Review: The Reluctant Duchess – Roseanna White

Roseanna M. White. The Reluctant Duchess. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

With the last episode of Downton Abbey behind us, Edwardian England feels like a distant memory.  Granted, I know there are plenty of people who would be excited to see more movies, books, and television focused on that historical period. Fortunately, Roseanna M. White has been producing some excellent stories that definitely fit the bill.

As the second novel in Ms. White’s Ladies of the Manor series, The Reluctant Duchess picks up soon after the events of The Lost Heiress.  In order to keep the Duke and Duchess of Stafford safe, they willingly place a priceless treasure in the hands of their friend, Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham.  He intends to distance himself and the treasure from the people willing to resort to murder to possess it.  However, he soon finds himself visiting the Highlands with his family.  There he meets Lady Rowena Kinnaird, an heiress in her own right who must escape from an abusive family and a violent fiancé.  Brice offers an unexpected solution to Rowena’s problems, although she finds herself encompassed in his elaborate plan to protect the treasure at all costs.

Ms. White offers an intriguing follow-up novel to The Lost Heiress.  With a newfound focus on the Scottish Highlands, The Reluctant Duchess presents a unique story reminiscent of Downton Abbey’s later seasons.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Reluctant Duchess.  Ms. White creates a nice, character-driven story that will capture the attention of readers interested in Edwardian England.  However, I found myself somewhat distracted by the novel’s somewhat generic plot and use of relatively few historical details.  I thought The Lost Heiress was rather brilliant, in part because of its unique focus on the leading lady’s backstory in Monaco and interest in the newest innovations.  In comparison, The Reluctant Duchess offered far less historical connections to the time period, which resulted in many aspects of the novel appearing remarkably similar to Regency-era Christian fiction titles.  Other than a periodic reference to a car being driven for transportation purposes, the story never took on the time period-specific or unique qualities of The Reluctant Duchess.  Most readers will likely focus their attention, instead, on the characters themselves and appreciate the Highland flair introduced to the novel by the inclusion of Lady Rowena’s presence in the series.   Likewise, they will relish the opportunity to see the continuation of the storyline and characters from the series’ first novel.

Fans of Ms. White’s other works, particularly The Lost Heiress, will want to read The Reluctant Duchess.  Likewise, those interested in novels with British settings or storylines similar to those found in Downton Abbey will also find the book to be a worthwhile read.  Ms. White utilizes a moderate plot and relatively approachable writing style that makes The Reluctant Duchess a nice read.

A Lady Unrivaled, the third novel of Ms. White’s Ladies of the Manor series, will be arriving in September 2016!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of The Reluctant Duchess!

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Amazon – The Reluctant Duchess

Exciting News at the Books and Biscuits Blog!

Hi Everyone!

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, it’s not Tuesday and this is not your regularly-scheduled review for the week. :)

The Books and Biscuits Blog has just been featured in NetGalley’s “Blogger Spotlight.”  As part of the Blogger Spotlight, I was interviewed by Tarah Theoret of NetGalley about the Books and Biscuits Blog and the Christian fiction genre.  Please feel free to check out the full interview at the NetGalley Blog (http://blog.netgalley.com/blogger-spotlight-christian-fiction-edition/).  It just went up this morning and we’re thrilled to already see such an enthusiastic response to it!

If you are visiting us for the first time from the NetGalley blog: Welcome!  We are very excited to have you visit and connect with us through the Blog and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/booksandbiscuitsblog).

With the joyous news of Easter soon upon us, I am very excited to see Christian publishing featured at the national level!  Unofficially, this is the first time that a Christian fiction blog has been interviewed for the NetGalley Blogger Spotlight.  As a result, we are extremely honored to represent the great work being accomplished by exceptional authors, publishers, bloggers, and my fellow readers of the Christian fiction genre around the world.

Thanks to all of you who make this work possible!

