My Rapid Review – Finding Ever After

My RAPID Review - Between Stairs and Stardust

about-the-book-2

Between Stairs and Stardust is Pepper Basham’s addition to the collection titled, Finding Ever After: four fairytale-ish novellas

Stella Faye Emory has known a life of loss. Orphaned at the age of eleven, she is sent from her home at the Biltmore Estate to become a companion for a wealthy family in Boston. As she grows into a kind and talented young lady, a benefactress recognizes Stella’s artistic skills and funds her education but Stella’s fame as an illustrator inspires jealousy and an unwanted rumor that sends Stella fleeing back to the Biltmore.

James Craven is the second-born son of an automobile tycoon. Following his family to their new estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, James finds his place among the forests and mountains of the countryside. When his little sister is saved from drowning by the mysterious, “Faye”, James’ interests take a new turn in the direction of this fairy-like artist who seems to appear and disappear at the most unexpected times.

As James and Stella’s friendship deepens, Stella’s past finds her and threatens her newfound romance. Can a charm bracelet and an unanticipated visitor restore hopes for a happily-ever-after?

Finding Ever After

Experience a touch of magic with these four fairytale-ish novellas that span over one hundred years. Linked by an illustrated book of fairytales, each novella is an enchanting combination of a beloved classic sprinkled with the author’s own brand of fairy dust.

Between Stairs and Stardust is set in 1913 Asheville, NC at the beautiful Biltmore Estate and includes a budding children’s book illustrator, an out-of-the box heir, and a teensy bit of Cinderella romance.

Entanglements has a Rapunzel twist and is set in 1920’s Boston between a reluctant heiress, a charming piano tuner, and a game of chess.

Twice Upon A Time is a Beauty-And-The-Beast inspired tale that brings a romance novelist back home to her family’s pecan farm… and the ex-fiance she left behind.

Once Bitten is a nod to Snow White that includes a fake date with a handsome woodsman, seven geeks, and the world’s best apple tarts.

My Thoughts

Once again Pepper Basham has created memorable characters you’ll want to root for. Beginning with a page-turning opening scene, this novella keeps you reading until the very end. Exquisite descriptions place you right in the heart of the elegant Biltmore Estate nestled in the beauty of 1913 Asheville, North Carolina. Her attention to detail and powerful writing style wrap you in the world of Stella and James as they struggle to discover what truly matters and where they belong.

This story made me chuckle, gasp, and grin like a silly woman in all the right places. With engaging characters, vivid setting details, and plot twists you won’t see coming, Between Stairs and Stardust is a tale not to miss. 

About the collection:

Between Stairs and Stardust sets up the following three novellas in the collection by introducing the reader to a unique fairytale book, created by Stella (Pepper’s heroine in Between Stairs and Stardust). This book is passed from heroine to heroine (or hero) in an indirect manner as we travel through time with the final story taking place in modern day. Each story finds a unique way to incorporate the book, interpret the fairytale they’ve chosen to reinvent, and engage our attention as readers. While Pepper’s is probably my favorite, I sincerely enjoyed the other novella’s in this collection as well and recommend it to anyone looking for heart-warming stories that leave you smiling.

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My Rapid Review – Ladies of Intrigue

 

my rapid review - ladies of intrigue

about-the-book-2

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

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady
Cornish Coast, 1815
When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?

The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!)
Dakota Territory, 1862
Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.

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

My Thoughts

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady

Helen Fletcher is a surprisingly determined young woman whose past has left her more than a little biased against Isaac Seaton. Yet his complicated past (and present) winds up being the very thing which draws them together. A fresh twist on the robin-hood concept, complicated by questions of biblical morality, this story was fun to read and kept me turning the pages.

The Doctor’s Woman

The romance between Emmaline “Emmy” Nelson and Dr. James Clark was, by far, my favorite of the three entertaining novels included in this collection. Unexpectedly paired to tend to the soldiers and Sioux people encamped at Fort Snelling, the two work side-by-side on a daily basis allowing their friendship to blossom into something more. With several sweet moments that warmed my heart and enough surprises to keep me reading, this is a story I could have kept reading for much longer, despite its satisfying conclusion.

