6 Dec 2019

Misleading Miss Verity by Carolyn Miller: Kregel Blog Tours

Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #3
Kregel Publications, November 26th 2019, 352 Pages 
Print and Ebook

 Verity Hatherleigh has a mind of her own—but her actions do not impress her viscount papa. When she gets into one scrape too many, he sends her off to the wilds of Scotland to rethink her headstrong ways.

Anthony Jardine relished his role as curate, but his new duties as laird of Dungally aren’t always to his liking. Though he thought his new inheritance would be a blessing, somehow he’s finding nothing but trouble on these estates. And the intelligent, compassionate, feisty lass who was sent to rusticate in his territory is one of the biggest problems. He’s falling in love with her, but she doesn’t share the faith that’s his foundation—not to mention he’s been lying to her about who he really is. For the truth-loving Verity, that may be unforgivable.

The tangled web these two have woven may spell disaster for their happiness—and for the tenants of Dungally.

My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐


I enjoyed this final installment in the 'Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley series by Carolyn Miller. It follows Verity, the youngest and arguably the most precocious of the 3 sisters. Verity often clashes with her mother because of her forthright manner and tendency to defy social convention. She lives up to her name, which the Latin for 'truth'.

Most of the story follows Verity's adventures in Scotland, where so goes to visit a school friend with whom she had previously enjoyed many adventures and misadventures. Anthony Jardine arrives back in his homeland only a few weeks before Verity after a sojourn in Australia, where he served as a curate, and meets the intriguing lass (who is staying next door) when she ventures into the grounds of his manor.

Misleading Miss Verity has a lot to offer in terms of witty repartee and the often hilarious capers of the characters, including a sporting event where a character dresses as a man, climbing out a window to attend a masquerade, and even a hint of feuding between rival Scottish clans. Which reminds me that the Scottish countryside features heavily in this story, as well as some people with accents of varying thickness.

Both Verity and Anthony were well drawn characters, but I also liked Helen, Verity's school friend and her large family. Verity's struggle to find love and acceptance provided a realistic edge to the story, making her more human and vulnerable.
Although I didn't agree with all the choices the characters made, or that they were always entirely consistent with their their personalities.

The Romance elements weren't overwhelming in this novel, which is sort of a welcome change, and the reader will be left wanting to find out how everything turns out as it hurtles towards the conclusion. Recommended for Regency readers and lovers of Historical Fiction. 

Thanks to Kregel Blog Tours for sending me a copy of this book: I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

27 Nov 2019

Wind from the Wilderness by Suzannah M. Rowntree Review

Watchers of Outremer #1
422 Pages, October 29th 2018, Print and Ebook

Hunted by demons. Lost in time.

Welcome to the First Crusade.

Syria, 636: As heretic invaders circle Jerusalem, young Lukas Bessarion vows to defend his people. Instead, disaster strikes.

His family is ripped apart. His allies are slaughtered. And Lukas is hurled across the centuries to a future where his worst nightmares have come true...

Constantinople, 1097: Ayla may be a heretic beggar, but she knows one thing for sure: nine months from now, she will die. Before then, she must avenge her father's murder--or risk losing her soul.

Desperate to find their way home, Lukas and Ayla join the seven armies marching east to liberate Jerusalem. If Lukas succeeds in his quest, he'll undo the invasion and change the course of history.

But only if he survives the war.

Only if his enemies from the past don't catch him.

And only as long as Ayla never finds out who he really is.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I rarely finish a book of this length in 2 days (well really a little over 2), but I had the time and inclination. I actually only read it because I agreed to be an early reader on the second book and wanted to catch up

I'm glad I did. Wind From the Wilderness really was a breathtaking, thrilling, rollercoaster of a ride through period of the First Crusade . Readers be prepared: this is not your typical Historical fiction. It has Time Travel, and evil sorcerer alongside the labyrinthine politics of the Medieval Near East.
Throughout it all out hero Lukas Bessarion must survive in a culture and time entirely alien to him, and endure a grueling trek through the mountains and deserts of Asia Minor with the armies of the Baron's Crusade, enduring battles, physical privations and bullying whilst trying to figure out a way to get home. As well as coming to terms with his feelings for the Turkish girl Ayra.

