Review: A Name Unknown – Roseanna White

Roseanna M. White. A Name Unknown. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Reading a new series is always a risk.  Even for a much-loved author, a new series offers an entirely different set of characters, settings, and situations that may be more or less appealing than their other stories.  However, I also find it to be a great opportunity to see an author’s growth as a writer.

Ms. White releases the first novel of her new Shadows Over England series with A Name Unknown.  In the months before World War I, Peter Holstein faces suspicion due to his German heritage.  As the British monarchy considers changing their family name to something less German, Peter must also prove his loyalty to England.  In an effort to justify his land holdings and citizenship, he hires Rosemary Gresham to find the family documents in his chaotic and disorderly library.  Unbeknownst to Peter, Rosemary arrives on his doorstep with ulterior motives.  She has been hired as a known thief to masquerade as a librarian to determine Peter’s allegiance to either England or Germany.  As Peter and Rosemary work together to find the family’s history, Peter’s activities behind locked doors raise suspicion.  However, the truth of his past and present activities may just be the key to his and Rosemary’s future.

A Name Unknown offers an intriguing storyline with a combination of romance, suspense, and humor that will delight fans of Christian historical fiction.  Rosemary, Peter, and the story’s other characters provide a fascinating perspective of the months leading up to the start of World War I.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading A Name Unknown!  While I had somewhat mixed feelings about Ms. White’s previous Ladies of the Manor series, this new release presents a significantly stronger example of her writing.  The concept behind this new series appears to be much more intriguing, capturing the imagination of the reader from the very beginning of the novel.  Additionally, A Name Unknown reveals a significant improvement from Ms. White’s previous series in terms of the quality of her historical research and ability to incorporate these details into the storyl.  With a strong plot, cast of characters, historical basis, and an unexpected sense of humor, this book serves as the whole package, presenting a new high for Ms. White’s work.  I look forward to seeing how she continues to build out this new series and her future novels, based on the level of excellence found in A Name Unknown.

Fans of Ms. White’s previous novels, including those found in her Ladies of the Manor, will definitely want to read A Name Unknown.  Additionally, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a touch of mystery and intrigue will also find this novel to be well worth trying.

Ms. White continues the Shadows Over England series with her release of A Song Unheard in January 2018!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of A Name Unknown!

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Review: Heart on the Line – Karen Witemeyer

Karen Witemeyer. Heart on the Line. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

The summer marathon of new book releases continues!  This week, I’m thrilled to feature Karen Witemeyer’s most recent release, Heart on the Line.

Heart on the Line builds upon a set of characters and events first introduced in Ms. Witemeyer’s No Other Will Do, based in the fictional women’s colony of Harper’s Station, Texas.  While all of the women of Harper’s Station have their own reason for escaping their previous lives, Grace Mallory faces a direct threat on her life if she is ever discovered by those who murdered her father.  However, she has finally found peace and built a life for herself as the town’s telegrapher.  After hours, when the telegraph lines have otherwise gone quiet, she communicates with a fellow Texas telegrapher, Amos Bledsoe.  During one of their Morse code-based conversations, a late-night message arrives warning Grace that her location has been discovered by those who seek her.  While Amos has led a quiet life as a talented telegrapher and bicycle enthusiast, he rushes to his anonymous friend’s aid.  After arriving in Harper’s Station, he soon discovers that his fellow telegrapher may be the one person who can overcome his quiet nature and turn him into a daring man of Texan-sized legend.

As the second book in Ms. Witemeyer’s Ladies of Harper’s Station series, fans will eagerly welcome the return of this bunch of quirky and loveable characters.  Grace and Amos’ story fits perfectly into the collection of Ms. Witemeyer’s heroes and heroines, even as their quieter personalities set them apart from so many others found in the genre.

