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100 Pages A Day...Stephanie's Book Reviews

I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way.  I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.

River Rising

River Rising - John A. Heldt

The five Carson siblings have been in turmoil since the disappearance of their parents several months earlier. When oldest sibling, Adam receives a packet from his parent's lawyer, the pieces begin to come together. However, the packet reveals a secret website set up by their parents telling of their discovery of time travel portals and the subsequent adventures in different time periods. After Adam reviews the evidence and reads through how the portals work, he gets his siblings together and they unanimously vote to travel through time in order to reach their parents. They plan to go through a portal near their hometown in Arizona, taking them back to the 1880's; however when they step through the portal they end up near Johnstown, Pennsylvania in December 1888. The siblings quickly try to acclimate themselves into the time and begin the search for their parents. For twin siblings, Cody and Caitlin, this means enrolling in school. For middle brother, Greg, an adventure into the truly wild west to track a lead in Arizona territory and California. For Natalie, using her journalism skills to follow leads while Adam manages information and holds down the fort from the temporary home at the Colbert Boarding House. Even though the sibling's main objective is to find their parents and return home, the extended stay in Johnstown has led to romantic entanglements for four of the five siblings and their parents keep slipping through their fingers. On May 31st, 1889, the Johnstown flood devastates the town and the inhabitants leaving the Carson siblings in disarray.

River Rising is an epic time travel adventure. This is a story you will want to take your time with and sink into. From the moment the five siblings walk through the time portal and into 1880's Pennsylvania, ​I knew I was in for an exciting ride. Amazingly, all five siblings: Adam, Greg, Natalie, Cody and Caitlin are very well developed and individual characters. They each take turns at telling their part of the story through their point of view while continuing a cohesive story line. Pennsylvania 1888-89 was a wonderful year to travel back to; much like the Carson siblings I was amazed at the time period where Benjamin Harrison had just been elected President, Mark Twain was in his prime, the West was still wild and Punxsutawney Phil has made his first appearance. Through the sibling's eyes, I was able to see many of these events first hand. Unlike the characters in Heldt's other time travel series, the Carson siblings did not travel through time thinking about the possibility of altered timelines. I am very interested in how their very involved actions in 1888 may have altered things in the present. I am also very interested in how the time portals work; it is know that they appear on solstices and seem to appear in areas that are known to be sacred or have paranormal activity. I would love to figure out more about them and where else they seem to pop up. Near the end of the Carson sibling's grand adventure, the game of cat and mouse that they have been playing with their parents seems to be no closer to the end and the intensity increases when tragedy strikes with Johnstown flood; I had a hard time putting the book down. Ending, with a huge cliffhanger, I can not wait to see what happens with the Carson family next. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

The Elizas

The Elizas: A Novel - Sara Shepard

Budding novelist Eliza Fontaine has a complicated past and things become even more complicated when she is found at the bottom of the pool at the Tranquility resort in Palm Springs. Eliza's family believes the worst, another failed suicide attempt, just like the previous attempts before her brain tumor was removed. However, Eliza is positive that she had been pushed this time. No one seems to believe her except for her rescuer, Desmond who thinks he saw someone fleeing the scene. Eliza desperately tries to put the pieces together from her night at the Tranquility, but she has severe memory lapses. The more she tries to dig, the more pieces she finds missing. With the impending release of her novel, The Dots, Eliza keeps finding more similarities between herself and her main character, Dot, and has trouble separating the fact from fiction.

