Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone’s killed Father. The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell—of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.

As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.

 Hardcover, 336 pages 
Published May 2nd 2017 by Tinder Press
**** 1/2

What a devilishly delightful, eerie atmospheric book, where the house feels like it is one of the characters.

Lizzie Borden took an ax… Yeah yeah we all know the song. But do we know the truth beyond a shadow of a doubt?

Not really and See What I Have Done recounts the infamous Lizzie Borden and the murder of her father Andrew and stepmother Abby. While there is shifting in time with each chapter as well as narrators (Lizzie, her sister Emma, the housekeeper Bridget and a stranger named Benjamin), it works here. In fact it works very well and I was impressed how the author kept my attention and where scenes overlapped it was great to read from the different perspectives, it gave such a broad picture of what was taking place. Did Lizzie Borden really commit these horrible crimes? We will never know the full truth but this book gives a great perspective.

See What I Have Done has garnered mixed reviews, for myself I enjoyed the writing prose I enjoyed the poetic (at times) retelling. Though the Borden's were a well respected family in the community behind closed doors they were a dysfunctional family, kinda creepy and I think the only sane one was Bridget.

I would have loved for the book to have ended with authors notes, to see the motivation behind the story, to know what was fact verse fiction and just some of the 'why' and 'how comes' that took place.

This is the authors debut and she did a great job here, I look forward to reading more, definitely a book I recommend but again only to those that would appreciate the writing style.

This book is part of my personal library - I ordered from bookdepository since I wanted the cover above. Here is the US cover, which is just as creepy.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Spotlight: The Quest for the Crown of Thorns by Cynthia Ripley Miller

AD 454

Three years after the Roman victory over Attila the Hun at Catalaunum, Arria Felix and Garic the Frank are married and enjoying life on Garic's farm in northern Gaul (France). Their happy life is interrupted, when a cryptic message arrives from Rome, calling Arria home to her father, the esteemed Senator Felix. At Arria's insistence, but against Garic's better judgment, they leave at once. 

Upon their arrival at Villa Solis, they are confronted with a brutal murder and the dangerous mission that awaits them. The fate of a profound and sacred object--Christ's Crown of Thorns--rests in their hands. They must carry the holy relic to the safety of Constantinople, away from a corrupt emperor and old enemies determined to steal it for their own gain. But an even greater force arises to derail their quest--a secret cult willing to commit any atrocity to capture the Crown of Thorns. 

And all the while, the gruesome murder and the conspiracy behind it haunt Arria's thoughts. Arria and Garic's marital bonds are tested but forged as they partner together to fulfill one of history's most challenging missions, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns.
Publication Date: June 12, 2017
Knox Robinson Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 308 Pages
Series: The Long - Hair Saga, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


"Ripley Miller astutely brings to life a Rome teetering precariously on the brink of collapse ...the combination of political and romantic drama--spiritual as well--is rousing. The reader should be glad to have read this volume and eager for a third. Intelligent and artfully crafted historical fiction..." -Kirkus Reviews

 "From cover to cover a gripping read - in all senses of the word! Grips your interest and imagination, your held breath and your pounding heart! A thumping good novel!" -Helen Hollick USA Today bestselling author of the Sea Witch Voyages

"Forbidden love, a turbulent time period, and world-changing events combine to produce a real page-turner." -India Edghill, author of Queenmaker, Wisdom's Daughter, and Delilah.

 "A passionate and intriguing take on the often overlooked clash of three brutal and powerful empires: the Romans, Franks, and Huns. A Compelling read!" -Stephanie Thornton, author of The Secret History and The Tiger Queens

 "Readers will be absorbed by a setting of barbarian Gaul and the constancy of Arria's and Garic's destined love amid the strife of a dying Roman Empire." -Albert Noyer, author of The Getorius and Arcadia Mysteries

 "The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, is an elegant masterpiece of historical fiction. This book totally ensnared me in its clasps, and it did not release me until I had read it all. The attention to detail was exquisite The characterisation was sublime, and the romance was breathtakingly beautiful. I adored the world that Miller has created, as well as the characters in it. This is a sit-down and finish book and is one I would Highly Recommend." -Mary Anne Yarde author of the Du Lac Chronicles


Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages and books. She has lived, worked, and travelled in Europe, Africa, North America and the Caribbean.

