Review of 12 DAYS AT BLEAKLY MANOR: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press | Published: August 18, 2017 | Formats: eBook (192 pages) and Paperback (192 pages) | ASIN: B071HB1FQ5 and ISBN: 9781683222583 | Series: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Origin: NetGalley


Cover: Courtesy of NetGalley



Inside 12 DAYS AT BLEAKLY MANOR: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep, we are in England near Christmas of 1851, but for Clara Chapman, these times surrounding the holiday are not at all joyous. As the woman left at the altar without means, she is not homeless only since a loving Aunt takes her in.

Clara’s losses are piling up faster than the winter’s chills upon her skin, and the ache of betrayal doesn’t cease. Her financial situation becomes dwarfed by her guilt of severing the income for her former household staff.

How did all this happen?

Meanwhile, at the prison, the stench is overwhelming and the pain never heals from untold torments. Benjamin Lane’s cell is open, and he prepares for the torture, but he does not expect it from the Warden.

As he takes the proffered invitation, he is told that death will meet him if he tries to escape. Who would invite a falsely accused prisoner to the Bleakly Manor? Moreover, why?

The wealth that is there stings more than his fresh wounds.

Places such as this met his stature at one time. In the social circles of such things, he is now not a member.

Shunned by all who know him, Ben must face whatever will be his fate along with the reminders of all that he has lost during the holiday that holds the most meaning. Just as he thinks it could never become more painful, he realizes how wrong he is as the mystery unravels. The whole story behind his story needs real justice, but freedom from his jail cell does not mean unrestraint at all.

In a tale that is in part a Dickens and a Christie, you may be asking yourself if a mishap comes from the maid, in the parlor, with the candle or from the inspector in the carriage house, with the saw!


***This opinion is my own.***


12 DAYS AT BLEAKLY MANOR: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep begins as an invitation to a mansion, a mystery, and an answer for each invited guest.

However, the merriment may be missing as the plot thickens and the mystery comes apart!

Clara Chapman is invited to a celebration, the 12 Days of Christmas, by someone she does not know, but her sickly aunt insists she goes for there is a gift that Clara needs. She will receive it if only she stays to the end. Reluctantly, she goes with a feeling of foreboding nagging at her.

In prison garb and chains, Benjamin Lane is to reenter the high society of that is familiar for only twelve days. A chance to run is all he wants as he sees the woman who told him of her love only to set him up for a crime he didn’t commit.

The mystery surrounding them leaves both vulnerable and scared, but the answer they believe to be their way to happiness might not be it at all.




Review of THE SECRET ADMIRER ROMANCE COLLECTION: Can Concealed Love Be Revealed in Nine Historical Novellas? by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and Penny Zeller

Publisher: Barbour Books | Published: April 15, 2017 Formats: eBook and Paperback (448 pages) | ASIN: B06Y5YZPHR and ISBN: 9781683221753 | Source: Author Recommendation | Origin: NetGalley 


Cover: Courtesy NetGalley



THE SECRET ADMIRER ROMANCE COLLECTION: Can Concealed Love Be Revealed in Nine Historical Novellas? by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and Penny Zeller uncovers the vulnerability of romance.

Fall in love through history, in spite of the fear of rejection, to gain the promise of hope from beginning to end. Stories will take us from East Coast to the Western Frontier and from 1880’s through early 1900’s to find the desires of your heart. With a sampling inside this review, I will share about two tales where romance dwells, and with the turn of each page, you’ll ponder about each end.

THE COST OF A HEART by Amanda Barratt adds the jolt of an unhappy marriage Lily Montgomery’s life. Her marriage to a wealthy, prominent man leaves her with an empty heart from the love her husband lacks. However, she was not ready to become a widow. In 1897, mourning takes years, but when Lily emerges, she is ready for a life on her terms. The time cloistered in home brought her to closeness with her servants and that would never have been, and she’s grateful for the friendship. Though the norms of socialites would not have such things, with a lack of close family ties, she dares to cross the blurry lines of class.

