Sunday, February 25, 2018

Review: I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn. 

Russia, July 17, 1918
Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920
A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened.

  Kindle Edition, 240 pages 
Published February 20th 2018
 by Doubleday

Sometimes it's a good idea to cave to peer pressure, which is exactly what I did here.  Though having heard the Romanov name and Anastasia I still wasn't really familiar with their history.  With nothing to base any preconceived knowledge I jumped right in.  Boy what a ride I Was Anastasia was, it far exceeded my expectations, right from the first page I was mesmerized and kept thinking about the whole family when not reading.  It was a struggle to stay away from google.

With two time periods taking place the author did something I have never encountered before.  The later time period goes back in time to meet up back in 1918.  Sounds weird?  Yea maybe, but it really worked here and I totally get why the author did it that way.  It did take a few chapters to get used to it, but after that I was so engrossed that everything just flowed nicely.

There is a lot of historical detail and its evident that the author did a lot of research and has a passion for this story.  Where she took liberties she explained in the authors notes and I highly recommend reading them.  This book was exquisitely written, a few scenes were hard to read but Ariel Lawhon really transported me back in time and I feel that I can't adequately put into words my feelings. I loved this book, it opened my eyes to a part of history I knew nothing about.  Definitely made my 'best of 2018' list and has me searching out her previous books.

Thanks to the publisher (via Edelweiss) for an advanced copy.  

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Excerpt: Two Journeys Home by Kevin O'Connell

It’s 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane begins, Eileen O’Connell avails herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland. In Two Journeys Home, the O’Connells encounter old faces and new—and their lives change forever.

Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teen aged widow but as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court. Before returning to Vienna she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict with the O’Connell clan.

Abigail lives not in the shadow of her sister but instead becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa.

Hugh O’Connell leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade under Louis XV. But more royal entanglement awaits him in France…

Author Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe and Protestant Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the saga continues to unfold amongst the O’Connell’s, their friends and enemies, at home and abroad.


Having served at the court of the Empress Maria Theresa for almost six years, Eileen O’Connell has returned to her family’s home at Derrynane in County Kerry, Ireland for a brief visit. Though she had last departed the O’Connells’ sanctuary as a teenage widow, she returns as one of the most recognised figures at the glittering Habsburg court. During the course of her stay, she has journeyed with her twin sister, Mary, her physician husband and children, to the Baldwins’ home in County Cork.  The sisters have not been close, their differences highlighted by that Eileen is very tall, with a mane of coal-black hair, whilst Mary is of moderate height, blond and fair:

Having seen the children upstairs, Mary joined her sister in the smaller
family parlour for brandy. Eileen had already poured their drinks into two
intricately cut Irish crystal glasses and toasted her twin’s health, even as Mary was
sitting down. Both drank deeply, their cheeks immediately flushing.

Relaxed, Eileen planned on chatting informally, very much hoping to
continue their previously begun discussion about their very different
lives; she was just beginning to tell Mary about using their own not
always easy relationship growing up as a teaching device with her
archduchesses: “. . . and ’twas then that I said to Antoine—you will recall
that she is the littler one—that . . .”

Eileen,” Mary interrupted sharply, “because you have mentioned
this, I have desired to discuss with you . . . I know not how I might best
perhaps phrase it . . . the direction of your life, perhaps?”

Surprised at her sister’s assertiveness, though instantly intrigued by
the topic, Eileen sat back, cradling her snifter in her hands, inhaling the
fine French brandy’s rich aroma, saying nothing as Mary continued, her
tone suddenly chill, sharp even.

“Is not Abigail well wed? Does she not occupy a position of great
honour and prominence at the court?” she queried; somewhat archly, Eileen
thought, though she remained silent, reflecting even as her sister was still

Before Eileen could respond, Mary continued. “In contrast to our
dear sister’s exalted position, do you not in fact remain a servant, in effect
a nursemaid even to these little princesses . . . or duchesses is it, rather? I
mean you wait on them, do you not?”