The Elizas is a thrilling, addictive mystery that dives into the mysteries of the mind and memory. From the beginning Eliza is presented as an unreliable narrator, however that didn't stop me from sympathizing with her cause and rooting for her to untangle the web of lies and foggy memories that surrounded her. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to read both Eliza's narrative as well as her book, The Dots. The story line playfully and ingeniously bounced back and forth between the two plots interweaving Eliza's and Dot's story in the reader's mind just as they had become entwined in Eliza's. At first The Dots seems like a nice bonus story, although as the book progresses, I found that The Dots offered more insight into Eliza's character than her own narrative. Overall, a tantalizing story with intriguing characters that will keep you on your toes. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

1,001 Ways To Be Creative

1,011 Ways to Be Creative - Barbara Ann Kipfer

1,001 Ways To Be Creative is a charming little book filled with plenty of ideas, thoughts, reminders and projects to keep your creative juices flowing. The perfect size for the coffee table, desk or bringing along with you in a bag, 1,001 Ways To Be Creative offers a list of starting points, activities and new perspectives for when you are stuck in a rut, just plain bored or looking for a new approach.

When I first got this book I dug right in and started noting which things I wanted to try! I absolutely loved that the very first item on the list is simply "Play." Other items that I tagged included: "Make today the first day of your new hobby," I have a back-list of things I would love to do, "Volunteer for archaeology digs in your area...", this combines my love for outdoors, history and mystery! "Delve into the study of design in nature, called teleology," a new word and something that sounds fascinating, and "Lose your fear of being wrong," a good reminder to tell myself every day. These are not just ideas for artists, but ties to creativity in general, creativity in how you live, work and relate to others as well as nature. Aside from just the list, there are motivational quotes as well as "Inspirations" pages which asks questions as well as some fill in the blank spots. My only wish is that the book came in journal form so I could fill in more of the things that I tried or at least check them off and make some notes!

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Cleopatra Unconquered

Cleopatra Unconquered - Helen R. Davis

Cleopatra VII was raised in the tumultuous Egyptian political climate.  From her infancy she was prepared by her father to one day rule Egypt beside her brother.  As a daughter of Isis, Cleopatra prayed to the goddess for support and guidance.  Little did Cleopatra know of the road ahead with death, deception, love, loss and the eventual happiness that Isis had in store for her when Cleopatra showed her worth. 

Cleopatra Unconquered is another wonderful story of 'what if," an alternative history to Cleopatra VII life and reign if she and Marc Antony were not defeated by Octavian in the Battle of Actium.  As the first of a three part series however, most of the book is deeply rooted in Cleopatra's history and not turning the tides until the end.  I enjoyed learning about how Cleopatra might have grown up and the trials she had to endure, especially within her own family.  I was very interested in her time away from Egypt and how she followed her father into his Exile in Rome; this seemed to have a great impact on her later decisions.  A wonderful layer that was added to the story was the point of view from the Vault of Nut where Isis, Athena and Cleopatra's mother, father and others in her life who had passed could look down on her, affect her decisions and move ahead through time.  This perspective allowed another layer of depth to Cleopatra's winding path through life and the choices she made.  Cleopatra's story intensifies as she heads into battle and becomes a commander and financier and I was enveloped in her battle.  I am so glad that Cleopatra's story no longer has to end so soon and can't wait to see where it leads next. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Courage Between Love and Death

Courage Between Love and Death - Joseph Pillitteri

Elspeth Shaughnesshey is the daughter of Irish Immigrants living in Buffalo, NY. In 1901, The Pan American Exposition sets up in Buffalo. Having completed her nursing training, El is fortunate to snag a job at the Exhibition Hospital. However, the exposition hospital is temporary and the Shaughnesshey family is continuing to grow. With her father's death, the bar that the Shaughnesshey family runs is failing. El knows she needs to bring money into the family, she strives for a permanent nursing position at Buffalo General, but also has her eyes on a wealthy Exposition doctor, Dr. Kingdom in hopes of securing funds for her family. While working to get Dr. Kingdom's attention, a new doctor, Dr. Gunner joins the hospital and throws El's emotions askew. Not to mention, President McKinley is visiting the Expo and an anarchist is following closely behind. When the anarchist takes a shot at McKinley, El is thrown into the team of doctors that does their best to deal with the assassination attempt.

