Desert Rains: a book review

desert rains

Description: 

Enter the world of Balia, a place not so different from our own. Explore lush landscapes and rich cultures as Balia’s creator, TrueGod, moves through many times and places to find lost and broken people to call his own. In the ancient desert town of Alagor, nobody is more lost and broken than Banar, the lame beggar, unless it’s Anna, the royal slave, or Alandro, the wounded baker, or even Malia, the lonely noble daughter. When TrueGod unexpectedly weaves their lives together, he creates unlikely alliances that will not only save the city from the secret plans of a power-seeking magistrate, but may also heal their individual lives as they step out of their ordinary roles and do things none would have dared alone. If they fail, lives all across Alagor will be lost, including their own.

My Review:

Desert Rains blew me away.

This was actually the very first book I read by author Jill Penrod. At the time, I didn’t go in expecting much from a self published author (Though I have since found that most of my favorites live in the grand realm of self-publishing!).

I am so happy to say that this book surpassed even my highest expectations and I found myself completely enthralled with this story and its characters. Determined Banar who endured so much and is willing to fight for a better life for himself and his family. Sacrificial Alandro who finds himself a family in the most unexpected way. Hurting Ragen, patient Anna, and sassy Malia and Yarrow, the only couple who protect their secret love with the use of reverse psychology – by pretending to hate each other!

Once incident throws them all together, plots are hatched and tensions rise politically and in the city below as drought ravages the lands. Lines are drawn between the followers of TrueGod and the followers of a pagan belief and threaten to to tear the city inside out, with this unusual mix of people in the center of it all. But can a beggar, a baker, a coddled princess, a foreign prince, and a slave really make all that much of a difference?

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a beautiful story about handing all your worries to God, giving him your absolute trust, and how God can use even the most unlikely of people to accomplish his greatest works. I highly recommend Penrod’s Balia books (except for Gypsy Heart, that one was a uncharacteristic bust) and eagerly await whatever comes next.

If you want to check out her books, she has one Balia novel, Nevernight Fortress, up for free on her website along with books related to a couple of her other series (See website link at bottom of article).

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory: Sorry everyone. It has been a couple of years since I read this book. My memory of much of the details are not too clear anymore. So I won’t be doing a full heat advisory.

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Happy Reading y’all!

 

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Long Time Gone: a book review

Description: connealy

The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

My Review: 

Things are really heating up at the Boden ranch. As Cole fights for his life, the rest of his family hunt desperately for answers. Though Dantalion is dead, the clues he leaves behind point to a much larger conspiracy that will put more than just the Bodens in danger.

The plot of Long Time Gone was fast paced and fun, with a helping of Connealy’s trademark whit, though it isn’t as pronounced as usual. There is plenty of intrigue and action that will keep you locked to the book, even when you should be doing other things.

The main weak point of this novel were the characters. Though they weren’t bad by any means, they just…lacked something.
As the main heroine, Angie was okay, but we didn’t really didn’t get enough of a strong backstory for me to fully connect with her. She fell a bit flat to me. She kept fighting her attraction to Justin in the first half of the story, saying she needed to stand on her own, but suddenly near the last third of the story she is just falling into his arms and agreeing to marry him. The change felt abrupt and unless I totally missed something – which is possible given how busy I was around the time I read it – her breakneck turnaround was never really explained much, no catalyst that I could find – except attraction.

Justin was a decent hero, but a bit forgettable. I read the book only last week and I’m already having trouble recalling any details about him.

Long Time Good was another solid read by Connealy and I am eager to read the final book, but I don’t think this is nearly her best work.

***I got this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a good review. Heck, do you think I would have been so critical  if I was?***

My Rating:

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: some kissing and the mention of one character having several illegitamate children.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: clean
Blood/violence: This is the wild west, there will be fights and shootouts. It’s practically a law in this genre. There is a bit of blood, as several gunshot wounds are tended throughout the story, and there are some deaths. But Connealy doesn’t go into gruesome detail.

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Happy Reading y’all!

A Viscount’s Proposal: a book review

viscounts-proposal Description:

Leorah Langdon has no patience for Regency society’s shallow hypocrisy and unnecessary rules, especially for women. She’s determined to defy convention by marrying for grand passion instead of settling for a loveless union like her parents—or wedding a stuffy, pompous gentleman like Edward, the Viscount Withinghall. But when a chance meeting in the countryside leads to Leorah and Withinghall being discovered in his overturned carriage—alone and after dark—the ensuing gossip may force them together.

Withinghall has his reasons for clinging to propriety; his father perished in a duel with his mistress’s husband, and Edward must avoid scandal himself if he wants to become prime minister. He certainly has no time for a reckless hoyden like Miss Langdon. But soon the two discover that Withinghall’s coach “accident” was no such thing: the vehicle was sabotaged.

Can the culprit be brought to justice? Strong-willed Leorah and duty-driven Withinghall will have to work together if they have any hope of saving her reputation, his political career—and his life.

My Review:

I have to say, I enjoyed book one of this series a lot more than this one. It was a sweet story, and quite clean, I just couldn’t quite connect as well as I did with the first.

