Thursday, August 13, 2020

Review - Small Town, Big Secrets

Title:  Small Town, Big Secrets
Author:   Elsie Davis
Series:   Trinity River #2
Publisher:   Entangled:  Bliss
Genre:   Romance
Format:   Kindle ARC
No. of pages:   150
Date of Publication:  June 8, 2020
Rating:  3 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

To save her son, shy but determined waitress Becky McAllister would do just about anything. But she never expected “anything” to include the brother of the man who broke her heart.

Steve Parker needs a wife, now, if he has any hopes of winning his local DA election and becoming the advocate for the underserved he’s always dreamed of being. The sweet waitress seems like just the person—if he can get her to agree.

One year of marriage—no strings, no personal attachments. Becky gets the insurance funds she needs for her son’s surgery while Steve’s poll ratings soar. Neither planned on a commitment in their future, so they should have no problem making it through the year without getting emotionally involved, right?

Except Becky’s holding on to a secret from her past—one that would change everything.

MY THOUGHTS:

Becky McAllister and Steve Parker have needs - no, not the carnal sort - and they strike a deal that will help them both. Becky's young son needs a critical surgery and she needs help providing for his care. Steve is running for DA and his campaign manager insists that he is slipping in the polls due to the fact that he is unmarried. They could marry - if only for a year. Her son could get his surgery paid for and he can present a wholesome image to his constituents.

However, Becky is holding a secret from Steve. Will this very secret be their undoing before they reach their goals? Especially when the health and life of a young child is at stake? There is a lot of give and take in this story and, as a reader, I needed to find validity to Becky's secret. As I become utterly invested in each book I read, her secret had to feel very real to me. Well, the conflict pretty much lasted throughout the story and that sense of realness came through for me. The story brought in a lot of emotion, especially for a couple who agreed to an arranged marriage, one free of romance and the expectation of sex. 

So, the way the conflicts were tied in with the romance was done very well. I love how what happened affected more than Becky and Steve. Watching all of that play out was more than rewarding. Small Town. Big Secrets is the second book in the Trinity River series. So, before reading this I was able to borrow the first book in this series from my library, Back in the Rancher's Arms. Both stories were very good books and I do look forward to continuing the series. 

Many thanks to Entangled: Bliss and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elsie Davis discovered the world of Happily-Ever-After romance at the age of twelve when she began avidly reading Barbara Cartland, the Queen of Romance, and has been hooked ever since. After building her dream log home on top of a small mountain, she turned her attention to do what she loves most, writing.

A #1 Amazon category list best-selling author, she writes sweet and clean contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She writes from her heart, hoping to share a little love in a big world.

Three daughters, four grandchildren, and her own hero husband, keep her extremely busy when she’s not glued to the keyboard. She loves birding, kayaking, camping, fishing, wildlife, disc golf and nature walks. Basically, all things outdoors, EXCEPT cold weather. She and her husband are avid Caribbean cruisers, but Elsie’s favorite vacation was their cruise to Alaska. (In spite of the cold!)

Indoors, she enjoys a toasty fire, a glass of red wine, and of course, a happily-ever-romance to read.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Review - Little Whispers

Title
Little Whispers
Author:  K.L.Slater
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Publisher:  Bookouture
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   259
Date of Publication:  May 21, 2020
My Rating:  4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

You shared a secret with the wrong person.

Janey Markham is thrilled to be moving with her family to Buckingham Crescent, the smartest address in a desirable suburban town.

Worried she’ll be excluded by the glossy local mothers, Janey is thrilled when she meets Tanya, the kind of woman she has always looked up to. Tanya takes Janey under her wing, and her teenage daughter Angel is amazing with Janey’s little boy. As Janey and Tanya grow closer, Janey feels she can finally leave her troubled past behind.

But then everything changes…

In a weak moment over a bottle of wine, Janey finds herself telling Tanya her most shocking secret. Why wouldn’t she trust her new friend?

The following day, Janey sees Angel, with a man old enough to be her father, pushing someone into a car. The next day a body is found and police appeal for witnesses – and share a picture of the same car…

When Janey tells Tanya she is going to the police, Tanya turns threatening. She’ll stop at nothing to defend Angel, even if her daughter is guilty. If Janey says anything, Tanya will make sure that her dark secret gets out.