This is an in-depth and interesting view of the assassination of President McKinley. I was very interested in this story because I enjoy reading about local history. I grew up not to far from Buffalo, NY and knew about the fate of President McKinley, but not much else. I loved that the story was told from El's point of view, a nurse that was told to stay in the background and not talk, but usually did anything but. Through El's position as a nurse and her family's placement, El was able to have views of both the assassin, the President and the doctors who attempted to save his life. El gave insight into the medical practices of the day and the disparaging viewpoints at the time. It was fascinating to find out about the sanitation practices for medicine, that the X-Ray that had just been developed was not used to find the bullet in President McKinley's abdomen, that an obstetrician was the operating surgeon as well as how McKinley lived his last days. The historical facts of McKinley's assassination attempt, operation and death were expertly woven into an exciting fictional story. The development of El's character also let me see how an Irish family living in Buffalo was treated at the time. El's development throughout the story and courage to find love where she wasn't looking was a sweet interlude in an otherwise tragic tale.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.


Burial - Ted Hayden

In the not-to-distant future, things in Southern California look a little different than they do now.  Everything is taken to the extreme, but this isn't exactly a good thing and many people suffer from the effects. Ernesto is a product of the prison system and some sort of genetic engineering that they test on the inmates there.  After getting knifed in the throat, Ernesto has some magic worked on him by the doctors at J. Smyrna and is subsequently released as a success story.  Ernesto works as a bouncer at a bar near his home.  Madeline frequents the bar and hits on any guy for a place to stay and any cash they might have.  When Madeline witnesses a bank robbery committed by a high school friend of hers, she thinks she has found a new way to make easy money and has just the friend to help her do it.  However, the plan doesn't go  smoothly and Madeline and Ernesto both find out just what the J. Smyrna Transfection Lab and Corrections Management has been up to.

A dark and heavy tale about what happens to people who life has forgotten, people who believe they have nothing left to lose.  I was struck by how little I liked any of the characters.  Madeline, Jake, and Blondie were all deplorable. Ernesto had redeeming qualities, but a dark past.  What kept me reading was the interest in all of the characters motivations as well as what exactly happened to Ernesto in prison.  I do wish there was a little more depth to the setting, some backstories and how exactly J. Smyrna was pulling off what they were able to achieve.  Since things worked slightly differently in this world, I felt just a little lost at times; although, this is a shorter story and can easily be read in one sitting.  Overall, an unconventional story featuring characters that usually go unnoticed.

Catarina's Ring

Catarina's Ring -  Lisa McGuinness

Catarina Pensebene grew up in Italy's farming country.  Her life was filled with olive groves, hard work, good food and a large, loving family.  When Catarina is put to work as a maid for another family, she attracts the attention of the husband and is almost raped.  Salvation comes in the form of a letter from the United States.  A family friend is asking for Catarina's hand in marriage for their son, Franco.  Catarina gains the courage to leave her home and her family in order to travel to America and marry a man she only knew in her youth.  Making the best of the life she now leads, Catarina finds love with Franco and his family, she dutifully passes on her life lessons along with the ring Franco made for her to her daughter and granddaughter.  Years later, Catarina's granddaughter, Juliette decides to escape to Italy after a tragedy.  Juliette calls upon the strength of her grandmother to get through heartbreak and find the courage to follow her dream and open her own Italian restaurant. 

Beautiful scenery and intriguing plot immersed me into both Catarina and Juliette's stories.  I am a sucker for dual time stories and I loved that I knew the connection between Juliette and Catarina from the beginning, but not the full importance of the ring.  I felt a strong connection to each character; I experienced the struggle of Catarina's decision as she weighed leaving her home for a new land and fiance, as well as her resolve in being happy and making love grow.  Juliette's experience began in tragedy, however Italy was a wonderful place to recuperate.  I was brought into the sights, smells and food as Juliette cooked her way to recovery.  I enjoyed that Juliette also found solace in her Grandmother's letters, the shared experiences through time and the bond of the ring deepened their links. Overall, an emotional and enchanting story of love, lessons, loss and family.