I did like Leorah. She was a strong willed girl who fought hard to never let society’s conventions dictate how she lived her life – or who she would marry. Scandal? Ha! She could hardly care less.

Edward, on the other hand is a completely different story. He’s as stiff and stuffy a fellow as you could hope to find, all in an effort to bury the sins of his past – the father who destroyed himself and nearly Edward with him.

When these two meet, they’re like oil and water. Tempers fly as they battle it out in a war of words and beliefs. As they are forced to spend time with each other, they slowly begin to see through their preconceived notions of each other. Edward may be stiff, but he has a very caring heart and will go out of his way to help others when he feels an injustice has been done, and Leorah may be a bit wild, but she’s pure gold.

The subplot of the story involves digging into the mystery of who wants Edward dead. Though suspects are easy to come by, motives are not. Not everyone who seems good is, nor are all villains pure evil. Melanie has beautiful description and the characters come alive on the page. Since I love regency and Dickerson’s books, i’m not completely certain why I didn’t connect well with the story, but it is a sweet read that any historical lover should totally try out.

My Rating: Four Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: clean, a kiss or two only. A mistress with a child and affairs are mentioned in background, but no real details.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: One character was mentioned to have been drunk when he committed a crime, but we readers see nothing.
Blood/violence:  one death. several injuries, a fight and an attempted murder. No details are given, very little blood.

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Happy Reading y’all!

Dragonfly: a book review

 

dragonfly

Description: 

Eighteen-year-old Joshua Miller is great at being invisible, despite the four, large, insect-like wings protruding from his back and his knack for high-rise robberies. He can remember almost nothing of his life before Nik found him and taught him his trade. Now he’s alone, and he likes it that way. When Joshua unexpectedly meets Lexi on a job, his simple, uncomplicated existence shifts. Although he intends to remain uninvolved, something about her captivates him and he begins to let her in. As he navigates the strange nuances of a relationship with a girl as desperate to be different as he is to be ordinary, he becomes increasingly aware that he is not who he wants to be for her. Confronted by the past he’d forgotten and a family he didn’t know existed, Joshua must decide for himself where he belongs and who holds the key to his future.

My Review: 

I stumbled on this one by accident, and was completely intrigued by the premise. Joshua is a great character, troubled, but with a good heart beneath it all. He just needs a reason for his existence. He doesn’t know who he is or where he belongs. Trapped in a lonely limbo, he becomes enamored of  a girl who lives in a home he had initially planned to rob.

Lexi is a solid character as well, but I had to dock a star simply because their meeting was a little far fetched. What girl would trust the guy who came to rob her house, no matter how intriguing he is? And seriously, not only was he was dumb enough to take off his mask – but then he comes back to visit! if it wasn’t for that part, I would have easily given this book five stars.

It’s a very short book, but surprisingly well fleshed out. I didn’t feel as though the story was cut short or crammed too tightly. The pacing was perfect. But it needs a sequel, like yesterday! The end was slightly bittersweet, and while it was a complete story, the author left it wide open for sequels. I do hope to see some soon! So if you love spec-fic, go ahead and give this one a try. You won’t regret it.

My Rating: Four Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: pretty clean. There is some kissing, and two characters did spend a night in the same bed – They didn’t do anything! – But someone really should have slept on the floor instead.
Language:  clean
Drinking/Drugs: clean
Blood/violence: some fighting. A stabbing. Blood and some old murders mentioned. Skeleton found.

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Happy Reading y’all!

Hawthorne House series: two book reviews

Okay, everyone. First I need to apologize for having been so lax in my posting of late. Right now things have been running a bit roughly. Health challenges and changes in my full time job are making things a bit more difficult right now. So I haven’t often had the time or energy to focus on this blog along with everything else. I’ll continue to post as often as possible, but I likely won’t be doing nearly as much as I did last year.

Now on to the reviews. Don’t let my slightly critical reviewing deter you. Hawthorne House by Kristi Ann Hunter is my latest Regency novel addiction. It’s clean and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romance or historicals. You can read my thoughts on book 1 in the series here: A Noble Masquerade: a book review.

An Elegant Facade 

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This was probably my least favorite of the Hawthorne books. Mostly because much of this is scenes from A Noble Masquerade, only from Lady Georgina’s point of view. It was very interesting to see her take on things, and learn why she acts the way she does, but at times it can be slightly tedious.

All characters and descriptions in the story are well detailed and easy to picture in mind’s eye. Georgina goes from being a complete brat in the first two stories, to being a much more sympathetic and relateable character, though her ongoing obsession with title and status could get a bit grating. It was nice to finally see some growth from her. I just wish that growth would have taken a bit less time to come about, because it started to get a bit silly near the end.

Now please don’t let this slightly negative sounding review deter you from checking this book out. It is good and I did enjoy it, the author just spent way too much time rehashing book one from a different point of view, which made me want to skip forward a lot sometimes. If I had not read book 1 I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.

My Rating: Four Flames

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An Uncommon Courtship

hawthorne house 2.jpg Finally, we get Lord Trent’s story! As the quirkiest of the family, Trent was my favorite of the Hawthorne siblings since the beginning.