What if the lines become so blended that one’s place gets lost?

Nathaniel Evans has always been fond of Lily Montgomery, but her horrid husband made it easier to keep his own place in mind. He wasn’t approving of Mr. Montgomery, as his presence was apt to cause his spouse problems. In fact, when he was not around, Nathaniel could see the real smile that would add light to Lily’s face.

With him deceased, her grief was real, but her strength and spine only multiply as does the light that comes back into her beautiful eyes.

His secret feelings for her leads to a change as he struggles to keep his emotions under control until it becomes near impossible. If he would show his care, he will lose everything. No love. No job. He’s a servant. She is not. Does he dare? They have no future, and he has no ability to love another.

Can he stay on as her servant and be no more to her than this?

LOVE FROM AFAR by Penny Zeller begins with a bashful, shy man who was at one time, a sickly, tired boy. Gabe Kleeman returns to Ellis Creek after a few years absence. The young girl he admired from his school days is now a beautiful woman he admires even more than before. However, his shy, awkward stature of years gone by is still here with him today. A younger sibling notices his stares at the woman, and his life becomes more complicated. He can not let his secret be known. She didn’t notice him years ago, and he is sure Meredith Waller would not like him better today.

As two siblings from two different families concoct a plan, the wedding dress maker is taken into their sites along with a brother who stays by himself to set their lives into a tailspin.

Meredith Waller accepts that she will be a spinster. Her talents of making perfect wedding dresses are stretching everywhere in a town where all of her friends either are now married or are getting married. Things are going about on the same course as it has been until an unsigned letter arrives for her in the mail.

Who could be her secret admirer? The scrawl and poetry do not lend a hand to identify the man, and Meredith is setting herself up to know this person for real.





***This opinion is my own.*** 


Inside THE SECRET ADMIRER ROMANCE COLLECTION: Can Concealed Love Be Revealed in Nine Historical Novellas? by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, and Penny Zeller, the risk of romance can be great, but the consequences of staying safely hidden away may become greater!

Facing life’s challenges alone is not easy, but to face them alone while pining for another is heart-wrenching and more difficult with every passing hour.

These novellas bring history inside life on Christian terms but sets out on a road littered with broken people and shattered hearts.


Review of ON LOVE’S GENTLE SHORE: A Novel by Liz Johnson

Publisher: Revell | Published: July 4, 2017 | Format: eBook (338 pages), Paperback (336 pages), Hardcover (338 pages), and Audio CD | ASIN: B01MUANH2V, ISBN: 9780800724511, ISBN: 9780800728885, and AUDIO ISBN: 9781515968320 | Series: Prince Edward Island Dreams | Origin: NetGalley


Cover: Courtesy of NetGalley



ON LOVE’S GENTLE SHORE: A Novel by Liz Johnson, we uncover the inherent problems in returning to the place you left behind only to face all of those who remember everything about you!

Natalie O’Ryan’s plan is to stay in Nashville, but her fiancé’s brother is a new resident of the island where dreams never come true, and the red rock can hold you down. We feel the pain, worry, and ache of trying not to be who you are while whom you used to be remaining an insistent bombardment to us. Prince Edward Island does not hold fond memories for Natalie.

Her younger life provided plenty of abuse, family dysfunction, and alcoholic tendencies mixed with many other family issues never sorted through. Unfortunately, she still wears the stains of her family ways and their toxic lives.

The life she creates is Nashville involves a future marriage, a music label, and a clean slate cloaked in anonymity. However, attempting to be the person you are not will lead to someone else taking the lead and putting you right where you belong whether you wanted to go there or not.

Meanwhile, Justin Kane runs the family farm but still makes time for his music.

