The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

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Book Review of The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

I love it when a book takes you somewhere you’ve never been, and never knew you wanted to! You don’t know what you don’t know, right? I had never heard of Penny Dreadfuls until I read this book. In case you don’t know what they are (because I didn’t), they were sensationalized stories printed on cheap paper in the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. The story would be sold in parts, with each part costing one penny. These stories were quite popular with the young men of the time. When I say sensationalized, I mean that they were more fantastical, involving characters like ghosts and vampires. Who knew, right? Now you know! These Penny Dreadfuls play a major part in The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden.

Blurb:

“Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school and a well-respected author of ‘silver-fork’ novels. But by night, she writes the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men under the pseudonym, Charles King.

Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin, but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Charles King. Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. Elizabeth agrees to help if only to insure her secret identity is never discovered.

What neither author anticipated was the instant attraction. It’s upper-class against working-class, author against author, where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.

  • A historical romance set in London, England in the 1830s. This Victorian time period was well-known for its gothic romances and ‘Penny Dreadfuls’—cheap sensational fiction read by young, working-class men. The Guardian described them as ‘Britain’s first taste of mass-produced pop culture for the young.’ With more than a million sold each week, they contributed to the growing fear of crime in mid-Victorian Britain.
  • Though Penny Dreadfuls were known for their tales of crimes, exploits, and supernatural beasts, the Highwayman heroes were popular for the story’s romantic elements.
  • The story drew its inspiration from the real-life Victorian author Elizabeth Caroline Grey, a high-class lady, who, it was rumored, wrote both ‘silver-fork’ novels and Penny Dreadfuls.”

My Book Review:

This book is so fun! I didn’t know anything about Penny Dreadfuls when I began reading, and now I feel like an expert. I completely got sucked into the story, the life, and the time period. The characters, especially, draw you into their lives. Each character is well written, developed, and so unique. Fletcher—oh Fletcher. He just might make you swoon if you’re not careful! And I love Elizabeth’s complexity. Her secret life makes you want to, well…find a cool secret life! Nothing too crazy. Does book blogging count as a secret life when you’re a sixth grade teacher? Probably not. It’s not cool enough. I’ll need to think about it for awhile.

The uniqueness of the story draws you in. All the members of the “Dread Penny Society,” and their cause, remind me a lot of today’s Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. It’s hard to think of a better cause to support! I loved watching their operations take place, and knowing the lives they saved. The only thing that was a bit off for me was that I kept wanting to read “Dead Poets Society” instead of “Dread Penny Society.” The former is one of my all-time favorite movies. That’s just me, though.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The characters come to life on the pages, and they draw you into their lives and stories. There’s a lot of wit, which I love. I like the relationship between Elizabeth and Fletcher, and I like how the “Penny Dreadfuls” stories play into the plot. There are also some great causes highlighted like education and help for the poor and needy. Of course I love the tension and the romance as well!  

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (Some minor violence and kissing)

Age Recommendation: Young Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/31G3wnY

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
 

The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden

The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M Eden

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Book Review of The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden

I have always thought that it would be fun to go back in time and spend at least a week in England during the early nineteenth century. At least from all the books I’ve read that have taken place during this time (which is a lot), it seems like such a nice time to live. Now, you’d need to go spend time with a more wealthy family, but nevertheless, I think it would be fun to see. I don’t want to stay there forever, just long enough to experience it for a minute. Regency books have always been one of my favorite to read, so I was excited to see Sarah M. Eden’s new book The Heart of a Vicar. The cover art is beautiful, and sets the perfect tone for the book.

Blurb:

“Young love is all too fleeting, as Harold Jonquil painfully discovered years ago when Sarah Sarvol, the niece of a neighboring landowner, captures his heart. After an idyllic few weeks in the throes of blossoming love, reality intervened. They could have no future. Following their disastrous parting, Harold attempted to push aside thoughts of love and regret, but Sarah has never left his heart. Now, years later, he has achieved his lifelong aspiration of becoming the local vicar. However, the role proves more difficult than he imagined. He feels hollow and uninspired—until the most important person in his past returns, challenging him as no one ever has.

