Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen
Bethany House 01 January 2013

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame...and which brother to trust with her heart?

This is my first Julie Klassen book - well over due, I know!

Julie has created an intricate and intriguing tale, set in the rugged peninsula of Cornwall.  Emma Smallwood has accompanied her father to Ebbingford, where he is to tutor the youngest two sons of a Baronet.  They are former acquaintances of the elder two Weston sons, who attended their academy in their youth. Emma is orderly, capable and always in control. But she also shows herself to have a caring heart.

At first, we don't get much of an insight into Henry Weston, but throughout the novel we slowly get to know him, and by the end I realised I was madly in love with him. It was like how you'd expect to get to know someone in real life, and I thought this was brilliant.

The Tutor's Daughter is full of mystery and had me frowning and guessing my way throughout, trying to figure out who was who and what the secret of the Weston family was.  There's an air of suspense in this book too, and I found myself clinging for life along with the characters in one particular scene. 

I really enjoyed this book - particularly liking the English setting.  From what I see from this book, Julie is a master plot weaver, creating a rich and inviting novel that I couldn't put down.

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Review: Swept Away by Mary Connealy

Swept Away by Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers, 1st March 2013

Laughter, Romance, and Action Abound in This New Series from Mary Connealy

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't all that upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. She prayed for a chance to get away, and then came the raging flood. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke Stone...so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is heading home to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men who killed his father are working hard to ensure Luke doesn't make it alive. He has no choice but to keep moving. Still, he can't just abandon Ruthy, so she'll have to come along.

His friends--a ragtag group of former Civil War soldiers--take a fast interest in the pretty gal. Luke thinks that's rather rude--he's the one who found her. And the more time he spends around the hard-working young woman who is a mighty good cook, the more he finds himself thinking beyond revenge and toward a different future. For the first time in a long time, Luke is tempted to turn from his destructive path and be swept away by love.


It's been a while since I read a Mary Connealy book and I've missed the action, romance and humor that is her trademark. I really enjoyed getting sucked into the action and watching the humorous antics of everyone involved. Even when things get a little dramatic, there's the wry humor buried there. Ruthy is a very funny character and really, she's pulling Luke along for the ride, even though he thinks it's the other way around.

Mary, you might have sparked my interest back into western historical fiction...that's hard since I'm waist deep into contemporary suspense romance fiction...but I'm feeling the pull to pick up another western...it might just be your next book in this series...which looks great by the way!

So if you're wanting action, romance and humor this is the book for you.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: Love Finds You in Romeo, Colorado by Gwen ford Faulkenberry

Love Finds You in Romeo, Colorado by Gwen ford Faulkenberry
Summerside Press, October 14, 2008

Can one woman’s tragedy turn into happily ever after? Claire Caspian is a first-rate professor, teaching even the most cynical student to find beauty in literature. But with her own personal story, she isn’t as successful. Having recently lost her husband, Claire returns with her young son to the tiny desert town of Romeo, Colorado, where she grew up. There she settles in with her feisty old Abuelita, the richest woman in the county and attempts to rebuild her life. But love comes searching for Claire in the form of attractive local doctor Stephen Reyes. Will another tragedy prevent her from accepting love the second time around? Or will she embrace her new Romeo and finally find a happy ending?

Love Finds You™ is a series of full-length romance novels that give readers a peek into the flavor of local life across the United States. The novels are uniquely named after actual American towns with quirky, interesting names that inspire romance and are just plain fun! This means that each fictional story draws on the compelling history or unique character of a real place.

Our fresh, original love stories will feature everything from romance kindled in small towns, to old loves lost and found on the high plains, to new loves discovered at exciting vacation getaways.

I've been a fan of this wonderful series for a while now. The Love Finds You books are a mix of contemporary and historical fiction. they range from funny and sweet to deep and profound. In short, these books generally cater to all those who love romance fiction and it gives you really cool insight into some very peculiarly names towns!

I really loved this book. It was beautifully written. Gwen Ford Faulkenberry really took her time with the characters and the setting. Nothing in this book felt forced. It was a real pleasure to read, especially since the last two books I've read were very difficult to finish and put me off reading for a while. A couple of days ago I got the urge to read again and to kick off the renewed reading desire, I wanted a romance. However, I wanted a realistic (yes, that's right) one that had been lovingly thought out. So I went to Koorong (my local bookstore) and found three Love Finds You books in a bundle. So I bought them and started with Romeo.

I'm so glad I did. As I said, it was beautifully written and I laughed, cried and giggled along with the characters. I was in Romeo, just loving watching Claire and Stephen trace a slow, but sure path to happily ever after.

A great read and the girl on the cover looks like Claire described in the books! Always a plus!!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley



Catherine's Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley
Realms, 05 February 2013

In book three of the McKenna's Daughters series, Catherine McKenna begins a journey to find her lost sisters that turns into a spiritual journey for the entire McKenna family.

I've been looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy and to find out what happened with the third sister, Catherine McKenna.

Upon turning eighteen, Catherine discovers that she is a triplet, and that because her mother died in childbirth, her father had given up her two sisters for adoption.  She's determined to find her sisters, despite her father refusing to help her.

Used to having her own way and not being denied, Catherine embarks on a journey with her lady's maid in search of her sisters.  Along the way she discovers what it is to be part of a larger family, and to think of others needs instead of always her own.

Thankfully her father has the good sense to send  his trusted employee, Collin, after Catherine when he discovers her disappearance.  Collin has his own issues of failure and insecurities.  In helping Catherine with her quest, he discovers there's more to this spoilt ice princess than he first thought.  And through his increased intimacy with Catherine and her father, as well as befriending Catherine's soon to be brother-in-law, he meets with God and is able to find the forgiveness and love his soul has been needing.

The reunions are sweet, and there are inevitable tears to shed as you read this book.  So nice to see all sisters together again :)



Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday's With Jess: To Review or not to Review?

At the very end of the year, I calculated the number of books I had read for that year and came up with 69.  I have no idea how many books I reviewed but it wasn't even close to 69. Could I have reviewed more books? Absolutely! Why didn't I?

There's a three reasons for this. The first reason is that I'm a book junkie...which means I finish a book and start reading another one an hour later, not even that sometimes! So I don't have any head space to remember some of the books I've read and thus writing a review is very difficult. To combat this, I started keeping a log of my thoughts on books once I finish them. This way I can keep reading at breakneck speed, whilst still recalling previous books. Thus writing reviews isn't so daunting.

The second reason is that I probably didn't like the book enough to review it. We don't review books here unless we like them. Having said that, we can be critical towards a book but still really love it.

The third reason is simple. Sometimes I don't want to share my thoughts about a book. This might sound strange, even selfish, but haven't you liked something to the point that you just wanted to cuddle up with your thoughts leave them there inside your head and let them be just yours? Well, sometimes that's how I feel about some of the books I read.

For those that write reviews, do you review every book you like?

Note: Click on the picture to find its source.

Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas by Annalisa Daughety

A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas by Annalisa Daughety
Barbour Publishing, 1st December, 2012

All Violet can think about is how to make sure she has a date for her little sister’s wedding. Online dating, speed dating, blind dates. . .she doesn’t care what it takes. And when that doesn’t work, she hires a matchmaker, only to discover that her “match” is her old college classmate. Violet didn’t like Jackson then and she sure doesn’t like him now. But Jackson has a plan: he’ll be her “boyfriend” at the wedding if Violet will be his “girlfriend” for his high school reunion. There’s just one small hitch—they still can’t stand each other!

I really liked the sound of the blurb of this book and I was really looking for something simple and sweet to capture my attention and I got it! This is such a sweet, gentle book with some funny moments, a mean character or two and plenty of sweet romance.

I enjoyed being taken to Hot Springs and enjoyed getting to know the people in this book. It's not a taxing read and it plants a smile on your face once you finish the story...just as a good book should!


Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.