Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review and Giveaway: At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

Heidi Reads... At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she's accidentally sold a powerful family's prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the furious family, her grandfather tracks it to the Missouri Ozarks and makes an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house if they promise not to sell anything until he arrives.

Upon their arrival, however, they discover their new business doesn't deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its manager, ruggedly handsome Wyatt Ballentine, is frustrated to discover his fussy new bosses don't know a thing about the business he's single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more cattle than they can count--but no mysterious painting--Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and salvage a bad situation getting worse.

My Review

I loved the high contrast between the locations Miranda and Wyatt are from, and that they each get to experience the other's lifestyle. Going from Boston to the wilderness of Pine Gap definitely put Miranda at a disadvantage, but she rallies and attributes she felt weak in such as self-esteem, confidence and courage become strengths as she rises to the challenges before her. There is humor in many of the scenes but I think the compassion that Miranda and Wyatt both share is highlighted as they interact with the community and prioritize the needs of others. The mystery unfolds and takes the story in a direction I didn't foresee but complicates the budding romance between Miranda and Wyatt. Their special moments together are well-depicted, I could feel the tension and joy as they discover the thrill of new love.

(Thank you to Bethany House and Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

After a cross-country trip to track down a sold painting that could ruin her family's business forever, Miranda Wimplegate forms an unlikely but charged partnership with livestock auctioneer Wyatt Ballentine in Regina Jennings' At Love's Bidding. Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn’t deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don’t know a thing about the business he’s single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count–but no mysterious painting–Miranda and Wyatt must try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Join Regina in celebrating the release of At Love's Bidding by entering to win her Cozy Winter Night giveaway and RSVPing to her January 5th author chat party!

at love's bidding - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive everything you need for a cozy winter night:
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Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 1/5. The winner will be announced at the At Love's Bidding Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Regina and other readers, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Review: The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

Heidi Reads... The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy's secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James's wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy's predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen's wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters' beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that's been waiting for her all along.

My Review

Katherine Reay has a lovely quality of writing. I felt like the stories from classic literature came to life as Lucy applied their quotes and lessons to the situations she found herself in. After a sweet introduction to her meeting James, I really missed the details of their romance as the time skipped quickly ahead to their break up. I would classify this more as women's fiction since the focus is on Lucy and Helen's journey of righting past wrongs and self-discovery. The conflict Lucy feels over the creative aspects of her personality that she inherited from her father which contribute to the poor choices she made really drives her character arc. I liked seeing her make the brave and hard decisions on the path to make things right and how it led her to peace and second chances.

(Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Review: The Guise of a Gentleman by Donna Hatch

Heidi Reads... The Guise of a Gentleman by Donna Hatch

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Though her heart longs for adventure, Elise strives to be a perfect English lady living within the stifling confines of society for the sake of her impressionable young son. Her quiet world is shattered when she meets the impulsive and scandalous Jared Amesbury. His roguish charm awakens her yearning for adventure. But his irrepressible grin and sea-green eyes hide a secret. A gentleman by day, a pirate by night, Jared must complete one last assignment from the Secret Service before he can be truly free. Elise gives him hope that he, too, can find love and belonging. His hopes are crushed when his best laid plans go awry and Elise is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of Jared's past...or still love him when the truth is revealed.

My Review

The scenes in this novel are unique and full of action. The way that Elise and Jared meet is hilarious. They have an instant attraction to each other but as their friendship develops both fight it for different reasons. I liked the contrast of how Elise appreciated her independence as a widow while Jared was seeking freedom from the pressures of his adventurous life. I would consider this a clean romance, with characters full of passion. The Amesbury brothers reveal more of their complicated dynamics and family loyalty which made me pick up the next book in the series as soon as I finished this one :)

(Thank you to Loving the Book for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch

Heidi Reads... The Stranger She Married by Donna Hatch

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


When her parents and twin brother die within weeks of each other, Alicia and her younger sister are left in the hands of an uncle who has brought them all to financial and social ruin. Desperate to save her family from debtor's prison, Alicia vows to marry the first wealthy man to propose. She meets the dashing Lord Amesbury, and her heart whispers that this is the man she is destined to love, but his tainted past may forever stand in their way. Her choices in potential husbands narrow to either a scarred cripple with the heart of a poet, or a handsome rake with a deadly secret. Cole Amesbury is tormented by his own ghosts, and believes he is beyond redemption, yet he cannot deny his attraction for the girl whose genuine goodness touches the heart he'd thought long dead. He fears the scars in his soul cut so deeply that he may never be able to offer Alicia a love that is true. When yet another bizarre mishap threatens her life, Alicia suspects the seemingly unrelated accidents that have plagued her loved ones are actually a killer's attempt to exterminate every member of her family. Despite the threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger to her heart. And Cole must protect Alicia from the killer who has been exterminating her family before she is the next target.

My Review

Wow. The Rogue Hearts series came highly recommended and this first book did not disappoint! There are vibrant characters who are flawed enough to be realistic but not unlikeable. The difficult circumstances provide impetus to push the action forward in unpredictable ways. I had my suspicions about the mysteries unfolding, but was uncertain enough to be kept guessing. I felt like Cole and Alicia fell rather quickly for each other in the beginning which made their attraction seem superficial or based on physicality, but as the story progresses they are able to appreciate each other for deeper reasons. I thoroughly enjoyed this clean but passionate romance and can't wait to read the next brother's story!

(Thank you to Loving The Book for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Review & Giveaway: Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas by Ben Sowards

Asleep on the Hay (1) 

Asleep on the Hay

Asleep on the Hay: A Dust Bowl Christmas by Ben Sowards

It’s Christmas Eve when a knock comes at the door of Paul’s family farmhouse. A small family is stranded due to a broken-down truck and seeks shelter for the evening. Paul’s grandfather not only welcomes them in, but offers them dinner and a bed for the night. Even though it is a season of giving, Paul’s heart is not filled with charity. It’s the height of the Dust Bowl and food is scarce. Why should he share what little he has with strangers? Worse, in order to help the sick baby, Paul will have to sell his beloved calf to buy a part to fix the truck. Angry, he retreats to the barn, where he sleeps and dreams of faraway Bethlehem. In his dream, he visits Mary and Joseph, and their newborn son, Jesus. The family offers Paul food and shelter and warmth—extending to him the love and charity he lacks and teaching him of the true meaning of Christmas.
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Asleep on the Hay 1   Asleep on the Hay 2   Asleep on the Hay 3

My Review: 5 stars / It was amazing

I've fallen in love with the art in this book! It's always wonderful to discover an artist whose work resonates with me. The painterly quality, the light and expression depicted in the illustrations made the story come to life. I appreciated the realistic feelings of the boy who is conflicted about the sacrifice he is being asked to make, and how the comparison of the Christmas story puts things in perspective and blesses him with charity, the pure love of Christ. Highly recommend for children and families, would make a perfect gift!

(Thank you to Deseret Book Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

ben sowards 
Author & Illustrator Ben Sowards

Ben Sowards is the illustrator of many well-loved picture books, including A Christmas Dress for Ellen, Seven Miracles that Saved America, and Christmas Oranges. Ben Sowards teaches others to paint both traditionally and digitally at Southern Utah University, where has directed the illustration program since 2001.

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$25 Blog Tour Giveaway Giveaway Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/30/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review: Power of the Matchmaker by Karey White, Rachael Anderson, Sheralyn Pratt, Jaima Fixsen, Kelly Oram, Heather B. Moore, Julie Wright, Heidi Ashworth, Taylor Dean, Michele Paige Holmes, Janette Rallison, Regina Sirois

Heidi Reads... The Power of the Matchmaker

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


A prequel novella to the POWER OF THE MATCHMAKER Series
Mystical . . . Beautiful . . . Romantic . . .
12 novels by 12 bestselling authors
Released once a month in 2016
Read the matchmaker’s story to find out where it all starts . . .

Mae Li has been in love with Chen Zhu for years, and he with her. But when the matchmaker arrives at the Zhu family home, she recommends another village girl for Chen.

