January Bookviews // A New Format with New Books and New Favorite Authors

My book goals come and go like the wind, and I don’t always have a novel on hand. So I’m quite proud to say that I ended 2020 with 80/50 ebooks read! And that’s just on my Kindle! The number doesn’t reflect any of the physical books. For a complete list of what I’ve read these past two years, and what I’ve already read for 2021, please visit the On My Bookshelf page here on anotherhartmanauthor.com.

Please also note that none of the Amazon links are affiliate links. I do, however, receive some ARCS for review via the publisher, Cobalt Fairy. This does not sway my opinion of those books by way of themes, characters or plot. I also save those reviews for the publisher itself (if I am able to actually review; which doesn’t happen on a consistent basis).

For something new this year, I’ll pull nine titles instead of six from the link aboe: three from What I’ve Read, three from Upcoming Reads, and three from that dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) pile. From What I’ve Read, you can expect my final thoughts on plot, character development, and a star rating. From Upcoming Reads, my expectations or hopes for the book. And perhaps even a prediction or two. Finally, from the DNFs, what made me close the cover for good and if I’ll ever attempt to read it again.

And who are, you may ask, my new favorite authors? Why, they’re Sally Britton and Deeanne Gist.

The First Section: What I’ve Read

LOVE ON THE LINE
by Deeanne Gist

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is the book that convinced me it’s okay to read historical fiction written outside the Victorian era. Gist does weave the Christian faith throughout the story, so if you’re not into that side of it, you can skip this one. But I really liked the concept, setting and the two leads. The only thing I didn’t quite like with was one part of the overall plot. However, everything flowed well and the chemistry between the leads was fantastic. Oh, and there’s a train. Trains are cool.

Synopsis: In 1904 Texas Ranger Luke Palmer arrives in Brenham, Texas, with one goal–to capture the gang of outlaws led by Frank Comer. Undercover as a telephone repairman, he uses his days on the range to search, not realizing there’s another pair of eyes watching him.

Georgie Gail, switchboard operator and birder, heads out on a birding expedition, but instead of sighting a painted bunting, her opera glasses capture her telephone man, armed and far away from telephone lines. Palmer is forced to take this alluring troublemaker into his confidence and unwittingly puts her in harm’s way. The closer he comes to the gang, the further she works her way into his heart–and into trouble. Soon it’s more than just love that’s on the line.

Source: Amazon

THE LADY AND THE MOUNTAIN MAN
by Misty M. Beller

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

While I really like the concept of this story, as well as the setting, there were a couple things that gave me pause. Spoilers ahead.

Although I quite enjoyed Beller’s writing style, I didn’t like how she overused the “Little Sister” and “Big Brother” terms of endearment between two of the characters. This language is also carried into book 2, THE LADY AND THE MOUNTAIN DOCTOR. I don’t mind Christian literature, being of the faith myself. It just seemed to age down the characters a little bit.

But if you’re looking for romance mixed with adventure, and have read titles by Melanie Dickerson, I’d suggest giving Misty M. Beller’s books a try.

Synopsis: Leah Townsend, a recently orphaned heiress, flees Richmond after discovering her fiancee’s plot to kill her after their wedding. She needs a safe place to hide, and finds herself accepting a newspaper marriage proposal from a God-fearing young rancher in the Montana Territory. But when Leah arrives at the mountain ranch, she learns her intended husband was killed by a grizzly, leaving behind a bitter older brother and a spunky younger sister.

When Gideon Bryant finds an eastern lady standing in his log cabin, his first thought is to send her back where she came from. He’s lost too many people to the wild elements of these mountains––his parents, his wife, and now his brother. His love for this untamed land lives on, but he’s determined not to open his heart to another person. But when an accident forces Leah to stay at the ranch for seven more months, can Gideon protect his heart from a love he doesn’t want? Has Leah really escaped the men who seek her life?

Source: Amazon

MR. GARDINER AND THE GOVERNESS
by Sally Britton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Going into this novel, I didn’t realize it’s a retelling of a Shakespearean tale.