Trent always planned to marry for love, but an accident and a scheming mother leave him wed to a virtual stranger: Adelaide Bell.

Both are frustrated and uncomfortable in this situation, having no idea what to do with each other, so Trent comes up with the idea to ‘court’ his wife. But his plan is fraught with problems that will either bring them together, or tear them apart.

This is a good tale about finding love even in the most difficult of situations. It’s a bit different from the previous two books as the main characters are already married, but it held my interest a lot better than the last book in the series.

Aside from getting to know Trent’s character a lot better, Adelaide herself was a great new addition that I hope to see more of in book 4. Her mother was unbelievably rotten, and I think that Adelaide handled things with a lot more aplomb than most of us. Her father though, was painfully underdeveloped. I really wish he had been better fleshed out. It could have made for a much more interesting dynamic.

My Rating: Five Flames

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Regina Silsby’s Phantom Militia: a book review

regina-silsbyDescription:

Thomas J. Brodeur’s historical fiction saga continues in Regina Silsby’s Phantom Militia. The British army’s worst nightmare becomes a reality when rumors spread that the legendary ghost, Regina Silsby, has returned to defend pre-Revolution Boston. Rachel Winslow and her cousin work to keep the superstitions alive, leading the redcoats to believe that it is Regina who continues to foil their plans and that this time she is not alone. Even the brash Major Cauldon gets nervous as he sees his ranks thinning even as their fears heighten. Young adult readers will thrill at the daring feats and foibles in this

My Review:

In the first book in this series, an altercation with a couple of redcoats in a church cemetery accidentally brings the name Regina Silsby to everyone’s lips. Desperate to be rid of the oppressive English influence, Boston teenager Rachel Winslow takes advantage of the enemy’s superstitions and brings their worst fears to life, Donning mask and wig to become the terrifying ghost.

She was eventually found out and forced to flee the city. Now she’s come back, along with her cousin, to search for her missing brother in a city that is becoming increasingly dangerous. And this time, she has help.

I loved the first book in this series- Regina Silsby’s Secret War – but this sequel is so much better! Brodeur Spins a gripping yarn that combines historical facts and people with his own wild imaginative twists!

Rachel was a great character, strong and quiet. Smart too. She was always thinking ahead, anticipating her opponents surprisingly well. Certainly more than I ever would have! (Guess that means I’d make a terrible vigilante, yes?) Her cousin Sarah was a fun addition too, though she does sometimes need to learn to stay quiet!

The setting of pre-revolution Boston is beautifully described with all the smells, sounds, and other little details you wouldn’t always think of. And in contrast with many story portrayals, not all the redcoats are truly bad, nor is every patriot soldier good. The story shows that grey place in the middle quite well and beautifully showcases a strong christian message. The arguments on both sides were logical and well thought out.

The ending of the book, while complete, did leave an opening for possible future books. I really hope the author does eventually write more, because I would greatly love to read more about “Regina Silsby”.

My Rating:

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: Clean. only some very mild flirting.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: Some wine is consumed.
Blood/violence: This story is set smack in the middle of the Revolutionary War. So yes, there are battles, death, shootings, chases, injuries, and some blood. The author writes it tastefully, but doesn’t shy away from the truths of the war either.

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Happy Reading y’all!

A Noble Masquerade: a book review

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Description: 

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

My Review:

If anyone ever found out that Miranda Hawthorne was writing letters to a man she had never met, it would be an incredible scandal. Of course, she would never dare to send them. They’re journal entries of a sort, written to a school friend of her brother’s. From the stories Griffith has told her of Marsh, she sees a kindred spirit and fellow rebel. She has always felt constricted by society’s, and her mother’s, high expectations of her. The letters are her way of silently rebelling. But what happens when one of those heartfelt outpourings gets sent?

When the mistake of her brother’s new valet lands a letter in the hands of the Duke, she is ready to die of embarassment. But when her letter is answered, the two start up a regular corresondence. With her intrests growing, not just with Marshington but also with her brother’s mysterious valet, the truth becomes harder to discern. Both about her feelings, and the men she cares about.

I think Hunter’s books have officially rekindled my love of regency novels. Miranda was a solid charater, but so immensely stubborn that she could be a bit irritating at times. The Duke and the Valet I really can’t go into detail over without touching on major spoiler territory.

I absolutely loved the friendly antics and rivalry of the Hawthorne siblings, but the real scene stealers were the servants. The Duke of Marshington’s servants were quite unlike most typical regency novels. This odd mishmash of unusual, irreverent, and hopelessly romantic characters make for plenty of hijinks as they determinedly fight to throw the Duke and Lady Miranda together, and they have no trouble telling him what an idiot he can be either. I just wish we had seen more of them in the sequels.

The suspense was well played out too, even though I did figure things out before the heroes did, though that is fairly normal for me. I totally recommend this one to anyone looking for a good, sweet and clean romance.

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: clean
Drinking/drugs: some wine injested, but no drunkenness.
Language: clean
Blood/violence: a fight and some shooting. No blood.

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Author Website
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Happy Reading y’all!