Follow a Swedish family’s journey as they settle in Minnesota where each brother seeks a living–and wife. Gustaf is left to manage his brother’s romantic mess. August considers courting his brother’s castoff. Lowell and Ollie are both fascinated by the same mysterious woman. Can a family’s faith forge a new home and nurture love?
In Lena Nelson Dooley’s Brides of Minnesota, the brothers of the Jenson family are the focus of an intriguing trilogy of novellas. In addition to hearing about each brother’s experience finding a wife, we also learn about the challenges faced by Swedish immigrants in Minnesota.
The three stories are “The Other Brother,” “His Brother’s Castoff” and “Double Deception.” I believe “Double Deception” is my favorite of the three stories.
Overall, the stories were enjoyable and consistent. Dooley did a good job of illuminating and describing the changes brought about by relocating so far to begin a new life. There was also a clear message of faith, which I always value. However, I thought the “tell not show” element of storytelling weighed down a lot of the narrative.
I liked the trilogy as a whole, especially since they were connected and focused on the same family.
You’ll like Brides of Minnesota if you’re looking for a book with a consistent theme running through all the stories.
I received an advanced review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I am voluntarily leaving this review.
The fiery pain at her new husband’s murder might equal the disaster blazing across the Pacific Northwest. Stranded in the treacherous railroad camp, baking bread for survival to avoid the life of a bordello canary, Juliana Hayes has no desire to marry a railroad ruffian like Lukas Filips, or anyone else. Her scrimping and saving will pay off soon. She’ll be free of the camps, the rails, and the men who destroyed her life. But she can’t earn her living constantly besieged by desperate bachelors where few women cause chaos in the male ranks.
Juliana reluctantly accepts his protection, but when Lukas reveals the secret of his Montenegrin nobility, the old fears flare as hot as the fire storm eating up the forest at their heels. Can she release her prejudice to love again? Or will either one of them survive The Big Blowup to find out?
Flame of the Rockies, Book 6 in the Queen of the Rockies series, is based on true history when three million acres burned out of control on the border of Montana and Idaho darkening the skies all the way to the East Coast during August of 1910. It’s a wonder anyone survived! Read this heart-pounding romance full of adventure, honoring true history and the heroes that made it. Be sure to follow this 6-book historical romance adventure series, Queen of the Rockies, set in the Gilded Age through the turn-of-the-century. Written by bestselling author and professional genealogist, Angela Breidenbach.
The historical fiction book Flame of the Rockies is among the best I’ve read in a while. By far and away, historical fiction is my favorite type of literature, particularly when it is based on actual events and not just an era or setting. In many different ways, Breidenbach vividly brought this event to life.
I believe the raging fire itself is the story’s major character rather than any of its human characters. Humans are necessary because they provide the framework for powerful emotions. However, I don’t feel they can do justice to the gripping, suspenseful atmosphere evoked through this impressive novel.
I learned so much about the Big Blowup of 1910. As I read, I was sitting on the edge of my seat while tensely attempting to read more quickly in order to find out what had happened. At the same time, I was having an incredibly terrifying sense of dread and fear of learning what happened, too.
My desire to visit Montana again now that I am older is sparked by the love, passion and knowledge of the state that shines through Breidenbach’s tale.
Flame of the Rockies is Book 6 of “Queen of the Rockies.” Nonetheless, they do not have to be read in order.
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.
About the Author
Angela Breidenbach is a professional genealogist, the director and president of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies (GenealogicalStudies.com), conference speaker, bestselling author of eighteen books. Angela lives in Montana with her hubby and Muse, a trained fe-lion, who shakes hands, rolls over, and jumps through a hoop. Surprisingly, Angela can also. Catch her show and podcast, Genealogy Publishing Coach!
Research is both a joy and a nemesis for an author and/or genealogist. We’re easily distracted with one more fascinating discovery! The entire series, Queen of the Rockies, came from research rabbit trails when I thought there’d be one book. Now there are six ending with Flame of the Rockies!
Flame of the Rockies happens on the factual Trail of the Hiawatha. At first, this trail was a mining area deep in the mountains on the Idaho-Montana border. So deep that fourteen feet of snow blocking the railroad was common during the winter. Quite the contrast to the hot, dry summers with countless lightning strikes and regular forest fires.
