‘Ella’s Will’ by Jessilyn Peaslee

ew-jspBOOK BLURB: Will Hawkins is just a simple stable boy. When he becomes reacquainted with his childhood friend, he can’t help falling in love with her. But everything changes when the prince announces a ball in which he will choose one of the commoners to be his wife, and Will is torn by his need to be with Ella and his desire for her wellbeing.

How can Will ever hope to woo Ella when his competition is the prince? Without any magic or fairy godmothers, Will must show Ella that he is her true prince charming in this perspective twist of the classic Cinderella tale.

REVIEW: This is one of the best takes on the Cinderella tale I’ve ever read. The story is told from the point of view of Will, Ellas’s only friend in the whole wide world.

I found this story very emotional and poignant from start to finish. The characters were sweet and tragic at times. Their backstories were filled with pain, yet both grew into strong and compassionate individuals.

If you’re ready for a unique perspective and some twists on this timeless tale, curl up and read Ella’s Will.

It appears that the same story was told in the previous book titled Ella and told from her point of view, and sadly, I’ve not read it. Well, need I tell you that now I must read it because I definitely want to know her POV.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night’ by Kate Noble

mglfan-knSTORY: Next in the witty, sexy Winner Takes All Regency series from Emmy winner Kate Noble, author of The Game and the Governess and writer of the wildly popular web series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries.

Cecilia Goodhue is a schoolteacher with a past, living with her sister and her husband in a tiny English village. Resigned to a quiet life, Cecilia is surprised when she finds out that her young cousin has run off with a man of no means.

Cecilia had once been a teenaged girl who also fell for a young man’s charms—only to be devastated by his betrayal. Determined to not let her cousin meet the same fate, she heads off to London to but is shocked when her investigation leads her right to the front door of the very man who broke her heart: Theo Hudson.

Together, they reluctantly embark on finding her cousin and returning her to her family. During their searching in London, it soon becomes clear that they both remember their short-lived romance differently and perhaps now, years later, they have a fresh chance at love.

REVIEW: Miss Cecelia Goodhue, age 26, lives in Helmsley, Lincolnshire and is the town’s school teacher. Classes have just let out for the spring planting season. Cecelia’s sister, Imogene, with whom she resides, informs her that their cousin, Eleanor, has run off with a man who is part of a military regiment passing through town. The man is to settle in London and wants Eleanor to join him. But no one knows where in London she has gone.

Imogene is married to Vicar Spelsky. Imogene reminds Cecelia of the time she ran off at age 16, and nearly ruined herself. Cecelia had fancied herself in love with Mr. Theodore Hudson, age 20, and had run off to Gretna Green with him. Her father caught her before they were married and claimed that the young man was only after her modest dowry. Hurt and humiliated at Theodore’s defection, she withdraws to live the life of a spinster.

Cecelia decides that she will be the one to go to London to search for Eleanor. Upon the advice of her friend, Mrs. Turner, it is decided that she will call upon Lord Edward Granville, the Earl of Ashby, for help. In addition, Cecelia will say that she is in London doing an errand for Mrs. Turner. But when other ladies chime in requesting that since she is off to London, could she run some errands for them, the list really grows.

Upon arrival at the home of Lord Ashby, she is shocked when Theodore Hudson opens the door. It appears that Theodore is a partner in a law firm representing the Earl and Theodore is waiting to see the Earl. Seeing Theodore again brings back memories of their time together some years ago. When Lord Ashby appears, he asks Theodore to take over looking for Cecelia’s cousin, Eleanor. Cecelia insists that she accompany Theodore in the search. In addition, Lord Ashby insists that Cecelia stay at his home with his wife and family. When Cecelia, using her womanly wiles, shows up Theodore during their search, Theodore sits up and truly takes notice of her.

It would appear that I have given away a lot of the plot, but it is just a teaser. The humor in this book is great and typical of Kate Noble. Readers will certainly have some good laughs.

I enjoyed the novel but found that some parts tended to drag. However, the story is good and enjoyable.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘One Step Behind’ by Brianna Labuskes

osb-blSTORY: Vengeance never dies …

London, 1812. When the unconventional Imogen Lancaster embarked on a mission to infiltrate high society and avenge her beloved cousin’s murder she never would have guessed she’d end up in the arms of a thief. At least, that’s what she assumes when she discovers Lucas Stone breaking into a private safe.

