Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano ~ Review

Lucie's Review:

Raina Bretton is a rag woman on the streets of London, things begin to seemingly look up when a stranger offers her a position working at Rothburne Abbey. But the glamour of her new position is not what it seems, and the mansion holds secrets that threaten her future.

The dangerous gleam of deception is spinning a deadly web, will Raina be able to escape before it's too late?

A suspenseful gothic adventure, that builds in tension as the story's yarns become more and more complex. Raina is a competent young woman, struggling to survive on the streets of London, the only person she an count on is her sailor friend, Sully who is dodging unfair legal charges.

Raina walks a fine line in a world of glitz and deception, playing a role while looking for answers in order to protect the one whom she holds dear. The story keeps you guessing right along with the characters, as the stakes raise and the suspense tightens. Sully is a Godsend, yet he puts Raina in even more danger with his legal complications and her position at Rotherburne.

Overall, a highly enjoyable gothic novel, perfect for fans of Jane Eyre or Jessica Dotta. Spellbindingly suspenseful, with compelling characters that keep you guessing, at the edge of your seat. Engaging with simmering suspense, I didn't know who to trust, or what would happen next. High quality read, definitely recommend!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Across a War-Tossed Sea by L.M. Elliott ~ Review

My Review:

Brothers Charlie and Wesley have been evacuated from England to rural Virginia, to live with an American family. In this coming of age tale they come to terms with their time in America while facing differences in culture in regards to sports, segregation, race, and the war coming in its own form to American shores.

Across a War-Tossed Sea is a unique WWII coming of age tale of two British brothers evacuated to American soil to wait out the war.

Charlie is the older of the brothers, he is good natured, good at sports, and tries his best to put on a brave face for his younger brother. He wants to fight for his country, like some of his older mates who are serving.

Wesley is the younger, and my favorite of the brothers. He looks up to his older brother, and does his best to be brave away from his parents, and facing bullies. He has a youthful innocence and honesty about him that made him more relatable to me personally. I like his friendship with Freddy and how he does his best to fix the conflict between himself and Ron.

A coming of age tale of two British boys waiting out the war in Virginia. The author does a good job of contrasting the boys with their American peers, as well as showing their dislike of being an ocean away and feeling helpless to serve their country. A quick historical read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Undercover Twin by Heather Woodhaven ~ Review

Lucie's Review:

Electrical Engineer Audrey Clark wasn't looking for espionage or a covert operation when she stumbled upon her twin sister. Separated at birth they never knew that the other existed, until now.

Audrey's FBI agent sister is shot, and Audrey is swept into her world by pretending to be the sister that she never knew in order to keep her safe. Agent Lee Benson is tasked with keeping Audrey safe in their dangerous game of pretend.

Audrey was raised by academics, as has excelled in the tech sciences, she knows there's more to life than science can explain. Audrey is used to playing things safe, and doesn't like to take risks, but her determination and willingness to see things through in tough situations pays off. She learns that she is braver than she ever thought, as she works alongside Lee to infiltrate the network that is putting their country at risk.

Lee has been working undercover for years, and he's gotten a little too comfortable living the high life, and has never taken his faith seriously until now. He is cool under pressure and skilled at taking calculated risks. He want justice for his friend, and doesn't want to lose this one chance to take down the entire corrupt network.

Overall, an engaging read with a suspenseful high stakes plot. I love how Lee and Audrey must use their wits to survive a deadly game. Highly enjoyable, with great dialogue and intriguing characters. I didn't want to put this one down!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Fatal Strike by DiAnn Mills ~ Review

Lucie's Review:

FBI Agents Leah Riesel and Jon Colbert are tasked with bringing down the killer who is on the loose in Galveston, injecting their victims with poisonous venom.

Their best lead runs cold when their main suspect goes into hiding, and the murders halt.

Can they pick up the threads of a case that seems to have gone cold and bring the killer to justice.