After the Big BlowUp that occurred in August of 1910 burning over 3,000,000 acres, the area gradually became a gorgeous upscale train ride through the mountains. People rode the Hiawatha for leisure, upscale dining, and tourism. Then rails died out. The Trail of the Hiawatha rose from the ashes of forgotten history to become the incredible 16.5 mile bike path it is today. The trail winds down the valley from on top of the Continental Divide with incredible views for miles as you ride and experience the awe of God’s creative grandeur.
Understanding the history and evolution of this special trail isn’t hard. So much work in historical preservation has been done, and continues to be done, for those who come. Be sure to read the travel article in the back of this book so you can be one of those holding your breath as mountain after mountain after mountain roll outward from the trestles. You’ll see mountain tops go on for miles and miles. Those vistas truly feel as if you’re standing on the clouds with the Heavenly Hosts. Then you’ll understand why Montana is called the Big Sky Country!
I hope you enjoy Flame of the Rockies and meeting many of the real people who lived and worked in those extreme conditions. Yes, a few of the characters are fictitious. But remember you’re also going to meet a true hero whose heroism and name still rings through the Hiawatha and the world today!
Indentured servant Fanny Beck has been forced to sing for riverboat passengers since she was a girl. All she wants is to live a quiet, humble life with her family as soon as her seven-year contract is over. So when she discovers that the captain has no intention of releasing her, she seizes a sudden opportunity to escape—an impulse that leads Fanny to a group of enslaved people who are on their own dangerous quest for liberty. . . .
Widower Walter Kuhn is overwhelmed by his responsibilities to his farm and young daughter, and now his mail-order bride hasn’t arrived. Could a beautiful stranger seeking work be the answer to his prayers? . . .
After the star performer of the River Peacock is presumed drowned, Sloan Kirkpatrick, the riverboat’s captain, sets off to find her replacement. However, his journey will bring him face to face with his own past—and a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be free. . . .
Uplifting, inspiring, and grounded in biblical truth, Freedom’s Song is a story for every reader who has longed for physical, emotional, or spiritual delivery.
Freedom’s Song, by Kim Vogel Sawyer, takes you on a journey through mid-America in the 1860s. Sawyer’s Christian historical fiction tackles a variety of topics with a unique approach, beginning with a near-drowning and ending with freedom for many.
Fanche “Fanny Beck,” a riverboat songstress and indentured servant, is providentially supplied by the Lord with a means of release from indenture. Traveling across several states, by rail and on foot, while trying to reach her home in New York, Fanny stumbles upon a farm and hears a baby weeping.
Walter Kuhn is a widower attempting to care for his farm, earn a living and provide for his little one. He arrives home one day to discover Fanny caring for his baby, whom he had left asleep in a “pen” he had built.
On many levels, Freedom’s Song pulls together spiritual, emotional, and physical freedoms. I value how Sawyer entwines those freedoms together and shows how God is the only One who gives us genuine freedom.
The story is well-written, with well-developed characters and historical accuracy. An underlying theme of suspense and romantic element runs throughout the story.
I always appreciate and enjoy Kim Vogel Sawyer’s works, and this is perhaps my favorite so far because of its topic and spiritual elements.
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley and Waterbrook Multnomah. All opinions are my own and I am voluntarily leaving this review.
There’s more than a hundred witnesses in the room, but no one sees who shot the newspaper reporter. If not for an offhanded bet, Morgan and Charity would never have gotten involved; he’s not one to let a friend down. The truth of who and why DeeDee’s big engagement is wrecked might never be known if they hadn’t, and it still may not be if the Lowells can’t get the right man elected governor of Texas. Crooked civil servants and politicians who think they’re above the law thwart their every effort. It’s a historic mystery wrapped in redemption, love, politics, and coercion at the Cow Palace.
Caryl McAdoo’s latest book, Coercion at the Cow Palace, is the result of her foray into mystery and suspense historical fiction. The book is the third in the “Cross Timbers Mystery” series, but it may also be read as a standalone.
