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The Lady and the Highwayman- A Goodreads Review

The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a Victorian England, Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school that is ever in need of funding. Already a successful author of silver-fork or literary novels, she turns her hand to penny dreadful novels, assuming the nom de plume of Mr. King. Readers clamber after her novels. Fletcher Walker, a former street urchin, and now, a popular penny dreadful novelist, secretly supports a school for the poorest children while he actively rescues other London street kids. He hopes the newly successful Mr. King will join his secret society of authors working toward social justice; however, he can’t find the man. Instead, he continues to encounter Elizabeth. Together they free a beaten chimney sweep, a couple of girls sold to a brothel, and end up fighting fires, bullyboys, and a sinister crime syndicate.

As the couple faces danger, their romance slowly kindles with witty banter, and genuine respect. Their relationship and their care for others amid the fast pace of events makes this story fun to read. Elizabeth and Fletcher’s penny dreadful tales are sprinkled into the larger tale of their romance. They were interesting yet brief enough not to distract from the main story.

I liked watching Elizabeth and Fletcher’s growing romance even as they willingly hurled themselves into danger for the sake of others. The novel ends with a heartwarming reveal, that for me, added another star to my review.

If you’re looking for a feel-good Victorian romance, The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden fits the bill.

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The Darkling Bride-A Goodreads Review

This atmospheric wonderfully gothic tale is really three stories, three separate timelines of fate-twisted love. In the first, a dreamy, well-published author marries a beautiful bipolar, possibly mad woman, who apparently leaps from the Bride tower, a few months after having a child. The author departs never to write again. In the second a charming but flighty American heiress supposedly murders her adoring husband before taking a fatal plunge off the Bride Tower.

In the third tale, the current Viscount Gallagher, Aidan returns to say goodbye to ancestral home his parents were murdered in. His great aunt has hired Carragh Ryan, a bibliophile at lose-ends to catalog the library collection. Together, Carragh and Aidan find a birthday scavenger hunt the American heiress created for her husband. Despite ghostly apparitions, power failures, and a living killer stalking them, they fall in love while they seek to solve the castle’s past crimes.

My only complaint is that there might be a little too much going on in this novel, especially if, like me, the reader is listening to the tale, as each chapter or so features a different time stream. That said the story’s well told, and worth relistening to clarify characters and events.

The Darkling Bride’s got all the mystery, suspense, ancient folklore and sweet romance masters like Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney would have woven in, and the final villain confrontation wraps the three-story lines up nicely.

If you like gothic romances, this is one not to be missed.

Every Minute–A Goodreads Review

Every Minute (Music, Love and Other Miseries, #2)

Every Minute by C.J. Burright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Adara’s brother dies, her world collapses. Barely living, she isolates herself. All she does is work. She struggles to be the awesome Elementary teacher she was before Joey died. Grief is rapidly killing her. Then Garrett, a very handsome, very charismatic, and all-grown-up violin protégé returns to his hometown. He’s rich and successful—at the top of his game, but he’s lonely and looking for purpose. To spread his love of music, he volunteers to run a music enrichment course at the local school where Adara teaches, and, of course, he gets paired with her. He sees the vital, incredible woman inside her grief-stricken shell, and he’s determined to set her free.

He invites her to live again, asking her out, engaging her in conversation, and even trying to keep pace with her when she jogs around the neighborhood. She won’t have it. They may have to team teach music together, but that’s it. She doesn’t want to live—let alone get involved with anyone, yet his gentle kindness intrigues her. Sparks and witty banter fly… and, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to stop turning pages to find out what will happen next.

Garrett and Adara are interesting likable characters I couldn’t help rooting for. I wanted to see Adara’s healing and just like Adara, I fell for Garrett.

I highly recommend this story for readers that enjoy fun and heartfelt contemporary romances.

