Wednesday, February 28, 2024

HISTORICAL ROMANCE/MYSTERY: Protecting Her Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen



London, 1887 

When newly graduated medical doctor Charlotte Duvall receives word that her father has died, she immediately leaves America and returns home to see to her family’s estate. Among her father’s possessions is a box of her late mother’s letters, which feels like a balm to Charlotte’s grief-stricken heart. But the letters contain some inconsistencies that suggest there was more to her mother’s death than Charlotte had been told. She turns to the one man she trusts more than anyone—her treasured friend and director of London’s police force, John Ellis. John Ellis has harbored feelings for Charlotte ever since he first met her. Tucked into his heart are thoughts of her sharp mind, quick wit, and remarkable beauty. Though he has not yet found the courage to share his feelings with the young doctor, he is eager to help her in her hour of need. Investigating the details of a death was not how Charlotte imagined she would find love, but as she and John work to unravel a dark web of secrets and lies, she finds herself relying on him more and more—and opening her heart to him in the process. As the danger draws ever closer, John vows to do everything in his power to protect Charlotte from harm. But he fears protecting her heart might come at the cost of breaking his own.


I loved returning to the world of Amelia, Eva, and Charlotte, three cousins who continue the tradition of stepping out of traditional women's roles as members of the Notorious Hamptons. I'm only sad that the series seems to be over. In this final volume, Charlotte returns home for the funeral of her father after he sends her a letter indicating his efforts to find out what really lead to her mother's death many years earlier. As Charlotte follows in her father's steps, she quickly discovers that someone has something to hide and it puts herself and those she loves in danger. She turns to John Ellis, a friend and director of London's police force, for help. While searching for answers, John and Charlotte learn that their feelings for each other are stronger than they realized previously. The twists and turns of the story kept me turning the pages while the romantic moments made me smile. Neither John or Charlotte is willing at first to accept their feelings for each other as something that could lead to marriage, but it all happens so naturally that they are in deep almost before they realize it. It's delightful to read about Charlotte's cousins and their families again as well. Both an intriguing mystery and a sweet romance that satisfied this soul's reading desires.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

COZY MYSTERY: The Cats Came Back by Sofie Kelly



Small-town librarian Kathleen Paulson often seems to gets mixed up in murder, but luckily, her very special cats always find a way to help her close a case . . .The charming Minnesota town of Mayville Heights is hosting a music festival, and the whole place is bustling with musicians and tourists. Kathleen is looking forward to taking in some fabulous performances--and her two cats, Owen and Hercules, are looking forward to taking in some fabulous sardine crackers. But then the trio stumbles across a dead body by the river. The victim is a close friend--who also happens to be a look-alike of a popular cabaret singer set to perform at the festival. Who could have wanted to harm this innocent girl? Was it a case of mistaken identity? As accusations abound and suspicions swirl, Kathleen, Hercules and Owen will put their abilities--both mundane and magical--to the test, and lay down the paw.


As in the previous Magical Cats books, Kathleen and her two rather magical cats must solve a murder. When the cats lead Kathleen and her friend, Ruby to a dead body, Kathleen finds herself drawn into the case. Not only because of her detective boyfriend, but because she knew the victim and the victim's best friend who looked so much like her it raises the possibility of mistaken identity. What do scandalous photographs, a grouchy manager, and dangerous relations mean about the motives behind the murder? Once again Owen and Hercules step in to help point Kathleen in the right direction, but can they find the answer before the murderer strikes again? As with many cozy mysteries, the main character juggles her regular life with her amateur sleuthing and I love it. As much as I love reading about Kathleen pulling the pieces together with the help of her librarian skills and her friends, I also love reading about the relationships between Kathleen and her cats as well as Kathleen and her friends and family. If you enjoy a good cozy mystery with great characters both primary and secondary, with a good dose of cat hijinks and a touch of magical, I can heartily recommend this addition to the series.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

