Author: Lily B

Sophia Rose Review: Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match by Kelly Miller

Posted August 15, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 5 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match by Kelly MillerMr. Darcy's Perfect Match: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Kelly Miller, Janet Taylor
Series: Standalone
Published by Meryton Press on January 25th 2020
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 328
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Tour Host
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Tour Host in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When secrets are revealed and a family agenda works against him, can Fitzwilliam Darcy recover his damaged spirits and find happiness?
Following his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to London from Kent, broken-hearted and dejected. One bright spot penetrates his sea of despair: his sister, Georgiana, has finally recovered her spirits from the grievous events at Ramsgate the previous summer. She has forged a new friendship with Miss Hester Drake, a lady who appears to be an ideal friend. In fact, Lady Matlock believes Miss Drake is Darcy’s perfect match.
Upon Elizabeth’s arrival at the Gardiners’ home from Kent, she finds that her sister Jane remains despondent over her abandonment by Mr. Bingley. But Elizabeth has information that might bring them together. She convinces her uncle Gardiner to write a letter to Mr. Bingley, providing key facts supplied to her by Mr. Darcy.
When Bingley discovers that his friend and sisters colluded to keep Jane’s presence in London from him, how will he respond? Given the chance, will Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth overcome their past misunderstandings? What will Darcy do when his beloved sister becomes a hindrance towards winning the lady he loves?

Exploring alternate paths for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is an enjoyable reading experience for me. Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match offered so many wonderful ‘what if’ possibilities to the plot, to the characters, and most definitely to the romance. Lovely, inventive, and tension-wrought tale!

Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match is a Pride and Prejudice variation story that starts taking an alternate path from the original classic at the point Mr. Darcy leaves Hunsford after his disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. Because of this, I do recommend that interested readers have at least a general idea of the P&P story up to that point so earlier actions and character introductions that are somewhat assumed will work out much better. That said, I don’t think a reader would have too much trouble just diving in without reading P&P.

As I said, I love exploring alternate paths. In this one, Elizabeth uses the knowledge gleaned from Mr. Darcy’s explanation letter to attempt a reunion between her beloved sister and Mr. Bingley while in London. And, Georgiana, Darcy’s little sister, plays a stronger role in that she makes a friend of a beautiful, talented young woman who Darcy’s aunt is attempting to set him up with. Miss Drake is prepared to further her own schemes to get the wealthy and handsome Darcy in her own way. Elizabeth has a worthy rival, it seems, even as she is just figuring out that she doesn’t hate Darcy- quite the opposite, in fact.

I had a good time with this one. Hester Drake was such a schemer and had everyone fooled. I do love a well-drawn villainous character. I also enjoyed the progression of a new attempt at romance between Darcy and Lizzy after they cleared the air. I thought all the characters were engaging and complex as was the gently-paced plot and the setting that always felt authentic and I’m so glad the author did her homework for that because it made it easy to settle into the story.

In summary, I enjoyed this sweet historical romance where two people have to learn to trust each other and find love while a clever schemer has everyone side-eying each other. Light and easy read that I can definitely recommend to Austen lovers and also to those who enjoy authentic, gently-paced Regency Romance.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

 

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Sophia Rose Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton

Posted July 25, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel CleetonThe Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
Series: Standalone
Published by Berkley on June 16, 2020
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton's captivating new novel.
Everyone journeys to Key West searching for something. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.
The Cuban Revolution of 1933 left Mirta Perez’s family in a precarious position. After an arranged wedding in Havana, Mirta arrives in the Keys on her honeymoon. While she can’t deny the growing attraction to the stranger she’s married, her new husband’s illicit business interests may threaten not only her relationship, but her life.
Elizabeth Preston's trip from New York to Key West is a chance to save her once-wealthy family from their troubles as a result of the Wall Street crash. Her quest takes her to the camps occupied by veterans of the Great War and pairs her with an unlikely ally on a treacherous hunt of his own.
Over the course of the holiday weekend, the women’s paths cross unexpectedly, and the danger swirling around them is matched only by the terrifying force of the deadly storm threatening the Keys.

