Friday, November 27, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden


The Gentleman and the Thief

I enjoyed book one in the Dread Penny Society series. You can find my review here

Let’s begin with the summary:

A gentleman scribes penny dreadful novels by night and falls in love with a woman who is a music teacher by day—and a thief at night.

London, 1865

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

And now, my review:

I liked revisiting familiar characters and returning to London in the 1800s. We follow the members of the DPS (Dread Penny Society) as they rescue and protect street urchins through a network of spies. I love this heroic aspect, which lends hope amidst a backdrop of dank London streets.

The main characters are often writers of “penny dreadful,” stories mainly for children with daring heroes and mysteries or even ghosts/zombies, etc. I admit I’ve skimmed or skipped these aspects at times. There are hidden elements if you want to read them, but I haven’t felt I’ve missed out by skimming.

It’s impressive to me that the author includes these stories in her narrative while also carrying out the main story of the novel as the penny dreadful excerpts are themselves detailed and layered.

Our heroine is multi-layered as well. She’s committing crime for noble reasons, and no one suspects her. This aspect really hooks readers.

The chemistry between the hero and heroine was delightful. Sarah is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. I love her sense of humor and how she includes it on the page.

I do recommend reading these novels in order. The first is The Lady and the Highwayman. The Gentleman and the Thief is the second book in the Dread Penny Society series.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New Release: A Christmas Duet in the Melodies of Christmas Love boxed set


A Christmas Duet included in MCL boxed set

New Release!

I’m so excited to share that I have a new novella out this Christmas!

My story “A Christmas Duet” is part of the compilation Melodies of Christmas Love: A Boxed Set. Each brand-new novella in this collection is centered around a Christmas Carol. Some of the authors (including me) have tied our novella to a current series we’ve written. Many can be read without having read the series they’re tied to, so you won’t be lost if this is your first exposure to any of the author’s works.

Pick up the entire set of seven novellas for only $0.99!

Here’s more about “A Christmas Duet”:

Following a breakup, professional cellist Kate Fleming’s well of inspiration has run dry. Her musical ensemble is counting on her to write several cello and piano compositions for their next album. She’s rented a beautiful beach house on Whidbey Island for the Christmas season. But the atmosphere may not be inspiring enough.

Church music director Zach Tillmon would love to book a professional musician for the upcoming Christmas program. His number-one choice is out of reach. But perhaps the newcomer wouldn’t mind sharing her talents with the congregation.

When these two perform together, sparks fly. But their lives aren’t settled, so a romance is out of the question. Or is it? Join them near picturesque Puget Sound at Christmastime for a delightfully musical love story.

Behind the Scenes

I enjoyed writing this story and connecting it to my award-nominated Whidbey Island novel, Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington, which released in 2019.

You’ll meet new characters while revisiting Birch Harbor. And you’ll see some familiar characters as Clay and Liberty have a cameo or two. If you haven’t read my Whidbey novel, no worries. You won’t be lost if you read “A Christmas Duet” first. It was so much fun for me to return to the island setting and share the holiday season with readers.  

Melodies of Christmas Love: a boxed set

Here’s more about the entire set to whet your appetite:

The Heart of Christmas by Lynnette Bonner

When Wynn Mason sees police lights at Misty Cove’s one-and-only bar, she goes inside to investigate and is just in time to see her ex-boyfriend punch Ryland Sage in the face. What is the star of her favorite TV show doing in their tiny Pacific Coast town? Since Wynn is the only medical help for miles around, she has to stitch up his face—and also maybe his heart—all while protecting her own heart from the worldly charmer.

Love on a Mission in Millcreek by JoAnn Durgin

Angelia Ford wonders if she’ll ever live down her unfortunate outburst at the end of the Millcreek Elementary Christmas program. Sixteen years later, she’s home to care for her grandfather and prays the town’s citizens have finally forgiven her youthful indiscretion.

Millcreek’s newest resident, Nicholas Sanders, recognizes the beautiful blonde server at the local diner, but it’s clear Angel doesn’t remember him. What better time than the festive holiday season for Nick to reintroduce himself to the girl he’s never forgotten?

The Bells of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig

When Justine Driscoll decides to enter a short story contest using a Christmas carol as the inspiration, she discovers love in the carols she investigates, in the story an ex-Army guy tells, and in the little tourist town of New Cheltenham.

A Christmas Duet by Annette M. Irby

A breakup steals a cellist’s inspiration. How will she create new compositions for her ensemble’s next album? Perhaps the church’s handsome music director could help. Join Kate Fleming and Zach Tillmon as Christmas music brings them together on Whidbey Island, Washington.

A Night Divine by Dawn Kinzer

One chilly December night, a tragedy connects successful model Camryn Tate and outreach minister Trace Gardner. As they share a common mission serving the homeless on the streets of Seattle, they provide more than food—they offer hope. But as Christmas Eve approaches, secrets have the potential to break Camryn’s heart.

To Hear the Angels Sing by Lesley Ann McDaniel

Being guardian of her niece isn’t as easy as Devlin Welsh might hope. When her niece is invited to be in a church show, the free childcare is hard to pass up. But when Devlin admits to knowing how to sew, she’s enlisted as costume designer. How will she find the time?

One of Jonah Ryan’s favorite parts of his job as worship leader is working on the kids’ Christmas musical. There’s something about the woman who’s volunteering to design costumes this year that gets him thinking. Could there be more to life than music?

Prairie Rose by Sylvia Stewart

For many years, Rose Morris has lived alone with her dog, Rusty. Mitch Foster, a handsome, un-married neighbor, brings her a bright red geranium, and insists on helping with chores. But who should drive into Rose’s farmyard? The scoundrel husband who had deserted her and her teenaged son years before. Later, a pre-teen runaway, found in her barn, adds his troubles to her own, so Rose decides to re-capture the peace and serenity of Christmas.


I hope you’ll pick up this collection. You may find new favorite authors or settings. Grab some hot cocoa or cider and curl up with these contemporary Christmas romances!


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant


The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant

What a fun read! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Love doesn't always look the way we expect.

The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so that she's created her own version of the famous Parisian love-lock wall at the bakery where she works in Story, Kansas. She never expects a video involving the wall to go viral—or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He's definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for an epic love story like the one her parents had—and that certainly will not include the love-scorning Gerard.

Just when it seems the Pastry Puff is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just the bakery but the pedestal she's kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri's recipe just needs to be tweaked.

And now, my review:

I enjoyed this book! Betsy’s voice is strong and her story so enjoyable. I laughed aloud in several places.

Our heroine is a romantic, but she isn’t realistic. No one could measure up to her ideals. Our jaded hero has his own secrets and reasons for rejecting romance, in general. He isn’t comfortable staying in one place, thus his travel writer career. These two almost couldn’t be more opposite in their approaches to life and love and even hope, which makes for great conflict.

The secondary characters are a hoot, adding to the fun in this novel. I enjoyed the bakery setting, along with the small-town ambiance.

Before I picked up this book, I began reading a very heavy story by another author. If you’re looking for a lighter novel that will make you laugh, or at least chuckle, I recommend this one.

Looking forward to Betsy’s next book!