Monday, June 27, 2022

A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tess Arlen #BookReview #BlogTour #VioletTaffeta


A Dress of Violet Taffeta
by Tessa Arlen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to review form Netgalley
Genre: Historical Fiction

Book Description A sumptuous novel based on the fascinating true story of Belle Epoque icon Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, a woman determined to shatter the boundaries of the fashion world and support herself and her young daughter with her magnificent designs.

Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, fabric, and texture in ways few other people do. But is the world ready for her? A world dominated by men who would try to control her and use her art for their own gain?

After being deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is desperate to survive. She turns to her one true talent to make a living. As a little girl, the dresses she made for her dolls were the envy of her group of playmates. Now, she uses her courageous innovations in Belle Époque fashion to support her own little girl. Lucile knows it is an uphill battle, and a single woman is not supposed to succeed on her own, but she refuses to give up. She will claim her place in the fashion world; failure simply is not an option.

Then, on a frigid night in 1912, Lucy’s life changes once more, when she becomes one of 706 people to survive the sinking of the Titanic. She could never have imagined the effects the disaster would have on her career, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucile will live on as a trailblazing and fearless fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn. This is her story.

My thoughtsA Dress of Violet Taffeta is beautifully written. It chronicles the life of Lady Duff Gordon. She was a very strong woman who paved the way for women in business during the Gilded Age.

The story begins after Lucy's (Lady Duff Gordon) husband left her for a dancer. He took all of the money and she was left to care for their young daughter. Her life of leisure was at an end. The servants were let go and she was left with one servant, who was not proficient in her duties. Celia became vital in her quest to enter the world of fashion.

I found this book to be fascinating. Lucy and Celia are real people who lived a life that made it possible for women to enter the fashion industry. A Dress of Violet Taffeta is a "rags to riches" story.

The story doesn't end with Lucy's rise in fashion. She also survived the Titanic. If you enjoy reading about strong women and their determination to succeed, you should pick up this novel.

Source: I received a complimentary copy from Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Online Purchase Links:

Lady Duff Gordon
Evening Dress designed by Lady Duff Gordon

About the Author:  Tessa Arlen writes historical fiction when she is not toiling away in her garden. She is the author of the Edwardian mystery series: Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson; the Woman of World War II mystery series. Poppy Redfern. And two standalone historical novels: In Royal Service to the Queen, and A Dress of Violet Taffeta



“Fans of the 1991 BBC series The House of Eliott will find familiar comfort in Arlen’s descriptions of fabrics, colorworks, and evolving fashions.” —Library Journal

“Tessa Arlen’s novel is as elegant as a Lucille gown, full of movement, color and beauty…For anyone interested in fashion, in the Gilded Age, in stories about strong, visionary woman, Tessa Arlen’s novel is a must read!” —Jeanne Mackin, author of The Last Collection

“A sumptuous treat of elegant prose, evocative descriptions, and compelling emotions. Arlen’s writing absolutely shines.” —Anna Lee Huber, USA TODAY Bestselling author of A Perilous Perspective

“Tessa Arlen delivers a fascinating tale based on the real-life fashion icon, Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, who went up against a male dominated industry and revolutionized it…A must read for fashion fans everywhere.” —Renee Rosen, USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces

“…written in a sumptuous, engaging style that appeals to all the senses and brings Lucy, her creations, and her world vividly alive.” —Alyssa Maxwell, author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

To Kiss a Wallflower ~ A Timeless Regency Collection #BookTour #RegencyRomance


To Kiss a WallflowerTo Kiss a Wallflower by Jen Geigle Johnson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Source:  I received a review copy and purchased a Kindle copy.
Genre: Regency Romance

Book Description:  THE WALLFLOWER'S DANCE by Jen Geigle Johnson
Lottie Hughes likes people, as long as they aren't too close. Does it bother her that no one asks her to dance? Yes, but she's not sure how to drum up dance partners when she has almost no dowry, no title, and freezes up when anyone tries to talk to her. When she suddenly inherits a huge amount and is the new center of attention all over London, her secret dreams might come true but also her worst nightmares. Suddenly everyone wants to talk to her. Men ask her to dance. And she is inundated with interested suitors. She fights to stay close to the few friends she knows are true. One man saw her before her life changed forever. But does she want to accept his help when he, too, might be insincere?