 

This latest release leaves the focus of Cuban American history for the most part and settles on a slice of Floridian history of the 1930’s. Three separate women’s lives intertwine over one fateful holiday weekend in the Florida Keys. It was an emotional and engaging story that I easily settled into and read swiftly.

The Last Train to Key West is a standalone. I think one of the heroines, Mirta Perez, might be aunt to the women of the previous books, but I’m not sure. Either way, it was a great story- or should I say stories – since there are three women with their own individual stories that cross paths during the Labor Day weekend.

The first woman introduced is Helen a native of Key West and stuck in a dreary abusive marriage to a local fisherman. She is very pregnant, but works long days at a local diner. A mysterious man from one of the camps comes to her rescue and shows her kindness. He is the spark that she needs to make her bid for freedom during the building storm.

Next, we meet Mirta who agrees to an arranged marriage to help her family back in Cuba. Her husband is a rich, powerful man who has lived a shady past. She is young and wonders how it will be with her husband with only her mother’s advice about duty, pleasing her husband so he will take care of her and remain faithful. Is that how she wants her own marriage to be?

Finally, there is feisty Elizabeth who hides her fears behind a mask. She was once a society girl whose family lost it all in the Crash and then the family crumbled. She is escaping a great deal and hopes to find the one man who might be able to save her. His last postmarked letter was from Key West and she knows he’s in one of the camps. A stranger who doesn’t let her get away with her flirting games to toy with him ends up offering her help in the search even as a hurricane barrels down on them.

All three were so very different and I found myself cheering for all of them especially when the secrets started coming out. This isn’t a mystery, but there are some great twists all the same. And, between the storm and a few suspense moments, it gets intense.

As to the historical background, it was fascinating. I had no idea about the plight of the soldiers who returned from WWI, about their march on Washington to get their promised bonus money or that they were shipped to camps that seemed an awful lot like labor camps down in the Keys. My heart just broke for the suffering even though it is past history. The hurricane was another part of the history that brought the past to life as did the pre-commercial Key West and the Keys.

There is romance though it looks different for each woman. They were strong in their own ways and discovered men who would treat them well after pasts that were full of pain.

So, another stellar book balancing emotion, suspense, history, complex characters, and a riveting plot from an author that is already hit the autobuy mark with me. Those who love colorful historical fiction with a romantic flavor and an authentic backdrop should give this a try.

I rec’d this book from Net Galley via Berkley to read in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: I Never Knew Myself by Melanie Rachel

Posted July 12, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: I Never Knew Myself by Melanie RachelI Never Knew Myself: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Melanie Rachel
Series: standalone
Published by Self-published on March 22, 2020
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 430
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Elizabeth Bennet is living a lie.
She’s known since she was fifteen that she isn't truly a Bennet, but who is she? Are the people and places that appear in her dreams just a sign of her active imagination, or are they memories of her true family? Could the stories she'd told Jane when they were children not be stories at all?
Fitzwilliam Darcy is reliving a nightmare.
He hasn’t dreamed of “Ellie” Windham in years, but after meeting Elizabeth Bennet, he is reminded of the day little Ellie was kidnapped. And now he is left to wonder whether he is drawn to more than her fine eyes.
When Darcy realizes that Elizabeth and Ellie might be one and the same, he is anxious to return her to the Windhams, and Elizabeth is no less eager to meet her family. But when the idyllic reunion she longed for goes awry, both Darcy and Elizabeth wonder whether it’s really possible to put a broken family back together again.
Can Darcy help Elizabeth find her place in her first family so she can one day join him in his?

How many lives are effected and how they are affected by the kidnapping of one child are the questions at the center of this unique Pride and Prejudice variation story. Restoration is the beautiful element that is longed for throughout this tale and it was only better still when an infamous encounter begins the romantic catalyst that brings a lost child home.

I have long wanted to try this author’s books and it was not long into this one that I knew I had been missing out. The characters are wonderfully drawn with depth that included flaws and winning ways, solid conflict that offered internal as well as external challenges. There was angst without it getting out of balance.