As I previously enjoyed SAVING MISS EVERLY, THE CAPTAIN AND MISS WINTER, and HIS UNEXPECTED HEIRESS, I hoped it’d be another winner. And it was. The only novel I haven’t enjoyed thus far is the sister book to SAVING MISS EVERLY, DISCOVERING GRACE. The pacing felt a bit slow in that one, but, graciously better with this tale.

Alice, as the female lead, was also a stronger character than the Everly sisters, and that I greatly appreciated.

Synopsis: As the new governess to the duke’s family, Alice Sharpe must learn to control her impulsiveness. Employment in the duke’s household is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and could mean living in comfort the rest of her days. Unfortunately, her first encounter with the duke’s house guest, a handsome gentleman obsessed with insects, proves she may not be ready for the austere role of governess.

Rupert Gardiner has one goal: to have his work in entomology and botany published by the Royal Society. He is fortunate that the Duke of Montfort, believes in him and enlists Rupert to make a record of all the flora on the castle grounds. But Miss Sharpe’s spontaneity and continual appearance during his work is an annoying distraction. At least, that’s what he tells himself.

While Alice struggles to adapt to her new role, constantly striving to go unnoticed while still being herself, she cannot help but admire Rupert’s intelligence and focus. The more often they fall in together, the more her admiration deepens. But could a gentleman such as he ever fall in love with the governess?

Source: Amazon

The Second Section: My Upcoming Reads

I’ll not include any stars for these entries as I’ve yet to read them. Instead, I’ll include its brief synopsis, why I picked it up, and what I hope will come from the story.

BANQUET OF LIES
by Michelle Diener


If this title looks familiar, it’s because it was on a Bookviews list from last year. With that being said, I’ll just refer you to this post, as nothing’s changed. Other than the fact that I still haven’t read it!

I will say that I highly suggest you pick up one of Diener’s books, especially if you enjoy Medieval tales, royalty and strong female leads.

Synopsis: LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living a double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher. She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.

Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies. In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master.

Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire. Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is—and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible.

Source: Amazon

MIDNIGHT ON THE RIVER GREY
by Abigail Wilson


If you couldn’t tell by now, mystery and intrigue are the names of my upcoming reading game. All the better if they’re set in the Regency or Victorian eras.

Last Fall I read IN THE SHADOW OF CROFT TOWERS while I manned a booth out in the garden center at work. Let’s just say I couldn’t put it down – unless, of course, a customer needed assistance! So I’m really excited to try another story by her. Especially one that isn’t your typical London Season Romance.

Synopsis: After her brother’s mysterious death, Rebecca Hunter vows to expose the man she believes responsible: Mr. Lewis Browning—known by the locals as the Midnight Devil and by Rebecca as her new guardian.

Summoned to his reclusive country estate to await her London season, Rebecca plans her own secret investigation among the darkened corridors of the mysterious Greybourne Hall. Yet Lewis Browning is not as she once imagined, and his motivation is horribly unclear. Recurrent nightmares and Rebecca’s restless feelings are further complicated by the shadow of her mother’s prior descent into madness and wondering if she, too, will follow the same heartbreaking path.

Even as midnight rides, strange injuries, and further murders lead back to Mr. Browning, Rebecca can’t ignore the subtle turn of her heart. Has she fallen for the man she swore would pay for her brother’s death? And moreover, can she trust him with her uncertain future?

Source: Amazon

SEVEN LOCKS
by Christine Wade


Earlier this month, I went through my physical books and weeded out ones I’ve had for two years and never opened. This is one of the one of the old purchases to make the cut.

What’s intrigued me so much is not only the novel’s date, but the fact that it’s about a couple who’s already married and not the usual “husband hunt.”

So I’m really looking forward to finally picking this up after I read through the last few titles in my ebook library.

Synopsis: The Hudson River Valley, 1769: A man mysteriously disappears without a trace, abandoning his wife and children on their farm at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. At first many believe that his wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away, but as the strange circumstances of his disappearance circulate, a darker story unfolds. And as the lines between myth and reality fade in the wilderness, and an American nation struggles to emerge, the lost man’s wife embarks on a desperate journey to find the means to ensure her family’s survival . . .

