Posted in About the Book, History

Researching the South during the Gilded Age

In this post, I want to do two things: I want to share with you some of the research that went into my novel, If Only It Were Yesterday, and I also want to review and recommend one of my key research books.

Whether you’re a historical fiction fan or history buff, you’re likely to notice that our focus shifts from region to region based on what’s going on during that time. It’s not hard to find books (fiction or non-fiction) based on life in the South during the Civil War or even the years leading up to or shortly after the war. However, the last three decades of the nineteenth century shifts our focus either to the west during the western expansion or to the north during the Industrial Revolution. But what was life like in the South during those years?

I’m not saying you won’t find ANY information, but it is a lot harder to come by. Because the focus in our nation shifts, there’s a gaping hole in our common knowledge of the period where the South is concerned. As a historical fiction fan, when I think of books during the Gilded Era, I think of stories in the North featuring either wealthy families or poor immigrant families. Because of what we commonly see, when  I sat down to write If Only It Were Yesterday, I had some questions: The last time we looked at the South, wealthy families had slaves or paid black freedmen. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows me that most servants are immigrants. The last time we looked at the South, they were destitute. For the first time, both the rich and the poor, the black and the white, had a great deal in common: they had a great deal of nothing. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows that electricity was becoming common, among other advances. So it begged the question: How many of these common understandings of the North were true of the South?

I don’t doubt one of you will take up the challenge and do a quick Google search and find all that it took me months to find. But for me, it was like pulling teeth to find documented proof of what the South looked like during a time that was so focused on the North or the West. Which makes From Morning to Night by Elizabeth L. O’Leary an answer to prayer.

Right there on the cover, it says “Domestic Service in Maymont House and the Gilded Age South.” FINALLY! This was the sort of book that promised to answer my questions. And, boy, did it! It’s one of those books that I highlighted but found myself wanting to highlight nearly the entire page. There was so much information packed in here.

The book features an extremely wealthy family in Richmond. The Dooleys were the exception here in the South, but O’Leary graciously explained what was commonplace for the Dooley’s and how it compared with others around them. It offered insight into the progression of technology within the home during those inventive years. It also weaves in terminology and common practices between servants and the families they served. It offers insight into the lifestyles of the servants and their employers, helping others like myself who wish to know more about the day to day life of those in the South. Since the Dooley’s were among the wealthiest in the South, you are given a look at the best that money could buy as well as how it compared to those who wouldn’t have afforded quite so much.
And in case you were wondering the answers to my questions: servants in the South during that time were primarily black people and very few were immigrants or poorer white Americans. And while electricity was becoming commonplace in the North, it was behind in the South. Wealthy families in larger cities had a better chance of having access to it, but smaller cities or rural areas couldn’t afford to supply it.

I highly recommend From Morning to Night to anyone who wishes to look deeper into the relationship between servant and employer, even if your primary concern isn’t focused on the South. But the book does bring the unique situation of the Gilded Age in the South to light. O’Leary balances what the historical documents reveal about the Dooleys with common experiences throughout the South as well as using quotes from various sources to further prove or explain the information.
I gladly give it 5 stars and a permanent place on my research shelf.

 

337Step off the lush carpet and push through the swinging door of the butler’s pantry to enter the bustling realm of domestic workers at Maymont House from 1893 to 1925. In From Morning to Night, Elizabeth O’Leary takes the reader behind the scenes in the opulent mansion of the Richmond multimillionaire James H. Dooley and his wife, Sallie. Drawing upon personal letters, business and government documents, and numerous oral histories of older Richmonders―both black and white―O’Leary examines the parallel and divergent viewpoints of server and served in this Virginia version of “Upstairs/Downstairs.”

Raised in slave-owning households before the Civil War, the Dooleys experienced the transformation of the master/mistress-slave relationship to that of employer-employee. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they relied on a full complement of domestic servants to maintain their lavish residences and lifestyle. In turn, numerous men and women―predominantly African American―labored to meet the day-to-day challenges of running an elaborate household. At the same time, they negotiated the era’s increasing Jim Crow restrictions and, during precious hours off-duty, helped support families, churches, and the larger black community.

