I love to read, and I own a book review site for Christian books. I’m going to be gradually adding some of the books I’ve been reviewing there, but we have a lot more books you can check out at Interviews & Reviews!
A Winter by the Sea
Author: Julie Klassen
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: On Devonshire Shores #2
Release Date: December 5, 2023
Publisher: Bethany House
Royalty comes to Sidmouth, bringing unexpected danger and the sweet possibility of romance. . . .
When the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their daughter–the future Queen Victoria–rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal family’s male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they’ve invited secrets and intrigue into their home.
Meanwhile, Emily Summers longs to become an author. A local publisher offers to consider her novel if she will first write a Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily agrees and begins researching the area with help from the Duke of Kent’s handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she’s long held dear and her budding dreams for the future.
Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges.
A Winter by the Sea by Julie Klassen is the second book in the On Devonshire Shores series. It is a wonderful fictional romance blended with actual historical events that kept me engaged from the first page to the last.
The beautiful cover transports the reader once again to the seaside village of Sidmouth, where the Summers family is preparing their home to receive three male members of the royal family’s staff. The Duke and Duchess of Kent and their baby (the future Queen Victoria) are staying nearby in Woolbrook Cottage for the winter. As the sisters, Sarah, Emily, and Georgiana, prepare their home to receive their guests, they soon begin to realize that hosting royal staff members comes with intrigue and lots of secrets.
As Emily pursues her writing career, she develops a relationship with the Duke of Kent’s private secretary. Unfortunately, as feelings begin to grow, someone from her past comes knocking on the door, hoping to re-establish their past acquaintance.
While the last book in this series, The Sisters of Seaview, introduced us to the Summer sisters, there was one sister, Claire, who was mentioned but not really explored. In this book, we learn a little more about what happened to Claire and why she was exiled to Scotland. I hope we get to meet Claire in a future book, as she definitely has a story to tell.
I really enjoyed this book and the close relationships these sisters had with one another. The author does a delightful job of exploring not just the main characters but the secondary ones as well. Each character adds something that makes this book hard to put down. And of course, let’s not forget the romance! That was very well done, and I was seriously wondering if Emily would forgive Charles Parker, who jilted her because of Claire or pursue her relationship with James Thomson (the Duke’s secretary). You’ll have to read it to find out!
If you love historical romances, you will enjoy A Winter by the Sea. It can be read as a standalone, although it would be better to read the first book in the series.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley for my honest review.
To Spark a Match
Author: Jen Turano
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Matchmakers #2
Release Date: November 14, 2023
Publisher: Bethany House
After five unsuccessful Seasons on the marriage mart, Miss Adelaide Duveen has resigned herself to the notion that she’s destined to remain a spinster forever–a rather dismal prospect, but one that will allow her to concentrate on her darling cats and books. However, when she inadvertently stumbles upon Mr. Gideon Abbott engaged in a clandestine activity during a dinner party, Adelaide finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue that resembles the plots in the spy novels she devours.
Former intelligence agent Gideon Abbott feels responsible for Adelaide after society threatens to banish her because of the distraction she caused to save his investigation. Hoping to return the favor, he turns to a good friend–and one of high society’s leaders–to take Adelaide in hand and turn her fashionable. When danger surrounds them and Adelaide finds herself a target of the criminals in Gideon’s case, the spark of love between them threatens to be quenched for good–along with their lives.
To Spark a Match by Jen Turano is another fun-filled adventure that will have you in stitches.
I was so happy to see Adelaide Duveen as the main character in this second book of The Matchmakers series. Her wallflower status and love of cats made her an unlikely match for anyone until she met Gideon Abbott. It is obvious to everyone but them that they are made for each other.
When Adelaide agreed to help Gideon with his investigation by providing a distraction at a party they were attending, neither of them expected how horrible that distraction would be. With all of society about to give Adelaide the “cut-direct,” Gideon feels compelled to help her, never realizing how much Adelaide prefers her cats and books to society. He has his work cut out for him.
I loved Adelaide’s spontaneity and quick wit. She was hilarious and perfect for Gideon. The unending stream of banter between the two, while at times hilarious, left me exhausted. I do prefer dialogue in a book, but it would have been nice to have a break from that now and again. However, the author was descriptive enough in setting a scene that I was able to picture what was going on.
If you have read the first book, you will probably, like me, think Adelaide is a frumpy cat-lady spinster type. So I was surprised to find out the real reason behind her looks, and I enjoyed seeing her transformation.
While this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone. If you enjoy historical rom-coms, you will love To Spark a Match. I highly recommend it!
I received a copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley for my honest opinion.
The Warsaw Sisters
Author: Amanda Barratt
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: November 7, 2023
A richly rendered portrait of courage, sacrifice, and resilience
On a golden August morning in 1939, sisters Antonina and Helena Dąbrowska send their father off to defend Poland against the looming threat of German invasion. The next day, the first bombs fall on Warsaw, decimating their beloved city and shattering the world of their youth.
When Antonina’s beloved Marek is forced behind ghetto walls, along with the rest of Warsaw’s Jewish population, Antonina knows she cannot stand by and soon becomes a key figure in a daring network of women risking their lives to shelter Jewish children. Meanwhile, Helena finds herself drawn into the ranks of Poland’s secret army, joining the fight to free her homeland from occupation.
But the secrets both are forced to keep threaten to tear them apart–and the cost of resistance may prove greater than either ever imagined.
Amanda Barratt delivers another engrossing WWII story that does not hold back on the horrors of war.
In this riveting, intense, and emotionally driven story, we meet two sisters, Antonina and Helena Dąbrowska, who have just sent their father off to defend Poland against Hitler’s forces. The next day, Warsaw is bombed, and the two women are thrust into a fight for not only their lives but also the lives of their neighbours, their faith, and their values.
The author’s exquisite writing provides spellbinding and sensory overload to readers that will leave them breathless. In fact, this novel is not for the faint of heart. If not for the subject matter, this book would have been removed from our database due to the violence. But Barratt has taken an engrossing story—two sisters with secrets that tear them apart—and dropped them into the most brutal world war in history. I am still reeling! I feel like I have just watched a movie, and like most good movies, it won’t let me go.
The brutality inflicted on the Jewish people, the senselessness of war, and the desperation that it leads to are all depicted in a way that is both realistic and necessary. While God is rarely mentioned, when He is, it is with honesty from the characters, given the situation they found themselves in.
Hope is the underlying theme in this book. Hope for a better tomorrow, for peace, for love, and for two sisters who do the right thing in the face of inexplicable evil.
I love to be entertained and enlightened while I’m reading. Barratt’s research into the Warsaw Ghetto, the uprising there, and what Poland went through during the war gave this reader much to think about. I highly recommend it.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through NetGalley for my honest opinion.