It has a large cast of characters and there are several narration threads all swirling around the main character, Elizabeth Bennet. Even the tender romance with the supportive, loyal and oh so loving William Darcy takes backseat to Elizabeth’s coming to terms with all that has happened and is happening to her. If I had a complaint, it would be maybe that many of the side threads could be a distraction and slow the pacing of the main story to little purpose particularly in the first part of the latter half when things were reshuffling for the end. I admit to being impatient for the final push when it came to a few storylines. However, if you pressed me to what of those side threads to give up, I’m not sure I could. I liked all the characters right where they were even the absurdly spoiled, Mercy, and the cruel, selfish Mrs. Bennet.

The book had several moving pieces that all had to play out before the end. It was put into parts and I appreciated that because I saw Elizabeth’s story in that way as well. I thought each segment of Elizabeth’s life rang true and the author didn’t stint on the development of each particularly how loss of a child can alter things for a whole family and how a child who was wrenched from family at a young age struggles to fit in and feel wanted.

Beyond the plot and characters was the historical setting. This was a Pride and Prejudice variation. It varies from the beginning of the story and only connects where names, places, and the Regency setting meet. No prior familiarity with the original Austen story required. It has the classic gothic overtones when it comes to the kidnapping, the sinister Collins who will do what it takes to get the Bennet estate, and the way Elizabeth is treated by her ‘aunt’ Bennet, but the intense part of the story is less action and more relationship and character-driven.

The author also did her homework when it came to Regency era law to form a story. In this case, it was the shocking rule of criminal law in that day that allowed the stealing of the child’s clothes to be the bigger criminal offense and not the stealing of the child. Melanie Rachel weaves a heartfelt, emotionally honest story around this element of law. Other legal elements: the entail of an estate to only go to male heirs, the law of primogeniture that allowed only the oldest to inherit the family estate, and marriage settlements that bound a woman’s fortune and even herself over as property of her husband- all drive the plot.

All in all, it was a story that touched me emotionally, but also had thoughtful moments that made me lose myself in a good way. Those who appreciate mild gothic tones, sweet slowburn romance, complex characters, and well-drawn historical settings should pick this one up.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

 

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Sophia Rose: Room to Breathe by Liz Talley

Posted June 29, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose: Room to Breathe by Liz TalleyRoom to Breathe by Liz Talley
Series: standalone
Published by Montlake Romance on November 1, 2019
Genres: Chick-Lit
Pages: 332
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Kindle Prime
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

Bestselling author Liz Talley’s emotional and funny novel about family and forgiveness.
For a good part of Daphne Witt’s life, she was a supportive wife and dutiful mother. Now that she’s divorced and her daughter, Ellery, is all grown up, Daphne’s celebrating the best part of her life, a successful career, and a flirtation with an attentive hunk fifteen years her junior…who happens to be her daughter’s ex-boyfriend.
Ellery is starting over, too. She’s fresh out of college. Her job prospects are dim. And to support her fiancé in med school, she’s returned home as her mother’s new assistant. Ellery never expected her own life plan to take such a detour. With no outlet for her frustration, she lets an online flirtation go a little too far, especially considering her pen pal thinks he’s corresponding with her mother.
As love lives tangle, secrets spill, and indiscretions are betrayed, mother and daughter will have a lot to learn—not only about the mistakes they’ve made but also about the men in their lives and the women they are each hoping to become.

I’ve read a few of the author’s Morning Glory series and enjoyed the Southern sass of her heroines. There is humor, but also the troubles of life and a romance to them. I spotted Room to Breathe when it released, but it was only now that I was able to get a chance at it. I do love multi-generational stories revolving around the women in one family, but I also love a good starting over in middle age story, too.

The blurb says this is funny. I suppose that there are a few funny moments in the book. However, for the most part, it is filled with people being real which wasn’t funny and was wearying. At first, I was ready to put the book down because I couldn’t get behind either mother, Daphne, or daughter, Ellery- particularly the daughter.

Daphne needed a good boot to get her out of her rut. She had a fling with her sexy twenty-five year old contractor I thought she was off to a wild and fun start, but that just sent her into panic and made her a jerk to the guy treating him like her dirty secret and telling him he was a mistake over and over. She cringed with self-disgust and let her daughter flay her with guilt all because she had a one night stand with an available, consenting adult.