McAdoo’s book releases are something I always look forward to and enjoy. I know I can trust them to be clean and to deliver a faith-based message. Coercion at the Cow Palace is no exception. (I’m also partial to this series, especially, because it is about a state I love and a city I miss – Dallas, Texas.)
I enjoy Charity and Morgan Lowell’s antics, especially their conversations when Charity is attempting to persuade Morgan to write another mystery novel based on real events. They’re so cute.
The plot is entertaining and keeps you guessing about how it will conclude. You’ll feel as though you’re in the courtroom because the scenes are so real and lifelike. And it all comes together nicely at the end. It’s now just a matter of me waiting for the next one!
I received Coercion at the Cow Palace from Celebrate Lit. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.
About the Author
Award-winning author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory, and her best-selling stories—over sixty published—delight Christian readers around the world. The prolific writer also enjoys singing the new songs the Lord gives her; you may listen at YouTube. Sharing four children and twenty-one grandsugars (three are greats), Caryl and Ron, her high-school-sweetheart-husband of fifty-three years, live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas. The McAdoos wait expectantly for God to open the next door.
More from Caryl
I have so enjoyed writing these mystery stories with Morgan and Charity Lowell—from several books, but primarily LEAVING TEXAS, book four in the “Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga—as the wise and apt investigators! Of course, I have to throw in a little romance. I just can’t help it!
In COERCION at The Cow Palace, we take a little jaunt from Dallas over to Fort Worth and its Hell’s Half Acre. The city was incorporated in 1873, the year COERCION is set, but already acted as a hub for all the cattle drives coming north through Ft. Worth to the Kansas Railways.
I grew up in Dallas and really hadn’t known that much of Fort Worth’s history, so the research proved so exhilarating! Army General William Worth proposed a string of forts to protect Texas’ new settlers but died with cholera before seeing this come to fruition. His successor named the fort for him thirty years before our story.
It had a booming population of over five thousand—plus almost another thousand slaves—before the Civil War. Afterwards, during the reconstruction, its citizenship dwindled to less than two hundred in the 1860s, but the following decade with the arrival of the railroad in 1976 firmly established “Cowtown, ” Fort Worth’s famous nickname.
I loved setting these characters in this famous Texas town. It’s been said that Fort Worth was where the West began! I say, “Let the fun begin as we figure out along with the Lowells who done it!”
World War I rages in Europe, and now the United States joins in. Peter Bloch heads to France with the Wisconsin National Guard, but his wife Maren is the one under attack. She’s German born, and anti-
German hysteria is running high. Simple suggestions for coping with wartime measures lead Maren into an active role in the community, but her service doesn’t help deflect suspicion from her. Zealous patriots target her with a vengeance. Peter caught the eye of a major who seems intent on using him as a spy.
He’s been fortunate to avoid injury so far, but these activities are likely to get him killed. Peter and Maren dream of the day they will be reunited, but more and more, that day appears to be a mirage.
Terri Wangard’s book The Storm Breaks Forth debuted on April 6 th, 2021, 104 years after Good Friday, April 6th, 1917, when Congress approved a resolution declaring war on Germany.
Wangard’s stirring and compelling characters draw you into this story with precise detail, historic accuracy and great skill at evocative and gripping realism.
We reunite with Peter and Maren Bloch and Geoff and Rosaleen Bonnard from the first book, Roll Back the Clouds(link to my review).
Great trials face the couples as they are confronted with an unfamiliar and vastly different world than they were previously accustomed to.
I was familiar with the flu pandemic, the Liberty Gardens which were the precursor to the Victory Gardens, and the horrors of the war. However, I did not realize rampant prejudice and bigotry were directed toward the German Americans. How difficult a time they must have endured.
I enjoyed learning about how women’s roles evolved from homemaker to employee and champion of the burgeoning Liberty gardens.
The portrayal of front-line battle was vividly painted and heartbreaking. Newer technology and the advent of the machine gun and poisonous gas brought warfare to a whole different playing field. Portions were exceedingly difficult to read.
