Showing posts with label Julie Daines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Julie Daines. Show all posts

Friday, December 14, 2018

Review & Giveaway: From Ash and Stone by Julie Daines



Heidi Reads... From Ash and Stone by Julie Daines

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

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Synopsis

Lady Margaret Grey of Hartfell wants for nothing. The daughter of a knight, she has a loving family, wealth, and even a secret romance with the blacksmith's son. But all that is torn from her one fateful night when her home is attacked and her family killed. She is left with nothing but bitterness, an unwavering mistrust of men, and a strange and mysterious curse that allows her to feel the thoughts of anyone who touches her.

Now, after six years away, Margaret is returning home for one reason: revenge. She hopes that by avenging her family's deaths, she will somehow be freed from her curse. But it won't be easy. The identities of the raiders are still unknown, she has little left to her name, and traveling alone in the Northumbrian hills during the border wars is dangerous. Matters are further complicated by handsome Angus Robson, a Scotsman whose charm threatens to distract her from her plans. But the raiders are closer than she knows, and Margaret soon realizes that what she believed to be a curse may be the key to finding those she seeks. One touch will reveal the truth.


My Review

I can always count on this author to have me completely captivated from page one. I loved the medieval setting and the element of fantasy that seemed real because the environment of the characters was so realistic. Margaret goes through some pretty tough obstacles and trials, and it was gratifying to see her development through the challenges and the influence of Angus. I loved the variety in the supporting cast and they gave an added dimension to the story. The swift character-driven plot is full of adventure, intrigue, romance, and thought-provoking themes of forgiveness and loyalty. Highly recommend!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#TFBRC One Word Title




Heidi Reads... Willowkeep by Julie Daines

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.comhttps://deseretbook.com/p/willowkeep?autocomplete=true&variant_id=135961-paperbackhttp://www.bookdepository.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

Synopsis

Charlotte Darby’s ship is sinking. Penniless and alone, she is struggling to care for herself and her young sister in the harsh seaport town of Kingston upon Hull. When a solicitor from London brings news that she is the heir to a vast estate in Kent, it seems her days of rough seas are over. Willowkeep is prosperous and grand, far too much for a shipping merchant’s daughter to manage, and she quickly comes to rely on the help of Henry Morland, the estate’s kind and handsome steward.

Henry has worked hard his entire life, but all the money he’s saved won’t be enough to get his father out of debtor’s prison. Henry’s fondness for Charlotte and her sister is only another reminder of his low status and lack of money. Though he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Charlotte happy and looked after, as the county’s wealthiest lady, she can never be his.

Courted by a charming man of the ton, threatened by those desperate to get their hands on her money, and determined to keep her sister safe from the same fate that cost her the rest of her family, Charlotte turns to the ghost of the beheaded queen, Anne Boleyn, for help. But no matter the size of the fortune, life—and love—are never smooth sailing.


My Review

I've been on a Regency kick lately and Willowkeep totally satisfied as another great reading experience. It really stood out with the main character Charlotte being raised in a fishing village as a commoner, and the author did an excellent job portraying the difference in her upbringing, especially through her speech and expressions. Another unique aspect of the story is her care for her younger sister who has developmental disabilities. Her loyalty and compassion shine through her protectiveness of Susie. Henry's easy acceptance of both girls, but especially Susie, make him a trusted friend of Charlotte's and a source of comfort and strength in her new home and world where society can be difficult and judgemental. Charlotte's thoughts about Anne Boleyn brought a historical perspective to the story which was fascinating, usually any references to the history of the time in similar books are limited to the Napoleonic War or the current royal family. For Charlotte to feel a connection to a historical figure from before her time was fascinating. I loved Charlotte's journey from a life of physical harshness and desperation to a more emotionally and mentally trying environment. Henry identifies her as anomalous, but in a more positive way than her aunt; he finds her to be exceptional while others see her as irregular. Even with his own set of personal problems, his dedication to Charlotte and Susie's well-being is endearing and I couldn't help but wish for a happy ending for them both. I highly recommend Willowkeep to fans of Julie Klassen and Sarah  E. Ladd.

