Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Lady in Disguise - My Review



Sandra Byrd's novel A Lady in Disguise is the perfect read for those who love stories set in England.  More specifically, stories set in Victorian England.  The Victorian era has always been my favorite era of literature, so I was excited to read this book, and it did not disappoint!  The characters were relatable, and it was easy to stand behind the female protagonist of the story, Miss Gillian Young.  Her story will resonate to the heart of the reader, because she endures so much.  Her world is constantly changing throughout the text, and as a reader you want so much for her life to turn out right. 

As the pages to this book begin,  Miss Young is already facing tragedy, and quickly the reader will learn how much Gillian has already lost.  Sadly, there comes a point in her life when she wonders if she can trust anyone.  Unfortunately, Miss Young feels there could be danger lurking behind every bend in the road, and she soon discovers many of the individuals around her cannot be trusted.  Her parent's love letters are her only means of solace. 

Gillian's mother was an actress and found her own charities close to heart.  In turn, Gillian will find those individuals who need her assistance.  Through much prayer, she will start to discover the Lord is her only point of help in a world where she feels very alone.  Who will rescue her from the devastating places in her life?

Lord Lockwood has known Miss Young for years, and unbeknownst to Gillian, has started to form an attachment to her.   Yet there are so many obstacles in the way.  Throughout various events, he wonders if Miss Young even cares for him at all.  Her mysterious nature after her father's death does not make sense to him at times, yet his only desire is to protect her.  Will she ever understand this? 

Every character in this text comes with their own backstory that is vital to the overall message of the story, and it is interesting to see how each individual's strengths and weaknesses develop to either help or hinder Gillian.  Miss Young depends on certain people in her life, because without them, she would not be able to make her living as a seamstress.  Yet Miss Young also starts to learn about life from those around her, as she begins to discover her true and dependable friends.  As with most, in order to progress in life, one must learn from life's mistakes, which takes time.  Miss Young, through trial and error, will hopefully one day put all the confusing pieces of her life back together. 

This text was difficult to stop reading, because it was such an exciting and interesting read.  Even throughout the ups and downs of the book, I could not wait to learn what happened next in Gillian and Lord Lockwood's life.  There were moments when it seemed nothing could ever be right again, and then I would turn the page only to find more turmoil with bits of hope thrown in.  This heart-pounding tale is a must for any avid reader, because it is story you wish would never end--in some respects that is.  You will have to read the book in order to understand--so go check it out!  Happy reading!  


This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to RelzReviewz for my copy.


About The Book 

*After the mysterious death of her father, Miss Gillian Young takes a new job as the principal costume designer at the renowned Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. But while she remembers her father as a kind, well-respected man of the Police Force, clues she uncovers indicate he’d been living a double life: a haunting photograph of a young woman; train stubs for secret trips just before his death; and a receipt for a large sum of money. Are these items evidence of her father’s guilty secrets? His longtime police partner thinks so.

Then Gillian meets the dashing Viscount Thomas Lockwood. Their attraction is instant and inescapable. As their romantic involvement grows, Gillian begins to suspect even Lockwood’s motives. Does Lord Lockwood truly love her? Or is his interest a front for the desire to own her newly inherited property? And what should she make of her friend’s suggestion that Lockwood or men like him were involved in the murder of her father?

Soon Gillian is convinced that her father has left evidence somewhere that can prove his innocence and reveal the guilty party. But someone wants to stop her from discovering it. The closer she comes to uncovering it, the more menacing her opposition grows. With her life on the line, Gillian takes on an ingenious disguise and takes on the role of a lifetime to reveal the true killer—before it’s too late both for her and for those that she loves. 

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.


About The Author 


  
Award-winning and bestselling author Sandra Byrd has published four dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including Mist of Midnight, Bride of a Distant Isle (A Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick), and her most recent, A Lady in Disguise. For nearly two decades, Sandra has shared her secrets with the many writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area.

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.   




Friday, March 24, 2017

First Line Fridays


I just found this book entitled Tea Shop Folly by Carrie Fancett Pagels.  Of course, any title with the word tea in it I must add to my reading list.  :)  This is a new author for me, so I am excited to read her novel.  Oh, I have been busy reading and writing these last few weeks, and I have posted several new pieces, a book review, book spotlight, book giveaway, Daily Megaphone, so please be sure to check them out.  Also, I will have two new book reviews posted by the end of the month.  As always, please be sure to check out the book lines from these other amazing bloggers too:    

Sydney from Singing Librarian
Rachel from Bookworm Mama
Andie from Radiant Light
Katie from Fiction Aficionado
Kathleen from Kathleen Denly
Lauraine from Lauraine's Notes 
 
 Click the links above to be taken to their posts and...
If you would like to join us, send Carrie a message and let her know!

​Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from:

Tea Shop Folly 
by Carrie Fancett Pagels



And the first line is...

Sault Ste. 
Marie, Michigan

"Stale odors of pipe smoke mingled with aging leather and dried flowers in dire need of replacing at the elderly attorney's office."

Happy reading and Happy Friday!






Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Second Chance - Spotlight Book Tour






Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Forget Me Not Romance
Publication date: January 25, 2017
Number of pages: 154

Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter
Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man
of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day
and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend,
Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being
a bachelorette for life.

Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as
Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last.
However, Marc’s compassion and kindness are of invaluable
help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to
raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death. 
​Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.

Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.
​​
1. What or whom inspired you to become an author?
An impromptu storytelling game between my brother, grandpa and I at my grandparents’ house (they were our babysitters), first inspired me to become an author. The storytelling game was my grandpa’s idea (best idea ever)!

I liked my story so much that I decided to turn it into my first “book.” So I spent my time that summer whenever I was home, typing it out on the family computer. After I typed “The End”, I printed this first story of mine out, created a cover page and stapled it like a book. Following that, I illustrated the book and gave it a title of “Sisters.” Later on that summer, my Mom’s best friend from college visited and became my “audience” when I read it to her and she gave me my first “review” (she said it was a nice story). I loved the entire process and feedback from my “audience” because it was fulfilling and encouraged me in my creative journey.

So, that’s when and how I decided that I wanted to be an author.

2. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Sophia A. Nelson, Sarah Jio, Brandy Bruce, Becky Wade, and Mary Manners.

3. What writing projects are you currently working on?  What can you tell us about these projects?
I’m working on my third and fourth books. One of these two stories is about a fictional five-star quality bakery in the heart of a major city, and the characters that love it. The other story is about a wedding photographer who’s never been in love.

4. Where is your favorite place to write?
My bedroom, by the windows, is my favorite place to write. I love it when the sun is shining and filling the room with a pure stream of natural light.

5. What would you like readers to take away from reading A Second Chance?
I’d like for my readers to take away the theme of Jeremiah 29:11 and rest on that Bible-based truth about God’s good plans for your life.

Chapter 1

Knee-deep in debt from wedding expenses, Traci Hightower sighed as she filed through the credit card statements. She should be married now, back from her honeymoon in Bali, and settled into her new home with her husband.
Happy.
Not single and broke.
She slapped an envelope against the desk. Five months of struggling to survive and pay off the debt. Her meager, entry-level journalist salary didn’t stretch far enough. She’d been paying her dues for seven years. She rubbed her temples. The numbers on the credit card statement blurred in front of her eyes.
The doorbell rang. A little thrill rushed through her. She stood from her cross-legged position on the floor and hopped over the mess of papers and laundry that decorated her living room. “Who is it?”
“The woman who gave you birth.”
For the first time today, Traci smiled. She opened the door and reached for a hug from the one person who never left her hanging. “Hi, Mom.”
Her mom returned her daughter’s embrace, then dragged her suitcase inside. She glanced around. “Oh, my.”
Traci locked her door, then turned and shrugged. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been looking forward to this. Can’t you stay for more than two days though?”
Mom stopped picking up the bills from the floor and faced her daughter. “No, honey. I’m sorry, but I need to return home by Wednesday morning. Dad and I have an important meeting later that day.”
Traci’s heart dipped. Mom paused and placed the bills and the stack of paper she’d picked off the floor on Traci’s kitchen counter. “Oh, sweetie.” She cocooned her daughter in another embrace.
Traci snuggled close. She inhaled the familiar scent of her mother’s favorite perfume. It smelt like coconut and lime.
“You always were a cuddler.” Mom stroked her hair. “Still up to your eyeballs in debt?”
Traci nodded.
“Why don’t you let me and your father help?”
Traci took a step back and made eye contact with her mom. “We’ve been through this. I got myself into this mess. I’ll get myself out.”
Mom smiled. “Your father and I were talking. We hate to see you struggling.”
“You don’t exactly live in a palace either. I know you want to retire soon, and I won’t have you dipping into that money.”
Mom reached into her purse. “Living in the nation’s capital area is expensive.” She rummaged through her handbag’s contents. “Have you considered moving home?”
“I can’t do that. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else. My life and career are here.”
“How’s that going for you?”
Traci picked at her fingernails. “It could be better.” Better boss, better pay, better office space. The works.
Mom nodded as she retrieved one sealed envelope from her purse. She looked toward Traci’s kitchen. “Can we make some tea? I’d like to talk with you.”
“Sure. Come with me.” Traci reached for the box of peppermint tea bags and got a bottle of honey from her refrigerator. As she put the kettle on to boil, her mom settled into a wobbly kitchen chair. She smoothed the creased edges of the envelope.
Traci poured the hot water over the tea bags in each mug and the scent of peppermint filled the air. “Everything okay?”
“Just thinking, honey.”
“About what?”
“Have a seat.”
“Sure, just let me allow the tea to steep.” After she placed a plate over each mug and set it aside, she settled into the chair across from her mom. “What’s up?”
“I never did like Greg.”
Traci traced a ring stain on the table. “Do we have to talk about my ex-fiancĂ©?”
“Yes, because your grandfather always trusted my judgment.”
“So, Grandpa didn’t like Greg either?”
“I inherited my instincts of discernment from him. Speaking of discernment, here.” She pushed the envelope within Traci’s reach.
She frowned as she picked it up and tried to flatten its wrinkles. “What’s this?”
“Open it. Read it, and I’ll bring our tea to the table.”
Traci turned over the letter-sized, manila-hued paper that was addressed to her. She drew out the paper.