As a girl, she often wondered what it would be like to journey through time (she still does), yet knew, it could only be through the imagination and words of writers and their stories. Today, she writes to bring the past to life. She holds two degrees and has taught history and teaches English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press and The Scriptor. A Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist for her novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, she has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus

Cynthia has four children and lives with her husband, twin cats, Romulus and Remus, and Jessie, a German Shepherd, in a suburb of Chicago.

On the Edge of Sunrise is the first in the Long-Hair Saga; a series set in late ancient Rome and France and published by Knox Robinson Publishing. The second book in the series, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, was released in June 2017.

For more information please visit Cynthia Ripley Miller's website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we are giving away a copy of The Quest for the Crown of Thorns to one lucky winner!

To enter, please see the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 15th.

You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  The Quest for the Crown of Thorns

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein

Marcy Hammer’s life has been turned upside down. Her husband, the head of a global brassiere empire, didn’t think twice about leaving her after thirty-three years of marriage for a 32DD lingerie model. Now Harvey the Home-Wrecker is missing in action, but Marcy’s through thinking about what a cliché he is. What she needs now is a party-size bag of potato chips, a good support system, and a new dress.

Striking out on her own is difficult at first, but Marcy manages to find traces of humor in her heartbreak. Even while devastated by Harvey’s departure, she still has her indomitable spirit and her self-respect. She has no intention of falling apart, either, even when her adult children drop a few bombshells of their own and she discovers a secret about her new, once-in-a-lifetime friend. Life may be full of setbacks, but by lifting herself up by her own lacy straps, Marcy just may be able to handle them all.

Paperback, 296 pages 
Published December 1st 2016 
by Lake Union Publishing

Sometimes you just need a good chick lit book once in a while. One that has a spunky character, some humor, and an interesting story.

 Lift and Separate is the perfect beach book coming in at almost 300 pages, it is a relatively quick read but far from boring. After 33 years of marriage Marcy is on her own. Her kids are grown and leading their own lives. With a perfect blend of drama, wit and soul-searching Marcy decides to put herself first for a change. 

Told from Marcy's perspective there is more than just her husband leaving here, her mother has an accident which develops into something more, a friendship develops, which helps during all this chaos. 

Lift and Separate kept me entertained, the characters had depth and the plot, though serious, was dealt with in a authentic manner. Aside from the cover, which I'm not a fan of and might not have picked this up on my own if I saw, this is a book I would definitely recommend. 

Thanks to TLC Tours for a print copy in exchange for honest review.

 Purchase Links

For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. Lift And Separate, released by Lake Union Publishers, is her debut novel.

Her second novel, also contemporary women’s fiction, will be published in December 2017

Connect with Marilyn 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cover Reveal: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right. 

 We’re celebrating Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today and you get the gift! Don’t miss the beautiful cover below and a special giveaway, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy today!

My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton (Coming 4.3.2018)

Wife, Widow, and Warrior in Alexander Hamilton’s Quest to Form a More Perfect Union 

 From the New York Times bestselling authors of America’s First Daughter comes the epic story of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton—a revolutionary woman who, like her new nation, struggled to define herself in the wake of war, betrayal, and tragedy. Haunting, moving, and beautifully written, Dray and Kamoie used thousands of letters and original sources to tell Eliza’s story as it’s never been told before—not just as the wronged wife at the center of a political sex scandal—but also as a founding mother who shaped an American legacy in her own right.

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife...

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and imperfect union he could never have created without her…

Pre-Order on Amazon | B&N |GooglePlay |iBooks | Kobo

New York Times bestselling author, Stephanie Dray is an award-winning, bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical women’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into eight different languages and won NJRW's Golden Leaf. As Stephanie Draven, she is a national bestselling author of genre fiction and American-set historical women's fiction. She is a frequent panelist and presenter at national writing conventions and lives near the nation's capital. Before she became a novelist, she was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the stories of women in history to inspire the young women of today.