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




Saturday, May 19, 2018

Review: Timeless Regency Collection: Road to Gretna Green by Lucinda Brant, Julie Daines, Heather B. Moore


Heidi Reads... Timeless Regency Collection: Road to Gretna Green by Lucinda Brant, Julie Daines, Heather B. Moore

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

From the publisher of the USA TODAY bestselling & #1 Amazon bestselling Timeless Romance Anthology series in Regency Romance, comes ROAD TO GRETNA GREEN. Featuring New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Brant, Julie Daines and Heather B. Moore.

SAVING GRACE by Lucinda Brant
When widow Helen, Lady Dysart, returns to the English border town of Carlisle for a family wedding, she decides to confront local physician Royston Meredith, the man who broke her heart. Royston has loved Helen since they were teenagers. He thought the feeling mutual until she up and married the local MP. While everyone around them hopes this reunion will see Helen and Royston sort out their differences, of more immediate concern is Royston’s youngest sister Grace, when she elopes with the steward’s son. Helen and Royston dash after her, determined to save her from scandal and an imprudent match. But in saving Grace the couple may very well be saving themselves.

FOOLS RUSH IN by Julie Daines
Richard Arden needs a wife in order to collect his inheritance. Eliza Barnes needs to escape an arranged marriage to the odious Mr. Barrington. When Richard overhears Eliza’s plight at the coaching inn, he does the most reckless thing he’s ever done—he proposes to a woman he’s never met before. What begins as an easy solution leads Richard and Eliza on a journey across the country with Mr. Barrington at their heels, complicated even more when their fake engagement leads to feelings that are very real.

A LADY OF SCANDAL by Heather B. Moore
Unfortunately, Bridget’s marriage is over in four hours due to her husband’s tragic death. Fortunately, Bridget is now free from her distasteful marriage of convenience. When her year of mourning passes, and she meets her former husband’s cousin, Bridget discovers that her difficulties are far from over. Lord Hugh Wilde blames Bridget for his cousin’s death. But when Bridget’s sister elopes to Gretna Green with a man of questionable reputation, Lord Wilde is the only one who can help, and they both have to set aside their pride to rescue the errant sister.


My Review

Another lovely Regency collection from Timeless Romance Anthologies! There is plenty of drama as carriages race across England to Scotland, some couples seeking elopement while others are seeking to prevent it! There's something about traveling together that brings these couples closer together and provides opportunities for deeper feelings to develop. I especially enjoyed Richard and Eliza in Fools Rush In with their fabricated stories and the joy they find in each other's company. Their journey was entertaining and they were both easy to like. A Lady of Scandal was my other favorite story because of the relationship dynamics of the Reeve and Wilde families. Bridget and Hugh are both misinformed about each other's character, so it was interesting to see how their true natures are revealed, recognized, and hearts are softened. Perfect for fans of sweet Regency romance!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Favorite Books of 2017: Novellas and Collections


You all know how much I love novellas, so of course I had to share my favorites that must not be missed! Here are my top 10 novellas and collections that I rated 5 stars in 2017. (The last book isn't technically a novella but it is the compilation of the novel and novella in hardback... aaaaaand it's my favorite book of all time- Merry Christmas to me!)




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Love, love, love this series! I read one right after the other and then re-read my favorite parts from all three again when I was done. In all the books, there are deep emotions simmering beneath the surface in the characters, brought to light by the highly dangerous circumstances they find themselves in, resulting in explosive sparks! There is a blend of vulnerability and strength that is appealing. I think we all feel flawed and vulnerable in some way, but want to believe that we will have the strength to not only persevere but succeed when trials come. I kept reliving the stories of all three books in my mind for days afterward.