Dear Traci,
If you’re reading this, it means I’ve passed away, and your mother kept her promise to give this to you at the right time. As you know, I like to cut to the chase first and explain later. So here it is, plain and simple: I left an inheritance for you. It’s enough for you to make a solid and secure living, for it will cover more than what you need for the rest of your life.

Traci dropped the letter, her hands shaking. This could be the answer to her financial struggles and give her what she always dreamed of. Her own bookstore. The thought stole her breath for a moment. She envisioned the words on the sign out front. Hallee’s House. Just like she promised her cousin Hallee before she passed away from cancer. Tears welled in Traci’s eyes.
Forcing herself to take a deep breath and will the emotional waterworks away, she picked the paper off the floor and continued reading.

But you cannot receive the money until after you are married, and before you are, your mother must approve of the man you want to wed. Why? Because your mother inherited my sense of judgment and discernment between right and wrong when it comes to people. She can spot someone who’s going to break your heart from a mile away. I trust that you will listen to your mother now that I’m gone and can no longer advise you. So there you have it, dear. You have an inheritance. Sounds like a movie, right? Only it’s not. It’s better, because it’s now part of the story of your life.

After you’re married, you and your husband need to visit my lawyer, Chadwick Morrison. Provide him with the original copy of your marriage certificate, and he will give you your inheritance.
Your grandmother and I loved you. We wanted nothing more than for you to find the type of love that we had during our lifetime. Now, I trust that you will allow yourself to be guided by God, your mother’s love, and your father’s protection.

With love, your grandfather,
Henry Allen Fort

P.S. Take this seriously. Don’t marry the wrong man just to get the money. Let love happen. There’s no deadline. My will said you had to be married first. It didn’t say when.

“Let love happen.” Traci snorted as she folded the letter and placed it into the envelope. “The last time I let love happen, I was left at the altar with nothing more than a pile of bills.”
Mom placed her mug on the table. “It’s time for you to move on and trust God.”
“I trusted God to bring me a husband. He brought me Greg. Remember? The man who left me on my wedding day and ran off with my best friend?”
“Honey, I know it hurts, but that was months ago. You shouldn’t allow Greg’s actions and wayward heart to tarnish your future. Be glad he showed you his true colors before tying the knot. Honestly, look at this as a blessing. God protected you from a lifetime of heartache.”
Traci focused on her I Love Maryland mug.
Mom touched her hand. “Your grandfather just wanted to see you happy in a committed romantic relationship like he and your grandma had. Like your father and I have.”
Traci sipped her tea.
“Keep the letter.” Mrs. Hightower pushed her chair back. “Do you want me to stay here or at a hotel?”
“Here, Mom, of course. You can stay in my room. I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“Alright then. I’m going to put my luggage in your room. After that, we’ll clean your apartment.”
Traci picked up the mugs while her mind ran a marathon. Forgive her ex-fiancĂ© and move on? Trust God?  Impossible.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellsion - My Review



Carolyn Miller’s book The Elusive Miss Ellison is set in England during the Regency period.  It is the story of the young Miss Ellison, who is the daughter of a kind vicar in a small village.  Miss Lavinia’s goal in life is to serve others.  Not because she is haughty and feels it might be her duty, but because her tender heart has great concern for those who have less than her.  Even though Livvie tends mostly to the poor, she does rub shoulders with those is society.  In fact, one of her best friends, Sophia Milton, is in pursuit of finding a husband.  Livvie has other thoughts in mind though, and is content to live out her days unmarried.  However, she is open to whatever the Lord may bring her way. 