This engaging suspense is a slow burn, but don't let that fool you, this riveting read still packs a mighty punch. The arc of the story follows the steps of the investigation, as Leah and Jon work together to solve the mystery, learning about each other as they work the case. The reader is left to guess right along with Jon and Leah, as they interview suspects, follow leads, and learn to appreciate each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Leah and Jon are both alpha types who are used to taking the lead, and don't put up with nonsense, with an unswerving dedication to their jobs. Leah has worked hard to earn the respect of her peers, and hates showing any vulnerabilities. Jon is a natural leader, confident and comfortable with listening to other ideas. As they work together they find a unique friendship, that lets them let down their guards in a way they never have before. Jon has been thinking more and more about his faith since a tragic accident that ended his previous career.

Overall, an engaging read with great character development and excellent pacing. Even though they aren't dodging bullets every chapter, this book is no less riveting and captures the ups and downs of following a lead, all laying the groundwork for an explosive conclusion. Highly recommend this well crafted read, compelling, romantic, suspenseful, with great themes of faith and characters that you can cheer for!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden ~ Review

My Review:

Farm-raised, Kansas native, and Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin is swept into a world of conspiracy, food adulteration, and politics when she meets self-made man Grey Delacroix the head of a sizable spice empire.

Grey has labored for years to build his business, foregoing a college education he travelled across the world collecting the most rare plants and learning how to cultivate them on foreign soil. He is smitten with the young Smithsonian botanist, with the gumption to ask him to donate his plant collection. But the enchantingly cheerful, passionate woman who brings light into his life, is also the one who can bring everything that matters crashing down.

I've never met an Elizabeth Camden that I didn't love, and this one is no exception. Incredibly well written as well as researched, set at the turn of the 20th century, when food impurities were at a dangerous high due to few laws regulating disclosure and safety, this novel introduces the passionate and principled Delacroix family. I love how Ms. Camden brings the politics and advances of bygone eras to life in a way that brings new appreciation for the things that we take for granted everyday.

Grey has worked hard for his success, he has devoted much of his life to his business in order to provide for his younger siblings Luke and Caroline, whom he practically raised. But underneath his intimidating outer layers, he is a man who is deeply loyal to his family and who has the grace and determination to keep growing, and always strive for better whether in his business or personal life. I admired his devotion to his siblings, he always wants the best for them, and there is no distance he would not go for them.

Annabelle brings a bright enthusiasm wherever she goes, she is passionate about learning new things, is devoted to her sister and her country. She always is encouraging others to find joy in the everyday. Despite disappointments, she always tries to look on the bright side, she relies on her faith to hold her fast as she struggles to provide for herself and her sister, as well as to serve her country even if it means betraying a friend.

Luke and Caroline shine as Grey slowly begins to see the man and woman that they have grown up to be in their own rights, each blessed with a double dose of charm. Both are so much more than they appear at a single glance.

Overall, an absolutely thrilling introduction to what is sure to be a fantastic trilogy, I already love Luke and Caroline! Annabelle is faced with many hard choices, as she fights to stay true to her beliefs and her family. I loved the glimpse into life at the turn of the century amidst the buzz of the nation's capital, I'd never thought that the Agriculture Administration and the history of food adulteration would be so truly fascinating. Annabelle and Grey have captivating chemistry that leaps from the page, most evident in their engagingly clever dialogue and how their personalities complement each other perfectly. Annabelle's sister Elaine faces her fears and blazes her own trail, not letting her limitations choose for her. A thoroughly riveting read, with heroes who jump from the page, high stakes, faith, and romance. You won't want to miss it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee ~ Review

My Review:
A rolicking adventure set against the backdrop of the American Frontier, filled with humor, friendship and love.

Samantha Young dreams of being a musician in New York, and working in a conservatory, not an easy feat for a Chinese-American young woman. But after her father's dry goods store burns to the ground, killing her father, she narrowly escapes an assault and sets her sights on the western skyline along with her newfound friend Annamae in tow as they race towards freedom. Nothing sticks out more on the trail west than an asian girl and a black girl all by themselves, so they cut their hair and disguise themselves as boys, Sammy and Andy.

Annamae is looking to meet up with her older brother, while Samantha is hoping to catch up to an old friend who is further along up the trail. Along they meet a band of cowboys, who help them on their way.

