Thursday, September 28, 2017

Satisfying Christian Romance Big on History, Light on Preaching

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Romance is the last thing on the mind of 25-year-old Alexandra Jamison.  Still reeling from the train accident that killed her fiancé one year ago, she's searching for a way to honor her intended's dream of making a difference in the world.  That certainly won't happen if she's wed to a stuffy Southern gentleman with old-fashioned notions about a woman's place.  Which is the exact situation her father is trying to broker for her.  Now that Alexandra's unsuitable intended is out of the way, he'll unite her with a mature aristocrat, the wealthier the better.  Love has no place in his ambitious plans.

Alexandra refuses to accept a future so dismal, a decision that leads to her expulsion from the family home.  Her new job as a teacher at Fisk University, a local school for freedmen, only infuriates her father more.  Unless she kowtows to his wishes, she'll be cut off from everything she's ever known—money, privilege, comfort, and her elevated place in Nashville society.  Is making a difference really worth the risk?

Sylas Rutledge is a man well acquainted with risk, but unaccustomed to the rules of Southern society.  As the owner of the Northeast Rail Line, the 31-year-old has traveled to Nashville from his home in Colorado Territory to arrange a lucrative business deal.  He's also determined to clear his father's name.  The engineer who's been accused of causing the accident that killed Alexandra's fiancé and numerous others, Sy's dad's reputation has been unduly soiled.  At least that's what Sy believes.

When Alexandra and Sy meet, sparks instantly start to fly.  As they help each other work toward impossible goals, they become closer and closer.  But what will happen when Sy finally tells Alexandra who he is and what he's really doing in Nashville?  Will their budding romance end before it gets a chance to really begin?

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander tells an engaging story set against a rich historical backdrop.  I knew nothing about certain places and events—like Fisk University; Belle Meade Plantation; the Jubilee Singers; and the real train accident that occurred near Dutchman's Curve in 1918, killing more than 100 people—until I read this novel.  These kinds of details made the setting of To Wager Her Heart come alive for me.  Alexandra and Sy are both sympathetic characters, which makes it easy to root for their success.  They're not the most complex or well-developed story people in the world, but they felt real enough to keep me interested.  Although the novel is predictable, with not enough tension standing in the way of the couple's Happily Ever After (despite its lengthy 351 pages), To Wager Her Heart feels satisfying.  It's not super original, but it is a clean, enjoyable, setting-rich Christian romance that never feels too preachy.  Overall, I enjoyed it and am definitely planning to read the rest of the books in the Belle Meade Plantation series (which consists of interconnected stories, not sequels per se). 

(Readalikes:  other novels in the Belle Meade Plantation series by Tamera Alexander, including To Whisper Her Name and To Win Her Favor)

Grade:

If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of To Wager Her Heart from the generous folks at Zondervan via those at TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!
 --
Want more opinions on To Wager Her Heart?  Follow along on the book's blog tour:

Monday, August 28th: Reviews from the Heart
Wednesday, August 30th: Splashes of Joy
Friday, September 1st: Books a la Mode – excerpt
Monday, September 4th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, September 5th: Empowermoms
Friday, September 8th: For Him and My Family
Monday, September 11th: Books and Spoons – excerpt
Tuesday, September 12th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, September 14th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, September 15th: Art @ Home
Monday, September 18th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, September 19th: A Holland Reads
Wednesday, September 20th: Reading is My SuperPower
Friday, September 22nd: Just One More Chapter – excerpt
Tuesday, September 26th: Write Read Life
Wednesday, September 27th: Laura’s Reviews
 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Twins

My Tuesday is shaping up to be a busy one, but I didn't want to miss out on participating in my favorite weekly blogging event.  Top Ten Tuesday is always a lot of fun.  It's a great way to find new blogs, revisit old favorites, and get lots of great reading recommendations.  Who cares if your TBR list is already miles long?  If you want to participate (and you SO do), go on over to The Broke and the Bookish and read up on how the meme works.  Then make your own list and have a good time checking out other lists around the book blogosphere!