Janey faces an impossible choice. Stay quiet about what she saw that terrible day. Or speak up, and destroy the family she has worked so hard to protect…


MY THOUGHTS:

Janey Markham, and her husband and son, move to a posh new house in an affluent suburban town. Janey isn't quite so sure that she fits in. They struggled financially and it seems overnight with a new job, and a bigger salary, that their lives have improved for the better. Janey soon meets one of her neighbors, Tanya, and they hit if off. Janey gets quite comfortable around Tanya, and soon reveals a huge secret. The very next day Janey sees Tanya's daughter with an older man and sees them pushing a man inside of a car. The very next day a body is found, and it appears to see the man Janey briefly saw.

Janey feels it is imperative to be responsible and to tell the police what she saw, despite the fact that her new friend's daughter might very well be involved in a murder. Tanya isn't having that. She plainly tells Janey that if she should tell the police anything, she will reveal Janey's secret. Meanwhile, something is going on with Janey's husband. Before they moved, he was working all of the time and family time spent together just didn't happen. He promised Janey when they moved that he would be around more. However, his actions prove otherwise, and it soon seems that he has something to hide as well.

Coincidentally, right AFTER I read this book, I read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Both books have some similar elements. This is because both books dealt with school moms, and those relationships were not always very nice. Janey continues to feel out of place, especially when she walks her son to school. That is pretty much where the similarities between the two books end (at least for me). What I found in this story by K.L. Slater is that envy, secrets and domestic drama all played a huge role. 

Little Whispers is a terrific psychological thriller and it captured my attention from beginning to end, especially when considering the twists in the story. I have another of Slater's books in my immediate TBR so I look forward to that, and anything else she will be writing.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kim is the million-copy bestselling author of nine standalone psychological crime thrillers. SINGLE, her new thriller, is published November 2019.

Her titles are published in eBook by Bookouture and in paperback by Sphere (UK) and Grand Central (USA).

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents and collected an impressive stack of rejection slips. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating in 2012, she gained literary agent representation and a book deal. As Kim says, 'it was a fairytale ... at the end of a very long road!'

Kim is a full-time writer. She has one daughter, two stepsons and lives with her husband in Nottingham.

Publishers: Bookouture, Sphere, Grand Central, Audible
Agent: Camilla Bolton at Darley Anderson 

Author website: www.KLSlaterAuthor.com
Twitter: @KimLSlater
Facebook: KL Slater Author
Instagram: KLSlaterAuthor

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

BLOG TOUR - Incognito Ex



DESCRIPTION:

When she is targeted by a vicious mobster, a past love is her only hope.

When a Russian gangster targets Coral Staufer, she is desperate for help. Coral stumbles across an undercover agent none other than the man she loved and lost, Trevor Stone. Trevor will risk anything to stop her from becoming a mob casualty…even risk his career to protect Coral. But when their past love reignites, their entire mission—and very lives—are at stake.


BUY LINKS:
B&N | Amazon | Google
Indie Bound | Harlequin | Goodreads


MY THOUGHTS:

Title
:   Incognito Ex
Author:  Geri Krotow
Series:   Silver Valley P.D. #8
Publisher:  
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Genre:   Romantic Suspense
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   288
Date of Publication:   August 1, 2020
My Rating:   4 Stars

Coral wants to set up a new business, a wedding destination, and by so doing, she hopes to make a name for herself. However, she soon finds that she is about be in the clutches of a Russian mobster. The problem is that he man hid something on he property and now he wants it back, no matter the cost.

Coral only has one person to turn to, ex-husband Trevor, an undercover agent. They had a passionate marriage but had long decided to part ways. While Trevor's time and attention should go towards Coral's safety, intense desire gets in the way, almost as if it was an inevitability.

Danger and passion ride high in this quick read by Geri Krotow. Second chance romances are a trope I rather enjoy, especially when the conflicts seem insurmountable. I loved the give and take between Coral and Trevor, and couldn't help but root for them as they worked to see where they stood with each other.