Ellen might be beautiful and considered a diamond of the first water by Society, but she is so very tired of the pressure to marry a titled gentleman so that her beauty won’t go to waste. When her cousin Dinah dares Ellen to attend a ball with no frills and to stand with the wallflowers, Ellen takes on the dare. What’s in the wager for her? The prize cuttings of her aunt’s extraordinary roses. But what Ellen isn’t expecting is Lord Ravenshire to engage her in the most interesting conversation. When she confesses to him of her opposition in marrying for a title, he confesses his distaste of the London scene. They strike a bargain together, one which will either push them apart or lead to a future sweeter than either of them could have imagined.

Charlotte Winters is destined to spinsterhood until she turns down an unwanted proposal and everything changes. With gossip rampant, her father attempts to salvage her reputation by betrothing her to another. Soon she is sent off to her aunt’s to meet Lord Templeton, her intended. Anxiety-ridden, Charlotte begs her aunt to let her observe Lord Templeton from afar before their introduction. She never planned to pretend to be her fictional cousin to learn more about him, or to fall in love with Lord Templeton’s friend in the process. Lord Templeton dreads returning to the empty halls of Newcliff Manor. When his father’s old friend, Mr. Winters reaches out for assistance, Lord Templeton finds himself returning home engaged to a woman he has never met. Desperate to learn more about Miss Winters, he befriends her cousin. He wouldn’t have spoken to her, or lied about his identity, if he’d known the quiet woman would sneak into his heart.

My thoughts: This has to be one of my all-time favorite Timeless Anthology Collections. It is set during the Regency Era and shows some of the pros and cons of being a wallflower.

In The Wallflower's Dance Charlotte has a problem conversing with potential dance partners. There is one gentleman she can talk to, her best-friend Denny. He is wonderful at guiding her through conversations, but when he is not there, she freezes up and says strange things. Things change overnight for her when she finds that she is to inherit a large sum. Unexpectedly, gentlemen come at her left and right wanting to know her. Through it all, she has Denny....until he starts acting like a suitor.

I loved this story where it was interesting to see if Charlotte and Denny could have a friends-to-lovers happy ending. They were cute together and I couldn't see why they didn't form an attachment earlier when she was a wallflower.

Letters to a Wallflower has a heroine who would love to be a wallflower. She is considered a "diamond of the first water" but she would love to have an evening without aching feet. She takes a bet with her cousin that if she dressed horribly and hid with the wallflowers that she could remain undetected and have a pleasant evening. Lord Aaron Ravenshire isn't ready to find a bride so he agrees to dance with all the wallflowers at the ball, except the one who refuses him.

Seriously, this story is the funniest of the three. To fool their mothers that they have an attachment they agree to write letters back and forth. At first, it is all fun and games until real feelings start to develop. This is a story that will make you laugh and hope that the two can have a real relationship.

The final story is To Marry a Wallflower. This story is a bit tricky. Charlotte has had her reputation ruined by a rejected suitor. He is set to smear her name to everyone who will listen. Lord Luke Templeton is a spectator to the young man setting himself upon her father and agrees that he will marry her to save her from ruin.

The two have a chance meeting before they are introduced, only they both give fake names. She is Miss Lambe and he is Mr. Luke. They agree to meetings under false pretenses. They are posing at a cousin of one and a close friend of the other to pass on information to the prospective bride and groom. It sounds a bit complicated, but it really is easy to follow in the story. The issue is that they both start having feelings for each other, thinking they are being unfaithful to their betrothed.
I loved this novella. It is another that will make you laugh at the dilemma that they have placed themselves under.

I highly recommend this collection. It was easy for me to fall in love with the story and the couples. This is an anthology that I did not want to put down.