Oh, and he's also being chased by an evil harpy demon in the form of a vulture that brings death and misery in its wake, whilst trying to find out the identify of the mysterious group known as The Vowed, who may be tied up with the fate of his family.

There are battles and fights. The former of which are meticulously researched. Honestly, I think this has some of the best and most accurate descriptions of 11th century French battle tactics I've ever encountered in fiction. What's more it avoids an overly partisan view of the Crusades.
So many authors choose to depict the Franks and Western Christians in a one dimensional way, as greedy and stupid religious fanatics, whilst the Byzantines are long-suffering Saints and the Turks Enlightened humanitarians reluctantly driven to give up their pacifism.

If the complex motives and personalities are anything to go by the Byzantines, Armenians and Turks were truly about as bad as each other.

The only concerns I had were few, and mostly about the theological treatment of different religions (mostly the treatment of Islam and Christianity as essentially the same).
Apart from these though, Wind from the Wilderness is a truly magnificent read. Much recommended. 

11 Nov 2019

Diamond in the Rough by Jen Turano Review

American Heiresses #2
Bethany House, September 3rd 2019, 349 Pages
Print, Ebook and Audio 

When Miss Poppy Garrison accepts her grandmother's offer of financial help for her family in exchange for Poppy joining the New York social season, she quickly realizes she is far less equipped to mingle with the New York Four Hundred than even she knew. As she becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, becoming the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs her to be looks more impossible by the day.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, is in New York to help his cousin find an American heiress who can help save his family's estate. But when his very proper British manners lead Poppy's grandmother to request he teach etiquette to Poppy, he quickly finds himself in for much more than he bargained for.

And while they couldn't be more opposite, Reginald and Poppy just might find they have more to teach each other than they ever could have expected.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Diamond in the Rough was not the type of book I normally read. In fact, its my first Jen Turano book. It was great fun, sometimes laugh out loud fun, with the accident prone Poppy and her antics. She always seemed to be getting into trouble: and usually in a funny way. In an early scene she ends up with her top end hanging out of a window.

What with that and her unconventional family situation, she's far from a typical debutante, but she nevertheless catches the eye of Reginald Blackburn. In fact a couple of times he has to catch her physically. And rescue her on a couple of occasions. This is not done in a degrading way, it comes over as charming and its all part of the fiascos she gets into , often because she's trying to help someone herself.

At times, I must admit it was a little hard to keep track of all the characters, but overall I enjoyed this story as a light and fun read set in New York in the late 1860s.

The only thing I felt was a little implausible was that Poppy and even Reginald extreme surprise at the plight of the poor, and the implication they had basically never seen a poor person. There were charitable organization and projects to help the poor in Britain at this time and before, I think Reginald would not have been quite so naive.

Thanks to the Publisher via Netgalley for allowing me to read this book at my request. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

8 Nov 2019

First Line Fridays: An Artful Match by Jennifer Delamere

Its been over a month since I last posted. I know: life happens. I'm going post  to today the First Line from one of the books I'm currently reading. 

The Artful Match by Jennifer Delamare: London Beginnings #3  



This book came out back in April, and I've only just got around to reading the Netgalley book now. Since I've read the first two books in the series set in and around Victorian London, I think its about time I read this one. 

Also, I have three books in my Netgalley library which were published by Bethany Housse in the first part of the year. So yeah, I need to get around to them. 

Today's First Line comes from Chapter One (though I am on Chapter 6). 

 "It was going to be a fine day - no matter what anyone might say about it"

  Click the Meme to see what others are reading, and Comment with your own First Line.


29 Oct 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Chilling Reads, or suited to Chilly Weather

Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday post, from the group hosted by the Artsy Reader Girl blog. 

The official title of today's post is Halloween Freebie, but I don't really do Halloween. I don't have really extreme views on it, its just not something we really did as kids, and all those sweets. Yeah I like candy but- eauch. Too many. 

So instead of Halloween books, I'm going to include some titles that are Mysteries, Thrillers, or spooky (sometimes a combination). These aren't necessarily ghost stories nor about the supernatural or paranormal, but they might send a shiver or two down your spine, or just have you on the edge of your proverbial seat *.

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and uncover the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.
A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20665064 Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster. When financial problems force her family to sell their home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . .

The local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail
find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

Jessica Neale's faith is lost the day of her husband's death, and with it, her belief in love. In a journey to find peace, she encounters a gentle, green-eyed stranger who leads her to the ruins of the medieval castle, Gallimore. On his way to battle, Colwyn Haukswyrth, knight of Gallimore, comes face to face with a storm the likes of which he's never seen, and a woman in the midst of it who claims to live centuries in the future.

The Lady Jessica of Neale is an irksome, provoking bit of woman to be sure. And she's about to turn his beliefs on end. The product of a family rooted in pain and evil, Colwyn has focused on naught but himself-until Jessica. To a mysterious prophecy stitched on a tapestry, through the invasion of Gallimore itself, Colwyn and Jessica are bound together by a lesson in forgiveness and love-a bond that might be strong enough to survive the grave.

Alan, the beadle of the manor of Bampton, had gone out at dusk to seek those who might violate curfew. When, the following morning, he had stillnot returned home, his young wife Matilda sought out Master Hugh de Singleton, surgeon and bailiff of the manor.

Two days later Alan's corpse is discovered in the hedge, at the side of the track to St. Andrew's Chapel. His throat has been torn out, his head half-severed from his body and his face, hands, and forearms lacerated with deep scratches.

Master Hugh, meeting Hubert the coroner at the scene, listens carefully to the coroner surmise that a wolf had caused the great wound. And yet . . . if so, why is there so little blood?

In the autumn of 1140 the Benedictine monastery at Shrewsbury finds its new novice Meriet Aspley a bit disturbing. The younger son of a prominent family, Meriet is meek and biddable by day, but his sleep is rife with nightmares so violent that they earn him the name of "Devil's Novice". 

Shunned by the other monks, Aspley attracts the concern of Brother Cadfael. Then a body appears, that of a young priest last seen at the Aspley estate. Can Meriet be involved in the death? As events take a sinister turn, it falls to Brother Cadfael to detect the truth.


If you want something a little on the Lighter side, I would recommend Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey was actually her first novel, but was not published until after her death. Some have described it as a parody of the Gothic Novels popular in the early 1800s: its certainly about a Young Woman who reads too many novels. 

I'm also going to push the boat out a little bit and include a couple of titles relating to Guy Fawkes Night, or Fireworks Night, the 5th of November. 

Guy Fawkes was originally the bigger deal in England, modern Halloween is more of a modern American import. Of course, it also commemorates a historical event, the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when a group of Catholic conspirators planned to blow up the Scottish King James I and Parliament gunpowder, stored in a cellar under the Houses of Parliament. 

Traditionally, Guy Fawkes night was commemorated by children making a 'Guy', something like a scarecrow or human effigy, and then take it along the houses in their neighburhood asking for a penny. 
The culmination was the 'Guy' being burned on the seasonal bonfire, usually accompanied by a firework display.  

Some parts of Britain retained- interesting, if controversial traditions in which the Guy might be made to look like an unpopular political figure, and in one city, even burned small figures of the Pope.


Above all guys, have fun responsibly, and remember that our furry friends really don't like fireworks. 

* Content Warning: Gallimore by Michelle Griep does indeed contain some references to the supernatural with a character who practices Black Magic and Necromancy, but this is strictly presented in a religious context.

25 Oct 2019

Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly: Cover Reveal and Giveaway

I’m so excited to bring you the cover reveal for Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly!

About the Book

Title: Waltz in the Wilderness
Series: Chaparral Hearts
Genre: Historical Christian Romance
Length: 328 pages
Publisher: Wild Heart Books
Release Date: Feb. 4, 2020

She's desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help.

Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother's death, so she'll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend's unexpected assistance is a blessing she can't refuse.

Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it's been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancé is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.

When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?

Preorder available at:

Amazon | Barnes& Noble | Apple Books | Kobo 

About the Author

Kathleen Denly lives in sunny Southern California with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting. 

Waltz in the Wilderness is Kathleen’s debut novel and the first in a series of three stand-alone historical Christian romance novels connected by secondary characters and their beautiful Southern California setting.

Kathleen would love it if you visited her website at KathleenDenly.com. You can also connect with her on social media: 

To see some of the photos that inspired Waltz in the Wilderness, follow her on Pinterest.


Preorder your copy today!  