This thrilling read packs a punch! When you have military, mobsters and agents mixing in a story, coupled with the draw Coral and Trevor have for one another, then you have the formula for a terrific read. With excellent pacing, likable characters and a satisfying conclusion, Incognito Ex proved to be a wonderful read.

Many thanks to Harlequin Romantic Suspense and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

Please enjoy the following excerpt:
“It’d be stupid to do it here. She’s easier to move while she can still walk. Let me take care of her, then I’ll come back for you both. Stay low, don’t use your flashlights. The police will stop at the farmhouse first. We’ve got time.” He wrapped his arm around Coral’s waist—she was thinner, but still steely strong—and half dragged, half ran with her to where he’d seen her car earlier in the day, when he’d made his own excursion out here.

Self-recrimination threatened to stop him in his tracks as he knew he should have made doubly sure she wouldn’t be on the property when ROC came looking for Markova’s treasure. But he’d run out of time to verify his source who’d told him she’d be out tonight. Even with her being here, he’d never have expected she’d catch them—usually his ROC associates were somewhat competent. Unlike these two.

Thank God for inept thugs.

When they were what he estimated was halfway to her car, he pulled out his pistol and held her tight with his other arm. “Hang on. I’m going to shoot at the ground, to let them think it’s you.” He quickly fired two shots at the dirt, making sure the bullets had nothing to bounce off, making it sound like he’d just eliminated a witness.

The sirens were close, and he saw the patrols turn into the long drive leading to the barn area.

“What are you doing here, Trevor?” Her voice shook, but he couldn’t tell if it was shock or anger. Probably both.

“I’ll explain later. Right now we can’t be seen by anyone.”

“But that’s the police—I called them.”

“I can’t be spotted, and for now you’re with me.” He had no way of knowing which officers were re-porting, and he couldn’t risk being taken into custody. Only two SVPD officers were cut in on his deep undercover work.

Now the woman on his arm was one more added to the list of people in the know. The woman he’d never forgotten, whom he’d still go through hell and damnation for. His ex-wife, Coral.

***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Geri Krotow is a Naval Academy graduate and Navy veteran. She has traveled to and lived in many places abroad, including South America, Italy and Russia. Her family has finally settled down in Central Pennsylvannia but Geri still writes about all the places she's been. An award-winning author, Geri writes the Silver Valley PD for Harlequin Romantic Suspense www.gerikrotow.com

Author links: 
Author website: https://gerikrotow.com/


Monday, August 10, 2020

SERIES REVIEW - Charles Dickens & Superintendent Sam Jones


This blog post is for reviews for the first six books in the Charles Dickens & Superintendent Sam Jones series by J.C. Briggs, published by Sapere Books.
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   294
Date of Publication:   December 27, 2018
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

An intriguing detective series featuring Charles Dickens! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

A brutal murder in Victorian London forces a famous writer to solve the mystery…

London, 1849

Charles Dickens has set up Urania Cottage as a sanctuary for fallen women.

But he is shocked when the matron’s assistant – Patience Brooke – is found hanging outside the property, covered in blood.

Desperate to protect the reputation of the Home and to stop a scandal from spreading, Dickens takes the investigation into his own hands.

With the help of his good friend, Superintendent Sam Jones of Bow Street, and a description of the suspect as ‘a man with a crooked face’, Dickens's search takes him deep into the filthy slums of Victorian London.

Can Dickens save his reputation? Will he find out the secrets of Patience Brooke’s troubled past?

Or will the killer strike again …?

The Murder of Patience Brooke is the first urban mystery in J. C. Briggs' literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.



MY THOUGHTS:

Charles Dickens is a very busy man. He is a famous writer, husband and father. Yet, his activities extend themselves when he becomes an amateur detective. Charles has recently established a sanctuary for women under difficult circumstances. He is saddened and shocked when the matron's assistant, Patience Brooke, is found murdered, and it was a brutal murder. Charles doesn't want gossip, fear and scandal to adversely affect the sanctuary, so he takes matters in his own hands in order to try and discover who killed Patience. 

Charles is aided by his very good friend Superintendent Sam Jones. The pair dig deep and end up in the bowels of Victorian London. (Not a time period or location I would have wanted to experience myself.) Why does his investigation lead Charles there? What about the fact that he has an image to uphold, never mind the fact that he just soon might have to be worried about his own safety?