Stephanie’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kamoie has always been fascinated by the people, stories, and physical presence of the past, which led her to a lifetime of historical and archaeological study and training. She holds a doctoral degree in early American history from The College of William and Mary, published two non-fiction books on early America, and most recently held the position of Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy before transitioning to a full-time career writing genre fiction as the New York Times bestselling author, Laura Kaye. Her New York Times bestselling debut historical novel, America's First Daughter, co-authored with Stephanie Dray, allowed her the exciting opportunity to combine her love of history with her passion for storytelling. Laura lives among the colonial charm of Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

To celebrate Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s Birthday today, we have a surprise for you! Share the cover of MY DEAR HAMILTON and fill out the Rafflecopter below to receive an Exclusive Excerpt!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Review & Giveaway: Casanova's Secret Wife by Barbara Lynn-Davis

Set in eighteenth-century Venice and based on an actual account by Giacomo Casanova—here is a lush tale of desire and risk. 

Caterina Capreta was an innocent girl of fourteen when she caught the attention of the world’s most infamous chronicler of seduction: Giacomo Casanova. 

Intoxicated by a fierce love, she wed Casanova in secret. But his shocking betrayal inspired her to commit an act that would mark her forever … 

Now twenty years later on the island of Murano, the woman in possession of Caterina’s most devastating secret has appeared with a request she cannot refuse: to take in a noble-born girl whose scandalous love affair resembles her own. But the girl’s presence stirs up unwelcome memories of Caterina’s turbulent past. 

Tested like never before, she reveals the story of the man she will never forget. Bringing to life a fascinating chapter in the history of Venice, Casanova’s Secret Wife is a tour de force that charts one woman’s journey through love and loss to redemption.

Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Kensington Books
eBook & Paperback; 304 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Biographical

I am a sucker when it comes to books taking place in Italy, rich in culture and history, it's my ultimate vacation destination.  I have been to a couple cities there but never Venice or the island of Murano. As my blog subtitle states 'reading gives you someplace to go when you have to stay where you are', which is exactly what Casanova's Secret Wife did.  It transported me to the eighteenth century with lush descriptive settings, from gondola rides to food to the convent.

I am familiar with the name Casanova but know nothing more about this character, to really show my ignorance I wasn't even sure this was a real person or just a myth.  Which was one of my main reasons for wanting to read this one.  While I was immediately drawn into this story I did struggle with Caterina's age, I realize that girls matured early back in the day but my feeling throughout this book was that she was older and wiser than 14 years, though some of her actions spoke clearly of someone lacking maturity.  

The plot was interesting and proves Casanova's  reputation, the author had wonderful author's notes to show her research and how true she stayed to the facts, but it's fiction and she filled in the gaps quite nicely.  This story is told from Caterina's initial meeting and then 20 years later as she recounts what took place. I loved that the author used some of Casonava's actual writings here and gave more info about his life.

Casanova's Secret Wife is a story of first love, loss and redemption, it's one I enjoyed reading and has me keeping my eye open for more by this author.

Thanks to HFVBT for the invite to be part of this tour and a print copy in exchange for honest review.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Target | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

Barbara Lynn-Davis graduated from Brown University with a degree in art history. She then worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and later spent a year there while completing her Ph.D. in Renaissance art at Princeton University. She currently teaches art history and writing at Wellesley College, and lives outside Boston with her family.

For more information please visit Barbara Lynn-Davis' website.

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a paperback copy of Casanova's Secret Wife!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on July 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

  Casanova's Secret Wife

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Spotlight & Giveaway: Whirligig: Keeping the Promise by Richard Buxton

Publication Date: April 22, 2017

Ocoee Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 496 Pages
Series: Shire's Union, Book One
Genre: Fiction/Historical

The first novel from multi-award winning short-story writer Richard Buxton, Whirligig is at once an outsider's odyssey through the battle for Tennessee, a touching story of impossible love, and a portrait of America at war with itself. Self-interest and conflict, betrayal and passion, all fuse into a fateful climax.

