The Queen’s Secret: A Novel of England’s World War II Queen by Karen Harper

About the book: 1939. As the wife of the King George VI and the mother of the future queen, Elizabeth—“the queen mother”—shows a warm, smiling face to the world. But it’s no surprise that Hitler himself calls her the “Most Dangerous Woman in Europe.” For behind that soft voice and kindly demeanor is a will of steel.

Two years earlier, George was thrust onto the throne when his brother Edward abdicated, determined to marry his divorced, American mistress Mrs. Simpson. Vowing to do whatever it takes to make her husband’s reign a success, Elizabeth endears herself to the British people, and prevents the former king and his brazen bride from ever again setting foot in Buckingham Palace.

Elizabeth holds many powerful cards, she’s also hiding damaging secrets about her past and her provenance that could prove to be her undoing.

In this riveting novel of royal secrets and intrigue, Karen Harper lifts the veil on one of the world’s most fascinating families, and how its “secret weapon” of a matriarch maneuvered her way through one of the most dangerous chapters of the century.

My review: I’ll admit I’m a bit obsessed with all things royal. So when the opportunity came about to read this book I jumped on it. And I am so glad I did. I learned so many things about “the queen mother” and in such an entertaining way.

It is obvious from the start that the author did an immense amount of research for this book. The attention she paid to historical details shows in her writing. I enjoyed learning about her relationship with her husband, daughters, and Winston Churchill. The author made the characters come alive on the page and she brought history to life.

This book was well researched, well written, and the story is told in a way that keeps the reader’s interest. A book worth reading for fans of the royal family or WWII. Definitely one for the keeper shelf.

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

Publisher: William Morrow

About the author: A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Karen Harper is a former college English instructor (The Ohio State University) and high school literature and writing teacher. A lifelong Ohioan, Karen and her husband Don divide their time between the midwest and the southeast, both locations she has used in her books. Besides her American settings, Karen loves the British Isles, where her Scottish and English roots run deep, and where she has set many of her historical Tudor-era mysteries and her historical novels about real and dynamic British women. Karen’s books have been published in many foreign languages and she won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for 2005. Karen has given numerous talks to readers and writers across the county. Her most recent books include THE SOUTH SHORES TRILOGY (CHASING SHADOWS, DROWNING TIDES and FALLING DARKNESS.) Her latest historical is THE ROYAL NANNY.

29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

About the book: “Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne, a renowned scholar and television host. The beloved professor rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, she’s left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He lives by his own brutal code, and all debts must be repaid. In the only way he knows how. The man gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. No chance of being found out. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Thriller

**Does contain some language and adult situations**

My thoughts: 29 Seconds is the second novel by T.M. Logan that I’ve had the chance to read. While I enjoyed it just as much as his debut novel, Lies, the book is quite different. In Lies, the main event of the story takes place at the beginning of the book and there is a cat and mouse chase throughout the rest of the story leaving the readers on the edge of their seats. In 29 Seconds there’s quite the buildup to the main event. The phone call that the story receives its title from doesn’t take place until approximately halfway through the book. But the first half of that book isn’t just wasted space or words thrown on a page. Uh-huh. The first half of this book builds up to the main event, that 29-second phone call, that may or may not change Sarah’s life. For me, the author did a fantastic job of building up to the phone call. We get to know Sarah as a person and what her life is like with her husband who has left her for someone else. While we hear much about him we never really get to know him as a person, which is fine. Readers also get to know Sarah’s father and the relationship between him and Sarah. And there’s a great deal of time spent getting to know and thus despising the one and only Professor Alan Hawthorne. I’m not quite sure I’ve ever hated a character as much as I did this guy. He’s a bully who uses sexual harassment to get what he wants. He’s narcissistic and creepy and just plain nasty. T.M. Logan did a great job of creating the perfect character for readers to love to hate. I wanted every single bad thing that could have happened to this character to happen to him. I despised him and wanted to make that phone call myself.

One character in the book has a pretty important role though we don’t see him much. That’s James Grosvenor, the father of the child Sarah rescues. I enjoyed the short time spent with this character. He exuded wealth and power. It was effortless to picture this guy sitting in an office talking to Sarah and offering up his services to her. There was just something about this character that was so interesting and I was drawn to him. I would have actually liked for him to have had a bigger role in the story so I could read more about him.

While this book wasn’t as fast-paced as Lies I enjoyed it just as much. I liked the way the story played out letting readers get to know the characters and build attachments to them. T.M. Logan does a phenomenal job of telling stories that capture the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go until the end. T.M. Logan is on my must-read author list and I can’t wait to read more by this talented author.

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

About the author: Tim was born in Berkshire and studied in London and Cardiff before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently writes full-time and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.

His debut thriller Lies (2017) sold more than 350,000 copies and was one of Amazon’s biggest selling e-books of 2017. Together with his second standalone thriller, 29 Seconds (2018), his books are now published in a dozen countries around the world including the USA, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next thriller takes place over a sweltering summer week in the south of France, as four best friends see the holiday of a lifetime turn into a nightmare of suspicion, betrayal and murder… The Holiday is due to be published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 13 June 2019.

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The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

About the book: A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Timeslip

My thoughts: After reading The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel I knew I had to read whatever she released next. That just so happened to be The Secrets of Paper and Ink. I didn’t even read the description of what the book was about. I just knew that I loved her writing and wanted to read whatever she wrote. I wasn’t disappointed.

This book was everything I was expecting it to be and more. The story centers on two modern-day women who meet when Sophia decides to get away and go to England. She has just faced the death of her fiance but readers soon learn that there’s more to her story than just the grief she is going through. In England, she meets Ginny, who has been left by her husband with a bookstore that is on the verge of closing. Sophia rents a room from Ginny and works in the bookstore. There she comes across a notebook in which there is a fascinating story about Emily Fairfax. Sophia isn’t sure if Emily is real or just a character but she is drawn to her story and it was a story that I was drawn to as well. It was so easy to like and relate to each of these three women. The author does an excellent job of writing three original characters that worked well in the same story.

The chapters in the book jump from character to character but that was something that I really enjoyed. I liked learning Emily’s story in bits and pieces and slowly over the course of the book. I (correctly!) guessed some of the events in Emily’s story and how she would be connected to the main story fairly early into the book but that didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I found that I enjoyed learning that my guesses were correct as the story unfolded.

Whether reading about modern-day Cornwall or the 1860s Cornwall the author does an excellent job of describing the scenes and transporting readers to England and letting them go on a journey with three very unique women who are facing difficult times in their lives. The author does an excellent job of writing a timeslip novel that gives readers two complete stories to enjoy as they combine into one fantastic read!

With her YA-leaning The Heart Between Us and now The Secrets of Paper and Ink this author has earned a spot on my must-read list. It doesn’t matter what genre or era she is writing, I will be reading it. I highly recommend this book which is quite possibly my favorite read of the year.

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: Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

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One Night to Remember by Erica Ridley

About the book:

Notorious whip Giles Langford is surprised to learn his blacksmith is a girl, shocked to realize she’s the out-of-his-league sister of a duke, and horrified to discover he’s fallen in love with the impossible-to-tame woman anyway. With no money and no title, Giles has nothing to offer but his heart…

Felicity Sutton knows poverty firsthand, and she’s never going back. She might miss the smithy, but not the relentless desperation of no home and an empty belly. Of course she’ll accept the stability of a wealthy ton suitor. As for the penniless daredevil she loves, well… At least they’ll have one night to remember.

Publication Date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: WebMotion

Genre: Regency Romance

Series: Wicked Dukes Club #5

*Steamy Read*

My thoughts: A perfect mix of seriousness and fun made this book a quick read. The hero and heroine are both characters that I enjoyed reading about and I loved the idea of a titled person, in this case, a woman, marrying a commoner. I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a story with this scenario before and I found it deliciously refreshing.

The author’s writing, as always, is superb and she has a way of drawing readers into the story and making them feel part of the action. And there’s plenty of action in this book! I love the descriptions that make it so easy to picture what is happening in the story.

This book is the 5th in the series but can be read as a standalone. It is a must-read for fans of the genre and a great way introduction to the author’s writing. A book that simply can’t be missed. Happy reading!!!

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

About the author: Erica Ridley is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of historical romance novels.

In the new 12 Dukes of Christmas series, enjoy witty, heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!

Her two most popular series, the Dukes of War and Rogues to Riches, feature roguish peers and dashing war heroes who find love amongst the splendor and madness of Regency England.

When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White

About the book: Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network—field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack every German telegram. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, for the first time in her life numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy that just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the too-intelligent Margot, but how to convince a girl who lives entirely in her mind that sometimes life’s answers lie in the heart?

Amidst biological warfare, encrypted letters, and a German spy who wants to destroy not just them, but others they love, Margot and Drake will have to work together to save them all from the very secrets that brought them together.

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWI

My thoughts: I absolutely loved the Shadows Over England series by Roseanna M. White and was so happy to see that one of the secondary characters from that series was going to be in the first book of a new series. I’ve been (im)patiently waiting to get my hands on The Number of Love and I was not disappointed. This book was full of twists and turns with a bit of romance to make it a read I won’t soon forget.

Margot De Wilde intrigued me. I think she was well ahead of her time as not only a brilliant woman but as a codebreaker. I found it absolutely fascinating to read about her part in helping the Allied forces during WWI. I even found her to be a bit like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory in the way that she used facts instead of emotions to get through life. Drake Elton was the perfect counterpart for Margot as he softened her up a bit and made her not only see things differently but made her feel things. This couple is high on the list of all time favorites. They were a perfect combination and so fun to read about. I also enjoyed Dot and Red and would love to read more about them in future books.

One thing I’ve always loved about this author’s work is her ability to make me forget I’m reading a work of fiction. It is so easy to become totally immersed in her stories and the lives of the characters that she creates. Many times while reading her work I have to put the book away and think about what I’ve read and make sure I absorb the story before moving on.

This book is a great start to what I’m sure will be a fabulous series. I can’t wait to read the next installment. If you are a historical fiction/romance fan or a fan of WWI novels be sure to pick up a copy of this book. It’s a must-read!

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: Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. She and her family make their home in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia.

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