This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

A Collection of Twisted Tales

A Collection of Twisted Tales - Kraig W. Dafoe
A Collection of Twisted Tales is a selection of short stories and poetry that is written in the style of beloved Edgar Allen Poe.  Many of the stories revolve around death; however, how the death is achieved in each story is done in a variety of interesting ways.  Like many collections of stories, I had my favorites.  Two stories that stuck out to me were The Clock and My Friend, The Wanderer. 
In The Clock a series of letters recounts the series of events that led up to the death of the owner of a family home with a peculiar clock.  This story walked the line of supernatural and psychosis leaving me wondering if there truly was an evil clock or if mental health issues run in the family.  
My Friend, The Wanderer opens with a time travel mystery and ends on a much sinister note.  This story drew me in with adventure and intrigue and finished with gore and cruelty.
My only wish for this collection is that I could delve deeper into some of the stories.  Overall, a nice mix of horror, thriller and supernatural short stories for a quick read on a rainy day.  
This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

By Love Divided

By Love Divided (The Lydiard Chronicles) - Elizabeth St. John

Lucy Apsley's children are grown and her best friend and husband is dead. They are forced out of their home in the Tower of London and have to face the debts left by Allen Apsley when he funded the King's cause. Lucy attempts to keep herself out of debt and her family together by marrying a Puritan, however, Leventhrope Franke is more interested in the collection of Lucy's debts. Lucy's son, Allen decides to take up the life Lucy left behind in the Courts and befriends his cousin, Edward Villiers. Allen's loyalties are soon tied to King Charles I and Allen becomes a soldier and strategist for the Crown. Meanwhile, Allen's sister, Luce has found love with John, who sides with the Parliamentary cause. When the King begins a civil war, the Apsley family is divided in their loyatlities, but together in their love for one another.

This is a wonderful continuation of The Lady of The Tower. Written by a descendant of the Apsley family and using their journals, By Love Divided provides a unique and insightful look into the English Civil War through the eyes of a real family during the time. Unlike The Lady of the Tower, this story focuses more on Lucy's children, though Lucy is still a driving force within the family and the glue that is desperately trying to hold them together. I didn't really know much about the English Civil War and it was very interesting to me to see the sides unfold from within and how the Apsley family dealt with loyalties on both sides. Of course, one of the most interesting characters from The Lady of The Tower, Lucy's sister Barbara makes an appearance and uses her influence with the King to help the Apsley's while still maintaining her hatred for her sister. Through Allen and John's eyes I was able to see the war clearly from both the Royalist and Parliamentary sides. The love within the Apsley family was the shining star throughout the story and I can't wait to read about what the Apley's accomplish next.

This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

Survivors' Dawn

Survivors' Dawn - Ashley Warren

Brooke Flanagan is ready for the college experience.  She has been raised in a conservative, religious household and is ready to breakout.  Lauren Le is the daughter of an immigrant and has always balanced her party lifestyle with good grades.  Nikki Towers is their cool and confident Resident Advisor who is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life.  Colin Jordon is a wealthy, privileged, smug,  college senior who has easily rolled through life. He takes joy in having sex with women against their will and making them believe it was their idea.  Colin Jordon is a sexual predator that has always gotten his way because of who he is; this is, until he sexually assaults Brooke, Lauren and Nikki.  The three women believe that there is no hope, but together, they find that they are stronger.

This is a very timely and important book that not only shows how anyone can be sexually assaulted, but how you can survive the trauma of sexual assault with support and bring justice to your accuser no matter how powerful they believe themselves to be.  With that, it did take me a while to get into this book, the first half of the book details the three women's interactions with Colin, how he gained their trust, acted as a perfect gentlemen, even suggested that they slow down at points.  I think what threw me is that the voices of the characters and the dialogue did not quite seem to match that of a college-aged women.  The writing at the beginning seemed to be aimed more towards adult parents than college students. There was just something slightly off about it, like the fact that they were calling their down to earth resident advisor, 'Cool RA.' Or when Colin was described as "...a thief in the night, a modern-day cat burglar pursuing jewels of a different sort.." Something about the language just threw me.  After the assaults, when the women were dealing with the emotions of being raped and assaulted and trying to figure out how to band together and fight back, was when the intensity picked up for me.  It was great to see Colin sweat and the women gain strength instead of feeling like they had to hide their attack.  The most intriguing parts for me were the friendships gained, the support groups and the actual hearings for Colin's behavior.  The best advice comes in the epilogue as well, how to help someone who might be assaulted and how to help yourself. 

This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

Animal Graph

Animal Graph (SFF Post-Apocalyptic) (Graph World Book 1) - M. Black
In the recent future, a nuclear war has changed the face of the world.  The Americas are ruled by a dictator, King Borran, who enforces a rigid class system.  The Prestige receive access to  health care, food and safe living conditions, while everyone else must fend for themselves.  Anyone who has been burned by the radiation is now an outcast.  Beyond this, Borran wants control and has implemented a system to create a stronger army by combining animal and human DNA in order to give humans animal traits.  The result is a human with an animal graph, but the animal graphs can be unpredictable and deadly.  In order to perfect the animal graphs, Borran experimented on prisoners.  Jin is imprisoned for stealing bread for her family when she is experiment on and graphed with a poison dart frog, Harpy eagle and Jaguar.  After her Graphing procedure she is released into the jungle to be hunted by Borran's soldiers for practice.  While figuring out her new capabilities, Jin is assisted by another Graph, Adan.  Adan seems to know a lot more about their predicament and is skilled in survival, but Jin has trouble trusting the fellow Graph. 

Animal Graph introduces us to an exciting and dangerous new dystopian world for YA readers.  We are immediately thrown into the action with Jin as she is released from prison and trying to figure out her new graphs.  I was very intrigued about how the world came to the state it is in, how Borran functions and how the Animal Graphs work.  This is revealed as Jin recounts her time in prison, her family and as she meets Adan.  Jin was very easy to get to know and seemed like someone that I would like to know in real life.  After Jin met Adan, the suspense intensified and I was hooked further into the story.  I was personally very interested in the human and animal connections that were made, not only with the Graphs, but through thought connection.  I think Jin's connection with Jade the Radguar, a radiated Jaguar is the best relationship. I am really excited to see what else the Graph powers can do as well as what other animals can be graphed with humans in the next books.  Faced-paced writing, an action-packed story line and short chapters kept my interest up throughout the book. 
This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

The Atomic City Girls

The Atomic City Girls: A Novel - Janet Beard

During WWII, a small farming town in Tennessee was quietly demolished and a government facility popped up nearly overnight.  The facility at Oak Ridge hired many young woman to spin dial and push levers, but none of the young women knew what they were working on, only that they received decent pay and housing.  Among the young women were scientists, military and families all living and working under tight security and keeping secrets.  Many people working there didn't know what they were working on or the consequences.  One of the women working at Oak Ridge is eighteen year old June, a local girl whose grandfather once lived where Oak Ridge now sits.  June and her roommate Cici quickly become acclimated to the strange life at Oak Ridge.  Cici's goal while at Oak Ridge is simple to strip away her penniless background and emerge as a well-bred young woman who can catch the eye of an affluent man.  June, on the other hand would like to move on from the death of her fiance, Ronnie and enjoy life again.  June may find the answer in physicist, Dr. Samuel Cantor.  However, as their relationship grows, Sam shares the secrets of what exactly everyone at Oak Ridge is working on and the mental toll of what they are doing begins to trouble Sam more and more.