When Sarah’s ailing uncle summons her back to the family estate in England, there is only one person from her past she is reluctant to see again: Harold Jonquil, the only man who has ever claimed her heart. But when she comes face-to-face with her former beau, she hardly recognizes the aloof and dull man before her. She is determined to help Harold rediscover the passion he once felt toward his chosen profession. Soon, despite their exasperation with each other, they cannot deny the stirring of feelings long buried—but is it too late for second chances?”

My Book Review:

I love being transported back in time to England in the early 1800s. In The Heart of a Vicar, Eden does a fantastic job describing the scenery, the large estates, and the people that live there. Her descriptions make you feel like you are there, a part of it all. I especially love the people in this book. Although there are a lot of them, they each get the attention they deserve. Each character is well developed and so life-like. Each has his or her own personality, traits, and quirks.

Sarah comes across as determined, happy, and loving. I love her independence and love of people. Her fun with the blacksmith is one of my favorite parts of the story. Scott isn’t focused on as much, but he plays a big part in bringing the story together. Harold may struggle at times, but I really liked his character. He wanted to do the right thing in the right way; he just needed a little help getting there. It was fun to watch his growth as the story progressed. I thought it was funny that his little quirk ended up playing such a big role in the story.

The Jonquil family seems like a family anyone would want to be a part of. They know how to have fun, and how to come together to help each other.  One of my favorite parts of this family is their focus on the children. In many other books about this time period, children are taken care of by governesses, and the parents don’t interact with them a lot. That is not the case in this book, and it is a feature I loved. Another feature I loved about the Jonquil family was how deeply they cared for each other and took care of one another.

The Heart of a Vicar is well written. I like the flow of it, and Eden’s writing style. It’s easy to read and understand, and easy to get sucked into. One of the reasons I love reading so much is because you get to live different lives, see different places, and experience things you’d otherwise never get to experience. I felt that in this book. Becoming a part of this neighborhood was so much fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It’s the perfect summer get-away. Although it’s not titled a “proper romance” like many of Eden’s previous books, it is one. It’s a sweet, romantic story that happens to be clean. You all know how much I appreciate that. The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden will make a perfect addition to any proper romance, or romance, collection.

The Heart of a Vicar Blog Tour Image

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book. There is some brief kissing, and some abusive tendencies of one character.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2ItM4uh

 

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Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
 

Book Review of Healing Hearts by Sarah M. Eden

Healing Hearts by Sarah M Eden

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Book Review of Healing Hearts by Sarah M. Eden

What a fun surprise to be able to return to Savage Wells! I liked The Sheriffs of Savage Wells even though it was a bit corny. When I heard about Healing Hearts by Sarah M. Eden, a sister book about another character from Savage Wells, I had to get my hands on it. Lucky for me it turned out be about one of my favorite characters. The doctor, Gideon MacNamara, is a favorite in the town and of readers. I liked his character a lot in the first book, so I was excited to read more about him in this book. Even though I lost a little respect for him when I found out he sent for a mail-order bride, he may have done enough after that to gain back some of that respect.

Blurb:

“As the only doctor in the frontier town of Savage Wells, Gideon MacNamara knows his prospects for a bride are limited. The womenfolk in town are either too young, too old, or already spoken for. So, being a practical man, he decides to take advantage of the matchmaking service of the day—mail-order brides—and sends away for a woman with nursing experience.

When Miriam steps off the stagecoach in Savage Wells, she sees a bright future in front of her. But when the town—and Gideon—meets her, ready for a wedding, her excitement quickly turns to horror. Somehow Dr. MacNamara’s message had gotten turned around. He didn’t want just a nurse, he wanted a wife. When she refuses to marry him, she finds herself stranded in Savage Wells with some very unhappy townspeople.

