Book Review: A Road Paved In Copper

review-cover-a road paved in copperTitle: A Road Paved In Copper

Author: Angela Christina Archer

Genre: Historical, Western, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Armed with her six-shooter, Ava De La Vega dips the pen into the inkwell and etches her name on the Esmeralda County tax record book. A formidable force, that’s what her peers have called her. The woman in a man’s world, what did she know of mining ore, silver, and copper? Plenty. And it’s this knowledge that makes her of the richest miners in Nevada in 1903. Of course, it also makes her a target.

Traveling back and forth from Tonopah, Nevada and San Francisco, Ava blazes the trail from the dirt and grime of her mines to the fanciest hotel rooms, enjoying the finest wines, the most decadent meals, and the company of attractive young men.

Unfortunately, for Ava, she doesn’t see Craig Harrison coming.

A miner from the snowy Klondike, Craig has traveled from the harsh Canadian mountains down to city streets of San Francisco. Not looking for work, he’s happy with the comfortable life away from the deep mines, the dirt, and the ever sought-after gold.

Unfortunately, for Craig, he doesn’t see Ava coming.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was a little on the fence with how to rate A Road Paved in Copper by Angela Christina Archer. As I first delved into the book, I was a bit thrown by the style in which the narrative was written. There was a lot of description—beautiful description—but it tended to come off as telling more often than showing. For all the words used to describe Ava De La Vega’s world, none of them had quite the impact I wanted to really sink into the world building.

As far as the characters are concerned, Ava was a very strong, very competent main female lead, and in contrast, Craig often came off as a bit of a beta male. He had a tendency to sit back and let Ava do whatever she wanted rather than striving to push her into facing her faults. Between the two, I definitely liked Ava a lot more.

As for the romance… I had a few problems with it. Ava had a lot of past lovers, which is absolutely fine and didn’t bother me in the slightest, but what did bother me is the fact that she had both a relationship with Billy Jack, one of the “villains” of the story, Craig—the main male lead, as well as her foreman. It felt weird and unneeded to have the foreman’s relationship with Ava pointed out at the same time that she’s dealing with her past with Billy Jack, and her new lover, Craig. It felt like a bit of overkill.

That being said, It also felt like Ava’s relationship with Craig went a little too fast to be convincing. I think a large part of this is due to the fact that despite seeing the chemistry between the two lovers right off the bat, the majority of their relationship was played out off-screen on the trail back home, which realistically would have taken days, maybe even weeks. It was skimmed over and then they were home, and the readers were supposed to accept their budding relationship and keep moving forward. It didn’t feel convincing to me. I wish we’d gotten more time to actually see their relationship develop ourselves.

All of that aside, I still liked the book. Despite its flaws, I’d still say it was pretty well written. I liked the characters, the plot, the world building… Tonopah felt real to me, and it was definitely a different twist on an old western trope where the roles of the story were reversed a bit. Ava was everything I’d expect from a  strong female lead. In the end, I gave the book 3 stars because it wasn’t a bad book, but it also wasn’t the greatest I’ve ever read. It had its flaws and it’s great points, overall, I liked it. If you’re looking for a historical western-themed romance with a  strong female lead, I’d recommend you check this out—that part of the book was very well done. If you prefer Alpha males and simpering ladies, you might want to pass this one up.

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Book Review: Taming Beauty

review-cover-taming beautyTitle: Taming Beauty [Dunaway’s Daughters 1]

Author: Lynne Barron

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s best not to answer the door when the Earl of Dunaway come’s knocking.

After learning this lesson by trial and error, as any good lesson ought to be learned, Miss Lilith Aberdeen fashioned a life for herself on the fringes of London society. She is the last lady likely to risk her independence or her heart on anything as fickle and frivolous as love. Or the waxing and waning of familial affection, for that matter. So, how is it she winds up journeying to the wilds of Cornwall to deliver the earl’s pampered, petulant daughter into the hands of the reclusive Baron Malleville?

Blame it on the scandalous, unscrupulous and downright dissolute earl.