Then there is Ellery, Daphne’s adult daughter who took pampered princess and doubled down on that stuff. Daphne and her ex made the mistake of giving Ellery her way and anything she wanted so that the young woman had no coping skills for when the great big world out there didn’t cooperate with her plans. She was a witch to everyone and particularly her mother. She knows she is roiling with ugly feelings and embraces anger, lashing out at others and using then at times to cover the internal mess.

But, for some reason just before I tossed my Kindle down, I hesitated. I wanted to see the journey through with Daphne and Ellery. It got worse and painful, but at the same time, I could see them working things through and slowly climbing out of the hole into a better place as individuals and eventually each other. It was emotion-wrought, but I was glad I stuck it to the end.

Usually, I can embrace a character from the beginning and cheer them on wholeheartedly. That didn’t happen in this one. They weren’t special or especially lovable- they were just people. I think that is the highest compliment I can deliver to an author- she wrote real people with real struggles and made me (eventually) care about them.

That said, my favorite character was Tippy, an older woman who was Daphne’s friend and sounding board. She listened, but she also gave the unvarnished truth. Her sage advice came with a live it up philosophy that had me grinning and anticipating each time she was in a scene.

There are some strong themes in this book- divorce’s effect on the child, gaslighting, infidelity, teen parents, mom vs. career, coming out, accepting and supporting others, and starting over later in life.

While this has two second chances at romance in it, the book is not a romance. Daphne and Ellery have to figure themselves out and repair what is broken between them before they can have good relationships with another person. I understood this, but my romance-loving heart swooned over both the love interests particularly a certain Texas vintner who was fabulous with his patience and understanding.

So, I won’t go so far as to say I loved this one, but I’m definitely glad I read it. It looks like and fun from the cover to the blurb, but it’s an emotional hitter so be prepared if you take the plunge.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

 

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Sophia Rose Review: The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomo

Posted June 15, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomoThe English Grammar Workbook for Adults: A Self-Study Guide to Improve Functional Writing by Michael DiGiacomo
Series: standalone
Published by Rockridge on June 2nd 2020 by Rockridge
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 208
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The engaging, self-guided way to learn how to write better in English
Mastering English grammar can be a real challenge. But, with a little practice and patience, you can discover how to communicate better through self-study in your spare time. The English Grammar Workbook for Adults is here to help improve your writing fluency so you can gain confidence while crafting emails, cover letters, conducting daily business, and personal correspondence.
No matter your current skill level, this English grammar workbook has everything you need to learn essential elements, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, tenses, and beyond. Then, you’ll apply what you’ve learned to everyday situations you could encounter at school, at work, social situations, creative writing, online, and more.
The English Grammar Workbook for Adults features:-Fun & functional―This clear, concise book is essential for ESL/EFL and other grammar students who want to work on writing English.-Situational success―Get expert tips on how grammar applies to real-world scenarios.-Easy to use―Find quick answers to your English grammar questions using text boxes and the expanded index in the back of the book.
Learning how to communicate more clearly is a snap with >i>The English Grammar Workbook for Adults.

 

I had it in the back of my mind that I might enjoy volunteering to teach English to English Second Language folks since I have some time to give back and the community budget for such stuff is slender. But, I also figured that I’d probably better hone my rusty English Grammar knowledge first. I spotted The English Grammar Workbook for Adults which was designed to aide ESL teachers and students for working on their functional writing skills and thought it would help me review the rules and also give me a chance to check out a potential ESL teaching source.

The workbook begins with an easy-read, gently-paced course in the parts of speech, punctuation, and the composition of various written communications. It is broken up into doable chapters with self-study assignments after each segment. The layout is easy on the eye with the sections placed on the page in segments that are digestible for a new English user.

Part One is a review of the Parts of Speech and Punctuation. There is the explanation, the definition, and good examples though, man, the rules of English are a bear with all those exceptions. The grand-daddy segment was each type of verb. Gerund, anyone? How about a past perfect progressive? (Okay, I made that up, but that is probably what it feels like to an ESL learner.)

Part Two dives into the practical usage for all those grammar rules. It presents several forms of written communication from term papers to resumes to emails to work presentations. There are formal and informal styles with suggestions about using or not using slang and idioms. The back has some nice cheat sheets for the hairier lessons.

