‘The Groom Says Yes’ by Cathy Maxwell

tgsy cmSTORY: He had a noose around his neck and a price on his head…

Sabrina Davidson, dutiful daughter, avowed spinster, thought she’d secured a place for herself in Aberfeldy society—until her hard-earned acceptance of her fate is challenged by the arrival of Cormac Enright, Earl of Ballin, trained physician, soldier of fortune, and convicted felon.

A prim and proper miss was the last thing he needed…

Mac is determined to clear his name, but first he has to find the man whose testimony sentenced him to a hangman’s noose. Of course, Robert Davidson is missing and protecting Mac is Davidson’s daughter, the most entrancing, frustrating, beguiling, stubborn woman Mac has ever met.

And it doesn’t help that he has already tasted her kisses. Or that he has found in her a passion for life and adventure to rival his own.

Mac has turned Sabrina’s world inside out—but what will happen when he leaves?

Or will the Groom Say Yes?

REVIEW: Edinburgh – September 1817

Sabrina Davidson is 29-years-old and considered to be a spinster.  She spent many years of her youth caring for her mother who passed away two years ago of a wasting disease.  She loved her mother dearly and was happy to care for her.  Now, she helps to care for her father assisting him with secretarial duties.  When she finds that the widow Bossley, a woman of loose morals, is going to wed her father, she is incensed.  Her father had vowed to never marry again.  To cool her anger, Sabrina takes a walk in the forest and discovers a man in a crofter’s cottage burning up with fever.  Determined to help him, she secrets him into her house to care for him.

Cormac Enright has managed to escape prison just before he is due to be hanged for a crime he did not commit.  He is also a physician and the earl of Ballin.  As Sabrina cares for him, she realizes that she will probably never marry and does not want to have her place in her home usurped by the widow Bossley. When Sabrina kisses Cormac, the contact leads to sudden passion.

Why was Cormac falsely accused and who was the person that murdered the person he was to be hanged for?

This is when I found the book to be a bit convoluted.  It seemed well-written at first but in wrapping up the story, the facts came out quickly and were rather confusing.  However, I did enjoy the first two books of The Brides of Wishmore series.

Connie for b2b

‘Murder at Beechwood’ by Alyssa Maxwell

mab amSTORY: For Newport, Rhode Island’s high society, the summer of 1896 brings lawn parties, sailboat races…and murder.

Having turned down the proposal of Derrick Andrews, Emma Cross has no imminent plans for matrimony—let alone motherhood. But when she discovers an infant left on her doorstep, she naturally takes the child into her care. Using her influence as a cousin to the Vanderbilts and a society page reporter for the Newport Observer, Emma launches a discreet search for the baby’s mother.

One of her first stops is a lawn party at Mrs. Caroline Astor’s Beechwood estate. But an idyllic summer’s day is soon clouded by tragedy. During a sailboat race, textile magnet Virgil Monroe falls overboard. There are prompt accusations of foul play—and even Derrick Andrews falls under suspicion. Deepening the intrigue, a telltale slip of lace may link the abandoned child to the drowned man. But as Emma navigates dark undercurrents of scandalous indiscretions and violent passions, she’ll need to watch her step to ensure that no one lowers the boom on her…

REVIEW: Newport, Rhode Island (Aquidneck Island) – June 1896

Emma Cross is a poor relation of the Vanderbilt family.  She lives in her small home, Gull Manor, with her Nanny who is now her housekeeper.  Her parents moved to Paris to pursue their artistic abilities. Emma works as a reporter for the Fancies and Fashions Page of the Newport Observer newspaper.  In this job, she is able to report on the social scene with the Vanderbilt and Astor families as they still invite her to attend. Emma is a very independent young woman with no plans for marriage or a family anytime soon.

When she awakes one morning, she hears a sound at her front door and finds a tiny baby boy on her doorstep.  Tucked into the baby’s blanket is a handkerchief with a distinctive patterned lace edging.  She and Nanny immediately take care of the baby as Emma begins to investigate where he came from.  She reports her find to her friend and admirer, Jesse Whyte, a detective for the Newport police.

At an afternoon party Emma attends at Mrs. Astor’s, a storm comes up just as two sailboats with guests of the party begin a race.  When a guest is lost overboard, Emma and the police wonder if it could be murder.

When Emma and her cousin are attacked while examining the damaged sailboat, she knows for sure that someone is trying to scare her off and the sailboat accident has to have been intentional.