Jasper Grimley has spent more than a decade living in self-imposed exile, tending his lands and waiting for his chosen bride to come of age. When his betrothed is plucked from his grasp mere months before the wedding, he sets in motion a plan to turn the Earl of Dunaway’s plethora of debts and profusion of daughters to his advantage. Unfortunately, when dealing with the earl, even the best laid plans have a tendency to fall to ruin, and Jasper soon finds himself beguiled by the wrong woman. Lilith is not the sweet, innocent, biddable bride he bargained with the devil to possess, but she just might be…

The lady destined to lead him down the primrose path to happily-ever-after.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Taming Beauty by Lynne Barron was such a strange, charming little story. The best phrase I can think of to describe it is vibrant chaos.

The characters were complex in the best of ways—often a tad quirky and loud. Lilith and Jasper made a great couple-at-odds, their relationship a tug of war between seduction, flippant banter, and still, endearing moments—and I loved their odd relationship.

The writing was steadily paced and easy to sink into—but I’ll admit, it could be hard to follow the dialogue at times. The character’s voices were written in a genuine, humorous way, full of colorful language and emotion—truly a whirlwind to try and follow. Sometimes that was good, and at other times I had to pause to figure out what the characters were speaking about.

Overall, I thought it was a charming read. If you’re looking for a quick, funny historical romance to read, I’d suggest you give it a try. I don’t know that it was a style of romance I’d normally want to pick up, but it was nice to find something a little different in this story, and I had fun with it.

Book Review: The Haunted Manor

review-cover-the haunted manorTitle: The Haunted Manor [Power and Love 1]

Author: Emilia Hartley

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Historical

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Luck has not been on Lord Michael Baird’s side. After losing yet another large sum of money, he is relieved to discover that he has been left an estate in Scotland. With the ownership of this new estate he decides he will do his best to make it profitable. Upon arrival to the town he notices how unfriendly everyone seems to be. Finally when he reaches his estate he is met with not only a less-than-pleasant manor, but also household staff who refuse to even stay in the estate overnight. They try to explain about the ghostly goings-on in the home but he ignores their warnings completely. However it isn’t long before Michael is thoroughly convinced! He learns that there is only one person who might be able to help him rid his new estate of the malevolent spirits that haunt it: Rebecca.

Rebecca is the village’s wise woman who is only too willing to help. Ignoring her growing attraction to Michael, she works hard to find out more about the spirits and how she can banish them forever using her magic. Michael is surprised to discover that the wise woman is both young and beautiful, and a desire for her grows the moment he first sets eyes on her. Realizing that nothing can happen between them, he tries to put his attraction aside, knowing that he will need to marry well if he is to set the estate to rights.

Will they be able to rid the estate of its ghosts and pursue their love for each other, or will Michael’s pursuit for money push her away for good?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This is the second book from Emilia Hartley that I’ve read in the past week, and honestly, I’m underwhelmed. I wanted to like this book—it has everything I enjoy: it’s a historical romance that deals with the paranormal. What’s not to love? Apparently… quite a bit.

Here’s the thing: In the past year I read a book that was almost identical to this one in plot. Guy takes over a dilapidated manor, finds out it’s haunted, asks the local wise woman/town witch to help him out in getting rid of the haunting…they fall in love, things are resolved… and they live happily ever after. The one big difference is the other book was written better. Judging solely on the two books I’ve read from this author, she has a tendency to rush through her narrative. The pace in The Haunted Manor was quick to the point of making the events absurd. Despite societal rules and barely knowing each other, the main couple falls in love almost instantly, and within a handful of days, are ready to change their entire lives for each other. It’s a bit much to believe.

Another problem was the characters. They were all pretty 1-dimensional. The main male lead, Lord Michael Baird, was snobbish, entitled, arrogant, and weak-willed. The entire reason he decided he couldn’t be with the woman he loved… is because he thought it beneath his station to get his hands dirty. I did not like him as a character, and I found his attitude towards the other characters condescending. His voice came off as feminine—but trying not to be. The funny thing is… other than Michael not wanting to step below his station, almost all other historical societal conventions of the time period were completely ignored.

As for the technical aspect of the book—it wasn’t bad. It was relatively clean and easy to read, although I did find a misused word, some doubled words and a few punctuation problems. It wasn’t what I’d consider egregious.

Overall, I was underwhelmed. I expected more out of this book, and I was disappointed by the rushed, lackluster manner in which it was written. I think it could have been better with a bit of polishing and some critical beta readers. In the end, I just didn’t like it.  If you like fluffy, short reads, you may enjoy this book, it just wasn’t for me.

Book Review: An Intriguing Proposition

review-book-an intriguing propositionAuthor: An Intriguing Proposition [The Defiant Hearts Series Prequel]

Title: Sydney Jane Baily

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following her father’s untimely death, eldest daughter Elise Malloy discovers that the family home is collateral for a mysterious loan. With no record of payments made from her father’s accounts, whoever was paying the bank has now stopped, and foreclosure is imminent.

Desperate to keep the news from her grieving, funds-starved family, Elise answers the bank summons and faces Michael Bradley, an old flame who still owns her heart. When Michael extends an unseemly dinner invitation, Elise invents a nameless suitor as an excuse.

Now, to save face, she must produce him.

Jonathan Amory, Esquire, seems the perfect choice, until her long-desired relationship with Michael unexpectedly catches fire, and Jonathan makes it clear he will stop at nothing to destroy her family and lock her into a loveless marriage.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I nearly didn’t make it through this book, which is an odd thing to say about something I ended up giving 4 stars to. The beginning was slow, the main female lead came across as weak and demure, and there was something about the opening sequence that just didn’t sit well with me. Maybe it was the contradictions in the way we were first introduced to the main characters, maybe it was the fact that my pet peeve over having a character commit actions out of sequence (reaction before action) that had me all riled up. Regardless, I never put the book down.

But I didn’t.

By the time the love interest and Elise’s situation came into play, I was engrossed in the story (though I admit, I was hoping for a twist to the romance plot that sadly didn’t happen). The romance between Elise and Michael was sweet and adorable. I do wish there had been a little more sexual tension or tension at all in their relationship… I think it could have been dragged out a little more, but overall it was lovely. The only thing that really bothered me about the plot is that the one gay character also happened to be the ‘bad guy’. Yes, I do understand that at that time it was generally frowned upon, but did he have to be gay to be the bad guy? No.

Other than that, the book was pretty well written. I only ran into one typo. The book flowed well, and it was easy to sink into. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet historical romance with a tiny bit of sultry spice to it.

Book Review: Silver City Seduction

review-cover-silver city seductionTitle: Silver City Seduction

Author: Laura Fletcher

Genre: Novella, Historical, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Victoria Nolan is on the run. She hightails it out of town on the next stagecoach, changes her name and settles into Lettie’s Boarding House temporarily. Once that task has ended she needs to find a new job or leave; but she has come to appreciate Silver City.

Samuel Flynn needs a new cook for his ranch and the lovely Tori fits the role. She is not only a good cook and hard worker, but she is so appreciative of life. He is drawn to her naive ways and finds himself seeking her out more often than he should.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Silver City Seduction was a sweet, short novella by Laura Fletcher, but it was not without its problems. The book, for the most part, was well written. I only ran into one typo that made me pause. The writing was easy to follow, clean, and reasonably paced. As with most novellas, there were some time skips, but the story didn’t feel too rushed, except maybe the romance, but we’ll get to that.

I liked the story. It was sweet and interesting. What it wasn’t, was a mail order bride romance. There was no mail order bride. None. Victoria was never sent away for. She never received any sort of advertisement or letter imploring that she arrive on Samuel’s ranch. She found the job through a friend—and ladies and gentlemen, that is not what a mail order bride romance is about.

That aside, the characters were a bit flimsy. Samuel was, well, a little creepy. he was constantly staring darkly at Victoria, but then hardly ever talked to her. The three troublesome ranch hands, other than being slobs, didn’t really present themselves as troublesome (which supposedly was why they’d run off so many housekeepers before Victoria)—certainly not enough for the exasperating way her predecessor quit. Rae barely made an appearance in the book. Lester was the typical black-hat villain with psychopathic tendencies that are overly done and frankly, uninteresting in their lack of complexity. In fact, the only character with even a little depth was Victoria herself, and she was, for the most part, just a naïve, simpering girl with a penchant for making cookies.

I gave this book three stars because even though it was a fun little afternoon read, it wasn’t well developed. The plot barely existed and upon further investigation, would have fallen apart. The characters were 1-dimensional and weak. The romance sped along with the barest of mentions until suddenly they realized they loved each other out of nowhere. It just felt like there wasn’t enough time or enough effort put into this story. Will it entertain you for an hour while you’re in a waiting room somewhere? Sure. I’d recommend it if you’re just looking for a short, sweet read, but it isn’t going to be something you can truly sink into to while away a few hours.

Book Review: Devil’s Cove

review-cover-devil's coveTitle: Devil’s Cove [Tortured Souls 1]

Author: R.C. Matthews

Genre: Historical, Gothic, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Shrouded in unspeakable horror and spoken of only in whispers, the abandoned Devil’s Cove Manor lures Captain Devlin Limmerick and his unquenchable thirst for revenge to its doors. Feared as the Devil on the high seas, the pirate’s desire to avenge his past is matched only by his hunger for the powerful young medium he has coerced to aid him in his nefarious quest.

Blinded from youth and touched with an ability to communicate beyond the grave, Grace is both feared and revered by the uneasy town folk. Yet she is powerless against the unrest brewing within the manor walls and finds herself drawn to the Devil’s darkness. Still, she refuses to sacrifice her soul to set Devlin’s unspeakable plans in motion.

But an evil lurks within these walls, and their very souls are in jeopardy. Grace’s presence at the manor spurs inexplicable happenings, forcing Devlin to believe nothing is as dead as it seems – not even his heart. Plunged into the throes of passion and danger, they discover the only way out is to search deep within and summon the courage to believe in true love.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Devil’s Cove by R.C. Matthews was a little outside what I normally read in historical romances. I can honestly say that this is maybe the first Gothic Romance I’ve ever read—and I got quite a kick out of it. The characters were interesting and unique, the plot was wholly different than what I’m used to in a historical romance, and there was a dark edge of danger to the plot that I found fascinating.

Technically speaking, the book was well edited. I ran into a few typos, but nothing that pulled me out of the narrative. The writing flowed easily, the dialogue seemed fairly natural, and I greatly enjoyed the plot. The only real problem I had with the technical side of the book, was perhaps the language. There were definite moments when I doubted the words used and if they were appropriate to the historical theme of the book, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, there were a lot of moments when I saw true historical bits throw in, but they were done so in a way that made me stop and go “oh. the author wanted me to notice that they did research.” There was no need for it, and it was a little clunky.

That aside, I greatly enjoyed the plot and the romance. Devlin and Grace were dynamic characters and though vastly different in nature, melded well. Their backgrounds, though often painful to read, were interesting and provided genuine context to their personalities. I really enjoyed them! Josephine seemed to be a character straight out of a horror film, and as seductive and evil as she was presented, I couldn’t help but love her as well. She wasn’t a cardboard villain in a black hat—and I loved that about her. She was a real person with real motivations, and she was both dangerously evil, and sweet at the same time.

And as a side-note… I was so thrilled to see Neptune’s Ballroom included in the story because it is a fantastic site that I’ve seen and heard about in previous instances and always thought was a fascinating place! I squealed with joy when I realized where the ballroom was—almost as soon as Devlin pointed out that no one had found it. I just –knew- it was going to be where it was, and was overjoyed to be proven right. Well done!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The kind of ill-handled historical aspects of it aside, I thought it was a wonderfully colorful book full of great characters and an interesting plotline, and if you’re looking for a fast gothic romance to enjoy, I would highly recommend you pick this up!

Book Review: The Silent Songbird

review-cover-the silent songbirdTitle: The Silent Songbird [Hagenheim 7]

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Genre: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal—until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This was a pretty solid historical romance. Technically speaking, it was well written. I only found one typo in the entirety of the book. The story was easy to read, clear and clean, and the pace was steady throughout.

I enjoyed the characters, especially of the main couple, though I’ll admit, at times they struck me as a bit pathetically naïve. They were almost too good, bordering on ridiculously sweet at times—and given the time period they inhabited and the recent rebellion, it seemed odd that the couple could remain so blissfully ‘good’ and untainted by the world around them. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the characters, though—I did, I just wish there’d been a little more depth to them.

Honestly, there’s not a lot I can say about this book. I don’t have any major complaints, but by the same token, I don’t have a lot I can rave about either. It was a sweet, sometimes endearing romance between two people who fell in love at first sight. They could sometimes be a little too perfect, bordering on sugary sweet, but the plot had a handful of twists and daring moments to keep it from becoming eye-roll worthy.

Overall, I liked the book, a lot. It was a fun, sweet read. If you like sweet, clean romances with Christian undertones, you’ll probably really enjoy this book.