Shire leaves his home and his life in Victorian England for the sake of a childhood promise, a promise that will pull him into the bleeding heart of the American Civil War and through the bloody battlefields of the West, where he will discover a second home for his loyalty.

Clara believes she has escaped from a predictable future of obligation and privilege, but her new life in the Appalachian Hills of Tennessee is decaying around her.

In the mansion of Comrie, long hidden secrets are being slowly exhumed by a war that comes ever closer.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Barnes & Noble

Richard Buxton lives with his family in the South Downs, Sussex, England. He completed an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University in 2014. He has an abiding relationship with America, having studied at Syracuse University, New York State, in the late eighties. His short stories have won the Exeter Story Prize, the Bedford International Writing Competition and the Nivalis Short Story Award.

Whirligig is his first novel and the opening book of Shire’s Union trilogy. Current projects include the second book, The Copper Road, as well as preparing to publish a collection of short stories.

To learn more about Richard’s writing visit
You can also follow Richard on Facebook and Twitter.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away one paperback & one eBook of WHIRLIGIG!

To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

  Giveaway Rules
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review: The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

 With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

 Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own.

She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own. Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

 Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny?

Hardcover, 352 pages 
Published July 10th 2017 by Zondervan

I was first introduced to Rachel Hauck with her book The Wedding Dress, which I really enjoyed. 

Reading books about anything bookish whether it is writer's, readers, bookshop owners, you name it and you've got my attention.   

The Writing Desk is a dual narrative about writers and writer's block (amongest other things as well). In present day we have Tenley Roth with a serious case of writer's block, the fact that she is on a tight deadline isn't helping her find her mojo. Thinking this new found desk (along with a red robe and slippers) will help her, she ultimately gets more than she bargained for. 

Birdie Shehorn is a writer who does not suffer from writers block but she is born during a time when a women's first priority is to do what their parents and then husband says, to marry for social status and financial gain, forget about love. 

I will just be blunt here and say that I loved this book.  Both time periods were equally entertaining and intriguing.   It was not predictable and left me guessing right to the end.  The characters were developed with depth, they were flawed and authentic, where one relies on her faith to get her through situations that appear hopeless the other discovers what it means to cast your cares on Him. For Christian fiction it wasn't overly preachy but contained the right balance that I love.

The Writing Desk is a wonderful story of forgiveness, love, endurance and discovering where to place your faith. With a unique plot that was written with humor and feeling, definitely one I highly recommend.


Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist.

Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower.

Connect with Rachel 

Website | Facebook | Twitter

click on banner for more stops on this tour

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

 Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

 Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family's home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. "So little is permissible for a woman," writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Nan A. Talese
Hardcover & eBook; 352 Pages
Genre: Fiction/Historical/Literary

Lilli de Jong is a powerful story of a mother's unfailing love for her child.  Within a year of her mother's death Lilli's world has taken a complete about face, gone is her sense of security and all she believed in.  Left to her own devices at the age of 23 she is alone and pregnant. Told through diary entries the reader is given such a vivid picture of what the scorned of society had to endure.

As I was reading I figured a 4 star was due here, but once I hit the half way mark I could not put this down. I bounced this up to 5 stars for so many reasons.  First off, the story, I am not sure what I expected with this one but I got so much more.  The author didn't hold back as she described life for an unwed mother, not just what mom had to endure but these unwelcomed babies as well.  It sure did open my eyes and make me very grateful not to have to witness any of that.  Told from Lilli's point of view made it all the more emotional and you could feel her desperation, feelings of hopelessness as well as her determination to not just survive but build a life for her child as well.

This is the author's debut!? Wow I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. Suffice to say this was an engaging story, the author stayed true to the time period and it's obvious she spent a fair amount of time researching for this book, it wasn't hard to feel like I was transported to back to 1883.  Definitely a book I highly recommend.


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo | Powell's

Janet Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton's website for more information and updates.

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: The Captain's Daughter (London Beginnings #1) by Jennifer Delamere

 When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater which is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

An injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

Paperback, 338 pages 
Published June 6th 2017 
by Bethany House Publishers
Jennifer Delamere is a new-to-me author, The Captain's Daughter is the start of her London Beginning's series.

The 1800's in London is a time I rarely venture into that often, which is why I was keen to read this one (broaden my horizons). It's Victorian England with Gilbert & Sullivan, the HMS Pinafore is on stage as well as Pirates of the Penzance featured here. I hope to rectify my ignorance of this two musical in the very near future.

Newly arrived in London Rosalyn Bernay finds herself homeless, penniless and doesn't know where to turn. Through a series of chance encounters she lands a job back stage. Nate Moran also works backstage and trying to overcome a past before he can resume his army career in India.

Both Rosalyn and Nate are likable characters, the author did a great job of character development, they were authentic making it a pleasure to read. On one hand where Nate is knowledgeable in ways of the world, Rosalyn is naive and too trusting.  This is Christian Fiction where faith plays a large role, as Rosalyn struggles with life she talks to God in a realistic manner and trusts in Him to help her.

I really enjoyed the historical elements here, from the Gilbert & Sullivan musicals to Rosalyn growing up in one of George Muller's orphanages to society life in the Victorian era.  With Author's Notes at the end it was interesting to see some of the characters were based on real historical people and events.

With a visit by Rosalyn's sister Lucy I was given a glimpse into the next book in this series, The Heart's Appeal (releases March 2018).

click on cover to take you to the Goodreads page

This is definitely a series I recommend.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: The Competition by Donna Russo Morin

In a studiolo behind a church, six women gather to perform an act that is, at once, restorative, powerful, and illegal: they paint. Under the tutelage of Leonardo da Vinci, these six show talent and drive equal to that of any man, but in Renaissance Florence, they must hide their skills, or risk the scorn of the church, the city, and the law.

A commission to paint a fresco in the church of Santo Spirito is about to be announced and Florence s countless artists each seek the fame and glory this lucrative job will provide. Viviana, a noblewoman freed from a terrible marriage, and now able to pursue her artistic passions, sees a potential life-altering opportunity for herself and her fellow artists. The women first speak to Lorenzo de Medici himself, and finally, they submit a bid for the right to paint it. And they win. The very public commission belongs to them.

But with the victory comes a powerful cost. The church will not stand for women painting, especially not in a house of worship. The city is not ready to consider women in positions of power, and in Florence, artists wield tremendous power. Even the women themselves are hesitant; the attention they will bring upon themselves will disrupt their families, and even put them in physical danger.

All the while, Viviana grows closer to Sansone, her soldier lover, who is bringing to her a joy that she never knew with her deceased husband. And fellow-artist Isabetta has a flame reignited, sparked by Lorenzo himself. Power and passion collide in this sumptuous historical novel of shattering limitations, one brushstroke at a time."

Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Diversion Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 268 Pages
Series: Da Vinci's Disciples, Book Two
Genre: Historical/Mystery

The Competition is the second book in the Da Vinci's Disciples Series by Donna Russo Morin. I have read the first book and highly recommend doing that first, even though this one could work as a stand alone it's nice to understand references to previous events. I got to know who these women, their past and present situations which I feel enhanced my reading of this book.

One of the things I loved about The Competition is how it was steeped in time.  With vivid descriptions of Florence, the culture was brought to life.  Add the world of art it wasn't hard to get a clear sense of how seriously the men felt that it was a man's world.  These women were brave enough too risk so much to break into their domain.

There were times I found myself frustrated with the obstacles put before them as well as the treatment they received. The author did a great job of portraying these events and I think it's great when a writer can make her reader feel the frustration, anger and disappointment along with her characters..

I found this book to be entertaining and a series I highly recommend.  Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book and HFVBT for the opportunity to be part of this tour.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo

Donna earned two degrees from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to writing, teaching writing, and reviewing for literary journals, Donna works as a model and actor; highlights of her work include two seasons on Showtime’s Brotherhood and an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Donna is the proud mother of two sons, one a future opera singer, the other a future chef.

Donna's titles include The Courtier's Secret, The Secret of the Glass, To Serve a King, The King's Agent, Portrait of a Conspiracy, and The Competition. Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat.

Visit her website at

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.