This book is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Advanced Praise:

  • “5 STARS - I loved the unique twists that each author used in their stories and how they tied them into the theme.”— Julie Carpenter, Goodreads

  • “What a great set of stories! If you have read any of these three authors you know you are in for a treat. If you aren’t familiar with them, prepare to add their names to your list of favorites.”— Shauna Jones, Goodreads

  • “I thoroughly enjoyed all three of these novellas. They were lighthearted, fun, and took me away from my worries for a while.”— A Bookish Romantic, Goodreads

About the Authors:

Jen Geigle Johnson

An award-winning author, including the GOLD in Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards and LDSPMA Praiseworthy's top award for Romance, Jen Geigle Johnson has more stories circulating in her brain than can possibly be told. She discovered her passion for England while kayaking on the Thames near London as a young teenager. History is her main jam. Her literary heroes include the greats: Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. But she has modern sensibilities as well. 

She loves to share bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten. Whether in Regency England, the French Revolution, or Colonial America, her romance novels are much like life is supposed to be: full of adventure.


Heather B. Moore

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. She's lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States, including Hawaii, and attended school abroad including the Cairo American College in Egypt, and the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel. She loves to learn about anything in history and, as an author, is passionate about historical research.


Anneka R. Walker

Anneka Walker is an award-winning author raised by a librarian and an English teacher turned judge. After being fed a steady diet of books, she decided to learn about writing. The result was a bachelor's degree in English and history. When she isn't dreaming up a happy ending for a story, she is busy living her own with her husband and adorable children.


Saturday, June 18, 2022

What I've Been Reading!

 I have been horrible at writing reviews and posting them.  I recently returned from a trip to Hawaii followed by a bout of Covid-19.  I kept on reading, but I had no interest in reviewing.  Here are some of the books I have read recently with a review. (Finally.)


Lily of the Valley (The Gents, #2)Lily of the Valley by Sarah M. Eden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source:  I purchased a Kindle copy

Book Description Cumberland, 1786

Amateur inventor Kester Barrington prefers the peace and quiet of his estate to the bustle of Society. But when his tight-knit group of friends, the Gents, descends on Livingsley Hall for their annual gathering, he stoically joins in their activities. It all seems exhausting—until an unexpected addition to the party catches his eye: his new neighbor, the lovely Violet.

Violet Ridley longs to make friends in this new corner of the country, but her family’s fortune was made through investments rather than inheritance, and Society can be fickle. So when tragedy forces her family to shelter at neighboring Livingsley Hall, Violet is delighted to receive a warm welcome from the Gents. In particular, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Kester. The pair is a study in contrasts: Violet, with her sunny disposition, and Kester, with his prickly facade. Their connection is impossible to deny, but both Kester and Violet harbor heavy constraints. As their association becomes increasingly tangled and confused, their only hope of pursuing a life together is to trust one another with the very truths that could tear them apart.

My thoughts: The gents! Who doesn't love the gents?

Lily of the Valley is the second story in "The Gents" series. They are a group of unlikely friends who are loyal to each other and the women they love.

Kester Barrington just wants some time to himself. He has his experiments and a goal to impress the members of the scientific community. He did not expect that the gents would converge upon his estate for an extended house party.

When the group gets together you can expect the unexpected, but their neighbor's house catching on fire was a bit extreme, even for them. This brings the lovely Violet Ridley into their circle. I love that they are welcoming and not opposed to their circle growing larger. They paved the way for her and her family to be welcomed into society. They have noble and good hearts.

The story takes a look at secrets and the burden that they bring to the bearer. Kester and Violet have secrets. The moment they meet they create a special bond. They quickly learn that they can trust each other and their friendship begins to blossom.

This leads to embarrassing situations that will make you chuckle. Fortunately, life does get better. (Whew!) I really love it when a book can make me smile and laugh.

This story is tender-sweet. The most poignant aspect for me was the power of friendship and forgiveness. There is also a slow-moving romance of friends leading to something more.

I anxiously look forward to the next book that will be written.