By examining the formalities and practices of the Dooleys at home and by giving a presence and voice to their “help,” From Morning to Night offers insights into domestic and social systems at work within and beyond the upper-class household in the Gilded Age South.

Buying Options: At the time that I was writing this post, I checked Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Half.com and found both used and new options cheaper at Amazon.

 

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Posted in About the Book, Book Reviews

RELEASE DAY: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

There’s nothing like the gushing heart of a proud parent and that’s what I feel like today: A proud book parent. My dear Liz is all grown up and venturing out into the world. That’s a thrilling and scary feeling. I can’t control who reads it or how they feel about it or even what they say about it. I hope it’s well-loved wherever it goes. But as I sit back and remind myself, yet again, that done means done and I’ll never have to work on this beloved story again, I want to share some of the events surrounding the book launch. 

Liz Party

There’s a party taking place today! A tea party, in fact! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me over the next couple of days. I prefer to keep my parties extended for those who aren’t able to make the specific hour. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away some paperback copies at the party? 

There’s also a blog tour. You can visit other bloggers to hear their thoughts on the novel, as well as earn bonus entries for the grand prize giveaway. The full schedule is below the picture. 

Blog tour

Release Day Spotlights: 
Sept 4: 
Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Reviews:

Sept. 5:
Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books

Sept. 6:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Sept. 10: 
Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley

Sept. 11:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Sept. 12: 
Virginia Winfield @ Bigreadersite

Sept. 13:
Heather G. @ Blue Jeans and Teacups

Sept. 17:
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Grand Prize

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Sept 17, 2018. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog. I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

AmazonLizBOOK DESCRIPTION:

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

You can add If Only It Were Yesterday to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon

If Only It Were Yesterday Quote 2

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson

330Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines—until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

What I Loved: This was a fantastic debut novel! There’s so much to love and appreciate here. I always enjoy reading about a main character who has a disability or ailment of some sort, so I thrilled to read about Keziah and her struggle with epilepsy. I quickly connected with both Micah and Keziah. There were times, though, when I felt like some of the characters were too knowledgeable about the matters of war when the history books had yet to be written. But other than that, I found it to be a very strong and accurate historical novel. The characters relied heavily upon God to serve where they felt led to serve. The plot kept moving forward, and their romance was sweet and ended perfectly.

Rating and Recommendations: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, Civil War fiction, or those looking for fiction revolving around the Underground Railroad.

~ I received a copy from Tyndale House. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in About the Book

Preview: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

We’re only 1 week away from the release of my latest novel, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I can’t wait to put this one into your hands. 

The concept for the story grew out of my own life and the lesson I had to learn about idolizing history. If Only It Were Yesterday was written from the heart of a historical fiction fan TO the heart of a historical fiction fan. I hope you’ll find it entertaining as well as enlightening. Please, enjoy the first full chapter: 

ONE

All in the golden afternoon …

~ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Tell me that my love is welcomed. More than welcomed, tell me that it is desired. For you alone, I have overcome great odds. My longing to see your face was all that had sustained me when a great many others had perished–”

Oomph. Something solid bashed into my shoulder, knocking me off balance. The book containing my beloved Charlie Wesson and Eloise Carter crashed to the sidewalk at my feet.

Watch it!” a rather large and angry man yelled at me over his shoulder just as I gathered my bearings.

I stuttered a reply, but he didn’t hear it. It was just as well since what I had said didn’t make any sense. And worse yet, my book was dirty. I was at the best part, too. How could he be so rude?

I had stayed up way too late finishing A Shipwrecked Love, the novel in my hands, and my only desire was to reread the best scene before I returned it to the library. The scene where Eloise read Charlie’s love letter went down in history as one of my absolute favorite scenes in any book. I mentally added A Shipwrecked Love to my wish list for books I wanted to keep on my personal shelf at home. In order to do so, I would have to cross something else off the list since my apartment was too small for an extensive collection.