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The Safest Lies–A Goodreads Review

The Safest LiesThe Safest Lies by Megan Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Safest Lies
Although Kelsey goes to high school and has a part-time job, she knows her life is the farthest thing from normal. She lives in a gated fortress that her mom hasn’t left since Kelsey’s birth. Apparently, Kelsey’s mom is afraid the bad people who kidnapped her so many years ago are still searching for her, so she trains Kelsey in survival techniques including bomb-making. Kelsey’s mom has only one friend, her therapist, who studies Kelsey and her mom to gain data on whether fear can be inherited.

My favorite part of this book is the beginning when, after swerving off the road to avoid another vehicle, Kelsey and her car are dangling over a cliff. Ryan, the guy from her trigonometry class, tries to calm her from the backseat. This worries her because he wasn’t in the car earlier. He explains. He’s a volunteer firefighter and he repelled into her car to save her from plummeting to her death. This also worries her because he’s likely flunking math and her rescue would be a practical application of the very subject he struggles to comprehend. I’m not going to tell you what happens but this whole scene sets the bad guys on Kelsey’s trail. Soon they attack the fortress, and Kelsey’s mom disappears, leaving Kelsey and Ryan to fight off or evade the villains while piecing together what happened to Kelsey’s mom.

I loved All the Missing Girls and this tale is similar in that the characters must unravel the what happened in the past to save themselves and those they love in the present. Lots of danger and action occur as the characters put clues together.

My least favorite part of this story was the end as parts of the wrap up disappointed me. Still, I enjoyed the action and intrigue at the heart of the story and would recommend The Safest Lies to readers, who like carefully planned mysteries and page-turning suspense.

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Paris By the Book-A Goodreads Review

Paris by the Book

Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like Schrödinger’s cat, Leah Eady’s husband, Robert may or may not be dead. On the surface he’s a supportive husband and all-around awesome dad, but underneath he’s a tormented writer certain a great novel is in him if only he can manage to yank it free. Apparently, he can’t write around his family, so he often goes on short, break-away trips. He usually leaves notes, and returns after a few days; however, he never comes home from his last excursion.

Leah contacts the police, but no leads come up. Robert isn’t not calling, texting or even using his credit cards. The one clue Leah has is an unfinished manuscript about a family moving to Paris to hopes of being reunited with a lost loved one. She remembers sweet dates where Robert took her to Paris, Wisconsin, her husband’s fascination with Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and the fact that he insisted his daughters attend a French-speaking school to conclude if she’s ever going to see Robert again, it will be in Paris.

Leah and her daughters, Ellie and Daphne, travel to Paris and end up staying. Leah buys into a failing English-language bookshop, which she and her daughters manage. They meet all kinds of colorful characters and we, readers, learn loads about the city of Paris, while the family searches for Robert and succeed in making a new life for themselves.

I love Leah, Ellie and Daphne and their quirky, new friends. They mix grief with adventure as they navigate their new ex-patriot lives and prove they can remain a family without Robert. Still, as readers, we aren’t sure about Robert’s being alive or dead until Leah comes to terms with his disappearance in a wonderfully satisfying scene where she throws a book-chucking tantrum. I won’t spoil the mystery by elaborating further.

Some readers might find the plot far-fetched, but I willingly bought into Liam Callanan’s well-spun yarn. If you like whimsical adventures as well as wacky yet heartfelt characters, or if you just want to learn lots about the city of Paris, this is a story for you.

4.5 Stars!

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The Eaton-A Goodreads Review

Wow, what could be better than an old-fashioned Monster-in-the-House story? I bought this when it was a daily deal on Audible and once I started listening, I couldn’t stop.

Sam Spicer, his soon-to-be fiancée and a group of interesting friends are partying in his newly purchased railroad depot. He wants to make it into a bar. Anyway, they find a secret staircase that leads to an elevator that leads to an amazing underground hotel. Once they take the elevator down, they’re trapped, and, of course, they aren’t alone. The former guests’ corpses and whatever killed them is there, too.

I loved the all research into the turn-of-the-century technology as well as the reason for all the death–the thing stalking Sam and company. It was unique. I don’t want to give details because that might spoil future readers’ fun.

Also, another high point for me was the narrator.  He made all the characters come to life.

I’m going to look for other stories by John K. Addis.