In Spotlight and Shadow by Rachel Scott McDaniel

About the Book

Elise Malvern has left a trail of disappointments and failures in her wake with her relationships, her family, and her career.  So when she discovers an old stage prop in the wings of the Heinz Hall one day, she’s drawn to discover the mystery behind the necklace.  She enlists the help of her childhood friend turned country mega star Pierson Brooks in hopes of figuring out the history of the necklace.  A century earlier, Sophie Walters dreams from the stages of Pittsburgh of having another chance to make it big in Hollywood.  However, she is soon accused of stealing jewels and finds herself turning to a man she jilted at the altar years ago, Sterling Monroe.  As Elise and Sophie hunt for clues, the mystery grows thicker and their hearts become entangled in the complexities of their search.

About the Author

Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. Rachel can be found online at http://www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms. Her work is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency. Rachel resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. 

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My Thoughts

I have loved this author from her first published work, but I do believe her writing gets even better with each new novel!  She does such a fantastic job of writing characters with depth and emotions that draw me in and make me feel connected to them from the start.  They are also the type of characters that stick with you after the story.  I loved the banter and romance in this novel and really enjoyed reading about the two different storylines.  The mystery grabbed me from the beginning, the twists and turns kept me invested in the middle, and the way the two timelines came together at the end was so impressive.  I also really liked the expertly woven history and found myself easily transported to the glitz of the roaring twenties.  This is one of those stories where you become so invested in the novel that you do not notice the passage of time or the events going on around you.  I absolutely loved this book and cannot recommend it enough!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Yesterday’s Tide by Roseanna M. White

About the Book

In 1942, Evie Farrow is used to life on Ocracoke Island, where every day is the same–until the German U-boats haunting their waters begin to wreak havoc. And when special agent Sterling Bertrand is washed ashore at Evie’s inn, her life is turned upside down. While Sterling’s injuries keep him inn-bound for weeks, making him even more anxious about the man he’s tracking, he becomes increasingly intrigued by Evie, who seems to be hiding secrets of her own.

Decades earlier, in 1914, Englishman Remington Culbreth arrives at the Ocracoke Inn for the summer, but he doesn’t count on falling in love with Louisa Adair, the innkeeper’s daughter. When war breaks out in Europe, and their relationship is put in jeopardy, will their love survive?

As Evie and Sterling work to track down an elusive German agent, they unravel mysteries that go back a generation. The ripples from the Great War are still rocking their lives, and it seems yesterday’s tides may sweep them all into danger again today.

Bestselling and award-winning author Roseanna M. White whisks you away to two periods fraught with peril in this sweeping and romantic dual-time tale.

About the Author

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award winning author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

Purchase Links

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Author’s Book Page (Signed Copy)

My Thoughts

Wow!  This author is one of my favorites, and I thought this novel was one of her best!  I loved the dual timeline and the way the two stories intersected and came together.  There were even twists and turns that I did not see coming, which kept me engaged and reading long into the night on more than one occasion.  I loved the strong female leads and their courage.  There were even a few cameos of characters from her other novels!  The faith thread is solid and well integrated.  The history was also well researched and fascinating.  Honestly, there was nothing about this book that I did not like!  This is definitely a novel that I will be rereading.  I cannot recommend this book enough!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Celebrate Lit Tour – The Heir’s Predicament by Lorri Dudley

About the Book

Book: The Heir’s Predicament

Author: Lorri Dudley

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: January 10, 2023

He controls the answers to her past and future, but she threatens his inheritance and his heart.

Maggie Prescott may not know her real name, the circumstances of her birth, or her father’s identity, but based on a song her shipwrecked birthmother taught her before she died, Maggie’s certain the answers lie on the island of Antigua. Unbeknownst to her beloved adopted family, she sends her maid to finishing school in her stead and convinces her uncle, Captain Anthony Middleton, to sail her to the Leeward Islands. Time is of the essence to discover her heritage before the next family gathering exposes her duplicity.

Lord Samuel Fredrick Harcourt Granville was groomed to inherit the Cardon title and lands, but the possession of his father’s temper has put Samuel’s future in jeopardy. After discovering his fiancée cavorting with his so-called friend, the ensuing altercation lands Samuel in court before of the House of Lords. As an example, for all aristocratic sons to quell their hedonistic living, the House of Lords banishes Samuel to the island of Antigua until he can prove he’s worthy of his privileged birth.

On the island, Samuel works to rein in his temper and revive a dying sugar plantation. Still, his return to England and all his efforts are threatened when a mysterious woman breaks into his island home, claiming to be the true heiress of the sugar plantation. Guilt, resentment, and fresh yearnings sizzle under the island sun as Maggie’s search uncovers a much greater treasure than either of them expected.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Lorri Dudley has been a finalist in numerous writing contests and has a master’s degree in Psychology. She lives in Ashland, Massachusetts with her husband and three teenage sons, where writing romance allows her an escape from her testosterone filled household. Find her online at www.lorridudley.com.

More from Lorri

Maggie first appeared in The Captain’s Quest as the feral child shipwrecked on a deserted island. Readers fell in love with her character and emailed me, hoping to learn more of her story. It didn’t take much coaxing for my imagination to delve into how a child, who’d lived outdoors and struggled with daily survival, would adapt to Regency England’s intricate social conventions of the le bon ton as a grown woman.

Like Maggie, my grandfather and mother-in-law were both adopted. Each felt a disconnection from their roots and a natural yearning to fill a void by learning their origins. The thriving industry of Ancestry.com and 23-and-Me exists due to this pervasive desire to understand one’s background. Understandably, Maggie longs for answers, but the guilt of being disloyal to the family who accepted her into their loving home temps her to fabricate a lie and cover up her journey to the island of Antigua.

Another driving force for Maggie is that in Regency England, questionable heritage could hinder an adopted child from marrying within the upper social ranks. Unknown lineage could taint noble bloodlines, and many aristocrats wouldn’t dare align their families with someone of uncertain origins. Maggie’s marriage prospects would have been limited unless she uncovered her past. She’d have been considered too risky to wed among the gentry but raised too highborn to marry within the lower classes.

The Heir’s Predicament is the last installment of the Leeward Island series, and I will miss immersing myself in the rich cultural history of the Caribbean. I loved exploring different isles and island-hopping with readers through various settings. The island of Antigua, where The Heir’s Predicamentis set, boasts of ninety-five miles of scalloped coastlines, white and pink sand beaches, a tropical but arid climate, windmills and plantations, and a sugar and spice history complete with Caribs and pirates. Island tensions create a lively setting and weave their way into the characters’ stories, for instance, the push and pull between the island’s calming beauty and battering storms, water abounding but not much of it drinkable, a laid-back culture of hearty survivors, and a legacy of slavery versus colonization.

The journey, however, isn’t over, my next series will take place in the rolling hills and quaint towns of England’s Cotswold, but there’s hope of a Windward Island series in the future.

To learn more, check out my website at lorridudley.com, or watch The Heir’s Predicament book trailer by clicking here: The Heir’s Predicament book trailer.

My Thoughts

Full of mystery and fun dialogue, this novel is not one to miss! I have enjoyed the novels in this series and although I think reading them in order allows you to gain some better background to the characters in each book, they stand well on their own as well. I liked that we got to spend more time with Maggie in this novel (we first met her in The Captain’s Quest) and I really liked her feisty spunk. She also has a depth to her with great faith that gives her a positive outlook and courage when faced with trials and hardships. I loved the humorous way her relationship developed with Samuel. I was impressed with the research the author did on the sugar plantations during this time period. The setting was well written and sounded like a place I would like to visit! The twists near the end made the story interesting and kept my attention. I am sad to see this series coming to an end, but I cannot wait to read more by this author!

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit Tours. I was not obligated to write a review, and all opinions are my own.

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 11

lakesidelivingsite, January 11

Book Looks by Lisa, January 12

Sylvan Musing, January 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 13

She Lives To Read, January 14

Paula’s Pad of Inspiration, January 14

Cover Lover Book Review, January 15

deb’s Book Review, January 15

Texas Book-aholic, January 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 17

Betti Mace, January 18

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, January 18

Connie’s History Classroom, January 19

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 20

Holly’s Book Corner, January 20

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 21

Life of Literature, January 22

Simple Harvest Reads, January 22 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

For Him and My Family, January 23

To Everything There Is A Season, January 23

Pause for Tales, January 24

Mary Hake, January 24

And now… a giveaway!