Heidi Reads... Valentine's Day Collection (Timeless Romance Anthology) by Janette Rallison, Heather B. Moore, Jenny Proctor, Annette Lyon, Heather Tullis, Sarah M. Eden

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttp://www.goodreads.com

After reading some deep historical novels, this novella collection of light contemporary romances was just what I needed! It made me smile, giggle, and get swoony (I've recently decided this is the best way to describe that butterflies/toe curling feeling when the romantic moments are really touching). I'm always impressed that the stories in the Timeless Romance Anthologies are so creative and varied. Here's what I thought of my favorites in the Valentine's Day Collection...

A BRUSH WITH THE LAW by Janette Rallison
So. Funny. This is the one that made me giggle and think, "Girl, what are you thinking?!" Bethany has a great sense of humor to deal with the mishaps that keep her in the sights of a local policeman.

EVERY OCCASION by Heather B. Moore 
The chemistry is hot in this one! Maurie has a good perspective on life and her dysfunctional childhood, but that doesn't make returning home less painful. Grant was the one light in her youth but he has a confession of his own to make... great tension and backstories to make the characters vulnerable with each other.

HOLD YOUR BREATH by Jenny Proctor 
I haven't read anything by Jenny Proctor before but this definitely won't be the last! I loved the determination of Kayla to stick to her plan of no dating while training for the Olympics, and Nate's equal resolve to not let her get away. They had fantastic chemistry and charming banter.

HEY, HELEN! by Sarah M. Eden   
One of my favorites of the collection, the secret love angle was so romantic and it was perfectly balanced with humor from Helen's column and compassion as she helps Neil take a difficult stand with some family issues. A strong story to end the anthology with, I finished with a big sigh of satisfaction :)



Heidi Reads... A Holiday in Bath by Julie Daines, Caroline Warfield, Jaima Fixsen

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I loved this novella collection! Each story was set in Bath, England during the Regency era, and it was so fun to learn historical details about that location. The first story by Julie Daines was full of drama, intrigue, and emotional turmoil (without being melodramatic). The friendship and affection that develop between the vulnerable Marianne and protective Mr. Northam balances out the darker parts of the story, and I loved how everything wrapped up. The second story by Caroline Warfield was a delight, and since I haven't read anything by this author before I'm looking forward to seeking out her other books. Lucy's sweet and compassionate nature make her a perfect match for the charming Edmund who is looking to turn his life in a direction different from his parents' expectations. The last story by Jaima Fixsen has plenty of kissing as the title implies, and while I liked the characters, their relationship seemed too based on physical attraction. It was still a fun story and finished the collection off nicely.



Heidi Reads... My Dearest Love by Sarah M. Eden

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What a sweet love story! I fell in love with the O'Connor family living in the tenements of New York City. Instead of allowing the harsh circumstances pull them apart, their bond keeps them strong and supportive of each other. Ian is a man confident in his skills, yet adorable with his uncertainty and vulnerability when it comes to a certain lass. Biddy is completely alone but her mother's words to keep making the best of things helps motivate her to work hard in the loud factory. This is my favorite kind of romance, where we get to see the two develop a friendship that progresses into love. Ian's brothers Patrick and Tavish have great personalities and I hope we get to read more about them in the future. The ending is bittersweet which brought out more emotion and curiosity about where the family's journey will take them.



Heidi Reads... Falling for a Duke (Timeless Regency Collection) by Rebecca Connolly, Nichole Van, Janelle Daniels

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Such a great collection! Each story captured my interest and held it with interesting characters, unique plots, and great settings. I especially loved the creative way the author incorporated the past with the present in VINGT-ET-UN | TWENTY-ONE. The story starts with Eliza and Liam resenting each other, but as we learn of their former friendship layer by layer and see them come together again in spite of the obstacles, the emotions heighten and I could not stop reading! I KISSED A DUKE was pretty fun and I liked seeing Madeline learn to stand on her own in a demanding and unforgiving society. ON THE DUKE’S ERRAND had an amazing setting in Scotland and it was interesting to learn about the conflicts there and how David did his best to get to know the people and their circumstances. He and Ceana had great chemistry and worked together well with his charm and her fiery personality.



