Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller

About the book:

Will a shrinking violet and a prodigal son come together to better their world?

Cecilia Hatherleigh has many secrets in her shy, sweet heart–but none bigger than her unrequited love for Edward Amherst, the earl’s son next door. Her love has persevered over many years, even when he grows to be a bit of a rake. Yet despite his fondness for females, he never seems to see her as anything more than the quiet younger sister, and nothing Cecy does has changed that. Rather than pining after his perhaps unworthy love, she decides to turn her focus toward living out her newfound faith. Now she’s determined to follow God’s leading to make a better world for the poor and dispossessed around her.

A London riot awakens Edward to the responsibilities due his family name. It’s time to turn his life around to please his noble father–and that means restoring his abandoned legal career and making a marriage of convenience. Neither will be easy, given his past and the prejudices of the upper echelons of society to which he belongs.

When misadventure strikes at a house party, these two are thrown together even as their lives are upended. If Cecy can’t trust God, overcome her shyness, and find her inner strength, the good work they’ve both done may be for naught-and neither will ever find true love . . .

Well known for her authentic Regency romances set against less-explored, true historical backgrounds, best-selling author Carolyn Miller continues her newest series with a clean, wholesome tale sure to please her many fans.

Publication Date: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Genre: Regency, Historical Romance

Series: Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley, #2

My thoughts: Not really loving the first book in this series I was anxious to read this one. I was hoping to get all those wonderful feelings back that I normally have when reading a Carolyn Miller novel. I’m excited to say that those feelings were back and I enjoyed this story immensely.

The premise of the story sounded interesting and the author didn’t disappoint. The story moves along at a respectable pace and the buildup to the climax is perfect. I have to admit that some of my favorite parts are between Cecilia and her mother towards the end of the story. The author made me laugh at some of the dialogue between the two and it was such a bright spot in the story and added to Cecilia’s likability.

As far as the characters go in addition to liking Cecilia I found Ned to be a likable character. He was very believable in his feelings and the fact that he struggled in overcoming the actions of his past made him that much more realistic. I also liked Verity and can’t wait to read her story. She is a fun character and adds mischief and lightness to the story.

Regency romance fans won’t want to miss out on this book. It’s an easy read and one that will stay with readers long after the last page is read. Definitely one for the keeper shelf. Happy reading!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s previous novels have won several contests, including the 2014 RWA “Touched by Love” and 2014 ACFW Genesis contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy.

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The Brides of the Big Valley: 3 Romances from a Unique Pennsylvania Amish Community

About the book: In an area of Pennsylvania called The Big Valley, a uniquely blended Amish community thrives in which 3 distinct groups of Amish identify themselves by the colors of their buggy’s top—white, black, or yellow. Join New York Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter, her daughter-in-law, and granddaughter in experiencing the stories of three young women who search for faith and love within this special place. Deanna is a widow who sees her second chance of love slipping away. Rose Mary is at a point in life where she must choose the path of her faith and the right man to walk with her on it. Leila is burdened with family responsibilities and wonders when she will ever start a family of her own.

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press

Genre: Amish fiction

My thoughts: If you follow my reviews you know I’m not a big fan of novellas or collections. I prefer to have a full-length novel in which I can really get to know the characters and their stories. Having to read several novellas/collections as a reviewer I am slowly becoming more of a fan of them…when they are done right. This set of stories from the Brunstetter women is done right. The stories captured my attention and were all quick and easy reads.

The three stories focus on different groups of Amish in a community. I found the stories focused more on the characters and not so much on the differences of the communities. At times it was easy to forget I was reading about different Amish groups. I did like that the authors all took the time to develop the characters and stories so that nothing really felt rushed or hurried. I feel like I got a full story from each one. I also liked the fact that the writing styles are similar enough that these could have all been penned by the same author and not three individuals. I feel like this made the collection seem more complete and it held my attention from the beginning of the first story to the very last page of the last story.

Fans of Wanda E. Brunstetter are sure to enjoy this collection. Jean and Richelle are proving themselves to be accomplished authors as well and their stories are writing are soon to be just as polished as Wanda’s. This book would be a great addition to a collection or a fantastic way to begin a collection. Happy reading!!!

About the author: New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda’s stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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A Welcome at Our Door by Amy Clipston

About the book:  

In the final installment of Amy Clipston’s Amish Homestead series, Cindy Riehl finds herself searching outside of her community for fulfillment and, with the help of a special friend, realizes what she was looking for was right in front of her all along.

Over the last few years, Cindy Riehl—the youngest of the Riehl siblings—has watched her brothers and sister find love and happiness in Lancaster County. But as her family has settled down and grown, Cindy has continued to grieve her mother, whose death left an enormous hole in her heart. Since that haunting day, Cindy has struggled to find peace and wonders if the community is the place for her—and if her faith in God will ever be like it once was.

When one of the Riehl cows escapes to visit another cow down the lane, Cindy chases after it and meets a handsome Englisher named Drew. As they become friends and eventually much more, she is drawn further and further away from the Amish community and the family she loves. She is suddenly faced with difficult choices that threaten to upend her world.

Will Cindy find happiness of her own? And will she ever be able to overcome her grief and find restored comfort in God and her community?

Publication Date:  May 7, 2019

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish fiction

Seires: Amish Homestead #4

My thoughts

Amy closes her latest series with the story of Cindy Riehl. Cindy is the youngest of the Riehl children and has been struggling with joining the Amish church. This struggle has been highlighted in previous books in the series so it was nice to finally discover what would happen in Cindy’s life.

I enjoyed this story and found it to be a quick read. Knowing a lot of the characters in this book from reading the series it was like meeting up with old friends and finding out what was going on in their lives. Amy has the gift as a writer of making readers forget they are reading about fictional characters instead of living, breathing people. In addition to catching up with the human characters in the book, we are also introduced to a cow named Cucumber and a dog named Bruce who brought a bit of fun to a story that had its fair share of sadness.

Although I loved the story I would have liked to see a bit more conflict and struggle between Cindy and Drew as they decided what path their lives should take as far as being Amish or not. It seemed as if they were just a bit too agreeable when it came to the big decisions of their lives and were a bit too willing to just go along with what the other one wanted. I would have liked to have seen a bit more as far as the decision making for what would be a tremendous life change for either of them based on the decision they ended up making.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read and one that will be going on my keeper shelf. Fans of the genre are sure to enjoy this story from one of the best authors of Amish fiction. This book could be read and enjoyed as a standalone and would be an awesome way to introduce someone to Amy’s books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats.

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The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

About the book: The New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives and A Certain Age creates a dazzling epic of World War II-era Nassau—a hotbed of spies, traitors, and the most infamous couple of the age, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires?

Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love.

Then Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, and the resulting coverup reeks of royal privilege. Benedict Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unpick Thorpe’s complicated family history: a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.

The stories of two unforgettable women thread together in this extraordinary epic of espionage, sacrifice, human love, and human courage, set against a shocking true crime . . . and the rise and fall of a legendary royal couple.

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII

My thoughts: I’ve been hanging on to a Book of the Month credit for a while now and when I saw The Golden Hour as a June selection I immediately knew that credit was going to be used. The description immediately piqued my interest and I’ve been wanting to read a Williams novel for what seems like forever. Then came the horrible act of having to wait for the book to show up so I could actually read it. Eventually it arrived and I dived right into it.

I immediately liked the author’s writing style. She made me feel as if I had been transported to the settings of the story whether it be the tropical Nassau or the more damp and dreary Switzerland. The pictures she painted with words made the story come alive in the pages of the story. I also liked the characters and was intrigued by them. They were dimensional and I liked the fact that some of them were real-life people and not just fictional characters.

However, with all that being said, as I kept reading the book I found that the story moved slowly and at times I felt it was bogged down with all the descriptions of the setting. Then there’s the fact that the story is a dual timeline. Now, I like dual timeline stories but what I found frustrating with this one was some of the characters had very similar names and I found myself confused at times trying to keep the Thorpes straight in my mind. At times it also seemed like the two storylines were too much of the same thing.

Also, a bit confusing to me was the use of the “f” word. Now I’m no prude and don’t really mind the word at all but it seemed out of place in this story. Why was it even in there? For shock value? I’m not sure but it wasn’t really needed at all and I feel like the story would have been just as good without it.

All in all, I enjoyed the story enough. It kept my interest well enough. Even though I wouldn’t rate this a four or five star read I liked it enough to give the author another try.

About the author: Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of The Summer Wives, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Hundred Summers, A Certain Age, and several other works of historical fiction. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization. Beatriz’s books have won numerous awards, have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

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A Seat by the Hearth by Amy Clipston

About the book:

 Priscilla Allgyer left the community to escape the expectations of Amish life. Now, years later, she is forced to return—along with her six-year-old son—to the place she thought she’d left behind forever. Though once estranged from her family, Priscilla is welcomed by her mother, but her father is cold and strict. He allows Priscilla to stay with them provided she dresses plainly, confesses her sins, and agrees to marry within the community. Once again, she feels suffocated, trapped, and alone. As Priscilla reluctantly completes her shunning, she catches the eye of Mark Riehl, a farmer with a playboy reputation. Wary of Mark, Priscilla barely gives him the time of day—while Mark, unused to being ignored by the women of Bird-in-Hand, won’t give up the pursuit of her friendship. Priscilla desperately needs a friend in Mark, even if she doesn’t realize it—and after Priscilla’s father and the bishop catch her and Mark in a compromising situation, their relationship becomes more complicated than ever. As affection quietly grows between them, Priscilla struggles to open her heart and reveal the painful secrets of her past. As Mark works to earn her good faith, can they both learn the hard lessons of love and trust? And can two friends discover a happiness that only God himself could have designed? The third book in the Amish Homestead series, A Seat by the Hearth invites us back to the Lancaster community where friendships are forged and love overcomes all.

Publication Date:  November 13, 2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction

Series:  Amish Homestead #3

My thoughts

I LOVED this story!!!!!!!! I think the author has written her best work ever with a compelling story and characters it is impossible to dislike (ok, with the exception of a couple). I found this book heartbreaking and heart-stopping at the same time. This book is just magnificent!!!!!!

I instantly fell in love with Priscilla and Mark. Priscilla has been emotionally and physically abused by her ex-boyfriend and son Ethan’s father, Trent. It was easy to feel her emotions as she returns to her childhood home where she encounters Mark, her childhood best friend’s brother. Mark is known to be a bit of a flirt but instead of me being turned off by this I found him to be friendly and charming. The way he cares about Priscilla without even knowing it just made my heart skip beats at times. Now some readers may not like the slow pace of the relationship between these characters, but I liked it. I liked the way Priscilla slowly let her guard down and how Mark’s actions towards her spoke so much louder than any words. The author did a wonderful job in creating these characters and their personalities. They are a perfect match for each other and it is revealed page after wonderful page.

In addition to the abuse Priscilla received at the hands of her ex, there is also a very strained relationship with her father. There is a bit of a plot twist that I wasn’t expecting in regards to this aspect of the story. I thought I knew how this story was going to progress and then *BAM* there it was and I was left rereading sentences to make sure I had correctly read them the first time. Once again Amy Clipston is proving that she is a top-notch author and can keep the reader’s interest from beginning to end.

The pace of the story was perfect though at times I became a little impatient for these two characters to hopefully find their happily ever after. I chalk this up to the author’s ability to create characters I loved and cared about so much. The descriptions made me feel as if I were there with the characters and experiencing everything along with them.

If I could only recommend one Amish fiction book to someone this would be the one. Everything about the book is perfect and showcases why Amy is one of (if not the) best writers of Amish fiction. This is the third book in the series but I feel like it would be ok to read as a standalone. You will have missed out on the backstory of some of the other characters but you won’t feel lost. You can always go back and read the first two books later but this is one you definitely won’t want to miss out on. This book is definitely going on my keeper shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a review and all opinions are mine.

About the author

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and three spoiled rotten cats.

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Toxic Toffee by Amanda Flower

About the book:

Bailey King’s in New York wrapping up a six-week shoot on her first cable TV show, Bailey’s Amish Sweets, when she gets a call from her Ohio town’s resident busybody. With Easter around the corner, Bailey’s been recruited to create a giant toffee bunny for the weeklong springtime festival that will also feature live white rabbits. But back home in Harvest, death becomes the main attraction when Stephen Raber keels over from an apparent heart attack–with Bailey and Raber’s pet bunny as witnesses.
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Except it wasn’t Raber’s heart that suddenly gave out–a lethal dose of lily of the valley was mixed into a tasty piece of toffee. Who’d want to poison a jovial rabbit farmer who reminded Bailey of an Amish Santa Claus? To solve the murder, she and her sheriff deputy boyfriend Aiden must uncover a twenty-year-old secret. She’ll need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to keep a healthy distance from toxic people, including one venomous killer . . .

Publication Date: June 25, 2019

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amish

Series: Amish Candy Shop Mystery #4

My thoughts:

Three things I’ve learned to expect from an Amanda Flower book are murder, mayhem, and a multitude of animals to fall in love with. I certainly wasn’t disappointed in Toxic Toffee because it offered all these things and more. This book had me smiling (and laughing) from beginning to end.

The small town of Harvest is all abuzz when rabbit farmer Stephen Raber dies of a heart attack (or is it?) right in front of the townspeople. Never fear though because Bailey King is on the case. Much to the dismay of her boyfriend, sheriff deputy Aiden. For as much as he tries to keep Bailey out of the case the more she gets involved. I enjoyed the relationship between these two characters and how it has developed over the course of the series. Aiden is a perfect balance of calm and reason to Bailey’s “go get’em” attitude. Of course Aiden’s mom, Juliet and her ever-present pet pig Jethro always lend a bit of comedic relief when the story gets a bit too serious.

I absolutely love the author’s writing style. She has a gift of being able to draw readers into a story with wit and charm. I love all the quirky characters she creates and I still think she might gift each one with a small piece of her own personality which makes them all seem so realistic and lovable. Her books are easy and fun to read.

Cozy mystery fans are sure to love this latest installment in the Amish Candy Shop series. This book would also be a great introduction to the author’s work. Though it is the fourth book in the series it can absolutely be read as a standalone. Grab a treat and a drink and go visit the fine folks in Harvest. You’ll be glad you did! Happy reading!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Amanda Flower, a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author of over twenty-five cozy mystery novels, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. In addition to being an author, Amanda is a former librarian with fifteen years experience in Northeast Ohio .

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Room on the Porch Swing by Amy Clipston

About the book:  

Ever since her best friend died six months ago, Laura Reihl has vowed to make each day count. And that means she should probably break off her relationship with Rudy. They’ve been together for so many years, and his friendship means the world to her. But she knows friendship doesn’t come close to the fireworks of true love, and she’s not really feeling the fireworks.

So when Savilla’s widower, Allen, asks her to help him take care of the baby Savilla left behind, Laura jumps at the chance. Maybe the change of scenery will help her gain perspective on her relationship with Rudy. And she’d do anything to help Allen out—he’s always been a good friend to her, and he’s Rudy’s best friend as well.

When she arrives at Allen’s house, though, she finds a man she barely recognizes. Allen is distraught over his wife’s death, blaming himself for not taking her to the doctor soon enough.

As Laura helps Allen work through his grief, she remembers just how easy he is to talk to. And she discovers an attraction she’s never felt with Rudy. She can’t be falling for Allen, can she? It would be a betrayal to the two people she’s care most about, Savilla and Rudy. But if she denies her feelings, is she betraying herself?

Publication Date:  May 8, 2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

Genre:  Amish Fiction

Series: An Amish Homestead #2

My thoughts:

 I started reading this book on my lunch break and the opening scene was so intense and I was so interested in it I was almost late going back to work. (That’s not really a bad thing though, right?) I couldn’t wait to get home to dive into the story again. However, once I was able to get back to the story I found that it had lost that spark I found it in earlier. I found the story to be predictable and nothing really surprised me on the journey to the end.

Laura was a caring character and I liked that she wanted to honor her deceased friend by taking care of her infant daughter. Taking care of the daughter leads to taking care of the baby’s dad and it’s easy to see where this story is headed. There isn’t a lot of drama or dramatic events but just the day-in and day-out lives of the widower, the friend, and the baby. I feel like there should have been more interaction and conflict between Rudy and Laura. There never really seemed to be a bond between the two that made me care if they stayed together or not. A bright spot in the story is Laura’s twin, Mark. He added charm and life to the story and I can’t wait to read his story. It should be interesting as he is quite the charmer!

Even though I didn’t love this story I still love Amy’s writing. She has that ability to pull readers into a story and make them a part of it. Her descriptions made the story come alive and made it easy to picture things as they happened. Amy Clipston is one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to read her next book.

I received a free copy from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author

Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and three spoiled rotten cats.

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