To celebrate her tour, Lorri is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon Gift Card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/23a0e/the-heir-s-predicament-celebration-tour-giveaway

Hearts of Steel by Elizabeth Camden

About the Book

Maggie Molinaro fought through a difficult childhood to create her business, sacrificing for ten years to make the ice cream company successful.  Liam Blackstone is dedicated to designing a safer environment for steelworkers in America.  When Maggie and Liam both come against a common enemy who is determined to destroy their hard work, they must team up to protect not only their businesses but also the hard workers of Manhattan.

About the Author

Elizabeth Camden is best known for her historical novels set in Gilded Age America, featuring clever heroines and richly layered story lines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won Christy, Carol, and RITA Awards and have appeared on the CBA bestsellers list. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books. Learn more at elizabethcamden.com.

Purchase Links

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My Thoughts

Everything this author writes is absolutely wonderful, including this incredible series, but this book might be my favorite of the three!  You do not need to read the series in order; however, it is nice to get the background on the characters from other books.  As is typical of her books, the author does a fantastic job of researching the history and incorporating it so well into the story.  I felt like I learned a lot about the time period and working conditions in the early twentieth century.  And the villain in this story was a real man, which makes it that much more interesting!  I am also always amazed at the unique jobs of characters in this author’s novels and thought Maggie’s position as owner of an ice cream shop to be a creative career.  Additionally, I loved how strong and independent and smart Maggie is and really adored the development of her relationship with Liam, of course packed with steamy romance.  This book is riveting and engaging and I really enjoyed every part of it.  I highly recommend this series and I cannot wait to see what the author comes up with next!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson

About the Book

Faith Byrne may be good at telling others how to create a great life after tragedy, but she is personally struggling to live by her words.  Her ex-husband and his new wife have whisked her children off to Hawaii, leaving her feeling depressed and unworthy.  She is soon contacted by her childhood friend, Dora Crane, who is interested in using Faith’s podcast to highlight a cold case—the disappearance of her daughter years ago.  As Faith and Dora work through the details of the case, they unveil secrets, and begin to reconcile their pasts and futures.

About the Author

Christina Suzann Nelson (www.christinasuzannnelson.com) is an inspirational speaker and Christy award-winning author. Her first novel, If We Make It Home, was honored as one of Library Journal‘s top five inspirational novels of 2017, and her 2021 novel, The Way It Should Be, won the Christy Award for general fiction.

In 2017, Christina was named the OCW Cascade’s Writer of Promise and received a Cascade award for her novel Swimming in the Deep End. Her stories have been published in the Cup of Comfort for a Better WorldCup of Comfort for Adoptive Families, as well as other publications.

Christina is over-the-top about her passions, including the stories created somewhere in the twists and turns of her less-than-focused brain. When she’s not writing, Christina serves on the board of Every Child Linn-Benton, a nonprofit where she has the opportunity to influence the lives of families and children in the foster care system.

On a typical day, she chases escaped farm animals, reads, hikes with her dog, and enjoys her husband and six kids.

Purchase Links

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Christian Book

My Thoughts

A powerful tale of women’s fiction, this novel is an emotional journey full of great character depth and development.  There were hard topics discussed, including broken relationships and hurtful pasts, but there was also a thread of hope in the story.  There are themes of forgiveness, redemption, and finding hope despite grief.  The writing is engaging and raw and it easily brought forth emotions for me as the reader.  I also liked the mystery woven in the novel and thought the plot was unpredictable; despite a slow start, I liked the how the pieces in the different times periods came together near the end of the novel.  My favorite part was the present day interactions of Faith and Dora.  If you are looking for great women’s fiction, definitely check out this novel!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Her Heart’s Desire by Shelley Shepard Gray

About the Book

Mary Miller wishes to escape the confines of her Amish community, so she embarks on a vacation to Florida, where she meets several new friends.  Sparks soon fly between her and handsome Jayson Raber, but Jayson has obligations in Kentucky that prevent him from being able to fully pursue Mary.  Additionally, Mary’s past soon collides with her vacation, leading to conflict with this newly budding relationship with Jayson.

About the Author

Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 100 books. Two-time winner of the HOLT Medallion and a Carol Award finalist, Gray lives in Colorado, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Purchase Links

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Christian Book

My Thoughts

Simple and sweet, this story is an easy and enjoyable read.  I think it is best suited for young readers as the plot is clean and has wonderful themes of forgiveness and trusting God, while not having a plot that is terribly complex or with mature themes.  I found the pace of the novel to be a bit slow for my liking, but this did not detract from the story being sweet and endearing.  The setting is a wonderful place for romance and I liked the gradual development of their relationship.  Although this story has Amish elements, a majority of it takes place outside of the Amish community.  I overall enjoyed this novel and would be interested in reading the next one in the series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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The Rose and The Thistle by Laura Frantz

Thank you for joining me today as I feature The Rose and The Thistle by Laura Frantz on my blog, on tour with Austen Prose Tours!

Book Details

  • Title: The Rose and the Thistle: A Novel
  • Author: Laura Frantz
  • Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction
  • Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Co
  • Publication Date: January 3, 2023
  • Length: 416 pages
  • Format: Hardcover, Trade paperback, & eBook 
  • ISBN: 978-0800742669
  • Tour Dates: January 2 – 16, 2023

Book Description

In 1715, Lady Blythe Hedley’s father is declared an enemy of the British crown because of his Jacobite sympathies, forcing her to flee her home in northern England. Secreted to the tower of Wedderburn Castle in Scotland, Lady Blythe awaits who will ultimately be crowned king. But in a house with seven sons and numerous servants, her presence soon becomes known.

No sooner has Everard Hume lost his father, Lord Wedderburn, than Lady Hedley arrives with the clothes on her back and her mistress in tow. He has his own problems–a volatile brother with dangerous political leanings, an estate to manage, and a very young brother in need of comfort and direction in the wake of losing his father. It would be best for everyone if he could send this misfit heiress on her way as soon as possible.Drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue, shifting alliances, and ambitions, Lady Blythe must be careful whom she trusts. Her fortune, her future, and her very life are at stake. Those who appear to be adversaries may turn out to be allies–and those who pretend friendship may be enemies.

About the Author

Christy Award-winning author, Laura Frantz, is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Proud of her heritage, she is also a Daughter of the American Revolution. When not at home in Kentucky, she and her husband live in Washington State.

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Click here for an exclusive interview with Laura Frantz!

Advance Praise

“A masterful achievement of historical complexity and scintillating romance sure to thrill readers with its saga of love under siege.”— Booklist, starred review “A deeply atmospheric story of faith, love, and sacrifice that is as captivating as it is enthralling.”— Sarah E. Ladd, bestselling author of The Cornwall Novels “Marked by majestic Scottish scenery and a memorable trip to Edinburg, The Rose and the Thistle is a delightful historical romance set during a tumultuous time.”— Forward Reviews

Purchase Links

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My Thoughts

This novel was so well written with fantastic descriptions that I felt myself swept away to eighteenth century Scotland and immediately immersed in a culture of religious uprisings, daring romance, and threats of war.  I was so impressed with the amount of history the author poured into this novel; a bonus is knowing the author is distantly related to the characters and events in the story.  I was also impressed with her ability to weave Scottish Gaelic and other phrases authentic to that time period flawlessly into the plot.  I did reference the glossary at the beginning several times but I did not find that this detracted from the story but only made it richer.  I loved Blythe from the first page, her steadfast compassion, kind mannerisms, smart intellect, and unshakable courage made it easy to me to feel invested in her story.  Everard is initially mysterious but soon becomes the perfect hero to compliment Blythe’s personality.  I loved the unexpected twists their story took and I also had a hard time putting the book down.  I hope there is a future novel with more of Blythe and Everard as there were a few details I would love to know more about, but I don’t think this detracted from a satisfying ending.  I cannot recommend this book; I absolutely loved it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, courtesy of Austen Prose Tours with Laurel Ann Nattress.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Engaging Deception by Regina Jennings