Nicholas, the young Earl of Hawkesbury, makes a surprise entrance into the village of St. Hampton Heath.  It is now his duty to take care of his local tenants making sure their homes are looked after.  Although, he never imaged meeting Miss Ellison again, he soon learns about her intense passions, which are often spoken out loud without abandon to anyone who may be willing to listen—including the young earl.  

After meeting him, Livvie spends many of her days furious at this Earl of Hawkesbury.  Not only has his past touched her family’s life in ways that are unforgivable, but his present actions do nothing to help the people of her village.  He seems content to live in his stately home while never considering those he is more than able to help.  She does not understand who this man is or why his actions are so lacking in possibility.  Will he ever change his ways?  Or is she being too harsh in her judgement of him?  

Miller’s book showcases a lovely glimpse into the days of Regency England, which is one of my favorite time periods to read about.  Her characters portray what individuals may have felt during this time and the struggles they endured.  It is interesting to read about the different levels of society and propriety and how various characters intermingle with each status of persons.  

The goodness of Livvie and her bent to become too involved with charities and the sometimes brashness of Nicholas make for a delightful read.  The scenes between these two characters cause the reader to wonder what future events will be part of their lives while also considering their past connections.  

I liked that Miller also included family members to play a vital role as they gave invaluable wisdom and advice to those around them.  Livvie would not have known how to make proper choices without it, and she would never have grown up into the woman she needed to be.  In the same way, servants around Nicholas are often bold enough to give their thoughts on certain subjects to him.  

If you enjoy reading stories set in beautiful England, you will adore this book.  Also, if you delight in reading historical works, you will love learning more about the people who lived in Regency England.  I highly recommend checking this book out!  Happy reading!  


This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Litfuse for my copy. 


About The Book

*The arrival of the new Earl of Hawkesbury has the entire village aflutter--everone except Lavinia Ellison, that is.  In fact, in Livvie's eyes, he is just as arrogant and thoughtless as his brother--who stole the most important person in her world.

Nicholas is weighted down by guilt, by ancestral obligations, and by the legacy of war.  He hadn't anticipated that a perfunctory visit home would engage either his mind or his heart.  Then the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride.  But between society's opposition, his brother's reckless past, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles for the two of them to ever truly get along.  

Fans of Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Julie Klassen will enjoy the spirited exchanges between the bluestocking minister's daughter and the bruised war hero as they move past their painful histories and presumptions to a humbles appreciation of God's grace and the true strength of love. 

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.


About The Author  


Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.  A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn's novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.  

Visit her at www.carolynmillerauthor.com.




Saturday, March 18, 2017

Check Out My New Post!

Check out my new post on the Daily Megaphone in order to learn how you can make a difference this year.  As always, happy reading!  


Shine Your Light 
by Heather Snyder 







Friday, March 17, 2017

First Line Fridays


I just finished reading The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller, which I will be reviewing soon.  So now I am in the process of reading A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd, which I will also be reviewing at the end of this month.  I love that the first novel was set in the Regency era in England, and that this second book is set in Victorian England.  The Victorian era has always been my favorite era regarding English literature, because there are so many wonderful authors writing novels during this period and there is also great change occurring in England alongside these stories.  Charles Dickens records so much of this English history within the pages of his novels, so that we may see a glimpse of what life was really like during these years.  And of course, Victoria herself is the Queen of England at this time.  If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend watching the series Victoria that recently aired on PBS.  As always, please be sure to check out the book lines from these other amazing bloggers too:    

Sydney from Singing Librarian
Rachel from Bookworm Mama
Andie from Radiant Light
Katie from Fiction Aficionado
Kathleen from Kathleen Denly
Lauraine from Lauraine's Notes 
 
 Click the links above to be taken to their posts and...
If you would like to join us, send Carrie a message and let her know!

​Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from:
  
A Lady in Disguise 
by Sandra Byrd 



And the first line is...

Hampshire, England 
Early April 1883

"I stood, that bleak day, in the graveyard in the village near Winton Park.  The chapel's stone gargoyles, pitted and blined by the elements, nonetheless mocked our mortality with their jeering grins." 

Happy reading and Happy Friday! 






Saturday, March 11, 2017

Quote for the Day

"If a book is well written, I always find it too short."  

                                           ~Jane Austen~