All That Makes Life Bright by Josi S. Kilpack

All That Makes Life Bright by Josi Kilpack

All That Makes Life Brightby
Josi S. Kilpack

Blurb:

“When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled with romance, a family (in due time), and continued opportunities to develop as a writer–Calvin has said she must be a literary woman, after all. Though Catharine, Harriet’s sister, worries Hattie will lose her identity in marriage, she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer, and she knows that God will help her accomplish everything she was born to do. Two months later, Hattie discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Hattie is overwhelmed–being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman’s life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Hattie begins to question her place in her husband’s heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned. Struggling to balance the demand of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Hattie works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations. Can their love endure, especially after ‘I do’? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage?”

My Review:

I’m loving these proper romances based on literary figures’ lives! Ms. Kilpack has found a fun niche; I like that she does her research and tries to form an accurate picture of what might have occurred in the lives of these important figures. In my mind, Harriet Beecher Stowe is Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and that’s about it. I didn’t really know anything else about her, and you know what? I think she and I would have been besties. Like her, I have struggled to keep clean house (I’m a perfectionist, but kids make that an impossible dream…), and dinner is never ready on time when my husband gets home. Yep, I think Hattie and I would have been on the phone (if it were available) chatting about how in the world we were supposed to sand the floors and tie the bed frames and take care of the kids without burning dinner. Hahaha! I’m pretty sure I’ve had similar conversations with my friends over the years. I felt for Hattie and a little for Calvin. I think he was just a little spoiled and should have been able to help out a little more at the beginning. I told my husband I was glad I didn’t live back then because I would not have put up with his attitude. I’m not going to tell you–you’ll have to read it to find out what Calvin requested as their daughter’s name. Oh boy! It’s a doozie! This is a fun read. It’s well written, it flows well, the dialogue is realistic and the characters are well developed. I couldn’t help but relate to Harriet. I did hope to learn a little bit more about how Uncle Tom’s Cabin came to be, but I’ll just need to find another book written on that. I’ve never actually read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, have you? Let me know in the comments. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It’s a fun, entertaining read. 

Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or violence. There isn’t any “intimacy” besides kissing.)

Recommendation: YA and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen


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The Secret of the India Orchid
by
Nancy Campbell Allen

Blurb:
“Anthony Blake, the Earl of Wilshire, is in love with his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover shy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies–including his own–has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the facade of a flirtatious playboy. Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most distant regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn’t as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned. She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won’t confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?”
My Review:

Wow! Although this is a proper romance, it could very well fit into the mystery section as well! This proper romance isn’t all flowers and love notes; it has it’s fair share of romance, for sure, but it’s so much more! There’s murder, betrayal, kidnapping, and lots of secret keeping. Sophia is a strong female character. She holds her own against the men who sometimes desire her to look pretty and do nothing else. I liked her spunk, independence, and compassion. Anthony is also a good, strong character. He may have a soft side underneath all that military/spy persona, and it kinda peaks out every once in awhile. Predictability aside, I enjoyed this book. It has everything you want in a proper romance: a few stolen kisses, a little bit of cheese, some great “Awwwww”s, and a mystery to boot! What could be better?? It’s definitely the most edgy proper romance I’ve read (more violent-not more racy), and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the mystery, the secrets, the search for the culprit, and that it took the book past just cheesy romance, and elevated it. I recommend this book.

Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any “intimacy,” except for a few brief kisses, and there isn’t any profanity-to my recollection. There is a murder, but you don’t read about it as it happens, you find out after it has occurred. There are a couple of scenes where characters die, some in kind of graphic ways.)

Recommendation: YA (13+) and Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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The Vicar’s Daughter

The Vicar’s Daughter
by
Josi S. Kilpack

Blurb:
“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 since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, 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 in a new town and in his new position. A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters. 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?”

My Review:

This is a fun new addition to the proper romance genre! It is well written, has good character development, and a sweet love story. Although I usually liked Cassie, there were times when I wanted to scream at her; she could definitely be strong willed and had a tendency to make poor choices. Lenora was more complex than you think she will be the first time you meet her, and she could also drive me crazy at times. Evan was a great character. I actually liked him a lot. He wasn’t perfect, but he was a gentleman and did his best. I like how he protected his family, and how he felt he had to take care of them. This story was a bit predictable, and cheesy in some parts, but that’s what we love about romances, right? I think it ended a little too perfectly, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like the ending. 🙂 If you’re a Josi Kilpack fan, or if you enjoy the proper romance genre, you will definitely enjoy this book. It was entertaining and was a cute story.