This is a fictionalized account of the historic town of Oak Ridge that captures a small piece of several employee's stories.  The Atomic City Girls is a lighter story than the non-fiction  The Girls of Atomic City; however, it is still just as important in the sense that it brings to light the important work that was done during the war by a variety of people.   Throughout the book, we follow the stories of June, Cici, Samuel and Joe.  So, I did find the title a little bit of a misnomer, although, all of their stories are important. One aspect that is very well highlighted are the stories of Ralph, Joe and Shirley, the African-American workers at Oak Ridge.  While working, they were segregated and discriminated against and worked towards as well as gained some equal rights while at Oak Ridge.  June's story was the most compelling to me as we learned about the tight security and how the young women were trained as well as the diverse social life offered at Oak Ridge.  Sam's point of view offered a look at the mental struggle of the people who knew exactly what they were building and what it would accomplish.  The story was accompanied by actual photos of Oak Ridge, which helped to beef up the historical aspects, however I do wish there was just a little more history in my historical fiction. 

This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

The Phantom's Apprentice

The Phantom's Apprentice - Heather Webb

Christine  Daaé has grown up traveling the country with her father performing music.  Christine is an accomplished vocalist, accompanied by her father, a violinist. Christine's true passion, however, is illusions.  Christine's father takes her to see an Illusionist, the Illusionist brings about a spirit and makes a prediction that someone in the audience will soon pass.  That evening, the theater is set on fire.  Christine is taken in by a benefactor, Madame Valerius and is encouraged to sing again for employment.  Assisted by Monsieur Delacroix, Christine secures a place at the opera house.  Christine is quickly identified as a featured singer and made the understudy of the diva, Carlotta.   Trouble brews as Monsieur Delacroix asks for Christine's assistance in finding the opera ghost, Carlotta despises Christine's competition and the opera ghost takes Christine under his wing as her Angel of Music to train her to be the star that he believes she was meant to be.  As Christine trains with the Phantom, she learns that he may not be her true Angel of Music.  Christine must use her other talents to break free. 

In The Phantom's Apprentice Christine takes center stage as the hero of her own story. Christine was very easy to like as she grew from humble beginnings and knew the power of hard work, dedication and friendship.  Along with Christine, I enjoyed the bubbly, supportive personality of Claudette and the perfection of Raul.  The Phantom is done in such a way that he is both the hero and anti-hero.  His past is clearly outlined and from that, his actions border on honorable.  I believe it is Christine's presence that throws his over the edge.    The writing gradually builds the atmosphere of suspense as the mystery of the Phantom grows.  I loved the inclusion of the illusions, they give depth to both the Phantom and Christine as well allow us to be able to delve into a fad of the age, spiritualism.  As the Phantom and other characters begin to show their true colors, the danger and tension increases in the story and I found myself flying through the last quarter.  I was very happy with the way Christine found to outwit the Phantom and her other pursuers as well as how Christine was able to live her life afterwards.  Overall, an exciting and intriguing new look at The Phantom of the Opera

This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

She Regrets Nothing

She Regrets Nothing: A Novel - Andrea Dunlop

With the death of her mother, Laila Lawrence is left an orphan at the age of 23.  Laila resides herself to a middle class life in the midwest, engaged to a dentist and working as a hygienist.  However, when three unknown Lawrence cousins show up at Laila's mother's funeral, Laila discovers an entire family, lifestyle and family feud that have been hidden from her.  Her cousin, Liberty makes a connection with Laila.  With her mother's death Laila discovers the reason for the feud and decides to change her life.  Two years after becoming an orphan, Laila divorces her husband and sets out for New York City.  Laila is staying with her cousin Nora and soon discovers the affluent Lawrence lifestyle, living off of a trust fund, partying every night and meeting billionaires, Laila begins to find her place among the family she believes she should have been part of all along.  Although, as her star rises, Laila becomes entangled in other schemes and plots that may set off yet another Lawrence family rift when all she wanted to do was fit in.

