Ladies of Intrigue

Ladies of Intrigue:

3 Tales of 19th-Century Romance with a Dash of Mystery

By Michelle Griep

The Story

3 Page-Turners Under One Cover from Reader Favorite Michelle Griep!

Can truth and love prevail when no one is as they appear?

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady

Cornish Coast, 1815

When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?

The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!)

Dakota Territory, 1862

Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.

A House of Secrets

St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890

Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.

(Back cover summary from Barbour Publishing)

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I only recently became aware of the compelling stories Michelle Griep writes, so I love that this novella collection gives a snapshot of her abilities to write engrossing stories—no matter the backdrop.

After reading Laura Frantz’s A Bound Heart, I loved getting to dive back into a similar world with the first novella. It was a fun read, with enough twists in it to keep it interesting.

The middle novella was my favorite. I can see why this was a Carol award winner. Emmy and James clash immediately, and it was fun to see that in such a vivid way right from the start. These two characters have such great chemistry, and the issues they each face, both without and within themselves, are so believable. Those are the kind of stories that I love because they challenge me to change as well.

The last novella has a different flair to it. Amanda finds herself pitted against an unknown person (at least for a time) as she tries to do good in her community and gain her father’s approval. Secrets are the main problem for these two, but there are legitimate reasons behind them, rather than the sometimes cliché ‘misunderstanding’.

I enjoyed all three of these novellas because they gave me a glimpse into the talents of Griep. Each story felt fresh and compelling, and ensured once again, that Michelle Griep will be one of my go-to authors.

About the Author

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write–except for that graffiti phase I went through as teenager. To connect with Michelle Griep, you can find her online at https://michellegriep.com/ .

(Biography from Amazon)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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In the Shadow of Croft Towers

In the Shadow of Croft Towers

By Abigail Wilson

 

The Story

Croft Towers holds more than its share of secrets . . . and Sybil is determined to uncover them all.

When Sybil Delafield’s coach to Croft Towers was robbed by highwaymen, she should have realized that her new position as companion to old Mrs. Chalcroft would be no ordinary job. Upon Sybil’s arrival, Mrs. Chalcroft sneaks into her room in the dark of night, imploring her to relay messages to town that are to stay hidden from the rest of the family. Who exactly is she working for and what do the messages contain?

When fellow passengers of the robbed coach are later murdered, Sybil’s hunt for the truth takes on a new urgency. The only person she can rely on is Mr. Sinclair, Mrs. Chalcroft’s godson, but under all his charms he too leads a double life. Sybil must decide if he is the one honest voice she can trust, or if he is simply using her for his own advances.

With murderers, smugglers, and spies on the loose, nothing—and no one—in Regency England is what they claim. Can Sybil even trust what she knows about herself?

(Back cover summary from Thomas Nelson Publishers)

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I took on In the Shadow of Croft Towers as a last-minute book to review after hearing the rave recommendations from others, especially those at Hope By the Book magazine. And I’m so glad I did!

This regency romance/mystery is unlike any other I’ve read. Filled with secrets and shadows so tangled, In the Shadow of Croft Towers presents a delicious mystery. Sybil’s story is told in first person point of view, which is a little-used viewpoint in historical fiction, but one I love. Sybil’s growth as a character, from fearful into the bold, adventurous person she truly is, felt believable. Her search for her true identity, while not spelled out as in some books, was really found as she exercised her courage in various situations. So that in the end, it really didn’t matter who her parents were, because she owned who she had been all the time.

The romance in this book is so good, with enough second-guessing from various characters to keep me from being completely certain of the hero, at least at the beginning. Mr. Sinclair, a shadowy and uncertain figure, was so much fun trying to figure out. Mrs. Chalcroft, for all her blustery ways, worked her way into my heart.

This book, this author, is excellent. I read the Kindle version of this book, but I’ll be finding myself a hard copy to take up permanent residence on my shelf, to be read again in the not-so-distant future.

Whether or not you’re a fan of the Regency era, this is not a book to pass up.