Heidi Reads... The Heart Only Grows by Michele Paige Holmes

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Be still my heart! How I loved this sweet story of two orphans that brought together two lonely people to form a family. I've always been fascinated by the history of the orphan train, and since we have adopted our two daughters, it's a topic that is close to my heart. I love characters like Addie, she is a woman who has suffered hardship, but it has made her more compassionate and an advocate for the orphans. Miles' sorrow is understandable, and I loved how Addie accepted what he was able to offer- and not offer- with gratitude. I also loved that he was quick to look beyond himself to the family now in his care and couldn't help but respond. A wonderful novella with characters that are easy to connect to, great pacing, and a full story arc- just the kind of reading that makes me cozy up and sigh with happiness :)



Heidi Reads... Christmas Grace by Jennifer Moore, Krista Lynn Jensen, Chalon Linton, Anita Stansfield

http://www.amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.comhttps://deseretbook.com/p/christmas-grace-5191770?autocomplete=true&variant_id=157250-ebookhttp://www.goodreads.com

I absolutely loved this collection of heartfelt holiday stories set in Regency England! Each one had a perfectly sweet romance full of the hesitation and anticipation of unexpected love. I felt like it was easy to get to know the characters quickly and connect with them and whatever their struggle or heartache was. I loved watching the happy endings unfold for each of the couples in the stories and I loved the cozy feeling that the snowy Christmas setting brought. I honestly couldn't pick a favorite because I loved them all so well- that must be a good sign :)



Heidi Reads... A Season of Love by Carla Kelly

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The writing of Carla Kelly is so refreshing, I always look forward to reading a story by her. And this one has five stories! The characters are ones that are easy to like, and I quickly connected with them and their feelings through the various struggles or trials they are enduring. I appreciate that they are strong people with admirable traits, and most of the conflict comes from exterior sources. Overall the stories are sweet, but they still contain the author's trademark grittiness and realistic world view including the lower classes of British society. I also love the wry humor that subtly brings a lighter note to the narrative without diminishing the emotions and deeper themes.



 Heidi Reads... Happily Ever After: Six Fairy Tale Romances (A Timeless Romance Anthology) by Jessica Day George, Julie Wright, Sarah M. Eden, Julie Daines, Heather B. Moore, Annette Lyon

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I absolutely love a good fairy tale retelling, and this collection is full of them! Every one of the stories is creative while still being recognizable. The authors did a wonderful job of pulling me into the story quickly and keeping me guessing as to how things would resolve. I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories, but my favorites were The Miller's Daughter (based on Rumpelstiltskin), Black Fern (based on Beauty and the Beast), and Scarlet (based on Little Red Riding Hood). Something about the relationships in those particular stories resonated with me, the settings were easy to envision, and the tension or anticipation was palpable.




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As much as I adore my well-read paperback version of Edenbrooke and it's lovely cover, this gorgeous hardcover comes with the companion novella Heir to Edenbrooke.

Edenbrooke:
Words cannot express how much I adore this book. It's always the first book I recommend! I totally relate to Marianne, her insecurities and strengths, and Phillip is the perfect hero in my mind. The romantic tension is Off. The. Hook. I literally can't count how many times I've read it (especially my favorite parts).

Heir to Edenbrooke:
I absolutely adore Edenbrooke, and to have a novella from the hero's perspective is a dream come true :) I loved the insights it gives into Phillip's life before he meets Marianne, and it helped me more understand him and his actions in Edenbrooke. Of course I wish there was more of him and Marianne together from his point of view, but I think it's pretty perfect for what it is. My imagination can fill in the rest ;)



Do you enjoy reading novellas? 
What are some of your favorites?