A House of Secrets

A bit reminiscent of the plotline from A Heart Most Certain by Melissa Jagears, this story nevertheless held its own charm. Featuring a heroine struggling to win her father’s heart and a hero fighting to right past wrongs, you can’t help but root for the two of them as they overcome fierce adversaries, troublesome secrets, and life-threatening events.

Overall Conclusion:

This collection takes the reader from a small town on the Cornish Coast of 1815 to the American frontier of 1862 and finally to 1890 St. Paul, Minnesota. With engaging characters and entertaining plot twists as diverse as their settings, all three stories are fully worthy of your time and money.

Overall Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Available: Amazon

Let’s Chat! Have you read any of Michelle’s other books? Which is your favorite?

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Three well-written stories with engaging characters, vivid descriptions and entertaining plot-twists, all in one collection. #BookReview

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About the Author

Michelle Griep

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

 

3 Reasons to Read Historical Fiction

Guest post by Michelle Griep

 

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

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

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

  1. Makes for great conversation.

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

  1. Because truth is timeless.

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

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

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

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, February 23

The Power of Words, February 23

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 23

Blogging With Carol, February 24

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 24

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 24

Mary Hake, February 24

Kathleen Denly, February 25

Genesis 5020, February 25

Splashes of Joy, February 25

For the Love of Literature, February 25

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, February 26

Faery Tales Are Real, February 26

Through the Fire Blogs, February 26

Blossoms and Blessings, February 26

Inspired by fiction, February 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 27

Back Porch ReadsFebruary 27

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 27

A Baker’s Perspective, February 28

Andy Carmichael, February 28

Stories By Gina, February 28

Emily Yager, March 1

Multifarious, March 1

A Reader’s Brain , March 1

Baker kella, March 1

Bibliophile Reviews, March 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 2

Remembrancy, March 2

Just the Write Escape, March 3

BigreadersiteMarch 3

Inspiration Clothesline, March 3

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 4

Vicky Sluiter, March 4

Ashley’s Bookshelf, March 4

Book by Book, March 4

Kat’s Corner Books, March 5

Inklings and notionsMarch 5

Living Life Free in Christ, March 5

The Morning Chapter, March 5

Tell Tale Book Reviews, March 6

Pause for Tales, March 6

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

Daysong Reflections, March 6

Texas Book-aholic, March 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 7

Janices book reviews, March 7

A Humble Cup of Lukewarm Tea, March 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, March 8

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, March 8

Carpe Diem, March 8

Giveaway

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

Be sure to comment on blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the image below to enter.

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My Rapid Review – Laurel’s Dream

my rapid review - laurel's dream

about-the-book-2

Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

My Thoughts

A tale of determination, compassion, loyalty, and new beginnings wrapped in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Everything about this novel grabbed my heart, enthralled my senses, and wrapped me up in the beauty and trials of life in the Blue Ridge.

From the first page, I fell in love with the plucky heroine, Laurel, who had dreams bigger than the life she led, yet didn’t allow her desires to overcome her integrity. In fact, even her dreams weren’t about her. Laurel’s whole being vibrated with a love and compassion for others without crossing the line into too-perfect-to-be-real. Laurel certainly had her weaknesses, but the love in her heart outshined them all. It was no wonder the hero, Jonathan Taylor didn’t take long to recognize what a special woman she was. Still, their budding friendship faced many obstacles on its way to love.

Jonathan arrived in Maple Springs hoping for a chance at redemption — a way to prove his worth to his father and himself despite the physical limitations which prevented him from following his brothers into war and drove him from his home in England. Despite his uncle’s letters, he didn’t fully understand the cultural differences he’d face in Maple Springs and how significant they would be to his role as their new teacher. Jonathan faced an uphill battle if he wanted to become an accepted member of the Maple Springs community. As the reader, I loved taking on that battle with Jonathan through Pepper Basham’s well-written story.