– Brittany and The Editorial Team

Review: Mermaid Moon – Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble. Mermaid Moon. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016.

I just saw Colleen Coble’s latest release, Mermaid Moon, at the library before my copy arrived from Thomas Nelson.  While I haven’t read the previous book (The Inn at Ocean’s Edge) in the Sunset Cove series, the summary of the novel sounded interesting and worthwhile to try reading.

Mermaid Moon follows Mallory Davis as she attempts to pull her life back together after the death of her husband.  Upon receiving a mysterious phone call from her father, Mallory rushes home to Mermaid Point, a place she has avoided for the past fifteen years.  Her father’s death brings up the worst moments of Mallory’s past, as well as forcing her to encounter Kevin O’Connor, the game warden who once offered her a bright future.  When Mallory receives threats on her life and that of her daughter, she must turn to Kevin and the townsfolk she once abandoned to discover the truth.  As the killer returns, Mallory will have to unravel the mysterious circumstances of her own past in order to solve the crime spree sweeping the once-peaceful seaside community.

Mermaid Moon takes place in the same Maine community as The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, incorporating some characters from the earlier novel in the Sunset Cove series. Ms. Coble utilizes her particular brand of romantic suspense to draw her readers into the mysterious circumstances of Mallory’s parents’ deaths.

Overall, I thought that Mermaid Moon was an enjoyable book in the romantic suspense genre.  While I have not read many of Ms. Coble’s contemporary works, I found the writing style and pacing to be consistent with her other books.  Personally, I would describe the pacing of Ms. Coble’s writing as being somewhat slower and darker than other books that I typically read.  However, she offers a well-developed storyline that depends upon a broad cast of characters to make for an intriguing overall novel.  Additionally, Ms. Coble and Denise Hunter have created interconnected series (Sunset Cove and Summer Harbor), which both take place in the same area of Maine and involve a surprisingly number of connections between their characters.  As I am also reading Ms. Hunter’s series, I am excited to see how these series continue to intersect!

Fans of Ms. Coble’s other works, especially The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, will definitely want to read Mermaid Moon.  Readers who typically enjoy Christian fiction with romantic and suspense elements will also find the novel to be a worthwhile read.  As a result of the genre of this book, the story has a darker tone than other contemporary Christian fiction works by such authors as Denise Hunter and Rachel Hauck.

The next book in the Sunset Cove series, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, will release on September 20, 2016!

Special thanks to Thomas Nelson and the Fiction Guild for the promotional copy of Mermaid Moon!

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Amazon – Mermaid Moon

Review: The Red Door Inn – Liz Johnson

Liz Johnson. The Red Door Inn. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016.

In the midst of an absolutely crazy week, I was able to finish only one book.  Granted, it was a pleasure to read a novel by a relatively new author. :)

Liz Johnson kicks off her Prince Edward Island Dreams series with The Red Door Inn.  Marie Carrington finds herself with no money and few options, with a ferry ride between her and her dream of reaching Prince Edward Island in Canada.  Through the kindness of a stranger, this American girl finds herself with a much-needed job decorating a bed and breakfast in the last few months before it opens.  In addition to Jack Sloane, the kind old man and owner, the bed and breakfast also houses its resident contractor, Jack’s nephew, Seth.  Seth and Marie find themselves working side by side, even as they hope to avoid each other and anyone else who resembles the people who hurt them in their previous relationships.  With only two months until the newly-named Red Door Inn is supposed to open, Marie, Jack, and Seth must work together to overcome their pasts and the ongoing obstacles of fixing up the Inn.  However, the Inn offers its own brand of healing, in keeping with the prayers of the woman who first imagined its existence.

The Red Door Inn offers an intriguing view of the modern-day Prince Edward Island.  While readers may be more familiar with L.M. Montgomery’s works about PEI, this novel presents its own unique cast of characters and memorable places.

