An Ivy Hill Christmas

Do you enjoy reading Christmas novellas or stories? I haven’t really gotten into them until the last couple of years, and I’m so glad I did! You see, I’m not much for television or watching sappy movies, but I do love a good book. And novellas are a perfect length for this busy time of the year!

Julie Klassen’s An Ivy Hill Christmas is the first Christmas novella I have read this year, and it was full of such festive fun! Take a step back in time and learn the traditions of the Regency Era Christmas. You won’t be disappointed!

Keep reading to find details on the giveaway, more information about the book, and my full review!

About the Book

Book: An Ivy Hill Christmas

Author: Julie Klassen

Genre: Christmas Historical Romance

Release Date: September, 2020

Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill’s most prominent family, hasn’t been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life–unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.

But Christmas in the country presents many surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled–and determined to have nothing to do with him.

Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, and joyous songs, change his heart . . . and hers as well?

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

An Ivy Hill Christmas was a charming Christmas novella by Julie Klassen. It was fun to learn the many customs associated with Christmas, New Year, and Twelfth Night. The food, games, and snowy outdoor activities made me start wishing for a white Christmas! How fun it would be to celebrate the season with family and friends for several weeks.

Richard was as big of a Scrooge as one could be. And there might have been a time or two I wanted to slap him alongside Arabella for the cutting remarks that came from his mouth. But his journey of learning to look past self to love and forgive others was perfect for the Christmas season. After all, it is the beginning of the path to the redemptive work of the Cross.

Arabella’s generous and kind nature is the attitude we should all have toward each other whether it is around the holidays or not. She was an exceptional woman, and I loved how she stood up for herself and others. I think we could be good friends!

Overall, I enjoyed this Christmas novella, as I do all of Julie Klassen’s stories.  But Christmas stories are special, and I think An Ivy Hill Christmas conveyed the true meaning of the season perfectly. I would recommend this novella to any Regency romance fan.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Klassen Julie

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for 16 years and now writes full-time. Her novels have sold over 1 million copies, and three of her books, The Silent GovernessThe Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and a Christian Retailing‘s Best Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

More from Julie

My fascination with England began as a girl when I read The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre, and watched A Christmas Carol. I have now been to Great Britain several times, and my affection for the place has only grown. I love the country villages with their stone buildings and thatched roofs, the narrow, winding roads (though not driving on them), the ancient churches, friendly people, plummy accents, and history. Writing fifteen novels set there has been a real pleasure.

An Ivy Hill Christmas includes all the elements of an idyllic Olde English yuletide: A charming village setting, snowfall, mistletoe, caroling, gifts for less fortunate neighbors, and festive gatherings of friends and family. I thoroughly enjoyed researching 19th century Christmas traditions and weaving them into this novella.

In the story, a confirmed bachelor is determined to remain aloof from the celebrations going on around him—and from his mother’s matchmaking schemes. But divine hope, friendship, and unexpected romance change his heart…and his mind.  I love a transformation story; don’t you?

If you’ve read the TALES FROM IVY HILL series, you will enjoy returning to the village and spending time with favorite characters. But rest assured, the novella is a standalone, meaning you can enjoy it whether or not you’ve read the other books, as these reviews attest:

“[A] standalone novella that not only beautifully captures the kindness, hope, love, and faith of Christmas but also skillfully evokes the period holiday atmosphere of Regency England.”  —Booklist

“This feel-good tale of love and redemption will delight Klassen’s fans and new readers alike.” Publishers Weekly

And if you like the novella, I think you will like the other books as well. An Ivy Hill Christmas would also make a lovely gift for a reading friend.

Finally, if you want to add a British flair to your own modern-day celebrations, buy (or make) mince tarts or Christmas pudding, place Christmas “crackers” (pull-apart gift tubes) on your table and wear the included paper crowns. Refer to Father Christmas instead of Santa; and instead of “Merry,” wish everyone a hearty, “Happy Christmas.”

Happy Christmas!