Online Purchase Links:   Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Deseret Book * Seagull Book


The Rent CollectorThe Rent Collector by Camron Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to review from Netgalley

Book Description:  Based on true events.

Sang Ly lives at Cambodia's largest city dump, earning a living for her family by sifting through the trash for recyclables and things which can be repaired and sold. On a good day, she can earn enough to buy food for her family. She needs enough good days to pay the Rent Collector, Sopeap—a grumpy old woman who is willing to evict any tenant who can't pay their rent on time.

When Sang Ly is unable to pay her rent, she fears her family will have to leave their shanty home—a place where her only possessions can be carried in two hands. But when Sopeap sees a discarded children's book lying on Sang Ly's cardboard bed, her mood changes. Sang Ly offers her the book if she can keep her family at the dump.

An unlikely friendship develops between the two women, and Sang Ly learns that Sopeap knows how to read—something Sang Ly has always wanted to learn. Being able to read could transform Sang Ly's world beyond the edges of the dump and lead to a future with possibilities and hope.

But the Rent Collector has a secret and a tragic past, one that will not be easy for Sang Ly to navigate. With the support of her family, Sang Ly embarks on a life-changing journey for a better life and future.

The Rent Collector is about the power of literacy, the influence of the past, and finding hope, resiliency, and empowerment in the face of seemingly endless hardship.

My thoughts: Wow! I'm not sure that's an accurate word to describe how I felt about this novel. It is an adaptation for young readers. I did not read the original work, so I was pleasantly surprised at the range of emotions and events that The Rent Collector invoked within me.

Sany Ly is a young mother living in a dump in Cambodia. The living conditions were unimaginable, yet Sang Ly and her husband had a place to live. It is a very humbling thought. I was reminded of many important concepts: the worth of a soul, one man's garbage is another man's treasure, your circumstances do not define the person that you are, and books are cool.

Sang Ly makes an unlikely friend in the rent collector, Sopeap. The discovery of a child book in the dump changes the lives of both women. Sopeap is reminded of the life she lived before coming to the dump and then she teaches Sang Ly to read. Then Sang Ly is able to touch the lives of people she comes in contact with. The ability to read changes environments and in return the quality of life.

The regime change in Cambodia is also touched on. The new government slaughtered those who could read and were in a position to bring about change. I found that part of the novel to be heartbreaking. It was a vital part of the story and an important reminder of the past.

This story is bitter-sweet. It was easy to picture in my mind. Sopeap's story is one of tragedy and beauty. It is one soul finding another in unlikely circumstances and the power of friendship.

Source: I received a complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Online Purchase Links:  Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Deseret Book * Seagull Book


Court of Swans (The Dericott Tales, #1)Court of Swans by Melanie Dickerson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source:  Received to review from Netgalley

Book DescriptionFrom New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a reimagining of the Wild Swans—the first book in a new series of fairy-tale retellings set in medieval England!

Delia lives a quiet life as the daughter of an earl in late 14th-century England, but that peace is shattered when her seven brothers are betrayed by their father and falsely arrested. Meanwhile, with the Peasants’ Revolt threatening the peace of the kingdom, the king is executing anyone who had anything to do with the uprising. Delia is terrified her brothers will be next, the youngest of whom is only ten years old.

Delia infiltrates the palace as a lady-in-waiting for the new queen so she can be near her brothers in the Tower of London and help them escape. When she runs into Sir Henry, the guard captain who arrested her brothers, she hates him—until she discovers he has been secretly carrying food to her brothers in their prison cell.

Trapped into obeying the orders of his king, Sir Geoffrey is the oldest son of an earl whose estate has been seized by the king and his treacherous advisers. His first mission as captain was to arrest seven brothers for treason, but he had no idea that the brothers were so young or that their sister would be so feisty and beautiful.

In a court where everyone is eager to backstab anyone else to get what they want, how will Geoffrey right this wrong and help Delia and her brothers—especially when Delia hates him? And how will he keep them both from losing their heads to this execution-prone king?

