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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund




Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund
Due to everything I heard about this one, I was excited to read it.

Let’s begin with the summary:

In the mid-eighteenth century as England and France stand on the brink of war, John Newton is a young sailor wandering aimlessly through life. His only duty is to report to his ship and avoid disgracing his father—until the night he hears Polly Catlett’s enchanting voice, caroling. He’s immediately smitten and determined to win her affection.

An intense connection quickly forms between the two, but John’s reckless spirit and disregard for the Christian life are concerns for the responsible, devout Polly. When an ill-fated stop at a tavern leaves John imprisoned and bound, Polly must choose to either stand by his side or walk out of his life forever. Will she forfeit her future for the man she loves?

Step back through the pages of history, to uncover the true love story behind a song that continues to stir the hearts and ignite the faith of millions around the globe.

And now, my review:

John Newton wrote the infamous hymn “Amazing Grace.” Even folks who may not attend church have likely heard this song. So I was interested in reading this fictionalized account of his life. I had heard there was some violence in his life on board a ship at some point, but I wasn’t prepared for all the violence in this novel. I had to skim. In that way, the story kept pushing me out and I also didn’t quite believe there would be that much violence in his life. Was this normal? Was he just that incorrigible? That much of a target? Is this normal for a novel around this time period? I didn’t see other characters being beaten, only the hero of the story.

When we’re in his POV, we can see he doesn’t always make responsible decisions. But he doesn’t come across as unlikable. You just worry for him, as the reader. That builds tension, which keeps you reading. This is good. But all the beatings kept me from reading the entire book, especially when things took a turn for the worse (see summary above).

I enjoyed his interactions with Polly. Though she was naïve, I felt readers could sympathize with her.

If you enjoy adventures and don’t mind reading about several beatings, you may enjoy this story. There was a lot of potential here, unfortunately, the story just wasn’t for me.