RELIGIOUS BOOK REVIEW: Jesus is the Christ by Neil L. Andersen



Jesus Is the Christ is a glimpse into The Life that changed all human history. Never has there been, or ever will there be another like Him. He is the God of all races, of each person ever born on earth. His love is the path to peace for everyone in this world regardless of who we are or where we live. This beautiful synopsis of the life and words of Jesus Christ can add joy, strength and power to your day and your life. Its brevity makes it easy to read again and again, bringing comfort, peace and added faith, helping us to think of Him, remember Him and turn to Him. For those whose faith is strong, for those who have never known Him, for those who once loved Him, Jesus Is the Christ is a quiet reminder that He is the true source of joy, peace, comfort and everlasting love. Open its pages and discover or rediscover the joy of His love.


This beautiful gift book presents readers with an overview of the life of Jesus Christ along with the testimony of Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Using scriptures from the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Elder Andersen presents a touching tribute to the Savior, His life, His death, and His Resurrection. Combining beautiful artwork and quotes pulled from the text, the book presents readers with a powerful reminder of God's love. At 39 pages, the book can be read in one quick sitting, but the feelings left behind can last much longer.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

A PROPER ROMANCE: The Bachelor and the Bride by Sarah M. Eden

The Bachelor and the Bride


London, 1866

Dr. Barnabus Milligan has always felt called to help people, whether that means setting a broken bone or rescuing the impoverished women of London from their desperate lives on the streets as part of his work with the Dread Penny Society.

Three years ago, he helped rescue Gemma Kincaid by secretly marrying her to protect her from her family of notorious grave robbers.

But six months after Gemma and Barnabus exchanged vows, she realized her love for her new husband was unrequited. To protect her heart, she left, telling Barnabus to contact her if his feelings for her ever grew beyond a sense of duty.

When Barnabus sends a letter to Gemma inviting her to return home, she hopes to find a true connection between them. But unfortunately, he only wants her help to foil the Kincaids, who have been terrorizing the boroughs of London, eager to gain both money and power.

Heartbroken, Gemma agrees to help, but she warns Barnabus that she will not stay for long, and once she goes, he'll never see her again.

Yet as the couple follows the clues that seem to connect the Kincaids to the Mastiff, the leader of London's criminal network, Gemma and Barnabus realize they might make a better match than either of them suspected. Perhaps the marriage that had once saved Gemma's life might now save Barnabus―and his lonely heart.

But before the once-confirmed bachelor can properly court his secret bride, they'll need to evade the dangerous forces that are drawing ever closer to the hopeful lovers and the entire Dread Penny Society itself.


The fourth book in The Dread Penny Society series find the society sinking deeper and deeper into trouble. As the society seeks to learn more about the Mastiff and his crew and their awful plans for the city, Dr. Barnabus Milligan faces a dilemma of his own. A secret marriage comes to light, bringing the woman he tried to save back into his life. Gemma left after discovering he didn't love her the way she loved him. But now, her life is at grave risk as her family of resurrectionists tries to bring her back into the fold of their criminal activity which seems to be connected to both the Mastiff and the Dread Penny Society. Integrated into the story are two penny dreadfuls 'written' by Dr. Milligan and 'Mr. King' another of the members of the Dread Penny Society. In this series, the fascinating way the penny dreadfuls intertwine with the main storyline, keeps one turning the pages. And this fourth book in a five book series builds the tension to a crescendo. By the time the book ends, the society is facing it's demise and a disaster than anything they could imagine. A couple of interesting twists at the end definitely surprised me and sent the story into a rather unusual direction. I love the way that the author blends her characters, setting, and stories (including the penny dreadful tales) until they are all part of one connected whole. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

