Showing posts with label 3 stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3 stars. Show all posts

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: The Beauty (Ladies of Miss Bell's Finishing School) by Rebecca Connolly

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Caroline Perkins cannot claim much in her life other than the dowry her uncle arranged for her and her physical beauty. Raised on the London docks, she bears the burden of being a tradesman’s daughter, and not one of respectability. In leaving Miss Bell’s School for Young Ladies, Caroline is leaving the only friends she has known and the only safe place she has lived. But she knows her companionship with Lady Ashby could give her the connections and opportunities she needs to secure a good future for herself. If her past does not return to haunt her present and future, that is.

Will Debenham isn’t certain what he is looking for in his life, but from the moment he sees Caroline Perkins, he is certain he has found it. Every interaction with her only enhances the feeling, and every day in her company makes him want her more. But can the son of an earl really marry a tradesman’s daughter? Or will station, birth, and Caroline’s own resistance keep them apart?

My Review

This is a sweet Regency story, but I wished for more in the way of plot and personality. The focus of the book is on Caroline's role as companion and her opportunity to find a husband as such. She was a bland character, and even as I attempted to find more interesting attributes about her, Will described her perfectly: "You are always so calm, so stalwart, so unaffected. You possess an unnatural serenity." She does feel the insults of others keenly, but instead of standing up for herself, she accepts it and even internalizes the belief that she is of less worth and undeserving. I was disappointed that she didn't have more of a backbone, although this is probably realistic of many women of the time who are victims of the precedence of status and birth in society. Will sees beyond all that and cherishes her for her beauty and grace, despite her unfortunate circumstances. My issue with him is that he observed her abuse and didn't do much to stand up for her either. He struggles with his desire to break out of his role as a gentleman, but doesn't take the opportunity to do so when she is in need of his help. I kept reading to the end to see how their happy ending would come about, and the final scene was lovely and emotional.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Ladies of Miss Belle's Finishing School series:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Review: The Paradox of Love by Teri Harman

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


In 1889 in Paradox Valley, Colorado, Oakley Hallowell dresses like a boy, taking on the role left empty by her six dead brothers. Better than any cowboy, her hard work and mystic gifts are the reason Hallowell Ranch thrives—but her prideful, abusive father, Gideon, will never admit it. Despite his insults and beatings, Oakley refuses to abandon her grief-broken mother and beautiful home.

The Army killed Antero’s parents and the government forcibly removed his tribe of Utes from their beloved valley. His quest for revenge sent him down a dark path and into hiding. When he witnesses Oakley quietly, miraculously save a cow from a mud-bogged death he steps out of isolation to meet her.

Antero knows Gideon Hallowell will shoot him on sight, but this fascinating woman revives his bitter soul. How can he fight a world that despises him to keep Oakley by his side?

Oakley senses goodness and loyalty in Antero, unlike the other men in her life. But she’s afraid to get close, to trust. How can she open her heart to love, forgive her father, and forge a path to happiness?

My Review

I don't quite know what to make of this story. Oakley is a complex character- abused by her father, yet tries her hardest to be the son he never had. Cherishes her mother, but resents that she doesn't stand up for herself or her daughter. Has no interest in a relationship, but is inexplicably drawn toward a drifting Indian. The circumstances she cannot escape are difficult and trying, and there doesn't seem to be any hope or love there, until Antero shows her kindness and gentleness. I enjoyed their interactions, even though there are few before they become devoted to each other. They are each a rescuer of sorts to the other- he rescues her from harm, she rescues him from loneliness. They both struggle with the trauma they have experienced, and wonder together if forgiveness is possible. I liked the way they lifted each other, bringing light and even faith to their dark worlds. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, they do... and the ending was both messy and wrapped up a little too nicely. Overall, I found it interesting and was compelled to keep reading to see how everything would turn out.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Review & Giveaway: A Welcome At Our Door by Amy Clipston


Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for A Welcome At Our Door by Amy Clipston with JustRead Publicity Tours!
ABOUT THE BOOK A Welcome At Our Door  
Series: Amish Homestead, Book 4  
Author: Amy Clipston  
Publisher: Zondervan  
Release Date: May 7, 2018
Genre: Amish Fiction

After a devastating loss, Cindy Riehl is still searching for peace. Will she find it in the community she calls home—or will love send her down a new path?