About the Author

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A Registered Nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the National Parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five Contest and ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children. Connect with Abigail at acwilsonbooks.com; Instagram: acwilsonbooks; Facebook: ACWilsonbooks; Twitter: @acwilsonbooks.

(Biography from Thomas Nelson Publishers)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

A Bound Heart

A Bound Heart

By Laura Frantz

The Story

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is just the keeper of his bees–and the woman who could provide an elixir to help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Can they make a new beginning in this New World? Or will their hopes be dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony?

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in colonial America.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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Laura Frantz transports the reader to Scotland’s rugged isles in this historically rich and emotionally deep novel. I love how Frantz can draw the reader into the story, whether the setting is the wilds of Kentucke Territory or across the ocean in the old country.

Lark is a sweet, compelling character, with a depth of character that compels her to do what’s right, even against the pressures of the culture and people around her. And to her own danger at times. Magnus is a strong hero, eager to step in when needed, but still flawed. As these two find themselves in a mess too tangled to undo, they must learn to trust each other and to trust God to lead and guard them.

While I enjoyed this story and the history it is steeped in, the pacing threw me off. I expected the story to move towards their time in the New World much faster. Looking back, I appreciate the way Frantz drew the story along, but as I was reading it, I felt like I kept waiting to get to that part of the story.

In all, though, I enjoyed this latest read from Frantz. She delivers in the areas she’s so good at: history, romance, and depth of story. While this is not my favorite of her novels, it has earned a spot on my shelf.

About the Author

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA bestselling author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, and The Lacemaker. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream

By Pepper Basham

The Story

Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins his uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

(Back cover summary from Barbour Books)

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I fell in love with this book! Pepper Basham captures the vista and culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1918 in such a beautiful way. She writes about a culture that is set in its ways, and yet inevitably must change, acknowledging both the dignity found there and the areas of needed growth.

Laurel is such a fun character. She is spirited, caring, and driven. Her love for her family and her ability to forgive shapes her. Her dreams are bigger than even herself, and they push her. Jonathan is a compelling hero, with a past that has pushed him to prove his worth. The longer he stays in Appalachia, the less this plays into his life. It was hilarious at times as he struggled to adjust to the very different culture, terrain, and flora and fauna.

This story had me laughing almost from the very beginning, and it didn’t let my attention go at any point. It kept pulling me forward, towards a surprising conclusion. Jonathan and Laurel both have certain dreams and expectations at the beginning of this book, but as they learn and grow and life changes around them, those dreams begin to change as well.

I had the chance to read this book at the end of 2018, and I couldn’t have asked for a better read to close out the year for me. Pepper Basham has grabbed a place on my go-to author list.

About the Author

As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family. You can learn more about her on her website, http://www.PepperDBasham.com or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

(Biography from Pepper Basham’s Website)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Searching for You

Searching for You

By Jody Hedlund

The Story

Her Search for a Place to Call Home
Leads Her to the Last Place She Ever Expected

For years, Sophie Neumann has been running from the orphanages of 1850s New York City. Tasked with caring for two younger children, she’s determined not to let them be taken from her, and not to abandon them the same way her older sisters did her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing the state is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. But when the train stops in Illinois, she faces an agonizing decision as the orphans will be placed in new homes. Afraid she’ll lose them forever, she finds help in a familiar face she never expected to see so far from New York.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm in Illinois. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that still haunt him, Reinhold is in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby farm pleading for his help?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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At long last, Reinhold gets his own story! I’ve felt for this poor guy throughout this series. He’s tangled up with the Neumann sisters, but can’t quite find the right place to be.

Both Reinhold and Sophie are driven by fear. For him, it’s fear of becoming the angry, out-of-control man his father was. Her’s is fear of losing her two young charges and in some way, losing her purpose and meaning in life. This fear logically works itself out in some not-so-great choices.

I liked seeing the orphan train from this perspective, as Sophie and the two children are placed out into homes.