You should invest in an e-reader,” my friend, Shelby, had once said. “You could keep all the books you wanted, and it wouldn’t take up any space.”

An e-reader? Seriously? Me? It was like she didn’t know me at all. An e-reader was so cold and distant, while a book was warm and inviting. A book could very well hug you back if you were to fall asleep reading and it fell on your face, or if you rested it on your arm. Books were friendly.

And it was more than friendship.

Books were classic. Timeless.

E-readers were not.

In my mind, it really was that simple. E-readers were state-of-the-art, moving fast-forward. Don’t get me wrong. It’s 2016, and I use electricity. I own a laptop and a smartphone.

But I dream in candlelight.

I hugged the book to my chest with a sigh, looking out onto the busy square of Carroll, Tennessee, and wondered what it had looked like 100 years ago. Would my little shop have been standing? I looked behind me where Curiouser and Curiouser Antiques and Rare Gifts stood. My grandmother, and guardian, had passed away four years earlier, leaving me with an empty building and the encouragement to pursue my passion for history through antiques. I couldn’t live in the past as I had longed to do, but I found that I could still surround myself with the past. I lived above my store in the tiny apartment, so I was quite literally surrounded by antiques.

Turning forward again, I continued my walk to the library. In good weather, this walk was one of my favorite times of the day.

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I breathed in the scent of fall and recited the verse again to myself for good measure.

The Grayson Library was a repurposed historic home just behind the square. Childhood memories and the smell of endless pages flooded my senses the moment I opened the heavy door. Lucy stood behind the counter and gave me a smile and a wiggle of her fingers. I smiled in return but kept the book in my arms and bypassed her station. Without a word, I stepped behind her and slipped through the door labeled, “Staff Only.” I wasn’t staff. However, this would be my dream job if things in the antique business came crashing down, which I prayed never happened. But I had an open invitation to visit the staff only areas. It didn’t matter what day or what time of the day, I was always welcome, and I knew there would be a tea party awaiting me.

I walked down the short hall and gave a tentative knock on Betty Tanner’s door, causing her gray head to lift and her eyes to fall upon me.

Lizzie, I was hoping you’d come today.” I didn’t mind that Betty was the only one who called me Lizzie. We had a special friendship. I was Liz to my friends and Elizabeth Cooke to the rest of the world.

I moved across the room and around the desk to give my grandmother’s most-cherished friend a hug. “You know I can’t stand to miss Tuesdays. The cupcake teapot is my favorite.”

Betty laughed as she took the five steps to the countertop she had installed behind her desk. I watched as she made the preparations for afternoon tea. She felt the weight of the kettle. Satisfied with the water level, she turned on her hot plate and set the kettle down. Then Betty reached into her cabinet for an extra setting, matching the cup, pot, creamer, and sugar bowl that already sat on her special tea table underneath the window. The cabinet held the other five tea sets. Betty had one set for each day of the week. Sunday’s set stayed at home since she never worked on Sundays. I knew she also had a nighttime set that she used while at home after work and, of course, special sets for each of the major holidays. An assortment of tea cookies remained hidden in her desk drawer for the harder days in life. And at least twenty flavors of tea sat in the drawer above them.

What flavor today, Lizzie?”

Earl Grey. I just finished a book about a duke, and it has me thinking about Earl Grey tea.”

Betty laughed. “The duke reminded you of the earl?”

Well, you don’t have any duke tea, and he was sort of a nasty fellow. I think the earl will suit my mood.”

She shook her head in that good-natured sort of way that people often do when they know you’re just a bit crazy but they’re choosing not to call you out on it.

Speaking of nasty fellows, someone bumped into me on the way over. He knocked my book to the ground and didn’t even bother to say he was sorry. What happened to men and manners, anyway?”

Betty stopped, a tea bag dangling from her hand like a clock on a chain. “Book? Lizzie, were you reading again while you were walking down the sidewalk?”

She would point out the only part of the story I didn’t mention. “I might have been, but that’s not the point.”

She huffed. “Lizzie, you could have been hurt.”

