The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Lawrence Browne Affair: by Cat Sebastian
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Pages: 352 • Format: eARC
Published By: Avon Impulse
Purchase Links:
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An earl hiding from his future . . .

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.

A swindler haunted by his past . . .

Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?

Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.

four-half-stars

Alright now, Cat this is 2 for 2 for me with your stories. I enjoyed the Soldier’s Scoundrel, but I really really liked this book. Georgie and Lawrence were hot like fire. The chemistry and adoration between these two were astounding. This book is in the same world as book one, but can be read as a standalone. Georgie is a con man but with a conscience. Lawrence is the mad Lord of the town who is scientific genius. They push each other buttons continuously, and I can feel the connection on page.

I really liked what the author did by having them be completely different towards each other, but have some of the same similarities of comfort with one another. Georgie needs to lay low for a while so he escapes to another town and poses as a secretary. Its not so far fetched since he knows how to do honest work, he just prefers conning. He is employed with Lord Radnor, and its frustrating, he’s infuriating, ungrateful, and downright mean at times. Well a little discomfort doesn’t hurt Georgie, in fact he is the ideal person to deal with the madman of the village. Georgie is falling and fighting his feelings on the same accord when it comes to Lawrence. He isn’t a bad guy per say, he is just prone to loud outbursts, and bouts of craziness according to Lawrence and the men in his family. The only way to be safe is to isolate himself from people, and his last living relatives. He stays coupe up in his family’s’ estate that he let go to hell. He things that if he stays away from people then they won’t have to deal with him. He lives on ham sandwiches, and apples from the only two servants that he allows to stay on at the house.

I am not usually one for slow burns, but this was much needed. The slow burn added on top of all the copious amounts of attraction that Lawrence and Georgie had for one another. Another kudos to the author for keeping the authenicty and dialogue up to reflect the period of time.

I found myself laughing at times, and tearing up at other. I thought the author did another great job with these characters. I think I enjoyed this one better then the first. The chemistry between the two was real. I liked the pacing, plot, and overall feeling that this story had. I do love regency romances, and Cat Sebastian can add herself to my auto-buy list as of now. I can’t wait for the third book in this series. I did love him in this book. Highly recommend this series!

About Cat Sebastian

Cat writes steamy, upbeat historical romances. They usually take place in the Regency, generally have at least one LGBTQ+ main character, and always have happy endings.

Before writing, Cat was a lawyer and a teacher. She enjoys crossword puzzles, geeking out over birds, gardening badly, and–of course–reading. In high school, her parents went away for a week, and instead of throwing raucous parties, Cat read Middlemarch. Even worse, Cat remembers little of a trip through Europe because she was busy reading Mansfield Park. Her proudest moment was when she realized her kids were shaping up to be hopeless bookworms too. Currently, her favorite genres are romance, mystery and fantasy.

Cat lives with her husband, three kids, and dog in an improbably small house. After growing up in the northeast, she now lives in a part of the south where every body of water seems to contain alligators or sharks, and every restaurant serves biscuits and gravy. She likes the biscuits, but not so much the alligators.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives? 
THE LAWRENCE BROWNE AFFAIR
Cat Sebastian
Releasing Feb 7th, 2017
Avon Impulse
 

 

An earl hiding from his
future . . . 
 Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man
arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
A swindler haunted by his past . . .
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives? Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember. 

Excerpt

Cornwall, 1816

CHAPTER ONE

All this fuss about a couple of small explosions. As far as Lawrence cared, the explosions were entirely beside the point. He had finished experimenting with fuses weeks ago. More importantly, this was his house to burn to the ground if that’s what he wanted to do with it. Hell, if he blew the godforsaken place up, and himself right along with it, the only person who would even be surprised was the man sitting before him.

“Five servants quit,” Halliday said, tapping Lawrence’s desk in emphasis. Dust puffed up in tiny clouds around the vicar’s fingertips. “Five. And you were woefully understaffed even before then.”

Five fewer servants? So that was why the house had been so pleasantly quiet, why his work had been so blissfully undisturbed.

“There was no danger to the servants. You know I keep them away from my work.” That was something Lawrence insisted on even when he wasn’t exploding things. The very idea of chattering maids underfoot was enough to discompose his mind even further. “And I conducted most of the actual explosions out of doors.” Now was probably not the time to mention that he had blown the roof off the conservatory.

