Five Stars, Four Stars, Heather B. Moore, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Nichole Van, Timeless Romance Anthologies

Learn to Fly

For some unlucky reason I keep picking up books that  I’ve read before, not realizing until the second or third page that I’ve already read it. I understand the purpose of re-releasing a book that was part of an anthology, or needs a new cover. Same book, different title or cover can make a difference in sales for an author. As a reader it can be a little disappointing to get all excited about a new book only to find out it’s not a new book.

On the other hand, I LOVE it when I find a novella or short story that I enjoyed has been rewritten as a full length novel. I love seeing new details and getting in deeper with characters I came to love the first time around.

I found that to be true in both Seeing Miss Heartstone by Nichole Van. Which was originally published as “An Invisible Heiress”, in the Spring in Hyde Park (Timeless Regency Collection Book 3).  As well as Let’s Begin Again by Heather B. Moore. Which was originally published as “Every Occasion” in the Valentine’s Day Collection (A Timeless Romance Anthology Book 19).

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Miss Belle Heartstone—heiress and savvy businesswoman—needs a husband. Immediately. As in, yesterday would not have been soon enough. Her mother’s attempts at matchmaking have been disastrous. So Belle decides to solve the problem her way—survey the market and purchase the best groom available. 

Colin Radcliffe, Marquess of Blake—debt-ridden and penniless—needs a large infusion of cash. Desperately. Preferably cash that does not come with a wife attached. It is no surprise, then, when he receives Miss Heartstone’s brazen proposal—her cash, his title, their marriage—that he politely declines. 

But before he leaves her, Blake suggests something truly radical: Maybe before finding a husband, Belle should find herself. 
His simple words send them both on an unexpected journey, spanning continents and years, entwining their lives in ways neither could have foreseen. Can two lonely souls move past societal expectations and forge a unique life together?

I absolutely adored this story when I read it the first time in Spring in Hyde Park. Nichole Van’s characters are always well written and fascinating to read; either in a novella or a novel. Seeing in more depth the transformation Belle takes just made me love her character even more.

This was also true with my favorite detail added to the longer novel. I loved getting to see more of Blake’s response to Belle’s identity. His response was not only true to character, but written so emotionally well that I felt his conflict for myself.

I was pulled in instantly the first time around, but not can’t imagine not having the beautiful details that were added to the full length novel. It’s a new favorite and fully deserving of the recent Whitney Award Finalist announcement.

Let's Begin Again (Pine Valley Book 7) by [Moore, Heather B.]

When Maurie Ledbetter moves back to her hometown to open her dream shop, she calls a local construction crew for help. Former teenage crush Grant Shelton shows up on her front porch, answering the call for the construction job. Seeing Grant again brings back Maurie’s memories of her troubled childhood, and she doesn’t know if spending time around Grant is the best way to move on. But when she discovers Grant has gone through difficulties of his own, Maurie realizes that he might be the key to her own healing.

I was excited about a new Pine Valley novel, and like I said, a little disappointed when I found out I’ve already read it. I remembered liking the story in the timeless anthology so I kept reading and I’m glad I did.

The story of Maurie and Grant was even better fleshed out. Heather Moore did a great job of balancing the drama of their past with the sweetness of their current relationship. The pain of they’d both experienced was written honestly and up front which gave a great depth to the overall story.

Novella’s are awesome to give you a little taste of the story, but nothing beats the story depth and character development you can get from a full length novel. Part of me wants to write the authors of some of my favorite novella’s and say, please do more with this, I love it!

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Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Sally Britton

Winter Wonderland

This week we had a snow day in our area! If my memory is correct this hasn’t happened in my area for over 20 years! I loved it, we watched the snow come down all day. We played in it, spent time together, and of course, did some reading.

Sally Britton’s “The Captain and Miss Winter” was the perfect book to read on that rather snowy day.