Over the last few years, Cindy Riehl—the youngest of the Riehl children—has watched her siblings find love and happiness in Lancaster County. But as her family has settled down and grown, Cindy has continued to grieve her mother, whose death left an enormous hole in her heart. Since that haunting day, Cindy has struggled to find peace and wonders if the community is the place for her—and if her faith in God will ever feel the same as it once did.

When a handsome and kind Englisher named Drew crosses Cindy’s path one surprising day, the two of them become fast and easy friends. Drew dreams of starting a family after some losses of his own, and before long, he and Cindy discover that their feelings for each other are romantic. As they spend more time together—often in secret—Cindy is drawn further and further away from the Amish community and the family she loves. In time, she is faced with a difficult choice that threatens to upend her world.

Will Cindy find contentment and love, and will she ever find restored comfort in God and her beloved community? In this final installment of the Amish Homestead series, we return to the charming town of Bird-in-Hand for a story of healing, family, and God’s perfect provision.


3 stars / I liked it

This is a sweet story of friendship, healing, and discovering one's path. Cindy has contrasting emotions about her life- she acts as though she is content, but is stuck in her grief and feels like no one can understand. Even though she is sweet and helpful, she also comes across as a bit immature and self-centered. Her quick friendship with Drew fills the void in her life, and they are very sweet together. The narrative is repetitious and the entire plot focuses on the dilemma of their relationship- they are forbidden to be friends because it would prevent Cindy from staying Amish... even though she still had not committed to baptism. The family members are two-dimensional and I wished there had been more depth explored, their feelings shown rather than told. The last part of the book was more interesting and I was curious to see how the author would choose to wrap everything up. I felt like it was overly simple and even though I enjoyed the happy ending, there were issues that I thought were not addressed.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions expressed in this review are my own)


Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, and Amish Homestead series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats.  

CONNECT WITH AMY: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

(1) winner will receive a print copy of A Welcome At Our Door.  

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight May 13, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm May 20, 2019. US only. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

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

Monday, May 6, 2019

Review: The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah E. Ladd

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Cornwall was in her blood, and Delia feared she’d never escape its hold.

Cornwall, England, 1811

Blamed for her husband’s death, Cordelia Greythorne fled Cornwall and accepted a governess position to begin a new life. Years later her employer’s unexpected death and his last request to watch over his five children force her to reevaluate. She can’t abandon the children now that they’ve lost both parents, but their new guardian lives at the timeworn Penwythe Hall . . . back on the Cornish coast she tries desperately to forget.

Jac Trethewey is determined to revive Penwythe Hall’s once-flourishing apple orchards, and he’ll stop at nothing to see his struggling estate profitable again. He hasn’t heard from his brother in years, so when his nieces, nephews, and their governess arrive unannounced at Penwythe Hall, he battles both grief of this brother’s death and bewilderment over this sudden responsibility. Jac’s priorities shift as the children take up residence in the ancient halls, but their secretive governess—and the mystery shrouding her past—proves to be a disruption to his carefully laid plans.

Rich with family secrets, lingering danger, and the captivating allure of new love, this first book in the Cornwall Novels series introduces us to the Twethewey family and their search for peace, justice, and love on the Cornish coast.

