A beautiful historical romance full of suspense, struggle, and noble but mistaken intentions

5.0 out of 5 stars, August 17, 2014

   
 Set during the events of the great Seattle fire of 1889, beautiful newcomer Fayth Sheridan struggles to establish and grow her sewing business since her unhappy departure from Baltimore. Arriving in Seattle following the untimely deaths of her parents and the betrayal of her unfaithful husband-to-be and his ruin of her business, she desperately seeks capital but cannot obtain credit of any kind.
 

Single women are scarce in the Seattle market and Fayth is besieged with unwanted marriage proposals but seeks a respectable marriage of convenience only. She set her sights on handsome prosperous sea captain Con O’Neil who is probably he only man in Seattle who has never shown the least romantic interest in her.

However, Captain O’Neil secretly is attracted to Fayth and agrees to her unconsummated marriage proposal hoping to win her love. Following the disastrous fire which destroys Fayth’s business and Captain O’Neil’s vital shipping wharf, neither can borrow any further legitimate bank’s money to rebuild so both turn to the City’s wealthiest madam Lou Gramm.

Both Fayth and Con declare their dislike for dishonesty. However, an ironic trail of deceit builds between the two of them that is both amusing and confusing as they snoop into each other’s businesses, something they swore they would never do. Why? Their mutual financial well-being is vital to their survival and they selflessly try to secretly shore each other up. To complicate the proceedings even further, Fayth’s fickle fiancé shows up from Baltimore begging her to reconsider the possibility of their thwarted marriage. Complicating matters, kind-hearted Fayth seeks to rescue a young prostitute from Lou Gramm’s upscale house of ill-repute. As if it could not get any crazier, Fayth discovers the captain’s accountant has been embezzling his funds, thus jeopardizing their future.

Full of both romantic and financial tension, the story is a constant and harrowing struggle for survival as Seattle rebuilds from the destructive fire. The deceptive cover-ups perpetrated by both Fayth and Con are both risky and, at times, comical in their unimagined consequences.

I dearly loved the grit and determination of Fayth as she struggled to succeed in a man’s world and likewise admired Captain O’Neil as he sought to protect and help Fayth while trying not to openly show his growing love for her. Likewise, Fayth realized she was falling madly in love with the good-natured confident and protective Captain, going directly against her marriage for convenience agreement. How long can she hold out against the seductive power of he captain?

The author’s authentic and gritty account of the great Seattle fire adds tremendous historical interest and vibrancy to the romantic backdrop of the story. There were a couple of somewhat erotic encounters between the heroine and hero but timely interruptions thwarted them before they could sexually consummate their “marriage of financial convenience.” (Well, they WERE legally married weren’t they?)

In summation, this story grabbed my interest immediately and held it throughout to the end. It is one of the best historical romances I have recently read because of its unusual historical backdrop and the complex romantic relationship between the two principals. I highly recommend this thoroughly entertaining read.

Do you like food? Do you like Romance? Are you a Francophile? You’ll LOVE this!

   
Bon Appetit: A Novel (French Twist Book 2)
 
Bon Appetit: A Novel (French Twist Book 2)
 
   

 
5.0 out of 5 stars 
   
 

Do like good food? Do you like romance? Are you a Francophile? Bon Appetit, by Sandra Byrd, neatly packages up these three treats into a delightful and revelatory look at the demanding world of surviving a classic French baking/pastry academy.

Our ambitious young heroine, Lexi Stuart, does just that as she leaves the French family owned bakery in her hometown of Seattle for the military-like training of the baking school south of Paris. Being naturally friendly and sociable, she struggles with the initially closed and abrupt nature of the French People. Initially, she is excessively homesick and lonely as she seeks friendships at the academy and especially the village bakery, owned by the same family as the one in Seattle.

Lexi finally befriends Anne, who is also a student from Normandy. She also meets and loves Celine, the daughter of Phillipe, a widower and future heir to the upscale bakery chain. Here begins a subtle triangle for her affections between Phillipe and Dan, her attorney boyfriend in Seatle.

The depictions of Paris, Versailles, the French landscape, weather, the French themselves and their food are so authentic that the author appears to have “been there and done that.” Narrated in the first person and so vividly detailed, it reads more like a memoir than a novel.

Ordinarily, I take exception to a book series that must all be read in its entirety for a complete resolution of the plot because none of the books can stand alone as a singular work. However, I’ll make an exception here because there is enough of a resolution to give the story a measure of completeness.

This reviewer was unaware that he had the first book in the trilogy, Let Them Eat Cake, already residing on his overloaded Kindle. What a delightful, quiet, yet compelling story of Godly faith overlooked, regained, and prayers answered. The story is wholesome enough for the young adults in your family to read and enjoy also.

This one is a little different because I found it better than many of them

Loving Miss Darcy (Brides of Pemberley Book 2)
 
Loving Miss Darcy (Brides of Pemberley Book 2)
 
   
4.0 out of 5 starsJuly 27, 2014

   

Still another offering in the seemingly endless stream of Jane Austen sequels. However, this one is a little different because I found it better than many of them. Why? The author faithfully sticks close to the authenticity of Miss Austen’s characters and her original artistic intent.

Obviously, due to the title, this is Georgiana Darcy’s story and the events of her first season in London, as well as her budding romance with Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. Being somewhat shy and retiring, she does not look forward to the social crush of London’s elite, for more than one reason. However Miss Catherine Bennet (‘Kitty’) accompanies her and due to her lively and engaging personality, helps to smooth out some of the bumps along the way.

Neither Georgiana nor Richard are aware of their feelings for each other. Georgiana still thinks the colonel treats her like a school girl or little sister. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s prime concern is to continue to be her watchful guardian during Georgiana’s season. Perhaps the colonel is doing too good of a job at keeping the rogues and undesirables away from her. He enlists the help of 3 former military comrades and charges them to discretely monitor her activities. Being former operatives in France, they are up to the task.

The other reason Georgiana is distressed is that the ton will discover her disastrous elopement with George Wickham, thus her reluctance and fear of being exposed and her reputation ruined. During the course of her first season, she and Richard sense someone is watching them secretly. But, who would wish to do harm to Miss Darcy? Also making appearances in this mystery/romance are Simon, Richard’s older brother, Richard’s parents, and of course Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, among others.

The mystery of who is out to expose Georgiana’s debacle with Wickham deepens throughout the story along with her confused feelings towards Colonel Fitzwilliam. The colonel feels likewise and cannot understand why Miss Darcy continually rebuffs him. The plot moves rapidly towards a surprise ending.

If you are a lover of Jane Austen “fan-fic,” you will probably enjoy this second offering in the author’s Brides of Pemberley trilogy.

With an annoying heroine and a plodding plot, I had to put it down

   
Claire's Not-So-Gothic Romance
 
Claire’s Not-So-Gothic Romance
 
   
2 Stars, August 4, 2014

   
 
Having read some of the author’s other offerings I began hopefully but by chapter 7, I had to put it down. It is written in the first person and the heroine reveals many of her private thoughts, many of which began to annoy me. It was frankly boring to my sensibilities. Again, I love the author’s other works and heartily recommend any of her other sweet faith-based romances but this one just dragged.

My first Amanda Grange and certainly not my last

   
The Silverton Scandal
 
The Silverton Scandal
by Amanda Grange
Edition: Paperback
 
 
 
 
5.0 out of 5 stars August 17, 2013
 
Eleanor Grantham, intelligent but plain and poor, has been taking care of her very beautiful younger sister Arabella in Bath since the deaths of their parents. A mysterious stranger has stolen a packet of love letters sent between Arabella and a youthful romantic and is demanding money in a blackmail scheme. It seems Arabella is betrothed to a future duke and the scandal would be damaging.

Eleanor takes the stage to London to pay the blackmailer. On the way, the stage is accosted by a highwayman. With great courage and wit, she stands up to the man who is very tall, strong, and frightening. She stays the night at a relations’ manor and she meets whom she thinks is the highwayman, the wealthy and influential Lord Silverton! Lord Silverton threatens Eleanor about what she knows and though quite terror-stricken by the looming brooding Lord Silverton, she nevertheless senses an animal attraction to the man.

Eleanor comes to the blackmailer’s London townhouse to find him murdered and is again fiercely confronted by Lord Silverton who is also on the premises. He realizes he has put her life in jeopardy and insists on her staying at his own house while he sorts out the murder. In the time they spend together Lord Silverton also is totally fascinated with the brave and resourceful Eleanor and their romantic attraction intensifies.

What on earth is Lord Silverton embroiled in that he should hold up a stage coach and be in the home of a murdered blackmailer? Eleanor, at once frightened by him and yet strangely drawn to him must nevertheless trust him to protect her against sinister forces that aim to kill them both.

This was my first read by Amanda Grange and owing to the quality of the story, plot line, and fascinating characters, it certainly won’t be my last. A brilliant amalgamation of edgy romance, adventure, mystery and intrigue, it won me over from the opening pages.

Always satisfying, light-hearted, and wholesome traditional romances

   
The Elizabeth Chater Regency Romance Collection #2
 
The Elizabeth Chater Regency Romance Collection #2
 
   
5 Stars, November 30, 2013
   
I will not go into detail about this 4 volume collection by the late author other than to say I’ve read over 100 Regency romances and the ones I’ve read by Elizabeth Chater are among my favorites. Why? Just the qualities that make any good story worth reading, such as: Historical accuracy, unusual and unique heroes, heroines, and supporting characters, great humor, suspense, witty dialogue, parallel but confusing romances, and the bedroom door fully shut. Most of Chater’s romances were written in the 80’s and always offer satisfying, light-hearted entertainment. The author penned some 24 Regency romances of which I’ve read about 8 but I plan to read them all and at this price I would be a fool not to.

Another heart-felt Regency Christmas love story

Teach Me Under the Mistletoe
 
Teach Me Under the Mistletoe
 
   
5.0 out of 5 stars December 27, 2013

   

Kay Springsteen’s last Christmas romance The Toymaker was just about my very favorite so when this one was released I jumped all over it. It is the classic romance between two individuals that are just about as far apart on the social scale that one can get in Regency England, thus its appeal. Lady Caroline Tyndall, youngest daughter of a wealthy Earl, has wasted her two London seasons without a single offer. Poor ‘Kitty’ wonders why and is suffering from an acute lack of self esteem because of it. Young Scotsman Hugh McCollum is working as her father’s stable hand with his older brother and dreaming of America.

Lady Caroline has her hat set on a young eligible gentleman of the peerage but seeks out young Hugh to “teach her a few tricks” on how to attract his attention. Hugh knows if he is caught it will lead to his immediate dismissal as well as his brother. Bravely, they meet secretly on a hidden but romantic location on the manor property. Both young and naive, they initially don’t understand why they are so drawn to each other. It cannot possibly be love can it?

Poor Kitty is not respected or regarded by any of her suitors or her mother or father for that matter. Hugh, on the other hand, treats her with admiration, regard, and protectiveness. Realizing she is in constant great danger of being exposed, she still cannot resist the handsome attentive Scotsmen who treats her with the utmost of kindness.

How on earth will they overcome this hopeless relationship? Only Kitty’s two older sisters seem to sympathize and wish to help them.
Both the romantic tension and the danger of their secret trysts are masterfully handled by the author.

Being an online Facebook friend of the author has revealed her heart for the vulnerable and forgotten people and animals among us and this compassion thus permeates her stories. This is a Christmas tale not to be missed, full of emotion, feeling, and unfettered love.