No, it was not supposed to be this way. His music was to take him away in life, but that dream died along with his dad years ago. His rebellious youth is long gone, and he is a responsible man. Falling in love with Justin’s caring ways, you may want to join him on the island. It’s his home from birth, and although farming isn’t his life’s dream, he’s made his father’s legacy a success.

Justin believes he has moved on in life, adjusting to the changed normal until the day that he realizes he hasn’t.

It may be that he does not want to either. He has been striving not thriving and managing everyday life without thoughts of his future. He is present in the blandness of every day, but he has given up on the forever-elusive state of happiness. However, he doesn’t know any of this until the friend who took his heart away the day she left returns, and his past comes back to him with unrelenting force. Memories and pain flood him like the tide!

Did his music dream truly die? Could a childhood friendship have been so much more than this?







***This opinion is my own.***


Inside ON LOVE’S GENTLE SHORE: A Novel by Liz Johnson, Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé makes their wedding plans without her input. While she understands that his new relationship with his brother is the reason, he has put her in the most difficult of situations.

She must face the past that even he does not know about, and she must face her facade crumbling in a life not lived.

With a plastic smile and the power of determination, Natalie will overcome this horrid destination and painful memories to plan a wedding and make a graceful exit from that old life. Her conjured up, get it done persona takes a major hit, once her music producer, soon to be husband, Russell Jacobs needs to return to Nashville. Music is his life. Sometimes, it can make her play second fiddle, but she has not been honest enough for him to know this about her and why.

Justin Kane lives on Prince Edward Island, manages his deceased father’s farm, and discovers successes where he can find them, and he plays his music for fun. His life is fairly settled, and he no longer dreams of leaving island life behind until Natalie comes back.

Now, Justin faces his past, present, and future with a ton of questions, many emotions, and hefty decisions weighing him down.

Life is alive with second chances providing you can let go of everything you thought you had. Starting over is never easy, but is it even doable?

What happens to friendships, broken dreams, and happiness?

Review of HIDDEN THREAT by Connie Mann

Publisher: Waterfall Press | Published: May 30, 2017 | Format: eBook (338 pages), Paperback (336 pages), and Audio CD | ASIN: B01NANIKWE, ISBN: 9781477809020, and Audio ISBN: 9781536684407 Origin: NetGalley

Cover: Courtesy of NetGalley



HIDDEN THREAT by Connie Mann steeps us in danger as we come home to Safe Harbor. Eve Jackson’s life in DC is getting complicated. A mess lingers from a government official and doesn’t seem to be ending soon. The visit home is just as knotty. Eve must face something she’s been running from as her adoptive mother battles cancer.

Mama Rosa endures but not easily, and she requests Eve’s clean-water background for a sick baby. Poison is the culprit. The child’s mother is under suspicion. In this small town, everyone does know everyone’s business, and they even know some characters can be as shady as the live Oak trees on a sunny day, with ghostly shadows moving about. However, this young mother is not guilty, and it is up to Evie to help prove it. Eve Jackson’s crusader ways were both problematic and resented as she went through her teen years. Many people and businesses have not forgiven or forgotten these things, but with blue baby syndrome hiding out here, Evie is ready to stir up the past to save a future.

Cole Sutton had to blink twice to see the woman before him, his painful memory made a comeback but other memories surfaced as well. With the financial situation here at Sutton Ranch, the last thing he needs is Evie to be here for more than a home visit. It was then that he realized how few those home visits had become.

Maybe he was not the only one in town remembering her outlandish, foolhardy environmental ways back in high school.

With one look at his deformed calves, she would call the DC sharks to shut him down. However, he wished that she’d call a team of vets to help him understand why this is happening. As we fall in love with Cole, we will discover that he is losing more than money. Cole’s heart splinters with the birth of each calf.

Her questions are causing more problems, as the rumor mill can be just as deadly to the ranch as a defaulted bank loan.

Determined to keep her focus off of his land, Cole answers her questions and goes out of his way in showing that he is doing things right. He’s not trying to cut corners, but danger starts to lurk around her, causing him to need to keep her close.