This is the third book of the author’s Gilded Newport Mystery series.  I have read the other two books and enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed this one.  In addition to a good mystery, it’s fun to get a glimpse into the lives of the Vanderbilt and Astor families.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Picture Perfect Love’ by Melissa McClone

ppl mmccSTORY: Meet the people who make it all happen – the planners, the photographers, the musicians who have helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples as they find their own happy endings in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

When image becomes everything, it’s up to love to refocus the heart.

Photographer Jenna Harrison wants every bride and groom to look picture perfect on their special day, putting her heart into every wedding to give the couple memorable images of their love. But her own heart is still broken, the unworn wedding dress hanging in her closet a reminder that relationships aren’t always as perfect as they look through her camera lens. But Jenna has faith that she will find true love. Until then, she must be patient and trust in God’s plan and His perfect timing.

Attorney Ashton Vance is the one that got away. When an embarrassing Photoshopped picture of put an end to his political aspirations, he blamed Jenna. So what if the photo led to his being offered a dream job and changing his life for the better? Jenna betrayed his trust, and two years later, Ashton’s heart still hasn’t recovered.

It was me. His younger sister’s three words turn Ashton’s world upside down. He must ask Jenna’s forgiveness, but can he risk his heart a second time? Even if Jenna can forgive him, dare he hope for a second chance at her love?

REVIEW: Jenna Harrison is a photographer and the owner of Picture Perfect Photography of Sweetwater, Washington.  As it’s June, Jenna is very busy with taking wedding and engagement photos.  When Jenna was jilted at the altar by Ashton Vance, her faith lagged until she found renewed happiness at the Sweetwater Community Church. While she happier now, she is not ready to date and is simply content to just carry on with her photography business.

Ashton Vance is a successful attorney whose father is a judge.  Ashton broke off with Jenna after accusing her of something she did not do.  Her hurt and anger is deep after suffering the financial consequences of their cancelled wedding not to mention the humiliation she suffered after his accusation in front of her friends, church, and customers.  But with the help of her pastor, she has been able to take on other jobs to pay off the wedding debts.

As it turns out, Ashton’s sister, Amber, was the guilty one by telling her brother and father a lie about Jenna.  To top it off, the spoiled girl now wants Jenna to photograph her upcoming wedding!  Ashton is now kicking himself for believing his sister and turning his back on Jenna.  Is there some way he can entice Jenna to photograph Amber’s wedding and forgive him too?  Can Jenna learn to trust him again?

This is a wholesome and sweet story about love and forgiveness and I enjoyed it very much.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘A Surrendered Heart’ by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

ash tp jmSTORY: When cholera strikes Rochester, NY, most of the members of the Broadmoor family flee to their castle home in the Thousand Islands. But Amanda Broadmoor resolves to remain in Rochester to help control the spread of the dreaded disease.

However, much more than Amanda’s health hangs in the balance. Mishandling of the family fortune threatens to leave the Broadmoor family penniless and scorned by society unless Amanda is willing to sacrifice her future.

Will she be forced to marry a man she disdains in order to save the Broadmoor legacy?

REVIEW: Rochester, New York – 1899

Cholera cases are showing up in Rochester and Amanda Broadmoor who is an aspiring doctor is volunteering her skills at the Home for the Friendless.  Along with Dr. Blake Carstead, they are quickly running out of supplies to treat the victims.  When Amanda succumbs to the illness, Dr. Carstead insists that she be kept at the clinic while he personally treats her.  Thankfully, Amanda survives and slowly regains her strength.  By then, their togetherness has resulted in them falling in love.

Her father and mother, Jonas and Victoria Broadmoor are happy their daughter is well but insists that she not return.  They feel that her work is beneath them socially as they are scions of the Broadmoor family of Rochester.

Amanda and her cousins, Fanny and Sophie, have been close all of their lives.  Fanny is engaged to a young man who has ventured to the Yukon to seek his fortune.  He has been gone a long time, but Fanny is faithful to him and knows that he will return.  Sophie is married to Paul and has a little baby, Elizabeth.  When Fanny’s parents passed away, her uncle Jonas took over handling her inheritance. However. Jonas has made some bad financial investments and in order to cover his debts, he has commingled his funds with Fanny’s to enable him to use her money.  But upon the death of his attorney who has been covering up his dealings, the truth is about to be made known.  That’s when Jonas agrees to a loan from Ellert Jackson, a cold, calculating but wealthy man who wants to make Jonas pay for ruining his own family years ago.  When Jonas realizes he has not read the agreement properly, he has no other recourse but to agree to Ellert marrying his daughter, Amanda.  Jonas will agree to anything to keep his mismanagement of Fanny’s funds from becoming public knowledge.

