Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Blog Tour: Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews

Pages: 376
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/Romance
Pub. Date: November 10, 2020
Publisher: Perfectly Proper
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "She couldn’t forget…Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nicholas is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nicholas escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nicholas never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.  He wouldn’t forgive…  After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful—and entirely convinced he’s someone else.   As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain the other? Or with a little luck—and a lot of daring—will he find a way to have them both?"
Growing up, Maggie Honeywell wasn't your typical female member of British high society.  She loved to ride, hunt, and spend time with her best friend and first love, Nicholas. That all changed when Nicholas, the stable boy, left when wrongly accused of theft and was never seen again. It was hard for Maggie to overcome this great loss and then her father died leaving her penniless and under the control of Frederick, who not only now controls Maggie, but her father's will and Beasley Park where she grew up.  Now Maggie is twenty six, which for 1817, means she is a spinster.  She realizes that in order to keep Beasley Park, she must marry the odious Fred as he isn't giving her much choice. World on the street is that Fred got into a little trouble last night.  He challenged Viscount St. Clare, who is known to have a great shot, over a card game snafu.  What will happen to Maggie's estate if Frederick dies? Who will inherit Beasley Park? After trying to talk Fred out of a duel and him not agreeing, she is determined to speak to Viscount St. Clare, who is new to London after being abroad for many years.  She knows this isn't exactly proper, but her inheritance is at stake.  After meeting with St. Clare, Maggie's life changes forever and readers are taken on an exciting tale of revenge and romance in Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews.

My heart went out to Maggie after all she's been through in Gentleman Jim.  I hated that she was controlled by Fred and couldn't just inherit her father's estate outright.  I was feeling frustration for her, especially when dealing with Fred as he is a major pain.  The truth is, Maggie never really got over her love for Nicholas and she would have ran away with him, but he was a stable boy and she was being groomed for high society.  She ended up receiving many marriage offers, but denied them all. She always held out hope that Nicholas would return for her, but tragically he never did.

St. Clare is also an equally interesting character in Gentleman Jim. He seems like the dreamy newcomer to town whose mysterious background leaves a few questions up in the air, but he is so much more than that. I thoroughly enjoyed the witty banter and moments between Maggie and St. Clare.  I don't want to give too much away, but it was all very well done and he is a swoon-worthy hero for sure.

I really enjoyed every aspect of Gentleman Jim; it was just the kind of Regency romance that I needed.  Matthews says at the end of the novel that The Count of Monte Cristo inspired this story and I wholeheartedly agree; I adored some of the similarities. There's highway men, inheritance issues, romance, a mysterious identity, revenge, fancy balls, stolen kisses, duels, and of course, the controlling Fred constantly trying to throw a wrench in Maggie's plans. If you love a good Regency tale and are a Janeite, you won't want to miss Gentleman Jim; it would be the perfect book to curl up with this holiday season.

So, are you a fan of the Regency time period or are you a Janeite? Is Gentleman Jim book on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

What I'm Reading Next (40)

This month I want to read all the light and feel good books. I never am able to read a lot of books during the craziness of the holiday season, but this year I think it will be different thanks to COVID. I hope to take more time to read and relax.  Here are the newly published books I hope to read:

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren



The War Widow by Tara Moss

And some of the other books that have been sitting on my shelf:


Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

Beautiful Wild by Anna Godbersen



500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan

Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand


What do you hope to read this holiday season?  Let me know in the comments below.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Book Review: Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

Pages: 464
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: November 24, 2020
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Tidelands, The White Queen,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse's poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.  The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.  Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter  Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home."
The last thing readers remember about Alinor is the fact that she is leaving her home for good.  She was tried as a witch and after a near death experience, her and her family make their way to London.  Readers meet the Reekie family again in the bustling city of London, but twenty some years later.  Not much has changed except for the fact that they run a warehouse that helps them pay the bills. They still struggle a bit, but are able to keep a modest roof over their heads.  Since twenty years have gone by, Alys is now a mature woman and Sarah and Johnnie are adults working to bring home money for the family. There are two unexpected visitors. First in walks James Avery back into their lives with the hope for redemption and then walks Livia; she is claiming to be Rob's widow and says that she is lost without him as he has drowned in Venice. Alinor knows her son and she finds it very odd that Rob, a physician and someone who grew up by the water, could have possibly drowned.  However, Livia swears it, is clearly distraught, and brings Rob's son with her.  Alys falls immediately for Livia's charms and the family now has to provide for yet another person.  Livia has big plans for the family and hopes to get them out of what she declares is squalor by selling off her dowry from her first husband who is a renowned art collector.  There are also many chapters dedicated to Alinor's brother, Ned, who now lives in the New World and his section includes many of his adventures there with Native Americans.  Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory is a somewhat satisfying addition to the Farmile series. While I didn't enjoy it as much as Tidelands, I am still very much invested in the world and the characters that Gregory created.