The Murder of Patience Brooke is the exciting first book in a new series by J.C. Briggs. The story and setting are very much like the Sherlock Holmes books of old, and even Agatha Christie's novels. Growing up these were exactly the types of books I loved to read, so grabbing a hold of this series was a true delight. At the same time, bits and pieces of the novels of Charles Dickens are quoted. I loved the way this was done, not only in this book, but in all six books in the series I have had the pleasure of reading. 

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

- - - - - 


Title:  Death at Hungerford Stairs
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   288
Date of Publication:   December 27, 2018
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

Charles Dickens has turned detective in this thrilling series! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield

Boys are going missing from London’s slums…

London, 1849

When a boy is found drowned in the River Thames at Hungerford Stairs, novelist Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones of Bow Street are mystified to discover that the child is not the missing youngster for whom they have been searching.

As Dickens and Jones delve deeper into London’s poverty-stricken backstreets, they stumble across two more bodies.

A serial killer is on the loose. And Charles is terrified that someone close to him may be one of the victims.

With a strange image of a mask sketched next to the corpses, could the murderer be leaving a trail for the detectives to follow…?

Or will the Death at Hungerford Stairs remain unsolved…?


MY THOUGHTS:

It didn't take long for famous writer Charles Dickens to become an excellent detection. Mostly accompanied by Superintendent Sam Jones, Charles finds himself in the position to solve crimes, and they are usually murders. In this case, sadly the body of a boy is found drowned in a river. Charles barely has a chance to investigate things when even more young boys are killed. His search for the killer leads him to the darkness of Victorian London. Even when writing this book I have images of a foggy Victorian London from movies I had seen as a child.

Needless to say, this was a difficult story. Actually, any story - real or fictional - about the deaths of children are always tragic. This story focused on Charles innate talents when it came to getting to the bottom of things in order to find the elusive killer in this second book in the series. Whether it was due to a past nearly as dark as some of the boys in this story, even snippets from his own writing, and his role as a family man, Charles is more than equipped to work along with Superintendent Sam Jones to solve the case at hand. 

Now having read the first two books in this well-written series, I just had to take a few days and read the rest.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

- - - - -


Title:  Murder by Ghostlight
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   277
Date of Publication:   January 24, 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

Join Charles Dickens on another crime-solving adventure! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…
Dickens has gone from private investigator to prime suspect…
London, 1850.


Charles Dickens is in Manchester, performing at the Queen’s Theatre with his acting group.

But his career on the stage is cut short when a man is shot dead – on set.
With Dickens himself caught with the gun in his hands, he is immediately arrested.

Along with the help of his good friend Superintendent Sam Jones, Dickens must do all he can to find the real killer, before he is locked up for a crime he didn’t commit.

Can Dickens convince the authorities of his innocence? Will he unmask the true assassin?

Or will there be another Murder by Ghostlight…?

Murder By Ghostlight
is the third urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.


Charles Dickens is on the set where he is performing in a play. When a fellow actor is found murdered, Charles is arrested for the crime. The night's performance went off without a hitch and the cast met at a Tavern afterwards. After that, for some reason, Charles headed back to the theater. This is when Charles found the man's dead body lying on the stage. Startled by a sudden noise, Charles grabbed the pistol that was lying next to the man and fired off a warning shot. This led to his subsequent arrest.

Of course Charles is innocent. However, will he be able to convince the authorities of this? What of superintendent Sam Jones, his friend and also the policeman Charles has worked with previously to solve other murders?

As always, the author delivers an excellent story in this series. We continually get to know Charles, his writing, his family and his take when it comes to solving crimes. The fact that he is the principal suspect makes this book even more enjoyable. This quick read was packed with great suspense, interesting and compelling characters and a surprising conclusion.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

- - - - -


Title:   The Quickening and the Dead
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   310
Date of Publication:   April 11, 2019
My Rating:   5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones are fighting crime once again! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

Three girls, three deaths — but what connects them…?

London, 1850


Lavinia Gray vanishes on the eve of her wedding and is found drowned.

Evie Finch dies of septicaemia in a filthy lodging house.

Annie Deverall, a fifteen-year-old milliner’s apprentice is on remand in Newgate, accused of murdering the Doctor Lancelot Plume.