Wangard does an extraordinary job of penning a story of hope, love, faith and peace, juxtaposed against despair, hatred, indifference and war. Reading The Storm Breaks Forth will be enlightening and at times gut-wrenching.
Some scenes are extremely intense and horrific, which may be difficult for a few readers; for this reason, I would suggest the book be read by those over 16.
I received The Storm Breaks Forth from the author. All opinions are my own.
By the Light of the Moon series: “Readers who love being trapped in a character’s mind should relish this finely written, gripping series. A must read for fans of historical fiction.”–The Prairies Book Review
A tale of precious things more rare than a blue moon…
The year is 1885 and unwed Vanessa Gulet must surrender her newborn son to her married twin sister, Valerie, to raise. A seed of bitterness grows in Vanessa. When the opportunity arises for her to have what she’s always wanted, Vanessa takes it despite the consequences to her family, getting more than she bargained for.
Meanwhile, Valerie, overcome with loss and grief, faces a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Will she and her husband, Felix, forge through their trials together, or will these upsets cause them to drift apart?
Will Vanessa and Valerie remain at odds, or will they allow the power of forgiveness to heal their strained relationship?
Love seems to bloom in the most unlikely of places in Webaashi Bay for an old friend of Jenay’s and a woman who owns the local dress shop. A parallel tale of love, forgiveness, and reuniting lost things is spun by a local author adding another dimension to the tale of the Gulet twins and their saga.
Fans of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, clean romance, and literary fiction will enjoy this dramatic read!
Blue Moon, by Jennifer L Knipfer, has a distinctive and dramatic plotline. The story features identical twins, Vanessa and Valerie, who are able, like many anecdotal tales, to intimately know and intuit each other’s feelings. Also, the historical and medical accuracy of the time and of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are impressive. I am sorry that Knipfer has first-hand experience with MS, thereby giving her great insight and comprehension of the disease.
I had a hard time, however, getting into the book. Knipfer jumps constantly between different time frames and POVs. This can be a great tool for revealing more about a character or characters. However, when a point of view is introduced, then changes when a character reminisces or time and locations change, then again in the span of a few paragraphs or pages, then the changes become redundant. I know for many readers this probably isn’t a vexation, but for me the story becomes ponderous. I admire the author’s ability to write a novel this way.
Blue Moon works as a standalone, as enough backstory is covered you don’t feel you have missing pieces.
I enjoyed the story overall for its uniqueness and historical accuracy.
Due to a minor amount of adult subject matter, I would not recommend this to those under 13.
I received Blue Moon from Celebrate Lit. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
About the Author
Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling.
Jenny’s education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions. She spent many years as a librarian in a local public library but recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability.
She authored and performed a self-published musical CD entitled, Scrapbook of a Closet Poet.
Jenny’s first three books earned five-star reviews from Reader’s Favorite, a book review and award contest company. Their praise: “Ruby Moon is entertaining, fast-paced, and features characters that are real. Blue Moon continues a well-written and highly engaging saga of family ties, betrayals, and heartaches… Silver Moon is a highly recommended read for fans of historical wartime fiction, powerful emotive drama, and excellent atmospheric writing.”
She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Historical Novel Society, Wisconsin Writers Association, Indie Christian Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.
Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set. She has self-published the first two books, Ruby Moon and Blue Moon in her four-part series. Two more novels to complete the series are planned for 2020. She is currently writing a new historical fiction series called, Sheltering Trees.
Libraries and retailers may find Jenny’s books on Ingram. Support your local bookstores, and request a copy of Jenny’s books there. Purchase paperbacks retail on Amazon. Ebooks are available through your favorite ebook retailer.
In Blue Moon I play off a minor character from Ruby Moon, Vanessa Gulet. When Ruby Moon ended, I started wondering what Vanessa’s life had been like, rejected by Renault, her old flame who had promised her his devotion.
Vanessa’s story grew along with Valerie’s, her identical twin sister. Asking the question of what could divide twin siblings drew me deep into the drama of the Gulet sisters, and a story of desire and loss sprang from my imagination.
An even richer depth occurred when I brought the main character from Ruby Moon, Jenay, into the thick of the twins’ saga. Vanessa must come to grips with what really happened to Renault and who was involved. Will she forgive the past and the unintentional wrongs committed and embrace the new friend she has made or not?