HISTORICAL ROMANCE: THE HOLLY AND THE IVY: a Christmas romance collection



The Holly and the Ivy by Sarah M. Eden As nursemaid to the eight-year-old Duke of Kielder, Robbie will spend her holidays with her young charge as a guest of Lord and Lady Jonquil. While the couple makes the child’s holiday magical, the handsome gardener works his own magic on Nurse Robbie’s heart. Hiding Christmas by Esther Hatch Celebrating Christmas in Scotland will only invite persecution. But that never stopped Kirstine’s English grandmother. When they are almost caught, Kirstine is forced to beg for the help of the one man she cannot abide. A Twist of Christmas by Dana LeCheminant A Christmas house party offers two members of the ton an irresistible opportunity: a weekend of anonymity. But their charade comes with unexpected romantic consequences. A Season to Love by Anneka R. Walker Alice Hunt is searching for a Christmas miracle: a husband of her choosing. With the threat of an arranged marriage looming, she looks to an unlikely matchmaker for help.


Christmas stories live in my heart all year long. Through in some romance and I am happy as a clam. This lovely collection contains four stories by some of my many favorite authors. First, I got to visit the childhood of one of my favorite all time characters, the Duke of Kielder, who shows up in a number of Sarah M. Eden's regency novels. But in this story, he's a lonely, grieving child in the care of his nanny. He comes to visit Lord and Lady Jonquil who shower him with all the love and celebration his heart could desire. But when his nanny Robbie falls for the handsome gardener working for the Jonquils, can it truly be a great Christmas. I loved returning to the world of these beloved characters and reading about events mentioned elsewhere. I adored all the characters in this one.

Hiding Christmas by Esther Hatch takes readers on a journey with Kirstine as she takes her grandmother to England to celebrate Christmas, something still frowned on in Scotland. But the only way to get there is to ask for help from a man she would prefer not to know. But along the way, her heart softens as she learns more about the man she's so desperate to despise. I found myself smiling and even laughing out loud at spots in this one. Witty banter is one of my favorite things to read in a romance and this one has plenty.

A Twist of Christmas sees two members of high society dipping their feet into anonymity as they both pretend to be someone lower in station. What neither expects of course is to fall in love with someone they seemingly cannot marry. The secondary characters play a rather entertaining role in the story as they know more about what's going on then the main characters do. Another enjoyable romance full of holiday spirit.

Alice Hunt's search for a husband in A Season to Love provides plenty of Christmas spirit as well as humorous misadventures as Alice recruits a clergyman to help her find a husband. But maybe she's looking beyond the mark and the solution to her deepest desire is right under her nose. Alice and Thomas make a great match and it's a true delight seeing them get there.

A wonderful collection of feel-good stories full of amusing details and lots of holiday spirit.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

COZY MYSTERY: A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly


In this charming mystery from the bestselling author of Paws and Effect, two magical cats have powers of detection that prove indispensable to librarian Kathleen Paulson…

With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town's history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don't work for free...


Kathleen and her cats, Hercules and Owen, continue to solve mysteries that drop into their path. With their 'magical' abilities, Hercules and Owen 'assist' Kathleen in her sleuthing. The arrival of two brothers in town along with the surprise discovery of a bunch of twenty-year-old mail hidden in the post office sends Kathleen digging into the past. With the help of her cats, town residents, and her police detective boyfriend, Kathleen sets out to discover why one brother ends up dead before her friend Simon gets arrested for murder. As in the other books in the series, the interactions between Kathleen and her cats make for delightful reading. As a cat lover myself, I love the hijinks that drive Kathleen crazy but make me laugh. I especially appreciate the fact that the series is relatively clean with only a small amount of cursing/profaning and no graphic sex. I look forward to reading the series as long as Sofie keeps writing them.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW: Paws & Effect by Sofie Kelly

A Magical Cats Mystery #8
by Sofie Kelly
Berkley Prime Crime, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-451-47216-8
Source: purchased
All opinions expressed are solely my own.
Book cover provided by publisher through


