A Question of Honor by Charles Todd

a question of honor

  • Title:  A Question of Honor: A Bess Crawford Mystery
  • Author:  Charles Todd
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Published:  August 2013 – Wm Morrow
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  I want to begin by saying the Bess Crawford series has become one of my favorites. I like the WWI era, the (mostly) British characters, and the mysteries that Bess seems obligated to solve. I recommend reading the series in order because bits and pieces of Bess’s past are added with each book.

In the newest book, A Question of Honor, we go back to 1908 India when her father, a colonel in the British army, was stationed there. Something occurs back in England  involving one of his regiment that could ultimately hurt the colonel’s reputation as well as leave a black mark on the entire regiment. At that time Bess was fifteen and not privy to any details of what had happened.

Fast-forward to 1918 and we find 25-year-old Bess working as a Sister (British nurse) on the front in France.  One day a dying Indian Sergeant frantically tells Bess something that leads to reopening the unsolved case from 1908. One thing leads to another and Bess is once again working to solve a mystery during her time off back in England.

Bess gets help tracking clues from her father’s assistant Major Simon Brandon as well as her parents. I’ve enjoyed these characters throughout the series. Major Brandon remains a man of mystery with just enough information revealed in this story to make me want to know still more about him. I also hope that he and Bess will realize at some point how perfect they are for one another. I liked the supporting characters, one being Rudyard Kipling, and how they factored into the mystery. The settings of India, France and England were easy to visualize from the detailed descriptions. The case is solved, of course, and I thought it interesting and believable.

If you enjoy British mysteries and this particular era you’ll want to read A Question of Honor.

A Return Engagement by Stephanie Laurens

a return engagement (edelweiss)

  • TItle:  A Return Engagement
  • Author:  Stephanie Laurens
  • Genre:  Historical Romance novella
  • Published:  August 2013 – Avon Impulse
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Previously appeared in the anthology Royal Bridesmaids.

Everyone’s eyes are on a royal couple, but there is more behind the scenes than they’ll ever know.

Lady Nell Daughtry is certain her sister will be a perfect princess, if only she gets the reluctant bride safely to the church to marry Prince Frederick of Lautenberg.

But what she doesn’t know is that, in the wedding party, she’s been paired with her former fiancé, Robert Knightly … and now she’ll be face-to-face with the man who walked away. (publisher)

My take: In this delightful novella Stephanie Laurens begins with the arrival of the wedding party but quickly shifts the spotlight to the bride’s sister Nell and the groom’s confidant Robert – a British diplomat.  They share an unresolved past from nine years earlier.

Since many years have gone by the two are now more mature and confident so they quickly get to the point of figuring out what happened. They spend a good deal of time alone – made possible by trying to prevent a family curse from making the panicky bride-to-be call off the wedding. Nell and Robert soon discover they still have feelings for each other.

A Return Engagement has a fairytale-like quality that made the novella a charming and quick read. I’d love to read more about Nell and Robert!

The Trouble With Being a Duke by Sophie Barnes

the trouble with being a duke

  • Title:  The Trouble With Being a Duke (#1 At The Kingsborough Ball)
  • Author:  Sophie Barnes
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  August 2013 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  The Trouble With Being a Duke is the first in a new series by Sophie Barnes. I found it to be light and entertaining for the most part. I enjoyed the main characters. Anthony is rather new at being the Duke of Kingsborough but he shows great promise in his ability to fill his late father’s shoes. Isabella is delightful and fairly self-assured. Anthony is smitten almost at first sight of Isabella at his family’s masquerade ball. The attraction is mutual but she can’t allow him to find out her true identity. 

Isabella leaves the ball with Anthony wondering who she really is and where she lives. A search ensues the following day. A Cinderella story if there ever was one! It was fun seeing how the Duke handled the obstacles he found in his way as he tried to find their happily-ever-after.

I think most fans of light-hearted historical romance will enjoy this book. There’s a bit of drama but mostly it’s as light and sweet as cotton candy.

I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan

I'll be seeing you

  • Title:  I’ll Be Seeing You
  • Authors:  Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  May 2013 – Harlequin MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  In 1943, Gloria Whitehall, a young wife and mother from Rockport, Massachusetts and Rita Vincenzo, also a wife and mother from Iowa City, Iowa, become pen pals when their husbands (and Rita’s son) go off to war. Through good times and bad they become each other’s confidante and advisor.

Gloria (Glory) is in her early 20s and quite wealthy. Rita is almost 41 and the wife of a college professor. Despite their obvious differences the two form a treasured bond.

The novel is epistolary – a style I always enjoy. Through their letters the reader learns how life was on the home front – in Iowa and Massachusetts. Included in many letters are recipes the women exchanged with the appropriate ingredient substitutions that were required in wartime.

The reader also learns the personal turmoil experienced by both women. Life wasn’t a 1940s wartime movie for Glory and Rita, that’s for certain. Authors Nyhan and Hayes found a balance between the everyday and the dramatic that kept me anxious to pick the book up each day. I had to know what was new in Rita and Glory’s life – that’s a sure sign of a good book.

I really liked I’ll Be Seeing You and recommend it to fans of the era and epistolary novels.

Note:  If you’re like me, you’ll want to have a box of tissues nearby when you get to the end.

Gwynneth Ever After by Linda Poitevin

gwynneth ever after

  • Title:  Gwynneth Ever After
  • Author:  Linda Poitevin
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  June 2013 – Michem Publishing
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Gwynneth is a thirty-something single mom of three. Garreth is a forty-something international film star from Wales. The two meet by chance and strike up a friendship.

When they both feel the friendship becoming more Gwynneth gets cold feet – quite opposite from how he feels. But she doesn’t want to risk her children getting used to him in their lives only to have him leave – like their father did.

Can she convince herself that Garreth is different from her ex-husband? Will they all find a happily-ever-after? You’ll have to read Gwynneth Ever After to find out! I enjoyed Linda Poitevin’s novel. It’s a light, fast, and entertaining romance.

Mailbox Monday

Even though I’m technically still on my August break I wanted to check in with a book I received today. I’ll be on the tour in late September for Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson. The cover alone makes me want to read it!

blackmoore Synopsis:  Kate Worthington knows she can never have her heart’s desire and so believes she will never marry. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore on the cliffs above the seashore, where she must face the truth and the man that has kept her heart captive.

Set in northern England, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn to follow her heart.  (publisher)

Last Chance Summer: A Short Story by Hope Ramsay

last chance summer

  • Title:  Last Chance Summer: A Short Story
  • Author:  Hope Ramsay
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Series
  • Published:  August 2013 – Forever Yours
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  It wouldn’t be summer without the Watermelon Festival, and single mom Amanda Wright is looking forward to a carefree day eating funnel cakes and sipping sweet tea. But with her inquisitive son and elderly grandmother in tow, she’s not in the mood for carnival rides or the kissing booth, until she hears a charming, funny voice over the loudspeaker. 

Grant Trumbull is the new DJ at the local radio station, and his deep, booming cadence has all the ladies of the church auxiliary atwitter. Even without seeing his face, Amanda can’t help but wonder if he’s the one for her. When she finally comes face to face with the man behind the mic, summer is about to get a whole lot hotter in little Last Chance, South Carolina. (publisher)

My take:  Last Chance Summer is a short story about Amanda Wright, her young son, and her grandmother who spend the day at the Watermelon Festival. It’s an annual event that the community of Last Chance, South Carolina look forward to the entire year.

When Amanda’s grandmother and then her son both go missing Amanda is beside herself with worry. Everyone looks for the pair and the new radio DJ who’s been broadcasting at the Festival all morning becomes part of the search. Like it or not, Amanda is about to meet the man with the attractive voice on the radio.

This is a very short story that ends on an abrupt, high note. Last Chance Summer is like a cold glass of sweet tea on a hot summer day. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of the Last Chance series.

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

finding colin firth

  • Title:  Finding Colin Firth
  • Author:  Mia March
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  July 2013 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Start with three unsettled women, add an attractive coastal Maine setting, throw in a possibility of meeting Colin Firth while he’s in town making a movie – what you’ve got is a sweet and tasty novel. Oh, there’s pie too!

Gemma is young woman, in town for a girls’ weekend, who’s just found out she’s pregnant. She’s not sure how to feel about that and is reluctant to share the news with her husband. She just lost her job at a New York newspaper and feels adrift. He thinks its the perfect time to start a family and move to the suburbs. When offered the chance to write a story for the local paper she grabs it and extends her stay in Boothbay Harbor. The topic of the story is the 50th Anniversary of Hope Home, a local home for pregnant teens.

Bea is a twenty-two year old from Boston. She received a letter from her deceased mother a year after her death telling Bea that she was adopted. Shocking news, to be sure. Being out of a job and an apartment, the timing is good for Bea to go to the town listed on her actual birth certificate – Boothbay Harbor.  Her birth mother left information with the adoption agency should Bea ever try to find her. Not sure what she’ll find, she heads to Maine.

Veronica, in her late thirties, works at a diner in Boothbay Harbor. She also makes amazing pies that usually have a desired effect on those who believe. She’s travelled the country and has only been back in her hometown for a year, ready to face her past. She’d always hoped, but didn’t expect, her daughter would find her. When she does, she’s not sure what to do.

As the three women navigate their changing situations they learn to give themselves time and space. The three are fairly confident in wanting to do what’s right for themselves and those close to them. I liked how each eventually asserted herself in finding the right way (for her) to handle things.

Finding Colin Firth is an entertaining novel. It’s light enough in tone yet has plenty of substance, and hey, there’s pie 🙂 Do they find Colin Firth? You’ll have to read to find out!

Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber

Rose Harbor in Bloom

  • Title:  Rose Harbor in Bloom  (Rose Harbor, #2)
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  August 2013 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Jo Marie Rose purchased the Rose Harbor Inn after the death of her husband.  She dreamed that he told her it would be a place of healing – for her as well as guests.

In the second book of the Rose Harbor Inn series Jo Marie continues to deal with her grief. She also knows that she must go on so she tries her best to put one foot in front of the other. Her days are filled with greeting her guests:  a young event planner trying to forget her two-timing ex-fiancé by planning a party for her grandparents; the grandparents who bicker more than one would expect for a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary; and a quiet woman who is appears to be dealing with illness.

In addition to having a full house for the weekend, Jo Marie is readying the Inn for an open house the following week. As if she wasn’t feeling flustered enough with all the preparations, her abrasive handyman Mark injures himself in a fall and won’t have the rose garden ready for the event. Jo Marie has figured out how to deal with Mark’s rough demeanor: give it right back to him. It was fun to watch the two fall into a rhythm of verbal give and take. I wonder what the author has in store for these two!

I’m finding Jo Marie’s journey through grief to be emotional and relatable. I could identify with her feelings and think anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one will do the same. I love the way Debbie Macomber tells a story and this is another winner. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

the last original wife

  • Title: The Last Original Wife
  • Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
  • Genre: Contemporary Fiction
  • Narrator: Robin Miles
  • Published: June 2013 – HarperAudio
  • Source: Purchased

My take:  When Leslie falls into an unmarked manhole while following her husband, his best friend and his new wife (who happens to be half Leslie’s age) down a street in Edinburgh and they all fail to notice – that is the first sign that she is no longer cherished. The second sign is when her husband leaves her hospital room to play his planned round of golf at the Old Course.

When Leslie and Wesley (no, really) return to Atlanta she decides to put some space between them and accepts her brother’s offer to stay at his Charleston home while he’s in Italy. While away from her family Les does a lot of thinking about her relationship with her husband of 30 years and whether she wants to stay in the marriage. She also considers her two grown children and how they take her for granted as much as their father. What Les needs most is the courage to put herself first for once.

I laughed a lot but Dorothea Benton Frank addressed some serious issues as well. I can’t say I related to Les and Wes’s marriage problems but I’m about the same age as Les and think that’s what made me like her all the more! It’s the first of Frank’s books I’ve read so I’m happy to see she has a nice back list.

Narration: After reading a few reviews on Audible I understand some southerners took issue with the narrator’s accent. I’m not from the south so I couldn’t tell you if the narration is correct in accent or not but Robin Miles’ performance kept me listening and walking (and often laughing). I was thoroughly entertained.

Spotlight on: This Girl by Colleen Hoover (US Giveaway)

this girlColleen Hoover’s New York Times bestselling Slammed series has brought countless readers to their knees with a whirlwind of love, passion, and heartache. Layken and Will’s love has managed to withstand the toughest of circumstances and the young lovers, now married,  are beginning to feel safe and secure in their union. As much as Layken relishes their new life together, she finds herself wanting to know everything there is to know about her husband, even though Will makes it clear he prefers to keep the painful memories of the past where they belong. Still, he can’t resist his wife’s pleas and so he begins to untangle his side of the story, revealing for the first time his most intimate feelings and thoughts, retelling both the good and bad moments, and sharing a few shocking confessions of his own from the time when they first met.

In This Girl, Will tells the story of their complicated relationship from his point of view. Their future rests on how well they deal with the past in this final installment of the beloved Slammed series.

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About the author: Colleen Hoover is the New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, Point of Retreat, Hopeless, and This Girl. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys. Please visit ColleenHoover.com.

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Giveaway ends: August 13, 2013 at 6pm EDT

Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak

home to whiskey creek

  • Title:  Home to Whiskey Creek (#4, Whiskey Creek series)
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2013 – Harlequin/MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Sometimes home is the refuge you need – and sometimes it isn’t. Adelaide Davies, who’s been living in Sacramento, returns to Whiskey Creek, the place she once called home. She’s there to take care of her aging grandmother and to help with Gran’s restaurant, Just Like Mom’s. But Adelaide isn’t happy to be back. There are too many people here she’d rather avoid, people who were involved in that terrible June night fifteen years ago. 

Ever since the graduation party that changed her life, she’s wanted to go to the police and make sure the boys responsible—men now—are punished. But she can’t, not without revealing an even darker secret. So it’s better to pretend…. 

Noah Rackham, popular, attractive, successful, is shocked when Adelaide won’t have anything to do with him. He has no idea that his very presence reminds her of something she’d rather forget. He only knows that he’s finally met a woman he could love. (publisher)

My take:  From page one Brenda Novak had me riveted to Addy and Noah’s story. It had such a dark beginning that I wondered how it would resolve by the end. Not to worry, truth will triumph over evil and deceit eventually and Novak’s story showed that to be the case.

The adage The truth will set you free is borne out for Addy as well as (in another storyline) Noah’s best friend Baxter. They discover that the people who really know and love you will always be there for you – no matter what.

Home to Whiskey Creek is a story of friendship, romance, mystery, and forgiveness. It’s a book that could stand on its own but there are many recurring characters from previous books that you may enjoy reading about from the start. Either way, I liked this addition to the Whiskey Creek series and look forward to reading the next.