In Tidelands, Alinor plays a major role in the story, but in Dark Tides she is more of a secondary character.  She still hasn't recovered from her near drowning and her health struggles.  What remains strong is her psychic ability; she doesn't fully believe that Rob has died. In addition, she doesn't trust Livia, much to Alys's dismay.  
Alys plays a major role in Dark Tides. She completely falls into Livia's web as she is longing for companionship and another adult to help bear the burden of everyday life.  However, she is completely blind to Livia's motives and allows herself to be treated in a very unhealthy manner. Alys seriously frustrated me to no end in Dark Tides.  On the other hand, Sarah is a secondary character in Dark Tides that towards the end of the novel ends up playing a stronger role in the story. I truly enjoyed her section of the novel. I don't want to give too much away, but I was definitely drawn to her story more than the other characters.

Ned's sections in Dark Tides felt like an entirely different novel. I wasn't interested in the least bit regarding his adventures in the New World or his interactions with the Native Americans. I just felt like it didn't really add to the story or push the plot along. I am sure maybe in book three there will be more of a connection to this, but for now it just felt really disjointed.

Gregory does a great job of bringing London and Venice to life in Dark Tides. Gregory is masterful at what she does and creates such a vivid world. Even though I felt some parts of the story were slow, specifically Ned's, and some other parts were a bit repetitive, like Livia's blatantly obvious lies, I still really enjoyed Dark Tides and look forward to book three.  

So, are you a fan of Philippa Gregory's novels? Did you read Tidelands? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  


Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Pages: 288
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: September 29, 2020
Publisher: Viking
Source: Library
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?  In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place."




Nora Seed lives a sad existence. She is depressed and isolates herself from her friends and family.  She recently lost her job and to top it off, her cat died.  Nora feels she has no reason to go on and plans to commit suicide.  She writes her farewell letter and after taking one to many anti-depressants, she finds herself waking up in a library of sorts. Could this be the afterlife?  Each book in this library is a different version of her life and the library is run by her beloved elementary school librarian, Mrs. Elm, who tries to guide Nora while in this in between state.  Each book Nora selects means she gets to life that uncharted life; a life she never explored and a path she never took.  One life she works at a pub with her ex-boyfriend fulfilling his dream of owning his own pub in the country. What if they never broke up and she moved to the country with him? What would their life look like? In the next life she is a researcher in the Arctic living an adventurous life. These are all paths her life could have taken if she made different choices, but ultimately the question is which path will bring her happiness? Matt Haig's The Midnight Library seems like a a really dark book at first glance, but at its heart it is light and contemplative.  The Midnight Library  begs readers to question their own life choices.  

Nora is the type of character that breaks your heart. She has had a lot of bad luck and has been down for quite sometime. Instead of picking herself back up, she is giving up. It truly broke my heart. But once she gets to the library, things start to change for Nora. She starts to experience what her life could have been like if she only made a different decision or stuck with something just a little bit longer.  Due to Nora being presented with all these life paths, Haig essentially has his readers reflect on their own life choices as we go through Nora's journey. I am sure we can all relate to the big "what if" question.  What if you did that one thing differently or made another choice? How might your life look differently today?

Even though Haig touches on difficult topics such as suicide, The Midnight Library is still, somehow, a light read and doesn't make the readers too depressed, but rather contemplative.  Mrs. Elm shares with Nora her "Book of Regrets," which I thought was also powerful.  Even though Haig's world seems really difficult to process, it made sense to me and didn't require a degree in physics to understand or believe.

If you are looking for a book that makes you think about what is truly important in life, I urge you to check out The Midnight Library. It is easy to see why the book made so many "best of 2020" lists. 

Is The Midnight Library on your TBR list? Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021


Goodreads says, "At the end of the nineteenth century, three revolutionary women fight for freedom in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s captivating new novel inspired by real-life events and the true story of a legendary Cuban woman–Evangelina Cisneros–who changed the course of history.  A feud rages in Gilded Age New York City between newspaper tycoons William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. When Grace Harrington lands a job at Hearst’s newspaper in 1896, she’s caught in a cutthroat world where one scoop can make or break your career, but it’s a story emerging from Cuba that changes her life.  Unjustly imprisoned in a notorious Havana women’s jail, eighteen-year-old Evangelina Cisneros dreams of a Cuba free from Spanish oppression. When Hearst learns of her plight and splashes her image on the front page of his paper, proclaiming her, “The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba,” she becomes a rallying cry for American intervention in the battle for Cuban independence.  With the help of Marina Perez, a courier secretly working for the Cuban revolutionaries in Havana, Grace and Hearst’s staff attempt to free Evangelina. But when Cuban civilians are forced into reconcentration camps and the explosion of the USS Maine propels the United States and Spain toward war, the three women must risk everything in their fight for freedom."


Another thing to look forward to this summer--a new Chanel Cleeton novel coming out! Who is a fan of her novels? Let me know in the comments below.  


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