Archive for December, 2012


It was with great relish that I received my advanced reader copy of The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, published by Bethany House Publishers.  As a long-time fan of Julie Klassen’s work (The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, among others), I hoped for a tightly-woven, historically interesting Regency romance.  I was truly not disappointed.

Emma Smallwood loves all things orderly and in their place.  However, her devotion to her desolately widowed father drives her to join him in Cornwall, England as a tutor to a wealthy baron’s twin sons.  Her memories of the twins’ older brothers, while they attended her father’s boarding school years before, bring both pain and excitement.

Once Emma and her father arrive at Ebbington Manor, Emma’s life of order is  set in disarray.  Night-time visitors, chilling messages, and family secrets combine to threaten Emma’s peace.  Of course, her feelings for one of the brothers disrupts her carefully arranged life as well.  Who is causing the mayhem and how far will it go?  Which brother has caught Emma’s eye and will he return her affection?

The Tutor’s Daughter does not disappoint in its fully developed characters, descriptive setting, and interesting plot.  Not only are the main characters’ reactions believable and accurate, but also the supporting casts’.  Klassen’s attention to historical detail adds remarkable depth to the plot and characters.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Tutor’s Daughter and joyfully give it five stars.

Please enjoy the trailer for The Tutor’s Daughter from Bethany House.

**I received an advanced reader copy of The Tutor’s Daughter from Bethany House for no cost.  My opinion is my own.**


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What is a young, unmarried woman to do when she is the sole survivor of her family, left penniless and scandalized by the theft and lies of a trusted family employee?  Jen Turano, in her debut novel for Bethany House Publishers, A Change of Fortune, sets out to weave that story of treachery and trust in 1880 New York.  Lady Eliza Sumner, daughter of the late Lord Sefton of England, embarks on a last-ditch attempt to recover her fortune from the thieving man-of-affairs who embezzled from her father, sullying his good name and causing Eliza to lose her place in London society.  Posing as a governess to a nouvea-riche New York family, Eliza soon learns the value of true friends, true love, and true faith.

As I read A Change of Fortune, I found myself wishing that I could dwell just a little longer at certain points in the story.  I personally enjoy a character-driven story.  This book, however,  carries the reader away as if it is an out-of-control carriage, giving the reader no chance to catch her breath.  Some points, where emotionally-charged moments could have paced the story, were instead driven headlong by the stampede of action-driven plot points.  Conversations between characters were at times stilted and rushed, while some emotional reactions were left ineffective.

While I appreciated the story for its fun and vibrant telling, it wouldn’t be one to put on my list of favorites.  If you are a reader who enjoys a fast, action-driven plot, you will probably enjoy A Change of Fortune.  This is a definite good first novel for author Jen Turano, and I do look forward to seeing the rest in the Ladies of Distinction series.  Three stars.

**I was provided with a free copy of A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano for review purposes by Bethany House Publishers.  My thoughts are my own.**

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I had high hopes when I started reading The Inheritance of Beauty by Nicole Seitz, published by Thomas Nelson.  The story promised to be a bit of mystery, a bit of love, and a bit of bittersweet as the aged characters, George and Maggie, relived their past in memories.  With the book published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing powerhouse, I also expected a story that pointed to redemption through Christ.

George and Maggie reside in a nursing home.  Maggie is surrendering to Alzheimer’s Disease and George, her adoring husband, can only stand idly by her side, supporting her where he can.  One day, a new resident moves into the nursing home, upsetting the balance with his unusual ways.  Soon after, a package arrives that causes further distress for George and Maggie.

The memories begin flowing.  A mystery is revealed and solved.  Heartaches are exposed and healed.  Old friends are found and lost.

Overall, I liked the story.  Written in a very casual, conversational manner, the story flowed fairly smoothly and the characters were interesting and fully fleshed out.

Unfortunately, though, the promise of a redemption through Christ never materialized.  The book is full of feel-good spirituality without the substance of a life changing encounter with and a decision for Christ by any of the characters.  The reader is left with a vague, “Well, they’ll all go to heaven, right?” feeling, but the stuff and substance of a relationship with Christ is never presented.

Three stars.

Full disclosure: I received The Inheritance of Beauty free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in return for a review.  My thoughts are my own.

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