Her need for safety and his desire to keep her safe causes Eve to learn more than he wants, but Cole is beginning to realize he needs her help. A danger is close to home on Sutton ranch.

Could illness, deformed calves, and sabotage be connected? How far is someone willing to go in this game of seeking to destroy?

***This opinion is my own.***


Inside HIDDEN THREAT by Connie Mann, the unexpected happens as coming home to Safe Harbor, Florida means facing old scars, painful remembrances, and people with long memories of her past as Eve Jackson’s nightmare is coming to life.

In DC, Eve is used to environmental catastrophes, water safety issues, and becoming ensnared in traps. However, Safe Harbor is supposed to be the exact opposite of that part of her life, until it isn’t.

Her adoptive mother’s cancer treatments are not going well, but Mama Rosa wants Eve to look into a child’s illness. She instructs Eve to worry not about her. With a lump in her throat, she is brought back to her past, when her birth mother issued a similar directive, but it became an end of life scenario. Torn between paths, Evie decides she is going to do both. She can help Mama Rosa despite her protestations and look into the child’s illness. After all, these patients are in the same hospital.

How could a major environmental concern lurk in her hometown?

Cole Sutton faces his own trials, as things aren’t going right. His equipment is consistently out of order, and the mysterious loan taken by his father is coming due. Cole does not need more rumors, sales talk, or environmental issues. Except an environmental problem is here at Sutton ranch, and Cole cannot find the source. It’s not just when Eve Jackson shows up. In truth, he needs the expertise with the way that she makes her living. His calves are suffering deformity. Even the vet doesn’t know why.

Is someone close to the ranch inviting dangers on his property? He is suffering losses, Cole’s animals are in jeopardy, and violence is brewing inside this little town. Whom can he trust?

Review of WHISPERING PINES (The Langtry Sisters) by Scarlett Dunn

Publisher: Zebra | Published: July 25, 2017 | Format: eBook (352 pages) and Paperback (352 pages) | ASIN: B01M6AOYKM and ISBN: 9781420144482 Series: The Langtry Sisters  Origin: NetGalley 


Cover: Courtesy of NetGalley


WHISPERING PINES (The Langtry Sisters) by Scarlett Dunn is a coming home tale. Inside the frontier life of Colorado, danger stakes a claim at the beginning and continues all the way through!

When family reunions come around, times may be good but sometimes not so much. No one could expect to find a man who frightened you as a child ready to dole out his own form of justice to your kin upon arrival. It’s true that Frank Langtry had behavioral issues throughout his young life, but five years must have matured him as it did his sister. Trying to convince this to the judge, jury, and executioner named Morgan LeMasters is not going to be easy. Fear grips her heart tighter as Rose Langtry dares the man to hand her brother over to the sheriff and let justice come the right way.

Readying to face death, her brother is swearing that he did not do these things, but Morgan claims his proof is back at the ranch. As she is refusing to leave, her brother is spinning a yarn of his lifetime.

In the meanwhile, the young woman standing before Morgan begs for her brother’s life. Although he is deputized and by law can exact justice upon this man of terror, he will not take this man’s life in front of family. He will not do it. Realizing this young woman loves the lad does not make things go down any easier. Because the way Morgan sees it, she will beg the next judge for leniency too. To see how her time away has matured this young woman of the past has him wonder if her good heart will not notice the monster that is her brother.

However, once his good deed goes awry, life is about to become so much more complicated in Whispering Pines.

Maybe she’ll have to choose blood over bond or maybe she’ll have to understand enough to choose love over her circumstances, but whatever way Rose Langtry could go, the pain will follow in one form or another.

Sometimes blood is thicker than water and sometimes that just isn’t the case. Could her prayers for Frankie have come to pass freeing him of his hard owned reputation or could her prayers cause her to realize when to let go and let God?

Will love find a way inside WHISPERING PINES?






***This opinion is my own.***




Inside WHISPERING PINES (The Langtry Sisters) by Scarlett Dunn, Rose Langtry is the first sister to arrive home, but instead of a greeting party, hanging halts the stagecoach. She tries to keep herself together upon seeing her brother ready to die, but the man in charge is the one she has feared a long time. Deciding to fight for her brother, she implores Morgan LeMasters to move his vengeance aside and let the sheriff take his case.

While seeing the beautiful woman nearly coming unglued helped Frankie Langtry’s case in the short-term, his fate becomes more sealed after things go wrong on his way into freedom. He injures one and kills another, and he holds no worry over his sister’s life. Now, the woman who created this mess lies injured and their horses are gone.

To tend to Rose’s wounds and keep her alive isn’t hard because she is Frankie’s sister, but it is hard because she’s a good woman. Rose could just barrel through your defenses to create a bond that would leave any man wanting more.

Could Rose ever fall in love with the man who would have killed her brother?

However, Frankie is repaying revenge for the goodness that he received bringing more danger not only to Morgan but also to all involved. Morgan LeMaster’s keeps guard over Rose and nurses her to health, but all the while, he is worried about the rest of her family!

Will tensions create the need for a marriage of convenience while family bonds shatter? Will faith lead to a bond stronger than the storm?

Review of A NAME UNKNOWN (Shadows Over England Series) by Roseanna M. White


Publisher: Bethany House Publishers | Published: July 4, 2017 | Format: eBook, Paperback, Hardcover, Audio | ASIN: B01MTFX5AL, ISBN: 9780764219269, ISBN: 9780764230417, and Audio ASIN: B073JRPWQD | Series: Shadows Over England Series | Origin: NetGalley 


Cover: Courtesy of NetGalley


Rumors? Deception? History? War? Danger? Family ties? Suspense? Romance? Oh, yes! A NAME UNKNOWN (Shadows Over England Series) by Roseanna M. White halts us with lies formed in the dark of night to unmask a German in England.

The secret societies hire the best and the one needing the money most, but the ever-present danger pulls us in deep with the turn of each page.

Rosemary Gresham knows the pitfalls of the London streets all too well, but Mr. V is a loyal customer who pays very well. More important, she has a family to feed. In the nighttime shadows, plans are in motion and documents arrive, but the job will not be too hard. In fact, for a short time, she’ll live a lifestyle that she will never own. To be surrounded by wealth and easy pickings for once the job is done. What could go wrong?

Rosemary makes the mistake of being seen talking positively about Peter. Will this compromise her assignment?

Britain borders on a war with Germany, and Peter Holstein must prove he is loyal to the Crown. His friend, the King, confirms this, but he has a problem. Family history is buried under mountains of books and assumptions. He knows his parents purchased their land and could not have if his parents were not English subjects. However, he can not find the documentation.

Meanwhile, the answer to his problems just shows up unannounced. She’s a librarian, historian referred to his direction by a member of esteemed acquaintance, and her references are in order, at first glance, according to his best friend, a Solicitor. He will continue to check her background.

In this Edwardian, word of mouth can be as lethal as the pen when gossip becomes another’s reality.

Peter has a deadline to meet, and his circles of people dwindle by the day. What if he loses his home for lack of British evidence? Could he be put on an expulsion and be forced to live elsewhere? Will he have to give up his livelihood?

Once Rosemary Gresham’s sister is devastatingly injured, Peter is determined to pay the medical bills, anonymously, but this attempt isn’t easy, as the detectives are now unable to find her family!

Can anything else go so very wrong?

***This opinion is my own.***


Inside A NAME UNKNOWN (Shadows Over England Series) by Roseanna M. White, Rosemary Gresham is used to lifting objects and things. In her line of work, it is expected. However, this well-paying customer wants her to steal someone’s name and heritage.

