The Elusive Miss Ellison, by Carolyn Miller

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

“Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions.” That’s the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister’s daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won’t take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia’s pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother–who stole the most important person in Livvie’s world.

Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he’s just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there’s already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect. That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn’t the only heart that needs to change.

These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society’s opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

First Thoughts:

This is the first is a new Regency romance series by Carolyn Miller.

My Take:

If you like a bit of Jane Austen, you’ll probably enjoy The Elusive Miss Ellison. Early on, we read of a mother “whose social aspirations far surpassed [her husband’s] sizable income.” This description brings to mind a certain mama in Pride and Prejudice. We also learn that Lavinia has a dislike of embroidery and is far more content to extract weeds from flower beds. She plays the piano and sings, but she’s no demure lady. She attends social events, but is not considered the belle of any ball. The new lord of the manor finds these soirees most tedious, especially since he’s expected to soon choose a bride. His aloofness is seen as snobbery, but he’s recently returned from battle against Napoleon’s army in the Iberian Peninsula and is scarred from his experiences.

This is a novel of the haves versus the have nots, and the benevolent versus the selfish. Throughout the narrative, Lavinia gets to experience both modest and affluent ways of living. There’s a side story about Lavinia’s family which I felt was unnecessary, but it does show additional situations where love triumphs over wealth. I did like that Lavinia tried hard not to like Nicholas, and had to acknowledge every occasion when he did something positive in her eyes, such as carrying out small kindnesses to the villagers.

The Elusive Miss Ellison is the first in a series called Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace. While it’s possible the next two can be read out of order, they do feature women who were introduced in this first book. They’re due out in June and October and can already be pre-ordered.

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of The Elusive Miss Ellison, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Elusive Miss Ellison? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 28 February 2017

Page Count: 304

Read more on:   Carolyn Miller’s Website   Kregel’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

Shine Like the Dawn, by Carrie Turansky

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Separated by an inconceivable tragedy, can faith and love reunite childhood friends and light the way to a bright future? 

In a quiet corner of northern Edwardian England, Margaret Lounsbury diligently works in her grandmother’s millinery shop, making hats and caring for her young sister. Several years earlier, a terrible event reshaped their family, shattering an idyllic life and their future prospects. Maggie is resilient and will do what she must to protect her sister Violet. Still, the loss of her parents weighs heavily on her heart because she wonders if what happened that day on the lake…might not have been an accident.

When wealthy inventor and industrialist William Harcourt dies, his son and Maggie’s estranged childhood friend, Nathaniel returns from his time in the Royal Navy and inherits his father’s vast estate, Morningside Manor. He also assumes partial control of his father’s engineering company and the duty of repaying an old debt to the Lounsbury family. But years of separation between Nate and Maggie have taken a toll and Maggie struggles to trust her old friend.

Can Maggie let go of the resentment that keeps her from forgiving Nate—and reconciling with God? Will the search for the truth about her parents’ death draw the two friends closer or leave them both with broken hearts?

First Thoughts:

I wasn’t sure if this was the start of a new series by Carrie Turansky (after reading, it doesn’t appear to be), but I enjoyed her Edwardian Brides novels. I’m looking forward to reading this book, which is set in the same era.

My Take:

Carrie Turansky’s new Edwardian romance starts on an idyllic day for a family picnic. But this prologue ends tragically when only the two youngest members of the family survive the outing. The first chapter then sees Maggie making hats for fussy customers who want the latest London fashions even if they’re not exactly stylish. It’s a way to make a living but all that comes crashing down one night, leaving the siblings at the mercy of the new Lord of the Manor.

contest linkShine Like the Dawn has characters to love and characters that’ll frustrate. Maggie’s grandmother has an easy going spirit, putting her trust in God and His faithfulness. She lets things go that many would not. Over one particular incident, she tells her granddaughter, “I’m simply choosing NOT to be offended.” It’s a wise decision, one I think all of us could learn from. In sharp contrast, Nate’s stepmother refuses to relinquish her position at the manor after her husband’s death. She’s class conscious and isn’t happy with Nate’s friendship with people of a lower social status. She does, however, have a few secrets of her own. Other standout characters include Nate’s younger sister, the maid (a friend of Maggie’s) and, of course, the precocious Violet.

I have just one minor gripe. It felt weird to see the city of Newcastle consistently called by its formal name of Newcastle upon Tyne. As someone with family in that area, I’ve never heard it called that in casual conversation. Perhaps, however, that’s how it was said back in 1903 and I have nothing to show that it wasn’t.

As for the plot, some unexpected twists are revealed throughout the course of the book. Maggie and Nate have their individual theories on what happened that fateful day four years earlier, and neither is willing to accept the other’s idea. A lack of trust caused by misunderstanding gradually melts away through a combination of stubbornness and action, as well as a willingness to cross that social divide. At the end, as any reader should expect, all that’s left is love.

Thank you to Multnomah for my complimentary Uncorrected Proof of Shine Like the Dawn, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Shine Like the Dawn? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Multnomah (a division of Penguin Random House)

Publication Date: 21 February 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Carrie Turansky’s Website   Multnomah’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, by Julie Klassen

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Welcome to the English village of Ivy Hill, where friendships thrive, romance blossoms, and mysteries await. . . .

The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?

As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?

First Thoughts:

Regency romance writer Julie Klassen returns with the first book in her first series.

Read on for my review, bonus videos, and an excerpt from the book.

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