Overall, I found myself absolutely loving Heart on the Line!  Ms. Witemeyer always writes with an engaging and humorous style.  However, she manages to reach a new high with Grace and Amos’ story, as she builds upon her previous novel that first introduced the town of Harper’s Station and the delightful characters who live in and around the town.  Without having to include extensive introduction of those elements, Ms. Witemeyer is able to create an incredibly tight and enjoyable storyline.  The backstory of Harper’s Station also provides the perfect setting for the unique relationship between Grace and Amos, as they serve as foils of other characters living in the town that played a greater role in the previous novel.  In addition, Heart on the Line features an equally compelling secondary storyline and set of characters that make the novel feel more complete and complex, yet approachable for all readers.

Fans of Ms. Witemeyer’s previous novels, especially No Other Will Do, will definitely want to read Heart on the Line.  Additionally, readers who particularly enjoy Christian historical fiction with humorous elements will also find this novel to be well worth adding to their must-read piles.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of Heart on the Line!

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Review: The Captain’s Daughter – Jennifer Delamere

Jennifer Delamere. The Captain’s Daughter. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

When reading a new book, it’s always fun to discover a surprising detail in the plot or setting that truly sets the story apart from others.  These details can make or break a novel, or at least completely captivate the right reader, who shares the author’s fascination with that topic.

The Captain’s Daughter is the first novel in the London Beginnings series by Jennifer Delamere.  Rosalyn Bernay grew up in a British orphanage before becoming the companion of a wealthy woman.  However, Rosalyn must flee her situation when the woman’s new husband accuses her of stealing priceless family items.  Stranded in London without her luggage, Rosalyn fortunately lands a job at a theater featuring Gilbert and Sullivan’s most recent comic opera.  Along the way, she encounters Nate Moran, a wounded veteran who splits his time between his own job at a local stable and working backstage at the theater to maintain his injured brother’s position.  Nate insists that his time in London is only temporary, as he plans to return to his military career in India, once his own battle wounds heal.  Together, Nate and Rosalyn navigate the ever-dramatic life of the theater, even as they discover new possibilities for their lives and careers.

Ms. Delamere brings a new voice to Christian historical fiction, building on an ever-expanding number of recently-released historical novels set in Britain.  Fans of stories set in the Victorian era will be thrilled to read this tale of life in Gilbert and Sullivan’s theater.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Captain’s Daughter.  In general, Ms. Delamere develops a plotline that feels surprisingly different from many other recent historical novels set in Britain.  Her focus on Gilbert and Sullivan’s theater and the behind-the-scenes moments featuring their productions are a true highlight of this work.  Additionally, readers looking for pleasant Christian historical fiction will find that many of the characters remain true to the nature of the genre, although they may not be overly complex and developed.  Without providing any spoilers, I would have liked to see a stronger ending to the novel, as it felt somewhat truncated and underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of the story.  As this is the first novel in the London Beginnings series, I am curious to see how Ms. Delamere continues this set of novels and which characters she chooses to develop further.

Fans of Christian historical fiction works set in Victorian Britain may find The Captain’s Daughter to be well worth reading.  Additionally, readers with an interest in Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas may find particular enjoyment in this novel.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of The Captain’s Daughter!

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Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth – Sarah Ladd

Sarah E. Ladd. A Stranger at Fellsworth. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2017.

I’m rather amazed at the sheer number of authors and series that focus exclusively on England’s Regency era.  However, readers are generally excited about new novels of this kind being released on a regular basis.  As a reviewer, I find that I rather enjoy them myself. :)

In mid-May, Sarah Ladd releases A Stranger at Fellsworth, the third novel in her Treasures of Surrey series.  Having grown up in London, Annabelle Thorley has only ever known life under her father’s tyrannical rule.  After her parents’ deaths, Annabelle is left under the care of her brother, who proves to be just as cruel to her as her father.  When Annabelle realizes that she will be forced into an equally harsh marriage to satisfy her brother’s debts, she decides to escape the only home she has ever known for her uncle’s school in Fellsworth.  Fortunately, she turns to a kind and helpful stranger, Owen Locke, who serves as gameskeeper for one of Fellsworth’s local landowners.  As Annabelle settles into her new position as a teacher, Owen finds himself distracted from his usual duties.  Poachers threaten the local estates, as well as Owen’s dream of owning his family’s ancestral land. Together, Annabelle and Owen must discover the connection between the poachers and the Fellsworth school in order to finally pursue the peaceful future they both seek.

