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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A Name Unknown, by Roseanna M. White

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

She’s Out to Steal His Name. Will He Steal Her Heart Instead?

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.

First Thoughts:

This is the first in a new series by Roseanna M. White. I presume, from the series title, that it will all be set in the lead up to World War One.

My Take:

It’s May 1914, and Rosemary is waiting to meet a contact regarding a job. In the next couple of pages, the reader is given plenty of information leading to questions such as: Who is Mr. V? How did Rosemary manage to steal a document from the British Museum of all places? What is her history anyway? During the course of the book, some answers will be revealed while others remain mysteries.

It’s difficult to have sympathy for a criminal. White does her best to make Rosemary and her ‘family’ likeable people. They justify what they do and claim to only steal from those who can “afford to lose a bit.” A gang of child thieves is reminiscent of the group from Oliver Twist, although their leader is a sharp contrast to the notorious Fagin. I didn’t think much of Rosemary’s skills either as it seemed she made a number of rookie mistakes, such as revealing contradictions in her backstory. I definitely couldn’t see how the required happy ending would arrive: She’d either be successful and ruin Peter, or she’d fail and probably sent to jail. The resolution is somewhat mind-boggling, and changes what I thought was the premise of the series.

So, what works in A Name Unknown to make it a worthwhile read? Take away the thievery aspect, and there’s a very good tale of suspense. I was fascinated by Peter’s story. Who were his father and grandfather? How did the family have a royal connection? Why is Peter now being targeted with a series of suspicious events? Is it due to anti-German sentiment or something else? Who’s behind the maliciousness? The story builds slowly but the tension, when I experienced it towards the end, was unexpected. Once I felt that, I knew there was no putting down this book until I’d read the very last page.

Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse for my complimentary copy of A Name Unknown, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity Book Tour

Have you read A Name Unknown? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 04 July 2017

Page Count: 432

Read more on:   Roseanna M. White’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

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

The Captivating Lady Charlotte, by Carolyn Miller

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Her heart is her own–but her hand in marriage is another matter

Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility when she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.

William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte’s father’s pick, not the young lady’s own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return–and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte’s sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.

Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean, and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.

First Thoughts:

Having previously read The Elusive Miss Ellison, I’m guessing the Charlotte of the title is Lavinia’s cousin from that book.

My Take:

Having read The Elusive Miss Ellison just a few short months ago, it’s delightful to once again meet that book’s namesake on the opening page of Carolyn Miller’s newest Regency romance. The venue is St James’ Palace no less, and the occasion is Lavinia’s cousin’s court debut. And although this novel is centered on Charlotte and William, Lavinia and her husband appear frequently and have a major storyline.

Relationships are a major element in The Captivating Lady Charlotte. We see how Charlotte is treated by a mother who doesn’t believe in love but does believe in outside appearances. We note how William is reluctant to trust any woman after a disastrous first marriage. We observe how Lavinia’s mother despises her son’s wife because of past events. One of my favorite moments is when it becomes Charlotte and William versus the world, or at least against her mother! Early on, Charlotte comes across as a spoiled brat, acting in a manner more suitable of a child. I didn’t think she was good marriage material at all. Thankfully, time spent in Lavinia’s company makes her realize that she does need to grow up and, in particular, stop acting on her emotions. As for her brother’s present behavior, however, I would be concerned for any woman who becomes his wife. Hopefully, he’ll also mature in short order.

The Captivating Lady Charlotte is the second in the series Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace. Each book in the series focuses on a particular romantic pairing, but the three leading ladies were all introduced in book one. It’s certainly worth reading The Elusive Miss Ellison to understand their backstory although, technically, I suppose each book could be read on its own as they are compartmentalized tales. After learning why Miss Ellison was so elusive and what made Lady Charlotte so captivating, I’m looking forward to learning the reason for Miss DeLancey’s dishonor this coming October.

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of The Captivating Lady Charlotte, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Captivating Lady Charlotte? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 27 June 2017

Page Count: 312

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

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