As to how this book shaped up for what I wanted? I thought it was great for helping me dust off my (paltry- I discovered) knowledge of the parts of speech and will likely be helpful for ESL students who have a rudimentary understanding of words and basic speech. What did surprise me was, lo and behold, my education pre-dated some of the rules in this book so I was being ungrammatical according to a few updated rules. The author points these occasions out a couple of times- like he’s warning these poor ESL folks about the old American fogies who aren’t trying to confuse them with archaic usage.

I can recommend it to others who want to review their English Grammar for Writing, for those who want a workbook to help them teach ESL classes, and for ESL students or students who struggle with English Grammar and need outside the classroom study help.

My thanks to Callisto Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and the Soldier’s Portion by Don Jacobson, Narrated by Amanda Berry

Posted June 8, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and the Soldier’s Portion by Don Jacobson, Narrated by Amanda BerryThe Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier's Portion: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (Bennet Wardrobe #7) by Don Jacobson
Narrator: Amanda Berry
Length: 16 hours 24 minutes
Series: The Bennet Wardrobe #7
Published by Don Jacobson on September 10th 2019
Genres: Time Travel Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Author
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“My life has been very much like an unfinished painting. The artist comes to the portrait day-after-day to splash daubs of color onto bare canvas, filling in the blanks of my story. Thus grows the likeness, imperfect as it may be, which you see today.” Lydia Fitzwilliam, Countess of Matlock, letter to her sister Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, March 14, 1831.

Does it matter how a man fills out his regimentals? Miss Austen never considered that query. Yet, this question marks the beginning of an education…and the longest life…in the Bennet Wardrobe saga.

Lydia Bennet, Longbourn’s most wayward daughter, embarks on her quest in The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion. This biography reveals how the Wardrobe helps young Mrs. Wickham learn that honor and bravery grow not from the color of the uniform—or the gender of its wearer—but rather from the contents of the heart.

In the process, she realizes that she must be broken and repaired, as if by a kintsugi master potter, to become the most useful player in the Bennet Wardrobe’s great drama.

The Pilgrim explores questions of love, loss, pain, worry, and perseverance. All of these are brought to bear as one of the silliest girls in England grows into the Dowager Countess.

 

From the first book, the youngest Bennet sister has been sparkling in the shadows and readying to plunge into the open of center stage for her story- a story of a young girl who made youthful mistakes, but time and circumstances put the heroine through a refining fire to forge her into a strong, capable woman who loved and lost more than once. I gladly took up my ear buds and listened to the delectable voice of Amanda Berry tell me the story I was long anticipating.

The Pilgrim: Lydia Bennet and a Soldier’s Portion is the seventh of the Bennet Wardrobe series which is interwoven tightly and must be read in order.

The Pilgrim begins with Lydia’s life after running off and marrying the rakish George Wickham. What brought her from a flitting selfish girl of a small English town to become the powerful and wise Countess? When reading Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet is a character that I can appreciate as a nuisance and then I just pitied her for her final fate. After all, she made a youthful, albeit huge mistake, and she’ll pay for it for a long time. So, I was well pleased to see that in this magical time traveling Wardrobe universe, this Lydia gets a reset. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. In fact, her story is quite a doozy- tissue warning for you emotional readers/listeners like myself. But, beyond this second chance, I found I really liked and admired this young woman. She knows she screwed up and that others aren’t going to buy her about face all at once- it takes action not just words. So, she bucks up and listens and learns from her sisters and friends- even her parents- like she never did before.

Beyond Lydia’s transformation, there is a fabulous universe the author created that includes a magical and mysterious time traveling Wardrobe that will take the members of the Bennet family where they are needed most. In this one, Lydia’s journey took her from Regency England to WWII Occupied France where she is truly tested. Nazis, French Resistance, and a surprise await her. But, most of all, she gets the chance to reconnect with her beloved sister, Kitty, whom she thought was lost to her. Kitty has taught herself much about the Wardrobe and with each book more has been revealed about how it works.