Will Amanda be forced to marry the evil Ellert and turn her back on her love for Blake?

This is the third and final book the Broadmoor Legacy.  Unfortunately, I have not read the first two books but was able to keep up the theme of the story.  I enjoyed the novel but became a big aggravated at the “family first” ideology.  However, I realized it was how things were viewed during that time period.

Connie for b2b

‘Tyringham Park’ by Rosemary McLoughlin

tp rmclSTORY: The country estate of Tyringham Park is the epitome of wealth and privilege. Home to the Blackshaws, it finds itself the backdrop to tragedy.

It is a beautiful day in 1917, and Tyringham Park is in an uproar after Victoria Blackshaw, an innocent toddler, disappears without a trace. The feverish search for Victoria soon uncovers jealousies and deceits that both the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants of the grand estate have fought for years to keep hidden.

As time passes, Victoria’s disappearance casts a long shadow over all of their lives. Charlotte, the Blackshaws’ less-favored eight-year-old daughter, finds herself severely impacted by the loss of her sister. Charlotte’s greatest wish is to escape the con­fines of the estate, but Tyringham Park and its many mysteries may never release their hold on her. Like all those at Tyringham Park, she is caught in a web of passions and secrets, trysts and betrayals that seems to ensnare everyone connected to this once great house.

REVIEW: 1917 – Tyringham Park, Ireland

Little Victoria Blackshaw, age 22 months, has been taken out for a stroll in her pram by her mother, Lady Edwina.  Thinking she was sleeping, her mother left in to go to the stables.  When she returned, Victoria was gone.  Fearing she had wandered over to the river and drowned, everyone searched for her but she was never found.

Victoria’s older sister, Charlotte, was left to bear the brunt of her mother’s temper.  Her mother felt she was ugly and could never measure up to Victoria.  Charlotte’s nurse Dixon was completely hateful to Charlotte and had been the same way to Victoria.  She hurt Charlotte, screamed at her and made her life miserable.  Charlotte’s mother, Edwina, did not care and her father, Lord Waldron Blackshaw, spent his time at the War Office in London.  The man did nothing but drink and was constantly drunk.

In the meantime, Edwina gives birth to Harcourt, son and heir.

Charlotte was left devastated at Victoria’s loss; totally ignored by her family; and mistreated by her nurse.  As time passes, we see the different stages that Charlotte goes through in her life to make some meaning of it. As far as her mother is concerned, she can never do anything right.  Lady Edwina is evil personified in her life-long treatment of her.  As a child, Charlotte is a very accomplished horsewoman. Later on, she becomes a very talented artist.

Charlotte falls in love with Lochlann Carmody, the friend of her younger brother, Harcourt.  Both young men are attending medical school to become doctors.  One night, when Lochlann is partying at Tyringham with Harcourt, they get drunk and Charlotte becomes pregnant by Lochlann.  Appalled at what he did, Lochlann agrees to do the right thing and marries Charlotte.  They then head to Australia where Lochlann will be the physician at a small hospital in a remote area of the country.

Their marriage is not a loving one but Lochlann tries all he can.  Charlotte faces difficult ordeals one of which requires Lochlann to make a very difficult decision.

This saga is an amazing story that includes both upstairs and downstairs characters.  Another Downton Abbey type book.  I was mesmerized as I read it and even though it was nearly 500 pages long, I did not want to see the book end.  I hope readers will enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Connie for b2b

‘It Started With a Scandal’ by Julie Anne Long

iswas jalSTORY: Lord Philippe Lavay once took to the high seas armed with charm as lethal as his sword and a stone-cold conviction: he’ll restore his family’s fortune and honor, no matter the cost. Victory is at last within reach–when a brutal attack snatches it from his grasp and lands him in Pennyroyal Green.

An afternoon of bliss brings a cascade of consequences for Elise Fountain. Shunned by her family and ousted from a job she loves, survival means a plummet down the social ladder to a position no woman has yet been able to keep: housekeeper to a frighteningly formidable prince.

The bold and gentle Elise sees past his battered body into Philippe’s barricaded heart…and her innate sensuality ignites his blood. Now a man who thought he could never love and a woman who thought she would never again trust must fight an incendiary passion that could be the ruin of them both.

REVIEW: Elise Fountain was turned out by her family when she found she was expecting after a liaison with a man who left her unmarried and with a son. Elise is a very strong young woman who worked as a teacher at a school for “difficult” young ladies. She has now lost that position due to some jealous remarks by a society woman. So, it is with great fortitude that she applies for the position of Housekeeper at the home of Lord Philippe Lavay in Pennyroyal Green. After a fairly grilling interview with Lord Lavay, he agrees to hire her giving her a fortnight to get his house and his servants straightened around.

