Friday, October 24, 2014

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

Dust Jacket: 
Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

Praise for Julie Klassen's The Tutor's Daughter
"Whether you're a fan of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, or both, you will soon become a fan of Julie Klassen once you read this wonderful book."--GoodReads

"Well-developed characters, plot twists, and attention to period detail make this a sure bet for fans of Regency novels."--Library Journal"Regency/Klassen fans will love the mystery, romance, and drama."--Publishers Weekly 

My Review: 4.5 Stars

I have to say that Julie Klassen is one of my favorite Historical Christian Authors. I anticipate when a new one comes out, then devour it. Unlike other Regency Authors, Julie Klassen brings us into the world of the middle class or the shunned of the upper class. Her historical detail is so well done, I feel like every book I read I am discovering a whole new culture of Regency England. Every book gives us a new perspective of the era. I am not a history buff, but reading her books makes others think I'm some some expert on the subject when I share some detail I've learned. Her writing is engaging, her plots and characters well developed. I often see the watermarks of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte laced throughout her books.

With all that said, I was surprised by this book. Though still well written and developed as she brought us into the life and circumstances of a Dancing Master, I expected more historical details. On that I was disappointed, but everything else that I love about Julie's stories was still there - watermarks and all.

Silver Bells (A Timeless Romance Anthology)

Dust Jacket:

Amazon #1 Bestselling series in *New Release* for Clean Romance

**Amazon Top 50 Bestseller in Victorian Romance**

Six Award-Winning Authors have contributed new stories to A Timeless Romance Anthology: Silver Bells. Readers will love this collection of six historical romance novellas, all centered around the Christmas season.

In NY Times & USA Today’s bestselling author Lucinda Brant’s delightful novella, FAIRY CHRISTMAS, Kitty Aldershot is orphaned and forced to live on others’ charity. Offered a home under the generous roof of her relatives, the Earl of Salt Hendon and his countess, Kitty wants for nothing, not even the affections of Mr. Tom Allenby. But when Kitty stumbles across a letter written by Lady Caroline that reveals how Mr. Allenby would be ruined should he marry the likes of Kitty, she realizes she has been fooling herself all along. Kitty’s world crumbles around her as she recognizes she will forever be alone with no prospects at all.

Sarah M. Eden’s charming romance novella A CHRISTMAS PROMISE, Sean Kirkpatrick is trying to get to his new place of employment, Kilkenny Castle, in order to start as the new stablehand. His only requirement is to drive a team of high-spirited nags from Dublin to Kilkenny in a certain amount of time. Unfortunately he winds up in a muddy field, stuck, lost, and running out of time. He’s about to lose the job before he can prove himself capable of finishing his first assignment. When Maeve Butler arrives on the scene, Sean isn’t sure if she’s intent on rescuing him or bent on torturing him with her fiery wit and lovely dark eyes.

In Heather B. Moore’s enchanting novella, TWELVE MONTHS, Lucien Baxter’s best and most incorrigible friend, Will, dies unexpectedly, leaving behind his new bride and unborn child the week before Christmas. Will’s last request is that Lucien watches over Cora, not just as a benefactor, but as a husband. When Lucien does his duty and proposes to Cora, he’s turned down flat. But over the course of the next few days, Lucien discovers that marrying Cora wouldn’t be any sort of duty after all, but a matter of following his heart.

In Lu Ann Staheli’s sweet romance novella, A FEZZIWIG CHRISTMAS, Dick Wilkins and his best friend Ebenezer Scrooge have been looking forward to the annual Fezziwig Christmas dance for weeks. Ebenezer is practically engaged to Annabelle Fezziwig, and Dick hopes to start courting her younger sister, Pricilla. Once the dance starts, and Pricilla arrives, as pretty and charming as ever, Dick discovers that he’s not the only man vying for her attention. His best friend advises Dick that he has to win Pricilla’s heart, as well as her mother’s favor. Losing his heart has suddenly become very complicated.

A TASTE OF HOME, a captivating romance by Annette Lyon, we meet Claire Jennings, who’s on her way to spend Christmas with her family. As she rides the train with William Rhodes, who grew up across the street, memories of Christmases past flood her mind. He may be twenty-one now, but she can’t forget his torturous teasing from their school years. At the rail station, Claire discovers that her home is under quarantine because her little brother has measles. She's stuck in town, away from her family, on her favorite holiday. William stays behind with her, and as Christmas Day approaches and her homesickness deepens, she discovers that perhaps he has changed in more ways than one.

Becca Wilhite’s entrancing novella, MY MODERN GIRL, follows Margie, who lands her dream job as a clerk at Macy’s department store in New York City. Margie might be new in town, but she’s determined to succeed and prove to Henry that moving to the city was the right decision. As the Christmas season approaches, Margie realizes that being a “modern girl” might not be all she had dreamed of and Henry might have more to offer than she ever imagined.

My Review: 4 Stars

Silver Bells is a delightful collection of historical novellas by different authors centered on the Christmas season. Most of these short sweet stories happen in one scene/party/event. So don’t be surprised when you get pulled into a story and then you are left to imagine the details of their happily ever after. They are still worth the read!

