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I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!


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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Cover Crush: The Keeper of Secrets

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

the keeper of secrets

What don’t I love about this cover!?! It is GORGEOUS!!! I’ve been liking these “split covers” lately.  I love the look of that house with it’s warm tones and slightly overgrown garden look – it seems very inviting.  And I think the old letters/envelopes/postcards are very charming and have tended to like covers that feature them regardless of the rest of the cover’s look.  I think the script chosen for the title actually makes it look like how the addressee would be written on the envelope. 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (updated as they go live).

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Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wish List 5: Civil War Novels

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Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme.  I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  I haven’t been the biggest fan of the Civil War in terms of learning about it it school or reading non-fiction, I find it spends too much time on the battlefield and I don’t find it all that interesting.  But fiction is a different story!

Good Time Coming by C.S. Harris

good time comingIt's the beginning of the American Civil War, and the Union army is sailing down the Mississippi, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

The graceful river town of St. Francisville, Louisiana, has known little of the hardships, death, and destruction of the War. But with the fall of New Orleans, all changes. A Federal fleet appears on the Mississippi, and it isn't long before the depredations and attacks begin.

For one Southern family the dark blue uniform of the Union army is not the only thing they fear. A young girl stops a vicious attack on her mother and the town must pull together to keep each other safe. But a cryptic message casts doubt amongst the townsfolk. Is there a traitor in the town and can anybody be trusted?

Twelve-year-old Amrie and her family have never felt entirely accepted by their neighbors, due to their vocal abolitionist beliefs. But when Federal forces lay siege to the nearby strongholds of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the women and children of St. Francisville find themselves living in a no mans land between two warring armies. Realizing they must overcome their differences and work together to survive, they soon discover strengths and abilities they never knew they possessed, and forge unexpected friendships.

As the violence in the area intensifies, Amrie comes to terms with her own capacity for violence and realizes that the capacity for evil exists within all of us. And when the discovery of a closely guarded secret brings the wrath of the Federal army down on St. Francisville, the women of St. Francisville, with whom Amrie and her mother have shared the war years many deprivations and traumas, now unite and risk their own lives to save them.

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

the killer angelsIn the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation's history, two armies fought for two dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Shattered futures, forgotten innocence, and crippled beauty were also the casualties of war. The Killer Angels is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—a dramatic re-creation of the battleground for America's destiny

Neverhome by Laird Hunt

neverhomeAn extraordinary novel about a wife who disguises herself as a man and goes off to fight in the Civil War.
She calls herself Ash, but that's not her real name. She is a farmer's faithful wife, but she has left her husband to don the uniform of a Union soldier in the Civil War. NEVERHOME tells the harrowing story of Ash Thompson during the battle for the South. Through bloodshed and hysteria and heartbreak, she becomes a hero, a folk legend, a madwoman and a traitor to the American cause.
Laird Hunt's dazzling new novel throws a light on the adventurous women who chose to fight instead of stay behind. It is also a mystery story: why did Ash leave and her husband stay? Why can she not return? What will she have to go through to make it back home?
In gorgeous prose, Hunt's rebellious young heroine fights her way through history, and back home to her husband, and finally into our hearts.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

my name is mary sutterAn enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War

In this stunning first novel, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, head­strong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine-and eager to run away from her recent heartbreak- Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C. to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens-two surgeons who fall unwittingly in love with Mary's courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering-and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital.

Like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks's The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the period. Rich with historical detail (including marvelous depictions of Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, General McClellan, and John Hay among others), and full of the tragedies and challenges of wartime, My Name Is Mary Sutter is an exceptional novel. And in Mary herself, Robin Oliveira has created a truly unforgettable heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere

I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe

i shall be near to youAn extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War, inspired by a real female soldier's letters home

Rosetta doesn't want her new husband Jeremiah to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. Though she's always worked by her father’s side as the son he never had, now that Rosetta is a wife she's told her place is inside with the other women. But Rosetta decides her true place is with Jeremiah, no matter what that means, and to be with him she cuts off her hair, hems an old pair of his pants, and signs up as a Union soldier.

Rosetta drills with the men, prepares herself for battle, and faces the tension as her husband comes to grips with having a fighting wife. Fearing discovery of her secret, Rosetta’s strong will clashes with Jeremiah’s as their marriage is tested by war. Inspired by over two hundred and fifty documented accounts of the women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You is the intimate story, in Rosetta’s powerful and gorgeous voice, of the drama of marriage, one woman’s amazing exploits, and the tender love story that can unfold when two partners face life’s challenges side by side.


Looking for some recommended reads set in the Civil War that I have read before?

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Broken Promises       The Lincoln Conspiracy      Sisters of Shiloh
★★★☆☆                       ★★★★☆                          ★★★★☆


If you are looking to add more books to your list, here are some of the wishlists from a few of my friends this month: (to be updated as they go live)

  • Magdalena @ A Bookaholic Swede –
  • Colleen @ A Literary Vacation –
  • Erin @ Flashlight Commentary –
  • Holly @ 2 Kids and Tired Books –
  • Stephanie @ Layered Pages –

keep calm and support book bloggers


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, July 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Rake’s Bargain by Lucy Ashford

the rakes bargain

The Rake’s Bargain by Lucy Ashford
Unabridged; 8 hr. 8 min.
Recorded Books
Charlotte Strevens (narrator)
December 30, 2016
★★½☆☆☆
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Heat Rating:
2 flames (1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received from publisher for review

The stage is set
Deborah O'Hara loves her life, leading her troupe of actors. But when she becomes entangled in a web of secrets spun by the rakishly handsome Damian Beaumaris, Duke of Cirencester, she is forced to play the hardest role of her life: that of the stunning but disloyal Paulette, the duke's widowed sister-in-law.

To regain the honor of his family, Beau needs Deb's help. But despite his intentions to let nothing distract him from his plan, he doesn't bargain on the forbidden sparks that fly with his beautiful leading lady….

So I’m 1 for 2 with my Harlequin Historicals experience, which I guess is par for the course, but I was hoping this would be another good one, but alas this was more of a dud.

The opening scenes were pretty good and starts out with really the most action of the whole novel. There is a theft, a near escape, and a kidnapping by bumbling idiots that was rather enjoyable. However, once Beau drags Deb into his game of subterfuge, I began losing interest. The first half of The Rake’s Bargain feels a little like an overplayed rom-com (I personally kept drawing parallels to 90’s favorite She’s All That), which I could get behind if done right: guy uses unsuspecting girl to achieve his end game and doesn’t care what happens to the girl along the way, only for them to fall in love at the end. Unlike the rom-com though, I couldn’t find much of anything romantic or comedic about it. I actually kept wondering all the way through to the end how the heroine could find the guy to be even remotely interesting or could redeem himself. The way he treats her is not something I could overcome regardless of how beautiful he might be. She knows he is using her for an outcome that she can’t justify. I just couldn’t buy into the romantic element, that didn’t even begin to develop until over halfway through the book, because the guy was such an ass all the way through. I kept waiting for something more to happen, particularly for the woman she is supposed to be (Paulette) to show up, now that would have made things interesting!

I did like the heroine though. From the very beginning Deb is looking out for the good of her acting troupe and is willing to put her personal reputation on the line over and over to better their lot. It isn’t everyday that the main character is an actress and it was refreshing to see her use her skills both to delight audiences onstage and to move through this twisted mess with Beau more smoothly.

Ultimately I feel like there was a solid premise here, but it got lost in the details and ultimately wasn’t that enjoyable of a read for me in the end. With a romance you really need to buy into the motives of both of the characters involved and I certainly didn’t find that here.

audiobookimpressions

★★★★☆

The saving element for this book was the audio presentation, because without that, I would have probably put it down despite its short length. While I was originally thrown off by the narrator’s accent, it fit appropriately with the setting and after a little bit I grew to accept it. Strevens does make an effort to create different voices for her various characters and pulls off her male voices acceptably (I’ve certainly heard worse!). Her reading pace I found to be appropriate and kept the plot moving. I did find that the pauses between tracks felt longer than necessary; I kept checking my iPod to make sure that it hadn’t accidentally paused on me only to have it then move on to the next track.