Packed full of surprises that will keep you turning the page, this novel is more than a romance between a man and a woman. It’s a story of our Creator’s love, the ties that bind families and communities together, and the sins that threaten to tear them apart. I highly recommend this story to anyone hoping for an emotional journey that leaves them cheering in the end.

Overall Rating: 5 of 5 stars!

P.S. It’s no secret that I am a fan of Pepper’s writing, but this may be my favorite of all her stories. She really outdid herself. If you haven’t read anything by Pepper Basham yet (gasp!) this is a fantastic place to start!

P.P.S. For anyone wondering: I purchased my own copy of this book. Go get yours!

Available: Amazon

Let’s Chat! Have you read any of the books from the My Heart Belongs In ___ series? If you’ve read Pepper’s previous books, which is your favorite?

TWEETABLE:

A tale of determination, compassion, loyalty, and new beginnings wrapped in the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. #BookReview

 

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My Rapid Review – Catching Christmas

My RAPID Review - Catching Christmas

about-the-book-2

This Year, Christmas Comes Just in Time

As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is paying his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild-goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

My Thoughts

A hilarious romp through small-town America, this story will keep you reading just to see what craziness happens next.

If you were ever a fan of the Gilmore Girls and remember the character, Luke Danes — the cranky-but-lovable cafe owner — you’ll have a fair idea of the hero’s personality in Terri Blackstock’s Catching Christmas. Picture Gilmore Girls‘ Luke as a taxi driver stuck with the sweetest — if a bit mischievous — little old lady suffering from severe memory difficulties and a tendency to nod off in the backseat without telling him where he is supposed to take her next, and you have a fair idea of the comedy involved. Terri’s hero, Finn, just wants to do his job, talk as little as possible, and pay his rent on time. No muss, no fuss. But his softy-heart and a guilty conscience just won’t let him push kind-hearted Miss Callie into the “somebody else’s problem” category. At one point likening the sweet old woman to a parasite that won’t leave his mind alone, Finn finds himself driving Miss Callie all over town while Miss Callie’s granddaughter fights to save the job that is footing Miss Callie’s bills. When the hero and the heroine finally get together, their mutual concern for Miss Callie’s welfare cause both an immediate clash and a common bond. Following along as Miss Callie leads them to a Christmas they’ll never forget, was such a pleasure, this book deserves a place on every reader’s bookshelf.

Available: Amazon 

Let’s Chat! Have you finished your Christmas shopping or, like Miss Callie, are you still searching for that final special gift? 

TWEETABLE:

A hilarious romp through small-town America, this story will keep you reading just to see what craziness happens next. #BookReview

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About the Author

Terri-Blackstock-200x300

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Catching Christmas is her first Christmas romance. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com Facebook: tblackstock Twitter: @terriblackstock

From Terri Blackstock

Enjoy this premium excerpt from Catching Christmas

https://aerbook.com/books/-128993.html?utm_source=pubpage

To get you in the Christmas mood, here’s an early holiday playlist:

“White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby

“I Heard the Bells” sung by MercyMe

“Light of the World” sung by Lauren Daigle

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” sung by Amy Grant

“Don’t Save it All for Christmas Day” sung by Avalon

“Till the Season Comes ‘Round Again” sung by the Katinas

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 15

Daysong Reflections, December 15

Genesis 5020, December 15

Back Porch ReadsDecember 15

The Power of Words, December 16

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 16

Quiet Quilter, December 16

Among the Reads, December 17

Kathleen Denly, December 17

By The Book, December 17

Lighthouse Academy, December 17

Cultivating Us, December 18

Simple Harvest ReadsDecember 18 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Remembrancy, December 18

Caffeinated Christian Raves – N – Reviews, December 19

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, December 19

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, December 19

All-of-a-kind Mom, December 20

amandainpa, December 20

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, December 20

Multifarious, December 21

Cathe Swanson, December 21

Stories By Gina, December 21

Connect in Fiction, December 22

Have A Wonderful Day, December 22

Splashes of Joy, December 22

Bibliophile Reviews, December 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 23

Lis Loves Reading, December 23

Mary Hake, December 23

Bigreadersite, December 23

Book by Book, December 24

Pause for Tales, December 24

To Everything A Season, December 24

Southern Gal Loves to Read, December 25

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 25

Vicky Sluiter, December 25

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 26

Inklings and notions, December 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 26

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, December 27

Captive Dreams Window, December 27

Texas Book-aholic, December 27

A Baker’s Perspective, December 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 28

Older & Smarter?, December 28

Janices book reviews, December 28

Carpe Diem, December 28

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Terri is giving away a grand prize of a finished copy of Catching Christmas and a Christmas Tree Ornament!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the image below to enter.