But Gideon is not like the other men Miriam has met. Embarrassed by the misunderstanding, he offers her a job, and the two begin an awkward—and often humorous—dance of getting to know each other as they work to care for the people of their town. Romance blossoms between the two, but when a former medical associate of Miriam’s arrives in town, Gideon and the other townsfolk must rally around Miriam to protect her from a dangerous fate. Gideon and Miriam must decide if they are willing to risk their hearts for each other even as buried secrets are brought to light.”

My Book Review:

Well, the first thing that comes to mind after reading this book is how thankful I am to live right now—in February of 2019. I’m thankful that “the matchmaking service of the day” is no longer mail-order brides! It might be an internet dating site or a crazy aunt Esmerelda, but thankfully it isn’t mail-order any more. I’m also thankful for vaccinations, medical knowledge, hospitals, and women’s rights. I know that it may not be perfect, but we live in an amazing time, and we’ve come a LONG way!

Healing Hearts is written well. I personally think it’s much better written than The Sheriffs of Savage Wells is. It still has a few cheesy parts, but really, what is a romance without those morsels? The writing style of the book just draws you in. From the very first page you just feel connected to the story. It’s descriptive without feeling overdramatic, and simple enough to match the feeling of the time. Don’t get me wrong, although seemingly simple, the story is complex, with several plot lines converging from many places.

You have Miriam’s past and present, Gideon’s past and present, along with the townspeople. As the reader, you have the opportunity to meet many of the townsfolk. As you meet them and learn of their stories, it helps you better understand their feelings, motivations, and loyalties. The townspeople and the main characters are well written and well developed. There are a few familiar faces along with a few new faces as well. Some of the new faces aren’t too friendly, but a few of them may surprise you. Miriam and Gideon are so well developed.

Miriam is a bit guarded about her past, and it’s understandable when you learn more about her. Gideon takes her guardedness the wrong way and almost ends up destroying their chances all together. Of course we get to see Paisley, Cade, and Hawk again, and that’s fun. I love how they all play off of each other. Their friendship and loyalty are part of what makes them such great characters.

At first glance, the story may seem superficial. Man sends for mail-order bride. Bride didn’t get the bride memo and runs away. However, when you get into the story, it’s quite complex and has a heavier feel to it than the previous book. The topics and themes are very weighted and serious. There are some severe and deathly diseases discussed, along with serious mental health issues, which were not dealt with properly in the 1800s. Women’s rights are also right there at the top in this book. I wish it were just women’s pay, or something easier to discuss, but it’s truly about a woman’s right to be herself. To take care of herself.To represent herself.To prove herself.To be a human.

Although I liked the ending and thought it came together well, there were a few situations that worked out a little too perfectly. As a reader, I’m glad they did, but it may not be quite as realistic as what would have really happened. It’s also a little predictable. Overall, though, I loved the book. Since I’ve started teaching I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like to, but even with little time, I made time for this book. I finished it in two days because I couldn’t put it down. Now, my dishes and children may have felt a bit ignored, but they’ll live.  If you like proper romances, sweet love stories, or medical dramas, you’ll enjoy this book.

healing hearts blog tour image

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There’s no profanity or “intimacy” this book (except for some kissing). You don’t read any physical violence scenes, but there is some physical abuse described, and it’s not pretty. There is also some emotional abuse and a severe sickness that sickens many characters. The themes and topics discussed are quite heavy.)

Age Recommendation: 14+ (Some of the topics discussed may be too much for 14 year-olds. Parents will be the best judge of what their children can handle.)

 

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click the photo below:

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden  Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
*Featured Image Credit: goodreads.com
 

Book Review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden

Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden

Book Review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden

I love that this book takes place in Victorian England! It reminds me more of a Jane Austen or Bronté sister novel than the other proper romances have. The research that went into this book shows through, and I like that it’s historical fiction as well. I hope you enjoy my book review of Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden.

Blurb:

“The life of an impoverished schoolteacher is not one Evangeline Blake would have chosen for herself. Torn from her home and her beloved sister and sent to work in the gritty factory town of Smeatley, Evangeline must prove herself to her grandfather, a man who values self-reliance above all else, before he will grant her access to her inheritance. Raised to be a lady of refinement, she hasn’t any of the skills necessary to manage on her own nor does she have the first idea how to be a teacher. But failure means never being with her sister again.