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The end of the Napoleonic wars comes as a relief to Caspar Graysmark, but before he can settle into the comfortable life of an English lord he has a duty to the people of France. A treasure lies hidden in the heart of the forest, stolen gold that would save the lives of many who lost everything during the war. In his quest, Caspar stumbles across a hidden cottage in the woods, and a different sort of treasure altogether.

Scarlett, living with her sister and grandmother, belongs nowhere. Her father’s mistakes led to their exile from England and their banishment into the forest. The cold winter months have taken their toll on Scarlett’s spirits and her grandmother’s health. The Englishman who arrives at Scarlett’s door, looking more like a bear than a captain of the British army, reminds her of all she lost to the war.

With winter drawing to a close, Caspar must find the missing gold, but his quest to right the wrongs of war has changed. Can Scarlett let him rescue her, too?

The Captain and Miss Winter is based on the story of Snow White and Rose Red, as recorded by the Brothers Grimm. It is a sweet/clean romance novella, and is Book 2 in a series of Regency retellings. The stories can be read in any order

Sally Britton wrote a sweet and engaging story. She combined the difficulty of a Novella, keeping depth of characters and not rushing the romance, with a unique Fairy tale re-telling. Putting the setting in the regency era just after the Napoleonic Wars, but in France, showcased her her talent writing this era. All those skills just highlighted the entertaining story she weaves.

There was one plot point that was mentioned briefly in the middle of the book that I kept thinking was going to have a purpose later on, but it never did. That left me feeling a little unresolved at the end, but other than that, I really enjoyed this re-telling of a lesser known fairy tale.

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Moderate Violence, Sarah M. Eden

Faint of Heart

Sarah Eden’s newest book,  Healing Hearts  takes us back to Savage Wells. I have to admit that westerns aren’t really my thing, but I fell in love with this town and the people in it in “The Sheriff’s of Savage Wells.” I was so excited to be back in their world again, and loved every second of it.

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Miriam steps off the train looking for a job not a husband. She refuses to be wed, and Gideon is unspeakably embarrassed by the misunderstanding. Stranded in Savage Wells, Miriam has nowhere else to go and a secret that she’s determined to keep from everyone. She has epilepsy, a condition that other doctors had claimed was symptomatic of madness, a diagnosis which prompted her family to have her committed to an asylum. Miriam is afraid that if Dr. MacNamara finds out the truth, he will send her back to the asylum a place that is little better than a prison.

But Gideon is not like the other doctors she has encountered, and he offers Miriam the nursing position anyway. When illness sweeps through the town, Gideon and Miriam work together to care for the growing number of sick people. As they do so, their relationship slowly grows into something deeper. When Miriam’s former doctor arrives in town to take her back to the asylum, Gideon, along with some familiar faces in Savage Wells including Cade, Paisley, and Hawk must rally around Miriam to protect her from a dangerous fate. And for Gideon, it might mean risking his heart one more time for a chance at love.

This is a beautiful novel showcasing excellent character development and intriguing story lines. Sarah Eden has an amazing grasp of human nature and it makes her novels shine.

The book centers on a common mail-order bride trope, but Sarah Eden shifts it into something creative and unconventional. Then she uses that unconventional relationship to pull out our greatest anxieties about relationships and confront them.

Sarah Eden has no pretense of what should and is awkward and difficult, and is willing to write about it in beautiful stories and settings that are both entertaining and edifying.

The history of the struggles women faced during this time are fascinating, but it was more than beautiful historical fiction. Through Miriam’s condition she reflects our own worst personal fears and brokenness back at us and then gives Miriam powerful moments to succeed. Giving us the power to see more into the hearts of each characters and in ourselves.

I have a dear friend whose two year old started having seizures last year, out of the blue and with no apparent connection. Even with a team of doctors and medical experts at hand, it has been a scary process for their family. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to deal with unexpected medical conditions with out the medical knowledge or the freedom to pursue it. I loved how this novel opened my eyes to the gratitude I have for both those things.

