Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Shadows of the White City

 Shadows of the White City

by Jocelyn Green

My Thoughts:

If you like historical novels, then Jocelyn Green's books should be on your must read list! Green does an amazing amount of research and visits the locations she writes about. Her narrative is so natural that it feels as if the reader is walking down the street in another place and time. Shadows of the White City is no different, and is really more amazing because it is located in Chicago during the 1893 World's Fair.

This Fair was bigger than most because it celebrated the 400th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the new world and took place just 15 years after Chicago was decimated by fire (which you can learn about in the first book in this series, Veiled in Smoke). Sylvie Townsend, a book store owner and adoptive single parent, works as a tour guide at the Fair. Through her visits to the Fairgrounds we get a first hand look at the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the event. So many interesting tidbits are shared as Sylvie leads tour groups or visits with her family. The scale and scope of the event is beyond comprehension!

Sylvie's daughter, Rozalia, was saved from life in an orphanage when she was very young, but now a teenager, she wants to understand more about her Polish heritage. Then, without explanation she disappears. Unfortunately many young women were mislead and ended up in brothels at the time with little hope of escape. Sylvie and her boarder, Kristof Bartok, will leave no stone unturned to find out what happened to Rose.

This book is full of adventure and intrigue, and is another book that is hard to put down. It isn't necessary to read Veiled in Smoke first to know what is going on, but I highly recommend it because it's an amazing book! Those who have read it will find some old friends in this one.


About the Book (from the back cover)

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have--a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears--until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World's Fair, and Sylvie's world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose's violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, they're taken on a search that points to Rose's long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?



About the Author

Jocelyn Green is the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the KingA Refuge Assured, and Between Two Shores. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly and have been honored with the Christy Award and the Golden Scroll. Jocelyn lives with her family in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.







Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

To Steal A Heart

To Steal a Heart

by Jen Turano




MY THOUGHTS
The criminals better watch out, there's a new detective agency in town and these women aren't playing around!

Jen Turano has started a new series called the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, and this is her best yet. Set in New York City in the late 1880's, Turano pulls together high society and the every day working class to create mystery, tension, and romance in a way that has the reader on the edge of her seat. I love Jen's books for a lot of reasons -- her research into the time period is amazing, her characters are multi-faceted and realistic, the dialogue she creates leaves you breathless, and she brings a unique sense of comedy to every scene.

Each time I read her books I have a hard time putting them down. She has a brilliant way of drawing the reader in and ending each chapter in such a way that you have to read 'just one more'. I love cheering the characters on as they, with the best of intentions, get themselves into hysterical situations that only make them more endearing. 

There are so many intriguing women living in the boarding house on Bleecker Street that I can't wait for the remaining books in the series. I really want to learn more about each one!

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the back cover)
After spending her childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she'd put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boarding house is unjustly accused of theft. Using her old skills to prove her friend's innocence, Gabriella unexpectedly encounters Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend -- until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named his as his heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agrees to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he'd be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her at www.jenturano.com or www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor or on Twitter @JenTurano.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Storing Up Trouble

Storing up Trouble
by Jen Turano


MY THOUGHTS:
Storing Up Trouble is the third book in the awesome American Heiresses series. Jen Turano brings the challenging life of debutants in the late 19th century to life. But these aren't just any debutants, these are complex women who are not at all enamored with all the expectations their parents' wealth brings. And the results are always hilarious.

Miss Beatrix Waterbury has always had a soft spot in her heart for the women's suffrage movement, but when she is sent for an extended stay at her aunt's home in Chicago she gets a whole new understanding for the challenges of the working class. It starts when she is a victim in a train robbery where she 'saves' the life of a scientist who doesn't understand women at all and who is unaware of her heritage. Needless to say they become easily offended by each other, but nevertheless sparks will fly.

I am always joyful when Jen Turano publishes a new book. No matter what my mood or what is going on in the world, the situations her characters find themselves in never fail to make me laugh out loud. I'm fascinated with this period in history and somewhat horrified by the expectations placed on wealthy young women of the day, and Jen brings heart and soul to those we might think of as unrealistically proper and poised. I highly recommend all of her books!

ABOUT THE BOOK:
After Miss Beatrix Waterbury suffers multiple mishaps due to her involvement with the suffrage movement, her mother decides a change of scenery is in order for her incorrigible daughter. Banished from New York, Beatrix is sent off for an extended stay with her Aunt Gladys in Chicago.

Mr. Norman Nesbit, a gentleman and brilliant man of science devoted to his work, doesn't have time to be distracted with members of the feminine set. When robbers descend on the train, intent on divesting him from his important research papers, Norman is thrust into Beatrix's company when she has the audacity to interfere -- leaving him no choice but to try to save her from herself.

When Beatrix's life is put at stake after she takes employment as a salesgirl, she and Norman find themselves propelled into each other's company again and again. With danger and intrigue dogging their every step, they become surprisingly drawn to each other -- until information comes to light that threatens this relationship that's barely had a chance to blossom.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jen Turano, A USA Today bestselling author, has written four historical romance series. She ios a member of ACFW and RWA and live sin a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Veiled in Smoke


Veiled in Smoke
by
Jocelyn Green


MY THOUGHTS
I am so excited about this new series, The Windy City Saga, that Jocelyn Green has started. Veiled in Smoke is set in Chicago at the time of the Great Fire in 1871. This is a fabulous story of the event, the destruction, and the amazing resilience of the people as they rebuilt their city, but it is also SO much more!

