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review 2017-10-09 04:31
The Dark Victorian: Risen by Elizabeth Watasin
The Dark Victorian: Risen Volume One - Elizabeth Watasin

The Dark Victorian: Risen is set in a steampunk London with magic and paranormal aspects. Jim, an agent of Prince Albert’s Secret Commission, is given a new partner: Artifice, a Quaker and artificial ghost (meaning that she can turn incorporeal at will). All agents of the Secret Commission were once criminals - they were executed and then brought back to life, bound into service, with no memory of who they once were. They are able to guess some things about their past selves, but that’s about it. It generally isn’t a good idea for them to find and communicate with people they once knew.

Artifice, who chooses to go by the name Art, and Jim begin investigating their first case, the disastrous reanimation of several corpses. The culprit started with animals but appears to have moved on to humans. In each instance, the corpses manage to kill someone before either being destroyed or escaping.

It took me a bit to get my bearings in this story. The Secret Commission wasn’t really a secret. Everyone seemed to know who and what they were, even if they weren’t always comfortable around them or happy about them. I also initially had the impression that Art was supposed to be an unusual sort of agent, but that didn’t seem to be the case either. She had special abilities, just like Jim, although hers were of a different sort, and she had the same limitations. Her primary oddity was that she was a Quaker, someone Jim would have thought would be unlikely to become an agent of the Secret Commission.

The world and setup were pretty interesting. Jim and Art each had their own abilities, and both were technically immortal as long as they consumed enough of whatever their particular bodies needed. Jim, a disembodied skull, could feed off of fire and smoke. Art needed raw seafood.

The story was a fairly simple one and would have worked fine in several urban fantasy and steampunk mystery series I can think of. The problem was that it was a bit buried. I understand that this is the first work in a series and is meant to whet readers’ appetite for more, but there were lots of details that were unnecessary for this particular story and could easily have been left out. As it was, it felt too large for its page count.

The pacing was a bit strange, too. Jim and Art would be chasing after the killer and investigating the murders, only to stop for a bit in order to make sure that Art was properly clothed. Okay, so she needed to be properly dressed for propriety’s sake, but it killed the flow of the story and made it easy to forget what the point of it all was. By the time one particular character made her second appearance, I had already forgotten who she was and why she might be important.

Despite my issues with this work, there's still a chance I'll continue on with this series. The second work is much longer and might therefore give everything more room to breathe - it’s possible that Watasin is one of those writers who does better with longer works than shorter ones. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jim and Art in action a bit more, and Art’s potential romances intrigue me, even as they worry me a bit. At this point she has two potential love interests: Manon, a “sapphic performer,” and Helia, Art’s lover in her past life. Both options are potential minefields for Art, Manon because she isn’t human and I suspect Art could end up wanting more from her than she’s willing and able to give, and Helia because of her curse.


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

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review 2016-09-05 17:08
Review: Blessing by Lyn Cote
Blessing (Quaker Brides) - Lyn Cote

I love jumping at the chance to read books that are filled with powerful messages from God. So, when I saw this book, I jumped on the chance to review it. However, I was sadly disappointed in the this particular book. The story line fell flat for me. The characters didn't grip me and hook me like I was hoping they would. I tried many, many times to review this book but sadly, again, I could not finish it all. However, that being said, I still encourage everyone to read this book. Just because it wasn't for me, does not mean that you will not enjoy it or find a message within for you! 

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review 2016-01-17 05:54
Home to Cedar Branch
Home to Cedar Branch (A Quaker Café Novel) - Brenda Bevan Remmes

Title: Home to Cedar Branch
Author: Brenda Bevan Remmes
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Series Quaker Cafe #2
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Four

"Home to Cedar Branch" by Brenda Bevan Remmes

My Thoughts....

Now this was one story that had a little bit of it all from some mystery to even Christian fiction. From boys getting into trouble[snooping], from violence at home, to adultery, murder, breaking out of court, Quaker's helping, more shooting to family healing. To put this all into one story all I can say is that this author gives the reader quite a story full of drama dealing with spousal abuse/kidnapping. This family of Katy and Hank will keep you turning the pages to see what was coming next. Be ready for many twist and turns and I will say that the ending did surprise me and did leave me with some mixed feelings having some unanswered questions.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review.

