Saturday, July 30, 2016

Excerpt from The Beautiful Pretender

Since I enjoyed this book so much, I thought I would include an excerpt from The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson for today's post.  Happy reading!  

“Last but not least,” Magdalen said with a slight twist of her lips. “See that girl sitting at the margrave’s right side? That’s Fronicka. Her father is the Duke of Geitbart.” Magdalen leaned over to whisper in Avelina’s ear, “She is determined to marry the margrave and she’s given every other girl here notice that if they try to flirt with him, they will find something horrible in their bed the next night.”

Avelina leaned forward to get a better look at Fronicka. She was smiling at the margrave, looking quite demure and sweet. “Perhaps she was in jest.”

Magdalen raised her brows. “Perhaps.”

The other ladies sitting around the table were also smiling at Lord Thornbeck. All Avelina had to do was stay out of the way and let the other ladies flirt with him.

However, if Fronicka managed to marry Lord Thornbeck, it would mean certain destruction for the Earl of Plimmwald. The margrave would likely help his wife’s father, Geitbart, take over Plimmwald rather than stopping him and defending Plimmwald. The earl would be killed or imprisoned. All the people of Plimmwald, including her father and siblings, would be at Geitbart’s mercy.

She whispered under her breath, “God, be merciful and do not let the margrave choose her.”

As Avelina and Magdalen ate, Magdalen spoke of her younger sisters and brother with warmth and affection. “I wish they could have come with me, but the invitation was only for myself.” She talked about her mother and siblings a bit more, then spoke of how poor the villagers of Mallin were. “The copper mines have been Mallin’s main source of wealth. But about ten years ago the copper suddenly ran out. My father died soon after.” She sighed. “Our land does not grow much food, as the soil is very rocky. It would be good for raising sheep and other livestock, but the people don’t have money for buying livestock. It is why my mother wants to marry me to a wealthy nobleman, hoping he will help our people.”

Avelina nodded. “Plimmwald is not very wealthy either. Most of our people are farmers or woodcutters . . . peasants.” That was what Lady Dorothea called all the people of Plimmwald.

“My father always emphasized to me that as the noble family of Mallin, we were ultimately responsible for our people. I feel guilty sometimes living in a house made of stone, with silk dresses and plenty of food, when so many in our villages are going hungry.”

Avelina knew that guilty feeling too, but it was because she often slept and ate at Plimmwald Castle, while her little sister and brother had to fend for themselves in their little dirt-floor, wattle-and-daub hovel they shared with their father, who was dependent on the neighbors to help him get from his chair to his bed.

“But what can we do to help them?” Avelina wondered aloud.

“There is only one thing a woman might do, and that is to marry someone wealthy—and generous.”

Avelina started tapping her chin, then stopped herself as she realized it did not look very regal or ladylike. “Will any other ladies be joining us?”

“We are all here, the ten of us.”

“My maidservant said the margrave would want to ask me some questions. Did he already talk with you?”

Magdalen nodded, her mouth full of pheasant.

“What did he ask you? Will I be too frightened to even be able to speak?” She asked the latter question more to herself than to Magdalen.

“It was not frightening, although I do think the margrave himself is a little gruff and frightening. His questions were not what I might have expected, but they were respectful and nothing was difficult to answer. Do not worry. You will answer him well.”

“It hardly matters. I do not wish to marry the margrave in any case,” she confided.

“Do you not?”

Avelina shook her head.

“Is there someone else you wish to marry?”

“No, not at all.” She should not have said that. How would she explain? “As you said, he is a little frightening, that severe look on his face, as if he is always angry. I should like to marry someone with more of a gentle, romantic expression, a man of poetry and learning.” That was true, at least, however unlikely it was.

“How do you know Lord Thornbeck is not a man of poetry and learning?”

“He used to be a knight.” Avelina shrugged, trying to think what Dorothea might say. “Most knights I know are rough and like to fight.”

Magdalen smiled. “I might feel the same, except I know my mother is hoping the margrave will choose me. It would solve so many problems for my people and ensure them the protection they need.”

Avelina decided immediately: If the margrave seemed to be a good person, she would try to turn his attention toward Magdalen and convince him to choose her. Magdalen was a deserving person, and it would make her happy to be able to help her people. And anyone he married who was not Fronicka would benefit Avelina. Yes, the margrave should marry Magdalen.

As soon as the midday meal was over, the beautiful blonde wife of the margrave’s chancellor approached Avelina.