Today's topic is: Top Ten Books With __________ Characters.  I decided to fill in the blank with "Twin."  My mother is an identical twin; maybe that's why I've always been fascinated with twins.  Whatever the reason, I read a lot of books with such characters, so here's a list of the first ten that came to mind.

Top Ten Books With Characters Who Are Twins/Multiples

1.  The Shining by Stephen King—In honor of Halloween, I had to include one of the most iconic—not to mention creepiest—literary/movie twins of all time.  Redrum!


2.  Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling—On to the most lovable literary twins, Fred and George Weasley.  It's impossible not to be charmed by these mischief-loving brothers.


3.  The Bobbsey Twins series by Laura Lee Hope—I adored these books as a child!


4.  Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal—Here's another blast from the past.  I inhaled these silly high school stories about Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, twins who are identical but have very different personalities.  Their various dramas kept me thoroughly engrossed as a young reader.


5.  Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark—I haven't read much MHC in recent years, but I used to be a mega fan.  In fact, this book is one of the first I reviewed after starting this blog.  It's about a couple whose 3-year-old twin girls are kidnapped from their home.  The story is a mystery/thriller about the race to find and save the children.


6.  How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny—I love the Armand Gamache series and this book, the ninth installment, is my favorite so far.  The story revolves around the puzzling murder of a mysterious woman.  The victim and her siblings are based on a real group of multiples who were cruelly exploited by their parents.  It's an engrossing mystery that asks some important questions.


7.  In the Woods by Tana French—The Irish writer's debut mystery/thriller features a young murder victim who is a twin.  French's books are always can't-look-away compelling.


8.  The Distant Hours by Kate Morton—Like most (all?) of Morton's novels, this one features a crumbling old house and the eccentric people who live there.  In this case, it's a pair of spinster twins.  Morton's books are always great reads.
 

9.  The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne—This shivery psychological thriller is about a couple grieving after the death of one of their identical twins.  When the surviving daughter claims she's her dead sister, things start to get a little strange ...


10.  Untwine by Edwidge Danticat—I haven't actually read this one yet, but it sounds excellent.  It concerns a teen girl who wakes up in a hospital after an accident and has no idea what has happened to her parents or her twin sister.  

There you have it.  Have you read any of these?  Which awesome twin books am I missing?  Who are your favorite literary twins/multiples?  Leave me a comment and I'll gladly return the favor.

Happy TTT!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Beyond the Books: Mo' MoTab (& Friends), Please!

If you're a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you're no doubt looking forward to this weekend.  Twice a year, the LDS Church holds a General Conference, which takes place in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and is broadcast all over the world.  My family loves going to church in our pajamas (we watch Conference on our t.v. at home), eating traditional foods (French toast for breakfast is a Conference must), and, most of all, listening to inspired counsel from our Church leaders (glorious!).  I always come away from the experience feeling closer to my family and to God.

Of course, Conference wouldn't be Conference without the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  In between the talks, the 360-person, all-volunteer singing group performs songs of faith and devotion, which always bring a special spirit to the proceedings.

While watching the choir on t.v. is powerful, it's nothing compared to seeing the group perform live.  If you happen to be in Salt Lake City, you can catch free performances every Sunday during the taping of the Music and the Spoken Word program.  Weekly rehearsals are also free and open to the public.  There are additional concerts throughout the year.  Information about all of these events can be found on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's website.

Even if you can't catch MoTab live, you can still listen to its music.  Check out the commercial-free, 24/7 music stream at the Mormon Channel, for instance.  You can also find CDs at Amazon, Deseret Book, and other retailers.

If you love the choir's rich, inspiring music, you'll definitely want to check out its newest CD, Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends.  The album features eleven tracks from the choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square, seven of which are from standout concert performances over the last 15 years; the other four were created specifically for this CD.  Each song stars a guest artist or two, from Yo-Yo Ma to James Taylor to Angela Lansbury to Santino Fontana.  The tracks range from African-American spirituals to songs from popular movies to old favorites like How Can I Keep From Singing?  It's a soothing, sometimes rousing collection that can be enjoyed by listeners of all ages.  Seriously!  My favorite track on the album is "Through Heaven's Eyes" (from The Prince of Egypt), which happens to be the movie song my 8-year-old sings most.