Veiled in Smoke is a story of destruction, despair, hope, and redemption wrapped around an intriguing mystery and a bit of romance!

I am absolutely amazed at the amount of research that went into this book and the way Green has intricately woven together so many aspects of life at that time. The heartbreakingly realistic story of the fire and its aftermath had my heart racing as characters ran for their lives and had me in tears as they returned to find their wonderful homes and city desolate. The pain of lost businesses, friends, and even abilities was raw and palpable, and as a reader I was praying for them and cheering them on as they rose above their situations and found new ways to support themselves and each other. This was especially timely for me as I have watched my daughter and her town of Panama City work to recover from the deadly hurricane that hit last year and I've watched from afar as the California and Colorado wildfires have devastated those areas.

The book also includes fascinating secondary stories that provide the reader with a sense of witnessing the inside operations of an insane asylum, the heart-rendering realities of prisoner of war camps and the resulting PTSD (called Soldier's Heart at the time), the operations of an 1800's newspaper, and the changing face of the art world! And it is done in such a way that it seems very logical and in no way overwhelming or confusing. As a history buff, I was in awe!

I highly recommend this book if you like intrigue, historical fiction, and romance that doesn't feel forced. I am in awe of authors who are able to make me feel like I am standing in the midst of history, and Jocelyn Green is a master.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Meg Townsend and her sister, Sylvie, seek a quiet existence managing the family bookshop. Meg feels responsible for caring for their father, Stephen, whose spirit and health are both damaged from his time as a prisoner during the Civil War. Her one escape is the paintings she creates and sells in the bookshop.

Then the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago's business district. The fiery explosions and chaos stir up memories of war for Stephen as he runs from the blaze and becomes separated from his daughters. Days later, when the smoke has cleared, Meg and Sylvie manage to reunite with him. Their home and shop are lost, and what's left among the ashes may be even more threatening than the flames, for they learn that a close friend was murdered the night of the fire--and Stephen has been charged with the crime. After he is committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum, where they cannot visit him, Stephen feels as lost to them as the shop that now lies in the rubble.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life but prove the truth of what happened that night, before the asylum truly drives her father mad.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jocelyn Green is the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King, A Refuge Assured, and Between Two Shores. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly and have been honored with the Christy Award and the Golden Scroll. Jocelyn lives with her family in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.







Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a copy. All opinions are my own.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Diamond in the Rough

Diamond in the Rough
by
Jen Turano

MY THOUGHTS
Diamond in the Rough is the second book in the American Heiresses series, although it is not necessary to read the first book (Flights of Fancy) before reading this one. Of course, Flights of Fancy was a fabulous book and if you like fun historical romance novels you will love it.

Miss Poppy Garrison's grandmother has finagled a way to involve her in the 1985 New York social season, and the book begins with a hilarious account of the disastrous results. As usual, Turano has created a character who, despite her best efforts, gets literally tangled up in the midst of an important dance and causes a scene that is definitely not considered appropriate by high society. As a person who has two left feet, I could immediately sympathize with Poppy and the situations she finds herself in.

As the book continues, mishaps and misunderstandings continue for this young woman who really has the best interest of others at heart. I realized about two-thirds of the way through the book that my face hurt from smiling so much as I read! I love Turano's books for this reason -- it is so seldom than any author is so brilliant at engaging the reader in such crazy and yet somehow realistic escapades that I laugh out loud. They are a great way to escape the drudgery and disasters that headline our daily news.

But these books are filled with so much more than just funny events. The characters have depth, intriguing secrets, and fascinating conversations. In addition, I love the historical details that are included. The descriptions of the clothing (and their advantages/disadvantages) have me both wanting to try something so beautiful and glad we don't have to wear such things these days! While I typically don't care much for romance books, there is so much more here that I don't mind the occasional predictability about who falls in love with whom.

Diamond in the  Rough is a story of trying to fit in, wanting to change the world, and helping to open the eyes of others to needs they had ignored.

I have thoroughly enjoyed every book Jen Turano has written, and I will read every book she writes in the future.



ABOUT THE BOOK (from the back)
When Miss Poppy Garrison accepts her grandmother's offer of financial help for her family in exchange for Poppy joining the New York social season, she quickly realized she is far less equipped to mingle with the New York Four Hundred than even she knew. As she becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, becoming the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs her to be looks more impossible by the day.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, is in New York to help his cousin find an American heiress who can help save his family's estate. But when his very proper British manners lead Poppy's grandmother to request he teach etiquette to Poppy, he quickly finds himself in for much more than he bargained for.