But I wasn’t hurt.” Why was she not seeing the real issue here? “He bumped into me, and he had the nerve to yell at me for it when he should have apologized.”

Apologized?”

Yes, apologized. There was once a day when a man would never dream of bumping into a woman on the street without apologizing for it.”

But Lizzie, those days have passed, and it really does sound like you ran into him.”

You would think that someone as old as Betty would be more outraged at the decline in society. “I couldn’t really say if I did or didn’t run into him, but, again, that’s hardly the point. He should have apologized.”

She frowned. “Even if it was your fault?”

That’s just the point!”

What’s the point?”

It doesn’t matter who was at fault. He should have apologized. A simple sorry isn’t so hard.”

So, you’d want him to give you a fake apology, is that it?”

YES! A fake apology! That’s exactly what I wanted.” Now she was getting it!

Her gray brows turned in, and her frown deepened. “Lizzie, you really do live in another world.”

That’s just my point!”

Her shoulders fell. “What was your point again?”

Maybe she wasn’t really getting it after all. Okay. Now, I love Betty. I really do. But why was it that she was not following this conversation? With an exasperated sigh, I tried again. “My point is that it’s a crying shame that society has fallen so far that a man would actually yell at a woman on the street.” Betty opened her mouth to say something, so I held up my hands and “threw myself under the bus,” so to speak. “I know, I know, it was likely my fault. But just hear me out. If he would have apologized to me, as any good gentleman should, I would have quickly and gladly apologized to him and taken the full blame. I would have done it gladly, but he ruined it by yelling at me. What could I have possibly said then?”

You could have apologized,” Betty said flatly, finally setting the tea bag into the cup.

The words were gone from my head the moment he yelled at me. I just wish I lived in a simpler time. A time when men were manly, and, yet, they treated women with tender respect. A time when problems were simpler.”

And what time period do you think that is?”

What time period wasn’t it? I tilted my head in thought. “Just when did our society suddenly decline?”

When? It’s always been decaying.”

That seemed like an odd thing to say considering she’d witnessed some of those simpler times I was talking about. During her 82 years, Betty had attended the sock hops and had worn the poodle skirts. She had seen Elvis Presley on TV. Granted it was in black-and-white at first, but still! She had memories of a time when it was safe to walk to town, or stand outside and wait for the bus, or go to a public restroom. She could remember a time when our nation wasn’t ashamed to be considered a Christian nation. When the Ten Commandments were proudly sitting on government property. A time when babies weren’t pulled from their mother’s womb. A simpler time. A glorious time.

I couldn’t help myself. My mind wandered back even further. What would it have been like even before her time? When ladies still wore beautiful gowns, and men bowed over their hands in introduction? When our country was stable? When confusion and heartache didn’t paint the pages of every newspaper? When the nation went to church on Sundays, and the Bible was taught in schools?

I know God doesn’t make mistakes but, oh, how I wish He had seen fit to bring me to Earth during that time in history. I craved the peaceable times in our nation’s history. I suppose it’s why I only read historical fiction. Why would I want to read fiction about today when it was yesterday that I longed for?

I’m not dense. I’ve read enough to know that there were problems in the past. I’ve studied the Civil War. I know about the racial conflict that engulfed our nation. But I also know how easy it is to fix. Women’s right to vote is good. Segregation is bad. Prohibition confused me since what seemed so right somehow sparked a greater evil. I didn’t know how to answer that one problem. But the rest seemed manageable enough. Unlike this presidential election going on today. My social media was overwhelmed with the conflict surrounding the upcoming election. What I wouldn’t give to see one of our prior presidents on the ballot today.

My mouth almost watered at the thought of standing before a ballot with Abraham Lincoln listed as an option. Granted, I wouldn’t have been allowed to vote in 1860, but the fact remains that there were moments in our history when the choice was simple. Today, it was everything but simple.

AmazonLiz

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

You can pre-order If Only It Were Yesterday. Or add it to your Goodreads list.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

329Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune–before someone else finds it first. 