“All I’m suggesting is a sort of secretary.” Halliday was dangerously unaware of how close he was to witnessing an explosion of the metaphorical variety. “Somebody to keep records of what you’ve mixed together and whether it’s likely to”—he puffed his cheeks out and made a strange noise and an expansive gesture that Lawrence took to represent explosion—“ignite.”

The Reverend Arthur Halliday did not know what was good for him. If he did, he would have fled the room as soon as he saw Lawrence reach for the inkwell. Lawrence’s fingers closed around the object, preparing to hurl it at the wall behind the vicar’s head. Sod the man for even suggesting Lawrence didn’t know how to cause an explosion. He hadn’t invented Browne’s Improved Black Powder or even that bloody safety fuse through blind luck, for God’s sake.

“Besides,” Halliday went on, “you said you need an extra set of hands for this new device you’re working on.”

Oh, damn and blast. Lawrence knew he shouldn’t have told the vicar. But he had hoped Halliday might volunteer to help with the device himself, not badger Lawrence into hiring some stranger. The vicar was convenient enough, and when he wasn’t dead set on sticking his nose where it didn’t belong, he wasn’t entirely unpleasant company.

“I’ve had secretaries,” Lawrence said from between gritted teeth. “It ends badly.”

“Well, obviously, but that’s because you go out of your way to terrify them.” Halliday glanced pointedly at the inkwell Lawrence still held.

And there again was Halliday missing the point entirely. Lawrence didn’t need to go out of his way to frighten anyone. All he had to do was simply exist. Everyone with any sense kept a safe distance from the Mad Earl of Radnor, as surely as they stayed away from rabid dogs and coiled asps. And explosive devices, for that matter.

Except for the vicar, who came to Penkellis Castle three times a week. He likely also called on bedridden old ladies and visited the workhouse. Maybe his other charity cases were grateful, but the notion that he was the vicar’s good deed made Lawrence’s fingers curl grimly around the inkwell as he plotted its trajectory through the air.

“I’ll take care of the details,” Halliday was saying. “I’ll write the advertisement and handle the inquiries. A good secretary might even be able to manage the household a bit,” the vicar said with the air of a man warming to his topic, “get it into a fit condition for the child—”

“No.” Lawrence didn’t raise his voice, but he slammed his fist onto the desk, causing ink to splatter all over the blotter and the cuff of his already-inky shirt. A stack of papers slid from the desk onto the floor, leaving a single dustless patch of wood where they had been piled. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a spider scurry out from under the papers.

“True,” Halliday continued, undaunted. “A housekeeper would be more appropriate, but—”

“No.” Lawrence felt the already fraying edges of his composure unraveling fast. “Simon is not coming here.”

“You can’t keep him off forever, you know, now that he’s back in England. It’s his home, and he’ll own it one day.”

When Lawrence was safely dead and buried, Simon was welcome to come here and do what he pleased. “I don’t want him here.” Penkellis was no place for a child, madmen were not fit guardians, and nobody knew those facts better than Lawrence himself, who had been raised under precisely those conditions.

Halliday sighed. “Even so, Radnor, you have to do something about this.” He gestured around the room, which Lawrence thought looked much the same as ever. One hardly even noticed the scorch marks unless one knew where to look. “It can’t be safe to live in such a way.”

Safety was not a priority, but even Lawrence wasn’t mad enough to try to explain that to the vicar.

“Villagers won’t even walk past the garden wall anymore. And the stories they invent…” The vicar wrung his hands. “A secretary. Please. It would ease my mind to know you had someone up here with you.”

A keeper, then. Even worse.

But Lawrence did need another set of hands to work on the communication device. If Halliday wouldn’t help, then Lawrence had no other options. God knew Halliday had been right about the local people not wanting anything to do with him.

“Fine,” he conceded. “You write the advertisement and tell me when to expect the man.” He’d say what he needed to in order to end this tiresome conversation and send the vicar on his way.

It wasn’t as if this secretary would last more than a week or two anyway. Lawrence would see to that.

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Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.

The Black Sheep & the Rotten Apple by K.A. Merikan

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple: by K.A. Merikan
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Pages: 471 • Format: eARC
Published By: Acerbi & Villani ltd
Purchase Links: Amazon

“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”

Cornwall, 1785

Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.

Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.

No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.

When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.

Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.