Lucas Stone, the Earl of Winchester, has a reputation for arrogance and a soft-spot for his sister, which is how he ends up in the predicament of hiding behind a curtain at midnight with the dreadfully dull Miss Imogen Lancaster. But he soon discovers appearances can be deceiving when the country mouse turns into a spitfire in front of his eyes and she makes it clear she wants nothing to do with him.

Though one is chasing a blackmailer and the other a murderer, they quickly realize they are on the hunt for the same villain. Now they must work together, which would be fine, if they could decide if they’d rather fall in love or kill one another.

REVIEW: This was a very entertaining, intriguing and fun read. I loved the misconception these two had about each other! It made the read move fast and gave me hours of fun trying to figure out how would they solve the mystery and if their attraction would be strong enough to hold them together.

I welcomed this romance because it contained a very intriguing mystery that our couple had to solve and watching those two in action was fun, and the dialogue was amazing.

No need to look any further if you’d like to immerse yourself in a well written and plotted romance with a mystery within.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Heir of Brownlie Manor’ by Anita Stansfield

thobm-asSTORY: After a medical discharge from his duties in the Napoleonic War, Thomas Quincy Fitzbatten has returned home. Disoriented, burdened by guilt for his wealth, and disillusioned with life’s injustices, Thomas longs for a chance to make a difference in the world. But he keeps himself a mystery to those around him, and another motive for his charity gnaws at the back of his mind: to seek redemption from the traumatic demons of war.

Then everything changes at the arrival of Ruth Dawson, the niece of Thomas’s butler, a stunning woman with a secret of her own. Thomas graciously offers to assist Ruth in her predicament, but a surprise instinct prompts Thomas to handle the case a little more personally—through marriage. As their love blossoms, it appears that all will be well—until Thomas receives a mysterious letter from an old friend in trouble, compelling him to the rescue.

But what will Thomas do when nothing is as it seems? And why can’t Ruth shake the feeling that her destiny is intertwined with Thomas’s in a way they could never have imagined?

REVIEW: Hampshire, England – 1808

Thomas Quincy Fitzbatten has been raised at Brownlie Manor but has not seen it in three years. He has loved living there surrounded by loving parents and other members of the household. His homecoming from having served in the military was a surprise, but upon arrival, he finds that his parents are out of the country for a few weeks on vacation. However, he enjoys being home. The events of war have left their scars on him and he hopes to once again find peace and purpose in his life.

When the butler, Dawson, tells him he has a problem, Thomas is happy to help. Dawson’s niece has shown up pregnant and unwed. Ruth Dawson is 19 and needs a place to stay until the baby is born. Thomas volunteers to take Ruth into town to stay at an inn. Being able to help someone in need is what he, himself, needs and he happily gets to know Ruth. She does not want to give her baby away is is so thankful for Thomas’s help. Thomas is so taken with her and her plight that he decides to marry her.

They then head to a small cottage owned by his family and run by a couple who are good friends. The woman, Bertie is pregnant and when she gives birth, Ruth assists with the delivery. She is also quite helpful around the house and handles the cooking.

Ruth and Thoms grow closer but Ruth is worried that Thomas may not love the baby when it is born. As their marriage has been platonic so far, Ruth wonders if Thomas will truly want to be faithful to her.

Thomas’s parents arrive at the cottage and they immediately bond with Ruth. Soon after, they head back to Brownlie Manor. Everything is going well until someone tries to kill Thomas. Who would want to harm him and why?

This was an OK story but it tended to drag a bit. A lot of the dialogue was repetitive but the attempt on Thomas’s life kept the story going. I did like that it is a clean book and I’m sure many readers will enjoy it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Love’s Faithful Promise’ by Susan Anne Mason

lfp-samSTORY: A Stirring Story of Love and Faith and America’s Great Promise
When her mother suffers a stroke, medical student Deirdre O’Leary makes the difficult choice to put her career on hold to care for her. Dr. Matthew Clayborne is renowned for his amazing results with patients, but when Deirdre approaches him about helping her mother, she finds him challenging and surly. Deirdre has had enough of complicated men in her life. After her fiancE left her, she vowed never to give a man that kind of power again.

Widower Dr. Matthew Clayborne is devoted to two things: his work with wounded soldiers and his four-year-old daughter, Phoebe. He won’t abandon either of these priorities to care for one older woman. However, when Phoebe suffers a health scare, they’re offered respite at the Irish Meadows farm, where his daughter’s weakened lungs can recover–but only if he cares for Mrs. O’Leary.