Archduchesses,” Eileen corrected sharply, reflexively defensive.
“Expressed correctly, they are each Her Imperial Highness, an archduchess of
Austria and Lorraine,” she said loftily, firmly adding, “and, indeed, I most
definitely do not wait upon anyone; whether I dine with the
archduchesses, with others . . . or alone, it is I who am waited upon,” she

“Oh . . . yes . . . very well, I stand corrected then,” Mary managed,
charging on, “but this does not alter your position, does it? You are still a
servant, are you not?” she said again, not pausing for any reply. “What I
am attempting to say, Eileen, is,” she sighed, with seeming exasperation,
“when might it be that you will aspire to a good marriage and a position
worthy of your talents . . . indeed, one which will, as does Abby’s, do
honour to our family, to your heritage?”

Eileen, as she rarely ever did, sat speechless, her lips parted, her
cheeks flaming, as Mary went on. “Indeed, is not my own position—well
wed to a prominent physician, mistress of his home, mother of his
children—is it not far, far superior to your own?” she asked, then took
another deep draught of her brandy.

“Sister,” Eileen began softly, “I am not certain you fully understand
my role within the Imperial household. Yes, I have cared for both these
girls, now becoming young women, since they were wee little ones. I
have been their teacher and companion, riding mistress, friend . . .
indeed, ’tis quite fair to say that I am perhaps closer to them than is their
own mother, Her Imperial Majesty.”

Deciding against mentioning that when they were alone, Antoine
now regularly addressed her as “Mama,” as Mary sighed audibly, Eileen
tacked deftly, her tone even. “What you must be aware of is that both
these young girls shall eventually, by virtue of their marriages, ascend
thrones of Europe—one of them perhaps that of France, even. You
must also appreciate, sister, that ’tis I, amongst others—a priest, several
nobles, diplomats—who have spent these years preparing them for these
positions and all that they will entail.”

Eileen noted Mary’s expression change abruptly, her sudden albeit
reluctant deference now obvious.

Eileen should have left the topic at that point; instead, her ego getting
the best of her, she tacked yet again, this time less adroitly. “To be fair—
and though I admit the importance of any of this is perhaps insignificant
to you—you must understand I have, by the grace and favour of the
empress of course, three apartments”—the back of her hand facing her
sister, she held up her right pinkie, fourth and middle fingers for
emphasis—“in three palaces, I have servants” —she exaggerated—“by
virtue of my position, I receive deferential curtseys and bows from my
inferiors—of whom there are many, I view operas and concerts from the
same seats as are occupied by the Imperial family, Bull is stabled with the
horses belonging to the empress and their Imperial highnesses, I dine and
dance with . . . ” Seeing Mary’s eyes roll, Eileen’s voice trailed off, and
she then cleared her throat. “So, you see, sister, ’tis far from being a mere
servant that I am . . . I believe you would agree, were you to come to
Vienna and . . .”

“As I shall never do so, nor would I particularly care to do so . . . I . . .
I shall accept your word as to all that of which you speak,” Mary said, her
now-impatient tone accompanied by a flat gesture of her free hand.
“Though I nevertheless do again strongly urge you, Eileen, to consider
your future . . . After all, you are aging rapidly now, my dear, and a widow
you remain. People will come to believe that . . .” She waved her left
hand dismissively, then bending, she poured more brandy for them, as
Eileen pointedly changed the topic of the conversation.

After retiring, Eileen sat up in her bed in the flickering light of a
single candle. Widow, nursemaid, servant, husband, children . . . children,
husband—the words and their meanings spun in her mind; reflecting, she
thought, though she is lacking in any number of ways, Mary is not a stupid woman.
Eileen reflected further after she had blown out the candle, settling back
on her pillows, lying in the silent dark, recalling now her mother’s recent
counsel about considering marriage and children, as well, Perhaps I should

reflect . . . indeed, yes, I shall consider . . . I must . . . perhaps even soon.


Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and the descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French Army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

An international business attorney, Mr. O’Connell is an alumnus of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

A lifelong personal and scholarly interest in the history of eighteenth-century Ireland, as well as that of his extended family, led O’Connell to create his first book, Beyond Derrynane, which will, together with Two Journeys Home and the two books to follow, comprise the Derrynane Saga.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.


