Tuesday, December 5, 2023

A WINTER BY THE SEA by Julie Klassen, Reviewed by Winnie, Rebecca, and Paula #ReleaseDay

On Devonshire Shores Book #2: 
(A Forced Proximity Historical Regency Romance Novel)


The lovely cover, an intriguing premise, and an author known for writing appealing historical fiction combined to entice me to read this book, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Although it’s the second in a series, it is can be easily read as a standalone book. I’ve read many of Julie Klassen’s stories, and I’m always impressed by her careful historical accuracy and knowledge of the time periods and customs of those times. It allows me to be fully immersed in the story.

Set against the backdrop of the Devonshire coast in 1819, A Winter by the Sea swept me away and kept me engrossed throughout. The characters are carefully drawn and realistic. This book spotlights Emily Summers and James Thomson, the Duke of Kent’s private secretary. When the Duke and Duchess of Kent come to Sidmouth for the winter, the Summers sisters are asked to house some of the royal couple’s staff while they are there. The other Summers sisters, especially Sarah, had fairly large roles in the tale and added depth and interest. I’m looking forward to more about them in the next book in the series.

Based on actual happenings, this tale is entertaining and informative. I enjoyed learning more about this piece of English history. The author’s note in the back of the book provided a look into the author’s research and was very much appreciated.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.4.5 stars

"You will never guess. You are to have royal neighbors!"

Instead of winter providing a quiet respite from the continual demands of guests at their coastal English boarding house, the Summers sisters receive startling news; the Duke and Duchess of Kent, along with their baby daughter, have decided to winter in a neighboring residence and have requested lodging for three of their male staff at Sea View. While the extra income would be welcomed, word has it that the royal coffers are already over-spent. Additionally, James Thomson, the duke's private secretary, quietly catches the attention of Emily Summers with his kind heart, love of fine literature, and ease with words. Quite unexpectedly Emily's past revisits Sidmouth, leaving her no other option but to echo this plea, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all . . . . "

The author's conversational cadence lends an easy-going atmosphere through-out each chapter, even when, or especially when, the characters experience taught, awkward moments alongside tearful, fearful circumstances. Yet, my favorite line rises above all clatter and clamor to announce . . . " . . . kissing the man you loved wasn't like poetry. It was better".

Enjoy this journey along England's beautiful coastline with a family whose tight-knit relationships provide the strength and courage that they need to navigate this particularly unique "winter by the sea".
*I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. I also purchased a copy. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 3.5 stars

A royal visit from a prince.

Master storyteller Julie Klassen has brought reality into this series by giving an account of a royal visit by baby Victoria and her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, to the Village of Sidmouth. I was fascinated by the details of the visit and the pomp associated with it. Ms. Klassen has woven her characters into the lives of the royals and their entourage in an engaging way. The Summers sisters and their mother are hosting several of the household staff of the Duke.

This book showcases Emily Summers and her aspiration to become an author. I was glad to see Mr. Gwilt from book one, had written a book about Parry the Parrot and that Emily was encouraging him to publish the work.

Ah Emily. She has been pining for Charles, an old friend from back home, who she has not heard from in over a year. However, when James, secretary to the Duke, boards with the Summers at Sea View, Emily takes particular notice. She will have to seek God’s will and search her own heart for answers to her confusing emotions.

This was a sweet, engaging story with many interesting details and some exciting and tragic scenes. Especially helpful was a map of the village.

I am looking forward to book three from this English seaside village in 1819.
*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a solid faith thread.


BackCover Blurb:
Royalty comes to Sidmouth, bringing unexpected danger and the sweet possibility of romance. . . .

When the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their daughter--the future Queen Victoria--rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal family's male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they've invited secrets and intrigue into their home.

Meanwhile, Emily Summers longs to become an author. A local publisher offers to consider her novel if she will first write a Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily agrees and begins researching the area with help from the Duke of Kent's handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she's long held dear and her budding dreams for the future.

Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges. 

Bethany House, December, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Monday, December 4, 2023

THE SISTERS OF SEA VIEW by Julie Klassen, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

(On Devonshire Shores Book #1) 
(book #2 releases Dec 5, 2023))

An enchanting story of the Summers family who must give up their home, move to Sidmouth and open a guesthouse when their patriarch dies. Told from each of four sisters points of view, we meet neighbors, guests and the inhabitants of this seaside village. The eldest, Sarah, feels responsible for organizing things and keeps things going. Self conscious Viola, starts to become more social, demonstrating helpfulness and kindness. Emily is good at hospitality, while Georgiana befriends a guest closer to her own age.

Unexpected romance blooms as the girls show their Christian concern for others. They learn valuable lessons such as forgiveness, tolerance, humility and getting along with others. It was delightful to get to know the family as well as the other characters and it is good to know that some guests will be returning in subsequent books. It is always a pleasure to slip back in time to Regency England through the pen of Ms. Klassen.
* I won a copy of this book from Kav Rees at Best Reads blog in 2022. All opinions are my own.* 5 stars and a solid faith thread.