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review 2015-11-12 18:41
Delivering the Truth (Quaker Midwife Mystery #1) by Edith Maxwell
Delivering the Truth (A Quaker Midwife Mystery) - Edith Maxwell

 I was first drawn to this book due to the midwifery and the historical setting. The history period is shown in great vivid detail on the pages, as you follow along with Quaker midwife Rose Carroll. Rose embodies her Friend upbringing, but that doesn't stop her from pushing against the tide to help those in need and help solve a murder mystery or two.

  I really liked Rose, she kept a steady head on her shoulders, kept a ear out for any information that may help the cases she comes across. Most importantly when faced between a rock and a hard place, she didn't act to rashly. Sadly, she does happen to fall into a few cozy mystery troupes. One with getting herself into a bad fix plus the police asking a Quaker Midwife for help did push some of the boundaries of believability.

In the end this was a good start to this new series with a great foundation to build on.


<i>ARC provided by Netgalley</i>

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text 2015-08-04 15:51
Conductor: The Underground Railroad in Romance
Honor (Quaker Brides Book 1) - Lyn Cote
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins
Sweeter Than Birdsong - Rosslyn Elliott
The Sugar Camp Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel - Jennifer Chiaverini
Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana - Melanie Dobson
The Impetuous Bride: Once Upon a Wedding (Zebra Ballad Romance) - Kelly McClymer
Secrets and Sacrifices - Diane M. Wylie
The Quaker and the Rebel - Mary Ellis
Path of Freedom: Quilts of Love Series - Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Love's Awakening - Laura Frantz

Everyone should check out this amazing film: The Underground Railroad: The William Still Story.  You can watch in online. 


Here is the blurb: 


The compelling story of one of the most important heroes of the Underground Railroad comes to life in Underground Railroad: The William Still Story. The first generation of his family born free, abolitionist and historian William Still was determined to get as many runaways as he could across the U.S. border to Canada.


The Underground Railroad remains the most immense humanitarian enterprise of the 19th century--perhaps ever. Underground Railroad: The William Still Story blends stories, characters and context with evocative reenactments, new historical perspectives and sometimes shocking, often touching, accounts from the day. The predominant "voices" in the documentary are those of William Still and a selection of freedom seekers whose stories help define the era. Their actual words are often used, taken from letters and memoirs.


Here are some wonderful Historical Romance Novels that explore the same movement for freedom. 


My lists are never in particular order. Enjoy!


1. Honor by Lyn Cote


When unexpected circumstances leave Honor Penworthy destitute after the death of her grandfather, she is forced to leave her Maryland plantation—and the slaves she hoped to free—and seek refuge with a distant relative. With no marketable skills, her survival hinges on a marriage arranged through the Quaker community to local glass artisan Samuel Cathwell. Samuel is drawn to Honor, but he has been unwilling to open his heart to anyone since scarlet fever took his hearing as a child.

A move west brings the promise of a fresh start, but nothing in Honor’s genteel upbringing has prepared her for the rigors of frontier life with Samuel. Nevertheless, her tenacity and passion sweep her into important winds of change, and she becomes increasingly—though secretly—involved in the Underground Railroad. Samuel suspects Honor is hiding something, but will uncovering the truth confirm his worst fears or truly bring them together as man and wife?


2. Indigo by Beverly Jenkins


As a child Hester Wyatt escaped slavery, but now the dark skinned beauty is a dedicated member of Michigan's Underground railroad, offering other runaways a chance at the freedom she has learned to love. When one of her fellow conductors brings her an injured man to hide, Hester doesn't hesitate…even after she is told about the price on his head. 

The man in question is the great conductor known as the "Black Daniel" a vital member of the North's Underground railroad network. But Hester finds him so rude and arrogant, she begins to question her vow to hide him. 

When the injured and beaten Galen Vachon, aka, the Black Daniel awakens in Hester's cellar, he is unprepared for the feisty young conductor providing his care. As a member of one of the wealthiest free Black families in New Orleans, Galen has turned his back on the lavish living he is accustomed to in order to provide freedom to those enslaved in the South. 