Outside of the time travel element, the author does a fabulous job of historical setting both Regency and WWII. It was fun to spot real life figures and events, literary figures cameo-ing, and the attention to how the characters would behave and speak at the time. Even with the time travel, it was neat to see characters true to what they knew. Lydia enjoyed the changes that were allowed to her sex by the 1940’s, but some things were really shocking like getting to wear trousers or ladies smoking and drinking in mixed company.

Lydia gets to experience romance in several ways throughout her colorful life. I don’t want to spoiler the story so I won’t go into this element, but for all the romance readers- you will get your fill. You will also get to feel deeply.

Amanda Berry is the fabulous series narrator and, as with past entries in the series, she was masterful at delivering the storyline, enacting each of the large cast so that each was unique no matter their gender, age, class, or nationality. It is a tricky job and she does it so well. I get caught up each time I listened and didn’t want to pause even when I must.

In summary, the series stays strong and I was oh so well pleased with Lydia’s story. I saw a few hints as to what is to come next and I’m eager to see how that teases out. It is a complex series and a large cast of characters at this point, but I love it. Those who enjoy a unique style of time travel romance with a fair share of intrigue and worldbuilding should definitely give this series a go.

My thanks to the author for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn Brown

Posted June 5, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Banty House by Carolyn BrownThe Banty House by Carolyn Brown
Series: Standalone
Published by Montlake Romance on May 26, 2020
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 287
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In the fading town of Rooster, Texas, all that’s really left is a service station, a church…and the Banty House, a long-ago Depression-era brothel. For more than seventy-five years, Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have called their mama’s house a home. The three eccentric sisters get by just fine with their homemade jams and jellies, a little moonshine on the side, and big hearts always open to strangers. Like Ginger Andrews.
An abandoned teen with a baby on the way and nowhere to go, she’s given a room to call her own for as long as she wants. The kind invitation is made all the sweeter when Ginger meets the sisters’ young handyman, Sloan Baker. But with a past as broken as Ginger’s, he’s vowed never to get close to anyone again. As a season of change unfolds, Ginger and Sloan might discover a warm haven to heal in the Banty House, a place to finally belong, where hope and dreams never fade.

This book feels like a porch swing with a friend, a cold drink, and a summer night with stars above and fireflies out on the lawn. Carolyn Brown stories are full of country charm and down home storytelling. The Banty House is no exception.

The story focuses on three elderly sisters who have lived a full life and still do (Oh lawd, do they!) as they remain one of the chief sources of their small town’s gossip. They are the daughters of a former brothel owner and their mama never married. But, their mama gave them a set of rules to live by and the first about caring for strangers and the second about helping others brings a homeless, pregnant young Ginger to them so they can show her what family and home are and she, in turn, can show a former soldier who lost his team that he was meant to survive and live.

The Banty House was heartwarming and gently paced, but those feisty gals can be so unexpected that there was never a dull moment. I love the cross generational cast of characters and how they worked well together.

The history of the Carson sisters, their home, and the town was interesting and set the background. I also felt so touched for Ginger who had a truly tough row to hoe as a foster kid who had no one ever and then got tricked by a slick guy before finding her way to Rooster, Texas and the Banty House and Sloan.

The romance is background for much of the book as the story is mostly about the Carson sisters and Ginger. Plus, Ginger is planning to move on when she gets on her feet and Sloan has stopped living and is even suspicious of Ginger at first. They both have painful pasts that they need to address and then there is the fact that she’s pregnant and worried that no man would take on her situation and someone else’s child. Sloan was a bit lost himself so caring for Ginger anchored him and he had a huge, generous heart that had room for her, her complications, and a baby.

There were a few exciting moments, but for the most part this was a character-driven comfort read that left me smiling and feeling lighter. Oh, and needing piles of home-cooked food after the descriptions of what Betsy and Ginger made. Those who enjoy women’s fiction crossing over with contemporary small town romance should definitely give this one a try.

I rec’d this book from Montlake Publishing via Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: A Brush With Shadows by Anna Lee Huber

Posted May 21, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: A Brush With Shadows by Anna Lee HuberA Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber
Series: Lady Darby Mystery #6
Published by Berkley Books on March 6, 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 375
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating:5 Stars

Sebastian Gage returns home to battle the ghosts of his past and prevent them from destroying his future with Kiera in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.
July 1831. It's been fifteen years since Sebastian Gage has set foot in Langstone Manor. Though he has shared little with his wife, Lady Kiera Darby, about his past, she knows that he planned never to return to the place of so many unhappy childhood memories. But when an urgent letter from his grandfather reaches them in Dublin, Ireland, and begs Gage to visit, Kiera convinces him to go.
All is not well at Langstone Manor. Gage's grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, is gravely ill, and Gage's cousin Alfred has suddenly vanished. He wandered out into the moors and never returned. The Viscount is convinced someone or something other than the natural hazards of the moors is to blame for Alfred's disappearance. And when Alfred's brother Rory goes missing, Kiera and Gage must concede he may be right. Now, they must face the ghosts of Gage's past, discover the truth behind the local superstitions, and see beyond the tricks being played by their very own eyes to expose what has happened to Gage's family before the moors claim yet another victim...

 

It was inevitable. The series brings Kiera and Gage right back where he started- unfinished business with his maternal family living on the dark and mysterious moors. His grandfather’s plea for his help to find his missing cousin sets them on a search that delves into present and past family secrets including the family curse. I love this series so I required no hook to get me reading, but it sure didn’t hurt.

A Brush with Shadows is the sixth of the Lady Darby Mysteries set in 1830’s British Isles. Each mystery is fresh for each book, but it is a series that works best read in order because of the ongoing romance and relationships built through the stories.

Just finishing up their last case in Ireland, the Gages now go on to Dart Moor for a case that involves family. Newly wed and still tentative in some ways, Kiera and Gage do great with some forms of intimacy while struggling with others. He has been reticent about much of his past and seeing him in the brooding surroundings of his Trevalyan family urge her to force him to share his private pains and hurts though yes, Kiera’s temper and impatience gets the best of her so her poking and prodding is not always opportune even if it is necessary and cathartic for Gage. I enjoy seeing this pair’s relationship grow and deepen as much as I enjoy the mysteries.

The disappearance of his older, profligate cousin who bullied him as a child, forces Gage along with Kiera to return after a fifteen year absence to an unwelcome reception. The mystery was a bit ethereal for much of the book because the disappearance could have been for many reasons and it could mean a death or just a person gone. Alfred was not liked and it seemed everyone had a reason to see him gone and nearly everyone was acting like they could have done it.

As in the previous books set in the highlands and then border country of Scotland, Edinburgh, and then Ireland, this latest that depicts the moors was richly described so that I felt I was there. I loved the way this one set up with them in an atmospheric home with residents to match, the wild countryside, the neighbors, and even the hint of a witch and legends. It brought added tension and chills to the story so that I never wanted to put the book down.

So, all in all, this latest Lady Darby mystery was captivating and the series continues to hold strong. Historical mystery fans who enjoy a strong romance motif should definitely jump into these. I can’t wait to press on to the next book.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes, narrated by Tiffany Morgan

Posted May 15, 2020 by Lily B in Reviews / 36 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: A Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes, narrated by Tiffany MorganA Ghostly Reunion by Tonya Kappes
Narrator: Tiffany Morgan
Length: 5 hours 55 minutes
Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries #5
Published by Tantor Audio on December 27, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Emma Lee Raines sees dead people
Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.
There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.
But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.

Reluctantly chairing the high school reunion, Emma Lee encounters the high school mean girl who becomes her latest ghost client, her granny gets a taste for being a reality TV star, her sister works for a rival funeral home now, and her newspaper pal is framed for the murder. Life in Sleepy Hollow, KY isn’t dull.

A Ghostly Reunion is the fifth installment in this hilarious paranormal cozy mystery series featuring a heroine who runs a funeral home and sees ghosts who have been murdered and need help crossing to the other side.

The Ghostly Southern Mysteries invite the listener to give the over the top, light-weight murder mysteries a chance. Emma Lee is an amusing amateur detective who fumbles and bumbles her way through her ghostly cases with the help of town sheriff and boyfriend, Jack Henry.

Each book provides a good murder mystery, but it is paired with lots of quirky small town, family antics, and a sweet, slow burn romance. In this latest, Emma Lee has to face the desertion of her sister to a posh funeral home and the arrival of a high school mean girl who used to rule the school, date Jack Henry, and make Emma’s life a misery. It’s not so much who would kill her as who didn’t have a reason to murder her.

Tiffany Morgan is a delightful narrator for the series and does a fab job of southern drawl and charm, comedic timing, and a variety of vocal inflections for the large cast of characters. I get lost in her storytelling quite easily.

All in all, I had a great time listening in and find the light and fun quality perfect when I want easy entertainment and a good mystery to puzzle over. It is a good match for those who enjoy paranormal cozy mysteries.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

 

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Sophia Rose Review: The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan Duerden

Posted May 13, 2020 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer, narrated by Susan DuerdenThe Outlaw's Tale by Margaret Frazer
Length: 6 hours 33 minutes
Series: Sister Frevisse, #3
Published by Dream Machine Productions, Tantor Audio on December 21, 2010
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ACT OF MERCY, ACT OF MURDER

Leaving the safety of her nunnery walls behind, Dame Frevisse is drawn into an unholy web of treachery and deceit. Waylaid on the King's Highway by a band of outlaws, Frevisse is shocked to discover that their leader is her long-lost cousin Nicholas. When he pleads with her to help him obtain a pardon for his crimes, she finds herself trapped between the harsh edicts of the law and the mercy of her vows.

But even as she struggles to restore his fortunes, Frevisse must fight to save his soul... and his life. Before the outlaw's tale can be told, the saintly nun will find herself trapped in a manor house of murder, caught between the holy passions of the heart and the sinful greeds of man.

What a situation for a cloistered medieval nun to find herself in? It could have been a tale straight from the Robin Hood legend when Sister Frevisse’s small party is accosted by outlaws who merrily take them, prisoner. Loved that it was off to an exciting start.

The Outlaw’s Tale is the third of the Sister Frevisse standalone mysteries. Frevisse is along with Master Naylor as chaperone and escort for one of the other sisters in her cloister who must travel for a family obligation. However, near the end of the journey, Frevisse discovers her own family obligation has just caused them to be waylaid so her cousin, branded an outlaw in his youth, can plead his case. Nicholas wants her to approach their powerful uncle, Thomas Chaucer (son of the family Canterbury Tales author, Geoffrey), to use his influence at royal court to achieve this.

While she is still contemplating whether he and his men are truly turned a new leaf, Sister Emma falls ill and they are taken to a nearby manor where a reluctant lord who has had business dealings with Nicholas’ band and his not so reluctant widowed sister take them in. Frevisse observes that the sister, Magdalen, has connections to the outlaw band and her worry grows that Nick is not as repentant as he would have her to believe. There is something of a family feud taking place and the widow is none too interested in a repulsive suitor for her hand- a suitor who is murdered. Frevesse has her hands full now as she is determined to discover if Nicholas or his men did the deed and how to extricate her party from danger.

The Outlaw’s Tale has more exciting elements than the two previous mysteries and it was fun to see her in a new setting outside the cloister and in the ticklish situation of a bad boy charming cousin needing her help.

I most enjoy the attention to detail of the time period and the religious background of the central characters. Frevisse has a complex character that is a part contemplative nun, but also wry humor and a sharp observer. She is respectful and even reverential when needed, but she doesn’t suffer foolishness well and Sister Emma’s chatterbox ways bring this out.

On a side note, I was really taken with Master Naylor who is the steward of their abbey and acts as a smart and able assistant to Frevisse. There is more to him than meets the eye.

The mystery was clever, but not as complicated as previous ones. Or, maybe I just latched onto the person by happenstance and saw no reason to change my mind when some others seemed more obvious. It was still a good mystery and the end still gave me some surprise.

I enjoyed the story in audio with the capable and gifted Susan Duerden narrating. She did great with the large cast of voices and had a good range with gender, class, and personalities. I love the way she does Frevisse particularly when she is contemplating matters. I hope she does the whole series.

In summary, it was another wonderful outing with the series and I can’t wait for the next. Historical mystery lovers should definitely give the Sister Frevisse series a go.

My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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