‘The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill’ by Julie Klassen

tioih-jkSTORY: On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood–along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.

Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family’s inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell’s owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.

Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband’s legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband’s brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?

REVIEW: Ivy Hill, Wiltshire England – 1820

Jane Fairmont Bell has been widowed for a year. She is the owner of The Bell Inn, a coaching inn. Her late husband, John, had owned and run the inn and had been only 31 when he died.

Jane’s mother-in-law, Thora Stonehouse Bell, is returning to the Bell after staying with her sister for the better part of a year. The Bell, formerly called The Angel, had been in her family for a long time, but now it has been left to Jane. At the age of 51, Thora cannot get used to being idle. Therefore, she hopes to be a part of running the Inn.

Thora and Jane have not been close. Jane was raised in a wealthy family and socially, it was a step-down for Jane to marry an Innkeeper. During her marriage to John, Jane has spent most of her time in the keeper’s lodge and not being involved in the running of the Inn. But now, there are financial problems and Jane is forcing herself to step forward and take on her responsibilities.

Jane finds that there is a bank loan coming due and is trying to get an extension on the loan. The condescending banker treats her with disdain encouraging her to sell the Inn. But Jane is determined to do all she can to learn the trade and find ways to improve things.

Readers meet the different employees of the Inn and friends in the surrounding area. There are a lot of descriptions about the jobs and how they are carried out. Jane cannot help but feel intimidated by Thora and works hard to show her that she is capable of running the Inn and making it profitable again. She meets with many problems along the way. Can she make a success of the Inn?

The plot here is good but I found the storyline to be flat. There aren’t the ups and downs of a story that makes the reader keep turning the pages. I am a huge fan of the author and have read many of her books. I was really looking forward to reading this novel but it just is not one of my favorites.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘For the Record’ by Regina Jennings

ftr-rjSTORY: Jennings Offers Another Delightful Blend of History and Romance
Betsy Huckabee might be a small-town girl, but she has big-city dreams. Writing for her uncle’s newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don’t seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions.

She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away. No one in Pine Gap will ever know.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. With masked marauders riding every night, his skills and patience are tested, but even more challenging is the sassy journalist lady chasing him.

REVIEW: Pine Gap, Missouri – 1885

Deputy Joel Puckett, age 24, has just arrived in town to help with the outlaw problem only to be met with a gang of masked men on horseback. When Joel says he was the new deputy and asks where the sheriff’s office is, one man stops and announces to Joel that they are “the law.”

Betsy Huckabee is trying to start a career as a writer for a newspaper. She wants to share the stories of the fighting of gangs and outlaws in he town. But she keeps getting turned down by different newspapers.

Many nights she heads out to see if she can find any new information on the gangs. That night she meets Joel and tells him that Sheriff Taney does nothing about the gangs and outlaws. Since Joel is a handsome man, Betsy gets the idea to write a romantic fiction series of stories based on the new deputy.

When Joel meets some of the townspeople, many of the men aren’t happy to see him. Joel tells them to mind the law and they won’t have any problems with him. But the men are skeptical of him.

Can Joel do the job he came to accomplish? What about Betsy? Will she be able to be a success with her story writing?

I just was not intrigued by this story. Others might like the plot and they might find it humorous but it just didn’t appeal to me. I have read the author’s books in the past and enjoyed them. I’m betting that this one will be a hit with other readers though.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Once Upon a Wallflower’ by Wendy Lyn Watson

ouaw-wlwSTORY: A Perennial Wallflower…

When Mira Fitzhenry’s guardian arranges her engagement to one of the most scandalous, yet devastatingly handsome lords to ever grace the peerage, all of society is abuzz. After all, the man has left a trio of dead young women in his wake, including his first fiancée.

A Gothic Villain…

Expecting to scare the chit away within five minutes of meeting him, scarred and brooding Nicholas, the Viscount Ashfield, is intrigued by the unfashionably lovely Mira, but his family’s dark secret means he must fight his attractions. No matter what his heart wants.

As the wedding approaches, Nicholas and Mira grow ever closer, yet so does the very real danger. Will the truth bring Nicholas and Mira together or tear their love apart?

REVIEW: You know how sometimes you get stuck in a rut with the books on your TBR? Well, I can tell you that this story got me out of one of those ruts and the reason for it is its characters and the mystery in it.

If you’re in a mood for a hero that is to die for, this book is for you! He was such a great character. I loved him to pieces. Seriously, this story has it all, and then some. Get it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Pattern Artist’ by Nancy Moser

tpa-nmSTORY: English housemaid Annie Wood arrives in New York in 1911. On her own for the first time working as a Macy’s sewing department clerk, Annie catches the eye of a salesman at the Butterick Pattern Company.

Through determination, hard work, and God’s leading, Annie discovers a hidden gift: she is a talented fashion designer—an artist of the highest degree. As she runs from ghosts of the past and focuses on the future, Annie enters a creative world that takes her to the fashion houses of Paris and into a life of adventure, purpose, and love.

REVIEW: New York City – 1911

Annie Wood is a housemaid who has accompanied Lady Newly and her daughter, Henrietta, to New York City from England to visit with the wealthy Friesen family. Annie has a great talent for taking the couture dresses of the Newly ladies altering them and adding intricate beading to make them different and more beautiful. The ladies maids, under whom she works, take credit for her talents which is unfair.

Annie meets Lisa and Danny, brother and sister who work for the Friesen family. After being harassed by Grasston, a footman, as well as wanting more from life than being a servant, Annie, Lisa, and Danny flee their jobs and stay with a kind family, that owns a bakery, while they look for jobs.

Annie gets a job at Macy’s. With her talent for making and decorating clothes, she excels at her job helping women choose dress patterns, fabrics and trim for making their own clothes. At Macy’s she meets Sean, who works for Butterick patterns. He gets her an interview as a designer for Butterick patterns and she is immediately hired.