 

Giveaway

Forever Yours $100 Giveaway

Forever Yours Clean Romance Event!

January 2019

During the month of January Clean Wholesome Romance featured 12 Authors who write clean romance!

There are $400 worth of Giveaways that you can enter to win.

Check out this great list of featured authors who sponsored the event to enter their individual giveaways, then enter the grand prize giveaway below!

Jennie Goutet
Liwen Y. Ho
Crissy Sharp
Jo Noelle
Laurie Winter
Sophia Summers
Stephanie Fowers
Lorin Grace
Ranee S. Clark
Rebecca Connolly
Reina M. Williams
Jess Heileman

 

Giveaway Details 

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash, Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends 2/3/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner may be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, Instagram, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader & Clean Wholesome Romance and is sponsored by the participating authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Three Stars

Mom Struggles

Everyday I have to wake up and tell myself, I can do this. I’m a good mom, even if my house is a mess and my children are mad at me. There are moments that make it all worth it, but the mom struggle is real. I love how honestly Ranee Clark handles the struggles Chelsea faces as a single mom. I’ve talked to enough mom’s to know we all feel it. Single or married, working, or not, we all have moments of inadequacy.

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A year after her divorce, Chelsea Lewis spends most of her days working part-time at her cousin’s bakery and hiding veggies in her picky son’s lunches. Then she reconnects with an old friend who helps Chelsea in all the ways she’s forgotten she needs—including romantic ones.

Former football player, DJ Kaiser, is back in his hometown, working as a fireman to serve his community, but after nearly burning down his own house with a barbeque and wrecking the Chief’s truck, his mistakes are stacked against him—until he sets out to ease the stress of Chelsea’s load. Serving her has him feeling like a hero again.

When Chelsea’s ex shows up and begs Chelsea to move closer so his young son doesn’t grow up without his father, Chelsea and DJ have to consider what’s best for Chelsea’s little family, even if that means sacrificing the relationship that has saved them both.

This book was really cute and the writing is good. I liked how she handled both the ex- husband, and the mom struggles Chelsea deals with. It’s probably not a book I would read over and over, but the story was sweet, and not overly dramatic, which I appreciated.  –M.V

3 1/2 Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Moderate Violence

Boys will be Boys

While reading I love to come across a scene where the characters do something that surprises you, but not because it’s unusual. I love when the thing that surprises me, is real life. Sometimes novels give us the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but not much of the everyday. Like two friends duking it out in a stable. I loved this particular scene in Mindy Strunk’s novel “An American in Duke’s Clothing”. It was delightfully unexpected, and yet exactly on mark.

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“When unexpected deaths leave Tad Wentworth as the heir to an English title, he leaves his American homeland to fulfill his duty. Upon arriving in the country, he discovers an arranged marriage is part of the plan. But when his affections guide him toward a different lady, he must decide if he will follow his heart or his head. 

Violet Allen’s questionable past has left her with few friends. When she meets a dashing stranger who shows interest in her, she allows herself to dream of a future with him. Until she discovers the stranger is not only a Duke but is also engaged to her sister. As her feelings for him grow, she must decide if she will be loyal to her sister or her heart.”

Mindy Strunk’s characters were fun to read and I enjoyed the story line. There is an art to sharing just enough information to satisfy but withholding enough to keep you interested. I felt that balance was a little off at times, but not enough to truly distract from the overall story line.

The character depth and development is what really pulled me into the story. Not just Violet and Tad, but Dawson and the family relations as well. Mindy Strunk created some great secondary characters that I hope we’ll get to see more of.

Four Stars, Low Language, Low Romance, Moderate Religion, Moderate Violence

Queen of the Night

My college humanities class was one of my favorite classes. For the simple reason that I “had” to attend all sorts of cultural performances, all in pursuit of my grade. It was wonderful. That semester I saw “The Magic Flute” for the first time and fell in love with the opera.

