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review 2018-01-21 03:00
Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
Tiffany Girl: A Novel - Deeanne Gist

Tiffany Girl is set just prior to the 1893 World's Fair. Flossie wants nothing more than to become a painter, so it's a shock when her mother tells her she's going to need to stop attending the New York School of Applied Design, help out more with the sewing (her mother is a dressmaker), and start thinking about getting married. Her father has gambled away enough of the family's money that they can no longer afford her tuition. When Flossie hears about an opportunity to work for Louis Tiffany as one of his "Tiffany Girls" during a glassworkers' strike, she announces that she's moving out and will earn the money for her tuition herself.

Her new life isn't easy, but Flossie is determined to make the best of things. She deals with angry strikers and "bustle pinchers," tries to figure out how to make her finances work out, and deals with her loneliness by encouraging the people at her boarding house to all get to know each other better. One of her fellow boarders is Reeve, a handsome but emotionally closed off journalist who turns his nose up a "New Women" like Flossie.

I feel like I've been in a partial reading slump since coming back from vacation. I haven't been reading much, and I keep losing interest in the things I read. I was worried that the same thing would happen with Tiffany Girl. The book's length was a little daunting, but thankfully it turned out to be a really engaging read. I flew through it and could hardly put it down.

I don't read a lot of Christian romance, and there are only a couple authors I'll pick up without reading reviews first. Deeanne Gist is one of them. The religious aspects of her books are usually pretty light. Faith is important to her characters, but they don't think about it every few pages, and I don't recall ever feeling like Gist preaches at her readers.

The religious aspects of Tiffany Girl were particularly light, although important. One of the things Flossie dealt with was the belief of those around her that God's highest calling for women is bearing children. This was directly opposed to her desire to work for someone like Louis Tiffany, who only allowed women to work for him if they were unmarried. If Flossie wanted her independence, she needed to remain unmarried and childless, or so she believed. Religion also came up a bit while Flossie was looking at Louis Tiffany's finished stained glass windows. For the most part, though, that was it. I could imagine some Christian romance fans wanting more, but for me this worked out just fine.

Watching Flossie and Reeve interact was fun, even though both characters had aspects that annoyed me a little. Reeve's opinions about New Women got my back up, although I'd probably have been on his side where Flossie and her "get to know each other" activities were concerned. The lack of privacy in the boarding house was, in general, a bit horrifying, but Flossie's dinnertime question cards would particularly have made me cringe. There were, in fact, times when her questions touched on sensitive topics. I was a little surprised that Reeve answered some of the questions he was asked, considering how private he tended to be.

Flossie was a bit too in-your-face friendly for me at times. I'm an introvert, and I can clearly imagine myself going out of my way to avoid her for a while in order to avoid her icebreaker games. As far as she was concerned, everyone at the boarding house was like an extended family and, up until the competition for World's Fair tickets started, she probably felt at least a little the same about many of her coworkers.

Although Flossie and Reeve were attracted to each other fairly early on, they both had a bit of growing to do before they properly meshed as a couple. I really liked how things progressed with Reeve. He had to rethink his ideas about women and marriage. He also had to learn to open up more and allow other people into his life, even if only a little. I absolutely adored the scene with Mrs. Dinwiddie near the end. In some ways, it worked better for me than the romance between Reeve and Flossie.

Flossie's developments near the end of the book were pretty painful, and the attention Gist paid to Reeve's efforts to make more friends highlighted, for me, the fact that Flossie didn't seem to have any close female friends. Whereas I enjoyed the direction Reeve's story took, Flossie's "growth" seemed at least in part to involve breaking her down. She learned that not everyone around her was to be trusted, that she couldn't always count on her parents to act as her safety net (although Reeve stepped in and kept this from turning out worse than it might have), and that she'd never

be able to make a career out of the thing she most loved to do

(spoiler show)

. On the plus side, she learned that all of this could happen to her without breaking her.

The moment when Reeve and Flossie met again was nice, although I was a little sad about how long it took for it to happen. I missed getting to see the two of them together more, and Gist sped through their courtship period way too quickly for my tastes. I really liked how she resolved the issues hanging between Reeve and Flossie, although I raised an eyebrow at the fact that they apparently hadn't talked about any of it prior to getting married. I'd have thought Flossie would have wanted to know how Reeve felt about

the idea of her continuing to paint and occasionally make some money of her own

(spoiler show)

before they said their I dos.

All in all, this was a good book and a quicker read than I expected it to be. I need to hunt down more of Gist's stuff.

Extras:

Many of the chapters were accompanied by a one-page black-and-white illustration. Also, there was an author's note with information about Gist's historical research. Gist's author's notes tend to be fascinating, and this one was no exception.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-12-01 19:13
THE MISTLETOE INN by Richard Paul Evans
The Mistletoe Inn: A Novel (The Mistletoe Collection) - Richard Paul Evans

Kimberly, a divorced would-be romance author, is trying to deal with her divorce and learning that her dad is sick. Christmas is coming and her dad wants her to go to a writing conference as his gift to her. She goes where she meets Zeke who becomes her writing partner for the conference. They share secrets but not the whole truth.

I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters. I liked Kimberly's father. He is so upbeat and full of life. Kimberly has a lot to deal with and she is not equipped to deal with it all. Trust is hard for her. Zeke also has to learn to trust. I liked watching their interactions. I also figured out the secret fairly early on. While the Hallmark movie was good, the book is so much better.

 

 

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review 2017-11-25 12:30
Review: Through Waters Deep (Waves of Freedom #1) by Sarah Sundin
Through Waters Deep - Sarah Sundin

I love it when a historical romance takes on the forgotten parts to well-known history and Sarah Sundin excels at the forgotten history. This is the story of young US Navy Ensign Jim Avery is stationed in Boston on board the USS destroyer Atwood, a boat built at the Boston Naval Yards where his childhood friend Mary Stirling works as a secretary to the civilian head of the naval yard. They meet up several years after graduation when the Atwood would begin escort duties. Although Mary had a small crush on Jim in high school, he only had eyes for her best friend who happened to be the girlfriend of his best friend. So Mary kept everyone as a friend but didn't once pursue anything more from Jim. Life at the Academy and in the early days of his naval career matured Jim, who is still an easy-going guy and natural people-person. Now with those mature eyes he sees Mary in a different light but doesn't want to be seen as the goofy guy she knew in high school; his pursuit of her is slow and methodical, and doesn't seem to make a dent in her friendship with him.

 

Meanwhile, the war in the Atlantic is heating up and American lives are being lost long before we officially entered the war. Tensions are high at the naval yard between interventionists and isolationists and sabotage is happening with increasing frequency, putting Jim and his sailors in peril on a routine training mission. Mary is smart and has the skills and intuition to suss out the true villain. All while trying her damnest not to fall for Jim and get over her fear of public speaking/attention.

 

I could not put this book down! The pages flew and I just wanted more of this realistic world and the characters that inhibit it. The action scenes were intense but the characters were smart and kept their wits about them. The story takes place over the course of 1941 (starting in March and ending on December 7th) so the reader needs patience as the romance is slow building and angsty without being dark. I love how the author weaves actual history (such as the Lend-Lease agreement with Britain, the constant changes to the draft, and how lingering feelings from the Depression color some of the characters' viewpoints). It is an inspirational story, but the religious aspect is interwined with the characters and not shoe-horned in, so it feels very natural to the story. The book also passes the Bechdel test; Mary often talks to her female friends about her investigation and they help her see different angles, and Yvette (a college friend/roommate and French refugee) and Mary often speak of the war and the politics while riding the train or subway on their way to do some shopping.

 

One quibble I had with the story was the naval jargon, but I just skimmed most of that. Can't wait to read the other two books in the series.

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review 2017-05-25 23:11
A Rather Unusual Romance
A Rather Unusual Romance - Stevie Turner

Title:  A Rather Unusual Romance

Author:  Stevie Turner

Publisher:  Creativia

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating: Five

Review:

 

"A Rather Unusual Romance" by Stevie Turner

 

My thoughts...

 

This was one of those reads that I was a little not sure about reading  due to its subject matter but I will say I am so glad that it did read it.  The story really presents finding love after both of the main characters had health issues [cancer].  How the author was able to give the readers a read that will capture your heartstrings, offering even some humor that seem to helped balance it all out was simply well done. It was definite that these two people were in need of someone who would understand just what they're going through.  With Erin and Alan having this same aliment ['life event'] made their story really look at this picture where the reader could see just what was happening for each other as they went through this ordeal together. Will they find love?  How will each of their children take to the newness in each of their parents new life?  I don't think that Erin's ex should have have had anything to say one way or the other due to what he had done.  To get all of this story the reader will have to pick up this extremely good read and see how well this author gives such a well written story that definitely shows 'how love can flourish even in the unlikeliest of circumstances.' There was really something about this read that I really liked!   Would I recommend?  YES!

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text 2017-04-27 22:49
Dewey Readathon Reading List - Spring 2017
The New Neighbor: A Novel - Leah Stewart
A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance Book 3) - Margaret Brownley
Deep Deception - Cathy Pegau
Forbidden - Beverly Jenkins

My TBR for the read-a-thon is very eclectic.

 

1. The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart (Pop Sugar challenge - book with eccentric character) (Library Love challenge)

           A story about a nosy elderly lady who investigates her new neighbor and tries to uncover the neighbor's secrets. Literary fiction that I really hope doesn't suck due to having a mystery plotline.

 

2. Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau (Booklikes-opoly)

           F/F romance set in space. New-to-me author, although I follow her on Twitter because she makes life in Alaska look like fun.

 

3. Forbidden (Old West #1) by Beverly Jenkins (Booklikes-opoly)

          New-to-me author, and I wanted to tackle one of her latest books to see if I like her writing style before diving into her backlist.

 

4. A Vision of Lucy (Rocky Creek #3) by Margaret Brownley

        Not in a hurry to read this book. The beginning of the book was silly, with too much damsel in distress action that made me roll my eyes. A good laundry day type of book.

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