Amazon | Barnes& Noble | Apple Books | Kobo 

If you preorder Waltz in the Wilderness AND email Kathleen proof of purchase (screenshot) before 12:00am PT January 11, 2020, you will receive a free digital copy of Ribbons and Beaus, a Chaparral Hearts Novella on January 21, 2020! For complete details, click here.

Excerpt from Waltz in the Wilderness

October 1850
California gold fields

They were going to starve to death, if they didn’t freeze to death first. Sure, they had beans for dinner, but Eli had had to trade her spare shirt for them—the one she’d been wearing beneath her everyday shirt to keep the early-October frost from biting her skin. She shivered beside the fire. Not much left to trade for supper, but then, there wasn’t another miner in these diggings that had grub to spare even if she had something worth trading.
She studied each bean, careful not to burn a one. Her hollow stomach cramped as the sweet smell of the simmering meal mixed with the scent of wood smoke filling the air.
A pinch of rosemary would have added flavor. Would Mama have been disappointed Eli’d traded the last of their herbs for Pa’s new coat? She shook her head. If Eli couldn’t coax Pa from the creek, the least she could do was keep his shoulders warm. Mama would have understood.
A shift in the cold wind blew soot into Eli’s eyes as she lifted the pan from the fire. Brushing a grimy strand of hair from her face and blinking away the sting, she turned her back to the smoke and stirred the beans.
Time to get Pa.
She walked to where he squatted in the icy mountain creek.
He wouldn’t be happy she’d traded the spare shirt. He’d wanted it to hide her blossoming womanhood. Of course, he’d have to notice the shirt was gone first.
Standing beside the babbling water, she toed off her boots before yanking her tattered socks off. After stuffing them into a boot, she pulled up her trousers and, with a bracing breath, waded into the chilling water.
“Here, Pa.”
She held the spoon out handle first, but he shrugged her away. Afternoon sunlight bounced off his thin, greasy hair—brown like hers, but darkened by muck. His dirt-encrusted brown eyes continued squinting into the swirling pan of water. The gentle rotation of his wrists never ceased.
“Come on, Pa. You gotta eat.”
He cleared his throat and spat to the side opposite where she stood, never taking his eyes from the water. “I’m fine. You eat.”
Eli lifted the spoon higher. “But, Pa—”
“I’ll eat later.” He shifted in the calf-deep water so that her worried stare landed squarely between his broad shoulder blades.
Her fingers tightened around the spoon as she planted her fist on her hip. The rocks shifted beneath her feet. “That’s what you said this morning.”
“I’m busy, Eli. Now hush and leave me be.”
She stood there a moment longer, taking in the sight of him. That tall, too-thin frame draped in the now too-large, threadbare shirt. She’d mended that thing more times than she could count. The trousers he kept up with a rope at his waist needed mending in the right knee, but she doubted the fabric could endure another stitching. She peered down at her own trousers. The worn threads of the cuffs drifted and tugged with the current.
She frowned at the beans cooling in the pan. A body shouldn’t have to choose between clothes and food. But miners upstream caught any fish in the creek, and hunting around here was pointless. All the digging, rattling, and mining commotion scared the game away.
She’d tried to coax Pa to leave their claim long enough to hunt elsewhere to no avail.
Mama could’ve convinced him.
Mama isn’t here. Eli straightened her shoulders. “Pa, this is the last—”
“Hey, Eli!” The familiar voice cut her off.
She turned in time to see a small rock sail toward her head and managed to duck it, but the move upset her balance. She tipped backward.
The beans!
Contorting herself to right her balance without spilling their dinner, she wobbled back and forth as stones rocked beneath her. She shifted her footing, but the sloped face of a large, moss-covered rock hastened her descent. Holding the pan aloft as she fell backward, her body tilted sideways and she overcorrected—
Sending the beans spilling down her shirt and into the creek.
For a moment she sat still, the chill of the icy mountain runoff failing to cool her blood as gales of boyish laughter drifted toward her from the bank. She erupted from the creek, wielding her now-empty pan above her head. “Morgan Channing, I’m gonna have your hide for this!”
She sloshed three full steps to the edge of the creek before she froze.
The eleven-year-old had stopped laughing and was staring at her, mouth hanging open, eyes wide. “Y-you…! Y-you’re a…a…”

Eli followed his gaze to her chest, where a few beans still clung to her drenched, oversized shirt. She dropped the pan and covered herself. Oh, how brainless of her! Would Pa send her away?

Available now for preorder!  


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away a “Trust in the Lord” Journal & 80+ Journal Stickers Set, along with a $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to comment on the blogs listed below for extra entries into the giveaway. 

21 Oct 2019

Sojourner by Janalyn Voigt: Prism Book Tours Post and Review

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

(Tales of Faeraven #3)
By Janalyn Voigt
Fantasy, Christian Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 322 Pages
November 1st 2019 by Pelican Book Group

Mara didn't know her parents were living a lie.

After learning a secret that causes Mara to question her heritage, she runs to Torindan, the High Hold of Faeraven, to seek the truth. What the innkeeper’s daughter doesn't know is that Rand, the mysterious tracker she’s hired to guide her through the wilderness, has been sent on an errand that puts her life at risk.

Helping Mara furthers Rand's purposes, but he doesn't count on his emotions interfering.

With Faeraven on the brink of war, Rand is faced with a life-altering choice, Mara is torn between escape and learning the truth, and the future hangs in the balance.

Will Mara be heir to the Faeraven throne? Can Rand escape the terrors of the dungeon?

As Torindan and Pilaer prepare for battle, anything can happen.

(Affiliate link included.)

Other Books in the Series

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sojourner is the third novel in the speculative/fantasy series The Tales of Faeraven. I think that the world-building in this series is second to none, with the culture and customs of this fictional land being solid and credible. I do like it that some of the characters and evens (at least in the early books) are based on actual Medieval European History.

This novel is the long awaited 3rd installment of the series (by which I mean several years) and answers some of the questions left at the end of Wayfarer, such as what happened to Kai, and confirmed something I suspected in the last book, but won't go into any further because it might be a plot spoiler. 

So what did I enjoy about this book? Most of it really. I liked how alongside the political intrigue with a growing threat from an enemy army threatening the heroes, there was a hint of romance between Mara and the mysterious Rand.  It seems as though their love can never be, since they're on different sides, but you can't help rooting for them, and feeling for Mara as she struggles to find acceptance in her new life. 

I also loved 'meeting' some of the characters from the older books again, including Elcon, the ruler of the nation where the heroes live. We remember from the last books that he too struggled to find acceptance with his people, and of course Kai, who still struggles with the loss of Shae, the girl he loved. 

I think Rand's inner turmoil over his divided loyalties were portrayed realistically. He has to make difficult choices, all of which will come at some cost to him, and he's neither a cartoonish villain nor a perfect hero. 
Finally, I think the characters Faith journey is one that readers will find relatable. The religion of Rivenn, Elcon Kai and the others is clearly Christianity, although God comes under a different name. 

On the one hand, they seek the advice of Emmerich, the Christ like figure, but when his advice seems difficult or illogical they choose to ignore it. A choice that could prove disastrous. Their prayers are not always answered, nor is there an explanation for everything that happens, but the character still hold to their faith. 

Of course, I just really want to know what happens to them in the last novel, due to come out next year following the cliffhanger at the end. 

 I received a PDF review copy of this title from the author and/or their representative. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.  

About the Author

Janalyn Voigt is a writer and professional speaker with a photography habit and a passion for travel. Her unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Tales of Faeraven, her epic fantasy series beginning with DawnSinger, carries readers into a land only imagined in dreams. She is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of Wordserve Literary.

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4 Oct 2019

First Line Friday: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Today I am sharing the First Line of a book I purchased a couple of months ago. The Curse of Misty Wayfair is a Thriller cum Dual Timeline novel. Not my usual fare, but I have a soft spot for Thriller/mystery novels. 

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother--who is battling dementia--compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns--and with it, Heidi's fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

My First Line is From Chapter 18 (since I am currently reading the book). 

"The iron gate opened, soundless" 

 What's Your First Line? Don't Forget to click the Meme, and see what others in the group are reading.


2 Oct 2019

Without a Trace by Mel Starr Review

The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #12
240 Pages, Lion Fiction, September 20th 2019 
Print, Ebook and Audio (Coming November)

 The wife of a knight disappears while traveling from her husband's manor to Bampton, on the way to another of the knight's properties. She and her maid are travelling in an enclosed wagon, whilst her husband and his grooms and a squire are mounted. When the party arrives at Bampton Castle neither the lady nor her maid are within the enclosed wagon: they have simply vanished. 