Three young girls' lives have been ruined, but could they be connected somehow?

Charles Dickens
visits Annie and is immediately convinced of her innocence. He enlists the help of Superintendent Sam Jones to find the real murderer before Annie goes to trial.

How are the three girls linked to Plume? And if Annie didn’t kill him, who did?

What Charles Dickens uncovers will shock him to his very core…

The Quickening and the Dead is the fourth urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.


Charles Dickens finds more crimes to solve. This time it is three women who have been murdered and yet another woman has been accused of murder. Charles has always championed the cause of those less advantaged. When it comes to these women, Charles, along with Superintendent Sam Jones work hard to set matters right. 

As this is the fourth book in the series, I have gotten to know a lot about Charles Dickens. In this book the deeper part of London life in the mid 1850s helps reader to learn more about the man himself, especially when it came to certain facts about his childhood.  I cannot help but feel like I am reminiscing while reading these books. There is a vibe, the vibe that I never lost after seeing the movie The Christmas Carol when I was a child. There was a certain atmosphere in that move that left an impression on me. While there are times we think of imagining ourselves in the past, London at that time definitely does not appeal to me.

As this book delves into that time period, it becomes easy to imagine Charles growing up, even though among difficult circumstances.  As Charles and Sam work hard to tie the murders together, having come to know the man through the pages of this series thus far, it is easy to see why he was so talented. 

I am sort of a stickler for reading books in order whenever possible. I think they way these books are written, especially as we get to see Charles's home life with his wife and children, they would better read in order.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


- - - - -


DESCRIPTION:

TitleAt Midnight in Venice
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle 
No. of Pages:   375
Date of Publication:   August 23, 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars

It’s a tricky case for Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

Two cities, two skeletons, linked by a mysterious vision…

London, 1850

An Italian music master and an English governess disappear from the house of Sir Neptune Fane, a prominent Member of Parliament.

A female skeleton is found in a disused water tank behind a house which has been empty for five years.

Her neck had been broken and found with a jewelled chain around it.

Charles Dickens is reminded of his time in Venice a few years earlier, when he thought he saw a monk with his hands on a girl’s neck, the glimpse of jewels in fleeting torchlight, a cry of fear.

And later he read that a girl was found drowned at the spot where he had his vision.

Are the two corpses connected? And what is the link to Sir Neptune Fane?

Charles Dickens and Superintendent Sam Jones must find the link between the backstreets of London and the mysterious canals of Venice…

At Midnight In Venice is the fifth urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.


MY THOUGHTS:

Charles Dickens has another crime on his hands. This time the murder brings memories of a murder in Venice years ago. Are they connected? Charles and Superintendent Sam Jones work hard to find the link. Two cities are featured in this book, not just London, but Venice as well.

Just as I have thoroughly enjoyed all the previous novels in this series, this book proves to be just as enjoyable. Sadly, the murder at hand is not the only one the pair work hard to solve. Proof of other young women's bodies have been found, and a pattern soon becomes clear. 

These stories are not easy reads. At that time in history, especially where crime was rampant, there was poverty, lack of good sanitation and other things that I could not imagine experiencing. As murder is always the crux of these stories, that level of darkness only increases. I think the draw to these stories is Dickens himself, but also the talent that J. C. Briggs lays on the table.

- - - - -


Title
The Redemption Murders
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   348
Date of Publication:   June 8, 2020
My Rating:   4 Stars

DESCRIPTION: 

A new murder case has fallen in the laps of Charles Dickens and Superintendent Jones! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Victorian crime mysteries, A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield…

The sea gave up its dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds.…

London, 1851

The Thames River Police are called to The Redemption, a ship docked at London’s Blackwall Reach.

Louis Valentine, the ship’s captain, has been stabbed to death.

With no murder weapon on site, and no signs of a robbery, the only clue is a copy of Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop.

The book is not inscribed to Valentine but to someone called Kit.

When Charles Dickens realises his good friend Kit Penney is now a murder suspect, he is determined to clear his name.

But Kit has gone missing.

With the help of Superintendent Sam Jones, Dickens starts to investigate the troubled last journey of The Redemption.