Matthew intends to hate Irish Meadows, yet he immediately feels at home, and soon both Mrs. O’Leary and Phoebe are showing improvement. But since he has no intention of leaving his life up north forever, and Deirdre has sworn off marriage in favor of her career, how will they deal with the undeniable attraction between them?

REVIEW: New York – 1922

Deidre O’Leary has trained and worked as a nurse at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital. Since leaving her position there, she has been studying at Boston University to be a pediatrician, which is her dream. She is shocked when she learns her mother has had a stroke and may be paralyzed. She returns to the family home, Irish Meadows, to care for her mother knowing she may not be able to return to her studies.

Dr. Matthew Clayborne, himself an injured war veteran, does his best to help other injured soldiers to be able to walk and function again. Matthew works at the Toronto Military Hospital. His boss, who is Deidre’s uncle, approaches him and asks him to take over the care of Mrs. O’Leary at the family estate on Long Island. He immediately refuses as he feels his work with soldiers is more important even though the number of his patients is dwindling. In addition, the thought of leaving his daughter, Phoebe, in her fragile state is out of the question. Matthew’s wife, Priscilla, died two years ago of tuberculosis and Phoebe contracted he disease herself. However, she spent time in a sanitarium which seems to have saved her. Unfortunately, Priscilla entered a sanitarium too late to save her.

Deidre’s father convinces her to go to Toronto and persuade Matthew to go to Long Island. If he still refuses, perhaps she can learn his therapy techniques and help her mother herself. Upon meeting Deidre, Matthew again refuses to go to New York and is taken aback at her audacity to think she can learn the therapy techniques herself. But as her uncle is his boss, he feels he has no say so. So, Matthew, his daughter, Phoebe, and her nanny along with Deidre journey to Irish Meadows. Matthew will help Mrs. O’Leary and Phoebe will benefit from the fresh air.

Josephine (Jo) Miller has disguised herself as a boy and has a job working as a hand in the stables at Irish Meadows. She calls herself Joe. As she shows her skills with horses, Connor O’Leary, her boss, is amazed at her ability to calm a horse that they are training. Jo and her brother, Seth, are struggling to work jobs to cover for their alcoholic father. When Connor learns that “Joe” is a girl and discovers her father’s problem, Connor does what he can to help.

We follow the numerous family members and their deep love for one another and the things that happen each day with a large and caring family.

As Matthew and Deidre spend time together working with Mrs. O’Leary, they admire one another but know they will go their separate ways. Or will they?

This is a wonderful story about the extended O’Leary family and their love for one another. I enjoyed it immensely and know other readers will as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘A Rake Reformed’ by Shirley Marks

arr-smSTORY: Frederick Worth, the Earl of Brent, is out of luck. He’s gambled away a considerable fortune, and London’s creditors are in pursuit. Rather than return to Faraday Hall and risk his father’s displeasure, he flees to his property in the remote north. Only Penshaw Manor isn’t quite the safe, comfortable haven he expects.

Freddie is horrified to discover that not only is the property in an alarming state of disrepair but “the Earl of Brent” is loathed by tenants and neighbors alike. Forced to conceal his true identity, he finds himself enjoying this small circle of society, even as he falls for the lovely—if oftentimes infuriating—Miss Rosalind Harris.

Now he’s tempted to bid farewell to his rakish ways and become the true lord of Penshaw Manor. But first, Freddie must prove his worth to Miss Rosalind—and to himself—before anyone discovers who he really is.…

REVIEW: London – 1817

Frederick (Freddie) Worth, Earl of Brent, and his friend, Trevor Rutherford, the younger son of a Viscount, are hurriedly fleeing town in a phaeton that Freddie had won from Sir Nicholas Petersham. They are heading to Penshaw Manor in Cumberland which was given by his father to Freddie to manage. But he has totally ignored it. It appears that Freddie has gambled away nearly 20,000 pounds which is going to infuriate his father.

After traveling in the snow for over a week, their phaeton wrecks causing them to stop at a crumbling home which turns out to the Penshaw Manor. The place is being cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Morley. It is in deplorable condition, but Freddie does not admit that he is the absent owner.