But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.

four-stars

 

 

Whoa. This book was super freaking long. I mean it seemed like it was never going to end. It was a good story, but I think it could have been cut my at least 50 to 60 pages at least for me. In the middle of the story I feel like I stalled out a bit. It definitely changed the pacing of the story, and I got kinda bored an felt like the skimming bug was going to hit me. It didn’t, and I’m glad for that sake, but yeah that’s a warning to some folks that it does get slower in the middle of the story.

Now where to start? For a first time historical fiction from these two, I think they did very well. I really liked the authentic feeling to the time of the story. I really like when authors do their research and bring authenticity into the story. You can tell they did their research by the tone of the story, the elements, and the way the characters talk as well. This duo did a fantastic job on these two.

Sir Even Penhart and Julian Reece were good characters. Each bringing a difference of background into the story. Evan is the last surviving heir to his family’s home. While it is ruin, it’s something in his soul that won’t let him depart from it, out of a sense of duty more then loving memories I’d say. He has no money left due to his brother’s wastrel ways, and the only that he knows how to make some is by becoming a highwayman, a modern day robber. On one unforgettable night he approaches Julian’s carriage looking to make away with their money & trinkets. Julian is looking for a way out of an arranged marriage. He’s young, likes to drink & gamble, and fantasized about becoming a published author. His father is tired of supporting the young lad, so he waits until he’s incapacitated himself enough and ships him out, along with his older brother to his suspected bride. Long before Julian can understand the circumstances, a robber in all black and a pistol happens upon them.

The chemistry between the two were just right from the beginning. Both skeptical of one another, and not knowing where to go from there. They do come up with a plan to ransom Julian by hoping his father cares from him enough to send money. They both learn things from each other. They are different in a lot of ways. We see Julian loves words, poetry, writing, his wine, and he’s a easy going guy. Evan is more reserved, believes himself to live a life of destitute. Sparks fly in the most inopportune time it seems. While they seem to have a different of a opinion on the matter of the physical attraction, it’s not something you can deny. This duo does have a way with pulling on your heartstrings. There was plenty of times where I found myself really connecting with these guys. I like how expressive Julian was. I liked how he thought out so many things, and thought about his emotions as well. Evan is so used to not winning in life, that small things brighten his day. It’s been a long time since he was able to feel something for someone, so he was willing to go above and beyond for Julian.

I will say the plot got to be a long winded journey for me. I get we needed it, but because the book was so long when the plot settled into something at the end it left me frustrated. I had doubts on the end for these two. I hated Pascoe with a passion, but someone needed to be a villain.

All in all I think this was a good, solid historical romance. It felt authentic for the time period. I loved the development of the relationship. That didn’t feel rushed at all, and I appreciated the authors letting the characters find themselves together in their own way. A definite recommend from me.

About K.A. Merikan

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher Datta

Audiobook Review: Touched with Fire (The Fire Trilogy #1) by Christopher DattaSeries:
Narrator: Hugh Harper
Source: Novel Publicity

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Touched with Fire by Christopher Datta
Series: The Fire Trilogy, #1
Release Date: December 07, 2016
Pages: • Format: 11 hrs and 12 mins (Audiobook)
Published By: Christopher Datta
Purchase Links:   Amazon USBarnes & NobleAudible

Ellen Craft is property; in this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father”: the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale – indeed, lily-white – skin. Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run north. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey – south again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband.

Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.

three-stars
I have mixed feelings about this audiobook. I am so glad the author took on the story of Ellie Craft and weaved an incredible story of heroism. But that is also part of the problem for me, parts of it were just that, unbelievable. The first part of this book was focused on Ellie as a young slave girl trying to navigate and come to terms with where she fit in with her family and community. The second part of the book was so heavy on war facts. I didn’t quite enjoy the second part as much because I couldn’t buy Ellie as union soldier hiding in plain sight so to speak. The narrator’s voice was okay but the singing parts grated my nerves.

I found the author’s writing to be basic and rough in the beginning, but in the second part of the story, the author found his groove. In addition, the characters in this story under developed and too one dimensional. even Ellie. The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). The slaves, Ellie’s sister, even Ellie’s actions were either black and white (pun aside). I found the transitions from scene to scene to be uneven. It just didn’t flow smoothly. It got better later in the book.

Ellen was born a “quadroon”, one quarter black and three quarters white. Ellie was born to a half white slave woman who was raped by her owner. The result was that Elle looked white, a fact that made clear her parentage. For most of her young life, Ellie felt angry that she wasn’t acknowledge by her father as his daughter, even though she knew she was a product of rape. Ellie was also angry at her half-sister for treating her like help, and not recognizing her as her sister and perhaps equal. It just doesn’t compute with what we know of slave paternity issues back then. If you were born of a slave, it doesn’t matter if you have white, you were still a slave and almost never acknowledged. The internal musings of why her father didn’t accept or acknowledge her as his own painted Elle as a child who saw herself as more than a slave. This also supports the other slaves claim that Ellie was uppity and thought she was better. Ellie never bothered to deny these assertions, thus incurred the scorn of the other slaves. So, for the first part of her life, Ellie didn’t see herself as a black slave.

When Ellie was barely a young adult, she had a violent encounter with the creepy Reverend. She began espousing views on her blackness that come out of nowhere to me. But this is part of the story I enjoyed most, When Ellie and William become a couple. There was love with this couple and I enjoyed seeing Ellie for the first time show genuine affection, need and concern for someone else. He made her appear vulnerable and more human so I liked this Ellie. Their attempt to seek freedom required Ellie to pass both as a white person and as a man, that’s when things went implausible for me. It’s one thing to for an illiterate slave to pass as a white person, but as a white slave owner and man travelling. There is more to pretending to be a man than wearing clothes. But Ellie pulled it off for six years as Eli where she was fighting, sleeping and leaving among other men. Either way, I couldn’t connect with Ellie as a young girl nor as this cantankerous union soldier. I really wanted to like her because I had empathy for her plight, but she just always came off as self-centered to me.

The ending of this story got predictable but it was satisfying. This subject matter is a sensitive one and I think the author gave the reader a hero to root for. I just would have liked a little more realism in emotion and actions by the characters. I haven’t read the actual account of Ellen Craft because I didn’t want it to color my opinion of this book. My opinions are based solely on my experience with this author’s narrative.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

on October 11th 2016
Narrator: Ari Fliakos, Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell
Small Great Things Book Cover Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult
Historical Fiction
Ballantine Books
October 11th, 2016
audiobook
480

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

I found this book very moving and very thought provoking. I applaud the author for tacking such a topic. Racism in a professional environment is something that many people deal with but often find very little allies when a major situation arises. I don’t want to rehash the blurb because it was clear on the book subject.

I couldn’t put this book down once I started because it was so real especially in this current racially charged environment. I just hope that readers don’t get caught up in the minutiae of the author’s race and really let the message penetrate.
What made the story so powerful was that each character had major flaws and had opportunities to make different choices. I found myself saying “Why did he do that? Why did she say that? What was the point of going over there?” and so on. The insidiousness of racism and the far-reaching consequences to all involved. I found this book painful at times but it is a very necessary read because the problems in the book are still present in society today. I both liked and disliked Ruth and her attorney throughout the book. I mostly despised Turk but I realize that his behavior had been instilled in him at such a young and impressionable age. I have little tolerance for racists so empathy towards Turk is something I didn’t have much of. White privilege is something that many people refuse to acknowledge and that was at the heart of this story.
I wish the twists weren’t so convoluted and dramatic. Even with those extreme leaps in the story, I highly recommend this book to all who are willing to examine their own hearts about race relations in our world today.

Ezi

Audiobook Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Narrator: Nick Podehl, Teri Schnaubelt
Say Goodbye for Now Book Cover Say Goodbye for Now
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Historical Fiction, Romance
Lake Union Publishing
December 13th, 2016
audibook; e-book
366

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

This story grazes upon on a number of sensitive subjects. There was the issue of a female doctor, Lucille “Lucy” Armstrong, whose husband left her as her professional standing exceeded his. In addition, her adolescent son resented her because of her work schedule. Adding insult to injury, Dr. Armstrong was lacking in respectable patients as many people in the rural area of Texas refused to be treated by a woman. Then author also deals with the issue of child abuse and abandonment as the reader was introduced to the life of twelve-year-old Pete Solomon. When Pete took pity on an injured wolf dog and got help from a ten-year-old black boy Justin Bell to carry the dog to Dr. Lucy, the author introduced animal abuse, racism and hate crimes into the story.

I enjoyed how the author weaved the story together although I felt she didn’t really delve deep into any of those issues. It was enough for the reader to consider each character’s plight and how they dealt with their lot in life. These four people were outcasts or not part of the acceptable society’s circle, but they found in each other an anchor. Many times, people say blood is thicker than water, but many families are “chosen” or “formed” by necessity. This was one of those times that a makeshift family provided love, acceptance, support and encouragement in a situation where it was badly needed.

Once I started this book, I didn’t put it down. It wasn’t exactly tear inducing but there was a small dose of angsty. I definitely had an emotional connection to the characters because I felt bad for Pete, Justin and for Calvin and Lucy as a couple. That journey to lasting love certainly touched me. There were different kinds of love expressed in this book and it made up for the pain and hatred shown to the characters. There was an encouraging evolution in this book that gave me hope for society today.

I didn’t give this book a five-star rating because while the author did a great job developing the heroine Lucy as well as Pete, but I had a surface grasp on Justine, his father Calvin and Pete’s father. I would have liked more information regarding Pete’s father, especially from his own perspective. Still, this book was really a moving and poignant read.

*Special Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.”

Ezi

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)five-stars
From Sand and Ash Book Cover From Sand and Ash
Amy Harmon
Historical Fiction; Historical Romance
Lake Union Publishing
December 1st, 2016
audibook; e-book
386

Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.

As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.

Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.

But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.

This book was a lyrical work of art.

Definitely Amy Harmon’s finest work and I have enjoyed all of her books thus far. There were so many things I loved about this book but writing stands out the most. Amy Harmon’s storytelling was so intense, visceral and poignant. This story was set in Italy starting before the German invasion and lasted for the Nazi occupation of the Italy. It was such a dark and depressing historical period, but the author managed weave a tale of love, hope, faith and loyalty.

Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were childhood best friends despite being her being Jewish and him being Catholic. Despite their affection for each other, Angelo decided that he could best serve God as a priest.

“God makes me strong. He gives me courage. He gives me peace. He gives me purpose.”

As Angelo joined the priesthood, Eva began navigating life in Italy where Jews were stripped of every conceivable right of citizenship despite the Jews “making up 1% of the countries population”. At her darkest hour, Angelo took in Eva and some other family friends to hid them, but it endangered all the priests around.

Angelo was forced to consider what his life would be like if the Nazi’s were to find Eva and the other Jews that the priests were protecting. While Eva struggles to survive, she was also forced to deal with the fact that the man she loved chose to be a priest over a life with her.

This story was both inspiring, enlightening and emotionally POWERFUL. Every time I felt despondent, a gestured or an event occurred that contributed some reason for hope and encouragement.

“Hope is the only thing resistant to the fear, and it is the hope that makes the next breath possible, the next step, the next tiny act of rebellion, even if that rebellion is simply staying alive.”

The author didn’t mislead the readers by painting a rosy picture of war times. But those tendrils of devotion and faithfulness kept me optimistic as I listened to tale. The narrator Cassandra Campbell was excellent in her various accented voices. She was a great choice for this book.

I loved both Eva and Angelo for different reasons. Both were strong characters, loving, honest and altruistic. Eva though just stole my heart. She had a clarity about almost everything. She was decisive and even stubborn. Angelo was so endearing because he truly tried to honor his faith even if he had to sacrifice his own heart. I admired his commitment and his perseverance. The author did an amazing job developing these characters as well as the overall plot. I never felt that the author sacrificed the historical plight of the people in favor of a love story. It made everything feel so much more authentic and genuine. I am always amazed at the blessings that occurred despite immense suffering during the tragedies of war. This story was one of the best written historical fiction novels I have ever read.

 **Special Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for the e-book given in exchange for an honest review.

About Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in thirteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written ten novels – including the USA Today Bestsellers, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as The Law of Moses, Infinity + One and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her recent release, The Bird and the Sword, is a Goodreads Choice finalist in Fantasy.

Hexmaker by Jordan L. Hawk

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

hexmakerHexmaker: by Jordan L. Hawk
Series: Hexworld, #2
Release Date: October 14, 2016
Pages: 186 • Format: eARC
Published By: Widdershins Press LLC
Purchase Links:
AmazonSmashwordsARe

A straight-laced policeman. A lighthearted thief.
A murdered millionaire.

Fox shifter Malachi steals for one of the biggest crime rings in New York City. But when he witnesses the murder of a millionaire, the only person who can keep him safe is Dr. Owen Yates, forensic hexman for the Metropolitan Witch Police—and Malachi’s witch.

Owen is horrified to discover his familiar is an uneducated thief. Even worse, Malachi threatens to unleash Owen’s deepest desires…desires Owen can’t act upon, as he’s destined for an arranged marriage to secure the Yates family fortune

Their agreement: Malachi will be Owen’s lover as well as his partner, until the day of the wedding. But as their hunt for the murderer carries them from teeming slums to Fifth Avenue mansions, Owens begins to realize Malachi commands his heart as well as his body.

With dark forces drawing ever closer around them, Owen must decide whether to bow to the demands of duty, or to risk everything for the man he loves.

Hexmaker is the second book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Hexworld series, following the adventures of witch policemen and the familiars they bond with. Download today to enter a world of magic, romance, and intrigue.

four-half-stars

I have read everything under the sun by this author except the Spectr series. ONLY because I don’t want to wait for the next one, and read them in succession. I own them though. Hawk writes some of the most memorable and amazing guys in any genre that I’ve read. I have come to really enjoy this series, and this book was no different. (SN: Jordan, if you do read this, please for the love of goodness let Quigley & Issac’s book be up next. I can feel the hurt/comfort from book one. I’m begging for it.) I absolutely was enamored with this book from the beginning to end. Malachi was super amazing, and Dr. Yates was a delightful surprise. I enjoyed the mystery aspect of the story, some of it was pretty predictable and that’s not a word that I’d use to describe any of Hawk’s books.

You know how it’s love at first sight at someplace like a café in Paris, or Times Square in New York City; well these two meet at a crime scene and it’s an instant connection. Well as much as a connection can be for a suspected murderer and a forensic specialist. LOL. It was snarky, charismatic, and cute. Those are the three words that I would describe the scene for the first two meeting each other. I loved that they were complete opposites. I mean they had nothing in common, one from a rich family, a prestigious lifestyle, a respectable job, and the other was from the low brows of society, a thief, and a family made up of criminals. This difference did nothing when it came into the physical side of their relationship. It was super magical. It was HOT!!! It was explosive. My, my, my, Dr. Yates who knew you had that in you. It was nice to see Owen open up in way that he’s never felt comfortable doing. I enjoyed Malachi’s abrasives and equal prowess when it came to Owen. I think they definitely work well together.

**Tee hee, I just wanted to incorporate this somehow my review, I love JLH’s research and authenticity she brings to her stories. Never in my life would I have thought to read Historical Fiction, but she is the inspiration behind it for me.**

Now when it came to the mystery of the story like I said earlier it was rather predictable at one point. Nonetheless is was good. I did feel the ending was a tad bit rushed and would have like to see more from these two after the big showdown. I also felt like the storyline with Sophie didn’t end well. I just wanted some closure for Mal on that part, even though we suspect what she did. I had the same abrupt ending issue with the previous in the series, so maybe it’s a little pattern, but seriously I think she can write 5oo pages and I’ll still want more from her. No matter it’s still a great murder/mystery from this author. It’s still authentic in the setting, and she even includes real facts into her stories. I love the creation of the Metropolitan Witch Police. I love seeing all the characters and hopefully we can get a book from each one. I appreciate every one of her characters and books. I highly recommend this book to everyone. You won’t be disappointed, c’mon this woman writes Gold.

About Jordan L. Hawk

Jordan L. Hawk grew up in North Carolina and forgot to ever leave. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave her a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When she isn’t writing, she brews her own beer and tries to keep her cats from destroying the house. Her best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon and other online retailers.

The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

catThe Soldier’s Scoundrel: by Cat Sebastian
Release Date:September 20, 2016
Pages: 213 • Format: eARC
Published By: Avon Impulse
Purchase Links:
AmazonAReBarnes & Nobles

A scoundrel who lives in the shadows

Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman’s life-one that doesn’t include sparring with a ne’er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack’s pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they’re together.

Two men only meant for each other.

four-stars

A really good debut novel from Cat Sebastian. I did side eye the cover, because it reminded me of why I never read Historical Fiction. After second thought, I like that it stayed with it’s roots of how an Historical Fiction book cover should look. I like to think of them of cheesy. Everything about this story was super captivating. I loved Oliver & Jack’s relationship.

Oliver is retired army veteran, who is home after serving time over seas. He’s home with a bum leg, and feeling lost at sea amongst the world. He’s having trouble adapting to the new world. Jack is the scoundrel who people come to when they need help. He’s the private detective of the people. There’s nothing that he won’t do. He’s had to climb his way out from the bottom to the top. This was a perfect enemies to lovers story. The romance is a slow burn from beginning to end. It’s a really well written story.

I did find myself my bored for the first 25%. It took me a while to get into the story. I did feel like it was like I’m floundering while I was reading it. I couldn’t really connect with it like I usually can with historical fictions. All in all, this was a really good story for a debut novel. I’m looking forward to Georgie’s book. He was a fave character of mine. I would love to see more of Oliver & Jack’s relationship. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.

About Cat Sebastian

Cat writes steamy, upbeat historical romances. They usually take place in the Regency, generally have at least one LGBTQ+ main character, and always have happy endings.

Before writing, Cat was a lawyer and a teacher. She enjoys crossword puzzles, geeking out over birds, gardening badly, and–of course–reading. In high school, her parents went away for a week, and instead of throwing raucous parties, Cat read Middlemarch. Even worse, Cat remembers little of a trip through Europe because she was busy reading Mansfield Park. Her proudest moment was when she realized her kids were shaping up to be hopeless bookworms too. Currently, her favorite genres are romance, mystery and fantasy.

Cat lives with her husband, three kids, and dog in an improbably small house. After growing up in the northeast, she now lives in a part of the south where every body of water seems to contain alligators or sharks, and every restaurant serves biscuits and gravy. She likes the biscuits, but not so much the alligators.

Fallow by Jordan L. Hawk

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

FallowFallow by Jordan L. Hawk
Series: Whyborne & Griffin, Book Eight
Release Date: August 5, 2016
Pages:  197 • Format: eARC
Published By: Jordan L. Hawk
Purchase Links:
AmazonARe • B&N • Kobo 

When Griffin’s past collides with his present, will it cost the lives of everyone he loves?

Between the threat of a world-ending invasion from the Outside and unwelcome revelations about his own nature, Percival Endicott Whyborne is under a great deal of strain. His husband, Griffin Flaherty, wants to help—but how can he, when Whyborne won’t tell him what’s wrong?

When a man from Griffin’s past murders a sorcerer, the situation grows even more dire. Once a simple farmer from Griffin’s hometown of Fallow, the assassin now bears a terrifying magical corruption, one whose nature even Whyborne can’t explain.

To keep Griffin’s estranged mother safe, they must travel to a dying town in Kansas. But as drought withers the crops of Fallow, a sinister cult sinks its roots deep into the arid soil. And if the cult’s foul harvest isn’t stopped in time, Fallow will be only the first city to fall.

Fallow is the eighth book in the Whyborne & Griffin series, where magic, mystery, and m/m romance collide with Victorian era America.

five-stars

I honestly feel like, after every book JLH finishes she gives herself one of these.

I don’t know what her method is, but keep doing it. Did we really expect anything else from her? This book was so freaking good. The gang is back to help save the inhabitants of Fallow, Kansas this time. Every time I read a JLH book it’s like going on a vivid journey that you never want to end. It’s how I feel after all her books. I always look at the percentage hoping and pleading that it never makes it to 100%

This installment was no different. Still reeling from the catastrophe of book #7, Whyborne is adamant about keeping his revelations to himself. He’s trying to protect the people of Widdershins, and doing it by keeping himself closed off. Of course Griffin notices his Ival’s problems. He wouldn’t be a good husband if he didn’t notice. This was a perfect setup to a story revolving around Griffin’s past. His family issues never were resolved enough for him, and when dastardly things come to play in Kansas the gang makes their way there.

The game is on. As soon as they reach Fallow things take off. As usual Hawk weaves a fabulous tale, I’m excited happy with all the outcomes in this book. It’s book 8 and the magic of Whyborne and Griffin is still new and joyous to me as a reader. I love Hawk’s diversity as usual. Her pen game is amazing, and I don’t think I’ve read a better thought out series then this. I won’t go into the plot and spoil it for people, but this was close on so many levels to breaking my heart. I love seeing the gang turn things up and come to the rescue. I loved this book, and look forward to more from her!

About Jordan L. Hawk

Jordan L. Hawk grew up in North Carolina and forgot to ever leave. Childhood tales of mountain ghosts and mysterious creatures gave her a life-long love of things that go bump in the night. When she isn’t writing, she brews her own beer and tries to keep her cats from destroying the house. Her best-selling Whyborne & Griffin series (beginning with Widdershins) can be found in print, ebook, and audiobook at Amazon and other online retailers.