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O’Connell is a fantastic storyteller. His prose is so rich and beautiful it is a joy to read. The story is compelling and the characters memorable – all the more so because they are based on real people. . . I am Irish but I did not know about this piece of Irish history. It is fascinating but historical fiction at the same time . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers!

(c) Beth Nolan, Beth’s Book Nook

I enjoyed the first part of the Saga awhile back . . . (and) couldn’t wait to continue the story of Eileen and her family . . . this author really does have a way with words. The world and the characters are so vivid . . . Overall, I was hooked from page one. I honestly think that (Two Journeys Home) was better than (Beyond Derrynane) – which is rare. The characters and world-building was done in such a beautiful manner . . . I can’t wait for the next one . . .

 (c) Carole Rae, Carole’s Sunday Review, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe . . . is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters . . . a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue . . . The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises . . . great writing. Kevin O’Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive. I was delighted (by) . . . how he builds the setting, offering . . . powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time . . . The conflict is (as well-developed as the characters) and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward . . . an absorbing and intelligently-crafted historical novel . . . .

(c) Divine Zapa for Readers’ Favourite

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: The View from Rainshadow Bay (Lavender Tides #1) by Colleen Coble

After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

 Paperback, 336 pages 
Published January 23rd 2018 
by Thomas Nelson

The cover of this book is gorgeous, the mountains in the background just gives a great feel.  The View from Rainshadow Bay is the first book in Colleen Coble's new Lavender Tides Series.

I found this book to be very plot driven, right from the beginning the action starts and I will admit to being a little overwhelmed here, lots happened fast.  I was intrigued with the mystery and that's what kept me turning the pages.  That being said, there were spots I found slow and some of the scenarios didn't match the drama (things that wouldn't have happened in real life).

Life is hard for Shauna as she is still adjusting to life since the sudden death of her husband.  While caring for her young son she holds a grudge against his best friend, whom she feels is responsible for his death. This is where I also struggled somewhat, I realize grief is different for everyone and I would have loved to feel her struggles and that of her mother-in-law rather than being told. 

There was closure in the ending but at the same time opened the door for future stories.  I will continue with this series as I have found with this author, she gets better with each installment.

The View of Rainshadow Bay is a story of forgiveness, mystery, secrets and second chances.  

Thanks to the publisher (via Netalley) for an advanced copy and TLC Tours for the opportunity to review this one.

Connect with Colleen 

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

 From New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen comes a haunting novel about a woman who braves her father’s hidden past to discover his secrets…

 In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

 Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

 Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…

 Kindle Edition, 329 pages 
Expected publication: February 20th 2018 
by Lake Union Publishing

I am late to the party when I comes to Rhys Bowen. My second reading even though I have seen her books around and heard good things about them. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to meet the author last October at the Surrey International Writers Conference (where she was a presenter) that really put her books higher up on my TBR pile. It was during a mystery lunch where I had the honour of sitting beside her and the more we talked about writing, books and history the more I wanted to read her books. As soon as I came home I read the first book in Her Royal Spyness Series  (review coming soon), but it was The Tuscan Child that really caught my eye.

I love dual time period books, especially those revolving around World War 2, those that take place outside of England and France.  Plus given the fact that I LOVE Italy I was extra giddy.  The synopsis above does a great job of telling what the story is about without giving too much information away. As Hugo is first introduced and then his daughter Joanna I was struck by how different his character was (at the end of his life) and intrigued as to what took place to invoke such a dramatic change.  The visuals that I experienced really gave me a wonderful feel of the landscape of Italy and a sense of the danger that this small village endured at the hands of the Germans (and current day as well). I loved the author’s writing style as well as the mystery taking place. While there were some parts I found predictable I really enjoyed reading The Tuscan Child and look forward to reading more by this author.

