An Inconvenient Beauty, by Kristi Ann Hunter

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes–as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.

As all Griffith’s and Isabella’s long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?

First Thoughts:

The final installment of the Hawthorne House series focusses on the eldest sibling and head of the family.

My Take:

When you’re a duke and you’ve witnessed the difficulties your younger siblings have experienced when choosing to marry for love, what do you do? Do you seek the same course, or do you decide to marry someone society deems appropriate to be a duchess? What if the woman you choose happens to be in love with someone else? What if you find yourself falling in love with her cousin? These are questions Griffith must ask himself throughout the course of the final book in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series.

This is a dark novel at times. Isabella is never in danger, but her uncle is manipulative and you feel there is little he will not do to get his way. Everything he does is fueled by a desire for vengeance against those perceived to have done him a grievous wrong. Society mamas aren’t the only ones jostling to see their daughter married to a duke, but none go to the lengths Lord Pontebrook will to see that their daughter doesn’t marry the wrong man (in this case, an English soldier). Thankfully, the darkness is balanced by moments of lightness. Check out the scene where Griffith is injured and must rely on a certain young lady for assistance.

What I got out of this book is a confirmation that God really does laugh at man’s pathetic plans. Griffith thinks he has everything worked out, even though his family disagrees. Conversations with his brother and brothers-in-law do little to sway him from his course. Scenes of godly men counseling each other have been a welcome feature of the Hawthorne House series. Each man desires to do God’s will, even when they aren’t sure what it is or it seemingly goes against their own wishes.

Such is the power of Hunter’s writing that she made me connect with secondary and minor characters.  I was disappointed to not see Frederica’s happy ever after. How would her father have reacted? And what of the other women, whose mothers were looking to marry them off to a duke? Did they find happiness also? Above all, however, I felt sad at having to say goodbye to the Hawthorne family. I hope Hunter’s next series will have me feeling the same.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of An Inconvenient Beauty, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read An Inconvenient Beauty? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 05 September 2017

Page Count: 384

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Kristi Ann Hunter’s Website   The Battle of Waterloo

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

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The Promise of Breeze Hill, by Pam Hillman

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Natchez, MS; 1791
Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.

The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.

Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?

First Thoughts:

This is the first in a new series by Pam Hillman. I don’t recall having read anything by her previously.

My Take:

Mississippi is known for slavery, but it isn’t a black man on the auction block in the opening pages of The Promise of Breeze Hill. Connor O’Shea is white Irish and an indentured servant. Freedom would be nice, but it won’t get him the money he needs to give his brothers a new start in life. The night after Isabella buys him, however, he makes a vicious enemy. A man whose pride has been wounded can be dangerous, especially when he’s in the employ of someone with their own reasons for wanting Connor out of the way.

The historic and foreboding Natchez Trace is central to this new series by Pam Hillman. Breeze Hill is situated alongside and, therefore, there are many scenes set on it. Much of the book, though, is taken up with Connor attempting to resist any romance with Isabella while also keeping her out of danger. He fails at both more than once, but he makes a good impression on her father and a slave at a neighboring plantation. The latter will prove advantageous at a pivotal moment of the narrative. The neighboring plantation families are a mixed bag and their morals contrast sharply with ours, especially where slavery is concerned. There is some violence, mostly against slaves, although there’s also a barroom brawl and an indication of what might face Isabella during one of the times she’s in peril. Overall, The Promise of Breeze Hill was a breeze of a read and I’ll probably read the next in the series if it becomes available to me.

Thank you to Tyndale for my complimentary electronic advance reader copy of The Promise of Breeze Hill, which I downloaded via NetGalley.

Have you read The Promise of Breeze Hill? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Tyndale

Publication Date: 08 August 2017

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Pam Hillman’s Website   Tyndale’s Website   The Natchez Trace

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Many Sparrows, by Lori Benton

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.

When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son…especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

First Thoughts:

This is the first time I’ve read a novel by Lori Benton. I’m not sure what to expect, although I’ve seen positive reviews of her previous books.

My Take:

Many Sparrows starts in the immediate aftermath of the Yellow Creek Massacre which took place on the banks of the upper Ohio River. A quick bit of research told me that this was a precursor to Lord Dunmore’s War, which I’d heard of but never really knew much about. Shame on me, for these events took place in one of my favorite parts of this country. In fact, I’d not heard of Redstone Fort, once located in southwestern Pennsylvania, before picking up this book.

In alternating points of view, we get the stories of Clare and Jeremiah’s pasts. We get to meet Philip Inglesby before his untimely death, and his attitudes and behavior provoke sympathy for Clare. A third voice is introduced in the second half of the book, with the introduction of Clare’s uncle. Alphus Litchfield will fight on the side of the white men at the pivotal Battle of Point Pleasant. It is through his perspective that the reader learns of the events happening in other parts of the country that will lead to revolution.

Clare is a mother on a mission. With her husband gone forever, she’s determined to salvage the rest of her family. Her faith is shattered: how can she believe in a God who has caused such pain? She finds surprising common ground with an Indian woman who has also experienced loss, a connection that will prove fruitful if she’s willing to trust and wait.

Many Sparrows is a fascinating look at frontier life in the run up to the American Revolution. It shows how relationships and communities can grow and then be torn apart by misunderstanding and anger. There are no clearly defined enemies, except in the historic battle, and there are many Indians and whites in it who try to bridge the divide between their people to stop the fighting and killing. This is a novel that truly tugged at my heartstrings and I actually think my life is better for having read it.

Thank you to Waterbrook Press and Litfuse Publicity for my complimentary copy of Many Sparrows, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read Many Sparrows? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Waterbrook Press

Publication Date: 29 August 2017

Page Count: 400

Read more on:   Lori Benton’s Website   Waterbrook’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com