The Innkeeper’s Daughter, by Michelle Griep

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

A London officer goes undercover to expose a plot against the Crown

Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

First Thoughts:

Strangely enough, the overview reminded me of the poem, The Highwayman, written by Alfred Noyes. I’m fairly certain, however, that there’s a happier ending to come in this novel. Continue reading


Lady Jayne Disappears, by Joanna Davidson Politano

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Lynhurst Manor is a house built on secrets . . . and the arrival of Aurelie Harcourt might reveal them all.

When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies suddenly, he leaves her just two things: his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll, and his wealthy family–who want very little to do with her.

As Aurelie struggles to find a home with her father’s family and learn the rules of society, she relishes in his parting gift–the beginning of his last story. The story she always wanted to hear, about her mother’s mysterious disappearance from the home where she now lives. To complete the novel, she’ll have to extract clues from relatives–and one enigmatic houseguest–who often seem reluctant to give them up.

First Thoughts:

This sounds an intriguing title from a debut novelist. The back cover copy doesn’t mention the particulars of Aurelie’s father’s death, but retail sites state it was in a debtor’s prison. Having grown up in England, this is a familiar concept to me. York Castle Museum, which I visited on a recent trip back home, is partially housed in a former debtor’s prison. Charles Dickens wrote about them, using his remembrances of when his father was sent to Marshalsea debtor’s prison in London.

My Take:

On a dark and rainy night in 1861, Aurelie Harcourt is released from a debtor’s prison and picked up by a carriage sent by a mysterious aunt. This scene is described in Aurelie’s own words, casting her as a romantic and fanciful writer following in her author father’s footsteps. Yet she has no formal education and lacks the social graces required of her for her future. Her actions become a source of disparagement for her cousin who believes the younger woman should have no place in the family. It’s no surprise that Aurelie’s closest friend should be the family seamstress, who has secrets of her own.

An alternate perspective of Aurelie’s story comes from Silas Rotherham, a family friend. Here the narrative switches to third person and, while it reveals useful information, feels slightly out of place. I suspect this is because the prologue sets up the story as though Aurelie is telling it to a publisher. How would she know what Silas was doing and thinking while not in her company? More jarring to me, however, is the naming of the prison and how it is referred to throughout. In the book, it is called Shepton Mallet Prison in an area called Glen Cora and referred to as The Mallet. In actuality, there is a former prison in the town of Shepton Mallet, Somerset, and it was sometimes known to as Cornhill because of its location in town. Each time someone referred to Shepton Mallet, or The Mallet, in the book my mind went to the town whereas they meant the prison. This was a personal problem, however, and readers unfamiliar with the area will most likely not experience it.

Overall, Lady Jayne Disappears is a bit of a gothic melodrama. It contains mysteries in an imposing, brooding, mansion, and over the top characters such as Aurelie’s cousin and that woman’s daughter. There are several twists and turns to keep the reader guessing, and plenty of Victorian scandal. I did find the ending a bit too abrupt for my liking, however, and had a couple of questions for which answers were not to be had.

Thank you to Revell for my complimentary copy of Lady Jayne Disappears.

Have you read Lady Jayne Disappears? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 October 2017

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Revell’s Website   Joanna Davidson Politano’s Website   Debtor’s Prisons in England

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

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.


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