A Castaway in Cornwall, by Julie Klassen – A Review   

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell:  

In this holiday season, acclaimed novelist, Julie Klassen, returns to the Regency world with her latest historical romance, A Castaway in Cornwall. Featuring dangerous wreckers, shifty smugglers, and mysterious strangers, readers may well detect a similar refrain to the haunting melody that is Daphne du Maurier’s classic, Jamaica Inn. Readers brace yourselves: prepare to be transported outside of the lights and glare of the 21st century to an old-world bathed in mists and deafened by the roaring of the sea. Prepare to meet a heroine who, against all odds, bravely fights to reclaim what the ocean has stolen.

“Sometimes I wonder how I ended up here in Cornwall, so far from my childhood home. I feel like a castaway, set adrift on the tide…” 

Laura Callaway has lived along Cornwall’s unpredictably beautiful shores since the reported death of her parents while en route to the Isle of Jersey years ago. With no closure from her own loss, Laura combs the shores for items to save from greedy locals in order to return them to the families of loved ones who have perished in shipwrecks. When a man washes up on the shore one fateful night, half-alive, by instinct Laura spares him from a wrecker’s death blow. Little does she know that this man isn’t the only survivor of the wreck, and this final survivor will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

“In a haze of confusion, Alex had seen the blurred image of a red-haired woman bending over him, her windblown hair falling around her lovely face, her eyes as dark as the depths. He’d thought the legend of the mermaid had invaded his dreams. Now he knew the woman was real…” 

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Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection, by Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, and Erica Vetsch—A Review

Joy to the World: A Regency Christmas Collection 2020Season’s greetings, gentle readers! It is once again time to immerse ourselves in the traditional comforts of the holiday season. And how better to do so than by getting cozy and settling in to read a lovely book about this special time of year. Joy to the World is an inspirational Christian anthology comprised of three very different Christmas stories with a golden thread of joy, hope, and faith woven through and binding them together.

“Heaven and Nature Sing” by Carolyn Miller invites readers to an elegant house party where young people have gathered to make merry during the snowy days leading up to Christmas. In attendance—as guests of their shared godmother—are Edith and George, former sweethearts torn apart by circumstances and misunderstandings. The traditions of the season remind them “of grace and forgiveness and the second chances God gives.” (1275) As they navigate the uncomfortable tension between them, will their faith in God and their love for each other be enough to help them overcome foolish pride?

“Far as the Curse is Found” by Amanda Barratt transports readers to dreary London in winter, following Dwight Inglewood, the Earl of Amberly, as he trudges through the remnants of his once-promising life. He bears the unsightly scars of severe wounds sustained at Waterloo and internally suffers from the loss of all those he’s ever loved. “The world was harsh, and in it he felt fragile. Life and the people he’d trusted had pierced him deeply. Isolation seemed the only remedy.” (3095) A twist of fate, or perhaps divine intervention, crosses his lonely path with that of a desperate unwed mother and her young child. Jenny Grey “knew the wounds the gazes of others could inflict.” (2234) Can two kindred souls with disparate backgrounds provide solace for each other in an often cruel world? Continue reading

The Virgin Who Ruined Lord Gray (The Swooning Virgins Society), by Anna Bradley—A Review

The Virgin Who Ruined Lord Gray by Anna Bradley 2020From the desk of Pam Mingle:

If you like your historical romance full of excitement, mystery, and intrigue, you’ve come to the right place. The Virgin Who Ruined Lord Gray, the first entry in Anna Bradley’s new series, The Swooning Virgins Society, features all three.

Tristan Stratford, Lord Gray, is bored with his new life as an earl. Formerly a Bow Street Runner, he never wished to live the aristocratic life. The death of his elder brother forced him into the role, and now his mother has plans for him. She wants him to take up the mantle of a peer and marry Lady Esther, a near neighbor in Oxfordshire.

One night in London, Tristan is gazing out the window of his study and sees the slight figure of a boy lying on the roof of Lord Everly’s pediment. So still is he, Tristan begins to believe the boy is dead. Finally, someone exits the front door, and the lad shimmies down a column and follows. Overcome with curiosity, Tristan does likewise.

Tristan isn’t following a boy, however, but a young woman named Sophia Monmouth. She’s trailing her quarry, one Peter Sharpe, who she suspects is guilty of a crime. There is a quick confrontation between Tristan and the “lad.” She bites and kicks him, but he doesn’t let go. Eventually Tristan knocks her hat off. He’s shocked to discover the woman beneath it. Quite a lovely one, with olive skin and enchanting green eyes. She’s “resoundingly feminine.” Continue reading

Gentleman Jim: A Tale of Romance and Revenge, by Mimi Matthews—A Review

Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

With only one other experience reading Mimi Matthew’s work, I have still come to the conclusion that she has a gift for marrying the classical to vintage historical romance. I hadn’t gotten five chapters in before my head was full of Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo or Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Kidnapped. No retellings here, but an engaging story of struggle, heartache, and the triumph of love.

