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: 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: The Elusive Miss Ellison – Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller. The Elusive Miss Ellison. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017.

In reading and reviewing books for the Books and Biscuits Blog, I have enjoyed learning about other readers’ preferences and approach to the Christian fiction genre.  Specifically, quite a few readers focus their attention on books being released from a specific author, publisher, or even those stories set in a specific historical period or place.

In The Elusive Miss Ellison, debut author Carolyn Miller brings the Regency era to life.  Lavinia Ellison has dedicated her life to helping the poor in her small village, as an extension of her father’s parish.  When the new Earl of Hawkesbury arrives in the area, Lavinia is determined that he should take responsibility for his tenant’s welfare and the condition of his properties.  After barely surviving his military service, Nicholas Stamford seeks peace and quiet, rather than his newfound responsibilities as earl.  Lavinia’s insistence on his caring for the villagers soon becomes the voice of reason in his head, even as it clashes with the social expectations thrust upon him by his mother and his social equals.  When Lavinia’s efforts for good place her in danger, Nicholas must choose between society’s expectations and doing right by her.

Ms. Miller writes a compelling and heartwarming Regency era story that readers will greatly enjoy.  Lavinia and Nicholas, as well as the townspeople of St. Hampton Heath, will leave readers wanting more of Ms. Miller’s stories in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Elusive Miss Ellison.  While quite a few authors have written Regency era stories, Ms. Miller’s work feels true to the place and period.  In addition, the novel remains firmly grounded in the Christian fiction genre, with extensive references to Christian themes that are a natural extension of Ms. Miller’s characters and plotline.  After reading this novel, one is left to wonder why more novels in the genre do not succeed in including that level of Christian references in such a seamless manner.  While The Elusive Miss Ellison is published by Kregel Publications (a publishing house with which I am relatively unfamiliar), the novel is very well polished, edited, and produced.  In all honesty, I was surprised that this book was not released by one of the larger Christian publishing houses, due to the sheer caliber of the story.  While it may be slightly more challenging for some readers to find, I believe that this novel is well worth the effort to track down through a local library or bookstore.

Readers who enjoy great Regency era stories, especially those released by Christian publishers and authors, should definitely check out The Elusive Miss Ellison.  Fans of Julie Klassen, Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Kristi Ann Hunter will find this novel to be well worth reading.

Ms. Miller will continue the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series with The Captivating Lady Charlotte in June 2017!

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Review: An Uncommon Courtship – Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi Ann Hunter. An Uncommon Courtship. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Happy New Year!  I’m already eagerly anticipating another great year of spectacular Christian fiction.  The upcoming months look to be packed with exciting releases and more great writing from the genre’s incredible authors!

Ms. Hunter continues her Hawthorne House series with An Uncommon Courtship.  Lord Trent Hawthorne grew up as the younger brother of a powerful and capable duke.  Without the responsibilities of a title, Trent excels as a sportsman, while managing his relatively small estate.  However, the conniving efforts of a noblewoman results in his being married to an unassuming young woman, Lady Adelaide Bell.  Adelaide grew up in the shadow of her ever-ambitious mother and older sister.  To save her reputation, Trent and Adelaide are forced to marry, even without knowing each other beyond a few hours of conversation.  Together, they must learn how to make a successful marriage works, even if it means having a courtship after the wedding.

Ms. Hunter writes an intriguing tale set in Regency-era England, while continuing to develop the storylines of the Hawthorne family members.  An Uncommon Courtship makes for a heart-warming read during the blustery winter months.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading An Uncommon Courtship.  Ms. Hunter expertly develops her main characters, as she utilizes a different take on a Regency-era situation to diversify the storylines of the Hawthorne House series.  Unlike An Elegant Façade, An Uncommon Courtship takes place entirely after the events of Ms. Hunter’s previous novels.  As a result, I found the storyline to be much stronger as a stand-alone novel, even while it presents an exciting continuation to the series.  After reading the entire set of novels so far, I am very interested to see where Ms. Hunter takes the story next, as she must finally provide a satisfying conclusion centered around the eldest brother of the Hawthorne family.

Readers who enjoy Regency-era fiction will definitely want to read Ms. Hunter’s stories, including An Uncommon Courtship.  Fans of Julie Klassen and Lori Wick will also find Ms. Hunter’s novels to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of An Uncommon Courtship!

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Amazon – An Uncommon Courtship