As the disappearance may have happened while the travellers were on Lord Gilbert's lands, his surgeon and bailiff, Hugh de Singleton, is assigned to discover what has happened to the lady. Has she been taken? Her has she fled her husband?

A few days later her husband receives a ransom demand, and Hugh is named to deliver the money. Why him? The ransom is paid, but the lady is not returned. Can Hugh help find her, or is it already too late?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


An excellent latest installment in the continuing Hugh de Singleton series. This book focuses on the disappearance of a noblewoman rather than a murder, and I think there is more of an emphasis on procedure and investigation in this one.

The mystery has plenty of twists and turns, false starts and red herrings. Hugh- now Sir Hugh, follows a false trail and the wrong lead, which leads him to another potential mystery. In a sense, this proves he is only human and not everything is easy for him to solve.

As with the other novels in this series, there's usually an operation or two for Hugh to perform; this time he performs one on a horse as well. The details about Medieval life and society are also well done. In this case, they relate a lot to marriage and religion, as well as a moral dilemma towards the end.

There is a rather interesting scene in which Hugh sees some of his acquaintances using an early form a magnifying glass and decides he must have one (even though he does not struggle with his eyesight): the Medieval equivalent of needing the latest gadget or iPad.

Hugh's family also come into this one quite a lot, with his clever wife Kate, their children and her father. Readers should be warned, though, there are some tragic scenes that tug at the heart strings in this book as Hugh and his loved ones struggle with illness and a loss in the family.

It would probably have been possible for Hugh to solve this mystery quicker, and the book was rather more slow paced then some of the others, but it has everything that dedicated readers of this series have come to love. There's no political intrigue, sex or graphic violence, as you find in other mystery series, but some people appreciate that.
I thought it was a good installment, and look forward to the next one.

Although this book was released a week ago, I was sent a copy by the Publisher in August as I have reviewed titles for them in the past. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own

28 Sep 2019

Foremost by Jody Hedlund Review

The Lost Princesses #2
210 Pages, September 24th 2019, Northern Lights Press 
Print and Ebook 

 A second princess. Another key to the treasure. And a cruel king desperate to squelch the growing rebellion.

Raised in an isolated abbey, Lady Maribel desires nothing more than to become a nun and continue practicing her healing arts. She’s carefree and happy with her life…until a visitor comes to the abbey and reveals her true identity as one of the lost princesses.

When he was a young boy, Edmund Chambers helplessly watched King Ethelwulf murder his family. Edmund escaped and has lived in the abbey ever since, uniquely trained to work with wild animals. Secretly, he loves Maribel and desperately hopes she doesn’t complete her holy order vows.

When King Ethelwulf’s army arrives at the abbey to capture Maribel, she flees with Edmund across the desolate Highlands in an attempt to reach Adelaide’s rebel army. Edmund can no longer hide his love, but can Maribel give up her dreams of becoming a nun to love him in return?

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


 This was another book that I finished with somewhat mixed feelings. It was a good YA story with plenty of adventure and romance. 

First of all, this story finally vindicated me in my conviction that this series is fantasy NOT Historical Fiction, because of the inclusion of undoubted fantasy elements such as man who can communicate with animals, including a mythical dragon- like creature. 

 Its not set in a real time or place, nor is it based on real events. It includes mythical creatures, as well as American animals such as cougars and raccoons that have never been indigenous to Europe.

Anyway, on with the review. As said, this was a decent YA Fairytale story with a strong female lead and plenty of love and adventure. Maribel's medical training and knowledge of herbs made things more interesting.
Making her a nun, or rather a postulant (nun in training who had not taken her vows) was an interesting idea.

However, I did feel this story started to get weak and lag in a number of ways. First of, it felt repetitive towards the end, with lots of telling (over and over again), how the characters had learned their lessons analysis of feelings etc.
Yes, there were some important moral lessons about overcoming selfishness here, but we don't need to have them summed up over and over again.
Even the hero Edmund does not feel very much different from the hero of the last book, or the prequel. The only thing that set him apart are his trained animals.

