Scandal of the Year by Laura Lee Guhrke

Title: Scandal of the Year

Author: Laura Lee Guhrke

Genre: Historical Romance

About: (Pub. synopsis) Being jilted. It’s awful for a guy. Especially if you’re a duke, and your fiancée left you for that other duke, the one who came back from Egypt just before your wedding. Humiliating, right?  But what if you managed to recover, got engaged to another girl, and then got jilted again, this time because of a notorious woman, a lot of champagne, and a mome…more

My thoughts: When the first book (Wedding of the Season) of this series ended I wondered about a couple of the characters:  Why did Aidan give up so easily; Would Julia find happiness?  I hoped my questions would be answered in the second book and was happy to find that Scandal of the Year is the story of Aidan and Julia.

As you would expect, Laura Lee Guhrke’s main characters are more fully developed than they were in the first book.  I came to appreciate the reasons for their actions as the author let us in on their lives. There is a lot of push and pull between Aidan and Julia.  Aidan is a true gentleman – honorable and quite devoted once his trust is gained.  Julia has hidden behind a bold and happy facade for many years.  She doesn’t want anyone to know how frightened she has been and how horrible and abusive her marriage was.

Ms.Guhrke brings Aidan and Julia together slowly.  I was glad about that.  In book one they seemed to abhor each other but in this book we find they have a history and there were reasons for their previous behavior.  If you’re an impatient reader you may get frustrated and wonder if things will work out for these two.  You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Recommend? If you enjoy historical romance I think you’ll like this series!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: HarperCollins/Avon via NetGalley

Wedding of the Season by Laura Lee Guhrke

Title: Wedding of the Season

Author: Laura Lee Guhrke

Genre: Historical Romance

About: (Pub. synopsis) Lady Beatrix Danbury has always known she would marry William Mallory. She’d loved him forever, and she’d never doubted he loved her, too. But when she made him choose between their life together and his lifelong dream, Will chose the latter, and left two weeks before their wedding.

Will has no illusions that Beatrix will welcome him back with open arms, but six years has not diminished his love or his desire for her. The only problem is that she’s about to marry someone else. Someone safe and predictable… the complete opposite of Will. But can he stop the wedding of the season and win Beatrix back, or is it just too late?

My thoughts: I think what I  liked most about this novel is the era – early 1900s England.  There are Daimler motorcars and women might wear trousers while driving.  In fact, some women are pushing the limits that society has placed on them regarding such things as smoking, drinking or having a job.  Beatrix is a bit of a modern woman but she still feels the pull of family responsibilities and expectations.

Will, however, was tired of family demands and decided to follow his own dreams of archeology in Egypt.  When Beatrix refused to marry him if it meant leaving England, Will left without her.  Six years passed and Will returned to find Beatrix planning her wedding to another man.

There are  misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and bitterness about the past but (this isn’t a spoiler because it’s a historical romance) Guhrke’s characters eventually find their way to a happy ending.  Although the novel wrapped up neatly, it left me wondering about a couple of characters.  I think the next book in the series may answer my questions.

Source: HarperCollins/Avon via NetGalley

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle

The Life You've Imagined

Anna, Cami and Amy were classmates in Haven, Michigan.  Before they graduated Amy photocopied a magazine clipping meant to inspire and gave a copy to her two friends:  “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you’ve imagined.”   More than fifteen years later the three find themselves thrown together again and life is definitely not what they’d imagined.

Anna is staying with her mother Maeve while on bereavement leave from her Chicago law firm.  Cami has returned to her father’s home after a breakup caused by her secret addiction.  Amy never left Haven and is looking forward to her wedding day.  All three have serious issues that need to be faced before they can move forward.  The young women  become almost unwitting accomplices in helping each other gain the confidence necessary to make positive changes in their lives.  Another character  needing to move forward is Maeve.  She was abandoned by her husband twenty years earlier and still holds on to the hope of his return.  Life is changing for her too.  Her lease has been cancelled leaving her without a job and a place to live. At fifty-two she has to figure out a new future.

Each chapter is from a different perspective rotating between the four main characters.  I liked that because it gave me a better understanding of each woman and allowed the author to fully unfold their history.  The voices are distinctive and move the story forward at a good pace.    When I finished reading the book I  felt satisfied with how the author wrapped things up.

I enjoy novels about small towns and the people who live there.  The Life You’ve Imagined did not disappoint.  I look forward to reading more from Kristina Riggle.

Review copy from HarperCollins

Knit in Comfort by Isabel Sharpe

Knit in Comfort: A Novel by Isabel Sharpe

Goodreads synopsis:
Because of her father’s belief that he was always “this close” to striking it rich, Megan Morgan grew up moving every few years, following her father’s bliss. In a moment of her own recklessness, Megan puts her foot down in senior year of high school-accepting a marriage proposal rather than move again.

Now, twenty years later, stability hasn’t given Megan all she imagined it would. Comfort, North Carolina is a tight-knit community, but Megan has never felt like she truly fit in. Sure, she does all the knitting and lace-making that the other ladies do, but she’s always felt a step apart. It takes the arrival of a new tenant to open Megan’s eyes to the true possibilities of a life in Comfort. But now that she knows what she could have, is she too late?

* * * * * * *

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book. Southern atmosphere, a knitting group of women in their 30s who’ve known each other most of their lives, and a stranger who stirs things up while searching for a few answers in her own life all make for a good story.

Change is in the humid, fragrant air and I felt like I was right there watching it all start to play out. Isabel Sharpe wrote wonderful dialogue for her characters. I loved the fable that she worked into the novel. It’s a story Megan’s mother told her when Megan was going through a rough time in her teens. Her life, in a way, is a bit like the story – but which character is she? Five years into her marriage Megan discovered a secret but because she so desired stability, she decided to keep the secret. She decided to act as if it didn’t exist. Little by little that secret has taken something, her joy, from her life.

Elizabeth is the stranger who comes to Comfort after dreaming about her grandmother who told her to look for comfort. Elizabeth is looking for answers in her life so she grabs that dream and runs with it. She rents Megan’s garage apartment which also includes dinner each evening with the family. Little by little she is drawn into Megan’s life. One part of her life is the Purls – the knitting group comprised of Megan’s high school friends. Elizabeth is accepted as a new member and, ready or not, she asks questions that they never would have asked – and they answer. She moves them out of their comfort zone. She learns from them as well. Yes, change is in the air.

At the end I was happy to find an informative Q&A with the author.

Review copy from HarperCollins