Samantha is a clever, quick thinking young woman, who makes her way in the shadow of injustice and hardship. I especially enjoyed her dry wit, and astute way of sizing people up, drawing from zodiac lore in describing characters and their personalities.  I love how she recalls advice given her by her family and friends, with a mixture of Chinese proverbs and Scripture as well. Samantha has a gift for music, and the violin speaks to her as another avenue to express herself. I loved her friendship with Annamae, they are opposites in many ways, yet have intersecting goals to escape, yet their strengths and weaknesses compliment each other, as they both grow along their journey.

Annamae is a little older than Samantha, she has grit and determination. She has never ridden a horse before their adventure, but bravely faces her fears head on. I also admired her strong faith and how she encourages others.

The cowboys are just as colorful in character, especially the skirt chaser Cay who will flirt with just about any girl he can find. West is more reserved, yet more observant, coming from a troubled past. While Peety lives and breathes horses, they are his treasured friends and he treats his animals like family.

Overall, a entertaining, humorous adventure, with a strong, quirky heroine, dangerous situations, yet a poignant coming of age tale about family and friendship. I laughed out loud multiple times, held my breath in suspense on the edge of my chair, and even to tears. I didn't want this book to end. Highly recommend this incredibly engaging and unforgettable debut from Stacey Lee.

Content: Some swearing, attempted rape, murder, singing naked, a young man is abused verbally and physically by his father, unmarried couples sleep together. Nothing was described in explicit detail.

Books reviewed are checked out from my local library or purchased with my own money, unless otherwise noted.


Evermore by Jody Hedlund ~ Review

My Review:

Adelaide is stunned to learn that she is one of the lost princesses, and the heir to the throne of Mercia. For seventeen years she has lived with Lord Whelan and Lady Susanna of Langley who raised her alongside their two sons, Christopher and Mitchell, in hiding from the evil King Ethelwulf who killed her father, King Francis.

Christopher left his family years ago, tired of seeing the hypocrisy of Ethelwulf's rule, making a name for himself with the King of Norland. His return coincides with Adelaide's revelation, and a warning from a family friend that Ethelwulf's men are on their way for Adelaide.

Will Adelaide be able to reunite with her sisters, unlock Solomon's treasure, and reclaim her throne, while two noblemen vie for her love?

Adelaide has learned and trained alongside her adopted cousins, gaining knowledge in history, leadership, and even swordsmanship. She is confident and level-headed, with a heart compassionate as she is beautiful.

Christopher is a cool-headed, natural leader, he stays true to his convictions and is very honest. He assumes a strong sense of duty in protecting Adelaide from those who would do her harm.

The first in brand new young adult fairy tale series from Jody Hedlund, featuring strong heroines who must face high stakes in order to regain their kingdom. Thrilling, romantic, engaging, with an admirable heroine who can stand up for herself and do her own fighting, but is also vulnerable and compassionate. This book is much in the style of her Uncertain Choice Series. 

Overall, an engaging read written for a more young adult audience, but that can be enjoyed by any age. I'm excited to see how everything comes together throughout the series. Great tension between the brothers, and growing maturity from Adelaide as she comes into her own as Queen of Mercia. Especially good for fans of her previous Medieval series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


Listening to Love by Beth Wiseman ~ Review

Lucie's Review:

Natalie is an Englischer who has found friends among the Amish, she look forward to Friday nights with Mary and Levi Shetler, and Levi's brother, Lucas. Lucas and Natalie share a love of books and learning, and he explains his faith in a way that she can understand. But as they grow closer, the community becomes concerned that their friendship is on dangerous ground.

But an accident forces Lucas and Natalie to finally confront their feelings for each other, and what a future in each other's lives would mean.

Natalie is studying to be a veterinarian, but she has a fear of blood and there are other aspects of the job that don't appeal to her. She has a passion for animals, and has really grown in her faith by getting to know the Shetlers.

Overall, a sweet, compelling story of family, faith and love. Natalie admires her Amish friends, and her friendship with Lucas is especially dear. Lucas is a strong man of conviction, his faith and family are very important to him. Meanwhile, Natalie's mother is going through a tough divorce and finding her feet again, working for Lucas's parents neighbor. And engaging and easy to read story, with unexpected twists along the way. A story of love, sacrifice, faith and dreams.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.