“Lord Thornbeck is ready to speak with you now, Lady Dorothea.”

Avelina nodded. Somehow, after deciding to champion Magdalen, she felt much less afraid of the margrave. She had a plan.

~ ~ ~

Reinhart hated formality and pretense. People should say what they wanted instead of hiding behind hypocrisy. He had allowed Jorgen and his wife to teach him a few of the niceties that others of the aristocracy would expect of him. But the woman he married must realize that he could not abide insincerity, and he would always be forthright himself.

He might as well get these questions over with. At least she was the last one. “Lady Dorothea, in your opinion, what is a lady’s most important task?”

The lady, quite pretty, with brown hair and blue eyes, looked as though she might faint as the blood drained from her face.

“Lady Dorothea? Are you well?”

She nodded, visibly swallowing.

She did not have to say anything brilliant. He came up with the questions as a way to discover a bit about them, to get an idea about their temperaments and character, since he was not so interested in his wife having strong opinions. A simple maiden who was not too opinionated would suit him.

But he was not so sure this one could even speak.

~ ~ ~

Avelina’s breath traitorously left her. She tried to think what she might be expected to say. She did not want to impress the margrave, but she didn’t want him to suspect that she knew nothing at all about being a lady either. She should say whatever Lady Dorothea would have said. But Lady Dorothea probably would have said something about looking beautiful so as to bring her husband the most praise, and Avelina could not bring herself to say that.

“Lady Dorothea?” The margrave was looking at her as if he was afraid she had gone deaf. The chancellor’s fair wife who had led her into the room was also staring at her, along with her young, handsome husband, who sat with his quill pen poised to write.

With so many thoughts swirling in her head, she was too confused to think of anything other than the truth. “In my opinion, a lady should take care of her people, first and foremost. They are dependent upon her and upon their lord for their well-being, and therefore a lady should consider them in everything she does and every decision she makes.” Something the real Lady Dorothea had utterly failed to do.

She studied Lord Thornbeck’s expression, but he was unreadable. Frau Hartman, however, widened her eyes and glanced at her husband, who was too busy writing to return her gaze. Was her answer surprising? She must be more careful.

The margrave folded his arms across his chest as he sat behind his desk. His cane leaned against it in easy reach. “And how does a lady take care of her people? Can you give an example?”

She closed her eyes for a moment, balancing on the edge of the deep hole that she had just dug for herself. She might as well tell the truth. She had never been good at lies.

“A lady takes care of her people by making sure they have what they need—food, clothing, and shelter—to the best of her ability. She should discover what her people need and keep the lord of the land informed of these needs. One such lady is Lady Magdalen, whom I was speaking with during the midday meal. Her people are having difficulty since their mines were exhausted of their copper supply, and she is very concerned for them. She is willing to do whatever is necessary to help them. That is a perfect example.”

Thank You, God, for helping me think of that! She only hoped she had not put him off by making it obvious that Magdalen’s region needed the margrave’s wealth to help it survive. Frau Hartman had raised her brows. Avelina went on.

“Furthermore, a margrave’s wife should have lots of ideas—and should share those ideas with her husband and other prominent men of the region. She should tell the margrave how to solve the problems of the region and not just share what those problems are. Do you not agree, Lord Thornbeck?”

He fixed her with such an intense scowl that she could hardly breathe. How could he look severe and frightening and yet overwhelmingly handsome at the same time? His brown eyes, masculine forehead and jawline, broad shoulders, and well-formed mouth all combined to make him the most handsome man she had ever seen. She quickly looked away from him, her cheeks burning, embarrassed that she found the man so attractive. She hoped he could not read her thoughts.

“You are saying a lady should tell her husband what the region’s problems are and how to solve them?”

Had she gone too far? God in heaven, I am only a maidservant! What am I saying? “Um . . . I . . . that is . . . perhaps. I mean, yes, my lord.” Could she be any more blundering and unpolished? He quirked one brow at her.

At least she didn’t have to worry that she was impressing him too much.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

New Books from Revell Publishers

*Nikki Boyd isn't usually called in on homicides; her forte is missing persons. But when a case with two murdered and two missing pops up on a quiet suburban street, she's ready to start the investigation and find missing homeowners Mac and Lucy Hudson. When the first clues lead her to the boat of her friend Tyler Grant--and another dead body--Nikki must untangle what ties Tyler to the Hudsons. The clues pull her into a deadly maze of counterfeit drugs and a killer who will stop at nothing to silence anyone who threatens his business--including Nikki. 