Blog Stops

Through the Lens of Scripture, November 30

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 30

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 30

Christian Bookaholic, November 30

Andrea Christenson, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, December 1

KarenSueHadley, December 1

Robin’s Nest, December 1

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 1

Blessed & Bookish, December 2

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, December 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 2

Mia Reads, December 2

Wishful Endings, December 3

lakesidelivingsite, December 3

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3

For Him and My Family, December 3

Just Your Average reviews, December 3

She Lives To Read, December 4

Remembrancy, December 4

deb’s Book Review, December 4

Writing from the Heart Land, December 4

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 5

Quiet Workings, December 5

Blogging With Carol, December 5

Spoken from the Heart, December 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 6

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, December 6

Connect in Fiction, December 6

Artistic Nobody, December 6 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Worthy2Read, December 7

Genesis 5020, December 7

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 7

Inklings and notions, December 7

Life of Literature, December 7

For the Love of Literature, December 8

Connie’s History Classroom, December 8

Batya’s Bits, December 8

Labor Not in Vain, December 8

Hallie Reads, December 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 9

Older & Smarter?, December 9

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, December 9

Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 9

Betti Mace, December 9

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 10

Faery Tales Are Real, December 10

Melissa Wardwell’s Back Porch Reads, December 10

Mary Hake, December 10

Daysong Reflections, December 11

Bigreadersite, December 11

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, December 11

Splashes of Joy, December 11

Vicky Sluiter, December 12

To Everything There Is A Season, December 12

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, December 12

Blossoms and Blessings, December 12

The Write Escape, December 12

A Baker’s Perspective, December 13

Bizwings Blog, December 13

Simple Harvest Reads, December 13 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Pause for Tales, December 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Julie is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of An Ivy Hill Christmas and the other three books in the Ivy Hill series, plus the winner’s choice of Bingley’s Tea!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/103f5/an-ivy-hill-christmas-celebration-tour-giveaway

Good luck with the giveaway!

Happy reading and God bless,

–Kristina

A Castaway in Cornwall

There must be something about Cornwall that draw me to it’s stories. I have read several books set along it’s shoreline and even watched a television show where the main character was from the area. It has an interesting and rich history. I love all the danger that comes from the wreckers and smuggling, but it is a bit disheartening to know people valued goods and profit over human life many times.

However, there is nothing disheartening about Julie Klassen’s soon-to-be released novel, A Castaway in Cornwall. It is a fantastic story full of secrets, adventure, and finding one’s shore after being adrift.

Keep reading for more about the book, a purchase link (preorder!), and my full review.

About the Book

Set adrift on the tides of fate by the deaths of her parents and left wanting answers, Laura Callaway now lives with her uncle and his disapproving wife in North Cornwall. There she feels like a castaway, always viewed as an outsider even as she yearns to belong.

This pearlized cover took my breath away in person. It is absolutely gorgeous!

While wreckers search for valuables along the windswept Cornwall coast–known for its many shipwrecks but few survivors–Laura searches for clues to the lives lost so she can write letters to next of kin and return keepsakes to rightful owners. When a man is washed ashore after a wreck, Laura acts quickly to protect him from a local smuggler determined to destroy him.

As Laura and a neighbor care for the survivor, they discover he has curious wounds and, although he speaks in careful, educated English, his accent seems odd. Other clues wash ashore, and Laura soon realizes he is not who he seems to be. Despite the evidence against him, the mysterious man might provide her only chance to discover the truth about her parents’ fate. With danger pursuing them from every side, and an unexpected attraction growing between them, will Laura ever find the answers she seeks?

Get your copy here.

My Thoughts

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen is a marvelous blend of intrigue, mystery, and danger. The secrets of the handsome shipwrecked man (Alexander) are slowly and deliciously revealed, keeping you reading one more page, scene, or chapter until you’ve reached satisfaction at the end of the story.

The setting of Cornwall is magnificent and yet, dangerous and mysterious in its own right. I enjoyed learning the unique customs of the area, including the troubled history of the dangerous shoreline, wreckers, and smugglers. It is a place that holds such an interesting past and is a perfect setting for this book.

In truth, I loved everything about this story. I loved the idea of Laura being a castaway in the close-knit community of Cornwall after her parents’ death vs. the literal castaway, Alexander, who was not only an outsider but a man of many secrets. I loved the slow, respectful development of their relationship. How they could see each other’s truest hearts despite others’ preconceived notions. And how by finding each other, afloat as they were, they found their own mooring, in a place they were no longer outcasts.

I also took to heart the inspirational message Alexander discovered along his journey. His talk of forgiveness and redemption were heartwarming and led to much healing. It was a great reminder of God’s perfect gifts to us.

Overall, I enjoyed A Castaway in Cornwall thoroughly! I cannot say for certain it was my favorite Julie Klassen book because I love several of her titles. However, it will definitely rank high on the list! Any fan of Regency romance will fall in love with this story and its unique cast of characters. I highly recommend it!

I was given a copy of this book by the author with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

I hope you enjoy A Castaway in Cornwall as much as I did. It would make a beautiful Christmas present for the Regency fan in your life.

Happy reading and God bless!

–Kristina

The Cul-de-Sac War

There is something to be said for a book that can make you laugh and give you a break from the heavy-weighted worries of the world. I will confess I enjoy books with deep, thought-provoking themes. But, especially this year, it is fun to read for pure entertainment purposes. Although, laughing while trying to sneak a few pages in here and there tends to draw more attention to your strange reading habits. Be prepared for questions about what you are reading from whoever is around you.

Continue reading to learn more about the book, find a purchase link, and read my full review.

More About the Book:

Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. She’s had more jobs than she can count–and the next stop on her journey is The Barter, the nation’s oldest live performance theater in Abingdon, Virginia. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer; hold steady in Abingdon for one full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted–her grandmother’s house. Her dreams are coming true . . . until life at the theater throws her some curve balls.

And then there’s her new neighbor. Chip McBride.

For the first time in her life, she’s met the person who could match her free-spirited air–and it’s driving her to the ledge of sanity. She would move heaven and earth to have him out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she cannot move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood–and fast.

Bree isn’t the only one who’s a wee bit competitive, and as Chip registers what Bree’s up to, he’s more than willing to fight fire with fire. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur.

Get your copy here.

My Thoughts

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson is a light-hearted, sassy romance. If you enjoy witty banter, laugh-out-loud scenes, and copious amounts of dog slobber, then this story is for you! Bree and her hot mess of a life will catch and hold your attention from the first scene. When her serendipitous meeting with Chip turns into a prank war between unlikely neighbors, things really take a turn for crazy town. 

While I enjoyed watching Chip and Bree make each other squirm (especially in front of Bree’s parents–they are hilarious!), some of the pranks were a bit over the top for me (trees) and more mean than funny. But still, I liked getting to know Bree and her restless, wanderer’s heart. And I enjoyed the development of her relationship with Chip from frenemies to friends to more. All the sarcasm and devious plotting faded into a genuine and deep connection–one that will make your heart feel warm and fuzzy!

I also enjoyed Chip’s backstory and his struggles with his family. It ended completely differently than I thought it would, but the conversation between him and his dad at the end brought tears to my eyes. You will appreciate the life lessons as well as the spiritual ones.

Fans of contemporary Christian fiction will enjoy this light-hearted, rom-com-style romance.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Happy reading and God Bless!

–Kristina

Nothing Short of Wondrous

If you are yearning for a vacation, if you are missing the sense of adventure that comes with travel, if your heart belongs out west in the wilderness, then let Regina Scott’s newest release, Nothing Short of Wondrous, take you on a majestic retreat!

Set in Yellowstone National Park in 1886, Ms. Scott’s account of the land will make you feel as if you’ve travelled there yourself. It’s been years since I’ve set foot in the park, but I relived it in it’s entire beauty with the pages of this book.

Keep reading to find my full review and a purchase link!

Thank you to Revell for gifting me the copy.

About the Book:

It is 1886, and the government has given the US Cavalry control of Yellowstone. For widowed hotelier Kate Tremaine, the change is a welcome one. She knows every inch of her wilderness home like the back of her hand and wants to see it protected from poachers and vandals.

Even the cover depicts the beauty of the park!

Refused a guide by Congress, Lieutenant William Prescott must enlist Kate’s aid to help him navigate the sprawling park and track down the troublemakers. But a secret from his past makes him wary of the tender feelings the capable and comely widow raises in him. As they work together to protect the park and stand firm through injustice and tragedy, they may just find that two wounded hearts can share one powerful love when God is in control.

Get your copy here.

My Thoughts:

Nothing Short of Wondrous by Regina Scott is the second book in her American Wonders Collection. I have not read the first book, A Distance Too Grand, but since the novels are stand-alone, it did not hamper my reading of this story.

The author does an EXEMPLARY job of painting the landscape of Yellowstone for the reader. I visited the park many years ago, but Ms. Scott’s apt description brought the park alive for me once again. (Now, I want to plan a return trip!)

And the history involved in the story is impeccable. I never knew the U.S. Calvary was sent to protect the natural integrity of the park, and it was oftentimes amusing to see just how unorganized and inadequate their plans were. Thankfully, for our Calvary men, they had a wise and season guide in Mrs. Kate Tremaine. I loved her spunk, her wild independent streak, and her fierce love for the God-given beauty around her.

The Calvary men were all interesting as well–from O’Reilly’s use of spitting to create emphasis to Smith’s mysterious past. And of course, Will Prescott, a broken, but redeemable hero. I loved his story of redemption and how hard he worked to become a good man. It brought tears to my eyes!

Overall, I enjoyed the majesty and adventure of this story all while learning a great deal about the history of Yellowstone. Any fan of Christian historical fiction will enjoy this story.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectations of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading and God bless!