The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee ~ Review

My Review:

I don't always pay attention to ads, but the cover of this book really intrigued me with it's Asian heroine and historical style of clothing. I've been noticing more and more books with Asian protagonists, which is something I am absolutely thrilled about as an Asian-American woman myself. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and then to find that there are even horses involved, it's like the book was written for me!

Jo Kuan lives with her adoptive father, Old Gin, underneath a struggling Atlanta newspaper whose owners are unaware of their presence. Jo works as a lady's maid for one of the city's wealthiest families, while spending her nights writing the Focus's advice column under the name Miss Sweetie.

Miss Sweetie is provocative, with new ideas that challenge those around her with questions of race and gender roles. Meanwhile she searches for answers to her mysterious parentage, while putting everything she holds dear at risk by getting involved with a notorious trader of secrets.

Jo is a Chinese-American young woman growing up in the aftermath of the Southern Reconstruction, where those of Asian descent have even less rights and are despised more than those who are Black. Jo is hardworking, industrious, with a love for words, and a strong dose of common sense. She is irrepressibly forthright and clever both of which get her into trouble and help her.

A riveting coming of age tale, with distinct and engaging narrative, that shows Jo's wry humor, Southern upbringing, and the influence of Old Gin's Chinese proverbs. As the story progresses, we see that not everyone is what they appear, and long held secrets revealed can change lives. I loved how this book explores a time in history through the eyes of Jo, a minority not commonly acknowledged in historical fiction set in the same time period and place, giving a unique look at Reconstruction Era Atlanta.

Old Gin is the only father Jo has known, he has sacrificed much to raise her and keep her safe, often telling her truths wrapped in proverbs or fables. Noemi is a talented, and determined young woman with big dreams of a better future. Nathan Bell is a forward thinking young man, who challenges himself to look at the story from different angles.

A thoroughly engaging read from beginning to end, I didn't want to put it down! Ms. Lee does an excellent job of crafting complex characters against the backdrop of a young nation fighting for women's rights, turning a blind eye to rampant racism. Secrets whisper, to life in this stunning novel from Stacey Lee, a story about coming of age, equality, courage, truth, secrets, daring, and love. Strong themes of family run through this novel, as well as sacrifice, love and the courage to stand up for yourself. You won't regret picking this one up!

Books reviewed are checked out from my local library or purchased with my own money, unless otherwise noted.


Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin ~ Review

My Review:

Lillian Avery has fought hard for a chance to prove herself, and now that the men are away at war she might finally have the chance to use her degree as a Pharmacist. Her first job is at a small drug store whose owner is set in his old fashioned ways, when she sees suspiciously large prescriptions rolling through, she begins to question the sources.

Archie Vandenburg has lived a privileged life as the heir to a considerable fortune, but he left the expectations of his family and socialite girlfriend to prove himself by serving in the Navy. But a terrible loss of life at sea has left him shaken, and he sees that his men seem to have similar struggles that they are masking with a form of drug use. He is drawn to his best friend's sister, Lillian, but she wants nothing to do with him. He wants to help his men, and finally he convinces Lillian to work together with him to connect the dots.

Sarah Sundin has woven another riveting novel honoring the men and women who sacrificed for our country. Lillian is determined to prove herself indispensable after finally landing a job as a pharmacist, she has never been one to let life's setbacks hold her down. Archie is drawn to her intelligence  as well as her indifference to his charm and wealth.

Archie and Lillian are both very compelling characters, I especially admired Lillian's go-get-em attitude, as well as her determination to cheer up Mr. Dixon's store. Lillian is clever and has worked hard to earn her accomplishments. She is also brave in the face of danger. Archie is a strong Christian, and works to live his faith in the trying times of war.

Fast paced, with excellent character development, mystery, and an explosive ending. I love the close knit Avery family and how protective Jim is of his little sister, and how they welcome Archie right away. A mystery that kept me guessing throughout, with great character growth. I've never met a Sarah Sundin book that I didn't love and this is no exception to that. Highly recommend!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.