But Grasston is not finished with harassing her. When he sees her in Macy’s he is determined to harm her. He attacks her but she manages to escape him. She is terrified of him. Sean very faithfully walks her to and from work each day to keep her safe. From there, their friendship grows.

As Annie’s talents are discovered, more people are interested in her and want her to work for them. It is all happening so fast and she is torn about where she wants to be working.

This is a wonderful story that follows Annie and shows how talent and determination can take a person from a lowly position to further up the ladder of success. I enjoyed the book very much, as I have other books by this author. I highly recommend this novel and the way the author wove bits of history into the story makes it even more delightful.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Debbie Mason and ‘Christmas With an Angel’!

christmas-with-an-angel-banner

mason_christmaswithanangel_ebookBOOK BLURB: It’s been eight long years since Michael Gallagher has laid eyes on Shay Angel, back when he was a boy from the most prominent family in town and she was a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. But he hadn’t cared about their differences—until one bad decision landed her in jail.

That was years ago and now he’s back in Harmony Harbor for the holidays. So when Shay goes missing, Michael is intent on finding her—and finding out if their sizzling attraction is still there. But he’s now a district attorney, and it looks like Shay is once again on the wrong side of the law.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Google Play / iBooks / Kobo /

TEASERS:

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REVIEW: If you haven’t read the start of Ms. Mason’s new series in ‘Mistletoe Cottage’, then I urge you to do so. The reason for it is two-fold. You’ll love the story, but you’ll also meet the hero and heroine of this short story which is actually a set-up for their own happily ever after.

After Michael’s fiancé dumps him because he decides to pursue a whole new career, he feels that drinking just might help him get over this fiasco.

Well, at the town’s bar he bumps into Shay, a woman he’d done wrong and from there …. Well, you’ll need to read this story to find out what comes next!

This second chance at love romance from this wonderful author is just perfect for this time of year. Get it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

>>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<

THE SERIES

Mistletoe Cottage, #1

Christmas With An Angel, #1.5

Starlight Bride, #2

Primrose Lane, #3

harmony-harbor

Series Page on Goodreads

debbie-mason-credit-debbie-mazzuraAUTHOR BIO: Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado and Harmony Harbor series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews). When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, three wonderful children, two adorable grandbabies, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella in Ontario, Canada.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Goodreads

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‘The Governess’s Secret Baby’ by Janice Preston

tgsb-jpSTORY: The beauty who tamed the beast

New governess Grace Bertram will do anything to get to know her young daughter, Clara. Even if it means working for Clara’s guardian, the reclusive and scarred Nathaniel, Marquess of Ravenwell!

Nathaniel believes no woman could ever love a monster like him, until Grace seems to look past his scars to the man beneath But when he discovers Grace is Clara’s mother, Nathaniel questions his place in this torn-apart family. Could there be a Christmas happy-ever-after for this beauty and the beast?”

REVIEW: Nathaniel Pembroke, Marquess of Ravenwell and Shiverstone Hall, is grieving the deaths of his beloved sister, Hannah, and her husband, David, from a carriage accident. Nathaniel has been named as guardian to their adopted daughter, Clara, age 2. His mother says he needs to take the responsibility of raising the child as she is unable to. He is unmarried and feels he may remain so as he has been rejected by women due to his scarred face from a fire in as he tried, but failed, to rescue his father. When he collects Clara from his mother, she reminds him that he will need to hire a governess.

Grace Bertram is traveling to Shiverstone Hall to apply for the position of governess. Actually, Grace is Clara’s real mother and had had to give her up at birth. She had been a student at Madame Dubois’s School for Young Ladies. Now that she knows where Clara is, she is determined to be the one to raise the child.

Grace is hired for the position and immediately bonds with Clara. She tries to be friends with Nathaniel but he is uncomfortable about his scars. As they become better acquainted, he appears to thaw but his personality is very mercurial.

Grace gets to know some of the townspeople which helps Nathaniel to come out of his shell. But, when she is in an accident, he begins to realize how much she means to him.

This was a good, clean story with interesting characters. Nathaniel’s moods are a bit grating. The reader can understand some of it, but I felt like he needed a swift kick.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Sweetest Regret’ by Meredith Duran

sr-mdSTORY: At a house party in the countryside, the joyful spirit of the Christmas season threatens to sweep Georgiana Trent under the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue who broke her heart two years ago. Little does she know that Lucas Godwin has no intention of leaving until he has reclaimed her as his own.

Will the festive spirit of the season sweep this feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue whose carelessness soiled her reputation and sent her into exile in London?

The spirit of the season is festive—and clouding even the sharpest of judgments—in this Victorian era romance.

This is a novella that was previously published in 2015 in the Christmas-themed anthology, What Happens Under the Mistletoe.

REVIEW: December 1885

Georgina (Georgie) Trent has been tasked by her father to host a rowdy group of drunken foreign diplomats for Christmas. One of these people has supposedly stolen a sensitive letter from her father’s study and now Lucas Godwin has been sent to find the thief. This is the man who broke Georgie’s heart two years ago. When they meet again, she is cool and aloof to him. But, he has never forgotten her.

As Georgie is the hostess for the foreign visitors, she has planned some expeditions and programs for them to experience true English holidays. The plan is while Georgie keeps the visitors busy, Lucas will search their rooms for the missing letter.

When they are together, their conversations consist of trading insults while privately fighting their attraction to one another. As they talk, the truth behind what happened in the past is revealed which is quite a surprise.

This is a short novella with an interesting plot and some amusing characters. I’m sure readers will enjoy it as much as I did.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

REVIEW: For my review of this story in What Happens Under the Mistletoe , please click here.

Melanie for b2b