Award-winning author Joanna Davidson Politano welcomes readers to Trevelyan Castle, home of the poorest heiress in Victorian England, for a treasure hunt they’ll not soon forget.

What I Loved: This was a prime example of fine Christian fiction. From the moment the story began, I was captivated by Tressa, her world, and her story. And as it unfolded, I was treated to an interesting new mystery. The conclusion of the mystery wasn’t clear from chapter one, so it was nice to go on the treasure hunt with the rest of the cast. The romance was sweet and clean. But what really stood out to me was the way Politano crafted the story to include tips on keeping a vineyard to mirror the Christian life. Again, and again, and again I found myself being convicted, refreshed, and reminded of various areas in my relationship to Christ. If you read this novel, keeping in mind the Biblical context of Christ being the vine and you being the branches, there is so much more waiting here for you than just an entertaining story! Bringing the focus back on Christ is what makes Christian fiction such a valuable form of entertainment, and Politano kept the focus where it ought to be in the most natural way.
Oftentimes, with a vineyard setting, the reader may see things such as wine tastings but that wasn’t the case here. The focus was solely on the growth of the grapes and not the producing of wine.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend A Rumored Fortune to all Christian Fiction fans but especially fans of Christian Historical Fiction. I give it 5 stars.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House through Net Galley. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. All thoughts are my own.

*I picked up the audio version and can highly recommend it as well.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Three Words and a Kiss by Sondra Kraak

371When a big-hearted debutante collides with a small-town blacksmith set in his ways, it can mean only one thing—a war of hearts has come to Pine Creek.

Washington, 1892

Cameron Wallace thrives as both the blacksmith and the minister in his community of Pine Creek. Out of the fires of a chaotic childhood, he’s forged a peaceful life filled with safe relationships and predictable routines. But when the smithy he’s been renting is sold out from under him, the impulsive woman who buys it stokes the embers of emotions he’d rather keep unlit—and even has the audacity to lend a helping hand to his smithy work.

Samantha Klein has never been afraid to push boundaries when it comes to helping those whom society—and God—have overlooked, be they orphans, immigrants, or injured animals. When her latest attempt to aid a group of Chinese women lands her in a newspaper scandal, her high-society family sends her packing from Seattle. Setting out on her own, she purchases the Pine Creek smithy and hatches another plan for helping her immigrant friends. But only weeks after arriving in Pine Creek, her plan turns to ashes, and she’s overwhelmed by needs she can never hope to meet, including her own need to be seen and cared for. And the one who seems to understand her is the man who won’t let her anywhere near his heart, no matter the attraction that burns between them.

As Cameron struggles to find a new normal, and Samantha yearns for someone to share her burdens, old hurts and dangerous secrets make them both terrified to admit that what they need—and what God has planned for them—just might be each other.

What I Loved: I’ve been following this series since book one and was greatly anticipating a new novel. So when I picked up Three Words and a Kiss, I was looking for the kind of read that would suck me in and amaze me. This one fit the bill! I loved it. All of it. Every last minute of it.
It picks up with a gripping scene and the story unfolds at a smooth pace. I loved the chemistry between Sam and Cam … and Sam, Cam, and the duck. The themes of loving and accepting people who are different from you and how to live a benevolent life were beautiful additions, making this novel more than mere entertainment.
I hear there’s one more book in the works and I can’t wait to see what Sondra has in store for us.

Rating and Recommendation: I give it 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or those looking for a series based in a small western town.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: June and July’s Backlist: 3 in 1

I made it my goal for the year to focus on squeezing in some great books from the backlist. It’s not that easy to do when there are so many new releases to try to keep up with. But here are the ones I’ve read over June and July. 
*All links will lead you to Goodreads unless otherwise stated.