*Finding her dream job went right out the window when Leta Breckenridge had to quit school to help care for her mother suffering from dementia. When a delinquent account may force her mother into a less desirable facility, Leta is thrilled to land a high-paying job at an Austin public relations firm. But her seemingly ideal job turns into a nightmare when she learns the firm is a front for a political opposition organization--and that the research she's been collecting will be used against Nathan Emerson, the handsome senator she's swiftly falling in love with.

Nathan is a rising political star being pressured to run a bid to unseat the current governor of Texas. He's already in a relationship with a woman much better suited to be a politician's wife, but he's never met anyone like Leta. Could this feisty woman hold the key to his heart--and his future?

With emotional depth and keen insight into what drives us, Kellie Coates Gilbert offers a salient story that calls us to consider what we value most in this life.

*It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton's ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados. There were no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island.

Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy sails aboard a British warship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold--and to an overjoyed Patience--it's not quite the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for.

With a finely tuned sense for authentic historical characters and settings, Rebecca DeMarino plunges you into a world of tall ships, daring journeys, and yearning hearts.  

*After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor--only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos--and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who's invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces for to help Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves? 

*Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he's not convinced that a bodyguard--and a female one at that--is necessary. A new attack and his niece's urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who's behind the intimidation and threats--before a would-be killer strikes again.   

*Two years ago, Prosperity Jones waved farewell to her beloved David as the army sent him to faraway Key West. Now with her parents gone, she has but one prospect for the future: make the dangerous journey from Nantucket to Key West to reunite with David and secure a happier life.

But when Prosperity arrives penniless in the South, she is dismayed to find David has not been eagerly awaiting their reunion. In fact, he is married to someone else. Scrambling to survive and nursing a broken heart, Prosperity gains the friendship--and the affection--of a kind doctor. Could he be the answer to her loneliness? Or will her life be upended by circumstance yet again?

With a deft hand, Christine Johnson fills the senses with the sights, sounds, and smells of Key West in this heartwarming story of honor lost, honor redeemed, and a love forged in adversity.

*Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

New Books from Love Inspired Historical - August Releases


*Though Lady Elizabeth Wayland would rather spend her days with her beloved books than an uncaring spouse, scandal forces her to find a match posthaste. To escape the scoundrel who almost ruined her, Elizabeth accepts an unconventional proposal from a childhood friend. But when she finds herself falling for her husband-to-be, will she be able to convince him to return her love? 

Widowed cotton mill owner Miles Hawthorne vowed to never marry again—until Elizabeth's reputation is on the line. Their betrothal begins as a simple favor. As he spends more time with his fiancĂ©e, though, Miles finds that there's more to her than he ever saw before. And Elizabeth just might be the only woman who can slip into his heart. 

*After a storm strands her overnight in Will Slade's cabin, Blythe Granville's reputation is in shambles. The townspeople doubt that she was innocently nursing him back to health after saving his life. Now Blythe must accept Will's proposal: a marriage in name only to save her good name. But the former socialite is determined not to fall for her new husband…even if she's drawn to the gruff stranger who's vowed to stand by her, in sickness and in health.

Will never wanted to remarry after his ex-wife betrayed him. But now he finds himself hitched to a city girl who has no idea how to keep a house…but is somehow chiseling her way into his heart. As Blythe melts Will's crusty facade, though, they're discovering that this most unexpected union might just lead to true love.

*As a draftswoman in a man's world, Jessica Sinclair causes a stir as her new male colleagues vie for her attention. And the company manager has an ultimatum: fake a courtship with her boss, Flynt Kavanaugh…or lose her job. But pretending to be smitten with the handsome engineer unleashes a real, complicated attraction—and could reveal the past she hoped to keep hidden. 

Jessica is certainly the best person for the job. But as their make-believe romance escalates, Flynt knows that's not the only reason he wants her on his team. However, with his past shrouded by a shameful secret, Flynt has always focused his ambitions on building a career, not a family. Now he has designs on Jessica's heart, but can they trust each other with the truth?

*Rancher Edmund McKay likes his life simple and quiet—everything feisty neighbor Lula May Barlow is not! But with a cattle rustler on the loose, he's duty-bound to protect the widowed mother, even without her approval. Yet he never expected to enjoy her company. And he certainly never thought her crowded, bustling house would be the first place he'd ever feel at home… 

After a harsh childhood, Lula May knows how to stand on her own two feet. She doesn't need Edmund's help—but she's starting to want it, all the same. So are her children, who clearly have matchmaking in mind. And when a threat from the past resurfaces, she realizes all that's at stake…including her chance for a lifetime of love.

*Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Check Out My New Post!

Check out my new post on the Daily Megaphone to find out about the song that has inspired me this month.  Happy reading!  

 Christmas Glory
by Heather Snyder 

Friday, July 15, 2016

New Books from Bethany House Publishers

*Lady Georgina Hawthorne has always known she must marry well. After years of tirelessly planning every detail of her debut season, she is poised to be a smashing success and have her choice of eligible gentlemen.

With money and powerful business connections but no title, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. He intends to marry someday, but when he does it will not be to a shallow woman like Lady Georgina, whose only concerns appear to be status and appearance.

But beneath her flawless exterior, Georgina's social aspirations stem from a shameful secret she is desperately trying to keep hidden--and that Colin is too close to discovering. Drawn to each other despite their mutual intent to avoid association, is the realization of their dreams worth the sacrifices they'll be forced to make?

*Inspired by the vision of the young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross, seeking to free captives from prisons near Tripoli. She'll gladly give herself to the cause, as she's haunted by a tragic mistake and feels she no longer deserves such joys as marriage and family might bring.

Sir Randel Penigree was reared to serve in the church but has always dreamt of protecting the innocent as a Templar knight. Joining a crusade to escape humiliation at home, he finds himself drawn to Rosalind as they partner to train and protect a group of adolescents. When faced with political intrigue and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities and the very nature of the God they serve.

*When Cimarron Ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, only the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Before leaving by train to receive treatment to save his leg--and possibly his life--Chance demands that Heath read the patriarch's will and see its conditions enforced immediately. If Chance's three bickering adult children, Justin, Sadie, and Cole, don't live and work at the ranch for an entire year, ownership of the ranch will pass to a despised distant relative.

Before long, however, Heath discovers that the avalanche may have been intentionally set--and that more danger lurks ominously. Finding his own future--and a desired future with Sadie--locked up in saving the Cimarron Ranch, Heath and the Boden siblings must work together against outside forces that threaten them all.

*Phoebe Von Bergen, the daughter of a German count, is excited to visit America for the first time while her father purchases sapphires in Helena, Montana. Little does she know, however, that her father's intentions--both for her and the gemstones--are not what she thinks.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the dignified young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie--a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Meeting Ian has changed everything for Phoebe, and she begins to consider staying in America, regardless of her father's plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger that results when her family's deception begins to unravel.

*Each synopsis is from the back cover of each novel.  

Natalie Grant - King Of The World

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hold Me Close - My Review

Marguerite Martin Gray’s novel Hold Me Close is set during the late 1700’s in Charles Town, South Carolina.  During this time period, there is great tension and turmoil among the people, because while some Americans stand firm in their loyalty to the crown of England, others wish to claim their independence from the rules, regulations, and taxes held under British law.  In spite of the talk of war, many find they must soon make a choice regarding where they will stand.  Some want to believe that peace is the answer, yet peace only comes when there is true freedom and when the people of one country can agree on its government.  At present, there are too many ideas discussed, and there are too many individuals who do not agree with each other.  The Sons of Liberty and the Loyalists dispute about the ways the colonists should live their lives and violence begins to erupt amongst the people of Charles Town.  

Louis Lestarjette decides to embark upon his own journey as he leaves his beloved Paris to set sail for America.  He believes this new land will give him an opportunity to start over and will also give him a chance to make a profit in his business ventures.  His aunt and uncle own a mercantile in Charles Town, and he hopes to set up a deal with his uncle that will ensure a continuous trade between him and his brother, who still lives in France.  French goods in his uncle’s store should turn a profit, since so many colonists are not wanting to buy British wares.  However, Louis could never envision the challenges he would encounter during his stay in Charles Town.  While he wants to live a carefree life by using the knowledge from his business training, God has other plans.  New friends, a mysterious girl, and trouble among the colonists change his plans in ways he never desired.  Perhaps though these new plans will give Louis the life he never thought possible.  Will Louis embrace these changing dreams or will he abandon life’s unforeseen possibilities?  

Elizabeth Elliot lives in a household that is loyal to King George.  Yet Elizabeth is uncertain about what she believes.  Women do not typically concern themselves with political matters, but it does not mean they do not see or understand what is taking place around them.  In spite of what she hears on a daily basis from her father, Elizabeth finds herself on an opposite platform.  As she begins to see the views from those opposed to the crown, she believes the American people have been mistreated by the king.  Her thoughts are muddled by those she loves and by the man her father wants her to marry—a British soldier.  Life becomes even more complicated when she meets a young Frenchman named Louis.  Private French lessons turn into a friendship that Elizabeth never considered and love takes her by surprise.  Will Elizabeth give her heart to a man that is opposed tp or loyal to the teachings of her father?  Or will she be brave enough to make up her own mind and take a stand for all she holds dear?  

This book was brilliantly composed and held true to the historical facts of the day.  Interestingly, there really was a Louis Lestarjette and an Elizabeth Elliot.  It was wonderful to note that the author researched this information, and the short fact section at the end of the text relays this evidence.
I love historical novels, and this book was no exception.  It was interesting to consider the opposing views of the Frenchman and the British, and to see how desperately Louis wanted to remain neutral.  After all, his purpose in Charles Town was only to help further his own career and personal goals.  However, he finds that it becomes too difficult to remain in this line of thinking.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live in early America.  How did one decide where his or her loyalty would remain?  If one had family in England, how did you break those ties?  And yet, if you were searching for a new or better life, would you decide to go against the laws of your homeland?  We are truly indebted to the colonists—what brave people.  Their choices began the start of America and the great land we love today.  Never forget the sacrifices of others.  This interesting tale reminded me of this very fact, and it also introduced me to a myriad of lively historical characters that would be lovely to know in real life.  

If you are looking for a great historical read, I highly recommend reading this book.  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Singing Librarian Books for my copy. 

About The Book

*Louis Lestarjette, a Frenchman, arrives in Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1772 without purpose or plans. He encounters a society on the brink of revolution and is forced to make decisions that include finding meaning and direction in his carefree life. Who can he trust in his endeavors to prosper? Will he be able to stay neutral in a battle for independence? When decisive events confront him, will he stay or leave? Running from God and commitment is a constant option.

Elizabeth Elliott, daughter of a prominent British citizen, believes God will hold her close in uncertain and changing times. Faced with making difficult decisions about her loyalties, she finds comfort in close friends, a devout sister, and her music. When the mysterious Frenchman with no commitment to God or Charles Town enters her life, her role in the political battle is challenged. Can she trust her heart in volatile situations?

Set in pre-revolution Charles Town, Hold Me Close takes the reader into the lives of immigrants, ordinary citizens, and prominent historical figures at a time in which decisions are made that will change the world.

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.

About The Author 

Marguerite Martin Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Recently, she received a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband and Cleo, her cat, in Abilene, Texas.
Visit her online at:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Haven On Orchard Lane - My Review

Lawana Blackwell's novel A Haven on Orchard Lane is set in Victorian London and tells the story of the renowned actress, Charlotte Ward, who finds she must suddenly change her own present course in life.  Charlotte's life has taken many turns, some which she deeply regrets, until one day desperate measures must be taken in order to care for her sanity and safety. 

Her marriage to Lord Fosberry is composed of only stabs to her heart from the man she thought she once knew.  Lord Fosberry's attitude and character only derail Charlotte; therefore, she must take refuge someplace else.  But where?  And does she have the courage to leave behind all she knows?  Her life in London was glamorous, but can she lead that life anymore?  Sudden surprises place obstacles in Charlotte's life as she embarks upon a journey she never thought would satisfy her soul. 

Miss Rosalind Kent enjoys teaching children.  Although, the hours of her young life were spent in many moments of misery.  Her aunt was quite strict and governed her every move--including the friends she made and the boys she associated herself with.  This life was due to the fact that her mother had given her up, which is something Rosalind never quite got over.  In truth, she began to forget about her mother, since she had forgotten her.  She never guessed her mother might one day need her, or that she would come to her rescue.  Why would she ever feel any empathy after all?

Jude Pearce owns the small town bookshop.  His dog Jinny welcomes each customer that comes through the door, and Jude honestly finds he enjoys recommending various books, based on his own literary knowledge, to the locals.  After a young woman comes in one day requesting science-fiction books, Jude realizes in an instant how quickly his life could change.  Will Jude embrace this new wonderful opportunity in front of him?  Or will he let jealousy and mistrust govern his thoughts and actions? 

There are so many colorful characters throughout the pages of this book.  So many, that I ended up having to highlight each one, so that I could keep them all straight.  The Victorian era is my favorite literary era, so I was very excited to read this text.  The overall plot was interesting and reminiscent of the time period; however, I did find that because there were so many subplots, it overshadowed the main purpose of the text.  The "soap opera" act of moving from scene to scene rather quickly made certain parts a bit confusing, which at times made for a lack of fluidity to the piece.  There were moments when I also wondered why certain information was included, and in doing so, I forgot where the story needed to ultimately end up--rescuing Charlotte. 

As I stated, I love the Victorian era, but I did not always feel that time period, because the language and events did not seem historically set.  Apart from the mention of a lord and lady, this story could have taken place in America or even England at a later date. 

Overall, I still enjoyed this novel, because I was happy to read another book from Lawana Blackwell.  I read her Gresham Chronicles series years ago and fell in love with her characters.  I highly recommend that series to anyone who loves reading stories set in England.  This book, A Haven on Orchard Lane, is perfect for anyone who loves long novels and wishes the story would never end.  There is even an Epilogue included at the end of this text to further highlight the futures of these detailed characters.  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for my copy. 

About The Book 

*Famed actress Charlotte Ward stepped away from the Victorian London stage fiver years ago.  Now in desperate circumstances, she tries to restart her career--only to experience a complete collapse.  Against her better judgement, Charlotte's estranged daugher, Rosalind, comes to her mother's rescue and moves her to a quiet English coastal village where her mother can evade the gossip columnists, at least for a time.  

Charlotte is grateful to re-establish even tenuous family ties with Rosalind.  As one with regrets over her own romantic past, she's happy to see love blossom for her daughter.  For Rosalind, however, it's time away from teaching, and now she must care for the mother who wasn't there for her.  And what could possibly be more complicated than romance?  

But there can be no permanent escape from the threats of recent months.  As the privacy they seek is threatened, mother an daughter must make some difficult decisions--ones that jeopardize those they care about most.      

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.

About The Author

Lawana Blackwell has thirteen published novels to her credit, many of them set in the English countryside of the nineteenth century.  She and her husband live in Frisco, Texas.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender - My Review

Melanie Dickerson's book The Beautiful Pretender is an elegant read.  Germany's medieval period captures the pages of this book as dukes and earls begin to grace each scene.  Of course, all dukes and earls are not as noble as one might think, and the reader soon discovers this fact within the first few chapters.  An introduction to one of the main characters, Avelina, who is the maidservant of the daughter of an earl--Lady Dorothea daughter of the Earl of Plimmwald--displays this very truth. 

Lady Dorothea's very nature considers only herself, and through a series of events, her maidservant soon finds she has been given direct orders from the earl.  This task throws Avelina into the presence of individuals she would normally not associate with, and she soon discovers how strong she can be.  Her fears must not outweigh the duty she is called for, yet somehow events do not go as seamlessly as she would have hoped.  Avelina discovers her own heart might win in the end but at a cost that is too dear to pay. 

This book was a wonderful surprise, because one might think it is only a typical romance story; however, there is so much more to this text.  Each turn of the page opened up different possibilities for various characters, and it was impossible to guess the ending fate for each individual.  Impending romance turns to a life being threatened, and a murderer roaming the halls of the castle.  Misunderstandings become moments of trust and distrust, and villages are not safe, because good and evil is on the rise. 

The male lead, the Margrave of Thornbeck, must find a bride, but who can he trust?  Each lady he meets has a secret agenda, in order to win his hand, but are they really suited for the task of being the wife of a margrave?  Reinhart must quickly discern the characters of those around him as he seeks to find a godly wife.  Yet more adventures are in store for this margrave, when he begins to understand the wicked hearts of those around him.  He has lost so much in his life.  Will he lose the one he loves too?  Or will he surrender his pride in order for good to prevail in the end? 

If you love historical novels, I highly recommend this book.  I so wanted to know what happened at every changing event!  And it was definitely a book that I could not put down.  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for my copy.

About The Book

*The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast.  He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king's approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character. 

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margraves doesn't select her as his bride.  Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught.  No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea. 

Despite Avelina's best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice.  And try as she might, she can't deny her own growing feelings.  But something else is afoot in the castle.  Something sinister that could have far worse--far deadlier--consequences. 

*Synopsis is from the back cover of the novel.

About The Author

Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist, and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama. 
Visit her online at: