Queen, by Heather Gray

Queen, by Heather GrayQueenQueen, by Heather Gray   Today I read Queen (Regency Refuge Book 3).  It was the perfect way to spend a quiet Sunday — with murder’s, thieves, cut-throats, and traitors.  The twists and turns of this story — of the entire series, in fact — has kept me on the edge of my seat, and flipping pages as fast as I could read.

Each book in the series can stand alone, but together they form a rich, suspenseful tale of spies, counter spies, traitors, friendship, loyalty, and faith. Heather Gray paints vivid word pictures that bring her characters and story to life as they struggle with faith, loyalty, trust, forgiveness, and honor.

Gray does an excellent job of making each character’s faith walk an integral part of his or her character.  The stories never come off as preachy and their faith is never forced.  There are currently three books in the series, book one: His Saving Grace; book two: Jackal; and book three: Queen.  With each book the story grows more and more complicated, and more and more compelling. I don’t know what the title of book four will be, but I am sure it is coming — and I am wishing it were already here.  I’d love to spend another day reading a Heather Gray story.

The Toymaker, by Kay Springsteen


springsteenI spent Christmas Day reading, “The Toymaker” by Kay Springsteen.  Springsteen’s prose is so smooth it all but disappears, letting the story take center stage.  To me that is the mark of an excellent writer.  Her words painted vivid pictures in my mind.   The story’s main characters, Lady Ivy and Philip Green — or rather, Noel Phillip Vincent Greenstone, the Twelfth Duke of Greenbriar — are vividly drawn, very human, and very likable.   I very much enjoyed reading this book.

“The Toymaker” isn’t a page turner.  I had no trouble putting it down as I moved through the day, but every time I paused the gentle story called to me. The romantic stumbling block in the story was a little contrived and could have been solved easily, but that seems to be a time honored romance story tradition and was easily forgiveable.  All-in-all, “The Toymaker” by Kay Springsteen  was the perfect, leisurely Christmas Day story and for the most part I read it while sitting in front of the fireplace draped in a fluffy blanket.

Amazon’s book blurb:

Lady Ivy Plumthorne, elder daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Wythorpe, is a worry to her parents. Desiring only that she be as happily wed as her younger sister, they’ve spent the past year parading prospective suitors in front of her. When she finds none of the suitors… suitable, her parents despair she will ever find the perfect husband. With Christmas approaching, they find one more prospective suitor, the Duke of Greenbriar. Only problem is, Ivy’s already met the man of her dreams… and he’s a toymaker. Noel Phillip Vincent Greenstone, the Twelfth Duke of Greenbriar, wasn’t cut out to be a duke. He preferred crafting toys that made children happy. So that’s just what he did. And as Phillip Green, he traveled freely about, visiting shops and orphanages, and making no child went without a toy of his or her own. But a few chance meetings with Lady Ivy and he knows he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. The problem is, she needs to marry a nobleman and she only knows him as Phillip the Toymaker. He needs a plan, and fast. The world needs to meet the reclusive Duke of Greenbriar, so Phillip plans his own coming out. But how will Ivy react when she learns the truth?

About the Author (Amazon bio)

k springsteenKay Springsteen is a romance junkie and a chocolate addict, who makes her home in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She can and does write anywhere, and often incorporates little oddities of her every day life into her stories. Her family has learned the hard way to maintain a low profile in order to stay off her radar, for fear they will find themselves crafted into her latest novel. Kay is a Christian, who is passionate about all life. She has been an outspoken advocate for homeless persons, shelter pets, the environment, military and first responder personnel, community outreach, education, and people of all ages who have disabilities.

Kay can often be found taking long hikes in the mountains with one or two of her terrific rescue dogs, but she’s just as content to stay home gardening or simply spending time with her wonderful family. You might even find her at Starbucks writing. But if she sees you, watch out! You might just end up in one of her books. She believes in magic and real-life fairy tales, and the romance of life, and knows everyone has a happily ever after waiting out there somewhere. But until you get to it, why not pick up a good book and think about the possibilities?

Astraea Press is a royalty paying e-publisher dedicated to supplying clean reading material to an eager public.  I received this book free of charge from Kay Springsteen and with no strings attached.  This review was not purchased and reflects my honest, unsolicited opinion.

The Widow’s End

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is an excellent writer.  Her voice, in The Widow’s End is period perfect.  I didn’t stumble over a single phrase or find a comma out of place.  Reading her prose was a pleasure.  It flowed smoothly from page to page and pulled me through the story to the end of the book.