Rosalind Harris lives with her parents and her younger sister, Clare. Their father obviously prefers Clare over Rosalind because Rosalind is his step-daughter. As Trevor was injured when their phaeton wrecked, the Harris’s welcome the men into their home as Trevor recuperates. There, Clare and Trevor are immediately attracted to one another.

When Freddie learns how badly his tenants are faring, he decides to keep his identity as the Earl of Brent secret. He is ashamed for ignoring the estate and wants to do all he can to make up for his mistakes.

As he helps Rosalind take food baskets to the hungry tenants, they find an attraction to each other. But she detests the Earl of Brent for allowing the tenants’ lives to become so bleak. How can he ever tell her who he really is?

This was an interesting book that kept my attention. The characters are well-written and I’m sure the book will appeal to readers.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘When Paris Sizzled’ by Mary McAuliffe

wpbSTORY: When Paris Sizzled vividly portrays the City of Light during the fabulous 1920s, les Annees folles, when Parisians emerged from the horrors of war to find that a new world greeted them one that reverberated with the hard metallic clang of the assembly line, the roar of automobiles, and the beat of jazz. Mary McAuliffe traces a decade that saw seismic change on almost every front, from art and architecture to music, literature, fashion, entertainment, transportation, and, most notably, behavior.

The epicenter of all this creativity, as well as of the era s good times, was Montparnasse, where impoverished artists and writers found colleagues and cafes, and tourists discovered the Paris of their dreams. Major figures on the Paris scene such as Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, Picasso, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and Proust continued to hold sway, while others now came to prominence including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Cole Porter, and Josephine Baker, as well as Andre Citroen, Le Corbusier, Man Ray, Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, and the irrepressible Kiki of Montparnasse. Paris of the 1920s unquestionably sizzled.

Yet rather than being a decade of unmitigated bliss, les Annees folles also saw an undercurrent of despair as well as the rise of ruthless organizations of the extreme right, aimed at annihilating whatever threatened tradition and order a struggle that would escalate in the years ahead. Through rich illustrations and evocative narrative, Mary McAuliffe brings this vibrant era to life.”

REVIEW: 1922

Ernest Hemingway was born in Chicago to a father with mental problems and a mother who was a voice teacher. One of five siblings, Ernest drove an ambulance in the Great War. He married a young woman of wealth and they moved to Paris where he worked as a reporter.

Now, Adolf Hitler is stirring up trouble in France. We also see the beginning of the silent black and white films. At this time, the Impressionists paints were being snapped up. The big thing to do was parties and heavy drinking.

Americans were drawn to Paris in large numbers totaling around 30,000 at the time. Prices were up and inexpensive housing was scarce, but many restaurants catering to Americans and their food preferences were opened. In 1924, Paris hosted the Summer Olympics Games.

Josephine Baker hit Paris like a bombshell. A black woman, here she was readily accepted by whites. At this time, Paris enjoyed jazz and the black musicians who played it. Art Deco became popular and chic. The Citroen became “the” car even though Renault fought to stay viable.

Jazz continued to be very popular. It was termed “le jazz hot.” Josephine Baker had become so popular that she opened her own club called Chez Josephine.

Josephine Baker started to break into films and soon proved herself to be a true diva. Hemingway had divorced his wife, Hadley, and was about to marry Pauline. This was also the time that Charles Lindbergh flew his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis from New York to Paris. Coco Chanel became a great philanthropist but her models were paid a mere pittance. The well-known restaurant, La Coupole, opened in December of this year and became a huge hit serving more than 1,000 people a day. It was then that Charles de Gaulle began to gain recognition.

George Gershwin came to Paris in 1928 and began work on An American in Paris. Josephine Baker has grown bored with Paris and decided to take a European tour. The Citroen still continued to be a popular car and in 1928, one-third of all cars were a Citroen. The company was able to produce 800 cars a day.

The October 1929 Wall Street Crash did not affect France as much as it did America and Britain. But many saw the end of the decade to be the end of the good days. Before long, many of the expats living in France soon began to feel the effects of having less money to spend. Les annees folles were nearly over.

This book depicts various authors of the period such as James Joyce and Gertrude Stein who coined the name “The Lost Generation” which was a large group of literary and artistic expatriates living in Paris in the 1920’s. There are artists, writers, and musicians all looking to share their talents. I have touched on just a few of the famous people who lived and worked in Paris during this time period.

I enjoyed the book immensely. Having lived in Paris, I am familiar with a lot of the things I read about here and it was very interesting to see it all together in one book.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b