It seems there was more than one suspicious death on board. But were they murders? And did the same person attack Captain Valentine?

Dickens and Jones begin a desperate search for Kit – and for the key to the dark secrets bound up in The Redemption…

The Redemption Murders is the sixth urban mystery in J. C. Briggs’ literary historical series, the Charles Dickens investigations, a traditional British detective series set in Victorian London.

MY THOUGHTS:

Charles Dickens and Superintendent Sam Jones are at it again. Yet another murder and the pair are now on the case on a ship called The Redemption. The ship's captain has been murdered, but evidence and clues are sparse. Something odd, however, is the fact that one of Dickens' novels was found near the body. 

Charles becomes quite concerned when his friend Kit appears to be tied to the murder. Is he guilty of the stabbing? Charles certainly cannot believe that he is, and Charles will do anything to clear his friend's name. Per usual for the Charles and Sam, during the course of their investigation, more than one murder takes place, thus time becomes a factor. As always, there is a bevy of suspects as Charles and Sam try to stay one step ahead of the killer. 

I love this series! I can imagine a cold winter weekend and gobbling them up all over again. J. C. Briggs is a fabulous writer and I love how she brought Victorian London to live through the pages of this remarkable series. I am truly hoping that this series will continue.

Many thanks to Sapere Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jean taught English and Drama in various schools, from Hong Kong to Lancashire.  She enjoyed writing plays, especially spoof murder mysteries: A is for Arsenic, B is for Bludgeon, C is for Cyanide were all set in ridiculously clich├ęd country houses, featuring sinister butlers and half-mad aristocrats poisoning or bashing their way to inheritances. A Lesson in Murder saw the slaughter of half a staff room by a lunatic former pupil bent on revenge naturally, that went down very well with the pupils. The highest point of her career as a playwright came with a performance of a reduced Hamlet in the presence of The Queen not an ideal choice, she thought afterwards almost the entire court of Denmark slaughtered.


BLOG TOUR - The Gentleman Spy (also, The Lost Lieutenant)

 

In this combined series post, I am reviewing The Lost Lieutenant by 
Erica Vetsch as I am hosting the blog tour for The Gentleman Spy.

Author:  Erica Vetsch
Series:  Serendipity & Secrets #1
Publisher:  Kregel Publications
Genre:   Christian Fiction Romance; 
    Historical Romance
Format:  eBook
No. of Pages:   277
Date of Publication:   April 21, 2020
My Rating:   5 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

He's doing what he can to save the Prince Regent's life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero--he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn't think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn't have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there's something he can't quite remember. It's important, dangerous--and if he doesn't recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone's very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.


MY THOUGHTS:

Whenever possible, I try and read connected books whenever I have a book review. Well, I have The Gentleman Spy for a blog tour, so I grabbed this book, The Lost Lieutenant, from my library. I am so glad I did! This book is the first of a Christian Fiction Romance for me. In all honesty, I accepted the second book for review based on the blurb, but had not noted the genre. As I was reading the book, I began to notice that God was mentioned often. Right away, that impressed me. However, that is not what made me crazy about this book.

I would consider this book to be a hidden gem. I only found it because it is part of a series, and it has always been my aim to read previous titles whenever possible. Again, I am so glad I did. Why? Well, let's talk about the premise. 

Evan Eldridge is dying to get out of the hospital after being seriously injured in the war. He had a serious leg injury that is improving day-by-day. However, something confusing and very concerning is going on in his head. We know it to be PTSD. However, in Evan's day, if a person could not remain lucid, or dealt with certain issues, such as difficulty with loud noises or confusion, it was pretty much an easy ticket to an asylum. So, while Evan is recuperating, he struggles to hide apparent triggers, headaches and anxiety from his doctors.

Even so, he sees no end to his hospitalization. One day, however, he receives a visit arranged by the Prince Regent. Quite naturally, Evan is shocked, especially when they tell him their purpose. Evan is to appear before the Prince to receive honor for saving the Prince Regent's godson. Evan is very nervous, as one of the things he is coping with is no memory as to how he was injured. What is more is that he does not remember saving anyone.