–Kristina

To Steal a Heart and a Giveaway

To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano is a perfect escape for today’s craziness. Well, there may be pages of craziness in the book, but they are light-hearted and full of laughable fun. I fell in love with this book within the first few chapters. I hope you do, too!

Keep reading to learn more about the book, find my full review and enter the giveaway! As a bonus, there’s a special interview with the author, too! Don’t miss out!

About the Book

Book: To Steal A Heart

Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Comedic Historical Romance

Release Date: November, 2020

To Steal a Heart

After spending her childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she’d put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. Using her old skills to prove her friend’s innocence, Gabriella unexpectedly encounters Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend–until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agrees to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he’d be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano is the first book in The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency series. And just like her other novels, this story is full of laugh-out-loud fun. The first few chapters had so many weird circumstances, odd conversations, and organized chaos that I think I giggled the entire time (and may have had to explain my sudden giddiness to my co-worker). I loved all the ladies of the Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency and their eccentric personalities. The idea of a hodge-podge group of women helping other women from all walks of life with their troubles was thrilling, adventurous, and downright entertaining. The disguises (I can only imagine!) Safecracking. Window scaling. Ahh–never a dull moment with these ladies. I cannot wait to get to know these ladies further with the rest of the series!

Gabriella and Nicholas have complicated pasts, which I loved delving into as the story progressed. There was always one more layer, one more revelation that twisted the story a little bit more and kept me on my toes. I loved their shared friendship as children, and I loved watching them find each other again as adults. Gabriella is a favorite with her strong and capable personality (and bluntness), but I also loved how Nicholas (ever the gentleman) embraced her independent and stubborn nature and supported her in all her endeavors. 

Any fan of Jen Turano and humor-filled Christian historical fiction will enjoy this story. Be prepared to have the ladies of the Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency confound and astound you. Oh, and be prepared to read using your best pirate accent. 😉

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Jen

Named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by BooklistJen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. She and her family live outside of Denver, Colorado.

More from Jen

“To Steal a Heart” is the first book in a new series. How did you come up with the idea for this series?

Oddly enough, this series was inspired by a lot of different things. I keep this idea box, and whenever I stumble on something interesting, I throw the idea into the box. When I was getting ready to assemble a proposal for a new series, I took out the box and began rifling through it. Unfortunately, nothing struck my fancy. What did strike my fancy though, was the movie “My Fair Lady.” I’d recently watched it for the millionth time, and I thought…hmmm…what could I do with that? Well, I didn’t want to do a recreation of “My Fair Lady” and that’s when it hit me – what if I used a gentleman instead of a lady and improved his circumstances in life with the help of a professor? That wasn’t really enough, though, for me to formulate an entire series, but then I went to New York City for a research trip. While there, I roamed around Bleecker Street for hours. It was the perfect place to set a series, and then I saw this older building that my tour guide thought might have once been a boardinghouse. That was what really started me thinking, and before I knew it, I’d created an inquiry agency run by women that came about when a resident of a boardinghouse was unjustly accused of theft. When the police would not investigate further, believing they had the true culprit behind bars, the ladies who lived in the boardinghouse felt compelled to step up and clear their fellow boardinghouse resident of the charges brought against her. The series took off from there, the first book centering around one of the lady inquiry agents, Miss Gabriella Goodhue, who used to live on the mean streets of the Lower East Side and, at one point in her life, was best friends with Nicholas Quinn, the man who has now found his circumstances vastly improved from the time he knew Gabriella. Throwing the two of them back together made for an interesting storyline, especially since Gabriella believes Nicholas abandoned her all those years ago, which makes it next to impossible for her to trust him.

Are there other interesting characters in this series?

Of course. All of the lady inquiry agents come with their own secrets. Miss Daphne Beekman is a reclusive author who lives in the attic of the boardinghouse. She has the propensity to faint at the drop of a hat, which makes for a few amusing scenes in the first book. She’ll get her own story in “To Write a Wrong,” coming out later in 2021. Then there’s Eunice Holbrooke. She’s the owner of the boardinghouse, and she only wears full mourning garb, covering her face with numerous veils and refusing to speak to anyone about her past. Clearly, there’s a mystery just waiting to be solved there, one that will be solved in book three, which I’m just now beginning to work on. The other residents of the boardinghouse provide a lot of color to the story, from the two sisters who work as paid companions by day to gossip collectors and carriage drivers by night, to the resident artist, Miss Judith, who has recently decided to dip her toe into the portrait market even though she’s really not proficient with painting people. There’s also a one-eyed, patch-wearing dog by the name of Winston, a parrot that likes to nick sparkly items named Pretty Girl, and a neurotic poodle that falls for Winston that goes by the name of Precious.

