Lady of a Thousand Treasures

ladyAuthor: Sandra Byrd

Series: Victorian Ladies #1

Publisher: Tyndale

Release Date: October 9, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fabulous Victorian era novel showing a strong woman!

As the daughter and niece of the Sheffield Brothers, well know evaluators of antiquities, Eleanor has become quite adept at differentiating a fake from the real thing. If only she could have done that with Harry Lydney, the man who broke her heart.  With the sudden passing of her father and the decline of her uncle’s mind, Eleanor finds herself with the potential of losing the firm that she loves since a woman is not allowed to run the business alone.  When Harry’s father, Baron Lydney, a longtime client of Sheffield brothers passes, Eleanor is named the trustee of his antique collection.  She must now decide whether to have the artifacts donated to a museum or allow them to pass down to Harry.  If she donates them, she will build credit with potential collectors that could revive Sheffield Brothers.  But Harry also claims that he still loves her and tries to show her that he is worthy of the collection.  How will Eleanor decide this time?

Typically I’m not a huge fan of Victorian era fiction, but the synopsis for this one intrigued me. I’m glad that I gave it a try.  The historic setting that Byrd provided brought the whole novel to life for me.  I also really enjoyed getting to see a strong female character that wasn’t fully entranced with romance through the whole book.  Eleanor was very intelligent and it showed throughout.  Faith was also a great element in this book.  I can’t wait to see what the next installment brings.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Silver Shoes

The Silver ShoesAuthor: Jill G. Hall

Publisher: She Writes Press

Release Date: June 19, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

So much fun getting to know these women and watch them achieve fulfillment in their lives.

Anne McFarland is in the middle of a cross country romance. Her boyfriend Sergio lives in New York City and she loves visiting the him and the city too, but she is currently residing in San Francisco.  While on a trip to visit Sergio, Anne stumbles into a vintage antique shop and finds a pair of old shoes that must have a story attached to them.  As an artists, these shoes give her an inspiration and she buys them.  She soon finds clues that leads Anne on a mission to uncover the shoes original owner.

In 1929, Clair Deveraux is a sheltered socialite that wants more out of life than to just be a pretty face for a future husband. She wants to go to university, but her father just wants to marry her off to someone who is twice her age for her financial well being.  While looking for some items in Macy’s, she befriends a young store clerk named Winnie who leads Clair on an adventure to a speakeasy and to discovering a new era of music that can’t keep her body still.  But when Clair’s father suddenly loses all their wealth in the stock market crash, she finds herself wrapped up in this new world in an effort to save her family.

This was a really fun story to relate to two different women in different eras. Both woman had different circumstances, yet were looking for fulfillment in life and each woman was able to find it.  The past/present crossover storyline seems to be really picking up popularity with several readers.  I have found that typically the reader relates to one character more than the other, which I think was more the case with Anne for me.  There was more similarities that I could identify with based on her life, but I still enjoyed both stories.  I enjoyed getting to know both woman as the author made it very easy to be able to do that.  The writing was clean and the storyline was fantastic.  I recommend this book to people who enjoy contemporary crossover romances and women’s fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Light Before Day

Light Before DayAuthor: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Series: Nantucket Legacy #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

The third book of the Nantucket Legacy series finds Ren and Daphne Macy setting off on the Endeavour for their own adventures on the high seas before they are too old to enjoy it.  The twins, Henry and Hitty, are young adults.  Hitty teaches at the Cent school, while Henry is at a loss what to do.  He has just returned from a voyage himself, and realizes he does not want to spend his life on the sea.  Their plans, or lack thereof, come to a halt when a solicitor, Benjamin Foulger, comes to town with news.  The twins are the sole heirs to their grandmother Lillian’s estate, but it comes with several provisions.  The first phase is the inheritance of the Grand House, along with some properties and stocks, and the second phase is the remainder of her vast wealth.  The conditions require Hitty and Henry to keep all monies on the island; they must remain in good standing with the Friends (Quakers); and they must marry someone in good standing of the faith within six years.  Together, the twins come up with solutions to benefit the island without being under their grandmother’s thumb; however, the marrying part may prove to be more of a challenge.  Hitty’s heart is set on Isaac Barnard, an eccentric inventor and widower, who doesn’t seem to be aware of her existence; Henry loves Anna Gardner, but her goals of abolitionism and integration don’t leave her much time for love.