He stands before the prince, and receives a very high honor. He is given the title the Earl of Whitelock, Viscount Slaugham, with houses, lands and more than a bit of money. He couldn't be more shocked. He is the son of a preacher, and has always been poor. The military was his only way of earning any sort of income, and his injuries might have prevented him from continuing to fulfill his duties. Well, now that he is gentry, his life takes on quite a different turn.

The Prince is not done with him yet. Due to interesting events that happen rapidly, the Prince suggests that Evan become engaged to his goddaughter, Diana Seaton, daughter of a duke. Diana's circumstances are dire. Her father and brother are abusive, and she made a promise to her sister who died in childbirth - to care for her infant son Cian as if he is her own. Diana's father, with strong motive, is in the process of brokering a marriage for Diana. Her father is cruel, violent and controlling. Only the Prince's edict can change the course of Diana's life.

I realize that my comments are long already, but the setup for this book is wonderful, and quite sensitive, especially concerning Diana's situation with her father, Evan's emotional trauma, and the fate of baby Cian.

I strongly encourage the reader of this review to GO get this book! It is that good! 

So, how will Evan and Diana get on? After all, no one says no to the Prince Regent, and a wedding is soon to occur. Meanwhile, the fact that Evan has lost his memory of certain events in the war play a huge role when it comes to other events as this story unfolds. All the while, faith is the backdrop, with discussion of God and his plans gently woven into the story.

This book is definitely one of my favorites for 2020 and I eagerly went on to read the next book in the series, The Gentleman Spy.

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Author:  Erica Vetsch
Series:  Serendipity & Secrets #2
Publisher:  Kregel Publications
Genre:   Christian Fiction Romance; 
    Historical Romance
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   304
Date of Publication:   July 28, 2020
My Rating:   5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

He only wanted a duchess for a day--but she's determined to make it a marriage for life
 
When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she's meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life--as a secret agent for the Crown.
 
But his bride has other ideas. She's determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society--the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she'd remain in the background as he ordered.
 
Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

MY THOUGHTS:

Marcus reveled in the fact that he was the second son. His father was a Duke and his older brother was in succession. That was perfectly fine for Marcus. Sadly, his father and brother died in a carriage accident eight months previously. His sister-in-law was pregnant at the time and has now just given birth to a daughter. This means that the title of Duke passes on to Marcus. He is none too happy. Not only are the responsibilities magnanimous, Marcus is an agent of the Crown and is one of the best spies there is. No one knows the role Marcus plays. Ducal responsibilities certainly could get in the way of those duties.

Currently, there is an assassination attempt in play for the Prince Regent. The designated killer had been stopped (see The Lost Lieutenant, the first book in this series). However, the mastermind is still at large. While Marcus is searching high and low in order to prevent a murder, he must also contend with his difficult mother. In an attempt to deal with his her grieving, Marcus tells her that he will seek a bride and provide an heir. This plays right along with his superior's suggestion that a wife might balance out his life. Marcus figures that since he has always lived his life in order, a wife shouldn't upset his work in any way whatsoever. Emotion will never play a role.

Meanwhile, Lady Charlotte Tiptree is nearly a spinster. Her parents have been very unhappy with her for not finding a mate prior till now. Also, Charlotte would rather have her nose in a book, and hopes that if she ever finds a marriage mate, that it could be both a meeting of the hearts and the mind. Charlotte's father has no give, and is more than cruel. In short order, she finds herself engaged to Marcus. 

Actually, this could work for the both of them. No emotion, no attachment. Marcus's mother will be happy, and Charlotte can escape her unhappy home. In order to deal with the sadness that held her captive, Charlotte buried herself in books. (Sounds more than familiar.) There is something else. Charlotte has a goal, a purpose that takes a lot of her attention. This brings in an element of danger in this story, as Charlotte will not give up on something she wants to change, including bringing someone into her life.

Can Marcus keep his life compartmentalized? Will emotion ever be a part of the lives of these two?  What about the plot to assassinate the Prince Regent? With a few twists this story incorporates faith, love and happiness, with enough excitement and action that kept me turning pages at a rapid pace. I absolutely loved both books in this series, and am more than eager for the next one,  The Indebted Earl.

Many thanks to Kregel Publications and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com
. She can also be found on Facebook (@EricaVetschAuthor)
.