Did the pandemic affect the writing process at all for “To Steal a Heart?”

Luckily, I had already turned in the book before the pandemic hit. With that said, though, I then had to do some of the edits during the first few months of the pandemic. That was interesting. I have very specific conditions I need in order to write and edit and having Al (the husband person) working from home isn’t one of those conditions. It took me far longer than it normally does to complete the editing process, which threw off my schedule for the next book in the series, “To Write a Wrong.” Drastic measures were needed. That’s why I’m now the proud owner of a she-shed. Al thought I was joking when I first broached the subject of a she-shed, but after I had my millionth meltdown, he decided that might be a really good idea. Turns out sheds are in high demand at the moment, so getting a shed in a timely fashion wasn’t possible. It took 6 weeks for us to get a shed delivered and then we had to frame the inside and put up a ceiling and walls. I was not actually very involved with that process because I’m a danger to everyone surrounding me when nail guns are being used. 🙂 I did paint the outside of the shed, then painted the inside. Of course the air conditioning unit I had to order was delayed, so I painted in 100 degree heat. Lost about five pounds doing that, so…unexpected bonus there. I just recently finished decorating the inside, and I’m typing this interview from my new space. I’m thinking I’m going to call it “Jen’s Novel Nook” but that might change, so don’t quote me on that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just that I hope everyone is surviving these crazy days. I know there are many people out there who are suffering from many different problems this pandemic has caused. Know that you’re not alone, and that brighter days will show up again. Until that time, try to remember to smile and, perhaps, read a few books.

Wishing all of you the very best!

Jen

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 17

Soulfully Romantic, November 17

Hebrews 12 Endurance, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 17

Robin’s Nest, November 17

Through the Fire Blogs, November 18

The Avid Reader, November 18

Losing the Busyness, November 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

She Lives To Read, November 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 19

Wishful Endings, November 19

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 19

Artistic Nobody, November 20 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

lakesidelivingsite, November 20

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 20

Reviewingbooksplusmore, November 20

The Write Escape, November 20

Older & Smarter?, November 21

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 21

Christian Bookaholic, November 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 21

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 22

Mia Reads, November 22

Writing from the Heart Land, November 22

Betti Mace, November 23

Inklings and notions, November 23

Blogging With Carol, November 23

Life of Literature, November 23

Texas Book-aholic, November 24

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 24

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 24

Batya’s Bits, November 24

Joanne Markey’s blog, November 24

For Him and My Family, November 25

Inside the Wong Mind, November 25

Mary Hake, November 25

Godly Book Reviews, November 25

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, November 26

EmpowerMoms, November 26

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 26

Novels Corner, November 26

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 27

Connie’s History Classroom, November 27

Captive Dreams Window, November 27

Book of Ruth Ann, November 27

deb’s Book Review, November 28

Blossoms and Blessings, November 28

Daysong Reflections, November 28

Bigreadersite, November 28

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 29

Splashes of Joy, November 29

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 29

Simple Harvest Reads, November 29 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Vicky Sluiter, November 30

Pause for Tales, November 30

Spoken from the Heart, November 30

Hallie Reads, November 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away the grand prize package of copy of To Steal a Heart, plus all three books in the American Heiresses series and a 30 second mystery kit (Link: https://amzn.to/3nqrIpC)!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/103a4/to-steal-a-heart-celebration-tour-giveaway

Good luck with the giveaway!

Happy reading and God bless!

–Kristina

The Conqueror

About the Book:

It is AD 312. Rome teeters on the brink of war. Constantine’s army is on the move. On the Rhine frontier, Brandulf Rex, a pagan Germanic barbarian, joins the Roman army as a spy and special forces operative. Down in Rome, Junia Flavia, the lovely and pious daughter of a nominally Christian senator, finds herself embroiled in anti-Christian politics as she works on behalf of the church.

As armies converge and forces beyond Rex’s and Flavia’s controls threaten to destroy everything they have worked for, these two people from different worlds will have to work together to bring down the evil Emperor Maxentius. But his villainous plans and devious henchmen are not easily overcome. Will the barbarian warrior and the senator’s daughter live to see the Empire bow the knee to Christ? Or will their part in the story of Constantine’s rise meet an untimely and brutal end?

Travel back to one of the most pivotal eras in history–a time when devotion to the pagan gods was fading and the Roman Empire was being conquered by the sign of the cross.

Get your copy here.