So much happens in this book that is based on a true tidbit or fact, so readers learn about the early history of Nantucket while enjoying a good story.  The colorful characters that we have come to know from previous books in the series have their own sub-plots, which give the book depth and interest.  As usual, at the end of each chapter was an excerpt from Great Mary’s journal, as it is handed down to the next generation throughout the books.  Even more history and words of wisdom are shared throughout these journal entries.  There is no one main storyline in this book, which is a bit different from the others.  I was not as fond of this style of storytelling, but the overall message was worth the bit of disappointment.

The characters develop as the books carry on, and the historical significance keeps interest while educating.  This third (and I believe final) installment is a great wrap up of the previous generations’ influence on the most recent one, with the current generation adding its personal touch.  I thoroughly enjoyed the overall story and its message of seeing the light in everyone and in the future, even when things look bleak.  I highly recommend this book for mature teens and adult readers.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Impossible Girl

The Impossible GirlAuthor: Lydia Y. Kang

Publisher: Lake Union

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A dark historical mystery that is perfect for fall reading!

Every era has a dark side and New York City in 1850 is no exception. People with abnormalities die all the time, but now people want to know more about these abnormalities, they want to dissect the people and see what made them occur.  In fact, there are plenty of people to pay nicely for such a body.  From aneurysms to blocked arteries to being born with multiple appendages, these are worth big money to explore and then display to the public.  Cora Lee is the only female resurrectionist and she plays the game well.  She stays one step ahead of those looking for bodies to purchase.  After all, she has to.  She was born with two hearts.

This was definitely a welcome change in my reading schedule. It was almost like a forced shift from light summer reading to a dark, fall read that keeps your mind spinning throughout the night.  This book just had a little bit of everything: grave robbing, freak show abnormalities, expected murders, and a cat and mouse game.  Kang always brings together a well told story that will keep the reader intrigued from beginning to end.  This story flowed better than some of her past books and kept me pretty well hooked throughout, which was probably the subject and timeframe of the story.  If you enjoy a little more on the darker side of a novel, give this one a try!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Sold on a Monday

Sold on a MondayAuthor: Kristina McMorris

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Release Date: August 28, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A riveting tale of how everyday choices can have a massive ripple effect for those around us!

Ellis Reed has been working as a reporter in the social section of the Philadelphia Examiner in depression era 1931. He didn’t plan to have this gig; he hoped to be one of the top feature reporters, but he will take what he can get when so many people don’t have work or money.  In route back to Philadelphia from an assignment, he sees two kids on a porch with a sign indicating that they are for sale.  Troubled by the sight, Ellis takes out his camera and snaps a photo that will forever change his life.

Lily Palmer works at the Philadelphia Examiner as the chief’s assistant. When she collects the photos that Ellis Reed has developed, one photo of two boys for sale breaks her heart.  Recognizing the excellent shot, she slips this into the chief who calls Ellis in to write a feature to this story.  Even though this become Ellis’s big break, the consequences of the photo become devastating.  Lily is distraught by the role she has played in this and teams up with Ellis to try to right what has turned out so wrong.

This was an incredible story that I couldn’t put down. Even the synopsis had me hooked.  There is so much at work in this story.  Ellis is your typical hard working individual that never seems to get ahead.  He finally gets his big break and almost has it snatched away from him, but he still manages to get it, but he has to compromise his values to make it happen.  From there it becomes just a little bit easier to keep chipping away at those values until you find that your no better than the people in the story you’re writing about.  Once Ellis essentially hits rock bottom in his life, he realizes that the has to turn this back around and make some tough choices.

Lily in much the same way has made some past mistakes that she is making up for in life. Fortunately , she has a very supportive family to help her make her career dreams a reality.  She has an ulterior motive for helping Ellis throughout the story, but it is very understandable when it is revealed.   Ellis and Lily have an undeniable chemistry throughout the book that isn’t forced, more built up with tension as the reader continues through the story.

There is a mystery that surrounds this story that isn’t revealed until about halfway into the book. At that point, it just adds to the lure of the story and about doubles the reading pace because it’s so intriguing.  There is some very mild language throughout the book, but nothing that should sway any readers.  This is probably going to be my top pick for historical fiction this year by far!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Between the Lies

Between the LiesAuthor: Cynthia A. Graham

Publisher: Blank Slate Press

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Racial tensions heat up during the civil rights era that could be just as accurate today!

Sheriff Hick Blackburn has overseen order in Cherokee Crossing, Arkansas since he came back from the war. He stands for justice and truth regardless of skin color.  The same can’t be said for the sheriff in nearby Broken Creek, especially after he arrests a colored boy for a murder.  A local priest comes to Hick asking him to help in any way he can.  The more he pries into the case, the more things don’t add up.  In fact, Hick is 100% sure that this boy couldn’t have committed the crime he is being accused of.  The deputy sheriff at Broken Creek also comes to realize this and works to aid Hick in trying to figure out a way to make this right.  But there is an agenda at stake and the sheriff has everyone in town in his pocket, including the judge.  What sort of miracle would Hick be able to pull out to get this kid freed?

As usual, Cynthia Graham has produced a fantastic southern crime novel that feeds on tension. I was immediately drawn into this book and couldn’t put it down until I finished it!  Best of all with the main character, Hick Blackburn.  He was a good ole boy that saw right and wrong for what it was regardless of who committed the crime.  Throw some other unforgettable supporting characters and it gets entertaining with plenty of wit, banter, and investigating.  I felt like I was right alongside Hick as we tried to figure out what was going on throughout the town.  I felt disappointed when I learned how low people can stoop in the book, even though there are plenty today that would be the same.  There was a little bit of strong language, but nothing that deters the story at all.

The only disappointment that I had was in the last chapter. I’m not giving anything away, but it will be a shock to most readers, it especially was to me.  Even so, I highly recommend this book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Murder at the Flamingo

Murder flamingoAuthor: Rachel McMillan

Series: Van Buren & DeLuca Mystery #1

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 10, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intriguing historical mystery set in Boston’s North End in the 1930s. Could Van Buren and DeLuca be the next Sherlock & Watson?

Hamish DeLuca has fought bouts of nerves all his life. But after freezing up in the courtroom on his first case, he gets tired of feeling as thought his father is trying to protect him and buys a train ticket from Toronto to Boston to visit his cousin Luca Valari.  Lucas has a magnetic personality, yet a troublesome past.  Even so, he easily conjures influence and people invest in his ideas.  The newest one is to open up a new club in Boston called The Flamingo.  Luca believes it will be wildly successful and launch additional clubs across the county.  Hamish can’t help but get caught up in the excitement, but soon realizes that not everything in Luca’s life is as it seems.  People seem to be following him and claim that they will catch him.  But what could he be up to?

Regina Van Buren, or Reggie for short, is tired of living of the life that her parents have planned out for her. She is spontaneous and wants to become skilled at several things, not just being a high society housewife.  When her suitor suddenly announces their engagement without even asking, she slaps him across the face and takes off from New Haven to Boston.  There she quickly realizes that she may have bit off more than she can chew, but manages to find a boardinghouse and get work for a man named Luca Valari.  As a secretary, she takes phone calls from men that are trying to hunt him and tells them about the great Flamingo Club that will be opening soon.  She and Luca’s cousin Hamish quickly strike up a friendship over cannoli and begin to work together to determine what sort of business Luca is really in.  On the club’s opening night, one of the cigarette girls is found dead in the basement.  Although the police rule it as an accident, both Hamish and Reggie believe otherwise.  Can the solve both the mystery around Luca and who killed this poor girl?

It’s not often that I find a book that can actually transport me to the location of the setting. But this book did just that.  The descriptions that McMillan gave took me to Boston during the time frame when clubs were beginning to pop up all over the place.  I could see the Flamingo and walk along the cobble stones in the north end.  I cycled through Back Bay and felt the breeze off the water.  I also quickly related to Hamish through his personal struggles and could feel the same emotions as they were splashed across the pages.  However, I do wish there had been a third member of the detective group.  I have become accustomed to some enjoyable banter between characters and just didn’t feel it was quite there with Reggie and Hamish.  I’ve seen some authors throw in a another male character to the mix that breaks it up a bit between the romance and sleuthing and it works quite well.  Even so, this is definitely an interesting new series that I will be following.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.