Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Because of Miss Bridgerton

Because of Miss Bridgerton (Rokesbys #1)Author: Julia Quinn
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Avon
Series: Rokesbys # 1

Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected of places...

This is not one of those times.

Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband... someday.
Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should...

Or not.

There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest and heir to the earldom, but he's arrogant, annoying, and she's absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can't stand the sight of him, either.

But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor...

Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can't abide is the one person they can't live without...

Billie finished the horrifying sentence. “You’d have to marry me.”

It wasn’t that Billie Bridgerton was lacking in common sense. On the contrary, she was quite sure that she was one of the most sensible people of her acquaintance.

But she was a woman. She could never understand what it meant to fight for king and country.

Oh how I love the Bridgertons! And I am so glad that Julia Quinn has brought them back in this brand new series. This is a prequel to the Bridgerton series that is eight books long. I can easily say that this will be a highly enjoyable read for any Bridgerton fan. Readers will love the story shared by George and Billie, both characters that have been introduced before. Billie is not your typical heroine, but isn’t that so typical of Julia Quinn’s writing? Billie is a bit of a tomboy and not your average lady. Billie has taken over a lot aspects of running her family’s estate. Billie was a loveable character, and her sassy personality made me love her all the more!

Our male protagonist is George Rokesby, the eldest of the Rokesby brothers. George has a heart of gold and I loved him right from the start. Right from the beginning I was rooting for him and Billie to end up together. The dialogue shared between George and Billie was my favorite part of the book. It was so easy to fall in love with these characters, as it is with any of Ms. Quinn’s loveable creations. There is a mix of humor, romance, and passion that made this book a quick, easy read.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Avon books in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Review: Terror In Taffeta

Terror in Taffeta: A MysteryAuthor: Marla Cooper
Publication Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Minotaur Books

Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna is just a few hours away from wrapping up her latest job: a destination wedding in the charming, colonial Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende. The reception is all set up, the tequila donkey is waiting outside, and the bride and groom are standing on the altar, pledging their eternal love. But just as the priest is about to pronounce them husband and wife, one of the bridesmaids upstages the couple by collapsing into a floral arrangement. Worst of all, Kelsey discovers that she hasn't just fainted-she's dead. The demanding mother of the bride, Mrs. Abernathy, insists Kelsey not tell the wedding party; she paid for a wedding after all, not a funeral.

Losing a bridesmaid is bad enough, but when the bride's sister is arrested for murder, Mrs. Abernathy demands that Kelsey fix the matter at once. And although she's pretty sure investigating a murder isn't in her contract, crossing the well-connected mother of the bride could be a career-killer. Before she can leave Mexico and get back to planning weddings, Kelsey must deal with stubborn detectives, another dead body, and a rekindled romance in this smart, funny cozy debut perfect for fans of Carolyn Haines.

When it comes to weddings, there are emergencies, and then there are emergencies. Having a trio show up when you were expecting a quartet? Unfortunate, but salvageable. Finding out the bakery accidentally sent a Styrofoam dummy cake to the reception? Pretty disappointing, but still not an emergency. Wedding dress catching fire? Okay, I suppose that would be an emergency – but still nothing compared to what I was dealing with now.

As a wedding planner, you never know what you might be called upon to do. My list of services was now growing to include “sneak police officers past unsuspecting brunch guests.”

“So let’s recap,” said Brody. I had texted him to meet me back in my room so I could update him on the situation. “You voluntarily called the police about a robbery and now you’re a suspect in a murder? That doesn’t make any sense!”

He ducked behind a chair just in time to deflect the bottle of water I threw at him.

This debut novel was pitched for fans of Carolyn Haines; I LOVE everything about Carolyn’s books, so I was sure to request a copy of this book for review. This fast-paced, cozy mystery story was so easy to read and took me no time at all to finish. It was the perfect escape for a rainy afternoon. I was not disappointed with this new mystery series. Kelsey, our leading detective, is a wedding planner, a job I always wanted as a child. So while I was sure some chaos would ensue, I was not sure just how much. It was hilarious and completely unexpected. When the bride’s sister was arrested on a murder charge, I was hooked and from that point on I did not stop reading until I hit the last page.