My thoughtsCourt of Swans took me on a journey of betrayal, greed, political intrigue, romance, and a smidgen of magic.

Books set during the medieval time period have always intrigued me. I always dreamed that Knights were men of honor. This book is a reminder that the time period had a lot of problems too.
The story and plot were written in such a way that it seemed it really could have happened. I loved the gentle love story, the honor of the brothers, and the tender romance with Sir Geoffrey caught my imagination.

I recommend this book to everyone who loves the time period and a fairy tale retelling.

Source: I received a complimentary copy via Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Online Purchase Links: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Book Depository

Source:  Kindle Unlimited

Book Description:  Noblewoman by day. Legendary thief by night. Who is the girl under the hood?

Orphaned at five and widowed at sixteen, Marian is the sole heir of Locksley keep and the Earldom of Huntingdon. Her husband, Robin of Locksley, never returned from the crusades, leaving her at the mercy of the sheriff. He chooses her a new husband among his brutal lackeys and taxes her people to rags and starvation.

Marian is sidelined and powerless, but rumors spread of a charismatic thief who could change everything. Clever, brave, and strong, his followers claim that the hooded rogue is Robin’s spirit back from the grave.

Only Marian knows the truth. Her husband is dead, but under his hood, she could be invincible.

The King of Thieves is dead. Long live the Queen.

ROBIN’S HOOD is the first novella in the High Tower Robin Hood YA medieval fantasy series. If you like strong female characters, friends-to-lovers romance, and non-stop twists and turns, then you’ll love this gender-bent twist on the Legends of Sherwood.

My thoughts: I fell in love with the legend of "Robin Hood" as a child. I watched the Disney movie many times. This story is Robin Hood with a gender twist.

Lady Marian has waited for three years for her husband, Robin, and her brother to return from the
Crusades. The government is falling to pieces and the Sheriff of Nottingham comes to claim her home when her father-in-law passes away.

What is a maid to do? Take up her husband's cloak and bring hope to the starving poor. It is a fine line of "cat and mouse" she plays with the sheriff and the man he has brought with him. She is to enter into a forced marriage so the Sherrif can have control over Locksley keep.

I look forward to reading the next book, Marian's Man.

Online Purchase Link: Amazon

View all my reviews on Goodreads!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Featuring "The Stewardship Principle" by Ganel-Lyn Condie #Giveaway #Inspirational


Mortality provides a complex collection of opportunities. We face challenges to both love and learn. And amid struggle and strife, we can choose to live life with greater joy and spirit. But how do we do this? The answer lies in reframing how we see our experiences. Beloved author and speaker Ganel-Lyn Condie introduces a key principle that can guide us through both the miraculous and the messy moments of life: stewardship. 

With her token wit and candor, Ganel-Lyn helps readers learn to navigate through a reframing of life’s experiences, shifting them from issues of ownership to assignments of stewardship. Featuring a wealth of scriptural insights, real-life accounts, and practical advice, this insightful volume examines stewardship versus ownership in all aspects of life, from the ebb and flow of relationships to the devastation of loss to the frustration of trying―and failing. Learn to consecrate your efforts to God and discover how this fundamental shift in perspective will make all the difference in the sense of peace and hope that can be yours.

Online Purchase Links:

About the Author
:  Ganel-Lyn Condie is a popular motivational speaker known for inspiring others with her unique honesty, authenticity, and spirit. She is dedicated to her family, faith, and inspiring others.

Ganel-Lyn loves teaching others through speaking and writing. She has experienced healing from a major chronic illness and is the mother to two miracle children.

After the heartbreaking suicide of her 40-year-old sister, Ganel-Lyn is constantly working toward suicide prevention.

Ganel-Lyn lives with an open heart and feels passionate about sharing principles that will empower others to live life with more joy.

She is a regular television and radio guest and hosts the popular shows REAL TALK CFM and THE MIDDLE. Ganel-Lyn's books and talks have now encouraged thousands of people all over the world.

She loves growing older with her cute husband Rob and aims to keep learning and loving.

Enter the Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway