Monday, July 29, 2013

Love in the Darkness by E.M. Tippetts

Love in Darkness by E.M. Tippetts
"Alex had everything when he was with Madison. But the darkness within him wouldn't go away.

After two years apart, he returns to Pelican Bluffs and to the girl he never wanted to leave. Madison wants to give their love another chance, but Alex can't fight fate.

He is what he is.

Ruined. Crazy like his mother. And Madison deserves so much more. When his secrets spill out into their small town, Alex has a choice to make. Hide away in the darkness forever, or let love in."

So, I was a tad bit hesitant to read this one at first, but I’m glad I did. I’m not really a fan of stories told from the point-of-view of insane people, because things can get kind of crazy. Too crazy, but Tippetts seems to find the perfect balance between making Alex’s schizophrenia seem real and still gives her main character a solid and likable personality. Alex’s biggest fear is becoming like his mother who hits every stereotype of raging lunatic possible— irrational paranoia, hearing voices, escaping the house to wander the streets, not recognizing her own son.  With the help of his friends and a good psychologist Alex has some hope of keeping his mental breaks under control. That, however, doesn’t mean he’s ready to let the girl he loves marry him. Yet, Alex isn’t sure how long he can avoid Madison when she is so determined to be with him.  Alex doesn’t know how he can accept her love or carve out a future for himself when his illness makes everything so uncertain. It is very interesting to watch Alex struggle through his problems and see the strengths and skills that he has help people in their lives despite everything. I thought this was a really uplifting read and did an awesome job of portraying a character with mental illness as a real and well-rounded person.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden

Drops of Gold by Sarah M. Eden
"When her father dies and leaves her completely destitute, Marion can think of only one thing to do--make a new life for herself. Commencing a life of duplicity, Marion transforms herself into Mary Wood--governess. In possession of a forged letter of recommendation and cloaked in the anonymity of her new identity, she enters a life of self-imposed servitude as teacher and caretaker of young Miss Caroline Jonquil of Farland Meadows.

Her idyllic daydream vision of life at the Meadows is dashed when she finds a child desperately in need of hope and a cold and sorrowful home haunted by the past. With her characteristic sunny disposition, Marion casts her spell upon the household and slowly brings to life the long-forgotten joy of those within. Layton Jonquil is a man tormented by the lies surrounding the death of his late wife, but he cannot deny his growing attraction for the beautiful governess whose goodness and optimism have touched his dormant heart. Their connection grows ever stronger, and despite the impropriety of harboring feelings for a servant, Layton's heart whispers that this is the woman he's destined to love. But when Layton's fears about the past become too much to bear and the falsehoods in which they are entangled threaten to shatter his and Marion's blossoming attachment, will true love conquer all?" (amazon summary)
As long as I’m on a regency roll I might as well make a full confession. I enjoyed this one too. This one plays on mistaken identity tropes. Marion, a Lady, falls into hard times and has to disguise herself as a governess. Her new master Layton Jonquil holds a dark secret that makes him moody and strict. Marion only sees the more lighthearted side of him emerge when he interacts with his beautiful and charming daughter, Caroline. I really like Eden’s Jonquil family series, as they are a big family of brothers that try to take care of one another. I have to admit that I love how sneaky Layon’s older brother Philip is while he goes about trying to help Layton, staging conversations and dropping hints. It is pretty hilarious and also really sweet. Something I also really liked about this book was that much of the plot hinged on nuances of old English law. That made this book feel unique and stand out for a regency era novel. I found the moral quandaries that Layton faced very compelling and interesting to read about. I’d recommend this one highly.



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Glimmer of Hope by Sarah M. Eden

Glimmer of Hope by Sarah M. Eden
"Stunning Miranda Harford once had the world at her feet. She was young, carefree, and desperately in love. But when her new husband left for London without her, her world fell apart. Devastated by his abandonment, Miranda fled their home, taking residence at her husband’s rarely visited countryside estate. For three years, she lived alone. But now, as the holidays draw near, an unexpected visitor arrives . . .

Carter Alexander Harford, Seventh Viscount Devereaux, is a man driven to succeed. His work is his life, and the position of Prime Minister of England is within reach. But in truth, Carter is a man haunted by lost love. Estranged from his beautiful wife, Carter is shocked to find Miranda—the woman he loved and who he believed left him—in residence at his country home.

As plans for a holiday party move forward, the uneasy couple realizes that to avoid further scandal, they must keep up appearances in a charade of marital happiness. Thrust together by fate, it quickly becomes clear that they have both been living beneath a conspired cloud of misunderstanding. As family, career, and social pressures threaten to keep them apart, can love have even a glimmer of hope?" (summary from Amazon)
Another regency! This one centers around an estranged married couple that meets up again at a house party. I found this one very interesting as both parties think they are the wronged one, but the couple was separated deliberately by deception, and I felt so bad for Carter. Seriously, my heart just broke for him and for Miranda.  It was so interesting to see them build their relationship again after they both distrusted one another. This is a tragic love story that has a hopeful ending. I couldn’t put this one down until I finished it!

Visit Sarah M. Eden's Website

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Edenbrook by Julianna Donaldson

Edenbrook by Julianna Donaldson

"Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.       

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke."

So, I’m currently on a regency romance kick despite the fact I vowed to read less romance this year. What can I say? At least this one is a Whitney award winner, right? Anyway, I really enjoyed the book though, I did see one of the subplots coming from a mile away. I thought the author did such a lovely job with the setting in this book. It seriously makes me want to go sit in the Edenbrook library. I also really liked the main character Marianne and sympathized with her a lot.  Overall, this was a light-hearted, clean romance perfect to curl up with on a rainy summer day.

Visit Donaldson's Website

Friday, July 5, 2013

Through Cloud and Sunshine by Dean Hughes

Through Cloud and Sunshine by Dean Hughes
Nauvoo was supposed to be the kingdom of God on earth, but Will and Liz Lewis are learning that it takes more than dreaming of Zion to make it a reality. Sickness, poverty, and just plain human nature add to the struggles for the Lord's people, but every now and then a glimpse of heaven shines through. Just when things are starting to get settled, though, the old problems start rearing their heads, leaving Will and others wondering if they will be there to reap the harvest they have so carefully sown. Meanwhile, Jeff and Abby—in modern-day Nauvoo—are dealing with challenges of their own. As their newborn baby fights for his life, they must come to grips with their personal faith. Can they, like their ancestors, continue to trust in God when there seems to be no trace o Him in their trials? Beloved novelist Dean Hughes skillfully interweaves the stories of two couples separated by five generations and 150 years, providing a unique perspective on Church history and showing how much we can learn from those who went before us.

  I really enjoyed this continuation of this series by Dean Hughes. Will and Liz continue to work hard in Nauvoo to build Zion. Yet, they begin to suffer persecution from other citizens in the county. The Prophet Joseph’s life is in danger and rumors about plural marriage abound. Meanwhile, their descendants Abby and Jeff are dealing with the birth of a son with a heart defect. The little guy goes through open heart surgery at only a few days old. His parents have to wait for agonizing amount of time to see if the surgery will heal the little boy’s heart. I love some of the themes that Hughes pulls out in this narrative. I love how honestly he acknowledges that death hurts us terribly even with the light of the gospel. I also love how his characters when faced with crises in faith don’t automatically question God, but also consider adjusting their expectations. Will chooses charity over prosperity even though he desperately wants to give his wife a nicer home. He’s reminded that people are more important than nice houses. I also love how Hughes made Jeff struggle with his intellectual tendencies to question everything in the church. I love how he realizes how useless his intellect is but at the same time still struggles with the fact that he doesn’t feel whole without asking his questions and trying to discover answers. He tries to find meaning in service and finds joy in his callings, but one still gets the sense that he has more to discover about himself and the gospel. I am interested to see how Hughes explores this dichotomy in the next volume.