About the Book

Olive Kentworth is secretly passionate about architecture, but as a woman in the late nineteenth century, she hides her architectural knowledge behind her cousin Amos, who agrees to pose as a builder for her to work on a home expansion project.  She accepts a position as a nanny to further hide her secret involvement in the project and finds herself working for none other than an architect himself, Maxfield Scott.  Maxfield may find his new nanny intriguing, but he is frustrated by the mysterious builder on one of his projects, leading to some tension between him and Olive.  As Maxfield and Olive grow closer, their secrets may threaten to tear them apart.

About the Author

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

Purchase Links

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My Thoughts

A delightful novel, this book is packed full of fun characters, an interesting plot, and rich topics.  I really enjoyed the interactions of Olive and Maxfield; they are a fun couple to read about as their relationship is full of spirited banter, but also is deep enough to encounter a few tough spots that make them realistic too.  I really love smart, strong heroines and Olive definitely fits that bill.  I also enjoyed reading about how devoted Max is as a father.  Among the fun moments, the author dives into some deeper spiritual truths, including trusting God through grief and learning to become confident in who He made you.  I found the time period, setting, and architectural details wonderfully interwoven into the plot and these great details made the book interesting to read.  I highly recommend this book, and this whole series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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All the Lost Places by Amanda Dykes

About the Book

When all of Venice is unmasked, one man’s identity remains a mystery . . .

1807
When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the quiet canals of Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastien Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn’t until a woman washes ashore on his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastien must make a choice that could alter not just his own future, but also that of the beloved floating city.

1904
Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden with regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a city of colliding hope and decay, much like his own life, and a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien Trovato.

About the Author

Amanda Dykes’s debut novel, Whose Waves These Are, is the winner of the prestigious 2020 Christy Award Book of the Year, a Booklist 2019 Top Ten Romance debut, and the winner of an INSPY Award. She’s also the author of Yours Is the Night and Set the Stars Alight, a 2021 Christy Award finalist.

Purchase Links

AMAZON BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS

My Thoughts

Amanda Dykes has such a way with words!  She writes stories that are told in a beautiful manner, with words that jump off the page and capture you instantly.  Her prose is stunning and gorgeous!  I loved the setting of this novel.  It was remarkable how the setting (the canals of Venice) almost became a character in and of itself.  The descriptions of the scenes make it easy for me to be transported to the two historical timelines.  The characters are equally well written and I was instantly invested in their stories and their romance.  The Christian truths are unique and integrated flawlessly; I found myself reflecting often on the deep questions the characters ask themselves.  The struggle with identity is something most of us have also struggled with and these realistic thoughts made the characters more authentic.  Reading this novel is like reading beautiful poetry.  I cannot recommend it enough!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers, courtesy of Austen Prose Tours with Laurel Ann Nattress.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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Stay with Me by Jody Hedlund

About the Book

Sybil Huxham is fascinated by the ancient holy water that she has seen miraculously cure many diseases.  As she discovers the holy water, she starts to experience flashes to the past, where she encounters Nicolas Worth in the Middle Ages trapped in the dungeon.  She finally decides to live in the past in order to save him.  Sybil intrigues Nicholas, but when circumstances lead them to wed, he finds himself unprepared for their changing relationship. Danger closes in ever closer and they must work past their strange differences to try to save the world before its too late.

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over forty sweet historical romances and is the winner of numerous awards. She lives in central Michigan with her husband and is the mother of five wonderful children and five spoiled cats. When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate. 

Purchase Links

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My Thoughts

I was thrilled to learn that Jody Hedlund wrote another book in this fantastic series!  I do recommend reading the books in order as it gives you the best background to the holy water and its impact.  This time slip novel is so unique and the plot so engaging that I had a hard time putting it down.  I really liked the two main characters and their developing relationship in the book.  And, of course, I loved the sizzling romance between Sybil and Nicholas, in true Jody Hedlund fashion.  The action and twists in the book were so well written I found myself reading late into the night to finish the story.  I loved reading about the way the characters grew closer together through the trials they faced.  I highly recommend this series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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