My Thoughts:

The Conqueror by Bryan Litfin is the first novel I have read by this author, so I was not sure what to expect. The author makes it clear the story is not Biblical fiction but historical fiction, and I would agree. I appreciated the vast knowledge of the Roman era–everything from the description of the local bathhouses to the food that was found on the character’s plates. The detail is exquisite and brings the ancient Roman empire to life on the page. I enjoyed learning about the training and life of a speculator, or spy. The fight/action scenes were well written, full of tension, and easily followed. I stood in awe with Flavia at Rex’s ability to defend, disarm, or throw to the ground any who dared to challenge him.

I also enjoyed the discussion between early Christians about their doctrine and faith. It was interesting to see their rituals, and how following Jesus translated into their lives as Roman citizens. It definitely made them stand out from the mob. We could learn a lesson or two from these brave believers!

For me, it took me a while to become engaged in this story. It was over 100 pages before the hero and heroine meet each other, but the action quickly escalates from there. And while I liked the conspiracy of rebellion and the web of spies, the action often lagged in between events. 

I know in the culture of the time sexual immorality ran rampant, but it did seem over-emphasized in this story. For someone like me who reads only clean/sweet romance, the talk of brash adultery, casual sex, etc., maybe too much. I will say there were no explicit scenes only crude dialogue.

Overall, I’m a little conflicted about The Conqueror. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy the rich detail of the period, but those who read strictly Christian fiction may be disappointed by some of the more crude sexual discussions. 

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

The Key to Love

A quick thank-you to Revell for my copy of The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant. I fell in love with this story when I read the blurb in my monthly email from Revell. It sounds so…well…sweet!

I’m a sucker for a good love story, and Bri and Gerard’s journey to discover the idealistic and more realistic forms of love was delightful. Their witty banter had me laughing often. And their late night snacking made me jealous. I would love some sweets from the Pastry Puff!

Keep reading for more information about the book, purchase links and my full review!

More About the Book:

The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so, she’s created her own version of the famous Parisian lovelock wall at her bakery in Story, Kansas. She never expects it to go viral–or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He’s definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for a love story like the one her parents had, and that certainly will not include the love-scorned-and-therefore-love-scorning Gerard.

Just when it seems Bri’s bakery is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just her business but the pedestal she’s kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri’s recipe just needs to be tweaked.

Novelist Betsy St. Amant invites you to experience this sweet story of how love doesn’t always look the way we expect–and maybe that’s a good thing.

Get your copy here.

My Thoughts:

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant was a deliciously sweet story about French pastries, small-town drama, and the many faces of love. I thoroughly enjoyed Bri and Gerard’s story. I am a big fan of the enemies to friendship trope, and their relationship definitely fits the bill. I loved the slow evolution of their friendship–especially the many laugh-out-loud moments.

Bri is a ray of sunshine, an optimistic, idealistic romantic. I would love to have her as a friend! She’s so kind, generous, and talented. And even if her ideas of romance are a bit sappy at times, that’s okay. A girl has to dream! But what I really loved is how her peppy romance-crazed ideas rubbed off on Gerard. It was a blast watching him itch around the color pink, tiny hearts, and locks representing undying love. 

And speaking of Gerard, he is a rough and unromantic hero. Yet, with a little sugar (or a lot of petit fours), he comes to see what Bri and the Pastry Puff bakery are all about. I appreciated his ability to face confrontation head-on with honesty. He may have come off as a grump every so often, but he has many redeeming qualities–including a bit of romance. Who knew?

I know this is a contemporary romance novel so talk of love is a given, but I enjoyed the theme of how the love we find may not look like the love we expected. And how love can come in many shapes and forms–from the people we least expect. How love is not perfect, but love can endure. It was all incredibly sweet.

If you are a fan of contemporary Christian fiction, then The Key to Love should be on your TBR. It will make you laugh, maybe shed a few tears, and crave some of Bri’s petite fours.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did!

Happy reading and God bless,

Kristina

The Love Note

I love reading books that remain in your heart and mind for a long time after you’ve turned the last page. I’ve read a few of those kind of books this year, and The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano definitely makes the list.

I absolutely adored this book. I can’t keep gushing about it to all who are close enough to listen. Even the hubby got an earful or two about this story. A special thank-you to Joanna Davidson Politano for letting me part of the launch team for this amazing story and to Revell publishing for my copy of the book.

Keep reading for my full review and a purchase link to get your own copy.

About the Book:

A forgotten letter. A secret love. A vast estate.
Can one determined woman put the pieces together?

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1865 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Gorgeous!

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelings–mostly negative ones–about the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa’s search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words. 

Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

You can get your own copy here.