This book is clean! There may be a kiss or two, but the only scandalous thing in the book are a few secret (clean) letters. Boy am I glad times have changed for dating and marriage!

Rating: PG (It’s clean!)

Recommendation: YA and up

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden

Blurb:
“The small town of Savage Wells is barely big enough for the people who call it home; it certainly isn’t big enough for more than one sheriff. Yet when famed lawman Cade O’Brien rides into town, he finds he’s not the only man ready to take on the job. What’s more, one of his competitors is a woman. Paisley Bell loves her town and the eccentric people in it. She’s been the acting sheriff for months and isn’t too keen on relinquishing the job to anyone else. Not only does she love the work, but she also needs the income to take care of her ailing father. It’s a true battle of the sexes, and sparks fly between the two as Cade and Paisley banter and boast, neither one ready to acknowledge the attraction they have for each other. But when Paisley’s former beau shows up, along with a band of bank robbers, Savage Wells is suddenly faced with the kind of peril that only a sheriff can manage. Who will be man enough-or woman enough-to step up, claim the badge, and save the town?”

My Review:

This is a proper romance, and it definitely lives up to that name! It is predictable, sweet, fun, and a bit cheesy; all of which make for a great love story. You know from the get-go who the main players are and where it will all go, but that doesn’t mean that the journey is any less enjoyable. The characters are fun and mostly well developed. The banter between the two main characters is sweet and definitely cheesy, but that’s what we love in a romance, right? There are enough other facets to the story that there are a few surprises here and there, and they add a different depth to the book. My grandpa had dementia, so I know how difficult it can be to care for those suffering from it. Reading about Paisley’s father brought back memories of my grandpa. I liked that Paisley was a strong female character. I liked that she wasn’t perfect, she had her hard moments and her shortfalls, but overall she was determined, strong, and usually a likable character. I liked the eccentricities in the town, like the Ribbon Emporium in the jailhouse. Those things definitely made me want to visit there. Overall, this is a sweet love story that draws you in, and I love that it’s clean! There are a few typos, but I do have the Advanced Readers Copy, so those may be fixed in the actual published edition.

Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity-thank you!- or “intimacy” besides some kissing. There is some violence-it was the wild, wild west remember- with shoot-outs and a character dies.)

Recommendation: I’d say it would be ok for a YA (13+) reader or older. Girls will definitely like this more than boys will.

[Book Review] Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

Blurb: 

“When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors–even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Could Miles himself be to blame for the deaths? Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man–beast and all?”

My Review:

I thought I was done with vampires and werewolves: apparently not! I actually really liked this book! Part of it is that Lucy is such a great character. She is smart, witty, and usually quite tough. Like any girl, she has her moments, but she is determined and capable. Miles is a hard character. He is very unlikable for most of the book, but at the same time, you see little snippets here and there of a different side of him. The supporting characters of Kate and Jonathan are good characters, and they help add to the story line. You have to just go with the apparitions and such that appear in this book; it seems a little corny, but you know what? It worked for me in this book. It’s a little predictable; you know from the beginning who the key players will be, but there are many twists and turns along the way that kept me turning pages. I liked the writing style. It drew me in and kept me engaged. It’s strange because one half of your brain is laughing at the absurdity of it all, but the other half of your brain can’t put it down and just glosses right over all that stuff. That’s what fiction is for, right? I thought it all came together well, and I liked this book a lot.
I like that it’s clean! There is little to no profanity, and no “intimacy” scenes, although there is some kissing, and some more intimate moments. There is some violence, though. There are a few old murders discussed, and some evil vamps out there that have to be fought and dealt with. At least two characters die. 

Rating: PG-13+ (No profanity or “intimacy,” but there are some more intimate moments, a few innuendos, and there is some graphic violence.)

Recommendation: 16 and up 

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Emma by Jane Austen   Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright Forever and Forever by Josi Kilpack

*Originally published on 8/8/16; Updated on 12/15/17

Forever and Forever: The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton

Forever and Forever: 
The Courtship of Henry Longfellow and Fanny Appleton
by
Josi S. Kilpack

Blurb:
“It’s 1836, and nineteen-year-old Fanny Appleton, a privileged daughter of a wealthy, upper-class Boston industrialist, is touring Europe with her family. Like many girls of her day, she enjoys the fine clothes, food, and company of elite social circles. But unlike her peers, Fanny is also drawn to more intellectual pursuits. Published author and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is also touring Europe, but under much different circumstances. Widowed while in Europe, he has stayed in order to gather credentials that he hopes will secure his professorship at Harvard College. When Henry meets Fanny, he sees in her a kindred spirit, a lover of language and literature and high ideals. He is in love. Fanny, however, is uncertain. He is ten years older than she is, and from a much  lower social class. How could such a relationship ever thrive? Could a book of Henry’s poetry, personally delivered, persuade Fanny to believe in a love that lasts forever and forever?”
My Review:
I thought this was a cute love story. Henry and Fanny are both well written, and it was fun to get to know them and their story. Fanny is quite the character. She is a strong female character; almost too strong, in fact. She is a bit stubborn and set in her ways. Henry seems like such a nice guy. He’s down to earth and up in the clouds at the same time. He is stubborn in his own way. Because each of these characters is so strong-willed, it takes most of the book to actually reach the romance part. There are bits and pieces here and there along the way, but the lead-up is definitely most of the book. This could be seen as a negative, but I actually enjoyed getting to know the characters and their stories. I liked how their paths intertwined and how they both needed the time it took. It’s funny how age and a little experience can make you look at things differently. I also loved getting sucked into the 19th century with its customs, traditions, and language. It was fun as a reader to know that these people were real, and that many of the events that took place and the people that surrounded them were also real. I thought it was a good depiction of what their lives could have been like. As a woman I’m also thankful that times have changed a bit in regard to women and their circumstances. We’ve come a long way since the 19th century, and it makes me wonder what Fanny would be like if she were living in today’s world. I also thought it was fun to have quotes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poetry intermixed throughout the story. Although it was a little slow in parts, and there were quite a few typos (the spelling of one character’s name changed throughout the book), I thought this book was sweet and fun, and I think it’s a good addition to the proper romance genre. I enjoyed it, and would recommend it. 
Rating: PG (There might be a kiss or two. 🙂 There is also the death of a character, but it doesn’t go into too many details, and it’s not gory or anything.)
Recommendation: Young Adult and up (13+ years-old and up)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Fair Gentleman

My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen
My first Book Chat! If you don’t want to read my review then just watch the video! I’m so excited for this new feature on my blog! (Be nice, it’s my first-ever video 🙂 
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Blurb:
   “Jack Elliot dreams of being the captain of his own ship. But then his grandfather, the Earl of Stansworth, names Jack as his heir–with a caveat. Jack must impress the aristocracy, or else his mother and sister will remain in poverty. Can a rough-and-tumble captain be transformed into a gentleman of society?
   Ivy Carlisle is willing to try. Employed as his tutor, she begins teaching Jack the ways of high society, but she quickly discovers that this dashing sailor is brash and bold, opinionated and passionate. If she’s not careful, Jack might end up teaching her a thing or two about romance.
   Sparks fly when the sailor meets society, and Jack soon learns that his challenge isn’t surviving the ton, but surviving the conspiracies against him–as well as keeping himself from falling madly in love with his new tutor.”
My Review:     
This is one of those books that you read for pure entertainment. It’s predictable, cheesy, and cliched, but isn’t that what we all want in a romance? I thought it was a sweet love story, with some crazy accidents added into the mix. The characters are fairly well done. I liked Ivy a lot. She has a cute personality, is likable, and seems realistic. I liked all her “properness.” (Yes, I just made up that word.) I could picture her all prim and proper, and yet I liked that she learned to bend those rules if the situation warranted it. I liked Sophia too. I liked the relationship between her and Ivy, and I also liked the relationship she had with her brother Jack. Jack is an interesting character. I didn’t like him very much at the beginning of the story. He seemed too irritable and grumpy. He wasn’t very kind. As the story unfolded, though, he has some experiences that seem to soften him a bit. He was a much better character at the end of the book. This is a fast, easy read, and may not be too deep or require a lot of thought, but it’s perfect for just being entertained; getting caught up in a story and being transported to a time of Earls, fancy balls, and rolling estates.
This book is a proper romance, and it fits perfectly in that genre. It’s clean! There’s no language or “intimacy.” There is definitely some kissing, but that’s as far as it goes. There is some minor violence and some blood, but it’s not overly graphic. The two things that up my rating to a PG-13 are that in the book it briefly states that the women are constructing a home to help women who were “women of the night” to get out of that line of work, and it also states that one of the characters got into some trouble with a man before they were married. It doesn’t ever go into specifics, in fact it’s quite vague, but I don’t want my 11 year-old daughter asking me about either one of those things. Overall, I liked the book. It was a fast read, and was a good distraction from laundry. 🙂
Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any language or “intimacy.” There is some kissing and some minor violence. There is a point where the characters discuss building a home for former “women of the night” to come to and learn a new occupation. There is also a character that gets into trouble before she is married; it never comes out directly and says what happened, it’s quite vague.)
Recommendation: YA (13 and up)