You can check out a sample of the audiobook below (link opens to Audible):

Play symbol 85x85

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Also by Lucy Ashford:

captain and innocent
The Captain and his Innocent

captains courtesan
The Captain’s Courtesan

the major and pickpocket
The Major and the Pickpocket

belle marchmain
The Outrageous Belle Marchmain

conistone
The Return of Lord Conistone

the problem with josephine
The Problem with Josephine


Find Lucy Ashford:
Website



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cover Crush: The Last Camellia

cover crush

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

last camelia

So this isn’t a new release, but I was scrolling through some lists on Goodreads looking for some ideas for another post and I came across this one which caught my eye.  When I first look at it it looks like there is a waterfall in the center background, but that is a woman and maybe just in a ray of light.  But regardless, I like how the flower is defined in the foreground and the back is a little less defined, and for me, a little ambiguous! 

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (updated as they go live).

keep calm and support book bloggers



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Book Alert: Days to the Gallows by Katherine Spada Basto

days to the gallows

Days to the Gallows by Katherine Spada Basto
e-book & Paperback; 252 Pages
CreateSpace Independent Publishing
ISBN: 1536978043
December 6, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Book Blurb:

Before the Salem Witch Trials...in 1662, a witch panic struck Hartford, Connecticut. Seventeen year old Hester Hosmer is a neighbor and friend to Ann Cole, despite Ann's reputation for being "strange" and a mooncalf. One night when Hester tries to drag Ann home from one of her moonlight walks, the girls stumble upon a strange fire-lit gathering on the South Green. But in 1662, such gatherings are strictly forbidden. When a child dies mysteriously, Ann's hysteria begins and she accuses certain townspeople of witchcraft. A witch panic envelopes Hartford and paranoia runs rampant. Hester tries to discourage Ann's hysterics and the more she discovers, the more conflicted she becomes about her own loyalties. Hester's budding romance with Tom, the peddler's son only makes Ann jealous and increases the tension. With the ruthless Marshal Gilbert, the Puritan Elders and the Acting Governor himself at her beck and call, Ann can prove to be a dangerous enemy. After all, anyone in Hartford might be a witch. After years of research, Ms. Spada Basto has brought to life a turbulent and disturbing period of Colonial Connecticut History. It is a time when wolves prowled near the town and superstitions about witches often brought people to an untimely death-hanging by a noose on Gallows' Hill.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia 


I came across this book/author while reading through my local newspaper – the headline was “Resident Publishes First Novel” – so of course I was intrigued.  And even more so once I saw it was a historical novel set right here in our small state of Connecticut.  The witch hysteria has always interested me and Connecticut has a rich history of it too, just not as well known as that of Salem.  So I’m interested in checking this one out.

You can read more about the author and the book in this article from The Hartford Courant.



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cover Crush: The Jersey Brothers

cover crush_thumb[3]_thumb

We can all say that you should never judge a book by its cover, but I guarantee that we all have done so at least once! Cover Crush is designed to feature some of those covers that have caught the eye as a standout on the bookshelf.

jersey brothers

This cover is powerful and doesn’t need a lot of words.  It’s a spooky kind of quiet – the kind that doesn’t bring peace, but rather a lack of noise because everything has stopped.  You see the helmet and the ocean and regardless I think D-Day in my head – wherever it is, I get that same vibe.  Sadness.  Stillness.  I really want to read this book.

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: (updated as they go live).

keep calm and support book bloggers_thumb_thumb



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book Review: The Duke of Defiance by Darcy Burke

The Duke of Defiance Cover

The Duke of Defiance by Darcy Burke
Book 5 in The Untouchables series
ARC, e-Book, 265 pages
Darcy Burke
June 27, 2017
★★★½☆☆
goodreads button

Heat Rating

3 flames

Genre: Historical Romance

Source: Received from publicist for review

Difficult and defiant as a child, Bran Crowther, Earl of Knighton left England as a young man to pursue independence and adventure. He never expected to inherit the title and when duty calls him home, he still finds Society’s codes constricting and others’ expectations oppressive. Nevertheless, he needs a wife to be a mother to his young daughter, preferably a woman of intelligence and warmth who is, above all, immune to his idiosyncrasies—and to falling in love.