My Thoughts:

The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano was a poetic, beautifully written novel about love. This is my first novel by this author, and I fell in love with her style. The story is woven with a vibrant thread of mystery, which touches every character and alters the course of the plot again and again. The emotions of the characters are fierce and palpable, the torments and joys of their hearts written out in a lyrical type of beauty.

Willa Duvall is an amazing young woman. Her work in the medical field is inspirational. Her desire to improve the health and healthcare of all people combined with her tenacity to forge her way to becoming a doctor instantly made me cheer for her success. She may be considered a bit odd, but as the people close to her come to realize, it’s her eccentricity that makes her absolutely wonderful.

The other characters in this book are so vivid and genuine. The constant, gentle comfort of Gabe. The fragile, bitter facade of Golda. Even the twittering, blushing romantic notions of Essie. Crestwicke’s cast provides many moments where you will enjoy being the fly on the wall. 

I absolutely loved the ruins of Crestwicke. I loved how such a broken place, away from the sights and sounds of the world and overcome by Creation, was where Willa and Gabe went to meet God. I would love to slip into its stone tower and commune with the Creator.

The Love Note completely enchanted me from the first chapter. I can’t point to one single thing I loved the most because I love it as a whole. It held my heart captive until the very last page!  Joanna Davidson Politano will be added to my ‘automatic read’ author list in the future. I can’t wait to see what she creates next.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

I hope you enjoy The Love Note as much as I did! Happy reading and God bless!

The Kissing Tree Novella Collection

I am excited to share with you all today the newest novella collection from Bethany House featuring a wonderful group of authors–Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes and Nicole Deese. Novellas tend to release this time of year and it’s no wonder why. Time seems to speed up just before Halloween and doesn’t stop until after the New Year.

It can be difficult to fit in your regular reading while your passing our candy on Halloween, wrapping Christmas presents and buying sparklers to celebrate the beginning of 2021. But that’s the magic of novellas! They are much shorter than a full length novel but still packed with all the humor, romance, inspiration and action of your favorite books.

And I am not one to pick favorites, but The Kissing Tree is my new favorite novella collection. The idea of following the legendary tree through generations was such a charming idea, and having all these lovely ladies supply the stories of the tree’s past and present is just perfection.

Keep reading to find my review of all four novellas and find a purchase link to get your copy. (Hint-this would be a great Christmas present!)

More About The Kissing Tree:

In this Texas-sized romance novella collection, courting couples, decades apart, leave a permanent mark of their love by carving their initials into the same oak’s bark.  

Regina Jennings – “Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts”
When a young man from her past returns and upends their small town with a new invention, schoolteacher Bella Eden is reminded of the heartbreak she suffered years ago under the old oak tree. When her job is put on the line, can she trust the man who disrupted her life to help her fight for a brighter future?

Karen Witemeyer – “Inn for a Surprise”
Determined to keep love alive for others, Phoebe Woodward builds an inn that caters to couples. When her father sends a property manager to help make it a success, she finds her whimsical vision thwarted by his stodgy practicality. Finding the right blend of romance and reality is a challenge, and her spinster heart may be in for a surprise. 

Amanda Dykes – “From Roots to Sky”
WWII airman Luke Hampstead found comfort in letters from the sister of a lost compatriot. When he visits Texas to thank her, he discovers her constructing a project with surprising ties to his letters . . . and that she herself is even more surprising. While a promising opportunity awaits him elsewhere, will what they’ve shared be enough to give their future flight?

Nicole Deese – “Heartwood”Abby Brookshire’s world is turned upside down when the historic tree she’s strived to preserve as the head groundskeeper at the Kissing Tree Inn is put in danger of removal. Making matters worse, the only way to protect its legacy is to partner with the man she’s been ignoring since he left town years ago. Will she have the courage to move on from the past and start a new beginning?

Here’s where you can get your copy.

My Thoughts:

I have always enjoyed novellas. I love their faster-moving timelines and the swift satisfaction that comes with a shorter story. But it’s not often I love all the stories within a novella collection equally. But with the four lovely novellas in The Kissing Tree, it would be impossible for me to choose a favorite!

“Broken Limbs, Mended Hearts” by Regina Jennings was a sweet and playful start to the tradition of The Kissing Tree. I enjoyed the agricultural setting of the story and the close-up look at the innovation of the threshing machine. And the complicated history between Bella and Adam brought them together in a unique and often laugh-out-loud way. And I always love a hero who brings out the best in his girl. This is a perfect introduction to Oak Springs! 