It was so fun to see this gripping series come to a close and see these siblings finally find restoration and healing. The romance in this book is—as usual—right on. I think what I most enjoyed in this book were the supporting characters. The Duffs are such a wonderful family, and the various characters that color this book make it that much more fun.

As usual, Jody Hedlund left me wanting more, but also satisfied with this sweet, historical read.

About the Author

Jody Hedlund (www.jodyhedlund.com) is the author of over 20 novels, including Love UnexpectedCaptured by LoveUnending DevotionThe Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The Lieutenant’s Bargain

The Lieutenant’s Bargain

By Regina Jennings

The Story

She Was Supposed to Be Gaining Independence.

What She Found Was Even Better . . .

Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, but her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to go to Denver and place her works in an exhibition. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she’s too terrified to recognize them as friendly.

Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to retrieve her–and plead his case with the chief once more.

He’s stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart years ago, but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril and threatens to destroy his life’s work.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I love, love, love Regina Jennings’ books. They’re always spot-on historically, filled with unique, authentic characters, and with a romance that strikes just the right balance. The Lieutenant’s Bargain carries that through. I love that in this book we get to learn more about Jack Hennessey. He’s such a sweet character, but also obviously flawed. As is Hattie. The whole circumstances surrounding their being thrown together are hilarious, and I loved reading how their relationship progressed. This book provides the perfect opportunity to simply slip into a story, and not come out for as long as you want—it’s that immersive.

I loved the history involved in this book, as I did in the previous novel. What I really loved, though, was how Hattie battled her very-real fears after her traumatic experience. It wasn’t easy, but she wouldn’t allow herself to remain a victim. Though she had her own set of weaknesses, this strength shone through, as she learned to rely on God and others.

All in all, this novel was a delight to pick up, and one that I’ll be picking up again in the future—providing my sister relinquishes it after she gets her turn reading it. 😀

About the Author

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children and can be found online at www.reginajennings.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The Liberty Bride

The Liberty Bride

By MaryLu Tyndall

The Story

Lieutenant Owen Masters and Emeline Baratt meet on a British warship as sworn enemies. Where will Emeline place her loyalties when forced to spy against her country?
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

War Forces a Choice Between Love and Country

A trip home from England to Maryland in 1812 finds Emeline Baratt a captive on a British warship and forced to declare her allegiance between the British and Americans. Remaining somewhat politically neutral on a ship where her nursing skills are desperately needed is fairly easy—until she starts to have feelings for the first lieutenant who becomes her protector. However, when the captain sends her and Lieutenant Owen Masters on land to spy, she must choose between her love for him and her love for her country.

(Back cover summary from Barbour Publishing)

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The Liberty Bride continues the saga of The Daughters of the Mayflower series, and is another fun installment. I confess, I am woefully lacking in knowledge about the War of 1812, so I enjoyed this sea adventure that explored what it would have been like to live in that time.

Emeline is consumed with trying to be the proper lady that her father wants her to be, but like so many of us, finds herself unable to rise to the task. Owen wants adventure without the rules but finds that it’s unavailable to him. As they each respond to God from their different viewpoints, they find that His rules and His way aren’t what they expected.

This story challenges the idea that life as a Christian is boring, and instead points to the adventure—and abundant life—that is found in Christ.

About the Author

Award winning and best-selling author, MaryLu Tyndall dreamt of pirates and sea-faring adventures during her childhood days on Florida’s Coast. After obtaining a degree in Math and working as software engineer for 15 years, she decided to test the waters as a writer. With now more than seventeen books published, she makes no excuses for the deeply spiritual themes embedded within her romantic adventures. As a follower of Christ, her stories often reflect her own journey and walk with God. Her hope is that readers will not only be entertained but will be brought closer to the Creator who loves them beyond measure. In a culture that accepts the occult, wizards, zombies, and vampires without batting an eye, MaryLu hopes to show the awesome present and powerful acts of God in a dying world. MaryLu makes her home with her husband, six children, two grandkids, and three cats on the California coast, where her imagination still surges with the sea.

(Biography from Amazon)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.