Ms. Ladd offers a romantic and suspenseful novel set in England’s Regency Era.  Annabelle and Owen’s story will delight readers who enjoy tales of second chances.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading A Stranger at Fellsworth.  While I appreciate a variety of historical fiction stories, Ms. Ladd develops novels that masterfully combine elements of historical, romance, and suspense storytelling.  A Stranger at Fellsworth juxtaposes the significant differences between life in London and the English countryside during the Regency period.  Owen’s role as an estate gamekeeper and Annabelle’s position at her uncle’s school offer fascinating insight into some of the historical roles of men and women during the period, which are oftentimes missed in other novels.  In the midst of these historical details, Ms. Ladd also includes strong faith-based themes that will resonate well with fans of Christian fiction.  In general, the novel provides a satisfying conclusion to the Treasures of Surrey series, even as it may serve equally as well as a stand-alone book.

Fans of Ms. Ladd’s work, especially the other novels in the Treasures of Surrey series, should definitely read A Stranger at Fellsworth.  Likewise, readers who enjoy Christian fiction set during the Regency era will also find this book to be well worth exploring.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the advanced copy of A Stranger at Fellsworth!

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Review: A Love So True – Melissa Jagears

Melissa Jagears. A Love So True. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

The next few months should be exceptionally busy here at the Books and Biscuits Blog!  We have an overabundance of new novels being released and I can only hope to keep up with reviewing all of these great books.  Hopefully, I can pull it off. :)

Ms. Jagears continues her Teaville Moral Society series with A Love So True.  Evelyn Wisely assists her parents in running the orphanage first established by local businessman, Nicholas Lowe.  However, her work for the Teaville Moral Society is never done, as she also hopes to assist the women who live in the town’s red-light district.  In order to gain Nicholas’ support for her idea, he insists that she first find several other businessmen in the community who are also willing to provide backing.  David Kingsman arrives in Teaville for a short-term business trip as a representative of his father’s company.  While he hopes to prove his business acumen by saving the family’s factory in Teaville, he soon finds a mutual interest in assisting Evelyn in her work with the women and orphans of the town.  While Evelyn has never shown interest in the other men of Teaville, David’s friendship becomes an increasingly important part of her life and work.  Together, they must overcome their past failings to finally discover what God has planned for their lives.

In A Love So True, Ms. Jagears builds upon a set of characters and situations first introduced in A Heart Most Certain.  Fans of the Teaville Moral Society series will greatly enjoy reading Evelyn and David’s story, as they continue the philanthropic efforts of the citizens of Teaville.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading A Love So True, as an example of Christian historical fiction.  Ms. Jagears continues to focus her stories on the moral situations of her Christian characters, in a way that is not always the case in other novels.  The series’ overarching storyline also concentrates on the Teaville Moral Society and a group of concerned citizens who regularly assist orphans and prostitutes in their small town.  While this topic can make for some serious sections of the novel, Ms. Jagears expertly counters it with lighter elements related to her main characters and their interactions with one another.  Of the two novels in the series, A Love So True felt slightly more serious and dense than A Heart Most Certain.  However, fans of the series will find the sequel to be well worth reading as an extension of Ms. Jagears’ Teaville stories.

Fans of Ms. Jagears’ work, especially her Teaville Moral Society series, will definitely want to read A Love So True.  Additionally, readers who appreciate Christian historical fiction with a strong faith-based element may also find this novel to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of A Love So True!

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