Second: the battle scenes. I've commented on this in reviews of novels by this author before, but sadly the situation has not improved. The battle scenes are unrealistic to the point of being ridiculous. Highly trained soldiers go into battle without helmets or any kind of protection over the most vulnerable parts of their body, and (predictably), get killed when the goodies shoot them in the neck or throat- or more often throw knives at them. Which is a terrible cliche in itself.

I mean honestly: even the most incompetent fighting force in history would have learned their lesson after a few failed military engagements in which lots of people were killed this way. 

And honestly, I just hate it when the bad buys in novels are useless, inept and stupid. Its just bad characterization done to give the heroes and easy ride.

Also throwing daggers seems to be the main fighting method employed by certain characters in this novel, who must also have a get out of physics free card. Daggers are not guns: you can't hit any target with pinpoint accuracy from any distance.
In fact, I read that they're not very accurate at a distance of about 20 feet , and if they spin through the air, there is just as much of a chance the hilt would strike the person first.
The probability of them hitting the intended target, blade first at a precise 90 degree angle each time is next to impossible.

I really do hope that some of these weaker elements will be improved upon in the third and final book in the series, but I fear if this hasn't happened by now its not likely to. Its kind of disappointing overall. 

27 Sep 2019

Evermore by Jody Hedlund Review

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The Lost Princesses #1
August 27th 2019, Northern Lights Press,  222 Pages 
Print and Ebook 
An ancient key. A secret treasure. And a princess destined to use them both to fight evil and restore peace.

Raised by a noble family, Lady Adelaide has always known she’s an orphan. Little does she realize she’s one of the lost princesses and the true heir to Mercia’s throne…until a visitor arrives at her family estate, reveals her birthright as queen, and thrusts her into a quest for the throne whether she’s ready or not.

Unable to tolerate King Ethelwulf’s cruelty and lawlessness, Christopher Langley left Mercia years earlier, training a group of rebels in neighboring Norland. When he returns home after his mother’s death, he discovers that not only is Adelaide all grown up, but she’s also the rightful queen of Mercia.

When King Ethelwulf discovers Adelaide’s location, he’ll stop at nothing to capture her and the key she holds to the ancient treasure. Christopher is just as determined to protect Adelaide so she can lead the growing rebellion. When feelings ignite between the two old friends, forces threaten to destroy their love and rip them apart forever.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 


So, to start with the positives: it was a good adventure story with interesting characters. I don't think they were as developed as I would usually want, but this is technically a Young Adult book.
Its probably the kind of story I would have really enjoyed as a teenager, with lots of action and a strong female lead. It also fills the niche in the market for clean YA fiction with positive spiritual themes.

The world building was also a little better in this story than the other Medieval series by this author: I think because its set up more as fantasy or an outright Fairy Tale, rather than the previous series which caused confusion by using real place names. That said, there there was a lot of telling rather than showing, which might have been a result of story being written in the first person.

However, I'm reading this as an adult, and there's a lot that fell short to me. First of all the battle scenes were terribly unrealistic. Sometimes to the point of laughable. All the bad characters seem to have really convenient gaps in their armour above their hearts or their neck: and nobody seems to wear padding underneath except the heroes in the jousting scenes.

I mean seriously, we're missing the basic point of armour here. It wasn't worn for fun, it was protection. The idea of highly trained warriors going out with the most vulnerable parts of their body uncovered is just absurd. Its obviously just done to make them easier to kill.

There's some really annoying misconceptions as well, such as the characters wearing armour ALL THE time. Even when they're out hunting or even eating inside their castle. Cops don't wear bullet proof vests when they're eating dinner at home, or going out with their kids. So why do we assume Medieval knights did?
I mean seriously. Chainmail is really uncomfortable. People took it off as soon as they weren't involved in combat anymore.

Finally, although I get the strong female lead bit, I really think this was rather overdone with Adelaide. She is the second 'warrior woman' character by this author and gets thrown in the deep end quite quickly impersonating a boy in a joust. I mean we get it. OK. Girls are just as good as boys. Really. We get it. We don't need to keep being told how Adelaide was great at fighting, training to use weapons ETC.

By the end of the novel, I felt this went from endearing, to an annoying modern feminist intrusion, where Adelaide literally thinks she can only prove herself as a worthwhile Queen and leader is by dressing in men's clothing and besting men in combat.  
I really don't think its a great message to send to girls that to be 'strong' you have to act like a man. As if femininity is a bad thing to be shunned.
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