Mr. V needs to find out if this target is an enemy as he is of German descent, and Britain is nearer to war. While Rosemary has dressed the part of the upper class to lift, this would be different. To snoop through one’s private papers, documents, and pictures, closeness would need to be in place on the mark. Not an easy job, but this will pay more than ever before once the job is completed.

In the meanwhile, for Peter Holstein, to change his family name from German to English will hurt. It will not be due to allegiance, as he is British, but the pain will be in losing his name, as he would be cutting the only binding between him and his loving, deceased parents. However, he may have to do just that as his livelihood will be put in jeopardy.

What will become of his writing career? Will he need to give up the only home he has ever known?

As Peter and Rosemary come to work in close quarters, they begin to get to know each other, and the unthinkable happens. These two begin not only to acquire a connection, but they begin to develop sparks of romance. What else can go wrong?

Working together but moving in different directions, each has a different goal, are they able to stay their course or will they join forces and move in tandem with love?

Review of THE ENGAGEMENT CHARADE by Karen Kirst

Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals | eBook Published: July 1, 2017 and Paperback Published: July 4, 2017 | Format: eBook (288 pages) and Paperback (288 pages) | ASIN: B01NBA2SIC and ISBN: 9780373425310 Series: Smoky Mountain Matches Origin: NetGalley 


Cover: Courtesy of NetGalley


THE ENGAGEMENT CHARADE by Karen Kirst leads us to Tennessee in the 1880’s. We traverse the boardwalk of the old West where new lives can begin under horrible and tragic circumstances.

Our heart aches for Mr. Alexander Copeland. He’s losing his ability to keep company with almost anyone. To Alex, it is preferable to be alone than to see a happy family, as pain assaults his senses and sets him to relive a nightmare.

He tries to keep control of his surroundings, but his new employee brings a problem to his cafe.

Her optimistic chattering and managerial habits interrupt his daily ritual of solitude. Although his patrons enjoy her cheerfulness and her abilities, he comes undone with it all. Could she just leave him alone? She must perform her duties quietly and leave. This is how he wants her to operate, but she cannot do it.

Unfortunately, for Widow Ellie Jameson, she was hired during the owner’s absence. Mr. Copeland lets it be known that he wasn’t in on her hiring and isn’t happy about it. In fact, he tries to make due with her being here.

Proving her worth to his business puts her to running afoul of her employer. How could she convince him that she wants and needs this job? Ellie must share all she brings to the cafe and all that still needs doing. She understands his reputation of being a loner, but Ellie must have his agreement in cafe matters or nothing will get finished.

Her time is limited, and she is being hunted!

The public will eventually know about Ellie’s family and her secrets. These are the reasons that she must work now. Ellie does not want her present condition to impede her future finance. She’ll need it for later.

Will angst lead to unemployment or something far worse?

***This opinion is my own.***



In THE ENGAGEMENT CHARADE by Karen Kirst, Ellie Jameson is a pregnant widow venturing out on her own to get away from her suffocating in-laws. Her marriage was far from happy and relationships with his extended family were never near pleasant.

A talkative widow whose worth ethic is stellar should be any businessman’s dream. Customers are happy and keep returning and other employees mesh well with this new hire. The problem is with her boss.

Her work here disrupts his quiet.

Alexander Copeland fled from Texas leaving his kin behind to run far from the memories that to this day still haunt him. Gone are his wife and son, and the pride this former rancher once held. He came to Gatlinburg with goals in mind. He was going to live alone, stay alone, and conquer the grief that swallows him whole. All was going as planned until Ellie Jameson arrives. Her mumbling and her care for this café are driving him mad.

Her secrets only cause more pain, but the people she’s running from causes him to protect her in the only way he can. From sequestered to betrothed, Alex is out-and-about with a woman on his arm, but his grief is closer to the surface than ever before.

Could this pretend relationship cause more problems than protection for both of them? Will the sheriff be able to keep them safe whether together or apart?