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My Review: The Thorn Bearer

This review was originally published almost 3 years ago, but some things are worth repeating. In light of Pepper Basham’s upcoming historical romance release, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge – Laurel’s Dream, I thought it timely to recall her first historical romance (the one that made me an instant fan).

Thorn Bearer Review Image

I discovered The Thorn Bearer by Pepper Basham via an Instagram post by RachaelReadsFiction. I followed the link to her blog where she was so enthusiastic about The Thorn Bearer and its upcoming sequel, The Thorn Keeper, that I was compelled to add The Thorn Bearer to my TBR list.

The Story

English born, American raised, nurse Ashleigh has plans to return to her home country and serve in a hospital treating wounded soldiers in war ravaged England. Already harboring a soul-crushing secret, she suffers personal loss and heartbreaking betrayal before setting off across the Atlantic on the doomed Lusitania.

Much to her consternation, she is joined on this journey by her best friend, Sam Miller, who is traveling to England to reunite with his fiancé, Ashleigh’s sister.  “As they travel across the Atlantic, neither is prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.”

When Ashleigh’s secret is thrown into the light, she is forced to deal with the aftermath and struggles to find her hope in God.

The Experience

Most of you will be familiar with the famous poem about God carrying us through our darkest times. As the reader, I could truly see this happening for Ashleigh. The spiritual aspect of this novel is completely organic and seamlessly woven into the story. Wonderfully written, this book has an almost poetic feel to it. The characters are so rich and the setting so real you’ll question whether you’ve actually lived through these significant events in history.

Having said that, I do feel compelled to issue one warning:  If you have a history of abuse, please be aware this book may contain triggers for you.

Whether you’re looking for a true love story, a strong character arc, a page-turning plot, a taste of history, spiritual encouragement, or a sensory feast, The Thorn Bearer has what you’re looking for.  I highly recommend this book!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

As if reading a fantastic book isn’t awesome enough, I was blessed to win an Advance Reading Copy of the upcoming sequel, The Thorn Keeper!

Materials Note:  I purchased my own copy of this book, for my own reading pleasure.

Updated:

Read my review of Book 2, HERE!

Read my review of Book 3, HERE!

My Review – When You Look At Me

My Review - When You Lookt At Me

about-the-book-2

An unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

Amazon

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Searching for Love

Why This Book:

I have been a fan of Pepper Basham’s writing since I read her debut novel, The Thornbearer and have read every book she has written since then.

Opening Lines:

Julia Jenkins was a glass-half-full person.

Well, most of the time.

First Impressions:

The character of Julia immediately intrigued me (although I have to disagree with her assessment of baths & pregnancy – I couldn’t have survived my pregnancies without those long soaks!) and I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to know how she’d gotten into her situation and how she was going to handle it now that she was there.

Main Characters:

Julia Jenkins –  As I mentioned, Julia intrigued me at the start and she continued to hold my interest throughout the book. This is a woman with a quiet strength. The type of person you might not notice when you first enter a room, but whose strength and courage will astound you in times of trial. Most importantly, her faith is a thing of incredible beauty.

Henry Wright – Oh how I love the chuckle Pepper gave me by giving Julia a “Mr. Wright.” Name aside, however, the character of Henry had to grow on me a bit. It wasn’t that I initially disliked him — I liked him right away — but he is so unique and his introversion is expressed in such an unusual manner that it did take some getting used to. In the end, my heart was completely won over by this one-of-a-kind, heart-meltingly loyal, and inspiringly selfless man.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Liked her more

Amelia Dawn aka Aunt Millie – Julia’s recently deceased aunt is a source of mystery. A recluse in her old age, Amelia’s life before settling near Pleasant Gap is mostly unknown, despite Julia’s close relationship with her in recent years. Throughout the novel, Julia and Henry attempt to uncover Amelia’s secrets and I have to tell you, what they find is worth the search.