Also, I wrote from experience in Blue Moon, as Valerie must face the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and how to live with the fear of the unknown shadowing her life. It was therapeutic for me to write some of my own feeling and thoughts through Valerie. Journaling has always been a way for me to manage my emotions, and writing via story form was no different. Chances are you either know someone with MS or know of someone with MS. The disease is very prevalent in the U.S., and through Blue Moon I want to draw some awareness to what I and many people live with every day.
I hope in Blue Moon that the theme of forgiveness will encourage readers through their own struggles and believe that choosing to forgive is always the better choice, often bringing unforeseen blessings.
Thank you for taking the time to read a little about Blue Moon and its origin! I hope you get a chance to read it and the twins’ tale of forgiveness. If you do, please let me know, and please leave a review.
P.S. Did you know I include a recipe pertaining to the story in most of my books? In Blue Moon, I include an old family favorite: butter tarts. Lily, a daughter of the man Vanessa meets and is drawn to in Webaashi Bay, loves butter tarts. Vanessa and Lily make them together. Following is the recipe.
Lily’s Butter Tart
1 C sugar
¼ C softened butter or butter substitute
juice of half a lemon
½ C golden raisins
½ C sweetened shredded coconut
Your favorite pie crust recipe for one 9” crust
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and lemon juice. Beat well. By hand mix in the raisins and coconut. Line pastry tin with pie crust and fill with mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set.
I based this recipe from an old one of my grandmother’s from the late 1800’s. NOTE: You can also cut rounds of pie crust to fill muffin tins to make smaller tarts. (Lily’s style) I make the one dish version because it’s less fuss.
Authors: Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, Chautona Havig, Mandy H. Cook
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: June, 2020
A Very Austen Romance features a delightful medley of novellas, each set in Jane Austen’s Regency world. Your friends from Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility, enjoy new adventures in this lovely collection of stories by Robin Helm, Laura Hile, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, Mandy Cook, and Chautona Havig.
Be treated to prequels, spin-offs, and sequels of Austen’s novels, along with original and supporting characters in starring roles. If historical romance is your preference, you’ll love these well-crafted stories written by beloved authors in the genre.
Robin Helm’s books reflect her love of music, as well as her fascination with the paranormal and science fiction.
Previously published works include The Guardian Trilogy: Guardian, SoulFire, and Legacy; the Yours by Design series: Accidentally Yours, Sincerely Yours, and Forever Yours; Understanding Elizabeth; More to Love; and Lawfully Innocent. Ms. Helm also contributed stories to A Very Austen Christmas and A Very Austen Valentine.
She plans to publish Maestro in 2020.
Her life in (usually) sunny, small-town South Carolina is busy, but affords time for writing, reading, teaching piano, and playing games on her phone. (Would you believe she’s an elder in a war game?)
Readers are loving Laura Hile’s joyous Regency novels. Her signature style—with intertwined plots, cliffhangers, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance—keeps them coming back for more.
The comedy Laura comes by as a teacher. There’s never a dull moment with teen students!
Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a collection of antique clocks.
Her fiction is for everyone, even teens.
Wendi Sotis lives on Long Island, NY, with her husband and triplets. While searching for Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, she became thoroughly enamored with Jane Austen Fan Fiction or JAFF. In early 2010, she dreamed of an idea for a story and hasn’t stopped writing since: Promises, Dreams and Expectations; All Hallows Eve; The Keys for Love; Safekeeping (with just a dash of Austen); The Gypsy Blessing; Foundation of Love (The Gypsy Blessing 2); and A Lesson Hard Learned.
The Marriage Pact, and some of Wendi’s works-in-progress, have branched away from JAFF to Regency Romance (the Loving an Aldridge Series) and Contemporary Romantic Mysteries (the Implicated series). Wendi will also continue bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together again and again in an unusual manner.
Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.
Mandy Cook was an RN for over ten years, half of which she served in the Navy, living in far-flung places, enjoying experiencing the world while following her calling. Just before she and her handsome Marine were both deployed to different places, they married. They now have three children, ages five and younger.
She previously published The Gifted, using her nursing experience to lend accuracy to her story about an ER nurse who is handed a gift that changes her life forever. Adversity, and a long history of secrets, constantly battle against her natural instinct for truth and justice, but will the truth be worth the dare?
Mandy also contributed a story to A Very Austen Valentine: Austen Anthologies, Book 1.
Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her on the web and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
Terri Wangard interweaves a tale of heart-wrenching sadness, devastating disclosures and earth-shattering secrets masterfully blended in unexpected ways. As the Lusitania passengers embark on journeys of friendship, each person’s life becomes interwoven with the other, in unforeseen and helpful manners.
Historical fiction has always been my choice in fiction books because I love history, but sometimes it is just the cut and dried bare facts and dates, leaving me wanting to know more about the people and the era.
As I read the story, I felt dread because I knew the fateful ending (same reason I am the only person in the world that has not watched the movie Titanic). However, even though I knew about the history surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania, I knew very few details.
Wangard writes about the stunning beauty of the ocean liner, in diagrammatic detail, leaving the reader in breathless awe, and in raw, poignant sadness knowing the future of the fated liner.
Geoff and Rosaleen, along with a multitude of others board the Lusitania, looked forward to enjoying its beauty along with scheduled fun activities and relaxation. But such was not to be.
As a survivor, Rosaleen relives the horrific circumstances repeatedly, and her husband’s injuries add to her distress. Wangard’s details leave the reader feeling Rosaleen’s anguish, suffering and torment, too. I can not even begin to imagine.
Historical fiction fans will want to read Terri Wangard’s newest book, Roll Back the Clouds.
Some scenes are very intense and may be difficult for a few readers; for this reason, I would suggest the book be read by older teens-14+ and adults.
I received this book from the author through Interviews & Reviews.
A dream-come-true becomes a nightmare.
Geoff and Rosaleen Bonnard embark on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to England aboard the fabled Lusitania in 1915. Europe is embroiled in war, but everyone insists the conflict shouldn’t affect a passenger liner.
Then, the grand ship is crippled by a German torpedo. Rosaleen makes it into a lifeboat, but Geoff is missing. Convinced he lives, she searches the morgues in Queenstown, heartsick at recognizing so many of her fellow travelers. Geoff is finally located in a Cork hospital, alive but suffering a devastating back injury.
While waiting for him to recover, Rosaleen is thrilled to meet her mother’s family, but a dark cloud hovers over her. The battered faces of dead babies haunt her. She sinks into depression, despairing of Geoff’s new interest in religion. Her once happy life seems out of reach.
Storing Up Trouble is another delightful book by Jen Turano. Her books are always well researched and full of fun!
The escapades of Beatrix Waterbury and Norman Nesbit, along with Norman’s assistant, Theo, will have you smiling and laughing quite frequently. Add in Beatrix’s eccentric and non-conformist Aunt Gladys and her odd companions, not to mention her 20 cats, and you have a recipe for great entertainment, enjoyment and amusement.
Lest you think it’s all fun and games, let me assure you it’s not. There are very real and important issues covered. Turano addresses inequality in the workplace for women, their inability to vote and society’s cruelty to those they consider inferior. Additionally, there is an element of mystery and suspense, too.
Turano included a small “cameo” featuring Mr. Selfridge, pioneer of the modern department store. I saw a fascinating show highlighting his forward and visionary thinking. Now, I have enjoyed seeing another side to him.
Norman, and later Beatrix’s family seemed to change a little too quickly for my tastes. But that is just a feeling on my part, as I like to see the transformation as it progresses, not after it happens.
Storing Up Trouble is book 3 of the American Heiresses series by Jan Turano. However, it can work as a stand-alone. I also read and reviewed book 1, Flights of Fancy.
I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.
When Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s Chicago-bound train ride is interrupted by a heist, Mr. Norman Nesbit, a man of science who believes his research was the target of the heist, comes to her aid. Despite the fact that they immediately butt heads, they join forces to make a quick escape.
Upon her arrival in Chicago, Beatrix is surprised to discover her supposedly querulous Aunt Gladys shares her own suffragette passions. Encouraged by Gladys to leave her sheltered world, Beatrix begins working as a salesclerk at the Marshall Field and Company department store. When she again encounters Norman on a shopping expedition, he is quickly swept up in the havoc she always seems to attract.
But when another attempt is made to part Norman from his research papers, and it becomes clear Beatrix’s safety is also at risk, they soon discover the curious way feelings can grow between two very different people in the midst of chaos.
Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life. She saves every penny to attend a finishing school, dreaming of the day she’ll become a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.
William is a gentleman’s son, a charming rogue but penniless. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his puritanical cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.
William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees… then wishes she hadn’t as she comes to love the old man. And when the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.
If you love Dickensian stories without the heavy, ponderous themes, then you will love Michelle Griep’s newest book, A Tale of Two Hearts, the second book in her Once Upon A Dickens Christmas series. I enjoyed it as a follow-up to 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, the first book in the series. However, both of these books work very well as a stand-alone book.
Mina Scott decides to accept the offered opportunity to be the pretend bride of her dream husband, William Barlow, to secure William an inheritance and save his uncle. She hopes to capture William’s heart. However, she didn’t count on two devious, scheming cousins, nor did William.
Griep takes us on a fanciful journey through the streets of London and into the countryside, for an enchanting and charming tale of Victorian England. Her different characters vary between beguiling, charming and charismatic to deceitful, false-hearted and callous to the extreme. As you get to know the characters and their motivations, you catch yourself torn between applauding some and booing others.
I couldn’t help caring for Mina, and who can blame me, she loves books almost as much as I do! And I fell in love with Uncle Barlow; he is such a loveable person full of joie de vivre, plus he loves quoting Dickens and reading, too!
The story illustrates God’s love, forgiveness and redemption for all. A Tale of Two Hearts is an enchanting story that can be read at any time but is particularly appropriate for the Christmas season.
I received this book from CelebrateLit. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.
About the Author
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride,The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Guest Post from Michelle
Victorian Christmas Foods
So, it’s September, and you know what that means? It’s back to school. Pumpkin spiced everything is just around the corner. And it’s nearly time for cardigans and colored leaves. But besides all these autumn staples, it’s also time to start thinking about Christmas, because it will be here before you know it. How about this year you plan ahead to serve some traditional Victorian food?
In my newest release, A Tale of Two Hearts, the heroine’s father is known for his annual oyster stew that he serves on Christmas Eve. Here’s a bit of the background on that tasty soup.
Victorian Oyster Stew
Oysters have been savored in Britain since the days of the Romans. By Victorian times, industrialization cheapened oysters to the point of them becoming a staple of the poor man’s diet and were a frequent fare served in public houses. This, however, depleted their abundance, and by the mid-1800’s, the natural oyster beds became exhausted, making it harder to find good oysters. While other foods were served as well on Christmas Eve, oyster stew was as common as goose or turkey.
Another Victorian favorite that goes great on a crisp evening is good ol’ hot chocolate, though, in Dickens’ England, it would’ve been called something else.
What we now call cocoa or hot chocolate was called drinking chocolate in the mid-1800s. This beverage was a favorite among Victorian ladies. You can find recipes for it even from the Regency era (early 1800s) and here is one for you to make at home.
And last, but not least, who hasn’t heard of Christmas pudding? To our American ears, that sounds like a tasty dish that you’d eat with a spoon and slap a little whipped cream on top. Actually, it’s more like a fruitcake.
Christmas pudding is quite a production, one that begins well before Christmas Day. In fact, it begins on Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent (which is five weeks before Christmas). This is why when Mina, the heroine in A Tale of Two Hearts, returns home from dinner at Uncle Barlow’s, and though it’s not yet Christmas, she sees the pudding moulds on the kitchen table.
If these tastes and the accompanying smells still aren’t quite enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, then snatch yourself up a copy of the second book in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series. A Tale of Two Hearts is sure to get you in the mood.
I dedicate this blog to JESUS my Savior; my Redeemer; my Restorer; my EVERYTHING. He changed my life. And will change yours too. I hope this blog will inspire you and make you get to know more about Him. GOD BLESS US!