And while they couldn't be more opposite, Reginald and Poppy just might find they have more to teach each other than they ever could have expected.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her

at www.jenturano.com or https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/or on Twitter at JenTurano @JenTurano.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Between Two Shores

Between Two Shores
by Jocelyn Green


MY THOUGHTS:
Jocelyn Green masterfully makes history come alive. In this story of Montreal in the mid 1700's, she brings the sights, smells, and sounds of the fur trade to life. The tension between the French, the British, the natives, and others is not well understood by most today. Shows like Frontier have helped, but Green makes the story much more personal.

This book features Catherine Stands Apart Duval, a woman with a French father and Mohawk mother, as she tries to find her place in a world that is hostile to those with mixed heritage. After her mother dies, she goes to live with her father (a mean drunk) to help him manage a fur trading post. The truths Green has discovered about life on the Canadian frontier are both fascinating and at times horrifying. From beatings to 'remove the savage' at a boarding school to the enslavement of people caught up in the wrong side of the war, this is a raw story that demonstrates the true grit and courage of people of the time.

Green never sugar-coats history -- she portrays the difficulties of life in a way that transports the reader to the center of a battlefield, the middle of a suffering town, or even down the river in a peaceful early morning canoe trip. She highlights the ways God provides opportunity to find joy and repair broken relationships in the midst of devastation.

Please note this is NOT historical romance, and that makes the book even better! There is no typical sense of who will woo whom that is predictable and sappy. This story is about the difficulties of family life in a frontier world, the joys found in hard work and companionship, and moving beyond heartbreak to make a difference in the world.

This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in strong female characters, accurate historical accounts, and an understanding of what life was really like in a complicated period of time. I really appreciated Green's appendix that gave more background to the time and clarified the truth from fiction in her book.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
She Has Always Moved between Worlds, But Now She Must Choose a Side

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval would rather remain neutral in a world tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the Seven Years' War against her wishes when her British ex-fiancé, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel claims he has information that could help end the war, and he asks Catherine to help him escape.


Peace appeals to Catherine, even if helping the man who broke her heart does not. But New France is starving, and she and her loved ones may not survive another winter of conflict-induced famine. When the dangers of war arrive on her doorstep, Catherine and Samuel flee by river toward the epicenter of the battle between England and France. She and Samuel may impact history, but she fears the ultimate cost will be higher than she can bear.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King; Wedded to War; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, pie, the color red, and reading with a cup of tea. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.com.

REVIEWS:
"Richly historic, even haunting, Green pens a remarkable tale of the clash of cultures and the quest for enduring love. Between Two Shores is extraordinary storytelling, showcasing an unforgettable heroine who is both fierce and a force for good in an ever-changing frontier landscape. A novel not soon forgotten."
Laura Frantz, author of A Bound Heart
"Jocelyn Green captures the tensions of war in Between Two Shores, on the field with musket and tomahawk and in the tender battlefield of the heart. With gorgeous prose that sings across the pages, vibrant characters, and a plot as unpredictable as a river voyage, Green has penned another winner for historical fiction lovers."
Lori Benton, author of Many Sparrows and Burning Sky
"Jocelyn Green has done it again with this masterful tale, Between Two Shores. She had me mesmerized from the beginning as I lived and breathed Catherine's story of family heartbreak and resounding joy. The backdrop of the Seven Years' War brought history and culture to life in this must-read story."
Kimberley Woodhouse, bestselling author of Out of the Ashes and In the Shadow of Denali


Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with an electronic copy. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Flights of Fancy

Flights of Fancy
by Jen Turano

MY THOUGHTS:
I am always excited to hear that Jen Turano has a new book, and Flights of Fancy introduces a whole new series, American Heiresses! I have no idea how Turano continues to come up with incredibly creative and humorous characters, but each book is better than the one before. Flights of Fancy brings a whole new level of fun.

Isadora Delafield has been trained all her life to become a respectful wife to a high society gentleman. When her mother discovers a widowed duke from England who is interested in her daughter, she will go to all lengths to see them wed. Never mind that the duke is a lecherous old man whose two former wives died in suspicious circumstances. To save her future, Isadora is whisked away from New York to the outskirts of Pennsylvania to answer an advertisement requesting a maid.

It is soon obvious that Isadora is not capable of such a job, but through a series of hilarious mishaps she is hired to help a household that includes an older woman with a broken leg, an older man who seems just a bit crazy, and four orphaned children. The home is, of course, also the childhood home of the hunky and important businessman, Ian MacKenzie.

Turano's books are always a whirlwind of activity, intrigue, and laughs. They are fast reads because I just can't seem to put them down -- I'm so fascinated to see what incredible situations the heroine will find herself in next! If you like books that take you away from the stress of everyday life and make you laugh, I highly recommend this book!

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry and elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she's always known and find herself an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely through traditional hard work. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he's unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when a chain of mysterious incidents on the farm point to a larger threat, they'll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance a happy-ever-after.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JenTurano
A USA Today Best-Selling Author, Jen Turano has written the critically acclaimed Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist.  It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, released in the spring of 2016, and will be followed by a new four-book series, Apart from the Crowd. When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life. She can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ or visit her on the web at www.jenturano.com. She is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency. Her books may be found in fine bookstores, or follow the Baker House Publishing link to find additional places to purchase her work – http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/authors/jen-turano/1761

Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for providing a copy of this book for review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.