Source: Amazon

The Third Section: What I Did Not Finish

A ROGUE
ABOUT TOWN
by Rebecca Connolly


I keep trying to like Connolly’s tales, but once I open them I find I can’t figure out why her writing doesn’t resonate with me. I especially liked the concept behind the London League series, but that’s as far as I’ve been able to get.

So perhaps one day I’ll be able to finish a Rebecca Connolly book, and perhaps I should start with book 1 rather than jumping in with book 2. I love the idea of them because of their time frame, but not every series, or even book within a series, is for everyone.

Synopsis: Gabriel Statler, Lord Wharton, has a problem. His duties as an operative for the Crown are being compromised for the sake of his cover, where he is known only as the Rogue. His days are now filled with trivial investigations, and none of the problems are ones he wants to solve. Then he meets a mysterious young woman who holds more secrets than he likes, and, against his better judgment, he takes her case. 

Amelia Berger needs the Rogue, and she needs everything he can offer without revealing everything she knows. Her secrets are her own, and she has far too many to risk revealing even one. But when working with Rogue turns into something entirely unexpected, she finds that the secrets she began with are not the ones she most needs to protect.

Source: Amazon

COURTING
TROUBLE
by Deeanne Gist


Childish. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of the female lead in COURTING TROUBLE. Because of Essie’s age, I just could not get behind her character. At all.

I hate to nitpick, and I usually try and give a book at least five chapters before deciding to quit or continue. I wanted to give this more of a chance since I loved LOVE ON THE LINE so much.

But no such luck. This doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try out a few more titles by Ms. Gist. COURTING TROUBLE just wasn’t it.

Synopsis: Whether it’s riding bikes, catching snakes, or sliding down banisters, Essie Spreckelmeyer just can’t quite make herself into the ideal woman her hometown–and her mother–expect her to be. It’s going to take an extraordinary man to appreciate her joy and spontaneity–or so says her doting oil-man father. Unfortunately, such a man doesn’t appear to reside in Corsicana, Texas.

It’s 1894, the year of Essie’s thirtieth birthday, and she decides the Lord has more important things to do than provide her a husband. If she wants one, she needs to catch him herself. So, she writes down the names of all the eligible bachelors in her small Texas town, makes a list of their attributes and drawbacks, closes her eyes, twirls her finger, and … picks one. But convincing the lucky “husband-to-be” is going to be a bit more of a problem.”

Source: Amazon

THE PORTRAIT OF HIS WINTER MARCHIONESS
by Patricia Haverton


Now I’ve read several Patricia Haverton novels lately, and absolutely loved them. So much so that I joined her ARC team via her website (link below). So yes, I did receive this book for review. One I never got around to.

Mostly because I was a bit disappointed in this particular story. I felt the writing wasn’t quite up to Ms. Haverton’s usual standard, and the many points of view threw me off (as multiple POVs always do). I just wasn’t expecting it in a Romance. If the extra POVs weren’t included, I wouldn’t have figured out the ending so quickly.

Synopsis: Miss Annabelle Fernside’s dreams of one day becoming a famous painter turn to ashes when her father pressures her to marry. Watching everything she has worked for crumble before her eyes, she is determined to make this courtship fail at all costs.

Phillip Caney, the Marquess of Cottenhorn, has been drowning in sorrow ever since he lost his wife and son at childbirth two years ago. The sole heir to his father’s title, his parents arrange his marriage to force him to take on his responsibilities. However, his resolve to undermine the deal crumbles the moment he meets his intended.

Like an ominous storm cloud, anonymous letters tear through Annabelle and Phillip’s budding love. When Annabelle disappears a wet trail is the only thing she leaves behind, and Phillip must watch his life turn to ashes in order to get to her in time. For the past didn’t have a choice then, and it wears hatred like a cruel second skin.

Source: Amazon

Well, there we have it; the first Bookviews post for 2021! Do you like this “mini book review” series? Bookviews has certainly taught me to expand my readership, find new authors to love, and get out of my reading comfort zone. I still slide back into that zone when I need something familiar and classic, but all in all, I’m happy with the books I picked up this year.

What about you? Did you meet your reading goals for 2020? Fall short? Buy MORE than you knew you had time to read? One thing I like to do is buy physical copies of ebooks I really like. That way, I can support the author in more than one way. Happy reading, everyone!

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