The cast of funny, quirky characters that filled these pages was enough to make me fall in love with this book and this author. The story takes place in Mexico because Kelsey is in the process of planning a destination wedding. This was such an added plus to an already action-packed story. As you read, you will hear about all kinds of yummy Mexican dishes, so don’t read the book if you are too hungry. Kelsey is a wonderful lead to take readers through a jam-packed mystery. There were several possible suspects, which I love in a mystery story. I like have a lot of choices when it comes to figuring out the killer. Overall, awesome new series that I will definitely continue to follow!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Minotaur books in exchange for my honest review***

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Book Review: America's First Daughter

America's First DaughterAuthor: Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

“I’m not only my father’s daughter, but also a daughter of the nation he founded. And protecting both is what I’ve always done.” 

“Sons of a revolution fight for liberty. They give blood, flesh, limbs, their very lives. But daughters . . . we sacrifice our eternal souls.”

“Your care is ever a comfort. Just be sure to attend to your own happiness, too.”

Although I love history, Thomas Jefferson and his legacy have never been topics that I have covered in my research, until I read this book. Now I am spending time dedicated solely to researching this man and his daughter, Patsy. And if you think politics are corrupt now, just wait until you read this book; your mind will be blown. Betsy, whose real name is Martha, is the heroine of this novel and readers will follow her journey after her father passes away. Patsy spends most of her life by her father’s side and is his most loyal and avid supporter. She will sacrifice everything to clear his name. Readers get to enjoy Patsy’s younger life with her father as well because of her frequent flashbacks.

This book was exceptionally well-written and is one of my favorite books so far this year. The research that must have gone into this book is astronomical. I have read that Jefferson took notes on every single day of his life, and it is with journal and notes like this that authors like Dray and Kamoie can put together amazing stories like this one. The author did not leave out one single detail regarding the time period. Slavery was depicted as harshly as it was all those years ago and other living conditions were discussed as well. The smaller characters add a nice twist as well; the book is over six hundred pages in length, and so many wonderfully rich characters fill those pages. I suggest diving into this book as soon as you get the chance.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at William Morrow in exchange for my honest review***

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Review: Black Rabbit Hall

Black Rabbit HallAuthor: Eve Chase
Publication Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

For fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Waters, here’s a magnetic debut novel of wrenching family secrets, forbidden love, and heartbreaking loss housed within the grand gothic manor of Black Rabbit Hall.

Ghosts are everywhere, not just the ghost of Momma in the woods, but ghosts of us too, what we used to be like in those long summers . . .

Amber Alton knows that the hours pass differently at Black Rabbit Hall, her London family’s country estate, where no two clocks read the same. Summers there are perfect, timeless. Not much ever happens. Until, of course, it does. 

More than three decades later, Lorna is determined to be married within the grand, ivy-covered walls of Pencraw Hall, known as Black Rabbit Hall among the locals. But as she’s drawn deeper into the overgrown grounds, half-buried memories of her mother begin to surface and Lorna soon finds herself ensnared within the manor’s labyrinthine history, overcome with an insatiable need for answers about her own past and that of the once-happy family whose memory still haunts the estate.

Stunning and atmospheric, this debut novel is a thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by the dark and tangled secrets of Black Rabbit Hall.

“I always say to Daddy that Black Rabbit Hall is the one still sane point in this mad, changing world. It’s our safe, happy place, isn’t it, Amber?”

The pull of the house is just a little too strong.

It really would be quite easy to get lost in Black Rabbit Hall. To think you were going in one direction but he heading entirely in another.

This book was absolutely fantastic! Gothic, house full of secrets, romantic, and reminiscent of Kate Morton; I loved every inch of it. The book is written as a multi-period mystery and the point of views shift back and forth, always bringing readers back to modern day. The prose is as elegant as I imagined the house to be; it felt like I was watching a film instead of reading a book. This was a debut novel for Eve Chase and I am so excited to see what more will come from her. The mystery was one that I thought I had figured out and then was totally shocked when it began to unfold. I can’t stress to readers enough how much this book will grab you and pull you in. I was unable to put it down.

The setting will be such an escape for any reader willing to dive into this book. The shift in time periods was done so beautifully and did not take away any magic from Black Rabbit Hall. I could picture it in the 1960’s and I could picture it in modern day. The family secret was another stellar part of this book. Like I said earlier, I thought I had figured it all out, but I was completely shocked when everything was revealed. The characters were ones that I came to care for and wonder about even when I was not reading. If this review does not convince you to give this book a try, then I don’t know what will!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at G.P. Putnam’s Sons in exchange for my honest review***