Released in May, the album quickly reached No. 1 on Billboard's Classical Crossover Chart, the 12th time that a Mormon Tabernacle Choir album has done so.  It also earned the No. 2 spot on the Classical Overall chart.  

If you've got a MoTab lover on your Christmas list this year, definitely pick up one of these babies.  Also, keep in mind that Deseret Book stores across the nation will be hosting Ladies Night on Saturday, September 30.  Almost everything in the store will be 20% off, making it a perfect night to get a Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends CD of your very own.

*To the FTC, with love:  I received a free Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Friends CD in exchange for an honest review from the generous folks at Deseret Book.  Thank you!     

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Final Installment a Fitting End to Compelling Teen Mystery Trilogy

(Image from Barnes & Noble

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Hide and Seek, it may inadvertently spoil plot surprises from previous Jess Tennant mysteries.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

Jess Tennant wasn't thrilled when her mom dragged her away from London to live in tiny Port Sentinel, but the seaside village has definitely grown on her.  She enjoys living with family at Sandhayes, flirting with her hot next door neighbor, and working at the town's dusty thrift shop.  Having gotten herself entangled in some town mysteries over the year since she's lived in Port Sentinel, Jess is known as a bit of a troublemaker.  But, really, she's just an ordinary kid trying to survive high school.

When 16-year-old Gilly Poynter disappears one winter day, Jess can't stop herself from worrying.  She didn't know her classmate well, but she's certain the girl has come to some kind of harm.  If the police won't do something about the missing teen, Jess will.  Even if it means putting herself in harm's way.  Although she's warned away from her amateur investigation, Jess refuses to give up.  She will get answers.

In the meantime, Jess has plenty of other problems.  There's her stepfather's sudden reappearance; her "forbidden" relationship with Will; and the constant friction between her and the police inspector, who also happens to be Will's father.  Can Jess sort out all her personal problems?  Will she uncover the truth about Gilly's disappearance?  With so much on her plate, the last thing she wants to worry about is her personal safety—but that's becoming an increasing concern.  The more she sticks her nose where it doesn't belong, the more danger stalks her every move ...

I've enjoyed all the books in the Jess Tennant trilogy by Irish crime writer Jane CaseyHide and Seek, the final installment, is no exception.  The story moves along at a swift pace, with plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing.  Jess is an engaging heroine—smart, brave, and self-deprecating.  The teens in this series are unrealistically unsupervised and world-weary, but that's about my only complaint with these books.  Otherwise, I've really enjoyed the whole series.  Although Casey's adult books get fairly graphic, her YA mysteries are much easier to stomach.  If you're up for a tense, twisty teen mystery, I'd definitely recommend this trilogy.  Here's hoping Casey pens more books for younger readers!

(Readalikes:  How to Fall and Bet Your Life by Jane Casey; also reminds me a little of the Northwoods Mystery series [Enchantment Lake; The Clue in the Trees] by Margi Preus)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Okay, Now I'm Invested ... (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers from The Clue in the Trees, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Enchantment Lake.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

After a harrowing summer at her aunts' lakeside cabin, 17-year-old Francie Frye has decided to stay in little Walpurgis.  As far as excitement goes, Brooklyn has nothing on the Minnesota Northwoods.  Not that Francie is looking for anything more thrilling than the normal, everyday life of an average, ordinary high school senior, mind you.  

When a surly archaeologist is strangled to death while manning an important dig near the aunts' cabin, everyone expects their own northwoods Nancy Drew to take up the case.  Francie couldn't be more disinterested.  Been there, done that.  Then her older brother shows up unexpectedly, trailing trouble in his wake.  Francie hasn't seen Theo in three years.  There's plenty she doesn't know about him and it's obvious he's hiding some big secrets.  Could one of them be that he's a murderer?  With Theo as the prime suspect in the murder of the archaeologist, Francie's got no choice but to launch her own investigation.  She has to prove her brother innocent.  With mounting evidence against him, though, she's forced to ask a chilling question:  Is Theo guilty?  In a situation where nothing is as it seems, Francie must solve a complex puzzle before time runs out for her brother and herself ...

You might remember that I wasn't overly enthusiastic about Enchantment Lake, the first book in the Northwoods Mystery series by Margi Preus.  I'm happy to report that I'm much fonder of its second installment, The Clue in the Trees.  While there are a few incongruencies in the tale that I'm still trying to figure out, overall, the book provides a fast, fun mystery that surprised me in the end.  The vibrant lake setting remains the star of this particular show, but I did find Francie more likeable this time around.  I'm also enjoying the continued mystery surrounding her parents' suspicious demises.  After reading Enchantment Lake, I had little desire to continue with the series.  Now, though, I'm invested and looking forward to Francie's next adventure.  

(Readalikes:  Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus; also reminds me a bit of the Jess Tennant series [How to Fall; Bet Your Life; Hide and Seek] by Jane Casey)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Clue in the Trees from the generous folks at University of Minnesota Press via those at Fantastic Flying Book Club.  Thank you!

--

Want more opinions on The Clue in the Trees?  Follow along on the book's blog tour by clicking on the banner below:

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About the Author:
  
Margi Preus is a New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor book, Heart of a Samurai, the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and Shadow on the Mountain, a Notable Book for a Global Society. New in 2015 is Enchantment Lake, a northwoods mystery, and The Bamboo Sword, which Bookpage says is “historical fiction at its best.”

“Margi Preus has a remarkable ability to create fascinating, page-turning stories that transport readers to faraway times and places. Whether she’s evoking Norway during World War II or 19th century Japan, Preus combines impeccable research with strong characterization and plot—the very elements that draw readers into history and spark the curiosity to learn more.”  Bookpage, Sept. 2015

Links:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Enchantment Lake a Fast, Fun (Though Frustrating) First Mystery

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Just because Francesca "Francie" Frye once played a detective on t.v. doesn't mean she knows anything about sleuthing.  Still, when the 17-year-old actress receives a frantic call from her aunt—who insists someone is trying to kill her and her sister—Francie doesn't hesitate to hop on a plane bound for northern Minnesota.  It's only en route that she starts to have some reservations about her hasty trip.  After all, everyone knows Francie's spinster aunts are a little ... eccentric.  As strange as they may be, the pair are old and living alone in an isolated cabin on an island that is accessible only by boat.  Francie has little choice.  She has to check on the elderly women.

Soon, Francie finds herself in Walpurgis, the tiny northwoods town where she spent many of her childhood summers.  While her aunties seem safe enough, they—like many of the older lakeside residents—are in an uproar over proposed development of their island paradise.  Land owners are being persuaded to sell heirloom cabins.  Those who hesitate, well, they seem to up and die in mysterious "accidents."  Francie's aunts are convinced something sinister is going on.  Are the old ladies just being paranoid?  Considering the creepy noises Francie hears in the woods at night, a weird confession from a could-be killer, and a poisoned hotdish that sends someone to their grave, Francie tends to agree with her aunts.  Something weird is happening at Enchantment Lake.  A certain northwoods Nancy Drew is determined to get to the bottom of it, which is, not incidentally, exactly where all the answers to the mystery may lie.

Enchantment Lake, the first book in Margi Preus' Northwoods Mystery series, offers a fast, fun read with a few twists to keep readers guessing.  Although the story features some colorful characters, it's the setting that really steals the show in this book.  Preus brings the lake and its surrounding community to life with vivid description and an obvious affection for the land.  Francie is much less convincing.  She doesn't talk or act like a teen.  Adults treat her as an equal, somehow believing that she's an NYPD detective, despite the fact that she's only seventeen.  Which begs the question, why would a teenager be playing a police officer on t.v. anyway?  These leaps in logic made it difficult for me to really believe in this story.  Overall, though, Enchantment Lake is not a bad read.  It's atmospheric, exciting, and stocked with enough red herrings to keep the killer's identity pretty well under wrap.  I didn't end up loving this book, but I didn't hate it either.  So that's something.

(Readalikes:  The Clue in the Trees by Margi Preus; also reminded me a little of the Jess Tennant series [How to Fall; Bet Your Life; Hide and Seek] by Jane Casey)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Enchantment Lake from the generous folks at University of Minnesota Press via those at Fantastic Flying Book Club.  Thank you!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Second YA Blackbeard Adventure a Wild, Nail-Biter of a Boat Ride

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for Blacksouls, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessor, Blackhearts.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/p/lds-authors.htmlAlthough it tells the imagined origin story of one of the most famous pirates of all time, Nicole Castroman's Blackhearts trilogy actually begins with very little swashbuckling.  For those of you who found the first installment a little lacking in yo-ho-ho, don't despair!  Blacksouls, the second book, will cheer your inner Jack Sparrow right up.  Packed with high-seas action, it will keep you riveted in a way that maybe Blackhearts didn't.  I found the first novel engrossing, but Blacksouls definitely edges out its predecessor in terms of tension, adventure, and excitement.  
When Blacksouls begins, both Edward "Teach" Drummond and Anne Barrett are making their way across the sea to Nassau, where they hope to reunite.  While a romance between the son of a wealthy British merchant and the bi-racial daughter of a black slave has little chance of thriving in rigid English society, perhaps it might flourish in the Bahamas.  But first, the couple has to find each other.  

Teach is happy to be first mate of the Deliverance until a disagreement with the captain causes him to question whether his superior really has the crew's best interest in mind.  There's only one way to keep himself and his mates safe from attacking Spanish ships—mutiny.  Teach doesn't want to risk his neck only to find himself hanging by it back in England, but there's no other solution.  Will he survive long enough to reach his love in Nassau?  

Although Anne has arrived in Nassau mostly unscathed, it quickly becomes apparent that safety is a relative term.  On an island already teeming with discord and danger, stirring up trouble is a very, very bad idea.  Especially when the man in charge might be the most treacherous of them all.  All Anne wants is a long, peaceful reunion with Teach, a dream which grows more unlikely every day ...
Chock-full of tense action, Blacksouls is engaging from the get-go.  The intensity never lets up, guaranteeing a wild, nail-biter of a boat ride.  The novel is a page turner that demands to be read in one sitting—you won't be able to put it down anyway.  It's not a super original pirate story, but who cares?  Blacksouls is fun, exciting, and peopled with lovable characters brimming with bravery, loyalty, and determination.  I, for one, have thoroughly enjoyed this series.  I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how Castroman wraps up the story in the final installment.

(Readalikes: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Blacksouls from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Middle Grade Ghost Story More Cute Than Creepy

(Image from Barnes & Noble

http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/p/lds-authors.htmlThere's only one thing 12-year-old Tiffany Hart wants—to be president of her 7th grade class.  She's well on her way to achieving that goal when the unthinkable happens.  After almost dying in an abandoned slaughterhouse, she develops the ability to see ghosts.  This unexpected "gift" is so not what she needs right now.  If her classmates find out what a complete freak she is, there's no way they will elect her president.  Cue a shattered heart and crushed dreams.  Tiffany is not going to let that happen to herself.  No way, no how.

With no one she can really talk to about her sudden supernatural ability, Tiffany is forced to rely on the person with whom she least wants to associate.  Justin Henderson has been claiming to see spirits since he was nine, meaning he's been a total outcast for three long years.  With her dream of being class president on the line, Tiffany can't afford to be seen with Justin, but who else can understand what she's going through?  No one.

Against all odds, the unlikely pair teams up to solve a puzzling, ghoulish mystery.  With plenty of lives—and afterlives—on the line, they must work together to banish the evil presence that haunts their small town.  Can they defeat a powerful, vengeful spirit?  Can they save themselves and their home?  More importantly, will Tiffany ever fulfill her dream of becoming class president?  

whitneyawards.comGhostsitter by Shelly Brown is a fun middle grade read perfect for Halloween consumption.  With plenty of action to keep kids turning pages, it's an exciting story that's more cute than creepy.  The characters are likable, the plot's exciting, and the overall vibe is hopeful and upbeat.  Poor copy editing definitely marred my enjoyment of the book, as did out-of-date cultural references (What 12-year-old knows who Betty White is?).  Kids might be put off by that as well as the juvenile book jacket.  Overall, though, this is an entertaining, easy read that will definitely appeal to ghost-loving middle graders.  Despite the irritants I mentioned, I'd still recommend Ghostsitter to interested readers.