Gentleman Jim opens on a terrifying and tragic scene of a stable boy accused of theft from his best friend, the fiery-tempered local squire’s daughter. Nicholas has born trouble from his employer’s son, Frederick Burton-Smythe, who bullies him and from everyone else because he’s the illegitimate son of a tavern wench. But, to be thrashed and then hanged for stealing Maggie Honeywell’s jewels when it was Fred? Perhaps his love with Maggie would have come to nothing since their stations in life were so different, but now escape is his only option leaving Maggie free to marry the baronet’s son as her father always wanted.

Ten years later, Maggie has endured much as a result of her father’s death. His heartbreaking will that will legally force her to marry Fred if she wants to keep the beloved family lands and her inheritance and the further clause that made Fred her guardian and have veto power over any man she may marry to get said inheritance. It is no wonder her health broke and she is a shadow of her once vibrant self. The time allotted is nearly up and her father may win his way after all. Continue reading

The Gentleman and the Thief: Proper Romance Victorian, by Sarah M. Eden—A Review

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M Eden 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

Readers, beware: The Dread Penny Society is back in town. Their mission this time? Justice.

In September 2019, acclaimed Regency author, Sarah M. Eden, published her first book in the “Dread Penny Society” series. Titled The Lady and the Highwayman, this novel is a tongue-in-cheek – albeit romantic – take on the classic highwayman legends. Her latest addition to the series, The Gentleman and the Thief, no longer features a dashing highwayman, yet these new heroes equally hide their true selves amongst the shadows.

“For the poor and infirm, the hopeless and voiceless, we do not relent. We do not forget. We are the Dread Penny Society.” (Location 1582) 

Hollis Darby: Gentleman, man about town, and member of a secret society. Now in his thirties, he is more than satisfied with his work as a writer of children’s fiction. He even finds fulfillment in his other passion — helping to give hope to those living on the streets in his city. What Hollis lacks is a partner in crime, or at least, his brand of it. When he meets the enchanting Miss Newport, he is dazzled by her confidence, music skills, and kindness. Above all, he feels as if they are kindred spirits. Little does he know just how similar they are.

As he slipped from view, Ana opened her violin case. It was the perfect excuse and the perfect pretense. She opened the small compartment where she stored her rosin and her polishing cloth. She tucked underneath them what she’d come to this musicale for and had, by a near miracle, managed to secure: a single silver bracelet. (Location 251)

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Amelia Webster: A Novel After Jane Austen, by Robert Rodi—A Review

Ameila Webster A Novel After Jane Austen by Robert Rodi 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:  

Long before Jane Austen was widely known for her six complete novels, she was a youthful storyteller who wrote humorous tales for the amusement of her family and friends. In more recent years, Austen’s juvenilia has been put in the spotlight and given the adaptation treatment that was previously only bestowed on her most famous works. Indeed, this year’s Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting focused on Austen’s earliest stories. Robert Rodi—author of this latest juvenilia variation—was a plenary speaker at the JASNA AGM and discussed how Austen’s writing had evolved from pure farce to social satire and finally to the irony of her mature novels.

The original Amelia Webster epistolary short story by Jane Austen—introduced by the young author as “an interesting & well-written Tale”—was comprised of only 454 words in seven brief letters, and yet masterfully presented eight protagonists and a fairly complete storyline. In a most amusing fashion, Robert Rodi has crafted a sardonic wink of a novel out of Austen’s juvenile attempt in the upcoming Amelia Webster: A Novel After Jane Austen.

Welcome to the tiny village of Rovedon in Hertfordshire, where the gossips make sport of predicting the nuptial pairings in the extremely limited number of local youth. Our narrator begins with the introduction of Tom Pierce and Jack Fitzmark, two gentlemen who “took up residence together at two-and-thirty, thus making it apparent that they would marry no one at all.” (4) Tom and Jack, no longer the subjects of matrimonial speculation themselves, carry on with their own thoughtful conjectures about the eventual wedded bliss of the remaining young people. Continue reading

Jane in Love: A Novel, by Rachel Givney—A Review

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Australian filmmaker, and debut writer, Rachel Givney brings us a whimsical time travel romantic adventure for none other than Jane Austen herself with her new novel, Jane in Love.  What does the twenty-first century have to teach this well-loved author? Equally important, what does Miss Jane have to teach her counterpart in the twenty-first century?

Jane is twenty-eight and living with her aging parents in Bath. Her writing isn’t good enough to get published and her mother threatens to burn any further attempts. Mrs. Austen insists Jane focus on the serious business of finding a husband. Jane doesn’t find this objectionable, but is it too much to ask that the gentleman accept her the way she is and that she finds love? One more opportunity and yet one more disappointment force Jane to take the desperate step of trusting in an odd and mystical matchmaker who sends her two hundred years into the future to find what she’s looking for.

Sofia Wentworth is an A-List actress and has made millions fall in love with her. That is until recently when her own husband wants a divorce, and she can’t get a leading role. She is determined to get back her career, but more importantly, renew what they had together with Jack by taking a role in his new period film, Northanger Abbey. She encounters one of the extras who is crazy and thinks she’s the real Jane Austen, but the startling bit is that she just may be the real deal and something odd is happening as Jane meets Sofia’s brother Fred who plays a minor role in the film. Jane and Fred get over their early antagonism and are there to help Sofia with her plans. Sofia helps Jane as she must decide where she really belongs and what she really wants. Continue reading