsylvania, 1773-1776
Leaving Scotland for a short indenture with her betrothed, Maire Greer’s contract is sold when disaster strikes her kindly owner, and then extended through cruel circumstances. Can Kirk Lachlan’s service in the American Revolution save her or will she lose love and freedom forever?

The Suspect Bride by Susan Page Davis – Oregon, 1890s
Verity Ames cooks at the restaurant where shy lawyer Jack Whitwell eats lunch daily. As Jack works up courage to ask her for a date, the sheriff walks into the restaurant and arrests Verity for murder.

His Golden Treasure by Darlene Franklin – San Francisco, 1873
Goldie Hatfield grows up on the Barbary Coast until her guardian demands she pay the cost of her upbringing—or work at her brothel. How far will Pastor Joshua Kerr go to set Goldie free?

Through Stormy Waters by Patty Smith Hall – Atlantic Ocean, 1745
Deported to the British colonies for her father’s crimes, Charlotte Singleton helps Captain John Randall when an epidemic breaks out on his ship. Can two battered hearts find love in the midst of a storm?

Moira’s Quest by Cynthia Hickey – New York, 1869
A quest for revenge ends in a marriage of convenience and a feisty Irish lass discovers that not everything is as it seems as family secrets are revealed. An Irish cop, bent on saving the fallen women of Five Points, New York, finds himself thrust into the role of husband with a woman determined to break down a notorious crime boss. Can these two pull together and find a love bigger than they are?

Love’s Escape by Carrie Fancett Pagels – Virginia, 1850
With her life in peril, Lettie seeks escape from slavery. When Nathan offers to “conduct” her North via an unusual segment on the Underground Railroad, will his efforts help or do them both harm?

Waltzing Matilda by Lucy Thompson – Sydney, Australia, 1821
Henry didn’t plan on a runaway convict masquerading as a shepherd. Or on the woman’s baby. Keeping them safe will cost him his freedom—or will it?

A Score to Settle by Gina Welborn – On the Missouri River, 1870
For JoJo the kiss was a means to an end—she wanted his wallet. For Cyrus her kiss changed everything. He vows to help her escape the snake oil salesman she works for, but exposing the man’s lies may mean settling a score at a cost neither JoJo nor Cyrus can pay.

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection: Nine Stories of Poverty and Opulence During the Gilded Age by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright and Kathleen Y’Barbo

My Review

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection is a delightful set of nine novellas chronicling the lives of nine couples from a variety of socio-economic stations in life. The stories are set between the years 1867 and 1899, during a time in US history known as the Gilded Age (The term was coined from a satirical Mark Twain novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today).

I enjoyed each of the stories in the compilation-some, of course, more than others, but each had its own endearing qualities. I learned a few new words (which, by the way, I love to do when reading). For example: faille, a word defined by Wiktionary as a fabric woven from silk, cotton, or rayon with slight ribs.

I was so engrossed in the story of the all-female baseball team in Susanne Dietze’s The Right Pitch that I was startled when members of the team were transported by carriage. The story is such a captivating and timeless saga that I forgot it was set in the 1800s!

Debut author Natalie Monk does an extraordinary job with her novella, For Richer or Poorer. I was drawn to Marcella Lipski and her plight in wanting to find a way to bring her family to America.

Each novella has a sweet story with messages of faith, hope and love; some have stronger messages than others, but all complement their stories well.

If you want a quick read or would rather spend more time lost in history, Of Rags and Riches is the perfect book to curl up with and get lost in the Gilded Age.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Love Flourishes during America’s Gilded Age

Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.

Union Pacific Princess by Jennifer Uhlarik – Cheyenne, Dakota Territory, 1867
In the hell-on-wheels rail town of Cheyenne, grieving Boston socialite Dara Forsythe must choose between her estranged father; Connor, a bigwig with the Union Pacific Railroad; and Gage Wells, a former Confederate sharpshooter bent on derailing the Transcontinental Railroad’s progress.

The Right Pitch by Susanne Dietze – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1876
Guarded industrialist Beck Emerson agrees to sponsor his sister’s all-female baseball team. But when pretty pitcher Winnie Myles throws a curveball that makes him team manager, it challenges his plan to play it safe in life and love.

A Gift in Secret by Kathleen Y’Barbo – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1871
May Bolen offers Sam Austin a marriage of convenience. He will get to run the company that drove his into bankruptcy, and she will be free from her father’s rule to travel the world. But when Sam meets May, he knows the offer is too good to be true—or convenient—when hearts become tangled.

For Richer or Poorer by Natalie Monk – Newark, New Jersey, 1885
In order to bring her starving family to New Jersey, Polish immigrant Marcella Lipski must marry wealth. So she takes Americanization lessons from the poor-but-mysterious cart driver teaching her English—and loses her heart in the process.

A House of Secrets by Michelle Griep – St. Paul, MN 1890
Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.

Win, Place, or Show by Erica Vetsch – New York City, 1890
Beryl Valentine, a socialite with a passion for horses, finds herself falling in love with her riding instructor, a man her parents will never accept. Will she follow her parents’ wishes, or let Gard Kennedy ride away with her heart?

The Fisherman’s Nymph by Jaime Jo Wright – Flambeau River, Wisconsin, 1890
The reclusive daughter of a fly-fisherman guide must read the waters for a wealthy gentleman’s sport and send him back where he belongs before he hooks her heart and takes her away from the river she was born to love.

The Gardener’s Daughter by Anne Love – Bay View, Michigan, 1895
When the nephew of a prestigious Chautauqua resort founder sets his eye on the new library assistant believing her an academy student, it will take more than reciting poetry for love to bloom when he learns she’s the humble gardener’s daughter.

A Tale of Two Hearts by Gabrielle Meyer – Little Falls, Minnesota, June 1899
Reputations and jobs are on the line when lady’s maid, Lucy Taylor, and neighboring footman, Elijah Boyer, compete against each other for a place of honor during the annual community appreciation event hosted by their wealthy employers.