235Letter Perfect by Cathy Marie Hake:

Laugh-Out-Loud Historical Fiction!
Ruth Caldwell has always tried to live up to her mother’s expectations of what a lady should be…often with less-than-impressive results. But when she’s forced to journey west to meet the father she’s never seen, Ruth hopes that this might be the place she’ll finally fit in. 
But her arrival brings about more mayhem than even Ruth is used to. She soon meets Josh McCain, the son of her father’s business partner, but discovers some startling news: Her father passed away years ago. And though Josh urges Ruth to claim her inheritance, he grows suspicious of something more sinister at hand when her “accidents” seem to go beyond Ruth’s normal bumbling ways and leave her very life in danger.

My Review: Entertaining and God-focused. Here’s a book where the Christian character walks the walk and talks the talk, and I found it refreshing. Hake kept the reader grounded with the themes of loving yourself the way God created you, how to have a healthy marriage, and waiting for the right spouse. She also kept the reader entertained with the silly antics of Ruth. I was a bit disconnected with the ending, but overall it was a fun western read.
I give it 5 stars!

335Bittersweet by Cathy Marie Hake:
Laney McCain has unabashedly had her sights set on Galen O’Sullivan for years. And though Galen has treated her as nothing more than his best friend’s pesky tag-along sister, Laney dares hope that now is the time he will open his eyes and truly recognize the woman she’s become. 

But the arrival of Ishmael and Ivy Grubb, squatters on the O’Sullivans’ land, diverts Galen’s attention. Though the Grubbs are crass and uneducated, Galen shows mercy and allows them to stay in exchange for help around the farm. But it becomes a decision he lives to regret….

Sometimes the Journey to Love Is Truly Bittersweet

My Review: The story matches the title, and, yet, I couldn’t put it down. I will say that I felt like the lead characters lacked chemistry together and this was a hindrance for me. But by the end of the novel, the example of genuine Christian faith, true surrender, and sacrificial love far outweighed anything I thought might have been lacking. I truly believe the Lord was honored here.
Hake is someone I plan to read more from as often as I can.
I give it 4 stars.

234

Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen:

Even a proper vicar’s daughter can make a mistake…and now Charlotte Lamb must pay a high price for her fall. To avoid the prying eyes of all who know her, she hides herself away in London’s forbidding “Milkweed Manor,” a place of mystery and lore, of old secrets and new birth. 

But once there, she comes face-to-face with a suitor from her past—a man who now hides secrets of his own. Both are determined, with God’s help, to protect those they love. But neither can imagine the depth of sacrifice that will be required. 

Sprinkled with fascinating details about the lives of women in Regency England, Lady of Milkweed Manor is a moving romantic drama about the redemption of past failings and the beauty of sacrificial love.

My Review: If you’ve been a fan of Klassen, then I can simply tell you that this was a typical Klassen novel. If you’ve never read her, you should know that she has such a style with Regency fiction. The setting comes to life. The plot keeps evolving. And the characters are endearing.
I will warn more conservative readers that this one centers on more adult topics. There was one scene about nursing a baby that was a bit graphic for my tastes, but all else was handled nicely.
I was able to listen to the bulk of this one in audio and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I give the novel and audio version 5 stars.

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

230As a biochemist in early 1900s New York, Doctor Rosalind Werner has dedicated her life to the crusade against waterborne diseases. She is at the forefront of a groundbreaking technology that will change the way water is delivered to every household in the city–but only if she can get people to believe in her work.

Newly appointed Commissioner of Water for New York, Nicholas Drake is highly skeptical of Rosalind and her team’s techniques. When a brewing court case throws him into direct confrontation with her, he is surprised by his reaction to the lovely scientist.

While Rosalind and Nick wage a private war against their own attraction, they stand firmly on opposite sides of a battle that will impact far more than just their own lives. As the controversy grows more public and inflammatory and Rosalind becomes the target of an unknown enemy, the odds stacked against these two rivals swiftly grow more insurmountable with every passing day.