 I received an ARC from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review. Also in no way did my meeting Rhys Bowen influence my opinions.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Once and Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend by Nicole Evelina

Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Lawson Gartner Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 281 Pages
Genre: History & Criticism/Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology

Guinevere’s journey from literary sinner to feminist icon took over one thousand years…and it’s not over yet. Literature tells us painfully little about Guinevere, mostly focusing on her sin and betrayal of Arthur and Camelot. As a result, she is often seen as a one-dimensional character. But there is more to her story. By examining popular works of more than 20 authors over the last one thousand years, The Once and Future Queen shows how Guinevere reflects attitudes toward women during the time in which her story was written, changing to suit the expectations of her audience. Beginning in Celtic times and continuing through the present day, this book synthesizes academic criticism and popular opinion into a highly readable, approachable work that fills a gap in Arthurian material available to the general public.

Nicole Evelina has spent more than 15 years studying Arthurian legend. She is also a feminist known for her fictional portrayals of strong historical and legendary women, including Guinevere. Now, she combines these two passions to examine the effect of changing times and attitudes on the character of Guinevere in a must-read book for Arthurian enthusiasts of every knowledge level.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo

Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction, romantic comedy and non-fiction writer, whose four novels have collectively won over 20 awards, including two Book of the Year designations (Daughter of Destiny by Chanticleer Reviews and Camelot’s Queen by Author’s Circle).

Her most recent book, THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN, traces the evolution of the character of Guinevere in Arthurian legend from her Celtic roots to the present day, showing how the character changed along with the period’s views of women.

Nicole is currently working on MISTRESS OF LEGEND (2018), the final book in her Guinevere's Tale trilogy. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, as well as a member of the Historical Fiction Writers of America, International Arthurian Society - North American Branch, Romantic Novelists Association, Novelists, Inc., the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Alliance of Independent Authors, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Midwest Publisher’s Association.

For more information, please visit Nicole Evelina's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Goodreads.

Sign up for Nicole's newsletter to receive news and updates.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of The Once and Future Queen! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents 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 Once and Future Queen

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Review/Giveaway: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution... 

 Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

 Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

 Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.

Kindle version, 394 pages
 Published February 6th 2018
 by Penguin/Berkley
Next Year in Havana is a dual timeperiod story, with one taking place current day and the other in 1958 as Castro takes control of the island. One thing that makes a book extra special for me is when they revolve around places that I have been to, such is the case here. I have been to both Santa Clara and Varadero as well as visited the memorial of Che, making it very easy for me to rekindle my feelings of those trips. Even if I have not been to those places the author did a great job of putting me there with vivid descriptions - from the landscape, food and lifestyles bringing this story to life.

The author doesn’t hold back  but tells it like it is (was). To be honest I really didn’t know what took place that put Castro in control and how it came about. Told in first person pov (my favorite), where I can get inside their heads (and hearts) to really feel the story.

Cleeton is a new author to me, and definitely one I will read more of.  Next Year in Havana is a story of love and lose, of survival and hope, full of family secrets that tug at your heart strings while opening your eyes to Cuba’s history. One that will stay with me and has me anxious for Beatriz's story (sister of Elisa).

Thank you to the author for reaching out to me with an advances copy in exchange for an honest review.

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution.

Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science.

Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review/Giveaway: The Phantom's Apprentice by Heather Webb

In this re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera, meet a Christine Daaé you’ve never seen before… Christine Daaé sings with her violinist Papa in salons all over Paris, but she longs to practice her favorite pastime—illusions. When her beloved Papa dies during a conjurer’s show, she abandons her magic and surrenders to grief and guilt. Life as a female illusionist seems too dangerous, and she must honor her father’s memory. 

Concerned for her welfare, family friend Professor Delacroix secures an audition for her at the Nouvel Opéra—the most illustrious stage in Europe. Yet Christine soon discovers the darker side of Paris opera. Rumors of murder float through the halls, and she is quickly trapped between a scheming diva and a mysterious phantom. The Angel of Music. 

But is the Angel truly a spirit, or a man obsessed, stalking Christine for mysterious reasons tangled in her past? 

As Christine’s fears mount, she returns to her magical arts with the encouragement of her childhood friend, Raoul. Newfound hope and romance abounds…until one fateful night at the masquerade ball. Those she cares for—Delacroix, the Angel, and even Raoul—aren’t as they seem. Now she must decide whom she trusts and which is her rightful path: singer or illusionist. 

