Monday, May 1, 2017

The Vicar’s Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack

The Vicar's Daughter by Josi S. Kilpack

I really enjoy reading books from the Proper Romance imprint by Shadow Mountain Publishing. They’re regency romances and often very well written.

Let’s begin with this novel’s summary:

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There’s only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle’s heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything. When Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in her sister’s name. Will her good intentions lead to disaster?

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar’s daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?

And now, my review:

What a great novel! The book held my interest the entire time, and I thought about it when I wasn’t reading.

I liked this heroine. She was strong and confident, if a little misguided. She’s motivated to outsmart a system that is holding her back. She’s conflicted within herself, which offered interesting layers. Her parents were mysterious (we stayed in the heroine’s POV), overbearing, and judgmental. They withheld love when they disagreed with her. While this may have been true for the era, it wasn’t fun to read, but it made me cheer harder for the heroine. 

The letter-writing premise (see summary above) was great and the romantic arc, very strong. 

The story’s hero is a “fish out of water.” He’s trying to find his way and may have blundered by exchanging these letters. I enjoyed watching him humbly try to find his way.
Although some of the theology didn’t seem entirely biblically sound, overall this novel is very enjoyable. This is one of my favorite reads so far this year. Highly recommended!

Monday, April 3, 2017

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

I’ve really enjoyed Kristi’s books in the past so I couldn’t wait to read this one. Plus, look at that cover. Gorgeous!

Let’s begin with the summary:

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister's shadow--which worked until her sister got married. Even with the pressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn't be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He's free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn't know, his dream of a marriage like his parents' seems lost forever.

Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent's relationship survive the pressures of London society?

And now, my review:

I loved the premise of this book, of a husband romancing his wife. I felt sympathetic toward the hero in this story and could understand why he longed for a marriage like his parents’. I also loved the setting and genre of this Regency romance. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t find the heroine relatable. I felt like we were kept at a distance from her. I couldn’t sympathize with her. She didn’t come across as warm, but instead rather robotic. We didn’t get to learn what she wanted, her history, or her motivations. Without these, she didn’t feel “real.”
The pacing lagged a few times, and there were some believability issues that seemed to cause or result from plot holes.

I did like how the hero acted nobly toward his wife. The author also brought up a sensitive issue that I was surprised to see addressed. You’ll have to read to find out what. 

On the upside, there was a bit of humor, and I did keep reading to see how the author worked out the central conflict.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sugar by Kimberly Stuart

Sugar by Kimberly Stuart

Let’s begin with the summary:

After realizing her coworkers at L’Ombre, a high-profile restaurant in NYC, will never appreciate or respect her, Charlie Garrett allows her ex-boyfriend, Avery Michaels, to convince her to work for him as executive pastry chef at his new Seattle hotspot, Thrill. She’ll have her own kitchen, her own staff—everything she ever wanted professionally.

When she arrives at Thrill, however, she realizes that Avery wanted more than a pastry chef for his restaurant—he wanted a costar for the reality show they’re filming about the restaurant and its staff. Charlie is uncomfortable with the idea at first, but she soon realizes that this is her chance to show the world what women in the kitchen are capable of. She sets some ground rules with the film crew, signs a non-disclosure agreement, and promptly meets the man of her dreams, Kai, off-camera.

The show, and her demanding work schedule as head of the pastry kitchen, makes it nearly impossible for Charlie and Kai to spend time together. Drama on and off the set soon take a toll on Charlie’s well-being, forcing her to choose if life in front of the camera is worth sacrificing life behind the scenes.

And now, my review:

I had a difficult time getting into this story. I’d heard people raving about this book, but after reading the opening chapter or so I couldn’t relate with their opinions.

I liked the idea of a story framed around a heroine chef. I enjoy cooking shows and the occasional Hallmark movie centered around chefs. So I was looking forward for a lighthearted read about a chef's journey, even a bit of romance. 

The story was not at all what I expected, both in content and in genre. Unfortunately, I assumed this was a CBA book, but what I found was bleak, violent, and crude. Because of this, after about 2 percent into the story, I decided to move on to the next book in my TBR list.

I wish the author well.