Eisley Jenkins – Heroine of the first book in this series, Eisley is one of Julia’s sisters and longtime girlfriend of Wes Harrison (see below).  Her role is important, but not large in this book, although she does get a couple scenes as the Point of View character. (For anyone not familiar with that term, it means the scene is written as if the reader is in her head, hearing her thoughts, seeing what she sees, etc.)

Wes Harrison –  Hero of the first book in this series, Wes is back in this book as the longtime boyfriend of Eisley and best friend of Henry. As with Eisley, his role is important, but not large in this book.

Nate Jenkins – Father of Julia Jenkins, he is naturally protective of his daughter – even more so given her recent experiences – and he provokes some very entertaining and also very touching scenes in this novel. Fair warning:  one of his scenes had me wiping moisture from my eyes and swallowing a lump in my throat. While not perfect, in many ways, he’s what dads should be.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Pregnant

 

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

As I stated above, I was immediately engaged by the character Julia and eventually loved the character of Henry. The story maintained a comfortable tension throughout, with the expected increase of intensity growing toward the climax, so of course, I kept reading.

Not only were the hero and heroine of this book engaging, but the secondary characters were equally so. Pepper has done an excellent job developing the Jenkins family and I am looking forward to reading more stories featuring them. Henry’s family was refreshingly dysfunctional and I loved the surprising and compassionate way in which Pepper portrayed them. This book made me laugh out loud, shake my head, and wipe away pesky tears.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Bad Idea

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I’ll begin by stating that this story captured first my interest and then my heart. However,  I admit to not being as big of a fan of the big duet scene between the two main characters which I have read other reviewers rave about. To be clear: I didn’t dislike the scene. I just didn’t love it. I think my lack of enthusiasm can be attributed to my general lack of passion for the lingo of music. While I love listening to it, I am neither a player nor a student of that particular art. Therefore, I think some of the subtler nuances of that side of the story – the various musical vocabulary and phrasing sprinkled throughout the story – may have escaped me. Nonetheless, I never felt that I was in any way lost or confused about what was going on.

Furthermore, there were many, many other things to delight me in this story. I completely related to many of the experiences Julia had in regards to her pregnancy, and, in some ways, I could relate to Henry’s need for moments of solitude. The love which grows between the two main characters is something I couldn’t help but feel in a very real way. The unexpected twists Pepper created in this story kept me very happy as a reader, and as always, her literary gift with words was a music all its own.

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Bravery

Theme:

God is our source of purpose, courage, and healing.

Ending:

Wonderful and full of small twists you didn’t see coming. This ending is sure to leave you grinning.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in the Pleasant Gap series? What do you think it means to be courageous?

TWEETABLES:

“This story captured first my interest and then my heart.” Read the #BookReview!  @Pepper Basham @KathleenDenly https://bit.ly/2QVNPU2

“This book made me laugh out loud, shake my head, and wipe away pesky tears.”  Read the #BookReview! @Pepper Basham @KathleenDenly https://bit.ly/2QVNPU2

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author, but was NOT required to write a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.

My Review – An Hour Unspent

My Review - An Hour Unspent

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Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it.

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Why This Book:

I have been a fan of Roseanna M. White’s Shadows Over England series since I read book one, A Name Unknown.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

May 11, 1915
Poplar, London, England

Barclay Pearce shouldered his way through the mob, invisible.

First Impressions:

Having gotten to know Barclay through the previous two books in the series, it didn’t take much to snag my attention with this opening, but that isn’t to say it wouldn’t have caught my attention otherwise. Well-written and intriguing, I immediately wanted to know more about where Barclay was and what he was doing. The backdrop of espionage, social unrest, and racial tensions in war-time England only added to the page-turning urge.