Heartbroken, Mae Li watches as Chen does his duty by marrying another. Mae flees her village with the clothes on her back and her only possession—a pearl embedded comb, given to her as a goodbye gift from Chen Zhu.

Upon Mae’s arrival in Shanghai, she quickly learns that she’ll starve within days unless she sells her prized comb or joins a courtesan house. She goes to the Huangpu River and promises the River God that she’ll always be selfless if he will save her from becoming a prostitute . . . Her wish is granted when Ms. Tan, the matchmaker of Shanghai, finds Mae. But Mae must completely change her future and her name if she is to become the next matchmaker.

My Review

What a sad situation. It's hard to imagine giving a matchmaker the power to choose who you will marry. What I loved about this short story is that Mae wasn't about to stay and watch her love live his life with someone else. Her perseverance and self-preservation were strengths that helped her push forward. I thought the ending was fitting since this is the introduction to a series of stories where Mae will influence couple so their path to true love, written by many of my favorite authors. I'm looking forward to reading more!

(Thank you to Ebooks for Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: It's All About Christmas- A collection of stories, carols, recipes, quotes, trivia, history, and everything you need to celebrate the spirit of the season.

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Like heirloom ornaments on a splendid tree, It’s All About Christmas will put you and your family in a festive frame of mind for a glorious holiday season. Stuffed with stories, songs, poems, Christmas history, joyful traditions, recipes, and activities, this delightful book celebrates all things Christmas—from the sacred story of the Nativity to the lore of Saint Nick. Opening this book is like tearing the paper off a much–anticipated gift, offering new surprises with each turn of the page. Generously illustrated with scores of vibrant vintage images, It’s All About Christmas will remind you of Christmases past, help you appreciate Christmas present, and guide you to creating memories for the Christmases to come.

My Review

This is a large volume, about the size of a text book, with over 230 pages of sturdy, high-quality, non-gloss pages filled with gorgeous imagery and heartwarming content. The blend of vintage pictures with clean modern layout design is seamless and easy on the eyes. It opens with scriptures detailing the prophecy and birth of Christ from both the Bible and Book of Mormon. Well-known stories such as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Elves and the Shoemaker are shared, but a wealth of lesser known classics are what drew my interest, especially The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson. Rounded out with fun songs, recipes, and fascinating tidbits that my girls will love, we will be savoring this book for several years! It is a wonderful idea for a gift :)

(Thank you to Covenant Communications for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Dec. 16th
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Grand Finale Blitz: The Suspect's Daughter by Donna Hatch

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Release-Day Grand Finale for
The Suspect's Daughter
By Donna Hatch

We're celebrating the release of The Suspect's Daughter! We hope you enjoyed finding out more about Grant Amesbury, the reclusive Bow Street Runner who has finally met his match, and the Regency era this story is set in. If you missed any of the stops, you can check them out now... 

Launch - Intro to the Book

In this new novel, Grant has met his match. Not only is Jocelyn his perfect opposite--light to his darkness--but she matches him in wit and courage. But Jocelyn has her own problems, and a troublesome man does not fit into her plans.

Bookworm Lisa - About the Book & 5 Fun Facts

The Rogue Hearts Series centers around a noble family with the surname Amesbury, children of Lord Tarrington. Each book is a stand-alone story about each member of the family.

1. The murder plot in The Suspect’s Daughter was based on true events known as The Cato
Street Conspiracy.

"This book was romantic and had a bit of intrigue. I was happy to see glimpses of the Amesbury brothers throughout, still happy and well. Now Grant's story has been told and I can't wait to see where we go next with Donna Hatch. Wherever it is, I will be there. I loved this book. It took me to my happy place!"

I Am A Reader - Why Regency Gentleman Make the Perfect Heroes

Men in many historical eras were civilized and treated women with courtesy by standing up when a lady entered the room, doffed their hats, curtailed their language, offered an arm, bowed, and did a hundred other little things I wish men still did today. 