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“When American heiress Gwen Barton aids an injured gentleman in an opera box in London, she shares a kiss with the stranger that changes her life. More determined than ever to be herself, in spite of the limp she’s sustained since childhood, she will marry for love and not a title. She also resolves to learn the identity of the man she helped—and kissed. Surely he can’t be the irritating Avery Winfield, though. But as circumstances continue to throw Gwen and Avery together, she begins to wonder if there is more to this man than she first thought.

While most of London only knows him as the nephew of a duke, Avery Winfield is actually working for the Secret Service Bureau to ferret out German spies from among the ton. It’s a profession that gives him purpose and a reason to remain a bachelor. But the more he interacts with Gwen Barton, an heiress from America, the more he begins to question his plans and neglected faith. Then he learns Gwen is the young lady from the opera box who helped him. Now his most important mission may have nothing to do with saving Britain from danger and everything to do with risking his heart for the woman he met that night at the opera.”

Stacy Henrie wrote two love interests paired so well, you’re rooting for them every step of the way. The faith aspect of the book was subtle. The inclusion of God was a major part of the story, but it felt natural and necessary to the character development of Gwen and Avery, and never pushy.

The character development of the story really made the novel charming. Stacy Henrie used beautiful metaphors, and great moments of introspection to connect the reader to the characters. It made the story more than just entertainment, but a wonderful journey of adventure, love.

4 1/2 stars, Joanna Barker, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence

Rags to Riches

Joanna Barker is a relatively new author that I can’t get enough of! Her first novel showcases the excellent writing voice she has for a debut author.

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Governess Juliana Ashbourne has dreams reaching far beyond the confines of her current position, hoping to someday establish her own school for girls. When she inherits a fortune from her late grandfather, she is shocked to learn that “someday” may soon be within reach. However, there is one condition: she must spend a month at the estate of Havenfield–with the very family who disowned her mother. Intent on securing the money she needs to start her school, Juliana accepts the invitation, vowing to guard her heart against those who shunned her all her life.

But Havenfield is far from what she expects. She discovers a grandmother seeking forgiveness, a cold and disapproving aunt, and a painfully shy cousin. And then there is Mr. William Rowley. Though the heir to the estate is a merciless tease, Juliana finds in him a friend and confidant–and perhaps something more. As she struggles to make sense of her new place in the world, her stubborn independence clashes with a yearning to belong and the even more confusing desires of her heart.

This rags to riches story has an enchanting heroine and an endearing hero with just the right amount of wit. I seriously loved William’s teasing. I enjoyed him so much as a character that it was a little difficult for me to understand her frustration with his teasing at times. His humor was dry and adorable.

I Loved the story line she gave to the aunt and the depth that added to the family dynamics. It blended well with the beautiful concepts of home and family she develops in the novel.

The story of redemption and forgiveness was beautiful. With how dotting the grandmother and her desire to treat her as family, I didn’t quite understand the dress situation. I kept thinking, you would have thought they would have gifted her at least one new gown?

Then I thought of the character Joanna Barker has created in Juliana. The refusal to accept a gown if it was offered, and wanting to be taken seriously, reflect her twice mended dress and her frustrations with William. I love when a character is well reflected in even the little subtle things.

Joanna’s second book was released just this week and is also a Rags to Riches story!

Beauty and the Baron: A Regency Fairy Tale Retelling

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Rose Sinclair has run out of options. With her father in prison and their bookshop sold to pay his debts, she has no choice but to turn to Henry Covington, the Baron Norcliffe. But the baron has more than earned his harsh reputation, and Rose must face his wrath in order to save her father—and herself.

Since the deaths of his parents, Henry Covington has isolated himself from society, ensuring the solitude of his estate with his deliberate callousness. However, when the beautiful Miss Sinclair appears on his doorstep, begging for a chance to repay her father’s debt to him, a moment of weakness finds him offering her a position—as a maid in his own house.