Overall, I rather enjoyed The Red Door Inn.  Ms. Johnson creates a light and pleasant storyline that draws countless connections to the unique places and people of PEI.  I believe that many readers, including those in my own family, will definitely appreciate this book.  The overall storyline is relatively simple, so that the pacing of the novel is relatively slow.  Likewise, I would not describe the characters as being incredibly complex or developed.  However, I fully realize that many readers, especially in the Christian fiction genre, are particularly looking for this kind of book.  Personally, I appreciate novels that include a slightly faster pace and more development that pulls the reader into the story.  Instead, The Red Door Inn depends more strongly on its characters to drive the story.  Fortunately, some of my favorite (minor) characters from this novel will be featured in Where Two Hearts Meet, the next book in Ms. Johnson’s Prince Edward Island Dreams series.

Readers who enjoy relatively light contemporary Christian fiction will likely appreciate The Red Door Inn.  Also, fans of Christian fiction that takes place in Canadian or seaside settings will also want to look into Ms. Johnson’s new series.  With the novel’s PEI connection, fans of L.M. Montgomery might find this new series to be worthwhile.  However, the modern-day PEI and Ms. Johnson’s writing style may turn off some readers who are expecting a contemporary telling of Ms. Montgomery’s tales.

Ms Johnson will release Where Two Hearts Meet in the Prince Edward Island Dreams series in October 2016!

Special thanks to Revell Reads Blog Tour for the advanced copy of The Red Door Inn!

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Amazon – The Red Door Inn

Review: The Goodbye Bride – Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter. The Goodbye Bride. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016.

I’ve been reading Colleen Coble’s Mermaid Moon and Denise Hunter’s The Goodbye Bride back to back. These two author-friends have created interconnected series, with their books sharing characters and settings. If you want to see them in action, check out Colleen Coble’s Sunset Cove series and Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, which both have recent releases over the last couple months!

Lucy Lovett and Zac Callahan experienced love at first sight when they met. After waking up from a concussion in a mysterious bathroom, Lucy finds herself dressed in a bridal gown that she doesn’t recognize. Naturally, she calls the one person she remembers perfectly, Zac. Unfortunately, Zac has spent the last seven months putting his life back together after Lucy left him in the weeks prior to their wedding. Forced together once again, Lucy desperately tries to remember her life before her amnesia, even as Zac fears the truth that could drive her away from him again. With the help of the Callahan family and a delightful cast of Summer Harbor friends, Zac and Lucy will discover the important secret that can overcome their fears of repeating the past.

Fans of Ms. Hunter’s Summer Harbor series will greatly enjoy this continuation of the Callahan family’s story. With characters and storylines that interweave between the books of Ms. Hunter’s (and Ms. Coble’s Sunset Cove) series, The Goodbye Bride is an absolute treat in the Christian romance genre!

Overall, I was quite thrilled with The Goodbye Bride! Having enjoyed the introductory novel in the series (Falling Like Snowflakes), this novel felt like returning to a favorite vacation spot with great friends. Ms. Hunter creates an engaging and light-hearted story that feels simultaneously intricate, yet approachable. Likewise, her characters and their development serve as the heart of the novel. In comparison to Falling Like Snowflakes, I thought that the themes were lighter and more appropriate to a general audience of readers. However, this novel and the rest of the series ultimately focus on the Callahan family, making it most similar to the works in Susan May Warren’s captivating Christiansen Family series and Becky Wade’s Porter Family series, which both wrapped up in recent months. As a fan of those series, I am thrilled to find another series to continue in the coming years. After reading this novel, I can’t wait to see how Ms. Hunter continues to develop the series in Just a Kiss (September 2016)!

Fans of Denise Hunter’s books, especially Falling Like Snowflakes and the Summer Harbor series, will definitely want to read The Goodbye Bride. Additionally, readers who enjoy Colleen Coble and Susan May Warren’s books will definitely want to check out this series.

Special thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the advanced copy of The Goodbye Bride!

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Amazon – The Goodbye Bride