My Review

As usual the author did a lovely job with the setting and characters. I especially enjoyed Delia's role as governess and her love and compassion for the children she cared for. Her grief had some complicated dynamics, and her journey throughout the story took her from never wanting to marry or have children again in order to avoid the pain of loss, to hesitantly allowing hope and love to bring light into her life. She has a turbulent history with her in-laws, and I enjoyed the suspense that slowly grows until the climax. Jac and Delia share a congenial friendship for most of the book, and their common focus is the children, which brings them closer together. Strong themes of family, loyalty, and forgiveness.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Double Review: The Sewing Sisters' Society & A Most Inconvenient Love by Ruth Logan Herne

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Hattie McGillicuddy might not look like your typical matchmaker, but Hattie makes things happen in the little town of Second Chance, South Dakota. With the arrival of the railroad and official statehood, Hattie’s determined to bring brides west, and not just any brides. Brides who need the wide open prairie as much as the prairie- and the prairie men- need them! Three pioneer stories of unlikely love are woven around a little town full of homespun characters that take us back to another place and another time but with the same faith, hope and love we cherish today.

Macy can’t sew a lick, and she’s come to town with a sacrifice and a secret, but when Hattie’s first apprentice is attracted to the pastor of the only church in town—the man raising her illegitimate son— will the truth set her free? Or make her leave the town and her son behind?

Unjustly accused, Nellie comes west to escape the law. She has a way with tucks and gathers, and every Western town could use more tucks and gathers. She’s determined to improve the drab look of the prairie and manages to brighten hearts as well. But will her quick speech and firm ideas of women’s suffrage draw Levi Eichas closer or send the somber carriage maker running?

Grief has robbed Ann Hazel, but when her aunt pushes her to go west and help an ailing Hattie McGillicuddy turn hems, Ann’s shamed into it. She’s managed to avoid life for awhile, but when Sol Eichas’s nanny comes down sick, Ann reluctantly agrees to help. As she winds her way around Sol’s heart and home, can the two troubled souls leave the past behind to embrace a future together?

My Review

These stories of sweet romance and a second chance at life and love worked perfectly as novellas in a collection. I liked that they had the same setting in a small but developing town, and exploring the relationships between each couple. Hattie is a sweetheart and I enjoyed her personality and the way she mentored the young women, providing a common thread connecting the stories. I felt like I got to know the characters quickly and connected to their struggles and feelings. Well-written novellas are a pleasure to read for the instant gratification of a happy ending ;) The following full-length book in the series, A Most Inconvenient Love, is a must-read to follow up with the lives of each of these endearing couples as they make up a strong supporting cast.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Sober businessman Seb Ward may have come from a wealthy lumber-baron family in Minnesota, but he knows that appearances can be deceiving, and that his illustrious family is pretty dysfunctional. Being in another state has provided the buffer he sought from his father’s misdeeds, but when a little boy shows up on a train… a little boy who looks enough like Seb to be his own child… Seb’s faced with a dilemma. Raise the boy as his own, or let his mother suffer the embarrassment of “a brother by another mother.” And when the boy takes a shine to the Rachel Eichas, the newly contracted school teacher, Seb can’t help but do the same. But Rachel was raised by an unloving, business-first father and there’s no way she’s looking for those same qualities in a husband. Can she see through Seb’s focus and drive to find the loving man within?

My Review

I enjoyed this sweet story of a lumber mill owner and the local schoolteacher and how they came together despite some misunderstandings and conflicts in the town. I felt like I was missing a bit of backstory to many of the townspeople and family members that are mentioned, and while the author did a decent job catching the reader up, I wish that I had read The Sewing Sisters' Society novella collection first, where it tells their stories so I could get to know them first and appreciate them more in this book. I appreciated Sebastian's loyalty to his mother and self-sacrifice in taking on his young half-brother without dispelling the rumors, but hoping that his character would speak for itself. Rachel learned about trust as she got to know Sebastian and determine for herself what kind of man he was. She went through some difficult years with her strict father, but enduring that trial strengthened her and her sisters, as well as their bond. I enjoyed her disposition- friendly and helpful, but cautious and thoughtful as well. I liked the small town setting and the way the neighbors supported each other, even with the typical busybodies and negativity stemming from gossip and the disgruntled. The tone of the narrative was a bit peculiar, and it was interesting the way the author wove in snippets of scripture as they came to the minds of the characters.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Review: Pathways by Camille Peters

Heidi Reads... Pathways by Camille Peters

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Eileen has never been interested in love. Ever since her father's abandonment, she's vowed to never experience such pain again. But the enchanted forest has different ideas. When the continuously shifting pathways lead her to a mysterious stranger, Eileen finds her promise to fiercely guard her heart increasingly difficult to keep.