They both soon learn that first impressions are not to be believed. Henry is surprised—and intrigued—by Rose’s optimistic charm, while Rose slowly uncovers Henry’s true self, his compassion concealed behind the pain of loss and betrayal. But when a shadow from Henry’s past returns, their newfound hope is tested. They must decide for themselves who to trust and what they will risk for their happily ever after.  

Beauty and the Baron is a Regency retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and is Book 1 in a series of Regency retellings.

As a retelling Joanna Barker incorporated portions of the traditional tale making it obvious is was a beauty and the best retelling, but not overly cliche. Unique enough to stand out. The relationship was well developed for a novella with a good blend of misunderstanding, friendship, and attraction. She created tender moments and an engaging plot. The plot twists added excitement, but my favorite part was that the plot twists did not make them misplace their trust in each other. It’s a really sweat, clean read.

Five Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Melanie Cellier, Moderate Violence

Worthiness

I’m a sucker for a fairy tale retelling. I have to admit however, that Snow White wasn’t ever one of my favorite fairy tales. The Disney Snow White wasn’t exactly  compelling. It wasn’t until the tv show “Once Upon a Time” debuted that I finally enjoyed the story of Snow White. She finally had a back story, and gumption. The love story also gave us more than, I saw you once, in which we didn’t converse, and now I’m going to kiss you awake and marry you…weird.

All that being said, I didn’t fall in love with the Snow White story until I read Melanie Cellier‘s, A Dream of Ebony and White.

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“Snow has always lived under the shadow of her cruel stepmother, with only her beloved father and her childhood friend—the huntsman, Alexander—to make life bearable. When her father dies, she should be crowned queen, but instead she finds herself fleeing for her life. With no allies, no skills, and no food, her future could be over before it has truly begun.

But there’s more at stake than just one life. If Snow can’t claim her throne, her kingdom faces destruction. Snow has to make a choice: focus on her own salvation or put everything on the line—even those she loves the most. And if she’s going to succeed, Snow must fight the hardest battle of all, against her own doubt and weakness, and gain new skills and strength she never imagined possessing.”

I love Melanie Cellier’s writing style and her wit. It was the character of Snow White and her insecurities that made me love this story. Every young adult battles with feelings of insecurities and worthiness. Melanie Cellier understands, acknowledges and validates their worries, then gives them strength to battle them. All wrapped up in story of adventure and love.

Her stories have the character development and story line to make them great, but it’s the way that she pulls in the different facets of each fairy tale that makes them phenomenal. The cottage, the mirror, the apple and especially the huntsman were all twined in to give you a brand new love for an old favorite, or a new favorite in my case.

 

Giveaway

Scary Things

We’ve been a little MIA the last few weeks, holidays will do that. But in my particular household there’s been a lot more than just holidays going on…

My husband and I both took big scary leaps at the end of 2018. He created a game! It’s a family friendly card game that our whole family loves. It’s called Die Fly!

He put it up on kickstarter and just today it got funded!! It still has 12 days left, so if you like card games- you should definitely go get yourself one. We are so proud of him. It’s scary creating something and then putting it out into the world.

That leads to me. I decided to start writing down the stories in my head. I have a long way to go and lots to learn, but I finally got the courage to submit to a publisher. They were requesting short stories for an anthology that fit my genre perfectly. That process has taken up a great deal of my efforts, and may account to nothing. However, it was huge for me to even try. Feedback and critiques were hard, but I’m so grateful to everyone who read my little story and gave me honest feedback, it took what I thought was a pretty good story and made incredibly better.

One of the pieces of advice I’ve heard a lot is; if you want to be a good writer, you need to do a lot of reading. Not to worry I have also been doing a lot of reading and have a whole list of books that will be reviewed and up starting next week.

Go do something scary, I promise it will be worth it! –N.C.