"I love a good, clean romance, but when there's depth--more "meat" to the story--, I'm in heaven and this book delivers. The reader not only gets a really great, believable romance, but a fantastic story line, full of conspiracy, mystery, and suspense."

"Regency" is the era in England when the Prince of Wales was Regent, or the ruler, in place of his father, King George III who was declared legal unfit to rule due to madness. Because George (later George IV) was the Prince Regent, the period is called the Regency. The true usually when I tell people I write Regency, I get one of two reactions. They either say, “I love Regency” or they say “what is Regency?” I guess to know it is to love it.

"The Suspect’s Daughter has it all – romance, suspense, great characters, skilled writing, and some quite spectacular kisses. I thoroughly enjoyed each aspect of this novel and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of historical fiction, particularly the Regency era."

Christy's Cozy Corners - British Titles

Here is a basic rundown on titles. The titles of duke and marquess are usually territorial, meaning they are associated with a specific area of land, such as Duke of York, Marquess of Salisbury, etc. Though the titles of earl, viscount, and baron are most often associated with a territory, they can also be based on a family name, eg Earl of Tarrington. Some titles were bestowed without land so the title is attached to the family rather than to the land that family governs, so to speak.

underneath the covers - Writing Great Kissing Scenes

Great kissing scenes always include a great deal of sensory detail. I try to include as many of the five senses as possible, as well as internalization—what that person is thinking and feeling in his/her heart. I walk a fine line between sizzling chemistry and staying on the “sweeter” side of romance.

Colorimetry - Carriages

To accommodate the Regency gentry or nobility, the styles, paint design, and features of carriages were as varied as today’s automobiles. Image, status, and money, as well as personal taste, were all factors in choosing a carriage. Nobility had their family coat of arms painted on the side of their family coach. A reader may come across a number of different names for carriages, and unless one is willing to do some research, these names may mean nothing.

"From the first pages of this book, I was completely sucked in. I fell in love with Grant and Jocelyn and the type of characters they portrayed. I would recommend this book to anyone."

Wishful Endings - Bow Street Runners

Into this ineffective chaos stepped the Fielding brothers. Henry Fielding was a magistrate who operated his office on Bow Street. In 1750, he and his brother hand picked and organized an elite fighting force of highly trained and disciplined young men known as the Bow Street Runners. Later nick-named the “Robins Redbreasts” for their distinctive red waistcoats, they conducted investigations, including a rudimentary forensics and interrogations. They even carried handcuffs.

Bookworm Nation - Review

"We know Grant helps out with Bow Street Runners, so it was fun to see him in his element trying to solve a mystery. I also liked to see that he had high standards and always tried to do the right thing and help others. Jocelyn and Grant were great together, their relationship built at a believable pace and had plenty of swoony moments."

Singing Librarian Books - ​The Cato Street Conspiracy

​The murder plot in The Suspect’s Daughter was inspired by a true event in England known as the Cato Street Conspiracy.

The early 1800’s in England was a time of social and economic upheaval. Upon the ending of the long-term Napoleonic wars, unemployed career soldiers and sailors flooded the workforce. Industrial change was taking England from a largely agricultural country to one of large industry. Many of the working class were hungry and feeling oppressed. Riots erupted which the government crushed. Laws grew more and more restrictive.

The Suspect's Daughter: Regency Romance (Rogue Hearts Book 4)The Suspect's Daughter
(Rogue Hearts, #4)
by Donna Hatch
Adult Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 298 pages
December 15th 2015 by Mirror Lake Press

Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams of true love reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril.

Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone.

Jocelyn will do anything to clear her father’s name, even if that means working with Grant. Time is running out. The future of England hangs in the balance...and so does their love.

Donna Hatch 2014

Donna Hatch is the author of the best-selling “Rogue Hearts Series,” and a winner of writing awards such as The Golden Quill and the International Digital Award. A hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, she discovered her writing passion at the tender age of 8 and has been listening to those voices ever since. She has become a sought-after workshop presenter, and also juggles freelance editing, multiple volunteer positions, and most of all, her six children (seven, counting her husband). A native of Arizona who recently transplanted to the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband of over twenty five years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

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