However, as he heals he cannot turn his back on Hester Wyatt. Her innocence fills him like a breath of fresh air and he is determined to make this gorgeous and intelligent woman his own… 

Yet…there are traitors to be discovered, slave catchers to be evaded and Hester's heart to be won before she and Galen can find the freedom that only true love can bring. 


3. Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott


In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance—and use it to mask her flight.


Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.


A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.


4. The Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini


Set in Creek's Crossing, Pennsylvania, in the years leading up to the Civil War, the story begins with friends and neighbors taking sides in the abolitionist debate, and as events unfold, an ex-traordinary young heroine passes from innocence to wisdom against the harrowing backdrop of the American struggle over slavery. 

A dutiful daughter and niece, Dorothea Granger finds her dreams of furthering her education thwarted by the needs of home. A gifted quilter, she tragically loses her hope chest in a flood. A superior student, she is promoted from pupil to teacher -- only to lose her position to the privileged son of a town benefactor. But the ultimate test of her courage and convictions comes with the death of her stern uncle Jacob, who inexplicably had asked Dorothea to stitch him a quilt with four unusual patterns of his own design.


After he meets with a violent end, Dorothea discovers that the quilt contains hidden clues to guide runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad. Emboldened by the revelations about her uncle's bravery, Dorothea resolves to continue his dangerous work. Armed with the Sugar Camp Quilt and its mysterious symbols, she must evade slavecatchers and outwit unscrupulous neighbors, embarking upon a heroic journey that allows her to discover her own courage and resourcefulness -- unsuspected qualities that may win her the heart of the best man she has ever known. 

Told with Jennifer Chiaverini's trademark historical suspense, The Sugar Camp Quilt blends danger, moral courage, romance, and hope into a novel of antebellum America whose lessons resonate with timeless honesty.


5. Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson


In a divided town durng a dangerous era, who can be trusted? Anna Brent risks everything for the runaway slaves hidden in her home, but is she willin gto risk her heart to the newcomer who is fighting for their freedom?


6. The Impetuous Bride by Kelly McClymer


Rosaline Fenster has always been the black sheep of her proper Victorian family. Ros prefers to chart her own path, even if she must dress as a man on occasion to do what must be done. Escaping her life as an English lady by emigrating to America, Ros has found adventure helping runaway slaves find freedom. But now her path west has set her on a collision course with Wagonmaster Rob Lewis. Rob doesn't want anything to disrupt his wagon train's journey west. Not escaped slaves. Not his own daughter. And especially not his late wife's cousin -- a woman who dares to do what she thinks right, and damn the consequences.


7. Secrets and Sacrifices by Diane Wylie


The slowly starving South, lack of medical supplies, and desperate runaway slaves motivate Charlie and Daniel to take risks beyond their wildest imaginations. How could they possibly know that their paths would cross during the worst time in their lives and where that path would lead?


8. The Quaker and the Rebel by Mary Ellis


 Emily Harrison’s life has been turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempted to continue her parents’ work as conductors in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm was sold in foreclosure. Now alone, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor’s family in slave-holding Virginia. Perhaps she can continue her rescue efforts from there. Alexander Hunt is the doctor’s handsome nephew. While he does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle’s newest employee, he cannot take time to pursue Emily. Alex is not at all what he seems—rich, spoiled, and indolent. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a Quaker leader of Rebel partisans. A man of the shadows, he carries no firearm and wholeheartedly believes in Emily’s antislavery convictions. The path before Alex and Emily is complicated and sometimes life threatening. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger to both of them. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they find faith in God amid the challenges they face and trust in the possibility for a bright future together?


9. Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor


When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother's quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery.


10. Love's Awakening by Laura Frantz


n the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburgh only to find that her parents are away on a long journey and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. Determined to stand her ground and find her place in the world, Ellie fills her time by opening a day school for young ladies.

But when one of her students turns out to be an incorrigible young member of the Turlock family, Ellie knows she must walk a fine line. Slaveholders and whiskey magnates, the Turlocks are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly entangled with the rival clan--particularly the handsome Jack Turlock--she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future. Will she betray her family and side with the enemy?


Did  I miss your favorite? Let me know!


Vote on my Goodreads list: Conductor: The Underground Railroad in Romance

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