She Regrets Nothing is an interesting twist on a modern glam Cinderella where Cinderella uses her family for all it's worth and Prince Charming is anything but.  Laila intrigued me from the beginning and even now, I don't really know how I feel about her.  As Laila maneuvered her way through the Lawrences, my feelings for her see-sawed from 'you go girl!' to asking myself if she had a mental problem.  Although, as Laila states, she is playing the part of the chameleon; and she does it amazingly well.  I do wish that I got to see more of the true Laila, but perhaps we got to see her in the end.   It was Liberty that captured my full attention, I loved her authenticity and the way she both accepted and declined parts of her expected role within society.  The writing skillfully balanced mystery, suspense, complicated relationships and family drama  against the backdrop of Manhattan's posh social scene.   I was probably as awed as Laila at some of the clubs and people in it, I was equally amazed when I found out that Mustique Island was a real place.  I became even more pulled into the story near the end as things began to fall apart and I wondered how Laila would keep her carefully crafted life afloat.

This book received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Everything That's Underneath

Everything That's Underneath: A Collection of Weird and Horror Tales - Kristi DeMeester

Everything That's Underneath is a short story collection that explores the ignored, dark spaces, and things we try to not see or remember.  With this unifying theme, the stories ranged from horror, to grotesque to strangely unsettling.  With all short story collections, there were some stories that I loved and some I could live without.  With this collection, there were also some stories that were very similar, like the same darkness was affecting different people .  

Some of my favorite stories included The Dream Eater and Split Tongues.  These stories were a little longer and really allowed me to get into them and wonder about the darkness and what it's intentions really are.  In these stories I was also able to relate to the characters better and feel their interactions with the forces at play.  Overall, an intriguing group of stories that explores themes of family, grief, sexuality and the draw of the unknown.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

A Peculiar Courtship

A Peculiar Courtship (The Beckett Files, Book 2) - Laura Beers

Johnathan Beckett is on a mission as an agent of the Crown.  The mission is to save Lady Hannah who has been missing since an attempted abduction.  Lady Hannah's father holds sensitive information about a traitor to the Crown and her life is now in danger because of it.  Lady Hannah finds refuge on a country farm where Johnathan finally finds her; but Hannah's abductors are not far behind. While on the run, Johnathan and Hannah act as husband and wife so Hannah may stay under his protection. When Johnathan  and Hannah reach safety at his sister, Eliza's estate, Johnathan and Hannah's feelings for one another grow; however, Johnathan's attitude toward Hannah changes.  Johnathan would now like Hannah to act as a lady and Hannah would like to learn to defend herself as Eliza does.  Unfortunately, before Johnathan and Hannah can sort things out, trouble catches up to them and a conspiracy unravels.  

A Peculiar Courtship continues with Johnathan Beckett's story as it left off in Saving Shadow.  However, you do not have to read Saving Shadow first in order to enjoy A Peculiar Courtship. I enjoyed getting to know Hannah and loved that there was yet another strong female character in the story.  I liked that Hannah was a quick thinker, able to outrun her attackers for at least a little while, she was grateful and gracious to the family that saved her, even if it meant working on a farm and she was able to mold herself to be useful in a variety of situations.  I also got to learn more about Johnathan in this installment.  He is, as I expected, an excellent agent of the Crown, but surprised me with his treatment of Hannah.  Johnathan's overprotective nature almost ruins Hannah's perception of him.  As in Saving Shadow, the characters are all very well developed and I am happy to see Eliza and Benedict as a couple.  At first, the action and suspense all seemed to be concentrated at the beginning of the book, although, underneath the surface a bigger conspiracy is brewing that could affect Parliament and will need several agents of the Crown, including Shadow, in order to bring down French traitors.  With many well crafted spy elements, a sweet love story and plenty of fierce female characters, A Peculiar Courtship is a wonderful addition the The Beckett Files and I can't wait to see what's next.