The Lucky Hat Mine by J.v.L. Bell

Title: The Lucky Hat Mine

Author: J.v.L. Bell

Genre: Historical Mystery/Romance/Comedy

Era: 1860s

Setting: Idaho Springs, Colorado

Publisher: Hansen Publishing Group

Source: from author (in exchange for honest review)

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (one star was removed for content issues)

The Lucky Hat Mine by J.v.L. Bell

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A recipe for true love or murder? Ingredients: one Southern belle, one Colorado gold miner, a wife wanted classified, and a fainting goat. Let simmer.

What’s a Southern belle to do in 1863? Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she’d survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the mining town of Idaho Springs, Colorado territory, without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant. Her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancé, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie’s log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore making for an arousing historical murder mystery.

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This was a great book that kept me entertained and wanting more. It was funny, adventurous, and intriguing, truly a wild and whacky ride. However, I did find the content (mostly the constant stream of innuendo) to be a little more than I was comfortable with.

Plot {4/5}:

The plot was (mostly) amazing. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. In the middle it did drag just a little bit, but after Dominic arrived, it picked up again and was as entertaining and captivating as before.

I did solve the mystery involving the treasure Millie’s father hid rather early. It seemed pretty obvious to me as soon as I heard of the treasure existing. However, I didn’t guess the murderer until he was revealed. I was absolutely surprised, not having considered him as a potential suspect.

I was a little bit confused about the Christian content. This is by no means Christian fiction, and I wasn’t expecting it to be. So … why did Millie think about God so much in the first half of the novel … and then suddenly drop it? I wanted to pull her aside and answer all her questions, poor girl. She sounds so confused.

Characters {5/5}:

The characters were all well-developed and original. I was able to keep them all separated in my mind (and there were quite a few).  I really liked Buttercup. She was hilarious. And Dominic. I want to meet someone like Dominic; he was really great. Millie amused me, and I found myself empathizing with her on several points. Then there was Mary. She was sweet. I also liked Charlotte … Charlotte was funny.

I think my favorite character was Dom. He was so straightforward, and he wasn’t perturbed by anything.

Setting {5/5}:

Loved the descriptions of Colorado terrain. I want to go there someday! It sounds so gorgeous. Reminds me of the Cascades, only more rugged.

Writing {3/5}:

It could be partially due to the weird formatting I got when I downloaded it, but I occasionally found the writing hard to get through. It wasn’t bad … it just wasn’t amazing. As this was an ARC copy, I’m not going to judge it too harshly, however.

Content {4/5}:

This is where the novel really failed in my eyes. Of course, none of this matters to someone who isn’t as careful with content as I am (and there weren’t any really explicit scenes), but there was a little too much to make me comfortable.

Language: “d*mn” several times, “oh my g*d” and variations of this a couple times,  and Millie’s favorite expression is “Oh, Lor.'”

Violence: murders, wars, gunshot wounds, etc. Nothing graphic.

Sexual: many men want Millie to marry them, some as a “bedwarmer” or something like that. Millie wonders repeatedly as to what married couples … do. (Sorry. This is awkward. XD ) Mentions of married bliss, sleeping with a man, etc. Millie repeatedly reiterates how inappropriate it is for her and Dom to share a cabin. Dom touches Millie inappropriately. Several mentions of prostitutes. Lots of innuendo. Millie has to remove Dom’s pants (he has long underwear on under them) while he’s unconscious to tend a bullet wound at one point, which wouldn’t be so bad if she weren’t overthinking everything. Just … that kind of stuff.

One star removed. Not recommended for younger teens. 15+ only.

Overall {3.5/5}:

Besides the content, this was an entertaining story that I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys hilarious historical mysteries with a touch of romance.

~Kellyn Roth

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A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

Title: A Lasting Impression

Author: Tamera Alexander

Series: Belmont Mansion, #1

Genre: Historical Romance

Age-Range: 13+ (young adult/adult)

Era: late 1860s (Reconstruction)

Setting: Nashville, Tennessee

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Source: library

Rating: 5/5 stars

Content: 2/5. No language. No violence, though there is a horse-riding accident. A couple kisses, the average falling in love/attraction stuff. Illegal activity (stealing, cheating people out of their money; happened in the past, no-details). Okay for teens of any age, probably without parental guidance unless your kids have problems with thievery. 😉

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

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After an unwanted past, Claire strives to create something that will last as an artist among Nashville’s elite society in the 1860s.

Claire Laurent’s greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she’s forced to flee her home, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe, who shows her kindness by not turning her in to authorities. But when he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she’s sorely misjudged him. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville society, Claire believes her dream of creating a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach–but only if her past remains hidden.

The Federal Army destroyed Sutton’s home, confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family’s honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined–as well as the woman he loves.

Set at Nashville’s historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves–and each other–for who they really are.

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AH THIS BOOK WAS SO AMAZING!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I’d better calm down and write an orderly review of this fantastic book which I adore and want to read again and again and again and again …

So … yep.

First, Belmont … gorgeous. I want to live there. I need to live there!

Second, Adelicia Acklen. Amazing character. She was a real person who actually lived and some of the words she said in the book were written by her in a letter to someone! That’s so cool! She has a really sad past. Really, really incredible woman. Wow, wow, wow!

Claire is a fantastic character! I love how hard-working she is, how good she is at her job. Her job is one to die for … although I definitely couldn’t do it. Her creativity in the party and all other things is fantastic. Just … wow.

Sutton is also a great character. I feel like he wasn’t as focused on as Claire, but he was still great. I really liked him.

As I mentioned before, the setting was once-again amazing; Tamera Alexander is always great at putting you in a place you want to live and that you see in a very vivid way. The characters were all well-developed (I love most of them and hate the others, which is how it’s supposed to be). The plot was great. There was a little back-and-forth between Claire and Sutton that I didn’t care, but yeah, otherwise, is was a fantastic book.

And … I have no negatives.

I’m just going to publish this (once-again, pretty short) review as I’m not feeling particularly creative. It was fantastic, I’d recommend it to any lover of historical fiction, sweet romances, lush settings, or intriguing plots.

~Kellyn Roth

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

Title: To Whisper Her Name

Author: Tamera Alexander

Series: A Belle Meade Plantation Novel, #1

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Age-Range: young adults/adults

Era: late 1860s

Setting: Kentucky, USA

Publisher: Zondervan

Source: library

Rating: 3/5 stars. If I were just rating the characters, writing, and the main plot, I’d give it five stars, but there were a few things that took away those two stars.

Content: 2.5/5. A lot of attraction between Olivia and Ridley … which made me kind of uncomfortable. Will you please stop staring at each other??? Not much violence, no swearing. Overall, relatively clean.

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

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Set at Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, the most influential thoroughbred stud farm in America’s history, To Whisper Her Name weaves the struggles of real people of the post-war South with the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.

Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts an invitation from “Aunt” Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Harding’s head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth’s husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Not finding the safe haven she expects, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper, a Southern man who seems anything but a Southern gentleman.

Branded a traitor by some, Ridley Cooper, a Southern son who chose to fight for the Union, is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him. Determined to learn “the gift” that Belle Meade’s head horse trainer and former slave, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley harbors secrets that threaten both their lives.

As Ridley seeks to make peace within himself for “betraying” the South he loved, Olivia is determined to never be betrayed again.

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