Widow Joanna Shaw isn’t interested in a second marriage, not after the loveless, passionless union she endured. She’d much rather dote on her young niece and nephew since they will likely be the only children in her life...until she meets a precocious girl, in desperate need of a mother. But her father, the so-called Duke of Defiance, is as peculiar as he is handsome, and Jo won’t take another risk with her heart. Their rules, however, are made to be broken, even when the consequences could destroy them both.

Besides the fact that I had enjoyed prior entries in The Untouchables series, the cover of this one drew me right in – regardless of what the book was about. It is STUNNING! With that out of the way, let’s dig into the actual story.

One thing that I have always liked are the characters that Burke creates. Jo is the sister of one of the heroines from an earlier installment in the series, The Forbidden Duke. I didn’t know this character well because I haven’t yet read her story, but she figures prominently into the plot here. Jo comes to live with her sister after her husband dies to determine what to do with her life. While the two sisters have a very warm relationship, there is some resentment that simmers as the story progresses from their earlier days. We get to see how Nora’s actions that resulted in her fairytale romance have affected her sister. I honestly think this was one of the strongest relationships in this book. Typically we see the heroines of the series traipse through the pages of all the subsequent novels, and while we hear of Ivy, Lucy, and Aquilla, it is only Nora who figures prominently for the women. However the men on the other hand get their due here! Most of the Untouchables make an appearance in a hilarious scene welcoming Bran back to England. While this scene served to familiarize the reader with each of the relationships, I thought it gave WAY too much away where you really don’t have to go back and read the other books because you know what happens. I think authors do themselves a disservice when they do this because instead of intriguing readers to go pick up their other books they have essentially taken that need away from them. Maybe explain a little less next time! I loved that Bran had his idiosyncrasies which made him very unique among his set, but I kept wanting to know a little bit more about what was the root of them. He is compassionate for his daughter above all else, which I have yet to read in any historical romance to date, it is usually the woman that happens to have a child from a prior relationship or out of wedlock, not the man. It is something needed in this genre for sure from time to time as it would have certainly been an issue at the time: a widowed father needs to find someone to be a mother to his children. Jo spends most of the novel wrapped up in the events of her past, both with her sister and late husband, which didn’t really allow for much growth of character but I found her likable anyway.

One element that I picked up on early in this story is how the author explores the concept of how a bad prior relationship can taint the ability to move on and have strong positive relationship. Whether the cause is physical, sexual, or emotional those mind games can effect how you related to other people and that happens here with Jo. She struggles throughout the novel with the lasting effects of her first marriage and constantly undermines herself, until she is finally able to get out of her own way. I thought that this was very well done.

During the experience of reading I thought that the plot was entertaining, but looking back on it, it was a little less exciting than other installments in this series. For the most part Jo doesn’t go anywhere other than her sisters home and Bran’s home. It honestly felt like there were only two scenes where the plot actually moved forward – one at the very beginning and one very nearly at the end. There is a lot of exploration of character (I won’t say it’s quite character development exactly), but nothing really happens. In The Duke of Deception the plot continually barreled forward, but it was a little lackluster here. The point of contention between the two love interests didn’t lend itself to a plot with action, it was just something for the two of them to trip over and ultimately find their way into each other’s beds. I would have liked the plot to be bulked up more which would have added to my overall enjoyment.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Also by Darcy Burke:

The other titles in this series include:

The Forbidden Duke - BK 1
The Forbidden Duke
(Book 1)

The Duke of Daring - BK 2
The Duke of Daring
(Book 2)

The Duke of Deception - BK 3
The Duke of Deception
(Book 3)
[My Review]

duke of despire
The Duke of Desire
(Book 4)
[My Review]


Find Darcy Burke:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court