Main Characters:

Barclay Pearce –  Head of a group – or as they call themselves, “family” – of former street thieves turned government spies, Barclay serves as a sort of father figure/ elder brother figure to the other members of the “family.” He is loyal, intelligent, kind, and, of course, handsome. Fully worthy of his role as the lead in this story, Barclay isn’t without his faults. Which, of course, is why I loved him.

Mr. V – A mysterious man, Mr. V has served as the family’s contact with the government throughout the series. It is wonderful to get to know a tiny bit more about him in this book than in the previous two.

Cecil Manning – Something of a genius and a clockmaker (and toy maker, and inventor), Cecil is head of the Manning family although his relationship with his wife leaves that somewhat debatable. Beloved by his daughter and sought by his country’s government, Cecil is a character I loved rooting for.

Evelina Manning –  Cecil’s daughter, Evelina is highly intelligent in her own right and nothing if not passionate. Her burning desire to change the wrong in the world around her makes her an easy character to love, despite some rather questionable behavior at one point in the book that made me want to shake her just a bit and give her a good-old-fashioned talking to.

Judith Manning – Cecil’s wife and Evelina’s mother, Judith is a complicated woman and not someone you immediately want to invite over to tea. That said, I enjoyed her role in this story – especially regarding the surprises.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

As I said, this book had me from page one and the tension ratcheted up seamlessly from there. At no point did I want to put the book down and more than once I experienced a strong emotional reaction to something a character said, did, or experienced. (See the character descriptions for just a teeny hint of that.)

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

As with the first two books, this story is set against the backdrop of World War I and I thoroughly enjoyed the additional true historical elements Roseanna was able to organically incorporate into this story.  I truly felt as though I’d been there, experiencing the thrill and fear along with the characters.

I honestly can’t think of a single thing I disliked about this novel.

Theme:

I think, even more than the previous two books, this novel really focused on what it means to be a family. It also presents the question of how far we are willing or even should go for love.

Other issues touched on include racism, prejudice, and identity.

Ending:

Thoroughly satisfying and just the right length to wrap up all those little details fans of the series could hope for.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

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Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in this series? What do you think it means to be a family?

TWEETABLES:

How far would you go for love? #BookReview

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !


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About the Author

Roseanna M White -2018-218x300

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Guest Post from Roseanna

Last year, as I finished up the writing of An Hour Unspent, my great-grandmother passed away at the age of 103. As I sat at her funeral service and listened to the heartfelt memorial raised up to her by her kids and grandkids, I realized anew that this woman had been a matriarch in the truest sense of the word. She’d taught my family for generations how to love the Lord and each other, how to serve the Lord and each other, and how to trust the Lord and each other. Grandma Seward was, in so many ways, the one who instilled in me my idea of what family really is.

That idea—that it’s those knit together by love more than blood, and that faith is the strongest foundation—is what I built my unusual family of thieves upon in the Shadows Over England series. And strange as it is to liken my twenty-something reformed-thief hero to my 103-year-old-grandmother, Barclay Pearce is very much to his family what Maxine Seward was to mine.

The founder. The caregiver. The leader.

I knew as I began the series that I would write about Barclay in book three, and as I got to know him better throughout the series, I grew so excited to share his story! This is a man who led his family first into and then out of a life a crime, always for the right reasons—so he could provide for the children under his care. All he ever wanted to do was give them what he himself had lost. To show them love. To prove to them that they were worth any sacrifice.

It was truly a blessing for me to get to write the story in which Barclay found someone to come alongside him, to appreciate and learn to understand him. To finally share what started him down this path. I loved the idea that only a reformed thief could steal the time another family needed to overcome their own trials.

There are many historical items in the book that were such fun to explore—watchmaking of the era, the suffrage movement in England, technological advancements of the war—but at the heart, this isn’t a story about any of those.

It’s a story about how far people should go for love. I hope you enjoy Barclay’s story as much as I did!

 

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Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Roseanna is giving away a grand prize of a signed book, a London mug, and a 48-pack Twinings tea sampler!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the image below to enter.

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