I chose to review The Widow’s End because the book blurb piqued my interest:

When widow Katie Lafferty arrives at the Pythian House, a home for widows and orphans, she has little hope for the future. She soon learns the reality offers more grueling work than she could have imagined. One of the few bright spots in her daily drudgery is Latin Master Everett Brown at the school across the street. As Katie struggles to conform to the rules and settle into her new life, she looks forward to her chance meetings with Mr. Brown When she fails to meet the standards of the home, her future becomes even more uncertain. If she has a knight in shining armor, it’s Everett Brown.

That enticed me to read the first chapter, which was offered free on the review site.  The first chapter hooked me.  I wanted to learn more about Katie Lafferty, the Pythian House, her conflict there, and the knightly Latin Master, Everett Brown.   I downloaded the book, I read it from end to end in just a couple of hours, and put it down still wanting to know more.

The conflict in the book had great potential, but in every instance it was defused before I had ample reason to grow concerned.  Not once did I find myself wondering how Katie was going to get out of her predicament.  This was a gentle, sweet, story and I do not consider the time I spent reading it wasted, but it did not tug on my emotions.

Everett Brown’s dramatic rescue of Katie from her confinement in her room at the Pythian House would have been much more swoon worthy if Katie had actually been in her room for more than a few hours, had missed more than one meal, and had a more concrete consequence hanging over her head then being put out of a home she had no wish to stay in anyway.  Even Everett knew she wasn’t in serious trouble, because he took the time to secure Katie safe lodging before rushing to her rescue.

In short, this novel has the potential for excellence, but it hasn’t been fleshed out enough.  I will definitely read the next Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy novel, in hopes that her story crafting has grown.  I know it will someday match the excellent quality of her prose.


Sixty Acres and a Bride

If the Biblical story of Ruth and Naomi has ever intrigued you, you will love Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings.  Inspired by the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz,  Regina Jennings has crafted a dramatic, heart-wrenching, love-filled tale that brings to life the stresses and joys of traveling to a new land, learning a new culture, and building a new life.  Rosa is earnest and loving and easy to like.  Her heart is always in the right place and she always tries to do what is best for others, even marrying the man she loves despite being certain he will never love her.  This story is an emotionally exhilarating roller coaster ride. I highly recommend it, but don’t take my word for it.  Read an excerpt, then click here to see what others are saying!

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Win a Kindle Fire from @ReginaJennings in the Sixty Acres and a Bride Giveaway! RSVP for #Facebook Party on 3/27.

Celebrate with Regina by entering to win a Kindle Fire and coming to her Author Chat Party on 3/27!

One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/26/12. Winner will be announced at Regina’s Author Chat Facebook Party on 3/27. Regina will be hosting an evening of chat, fun trivia and more! She’ll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and some beautiful silver jewerly!

So grab your copy of Sixty Acres and a Bride and join Regina and friends on the evening of March 27th for an evening of fun.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!

About the Author:
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children. Learn more about Regina by visiting her website, www.reginajennings.com.

Beauty for Ashes

I loved Beauty For Ashes so much that after I finished it, I went back and read it again!  Carrie Daly is a character to love and grow with.  She was progressive and sophisticated, yet naive and very traditional.  As Carrie struggles to help support her ill and contentious sister-in-law, tame her step-nephews, and run the farm in her brother’s absence, she longs to be appreciated and loved.  Through it all she learns to lean on God and trust in his provision.  This book was a satisfying read from beginning to end. This one is going on my “keepers” shelf.

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She’s a beautiful young widow. He’s a Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.

After losing her husband in the Civil War, Carrie Daly is scared she will never have the family she longs for. Eligible bachelors are scarce in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, but Carrie has found love. Not the weak-in-the-knees kind, but something practical. Still, she isn’t quite ready to set a wedding date with Nate Chastain.

Griff Rutledge is a former member of Charleston society, but has been estranged from his family for years. He’s determined to remain unattached, never settling in one place for too long. But when asked to train a Thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay awhile.

Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff’s kindness and charm. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and claim God’s promise to give beauty for ashes.

Before returning to her writing roots in historical fiction, Dorothy Love published twelve novels for young adults. Her work has garnered numerous honors from the American Library Association, the Friends of American Writers, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library, and many others. The Hickory Ridge Novels mark her Christian fiction debut.

For more about Dorothy visit her website,www.dorothylovebooks.com or friend her onFacebook.com/DorothyLoveBooks.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from LitFuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”