One night when she becomes lost in a storm, the enchanted forest's pathways lead her to the castle, home to the kingdom's Dark Prince, where Eileen finds herself entangled in what many consider an opportunity but which Eileen believes to be a curse: competing for the Dark Prince’s hand through a series of tests that judge one’s royal worth. Eileen is neither royal nor interested in becoming a princess. But the mysterious stranger she met in the woods has his own reasons for helping her succeed, although the cost of his assistance may be too high: that of Eileen's heart, the one thing she's vowed never to give.

Inspired by “The Princess and the Pea” and "Rumpelstiltskin"

My Review

I enjoy a good fantasy now and then, and I'm always up for a fairy tale retelling. I enjoyed the world building in this one, especially the enchanted forest which had its own personality. Eileen is a peasant living with her mother (never did figure out how they supported themselves) who spends all her time wandering, drawing, gossiping with her starry-eyed friend, and angsting over her father's disappearance. I thought her attitude and assumptions about his fate were immature, but this is a YA novel after all. Her meet up in the forest with Aiden was awkward and I was surprised at how quickly they went from fear to antagonistic mistrust to lovers for no apparent reason. I prefer the getting to know each other and falling in love parts to last longer! The whim of the forest is the impetus for sending Eileen into the castle to further the plot, and she's caught up in the princess test with the assistance of Aiden. His selfish reasons for withholding the truth from Eileen were flimsy and obviously backfired, but true love conquers all. I have to admit that the story was just unique enough to keep me reading, and the characters were likeable (even when I was frustrated with them), and it also had a nice secondary cast. Overall, I had my issues, but it was still a pleasant read!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Review: Never Vie for a Viscount by Regina Scott

Heidi Reads... Never Vie for a Viscount by Regina Scott

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


The perky Lydia Villers is determined to leave behind her life as a social butterfly and do what she’s always dreamed of doing, pursue a career in natural philosophy. A shame the only scientist available to assist her is the one man she had once hoped to wed.

The brilliant Frederick, Viscount Worthington, Worth to his friends, has been betrayed too many times, including by the bubbly beauty who now wants to work at his side. How can he believe Lydia’s intentions are true this time? After all, someone is intent of sabotaging his efforts to create the perfect hot air balloon. But with the help of Miss Thorn and her beloved cat Fortune, the enthusiastic young lady and the wary lord might just discover that only together do they make the perfect chemistry.

My Review

I enjoyed getting to know Lydia better and how her curious mind works. The world of inventors and scientists during this era was fascinating and I found the procedures for testing the materials enlightening. There was a big focus on the work of creating and testing the hot air balloon and the challenges involved, which was great, but I felt like it detracted a bit from the development of the romantic relationship between Lydia and Worth. There is some conflict and scandal with a rival scientist and some suspense with the sabotage that brought excitement to the story. To fully understand Lydia's relationship with her brother and friends that are either mentioned or make an appearance, I recommend reading the previous books in the series. The author includes some backstory but I think this is a series best read in order. I like the writing style and unique plots she comes up with! Looking forward to the next book and also seeing if secondary characters Miss Thorn and Julian will finally get together!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)


Lydia was the picture of domesticity. Scarlet fabric flowed across her lap to pool on the floor on either side of the spindle-backed chair. Head bowed so the glow from the lamp on the table beside her glinted on pale curls, she took careful, even stitches. Something inside Worth unfurled, warmed, as if he’d come to the hearth after a long time in the snow.

She inserted her needle in the pin cushion on the table, smoothed her hands over the fabric, picked it up, and …


He took a step back, and she must have noticed the movement, for she glanced up with her usual sweet smile.

“Experiment number twelve,” she announced.

He ventured into the room, feeling as if the walls leaned too near on either side. Now that he looked closer, he could see any number of holes in the fabric, thread hanging.

“Unsuccessful?” he asked.

“I suspect it depends on your measure of success,” she said, voice cheerful. “Miss Pankhurst advised me to attempt a stronger bond between two panels. I have attempted several lengths of stitches and now width, as in rows set side by side. So far, none has prevented the fabric from tearing on a good tug.”

“Perhaps you should test the strength of your thread,” he suggested.

She held up the spool. “I was only given one strength. Perhaps you could remedy that.”

“I’ll speak to Charlotte.”

She nodded. “Nothing coarse, I think. Silk, three-ply at least, undyed.”

Here less than a day and already she was dictating. “Rather specific. Your reasoning?”

“A hypothesis, if you will.” The world sounded strange on those rosy lips. “Miss Pankhurst reports that the more tightly woven fabric best meets the criteria you provided her, which she is, apparently, not at liberty to tell me. The combing and dying process must provide some stress on the thread. Therefore, tightly woven, undyed thread might also meet your criteria.”

Flawless. He bowed to her. “Madam, you impress me.”

She picked up her needle and drove it into the fabric. “I also hypothesize that you are too easily impressed.”

Worth straightened. “Based on what evidence?”

She began sewing again. “You must have accepted my brother’s word before pursuing me last year, though I’m certain you could have found evidence to suggest it wasn’t your best course. You accepted my word initially, with insufficient evidence in the end to sustain it. You obviously accepted someone else’s word against mine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Review: A Cowboy in Shepherd's Crossing by Ruth Logan Herne

Heidi Reads... A Cowboy in Shepherd's Crossing by Ruth Logan Herne

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


From bachelor to daddy…

Cowboy bachelor Jace Middleton was ready to leave Shepherd's Crossing for good—until he learns his family's unspoken secrets.

Now Jace finds himself not only caring for his twin baby nieces, but working with beautiful, strong-willed designer Melonie Fitzgerald to renovate his grandmother's run-down estate. Love wasn't part of the plan…but Jace soon finds himself wishing Melonie could become part of his unexpected family 

My Review

I enjoy this author's writing style; her strengths are conversation and a cozy, homey sense of family and community. I had a hard time connecting with Jace and Melonie in this book, I think because there wasn't much character development before the plot takes off and becomes the focus. Usually the conversation and interaction between the characters allows for more development, but in this case I felt like skimming through the mundane chit chat. Jace and Melonie are attracted to each other, but an unfortunate first meeting left each with not the best impression, and they both hold themselves back and keep each other at a distance. The drama and obstacles in their lives provide the tension and conflict, and the projects that throw them together physically eventually bring them together emotionally.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Review: The Ultimate Bachelor Challenge by Annette Lyon

Heidi Reads... The Ultimate Bachelor Challenge by Annette Lyon

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Two singles alone on Valentines Day: one is newly dumped, and the other has something to prove.

When Sam’s long-time boyfriend, Steve, texts that he has something important to ask her on Valentine’s Day, she’s sure that he’s going to propose. Determined to look great for the big day, she hits the all-night laundromat to wash her favorite outfit. When her clothes are chugging away in a machine, Steve calls and pops a question—and not one she’d ever expected.

Reeling with shock, she’s left facing the holiday alone, unless you count the only other person at laundromat, a guy leaning against his own washer, intent on his phone, a guy named Connor. But he had his own plans for Valentines Day—and while they might involve Sam, she’s in for another unexpected situation.

(Originally published in A Timeless Romance Anthology: Valentine's Day Collection)

My Review

Super fun and cute, I really liked Samantha and Connor together as they worked together on a YouTube challenge for Connor's channel in a face-off against his rival. The author did a great job with the set-up, bringing equal parts anticipation and character development. My only issue is that it ended so abruptly! I first read this story in the novella collection it was originally published in, and I remember being let down then by the chopped off ending. I was hoping that the author would develop the story more and finish the Ultimate Bachelor Challenge with Sam and Connor like other authors have done when releasing their novella as a single, but no luck. I would have loved to see more of their romance and the way they would take down Trevor and win the challenge.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)