My Thoughts: I adored this novel!! From start to finish, it had so many elements that I want to find in an enthralling book. We brushed against characters from the last book. Revisited ongoing issues with their family. The characters are well developed and have such a realness about them. It’s easy to see them as real people and sympathize with the difficult situations they find themselves in. And, oh, the difficulties don’t stop for these characters! I was impressed with the variety of twists and turns. Camden keeps a steady pace throughout the entire novel.
The romance and was sweet and clean. And the historical elements are a treat. I never would have considered what a battle it was to get the clean water we take for granted today.
The spiritual content was really light in this one. It felt more like the characters had an underlying Christian principle but without directly connecting to the source. I would have liked to have seen them purposely turning to Christ as they navigated through their problems, so it felt more like a clean read than a Christian read. But it’s still one I can highly recommend.
While you can understand this story as a standalone, some of the issues found in this book were built upon things that happened in the first so I would recommend reading the series in order if you can.

*I picked up the audio copy and adored it!! The narrator did a great job, and I particularly enjoyed her version of Nick’s accent.

Rating and Recommendations: I give it 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House through Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one.

Posted in About the Book

Christmas in July Blog Tour: Out of the Ashes by A.M. Heath Giveaway and Spotlight

Christmas in July Blog Party! Fruit JEPEG

 

Ashes1600x2400AmazonSometimes peace is won through battle. 

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

*Series should be read in order. 

I’m giving away a signed copy of Out of the Ashes to one winner. *International friends will receive an ebook copy instead of paperback. Winner will be announced Thursday (July 19).

Ashes quote 4

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July Sale banner

Earning entries for the giveaway is easy-peasy. You can earn 2 entries right here. Join me on my Facebook page to earn even more! Starting this week at noon (central time) on Mon and Tues, I’ll have additional posts, videos, chats, and polls. You can earn at least 2 additional entries each day. The giveaway will stay open until Wednesday night so feel free to stop by anytime before then. 

1 Entry: Add Out of the Ashes to your Goodreads TBR list if you haven’t already read it.

1 Entry: For those who have read it, comment on this post and let me know what you enjoyed about Out of the Ashes. (**PLEASE do not share any spoilers in your comments. If you want to discuss spoilers, I invite you to email me and we’ll talk privately.)

1 Entry: Share this blog post. Be sure to comment and let me know about it so I can document your entry.

*If you don’t have social media accounts, feel free to follow my blog or share this post in person or by email to earn entries. Just be sure to let me know so I can document your entry. 

 

Congratulations, Rosalyn R.!! You’re my winner this week!!

I want to thank everyone for participating. All three books are on sale for the remainder of the month in ebook version. You’ll find them on Amazon. I also invite you to follow me either here on the blog or on Facebook. I have two new releases just around the corner and more giveaways to go with them!

 

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And don’t forget! This promotion is part of a month-long blog tour. Be sure to enter the grand prize giveaway and visit the other blogs on the tour. There are free books, giveaway, and discounts all month long! 

July 1, 2018
Author Sarah Holman
www.thedestinyofone.com
Free: “Distorted Glass”

July 2, 2018
Author A.M. Heath
https://amheathblog.wordpress.com/
Giveaway: Where Can I Flee?

July 3, 2018
Author Faith Blum
www.fathblum.wordpress.com,
Giveaway: Audiobook redemption code

July 4, 2018
Author  E. Kaiser Writes
http://ekaiserwritesablog.blogspot.com/
Spotlight: new cover

July 5, 2018
Author- Amanda Tero
http://withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com/
Free: Noelle’s Gift

July 6, 2018
Author Ryanna Lynn
https://www.lifeofheritage.com/blog
Discount: Free shipping for Coffee Shop Christmas

July 7, 2018
Author Alicia G. Ruggieri
http://www.aliciagruggieri.com/category/abrighterdestiny/
Discount: The House of Mercy e-book

July 8, 2018
Author Sarah Holman
www.thedestinyofone.com
Discount: Emmeline

July 9, 2018
Author A.M. Heath
https://amheathblog.wordpress.com/
Giveaway: In the Shadow of Thy Wings

Author Kelsey Bryant
https://kelseysnotebookblog.blogspot.com/
Discount: Suit and Suitability ebook

July 10, 2018
Author Kelsey Bryant
https://kelseysnotebookblog.blogspot.com/
Discount: Second Impressions ebook

July 11, 2018
Author Rachel Rossano
https://www.rachelrossano.com/blog
Discount: The King of Anavrea ebook

July 12, 2018
Author Amanda Tero
http://withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com/
Free eBook: Hartly Manor

July 13, 2018
Author Kate Willis
https://onceuponanordinary.wordpress.com/
Free eBook: Enjoy the Poodle Skirt

July 14, 2018
Author Kendra E. Ardnek
knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com
Vlog and Giveaway: The most romantic fairy tales

July 16, 2018
Author A.M. Heath
https://amheathblog.wordpress.com/
Giveaway: Out of the Ashes

July 17, 2018
Author Rebekah Morris
www.readanotherpage.com
Discount: The Unexpected Request
Free: Choices for Max

July 18, 2018
Author Emily Ann Benedict
https://www.facebook.com/Emily-Ann-Benedict-164350249985/
Discount: Perception, a Vintage Jane Austen Novel

July 19, 2018
Author Erika Mathews
www.restinglife.com
Discount: Promise’s Prayer ebook, Overrun By His Love
Free: Gather ‘Round The Fables

July 20, 2018
Author Ryana Lynn
www.lifeofheritage.com
Blog post: character interview.

July 21, 2018
Author Rebekah Morris
www.readanotherpage.com
Sale: to be announced

July 23, 2018
Author Amanda Tero
http://withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com/
Discount: Journey to Love, Befriending the Beast, The Secret Slipper

July 24, 2018
Author Rebekah Morris
www.readanotherpage.com
Blog: Special upcoming release announcement

July 25, 2018
Author Emily Ann Benedict
https://www.facebook.com/Emily-Ann-Benedict-164350249985/
Giveaway: The Father Christmas Confessions.

July 26, 2018
Author Faith Blum
www.faithblum.wordpress.com
Blog: Special upcoming release announcement and book sale

July 27, 2018
Author Alicia G. Ruggieri
http://www.aliciagruggieri.com/category/abrighterdestiny/
Discount: A Time of Grace: The Complete Series
Blog: Spotlight on new book

July 28, 2018
Author Abigayle Claire
https://theleft-handedtypist.blogspot.com
Giveaway and discount: Andora’s Folly

July 30, 2018
Author Alicia G. Ruggieri
http://www.aliciagruggieri.com/category/abrighterdestiny/
Discount: The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks

July 31, 2018
Author Amanda Tero
http://withajoyfulnoise.blogspot.com/
Giveaway and new release: “Finding Christmas Joy”

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas by Kathleen Y’Barbo

368Journey now to Galveston, Texas, of 1880…
Where is Mrs. Smith’s granddaughter?  Who is the mysterious Mrs. Smith?

Pinkerton agent Jonah Cahill is hired by the mysterious widow to find her lost granddaughter, rumored to be living in Galveston, Texas. Though Jonah prefers to travel alone, Mrs. Smith insists that she and her companion accompany him. Madeline Latour, investigative reporter, has been acting as Mrs. Smith’s assistant for several months, and Madeline will not allow anyone—even a Pinkerton agent—to ruin the story of a lifetime. The pair forges an uneasy truce as the investigation grows dangerous.

Is there a bigger story beyond a missing girl to be revealed?

More from My Heart Belongs in Series…
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss: Priscilla’s Reveille by Erica Vetsch (January 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains: Carmella’s Quandary by Susan Page Davis (March 2017)
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight by Susanne Dietze (May 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma by Andrea Boeshaar (September 2017)

My Thoughts: Galveston, a Pinkerton agent, partners at odds, romance, and mystery: There was every reason for me to pick up this novel!
The setting really came to life, so I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Galveston. The book opens with a mysterious letter and a life-altering storm. I was hooked from the start and the mystery unfolded at a nice pace and kept me engaged.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to fully connect with the main characters so that hindered my enjoyment. But the mystery was a delightful puzzle and the plot continued to evolve.

Rating and Review: I’m giving it 3.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy light historical mysteries or Christian historical fiction fans.

~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.