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Title: The Weaver’s Daughter
Author: Sarah E. Ladd
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Setting: mid-England countryside
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: from Netgalley (in exchange for an honest review)
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars
Loyalty has been at the heart of the Dearborne family for as long as Kate can remember, but a war is brewing in their small village, one that has the power to rip families asunder –including her own. As misguided actions are brought to light, she learns how deep her father’s pride and bitterness run, and she begins to wonder if her loyalty is well-placed.
Henry Stockton, heir to the Stockton fortune, returns home from three years at war seeking refuge from his haunting memories. Determined to bury the past, he embraces his grandfather’s goals to modernize his family’s wool mill, regardless of the grumblings from the local weavers. When tragedy strikes shortly after his arrival, Henry must sort truth from suspicion if he is to protect his family’s livelihood and legacy.
Henry has been warned about the Dearborne family. Kate, too, has been advised to stay far away from the Stocktons, but chance meetings continue to bring her to Henry’s side, blurring the jagged lines between loyalty, justice, and truth. Kate ultimately finds herself with the powerful decision that will forever affect her village’s future. As unlikely adversaries, Henry and Kate must come together to find a way to create peace for their families, and their village, and their souls – even if it means risking their hearts in the process.
Author: Susan May Warren
Series: Daughters of Fortune, #1
Genre: Historical Romance with Christian themes
Era: 1890s through 1918 (Gilded Age/Edwardian/WW1)
Setting: New York, Montana
Publisher: Summerside Press
Source: bought myself a copy
Time Taken to Read: about two days
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (at least a star removed for content)
After thinking it over for a while, I decided to review A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter in a slightly different way. In honor of the Miranda/Marsh letters, this review will be in epistolary style.
First, a brief introduction the subject material:
Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.
When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
Dear Lady Miranda,
Well, your story was quite amusing, wasn’t it? It’s a bit of a comedy (mostly because the very situation with the letters is ridiculous), which I totally wasn’t expecting. Of course, there’s also some mystery and some romance, but the comedy parts were something that stood out to me.
Is it just me, or was “Marlow” a little obvious? The first time he appeared, I was like, “Well, the mystery’s solved; time to close the book …” Of course, I read on though and found a different mystery to solve, but it threw me off for a minute because I was thinking, “Okay … that can’t be it … it’s waaay too obvious!”
Now, I admit that, once I get on a roll, I’ll add thousands of books to my to-read list based on the cover (or, as in your book’s case, genre/publisher). I also order books from the library based on the fact that they’re in my to-read list on Goodreads.
It’s kind of nice, like opening a surprise package, so I don’t correct my troublesome ways. Now, your book was like that. A surprise. I started reading it without even glancing at the blurb, and I was kind of bugged by the cover (which seemed a bit off to me … I just feel like the pink, faded, wallpapery trim doesn’t match with the bright dress and hat you’re wearing). So … I was pleasantly surprised.
Now, let’s discuss Marsh. Because I know you want to. 😉 He is absolutely adorable! I mean, you’re adorable together, but even by himself, he’s adorable! I mean, he’s not surpassing Gil (just so you know, Miranda darling, Gil is a friend of mine from a book I beta-read a while back), but Marsh is still pretty awesome!
Moving on to Georgina. Does she drive you crazy? What am I saying; I spent several hundred pages in your head. Of course she drives you crazy! She drives me crazy, too.
Then there are your brothers. Trent was my personal favorite. I love how he slugs Marsh! I mean, I kinda wanted you to hit him … but this was second best. Griffith was also cool, though not in the same way. He’s like a steady rock while Trent is more of a wild ride.
Then there’s your mother. Honestly, she drives me up the wall. I don’t know how you can even bear her. She’s even worse than Georgina. I wouldn’t stand it! You’re a grown woman; who needs her ‘lady lessons’? Eesh. I just wanted to shoot her sometimes.
However, we’ll move on because I bet you don’t want me talking about shooting your mother.
The whole thing with the spies … so thrilling! I mean, in a book. I imagine it wasn’t so fun for you when you were, you know, traipsing about the countryside with the, er, valet.
Anyway, this is an amazing novel, and your author is quite talented. I’m looking forward to reading more by Hunter in the future.
Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Classic Romance
Age-Range: 14+ (young adult/adult)
Era: early 1800s (Regency)
Setting: various places in England
Source: own a copy
Rating: 5/5 stars
Content: 3/5. No language (at least none that isn’t crossed out like this: by G-d), no violence. Romance, a person commits adultery (everyone is shocked, so I feel like anyone could read it because … everyone is so shocked! Great moral lesson there!).
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation.
As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever.
A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.
I admit I didn’t enjoy Mansfield Park as much as the other Jane Austen novels. It doesn’t have the sparkle and pizazz of Pride and Prejudice or Emma, it doesn’t have the intensity of Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion, and it doesn’t have the light-hearted humor of Northanger Abbey. Yet … there’s something about it that makes it an equal to all of her novels, though definitely not superior.
Yes, it’s a bit boring. It’s a quiet, rainy-day read. It took me a long time to finish both times I read it (twice now). Yet … there’s something about it that’s appealing. It’s taken me a long time to identify it, and I’m still not sure I have, but here goes.
This story is full of people who live as they should – people who live as they shouldn’t – people who act properly socially, but rather improperly morally. All this is viewed from the quiet soul of Miss Fanny Price, who is shocked at any bad behavior, yet ever-forgiving if it’s directed at herself.
Fanny really is pure gold. She can be a bit of an Elsie Dinsmore at times, but, because this is Jane Austen not Martha Finley, we know that she’s, first and foremost, human.
Edmund … hmm. Austen did well not to mention a specific date for his change of heart. Goodness gracious, Edmund! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? MISS CRAWFORD!?!?! MISS CRAWFORD!???????? In every way she offends! How could you ever consider -!? And with Fanny right there all along -!?! Unbelievable.
Anyway, I still like you, but you’ll never be in the same league with Darcy or Knightley or Wentworth. In fact, you know what? You’re not even up there with Bingley. Bingley is way hotter than you. You know, even Ferrars was honorable and faithful. Hang yourself with your stiff collar, Edmund Bertram.
Would you believe I actually like Henry Crawford? Yeah … Willoughby, too. I’m sorry! I just feel like they could have been good guys if they weren’t … bad guys. I suppose you could say that about anyone, though, so …
Mary … I just can’t forgive her. Especially her reaction to the Maria/Henry debacle. Wow. Just wow. I mean, you weren’t awful, though you felt super fake, especially in your treatment of Fanny, but … I just can’t even think of you as ‘influenced by your evil aunt’ or something stupid like that as Edmund did.
I’m not going to go into the other characters. I loved some, hated others, and had mixed feelings for the rest. I did end up liking Sir Bertram more than I did the first time I read this book, though. He was pretty nice, and I loved his treatment of Fanny towards the end.
Overall, this was a fantastic novel, which I’d recommend for any lovers of classics. Though it’s a bit heavier than the other Austen novels, it’s definitely worth the rest, though I wouldn’t recommend it as your first Austen. 🙂
“We have all been more or less to blame … every one of us, excepting Fanny.”
“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.”
“If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.”
Title: Beyond All Dreams
Author: Elizabeth Camden (http://elizabethcamden.com/)
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Age-Range: Young Adult/Adult
Setting: Washington D.C., USA
Publisher: Bethany House
Rating: 4/5 stars. Although it was a great book, I find I couldn’t get into the era as deeply as I would have liked to, and I sometimes found the characters confusing.
Content: 2/5, parental guidance suggested for preteens. A minor character in the book had a child out of wedlock, no details, as the result of an affair, again no details. This is not treated as ok, and it’s barely mentioned. Some attraction and a couple kisses (no details) between Luke and Anna (which also felt unbelievable to me, given the time period … but whatever … let them kiss … I’ll just turn the other … eye away … because for some reason I was only reading with one eye and … I’ll stop now). Mentions of drinking and smoking. Luke’s father was sometimes abusive when he was drunk.
Anna O’Brien leads a predictable and quiet life as a map librarian at the illustrious Library of Congress until she stumbles across a baffling mystery of a ship disappeared at sea. She is thwarted in her attempts to uncover information, but her determination outweighs her shyness and she turns to a dashing congressman for help.
Luke Callahan was one of the nation’s most powerful congressmen until his promising career became shadowed in scandal. Eager to share in a new cause and intrigued by the winsome librarian, he joins forces with Anna to solve the mystery of the lost ship.
Opposites in every way, Anna and Luke are unexpectedly drawn to each other despite the strict rules forbidding Anna from any romantic entanglement with a member of Congress.
From the gilded halls of the Capitol, where powerful men shape the future of the nation, to the scholarly archives of the nation’s finest library, Anna and Luke are soon embroiled in secrets much bigger and more perilous than they ever imagined. Is bringing the truth to light worth risking all they’ve ever dreamed for themselves?