“Inn for a Surprise” by Karen Witemeyer was a charming story all about romance–in the way of cherub wallpaper, bright pink paint, and an inn designed for couples in love. The Kissing Tree Inn is the whimsical dream of Phoebe Woodward, to create a romantic getaway centered around the tradition of the Kissing Tree. But all of her pink, frilly, and cupid covered decor comes into question by Barnabas Ackerly and his knack for business. I loved this couple. They are opposites, yet they suited each other well. Even when they were sparing verbally, they were kind and respectful to each other, and the development of their relationship from strictly business to possibly more kept a smile on my face the entire time. You will enjoy your visit to Inn of Smooching Shrubbery, as Barnabas would call it!

“From Roots to Sky” by Amanda Dykes took a more serious turn in the novella collection, but I loved the story just the same. It follows Luke Hampstead on his journey back to civilian life after serving as an airman in WWII. He had exchanged letters with his buddy’s sister, Hannah, after his friend was killed in action and wanted to meet her in person. Hannah and Luke’s story is rich in pain and grief as much as it is in hope and love. I loved the cottage they worked on together that incorporated sketches Hannah had received from her brother and Luke during the war. It was just as quirky and unique as Hannah herself. This is a beautiful story of healing and finding a sense of normalcy after a tragedy.

“Heartwood” by Nicole Deese is the contemporary novella in the collection, and despite being a (mostly) historical fiction fan–I LOVED this story. Abby and Griff have a second chance at romance, but grief, fear, and regrets from their last conversation continue to keep them apart. But when they are forced to work together to save The Kissing Tree from being destroyed, the reasons they loved each other resurface. Abby and Griff’s story also deals with deep-rooted grief, but Abby’s journey is touching and will make you reach for a tissue a time or two. Heartwood was the perfect conclusion to the novella collection, which was a wonderful representation of many forms of love.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading and God bless!

–Kristina

The Light at Wyndcliff

There is something about a good mystery that pairs well the brisk, blanket-worthy air of fall. And the darker themes of the Regency-era, gothic type mysteries are even more perfect. The Light at Wyndcliff by Sarah E. Ladd is the perfect choice for your plaid throw, apple cider reading session.

Keep reading to find our more about the book, a purchase link and my full review!

About the Book:

In the small Cornish village of Pevlyn, secrets are as treacherous as the rocky English shores.

Cornwall, England, 1820

Raised on the sprawling and rugged Wyndcliff Estate near the dangerous coast of South Cornwall, Evelyn Bray lives with her grandfather, a once-wealthy man now reduced to the post of steward. Evelyn is still grieving her father’s death and her mother’s abandonment when a passing ship is dashed against the rocks.

Isn’t this gorgeous? I can’t get enough of Cornwall!

Liam Twethewey is a mere two and twenty when he inherits Wyndcliff Estate from his great uncle. His optimistic plans of opening a china clay pit to employ the estate’s tenants meets unexpected resistance, and rumors of smuggling and illegal activity challenge his newfound authority.

Brought together by troubling questions surrounding the shipwreck, Evelyn and Liam uncover even darker mysteries shrouding the estate. But as they untangle truth from deception, their loyalties separate them—and their budding love might not be strong enough to overcome the distance.

This latest Regency romance from Sarah E. Ladd evokes the captivating worlds and delicious dramas of Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, and Winston Graham.

Purchase your copy here.

My Thoughts:

The Light at Wyndcliff is book three in The Cornwall Novels series by Sarah E. Ladd. I must say after reading this book and the second in the series, The Thief of Lanwyn Manor, I have a fondness for Cornwall, its coastal beauty, and its open, gloomy moors. The setting of this novel played perfectly into the mysterious and ominous feel of the story and will leave you longing for a visit of your own.

I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the coastal property of Wyndcliff. The dangerous cove, suspicious lights, and heartbreaking shipwrecks made for a page-turning adventure. Danger, it seemed, loomed closer and closer with each twist in the plot. It drew me in completely until the very end.

Evelyn Bray is a complicated creature. I admired her bravery and kind heart, and I could truly feel the pain and anguish caused by the strained relationships with her family. I found her growth through her journey inspirational and encouraging. She is a lady in her heart even if not in her title.

Liam Twethewey is an honorable and ambitious man. His quest to improve his land and the lives of the people who lived there was noble, and I loved his steadfastness in keeping his honor above all else.

The romance in The Light at Wyndcliff is gentle and sweet. And while it may not be at the forefront of the story at all times, it still has an important impact. I loved the respect and admiration between Evelyn and Liam. So sweet!

I would recommend The Light at Wyndcliff to anyone who enjoys Regency-era romance–especially if you like the mystery/gothic feel to your Regency stories.

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own. 

I hope you are enjoying your fall TBR as much as I am. What are some of the fall releases you are looking forward to reading the most?

Happy reading and God bless,

Kristina