BackCover Blurb:
Some guests have come for a holiday, others for hidden reasons of their own . . .

When their father's death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.

Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family's new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth's many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars--both visible and those hidden deep within--and her cloistered heart will never be the same.

Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings.

Bethany House, December 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook. Buy THE SISTERS OF SEA VIEW at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House


Sunday, December 3, 2023

VEIL OF WINTER (The Dericott Tales #3), by Melanie Dickerson, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

". . . one day she'd become a political pawn, married off to the person of her father's choosing."

It seemed "one day" had arrived, forcing Princess Elyce of Montciel to defy her father's wishes and take a drastic measure to save her people from dominion by King Claude of Valkenfeld. An arranged marriage to the king's nephew would force her people to work in the greedy king's dangerous underground mines. Could Elyce actually feign her death and then escape across snow covered mountains to find aid? It was a risk she was determined to take.

"O God, let me fall asleep. Darkness dragged her down . . . down . . . and sleep over took her."

He didn't exactly know how or why, but of one thing Sir Gerard of Dericott was certain, the unusual vision from God was real; "Go to Montciel. Help Princess Elyce." Upon Gerard's arrival, the princess appeared to be near death, only to miraculously revive in a severely weakened state and in need of protection, something that Gerard was determined to provide.

Gerard and Elyce faced a long, cold, and treacherous journey towards Prague Castle, where they planned to beseech King Wenceslaus, the mighty King of Bohemia and the King of Germany, for his assistance. Along the way, Elyce would also battle her own inhibitions, after having been discouraged and ridiculed for most of her life . . . was there a man of God's own choosing who would love her regardless . . . "God, I believe, she whispered. . . Help my unbelief."
A romantic tale of a "sleeping beauty" with plenty of personality and the knight whose love stood strong amidst seemingly impossible odds. 
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars
BackCover Blurb:
She’s hounded from every side by treacherous elements and foes, but her greatest enemy lies within.

In the mountains near France, the medieval Princess Elyce is being forced to marry, thus forming an alliance that will enrich her father but enslave her kingdom. Instead, she chooses to feign her death and flee to Prague to beg King Wenceslaus to help save her people.

In England, the young knight Sir Gerard has a vision from God instructing him to help Elyce on her quest. When he arrives to find she has been near death for days, he manages to revive her. However, thinking the stranger was trying to kiss her, the princess immediately distrusts him. But her desperate situation forces her to accept his aid.

Pursued by her enemy’s guards over mountainous terrain, they must also battle the deadly winter elements. Her greatest challenge may be to overcome the voices of disapproval and accusation from her childhood. Will her emotions lead her into her true identity, or will they undermine her ability to work with Gerard and to save her people, who desperately need her help?

In this dazzling and romantic story, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson takes the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale to satisfying new heights. 
Thomas Nelson Publishing, June 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Saturday, December 2, 2023

GARDEN OF THE MIDNIGHTS by Hannah Linder, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Author Hannah Linder’s talents shine in this intriguing and fascinating historical romance set in England in the early 1800s. The cover is captivating, and I was pulled into the story from the first pages. The main characters, William and Isabella, were well-drawn and engaging, the villains were dastardly and hiss-worthy, and I was wrung out a few times with the situations and trials Linder put her characters through. I felt such compassion with poor William who had so many hardships to overcome in his life. I was rooting for him to get his happy-ever-after.

“Just have to forgive . . . even if you got to do it over and over again.”

With plenty of suspense, intrigue, inspiration, plenty of twists and turns, and a good dose of romance, this is a beautiful story of forgiveness, hope, and resiliency. I’m looking forward to more books from this author. 
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Barbour Publishing. All opinions are my own. 4.5 stars


BackCover Blurb:
She begged him once more to meet in the garden at midnight.
“If you love me,” said the letter.
But if he loved her, he would not come at all.
Enjoy another Gothic Style Regency from Hannah Linder.

The accidents are not a matter of chance. They are deliberate. As English gentleman William Kensley becomes aware of the danger at Rosenleigh Manor, he pleads for the truth of his past from the only man he can trust—until that man is murdered.

As the secrets unfold into scandal, William’s world is tipped into destitution, leaving him penniless and alone. His only comfort is in the constant friendship and love of Isabella Gresham. If he does not have their nonsense at the seashore, their laughter, their reckless adventures, has he anything at all?

He should have known that would be ripped from him too. When a hidden foe arises from their acquaintances and imperils Isabella’s life, William may be the only one willing to risk his life to rescue her. But even if he frees Isabella from her captors, will he still have to forsake her heart?

Some sacrifice everything for love. Others sacrifice love for everything else. In this haunting tale of rigid social prejudices and heart-aching regrets, the greatest decision of their life will be determined in the garden of the midnights.

Barbour Publishing, September 30, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook
Buy GARDEN OF THE MIDNIGHTS at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House


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