As a big fan of cozy mysteries, I was thrilled to come across this delightful series by Sofie Kelly (pen name). The series has several things that I love to read about including libraries, cats, and great relationships. Kathleen works as the head librarian at the public library in Mayville Heights, Minnesota. Her boyfriend, Marcus, works as a police detective. In this eighth book in the series, some old friends of Marcus's from college show up in town to fight a proposed development next to the lake. When one of Marcus's friends, Dani, is found dead, Marcus becomes a suspect. As in previous volumes, Kathleen gets involved to help someone she cares about get out of trouble. Marcus's father shows up in town to help his son, but tensions between the two force Kathleen to walk a careful line. But Kathleen has her two cats, Owen and Hercules, to help her out. Not only do the cats have a knack for leading Kathleen to clues, but they have some superpowers as well (Owen can disappear at will and Hercules can walk through walls). As with the other seven books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  The mystery carries especially big ramifications in this book since Kathleen's boyfriend is the suspect.  But I also love reading about the cats and their antics as well as the relationships between Kathleen and her friends, neighbors, and family. There's plenty of humor, excitement, and mystery to satisfy any cozy mystery lover. I also appreciate that the books are pretty clean in terms of content save for a few swearwords here and there. There are references to some unsavory things just because it's a murder mystery.  All in all, a favorite new book that I look forward to reading again just for fun!

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

HISTORICAL ROMANCE: The Earl's Hideaway, No Ladies Allowed by Esther Hatch


In this second volume of the A Romance of Rank series, readers find Lord Riverton confronted by a conundrum. With a number of sisters, Samson feels overwhelmed by all their demands, especially Dru, who seems to be taking her resentment of men in general out on him. After being embarrassed in front of his love interest, Samson leaves his home in search of a refuge. He ends up at a cottage taking care of a very special flower named Fernadale. When the cottage owner's niece shows up to expecting to take care of Fernadale, Samson finds himself facing the woman he's loved for years, Catherine Wallace. A former friend, now governess because of the scandalous fall of her family, Samson and Catherine decide that as long as nobody knows that they are living in the same house unmarried, it's okay, especially since Samson is using a fake name. As they work to take care of the house and the flower, their feelings for each other grow stronger. The arrival of Catherine's sisters leaves Samson once again surrounded by females that he can't help but accommodate. But believing that Samson rejected the opportunity to marry her, Catherine refuses to give in to her feelings. Additional misunderstandings and an unfortunate series of events at the ball celebrating the engagement of one of Samson's sisters leave the two in misery. But Samson is determined not to lose Catherine again.

I thoroughly enjoyed Samson and Catherine's romance. Catherine's feistiness and Samson's easy going nature made for some amusing encounters, especially because of the fact that they grew up together and saw each other in many kinds of situations. But they've both changed a bit in the four years apart and so they still manage to surprise each other. One of the things I found most enjoyable was Catherine's frustration with Samson's tendency to put himself last. Samson is the very opposite of the puffed up, arrogant Earl, as he loves to make his family happy, and often takes care of his own needs without help from servants. It was impossible not to love Samson.  And the interactions between Catherine and Samson were often amusing as well. I had to laugh out loud when the proposal finally occurred and Samson offered to get Catherine a hippo in order to get her to marry him. As Catherine says, "Who mentions a hippopotamus when declaring love?"  

Overall, I found the story well-written and delightful to read.  If you enjoy clean, historical romance with a large dose of humor, I highly recommend this one.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

CONTEMPORARY SUSPENSE: Shifting Sands by Kathi Oram Peterson


All Gloryanna Griffin needs is a full-ride scholarship to finish her master’s degree in marine biology in order to pursue her dream of saving the ocean. However, to be a serious contender for the money, she needs to publish in a prestigious magazine. A research dive off the Olympic Peninsula is a dangerous proposition but one that just might give her article the impact it needs. But when she’s swept into an underwater vortex, she realizes her life may be the price she pays instead.

When she awakens on the rocky beach—miraculously alive—the first person she sees is the handsome stranger who saved her. Over the years, Jonathan Dawson has saved countless lives from the perils of the ocean. But until now, no one has ever seen him. Nearly eighty years ago, he died on this same beach, and his spirit has been tied to the spot ever since. Now Gloryanna and Jonathan are irrevocably linked as they are plunged into a decades’ old mystery that promises answers to the past and keys to the future. But they soon discover that some secrets may be better left undisturbed.


Shifting Sands intriguing premise pulled me into the story right away. The shocking events of the prologue left me with questions that kept me eagerly reading. Gloryanna makes a winning heroine with her love of family and love of the ocean. And the connection between Jonathan and Gloryanna is clear from the beginning. The way the two mysteries blended together and twisted around and between each other was fascinating. Jonathan doesn't remember how he died and he certainly doesn't know how he ended up as a ghost with the power to rescue people from the ocean.  And Gloryanna has no idea why someone would want to sabotage her diving tanks. Working together they seek answers, but the danger only seems to increase and Gloryanna is left wondering just who she can trust. 

Peterson does a great job blending the real and the fantastical.  With ghost stories it can be tricky to make it work in a story that revolves around the real world.  On the other hand, you have the freedom to create your 'own rules' so to speak. No complete explanation is given for Jonathan's state or for what happens later, but there are hints provided that relate to Gloryanna's work in marine biology and the circumstances that bring Gloryanna and Jonathan together. As I read this I wanted a happy ending but I wasn't sure how the author was going to pull it off.  I'm pleased to say that she does it in a way that works well for the story. I enjoyed meeting Gloryanna and Jonathan and reading their story. Recommended for mystery lovers who enjoy a good dose of suspense with a touch of the supernatural.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

HISTORICAL ROMANCE REVIEW: To Win Her Hand by Jen Geigle Johnson


A man to teach men how to win a woman's hand. A woman who cannot be won.

Lord Featherstone has the world on his shoulders. Or at least his world. With two brothers and a failing estate he must make funds somehow. But what happens when he falls for a woman? Will his tactics work when the situation is so close and personal?

Everyone thinks Lady Loveluck is a wealthy widow. What they don't know is that she is on the brink of hiring herself out as a Governess in order to pay for her next meal. The only thing keeping her from employment is a growing reputation as a matchmaker. As long as she never falls for another man, as long as she doesn't allow herself to be fooled into marrying, she will be just fine.

But she never counted on being caught up in the beguiling tactics of London's renowned and not so secret matchmaker for men.


Johnson really knows how to pull a reader into a story.  This first book in a new series sets up a rather intriguing situation from the very beginning.  Both the hero and heroine are matchmakers, working to help members of the Ton find a spouse by providing assistance in dress and behavior as well as help with introductions.  Both Lord Featherstone and Lady Loveluck work because they must to keep food on the table, both are striving to save their estates.  When Lord Featherstone's client, Mr. Hartsworth, and Lady Loveluck's client, Miss Anna seem to take a shine to each other, Lord Featherstone sees it as a perfect opportunity to show his interest in Lady Loveluck.  But Lady Loveluck has no interest in making a match herself.  After having been badly treated by her now deceased husband, she's reluctant to trust any man, especially one as charming as Lord Featherstone.  

What I especially love about the book is how Lord Featherstone treats Lady Loveluck.  I love his sincerity.  Yes, Lord Featherstone is very charming, but he's sincere in the compliments he gives and his skill with people.  Such kindness is hard for Lady Loveluck to trust having been betrayed so badly before, but her heart refuses to listen to her head.  When she and Lord Featherstone end up at the same house party with their clients, she meets a group of widows who offer her the support and understanding she's so desperately needs.  By this time however, Lord Featherstone realizes that he cannot offer Lady Loveluck the stability and comfort she needs and he resolves to help another interested party succeed with her.  But the heart will not be denied, and Lady Loveluck must decide what she's willing to risk to find happiness. 

Sigh, I do love a sweet romance, especially one with such a great, good hero.  I do love Jen Giggle Johnson's stories with their great historical details and fabulous characters. I look forward to reading future books in the series.