Alone and overwhelmed, she turns to the one person in town who seems to know how she feels—Dermot McCormick, and Irish brick mason who is as far from home and as out of place as she is. Despite the difference in their classes and backgrounds, Evangeline and Dermot’s tentative friendship deepens and grows.  Her determination and compassion slowly earn her the faith and confidence of the skeptical residents of Smeatley, who become like the family she has lost.

But when a secret from her past comes to light, Evangeline faces an impossible choice: seize the opportunity to reclaim her former life and rejoin her sister or fight for the new life she has struggled to build for herself—a life that included Dermot.”

 

My Book Review:

If I could choose somewhere to travel back in time to, it would be Victorian England. I would love to see the homes with their beautiful gardens and the landscape with the moors. The dresses the women wore would also be at the top of my list. Of course, I’m sure in everyday reality it wasn’t as romantic as a Jane Austen or Emily Bronté book.  However, I would love to stay a week and try it out. Taking this into account, you may imagine my happiness when finding out that Ashes on the Moor by Sarah M. Eden takes place in Victorian England.

As soon as I saw the beautiful cover I couldn’t wait to read this book. Evangeline is not the easiest person to like at the beginning of the book. Neither is Dermot, actually. Or Aunt Barton. The beginning of the book is a bit depressing, and there are a bunch of grumpy characters. Evangeline’s mood is understandable, though. She finds herself dropped into some very difficult circumstances. I did enjoy seeing her transformation over the course of the book.

Dermot also comes across as grumpy and rash. At least he usually acts as a gentleman. I thought Ms. Eden did a great job with his Irish accent and personality. Ronan is my favorite character. What a sweetheart! I also loved the school children. Now, I may be biased because my passion (besides blogging, of course) is teaching kids to read. I loved all of that in the book. Evangeline may have used some unconventional methods, but doing what is best for the children is always the right move. The children’s accents and dialect were written so well; you can tell that Ms. Eden did her homework.

I have read all of Sarah M. Eden’s books, and Ashes on the Moor is my favorite! The moment when the title came into play was such a tender scene, and I loved how it fit. The story is predictable and there is lots of cheese, but isn’t that what makes a proper romance so good? I thought that it was well written, well researched, and well….a fun, entertaining read. Will it change the world? Nope, but it is perfect for a snowy afternoon or a warm beach.

 

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There’s no profanity, no “intimacy,” except some brief kissing, and there isn’t any violence.)

Age Recommendation: YA (12-18 years-old) and up

Rating: 4/54 Star Rating

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

 
 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden  Longing for Home Hope Springs Book 2 by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
Ashes on the Moor blog tour

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.

Longing For Home: Hope Springs (Book Two)

Longing For Home: Hope Springs (Book Two) by Sarah M. Eden

(Summary taken from amazon.com) “Katie Macauley gave up her lifelong dream of returning to Ireland in order to make a home for herself in Hope Springs, Wyoming, but her future has never been so uncertain.
Katie’s heart still remains sharply divided between playful Tavish and steady Joseph, though she feels ill-prepared to make a decision. Furthermore, the town is more divided than ever with both the Irish and the Reds stealing property, burning buildings, and endangering lives. In the midst of the growing unrest, tem­peratures drop quickly, too quickly, and Irish nightmares of famine and cold resurface as the little Wyoming town struggles to beat the harsh winter.
Katie makes one sacrifice after another to keep the peace and help see her loved ones through the difficult days ahead, but will her efforts be enough? Can the town make amends before their hatred consumes them all? And will Katie find the love she has been searching for as well as a home to call her own?”

I enjoyed the first book and thought it was a nice sweet love story, so I was excited to read book two and find out what would happen to Katie. The most pressing question, of course, was which man she would choose. Would she choose fun, happy, and cute Tavish, or would she choose stable, thoughtful, and handsome Joseph? I really couldn’t decide which one I wanted her to choose because they were both men of integrity and had hard work ethics. They each held qualities she valued and needed in her life.  I had no idea which way it would go, and would have been happy either way. I wondered how Ms. Eden would bring about Katie’s decision, and I thought it worked well.  It made sense and I was thrilled for Katie. Unfortunately, some not-so-good things happened along the way. Do you remember the feud? Well, lets just say that it is still there and escalating. A bunch of main characters die or are severely injured. I can’t imagine living with such hatred. I can’t imagine living my life specifically to hurt a whole group of people. I cried. Yes, I definitely cried during parts of this book. There were some tears of joy, but there were also tears of sadness and sorrow.  I love that Katie is a strong female character. I love that she works hard and has a positive outlook even when life brings her down. This book is fairly well written and is a fast, easy read. I enjoyed this book and did like the ending. I thought it was a good sequel.

Rating: PG -13 ( No language or intimacy; there is quite a bit of violence, and there is a death.)

Recommendation: 13 and up

Disclosure: I did receive this book in exchange for my honest review.

Longing For Home

Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden
(Summary taken from an email sent to me by the publicist) “Though she was only a child during the darkest days of Ireland s Great Famine, Katie Macauley feels responsible for the loss of her family s land and the death of her sister. Now a woman grown, Katie has left Ireland for America and the promise of earning money enough to return home again and plead for her family s forgiveness. She arrives in Hope Springs, Wyoming Territory, a town sharply divided between the Americans who have settled there, with their deep hatred of the Irish, and the Irish immigrants who have come searching for a place to call home. Her arrival tips the precarious balance, and the feud erupts anew. Even in the midst of hatred and violence, however, Katie finds reason to hope. Two men, as different as they are intriguing, vie for her heart, turning her thoughts for the first time toward a future away from Ireland. Katie must now make the hardest decision of her life: stay and give her heart a chance at love, or return home and give her soul the possibility of peace.”

How is this for an opening sentence: “Eighteen years had passed since Katie Macauley killed her sister.”? Wow, right? You want to keep reading, right? Well, I did! That sentence definitely grabbed me, and I was hooked from the start. I haven’t read a good old-fashioned love story in a long time, and it was fun to get lost in the story. This story is full of everything you need for a love story: cheese, sap, and a handsome main character. Yes, it’s a little cheesy, but you know what? That’s what good love stories need! I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written and the characters were very well developed. Katie is a bit of a mystery throughout the book. You don’t learn her whole story until almost the end of the book, and so you think you like her, but you’re unsure of how she “killed her sister.” I kept wondering if I would change my mind about her when I knew the truth. You learn bits and pieces as the book unfolds, and I ended up liking her even more. Tavish is an interesting character. First off, I love that name, and if I were having another baby boy (I’m not) then I would seriously consider naming him Tavish, because it’s great name. Ms. Eden might be starting a trend in baby names. Anyway, you meet him on page two or three, and you know from then that he will most likely be a love interest in Katie’s life. And Joseph is also a good character. I didn’t like him at first because of the circumstances, but the more I learned about him the more I liked him as well. I also fell in love with his daughters. The townspeople in the book are instrumental in setting up the decision that Katie needs to make. I didn’t envy her situation and definitely felt bad for her. I love that she is a strong female character. She works hard and even though she likes having the men in her life, she shows that she can take care of herself and isn’t whiny or frail. I loved learning about the Irish people and their history. I thought it was so sad that prejudice against the Irish was so strong here in America. I know I like to look back and think that everything was perfect among the different nationalities of our “melting pot.” I guess it wasn’t perfect, but I’m hopeful that there were people like Joseph to help calm everyone down and bring them together. 

I loved that this book was clean. (Yay!) There wasn’t any language, and only a couple small kisses. There was some violence against the Irish people, but nothing too harsh. I think I might like this new “Proper Romance” category from Shadow Mountain. I really did enjoy this story. Like I said, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a good old-fashioned love story, and I forgot how much I enjoy them! 

Rating: PG+ (It’s clean except for some acts of violence against the Irish people, and they aren’t too harsh.)

Recommendation: 12 and up. And yes, it is YA approved!!!

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