(Readalikes:  Apparently I don't read a lot of middle grade ghost stories because nothing is coming to mind.  Suggestions?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for scary images

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished e-copy of Ghostsitter for contest judging purposes from the generous folks at Future House Publishing via those on the Whitney Awards Committee.  Thank you!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Imagine That!: The Story Behind The Cat in the Hat

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Everyone's heard of The Cat in the Hat, but have you ever wondered about the book's history?  The beloved tale turned 60 this year—what better time could there be to learn more about this enduring children's classic?  It's a great time to ask questions like:  How did Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) come up with the idea for the story?  Why does the book contain only 236 words, all of which are perfectly ordinary, not made-up ones like oobleck and yerka and wumbus?  And why did Dr. Seuss write about a cat when he liked dogs better?  

Wonder no more.

Imagine That!, a new picture book by Judy Sierra (illustrated by Kevin Hawkes), answers all those questions and more.  In spirited, engaging prose Sierra explains why and how Geisel wrote The Cat in the Hat.  She throws in lots of interesting tidbits about the author's writing process, all of which highlight how fun, creative, and clever he was.  With bright, Seuss-ish pictures to enhance the text, Imagine That! is a playful, easy-to-read, story-behind-the-story tale.  Adults and children alike will enjoy learning more about The Cat in the Hat through this delightful book.

P.S. If you want to learn even more about Dr. Seuss, be sure to visit Judy Sierra's blog, where she's been posting all the fascinating Theodore Geisel facts she couldn't fit into Imagine That! 

(Readalikes:  The Cat in the Hat and other books by Dr. Seuss)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Imagine That! from the generous folks at Random House Children's Books.  Thank you!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Highlands Romance a Swift, Swoony Read (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble

During the ten years he spent in foreign lands fighting for the Crown, Color Sergeant Conall Stewart dreamed of one thing: home.  Now that he's back in Scotland, he's devastated by what he sees.  While the Highlands are as beautiful as he remembers, his childhood house has been burned to the ground, his ancestral lands charred by the greed of his own countrymen.  With his family run off their land, maybe even killed, Conall has no idea what to do now. 

http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/p/lds-authors.htmlWhile he sends out inquiries, hoping to discover his family's fate, Conall rents a farm in a nearby town.  His home is one of the nicest in the village, naturally attractive to thieves.  When Conall discovers one such trespasser, he hauls the young boy home to his mother, sure the wee burglar will receive a sufficient scolding.  The soldier is shocked by Aileen Leslie's indignant response to his accusations.  Taken aback by the woman's negligent parenting and unwillingness to face the reality of Jaime's obvious criminal behavior, Conall washes his hands of the family altogether.

It's not long, though, before Conall finds himself coming to the aid of the widow and her son.  Before he knows it, he's developed a fondness for the boy.  His feelings for Jaime's mother have grown, well, far beyond fondness.  Before the relationship has a chance to go anywhere, though, Aileen's past comes calling.  With everything he cares about on the line, Conall must decide how far he's willing to go to save the people he loves.  

I've never been a big fan of romance novels, but I do enjoy a sweet Regency love story every so often.  Author Jennifer Moore is one of my go-to authors in this genre.  Having read most of her books, I know I can count on Moore to deliver an exciting, engaging tale featuring a brave, likable heroine; a courageous, dashing hero; a rich, exotic setting; and a positive, uplifting tone.  Moore's newest novel, Miss Leslie's Secret, is no exception.  It offers everything I love in a Regency romance—and more.  Although I've enjoyed all the books I've read by Moore, I think this one is my favorite.  I adored the setting, the characters, and the sweet romance between Conall and Aileen.  If you are in the mood for a swift, swoony read set in the always enchanting Scottish Highlands, I definitely recommend Miss Leslie's Secret.


Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and some disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Miss Leslie's Secret from the generous folks at Covenant.  Thank you!

-- 

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