Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd

The third installment of Sarah E. Ladd’s Treasures of Surrey series was a hit with me. My biggest complaint with the previous book in this series was that the hero and heroine were not together enough.

This was not an issue in A Stranger at Fellsworth. In fact, Annabelle Thorley and Owen Locke meet early in the book, and from that point forward, circumstances throw them together repeatedly.

While Owen is a gamekeeper, well below the social circles Annabelle is used to, his character stands above the majority of those in the ton. His love for his daughter and the respect of the land he works build his character as much as his desire to help Annabelle escape.

In direct contrast, Annabelle is navigating a new life, a new world. Her determination to make it work despite the obstacles she has to overcome make her loveable in her own right despite her naivety.

Add to that the search for poachers, a murder, questionable characters, and Annabelle’s scheming brother, and this book becomes one of Ladd’s best stories yet. Continue reading

Review: Catching the Wind by Melanie Dobson

What happened to Brigitte Berthold?

That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.

Now a wealthy old man, Daniel’s final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby’s tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons—and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel’s lawyer, Lucas Hough—the lure of Brigitte’s story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.

 

Continue reading

The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

The Illusionists Apprentice

by Kristy Cambron

 

About the Book

Not all illusions happen on the stage.

Wren Lockhart, apprentice to master illusionist Harry Houdini, uses life on a vaudeville stage to escape the pain of her past. She continues her career of illusion after her mentor’s death, intent on burying her true identity.

But when a rival performer’s act goes tragically wrong, the newly formed FBI calls on Wren to speak the truth—and reveal her real name to the world. She transfers her skills for misdirection from the stage to the back halls of vaudeville, as she finds herself the unlikely partner in the FBI’s investigation. All the while Houdini’s words echo in her mind: Whatever occurs, the crowd must believe it’s what you meant to happen. She knows that if anyone digs too deep, secrets long kept hidden may find their way to the surface—and shatter her carefully controlled world.

Set during one of the richest, most vibrant eras in American history, this Jazz Age novel of illusion, suspense, and forgotten pasts is perfect for fans of The Magician’s Lie, challenging all to find the underpinnings of faith on their own life’s stage.

 

My thoughts

One of my favorite things about Kristy Cambron’s books is they make me look at history and historical figures in a way I never have before. Sure I’ve heard the names John Ringling and Harry Houdini but other than a general knowledge of what they did to make a living, I’ve not thought about them too much more.

The Illusionist’s Apprentice made me take notice. In fact, it drove me to look him up online and learn a little more about his life, especially the part Cambron focuses on—his effort to reveal fraudsters.

 

 

But this book was about so much more than Houdini’s life. In fact, while he’s mentioned and has impact on some of the characters, he is not one in the book. This story is really about Wren Lockhart, Houdini’s apprentice and perhaps the only person who knows his secrets. A woman whose life has become an illusion in itself. While she puts on the trousers, stage makeup, demeanor, and confidence of Wren, she has another life she keeps well-hidden from the public.

Yet when FBI agent Elliott Matthews enters her carefully constructed life, he sees beyond the facade and desires to learn more about this intriguing woman. As the two work together to solve a mysterious death that occurred during another entertainer’s planned spectacular.

Cambron paints a vivid picture of the vaudeville life from the costumes to the stage, the acts to the competitiveness to be known as the best, and the convoluted relationships. While there, readers also get a glimpse into the newly formed FBI, the prohibition era, and Boston.

 

My Rating:

 

Disclosure statement:

I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble

Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble

 

About the book

Amid the beauty of Charleston, not all is as it seems.

When her husband Liam is killed by a car bomb while their Celtic band is on tour in Charleston, singer and Irish beauty Alanna doesn’t quite know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but Alanna knows she can’t lose the only piece of Liam she has left.

Alanna’s manager offers her a marriage of convenience to obtain U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution until she arrives at the family home of her new husband—a decaying mansion with more questions than answers.

Strange things begin happening that threaten Alanna’s life and the life of her child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is something more sinister at work?

A mysterious painting, a haunting melody, and a love stronger than death leave Alanna questioning where darkness ends and light begins.

My thoughts

While the story was a quick read, I had some mixed emotions about a few things going on.

The mystery behind Jesse’s actions wasn’t so much a mystery for me. I had that one figured out almost from the beginning. But Barry, his family home, and his motivations were not as clear until the end of the book. And there were some great action/suspense scenes in this one too.

Set in the Charleston, SC area, the book takes on an almost gothic quality (ala Jane Eyre) once Barry and Alanna return from Ireland and set up their lives in Barry’s ancestral home. Alanna’s career, her upbringing, and her family are all integral to the story and give readers deeper insights into her character.

I didn’t love how quickly Alanna was to give in to Barry on several occasions. Yes, she’s grieving but her husband has only been gone a few weeks (if that—the timeline wasn’t extremely clear).

If you’re looking for a read with a hint of the supernatural (which is all explained away by the end), Because You’re Mine may fit the bill. Overall, an entertaining read with a few scenes I’m still not sure how I feel about, but the ending was worth my time.
Disclosure statement:
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

Have you ever been in that place where you really want to read a book because you know it’s going to be wonderful while at the same time you really don’t want to because you don’t want it to end? That’s exactly who I felt as I read A Lady Unrivaled, the third and final installment in Roseanna M. White’s Ladies of the Manor series.

Readers met Lady Ella Myerston briefly in The Lost Heiress and got to know her more in The Reluctant Duchess. Now she gets her own story.

lady-unrivaled-cover

Loved. This. Book. The bubbly, optimistic personality of Ella perfectly offsets the negative, surly, taciturn (see how I got that Pride & Prejudice reference in there?) attitudes of Lord Cayton (who also made appearances in the previous books in this series).

Catching up with the Duke and Duchess of Stafford (Justin and Brook) was a treat, and Brice and Rowena (Duke and Duchess of Nottingham) also make an appearance.

The heart of this story is in the personal journeys of both Ella and Cayton. After Ella’s best friend went mad, she doesn’t trust her instincts. How could she not have noticed Stella losing her mind over Ella’s brother? And Cayton’s past traps him. Though he strives to become a better man, he is constantly concerned about returning to his old ways and he’s absolutely certain he’s not deserving of someone as good and pure as Lady Ella.

Through a scheme to rid both the Staffords and Nottinghams of the cure of the Fire Eyes (red diamonds from India), Ella and Cayton’s time together grows their attractions. While Ella’s determined to push past pretending, Cayton’s set on keeping both feet firmly planted in the façade.

This book is the perfect ending to the trilogy. The adventure of the Fire Eyes keeps the story moving along with intrigue while Cayton and Ella’s relationship grows around it. A beautifully written Edwardian series, the Ladies of the Manor now have a permanent home on my bookshelf.

Would you like to add the series to your collection? I’m giving away all three books to one of my lucky readers. Enter to win below.

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***Bethany House Publishers and Roseanna M. White provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.