The authors include Lucinda Brant’s, FAIRY CHARISTMAS, where she gives us a sweet companion novella to two of her other novels in her Salt Series and a glimpse into a 1700’s yule log celebration and budding love. Sarah M. Eden’s CHRISTMAS PROMISE, shares an Irish tale where Sean Kirkpatrick meets his Irish Rose, Maeve Butler. Heather B. Moore’s TWELVE MONTHS, is a sweet budding romance between Lucien and his best friend’s widow, Cora. Lu Ann Brobst Staheli’s FEZZIWIG CHRISTMAS, Dick discovers at a Christmas Dance that capturing the heart of Pricilla is more complicated that he’d imagined. Annette Lyon’s A TASTE OF HOME, Claire finds herself stranded in the city for Christmas with her childhood torturer, William, and discovers he is not such a torture to be around anymore. Becca Wilhite’s MY MODERN GIRL, 1920's Margie discovers that her dream of working at Macy’s Department store in NYC isn’t as dreamy as her Henry from back home. So if you are looking to find some talented authors, this is the perfect place to start.

I received an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saving Grace by Michele Paige Holmes

Dust Jacket:

From Whitney Award Winning Author, Michele Paige Holmes, comes SAVING GRACE, a regency romance from the Hearthfire Romance series:

After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing.

As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage.

Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda. 

My Review: 5 Stars

I love this book! It is one of the best I've read in a while. In the beginning our leading lady, Grace, hilariously throws herself into schemes to avoid being married off by her father to the worst kind of men. She is even willing to ruin her reputation to protect what is most important to her, her siblings. Right when Grace thinks she’s secured her family’s freedom from her self-serving father, she finds herself entangled in a scandalous love triangle between two enemies. Now with two vying suitors, is spinsterhood still what she really wants? Can she protect her siblings from her father and have love? Or will she also need to protect her heart? Grace is strong and bold and will not step down from a challenge. But the prickles and problems of others will only be soothed and worn down by her honesty and love.

This book is well written, engaged my emotions and made me identify with the kinder and more loving parts of myself. While inspired by the faults and growth of all the characters, this story left me wanting to become gentler, more thankful and more forgiving. Saving Grace is truly a fun, unpredictable, clean romance book with a plot that twists and tangles then pricks and snags your heart until it blooms into a sweet and beautiful love.

I received an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Undercover Engagement by Lucy McConnell

Dust Jacket:

Alyssa Eastman is engaged to the man of her dreams. Jason is smart, attractive, and he makes her laugh. When the couple is attacked by a group of men who call Jason by an assumed name, shoot holes in his beautiful car, and try to run them off the road, Alyssa learns her perfect fiancĂ© is also the perfect spy. With his cover blown, the only way to bring down an international terrorist group is for Alyssa to steal the information. She agrees to help, putting her life on the line; but, putting her heart on the line and marrying a man who lied to her about his identity (albeit for national security – but still!!) is a much harder decision.

My Review: 5 Stars

I love this book! It is fun and fast paced and a little over the top in a way that you will love. Undercover Engagement reminds me of a huge bowl of rocky road ice cream. Lucy McConnell stirs up the perfect amount of sweetness, crazy and danger. Our heroine, Alyssa Eastman's smooth and sweet romance is turned totally upside down when her perfect fiance, Jason's cover is blown. He is an international spy and all of the sudden her smooth life gets a little nutty.

Its totally a have-cereal-for-dinner kind of book. I couldn't put it down. Its my first book by Lucy McConnell and I've already picked up my second.

This is a clean romance. It is also Christian-y but not at all preachy. They characters pray a couple of times, mention that they go and serve at church and abstain from sex before marriage, but no doctrine. I would recommend it to all ages and people who like sweet romance with a crazy edge.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tiy and the Prince of Egypt: An Ancient Crown Novel by Debbie Dee 
Book Jacket: 
Tiy is different than the other Egyptian girls--she has pale hair and more freckles than she wants to count. With her mother consumed by the need to keep up appearances, and her father too busy to care, Tiy just wants to disappear into the background. But her hope for a quiet life is shattered when she rescues Prince Amenhotep from a sandstorm and is rewarded with an invitation to attend the royal school in Egypt’s capital—-a place where girls like her will never belong.

Amenhotep welcomes her into his close circle of friends and their friendship strengthens into a bond neither is willing to lose. But when Amenhotep becomes Pharaoh and is pressured by the priests to marry, the strength of their friendship is threatened. Will Tiy find enough courage to accept Amenhotep’s hand when he wants her to become the next Queen of Egypt, especially when her feelings run no deeper than friendship? And how can she protect him from the Nubian rebels who are determined to take control of Egypt?
My Review: 5 STARS
I immediately loved this book! I have NEVER been interested in Egypt. As a child everything I was taught about Egypt revolved around death, decay, power and pyramids. Boring. So, this book was a leap into a new genre for me and what pulled me in was a blonde haired girl in Egypt. (What? Was that even possible?)

So, Tiy, is treated as an outsider in her homeland of Egypt because of her mixed heritage until she meets Amenhotep, the heir to Pharaoh. With his friendship the courageous Tiy feels empowered in her journey of self discovery. I loved watching her character grow and mature throughout the book. Her character is well developed and easy to love. (Almost all characters in the book really existed.)

The story has a few modern themes and fun historical inaccuracies that make the book more relateable to our day's society. It is brilliant the way Debbie Dee skillfully weaves the developing teen with the strong threads of historical, religious and cultural aspects of ancient Egypt. She keeps the reader engaged and makes them want to know more about Egyptian religion, politics, culture and history. This book just scratches the surface, but it sparks an interest. She will engage you in a dynamic story and leave you wanting to read and learn more!

I recommend it to readers 12 and up. This book is clean and a fun fictional way to be introduced to ancient Egypt.