To succeed, she will risk her life in the grandest illusion of all.

Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Sonnet Press
Paperback & eBook; 350 Pages
ISBN13: 9780999628508
Genre: Historical Fiction
*** 1/2

I love reading historical fiction off the beaten track, something unique and entertaining. I am not a big connoisseur of The Phantom of the Opera, 20 years ago I saw the musical and enjoyed it (even though the person sitting beside me huffed and puffed and obviously didn’t). My desire to read this one stands not just from the author but my interest in hearing from Christine.

The Phantom's Apprentice is a book of  illusions and manipulation. Told from Christine‘s point of view, it was interesting to see her character change as the story progresses. A young 16 year old at the beginning it's 3 years later that she begins to take control of her life, the guilt of her fathers death still haunting her.

More a mystery with its drama, intrigue and a cast of characters I wasn’t sure whom to trust (a couple I didn’t even like). The Phantom's Apprentice has an almost enchanting setting with its eerie Opera Ghost, secret underground passages, magical illusions and more. Sure to be a hit with not just Phantom of the Opera fans but those that like a good mystical mystery.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Kobo

HEATHER WEBB is the author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin's Lover, and the anthology Fall of Poppies, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews.

 RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. Up and coming, Last Christmas in Paris, an epistolary love story set during WWI will release October 3, 2017, and The Phantom's Apprentice, a re-imagining of the Gothic classic Phantom of the Opera from Christine Daae's point of view releases February 6, 2018.

To date, her novels have sold in ten countries.

Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend.

 For more information, please visit Heather's website.

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we are giving away two paperback copies of The Phantom's Apprentice! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below. Giveaway Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US & Canada residents 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 Phantom's Apprentice

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“Heather Webb combines music and magic seamlessly in The Phantom’s Apprentice, weaving glittering new threads into the fabric of a classic story. Romantic, suspenseful and inventive, this novel sweeps you along to its breathless conclusion.”—Greer Macallister, USA Today bestselling author of The Magician’s Lie and Girl in Disguise

“Heather Webb’s The Phantom’s Apprentice delivers a performance worthy of the Paris Opera. Unlike so many other renditions of the Phantom’s tale, Webb breathes life into Christine, so often portrayed as the helpless victim. Christine’s evolution from ‘damsel in distress’ to self-reliant woman is masterfully done, hooking the reader from the first page. Webb’s work is immersive, well-crafted, and beautifully paced. A must-read for fans of this bewitching legend!”—Aimie Runyan, author of Daughters of the Night Sky

Monday, February 5, 2018

Review: A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia but finds the same dangers lurking in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers threaten the life of a young boy left in her care, who some suspect to be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement, Azilum, offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate the land of his hard-won farm near Azilum, but soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they will be drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

Kindle Edition, 416 pages 
Expected publication: February 6th 2018
 by Bethany House Publishers
**** 1/2

Last spring I read The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green and loved it, it made my best of 2017 list (click on title to see my review).  It had everything I love in a book, between the historical fiction, Christian fiction and romance (that didn't dominate), coming in at 416 pages it was the perfect size.  I did what any new fan does and purchased her previous book while waiting for her newest release.  A Refuge Assured releases tomorrow and this lucky reader obtained a copy from the publisher, lucky me!  

French history is not a place I venture that often and I have become picky with books I read revolving around the French Revolution. It's mostly my own ignorance and lack of understand of the French court.  With A Refuge Assured while it begins in France the majority of the story takes place in the US but still centers around French history.

Thinking she is leaving France behind Vivienne still faces danger in unexpected places.  Meeting others that fled overseas should create a common bond but not everyone has the same feelings when it comes to the Revolution.  There are those waiting to return to France and others ready to rebuild their lives in the New World.

Without going into detail of what takes place here (the synopsis above does a great job there).  A Refuge Assured is a well written book of new beginnings, heartbreak, forgiveness and determination (just to name a few).  The author has cleanly done a ton of research here as I could feel so much of emotional and visual side, her author's notes at the end were wonderful.

Definitely a book and author I highly recommend.  Thanks to Bethany House (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.