Fiction

Book Review of “The Weaver’s Daughter” by Sarah E. Ladd

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Book Review

“The Weaver’s Daughter” is a Regency era Romance novel. Set in the early 1800s in Yorkshire, England this novel is at first glance a thematic Romeo and Juliet with two young people fighting their attraction for each other who come from families which have been bitter wool-industry rivals for decades.

Although I have nothing against romance novels, I enjoy when the main plot is not all about the boy and girl getting hitched. Thankfully, this novel also includes a well-plotted mystery, more than one suspicious suspect, and characters that are complex and not one-dimensional.

This novel has strong tension that keeps you turning pages. I read it on a camping weekend in only a couple of days!

The only negative thing I felt toward the story is the need for variety when describing intuitive fear felt by the characters. Their neck hair was standing on end a little too frequently … but that is being SUPER knit-picky, and I know it. That was the only thing I would change, and obviously it didn’t suck me out of the story for very long or I wouldn’t have finished it so quickly.

Overall I loved this story, and felt it was well placed within a rocky time in history for mill-workers, weavers, and their owners.  I think both Christian and non-Christian readers will be happy when they get to the truth of the mysteries within this story. As it does contain romance, I do think it will attract more female than male readers.

I’m rating this one 4.5 out of 5 snowy lambs.


Cover Review

I confess that the first thing that caught my eye for choosing this particular book was the inspirational fiction sticker my library had stuck to the spine. I knew what kind of book I wanted to read that weekend, and that was the fastest way to find it. The spine itself wasn’t particularly eye-catching in design. There is only a faint snowy building blending into the white of the spine. [The author’s name was even covered up by the numerous library stickers.] However, when I did pull it off the shelf, by design, it was obviously a historical romance of some kind … and I recognized the author’s name as one I had enjoyed reading in the past.

I could tell by the dress on the cover model that it was likely set in the late 1700s or early 1800s – beyond that I didn’t know much except that it looked like a very cold environment.  The warm muff on the model’s arm steals a little of the focus on this cover. It is only thanks to the designer’s choice to run the title very large from edge to edge (over the top of the muff) that it maintains being the focal point.

I’m rating this cover 3.5 snowy lambs out of 5.

Please note: I borrowed this book from my local library. No expectation of a review at all was expected by any party.

Christian fiction, Christian historical, Christian romance, Historical, historical christian fiction, Historical Fiction

Book & Cover Review of "Moonlight Masquerade" by Ruth Axtell

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The author does a great job of leaving the reader guessing from page one. Though I will admit that at first I found it to be a problem. It took me a little while before I was completely sucked into this novel (though I eventually was). I feel this happened because I wasn’t sure which character I should be rooting for? I didn’t know if I wanted Reese — the butler who is really an English spy — to discover Lady Wexham was a French spy … or not.

Once I knew the two characters better (a few chapters in) I was more solidly into the story … and I truly began to enjoy the historical Regency era backdrop. I’m glad I stuck with it and read to the end. It was a wonderfully written story, full of misdirect and intrigue. I had not previously read a spy novel from the Regency-era and thoroughly enjoyed this one. Though there is a strong male character in this story, I do feel female readers would enjoy “Moonlight Masquerade” more then men. There are too many details about dresses and socialite expectations of the era for me to feel it is written to appeal to both sexes equally.

This book was provided by the Publisher for review, with no guarantee of a positive review.

Book Cover Review

Wealth. Beauty. Power. These three elements are all present in the story, and also reflected well in this cover. The cover model looks down at the hem of her dress in a semblance of demurity. However, the elegance of her surroundings, and her dress, betray that she is a woman of great means. This woman knows how to direct your attention where she wants it. If she wants you to notice how well she is dressed, she knows all the moves. The blue color of her dress are the perfect compliment to the golden tones of her surroundings. She knew exactly which dress to where to this event to make herself appear as though she belongs here … yet still have her beauty stand out. A perfect spy? You’ll have to read the book to know!

Available March 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Moonlight Masquerade

By Ruth Axtell

In this new Regency Romance, Ruth Axtell deftly creates a world where black and white burst into a confusion of colors and no one is who they seem.  Axtell’s expert storytelling and attention to historical detail bring the Regency era alive with  intrigue and romance.

Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need–or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess’s butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London’s West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham’s spell.

Ruth Axtell is the author of thirteen novels, including Wild Rose, one of Booklist‘s Top Ten in Christian Fiction. Currently a resident of Downeast Maine, Axtell has lived in the Canary Islands, Miami, and the Netherlands.

Endorsements for Moonlight Masquerade

 

 “Intrigue, romance, a clandestine kiss . . . all cast in a Regency setting so magnificently detailed I could see the fabrics and feel the glow of another era. Secrets and past disappointments keep Céline and Rees apart, not to mention the largest chasm of all—class. A wonderfully romantic and memorable read!”—Maureen Lang, author of Bees in the Butterfly Garden

“The first paragraph drew me into the story, and the next twist held me there to the end.”—Laurie Alice Eakes, author of A Flight of Fancy

Moonlight Masquerade is a wonderful romance, graced with expert detail of the Regency period, as well as with Ruth Axtell’s usual flair for intensely romantic situations between characters so real I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Moonlight Masquerade is an exciting romantic adventure of spies, forbidden love, and happily-ever-after that I thoroughly enjoyed.”—Melanie Dickerson, two-time Christy Award finalist and author of The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter

Christian historical, historical christian fiction

Book & Cover Review of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

Book Description From Publisher:

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt–and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Suzanne’s Book Review:
Julie Klassen has done it again. Her latest novel, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, kept me turning page after page … getting nothing else accomplished until I had the whole thing read. It was absolutely captivating. I felt that every detail of her 19th century English setting was absolutely real and believable as a reader. The author was very good at creating believable circumstances for an aristocrat to find a means of hiding as a servant. This was no easy feat for her heroine, as Margaret had to learn many tasks on the job – having always had her own servants to do everything for her in the past.

Additionally, there were elements of intrigue, mystery and suspense that kept the story’s pace moving quickly – and kept me glued until I had read it all apparently!


Suzanne’s Book Cover Review:
I always love it when a publisher has gone to great lengths to get the details about a character right on the cover design. In this case, we have photos of a woman wearing both a maid uniform, wig, and spectacles … and another photo (on the back cover) of the same woman without the wig and a fine dress. These photos were obviously carefully thought out by the cover designer to capture the feel of the story, and its main character. No generic stock photography here!

The background of a fine 19th century manicured grounds and manor also add to the appeal of this novel as a historical of the regency period.  The designer’s decision to add small touches of curling embellishments and spot varnish also add to the sense of fine quality this cover exudes to the potential reader. The spine carries this through, and features the same elements from the front cover that will attract readers of regency historicals even if only the spine is showing.

The only negative comment I have is regarding the novel’s title placement. The designer has had to add a dark translucent area to make it readable against the cover model and flowers she is holding. It’s not a bad way to handle it, but it just feels like it gets lost a little and could have been handled in a way that made it balance, or stand out a little more than the current treatment – something with a solid shape or background that wouldn’t overly hide the elements beneath it, but would still attract attention to the title. Still, despite that this is easily readable and I believe it to be a cover that will successfully attract the right readers to pick it up, even if they aren’t familiar with the author previously.

* This novel was received for review through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance under no guarantee of a positive review.

This week, the  Christian Fiction Blog Alliance  is introducing  The Maid of Fairbourne Hall  Bethany House (January 1, 2012)  by  Julie Klassen   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  

Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years (first in advertising, then as a fiction editor) and now writes full time. Two of her books, The Girl in the Gatehouse and The Silent Governess won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Girl in the Gatehouse also won a Midwest Book Award and The Silent Governess was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards.

She graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoys travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. Julie and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt–and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?

Observing both brothers as an “invisible” servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?

On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of “serve one another in love.”

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, go HERE