Elise’s meeting with the servants is hilarious. They figure that they will only be working there for a short time and are sure they don’t really have to do anything but sit around and play cards all day. Elise sets them straight and thanks to her way with words, the home soon begins to sparkle with cleanliness and the surly servants working as they should.

Lord Lavay is living in England after losing most of his family and fortune to the war in France. In fact, Philippe is a Prince of the House of Bourbon. Having suffered numerous injuries in the war, he is trying to heal and get his strength back. Then, he wants to return to France and see if he can rescue his family’s home.

Elise and Philippe work closely together and he is quite impressed with her getting his home clean and running efficiently, as well as getting his servants back on track. She helps him with his correspondence as his hand has been injured and offers him special herbal tea to help with his pain.

When he meets Elise’s son, he in intrigued by the young boy and they become friends. In addition, the meetings between Elise and Philippe soon spark an attraction that they cannot resist.

Will the difference in their positions keep them apart? Will Philippe look at Elise as just a fling and return to France soon forgetting her?

This was a totally delightful novel with lots of humor and a terrific story all combined to make for a read that one does not want to put down. I look forward to reading even more from Julie Anne Long. She’s a great author.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Wedding to Die For’ by Adrianne Lee

awtdf alSTORY: Welcome To Weddingville

A hundred years ago, a tiny town on the Puget Sound attracted a passel of bachelors desperate to marry. Thanks to the miracle of mail order, they did, and Weddingville was born. Hollywood costumer Daryl Anne Blessing knows that story all too well, and she hasn’t missed it, or much else about her hometown—except for hunky photographer Seth Quinlan. Now Daryl Anne returns to Weddingville to see her best friend say I do… and witnesses a whole lot of something hitting the fan—and it’s not rice.
As the maid of honor, Daryl Anne must keep the bride calm, no matter what. But last time she checked, “what” didn’t include the bride’s estranged mother turning up, scandalizing the locals—and getting herself murdered. Nor did it include digging for clues with Seth, while trying to remember exactly why she left him behind. It’s quite a juggling act, even for a seasoned multi-tasker like Daryl Anne. She soon attracts lusty glances from Seth—and the attention of a killer who’s determined to take this town out of business…

REVIEW: May – Weddingville, Puget Sound

Weddingville is a town named for a place where the founding fathers commissioned mail order brides many, many years ago.  Since then, the town has evolved into a place where lots of weddings take place and there are many wedding-themed shops, restaurants and hotels.

Daryl Anne Blessing is the maid of honor for her best friend, Meg Reilly.  Daryl is struggling to make sure that the wedding goes off perfectly until the bride has a meltdown when she finds her mother, Tanya, is going to attend.  But let’s back up just a bit.

Meg Reilly and Daryl Anne Blessing have been friends since they were small children and grew up in Weddingville.  They have always been close especially from the day that Daryl’s father died.  Meg consoled her then.  After school, Meg and Daryl moved to Los Angeles and got great jobs in the acting arena.

Meg’s father runs a successful diner in town.  Meg’s mother, Tanya, abandoned her and her father when she was just 11-years-old and has never contacted her since.  Thinking she was doing the right thing, Meg invited her mother to her wedding never thinking she would accept but she has.  Tanya is now a well-known reporter.

Daryl’s mother, Susan, and paternal grandmother, Billie, run a bridal shop in town.

Meg met and is now engaged to well-known actor, Peter Wolfe.  Peter is a very wealthy man and an arrogant one as well.  He wants a wedding that will be secure and away from the public eye.  Lots of elaborate plans have been put into place and the wedding is ready to go.  Oh, but when Meg sees her old heart-throb, Troy, she begins to hesitate.  Tanya sashays into town asserting herself like a Queen.  The wedding venue is vandalized just before the rehearsal dinner.  Pictures are taken of Meg acting a bit risqué at her bachelorette party.  All the while, Daryl is trying to hold everything together in her job as maid of honor.

The ceremony itself is interrupted when the minister passes out and a dead body floats up next to the wedding venue outside.  That’s when everything goes nuts.  Who is the dead person?  Were they murdered or was the death an accident?  If murdered, who could have done it?  All of the characters in this scenario are suspicious of one another and it takes some extra sleuthing by Meg and Daryl to try and find the real killer.

This was a very well-done mystery and I enjoyed it very much.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher