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!

Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wishlist 5: Exploration–Non-Fiction


Once a month I am planning on sharing with you all 5 of my biggest wish list books broken up by theme (I know I missed April, I will make it up somewhere down the line). I know that you all need more on your TBR!!!  I love reading about exploration.  Not only does it take you on a virtual trip somewhere I will never go (like Mount Everest). but there is generally a sense of adventure, even in non-fiction.  I found I had QUITE a few non-fiction exploration books on my list, so it was hard to narrow it down.  The 5 I have chosen are not necessarily my top 5 because I wanted to diversify the topics.

Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe

overtheedgeFerdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, prize-winning biographer and journalist Laurence Bergreen entwines a variety of candid, firsthand accounts, bringing to life this groundbreaking and majestic tale of discovery that changed both the way explorers would henceforth navigate the oceans and history itself.

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West

beyondthehundrethmeridianJohn Wesley Powell fought in the Civil War and it cost him an arm. But it didn't stop him from exploring the American West.

Here Wallace Stegner, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, gives us a thrilling account of Powell's struggle against western geography and Washington politics. We witness the successes and frustrations of Powell's distinguished career, and appreciate his unparalleled understanding of the West.

Endurance: Shakleton’s Incredible Voyage

enduranceThe astonishing saga of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's survival for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas, as Time magazine put it, "defined heroism." Alfred Lansing's scrupulously researched and brilliantly narrated book -- with over 200,000 copies sold -- has long been acknowledged as the definitive account of the Endurance's fateful trip. To write their authoritative story, Lansing consulted with ten of the surviving members and gained access to diaries and personal accounts by eight others. The resulting book has all the immediacy of a first-hand account, expanded with maps and illustrations especially for this edition.

The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America’s Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas by Todd Balf

the darkest jungleThe Darkest Jungle tells the harrowing story of America's first ship canal exploration across a narrow piece of land in Central America called the Darien, a place that loomed large in the minds of the world's most courageous adventurers in the nineteenth century. With rival warships and explorers from England and France days behind, the 27-member U.S. Darien Exploring Expedition landed on the Atlantic shore at Caledonia Bay in eastern Panama to begin their mad dash up the coast-hugging mountains of the Darien wilderness. The whole world watched as this party attempted to be the first to traverse the 40-mile isthmus, the narrowest spot between the Atlantic and Pacific in all the Americas.

Later, government investigators would say they were doomed before they started. Amid the speculative fever for an Atlantic and Pacific ship canal, the terrain to be crossed had been grossly misrepresented and fictitiously mapped. By January 27, 1854, the Americans had served out their last provisions and were severely footsore but believed the river they had arrived at was an artery to the Pacific, their destination. Leading them was the charismatic commander Isaac Strain, an adventuring 33-year-old U.S. Navy lieutenant. The party could have turned back except, said Strain, they were to a man revolted at the idea of failing at a task they seemed destined to accomplish. Like the first men to try to scale Everest or reach the North Pole, they felt the eyes of their countrymen upon them.

Yet Strain's party would wander lost in the jungle for another sixty nightmarish days, following a tortuously contorted and uncharted tropical river. Their guns rusted in the damp heat, expected settlements never materialized, and the lush terrain provided little to no sustenance. As the unending march dragged on, the party was beset by flesh-embedding parasites and a range of infectious tropical diseases they had no antidote for (or understanding of). In the desperate final days, in the throes of starvation, the survivors flirted with cannibalism and the sickest men had to be left behind so, as the journal keeper painfully recorded, the rest might have a chance to live.

The U.S. Darien Exploring Expedition's 97-day ordeal of starvation, exhaustion, and madness--a tragedy turned triumph of the soul due to the courage and self-sacrifice of their leader and the seamen who devotedly followed him--is one of the great untold tales of human survival and exploration. Based on the vividly detailed log entries of Strain and his junior officers, other period sources, and Balf's own treks in the Darien Gap, this is a rich and utterly compelling historical narrative that will thrill readers who enjoyed In the Heart of the Sea, Isaac's Storm, and other sagas of adventure at the limits of human endurance.

Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone by Martin Dugard

into africaWith the utterance of a single line—“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”—a remote meeting in the heart of Africa was transformed into one of the most famous encounters in exploration history. But the true story behind Dr. David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is one that has escaped telling. Into Africa is an extraordinarily researched account of a thrilling adventure—defined by alarming foolishness, intense courage, and raw human achievement.

In the mid-1860s, exploration had reached a plateau. The seas and continents had been mapped, the globe circumnavigated. Yet one vexing puzzle remained unsolved: what was the source of the mighty Nile river? Aiming to settle the mystery once and for all, Great Britain called upon its legendary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, who had spent years in Africa as a missionary. In March 1866, Livingstone steered a massive expedition into the heart of Africa. In his path lay nearly impenetrable, uncharted terrain, hostile cannibals, and deadly predators. Within weeks, the explorer had vanished without a trace. Years passed with no word.

While debate raged in England over whether Livingstone could be found—or rescued—from a place as daunting as Africa, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the brash American newspaper tycoon, hatched a plan to capitalize on the world’s fascination with the missing legend. He would send a young journalist, Henry Morton Stanley, into Africa to search for Livingstone. A drifter with great ambition, but little success to show for it, Stanley undertook his assignment with gusto, filing reports that would one day captivate readers and dominate the front page of the New York Herald.

Tracing the amazing journeys of Livingstone and Stanley in alternating chapters, author Martin Dugard captures with breathtaking immediacy the perils and challenges these men faced. Woven into the narrative, Dugard tells an equally compelling story of the remarkable transformation that occurred over the course of nine years, as Stanley rose in power and prominence and Livingstone found himself alone and in mortal danger. The first book to draw on modern research and to explore the combination of adventure, politics, and larger-than-life personalities involved, Into Africa is a riveting read.

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:

keep calm and support book bloggers

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

DNF Discussion: The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

the shadow sister

The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley
Book 3 in The Seven Sisters series
e-book, hardcover, 512 pages
Atria Books
April 18, 2017
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from the publisher for review

Book Blurb:

Travel through the lush English countryside and explore the magnificent estates of the British aristocracy in this next spellbinding love story in The Seven Sisters series by #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley.

Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life...

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

I want to first start off by saying that this is NOT a complete review because I did not finish the book.  I completed approximately 60% of the book, and that felt like extensive effort. For those of you that have been with me for awhile now you know how rare it is that I DNF a book. Could I have finished reading this one? Yes, but it was taking so long to slog through the pages and I quite honestly was struggling to find interest to pick it back up again.

I like the premise of the series – each book focusing on one of the sisters that were adopted by a man of whom the reader (and the sisters) have little background knowledge of. Each on a quest of discovery of where they come from thus bringing the reader through a contemporary and historical storyline. I have had a lot of success with stories that move between both a history and contemporary timeline in the past, and it worked to some extent here, but I found the historical story line vastly more interesting than that of the contemporary. The reason for this…the main character Star. I found her SO boring. She had no personality and every time she was in a scene I felt like a wet blanket was being thrown over the plot. In that modern storyline I actually enjoyed the two male side characters the most: Mouse and Orlando, they at least had fascinating and quirky personalities. The historical was definitely the stronger storyline of the two. While Flora occasionally frustrated me, I felt it was appropriate to the storyline and she had a lot going on in her life. I felt for her and how her heart was ripped apart as she tried to make the right decisions in life. Basically I was interested in finding out what ultimately happened to Flora, but could have cared less about what happened to Star. Every time we emerged out of the historical storyline the plot came to a screeching halt and I would put down the book and not be interested in picking it back up. I think that this could have been a much stronger book if the contemporary story line was eliminated.

In case anyone suggests that maybe I would have enjoyed the story more if I had read the first 2 books in the series, I don’t think that this at all affected how I felt about the story. There is quite a lot of backstory provided and even information given on what happened to the sisters of the first two books that I was comfortable with the timeline.

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, May 29, 2017

New Book Alert: From Duke till Dawn by Eva Leigh–Giveaway & Excerpt

from duke dawn mm c

From Duke Till Dawn by Eva Leigh
Book 1 in The London Underground Series
e-book & Mass Market Paperback; 384 Pages
ISBN: 0062499416
May 30, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance
goodreads button

Book Blurb:

Eva Leigh launches a seductive new series that sizzles with the dark secrets of London’s underworld...

Years ago, the Duke of Greyland gave his heart—and a princely sum of money—to a charming, destitute widow with unparalleled beauty. But after one passionate night, she slipped from his bed and vanished without a trace. And just when he’s given up hope of ever seeing her again, Greyland finds her managing a gaming hell. He’s desperate to have her… until he discovers everything about his long-lost lover was a lie.

In truth, Cassandra Blake grew up on the streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a mark—to be fleeced and forgotten—but her feelings for the duke became all too real. Once he learns of her deception, however, the heat in his eyes turns to ice. When her business partner absconds with the gaming hell proceeds—leaving unsavory investors out for blood—Cassandra must beg the man she betrayed for help.

Greyland wants compensation, too, and he’ll assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid. But it’s not long before the real Cassandra—the smart, streetwise criminal—is stealing his heart all over again. 

Buy the Book: AMAZON | B & N | GOOGLE | ITUNES | KOBO


Check out this awesome EXCERPT I have to share!

London, England

A woman laughed, and Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland felt the sound like a gunshot to his chest.

It was a very pleasant laugh, low and musical rather than shrill and forced, yet it sounded like The Lost Queen’s laugh. Alex could not resist the urge to glance over his shoulder as he left the Eagle chophouse. He’d fancifully taken to calling her The Lost Queen, though she was most assuredly a mortal woman. Had she somehow appeared on a busy London street at dusk? The last time he’d seen her had been two years ago, in the spa town of Cheltenham, in his bed, asleep and naked.

The owner of the laugh turned out to be a completely different woman—brunette rather than blonde, petite and round rather than lithe and willowy. She caught Alex staring and raised her eyebrows. He bowed gravely in response, then continued toward the curb.

Night came on in indigo waves, but the shops spilled golden light in radiant patches onto the street.

The hardworking citizens of London continued to toil as the upper echelons began their evening revelries. Crowds thronged the sidewalk, while wagons, carriages, and people on horseback crammed the streets. A handful of pedestrians recognized Alex and politely curtsied or tipped their hats, murmuring, “Good evening, Your Grace.” Though he was in no mood for politeness, responsibility and virtue were his constant companions—had been his whole life—and so rather than snapping, “Go to the devil, damn you!” he merely nodded in greeting.

He’d done his duty. He’d been seen in public, rather than disappearing into the cavernous chambers of his Mayfair mansion, where he could lick his wounds in peace.

The trouble with being a duke was that he always had to do his duty. “You are the pinnacle of British Society,” his father had often said to him. “The world looks to you for guidance. So you must lead by example. Be their True North.”

This evening, before dining, Alex had taken a very conspicuous turn up and down Bond Street, making certain that he was seen by many consequential—and loose-lipped— figures in the ton. Word would soon spread that the Duke of Greyland was not holed up, sulking in seclusion. His honor as one of Society’s bulwarks would not be felled by something as insignificant as his failed marriage suit to Lady Emmeline Birks. The Dukes of Greyland had stood strong against Roundheads, Jacobites, and countless other threats against Britain. One girl barely out of the schoolroom could hardly damage Alex’s ducal armor.

But that armor had been dented by The Lost Queen. Far deeper than he would have expected.

Standing on the curb, he signaled for his carriage, which pulled out of the mews. He tugged on his spotless gloves as he waited and adjusted the brim of his black beaver hat to make certain it sat properly on his head. “Always maintain a faultless appearance,” his father had reminded him again and again. “The slightest bit of disorder in your dress can lead to rampant speculation about the stability of your affairs. This, we cannot tolerate. The nation demands nothing less than perfection.”

Alex’s father had been dead for ten years, but that didn’t keep the serious, sober man’s voice from his mind. It was part of him now—his role as one of the most powerful men in England and the responsibilities that role carried with it. Not once did he ever let frivolities distract him from his duties.

Except for one time . . .

Forcing the thought from his mind, Alex looked impatiently for his carriage. Just as the vehicle pulled up, however, two men appeared and grabbed his arms on each side.

Alex stiffened—he did not care for being touched without giving someone express permission to do so. People on the street also did not normally seize each other. Was it a robbery? A kidnapping attempt? His hands curled instinctively into fists, ready to give his accosters a beating.

“What’s this?” one of the younger men exclaimed with mock horror. “Have I grabbed hold of a thundercloud?”

“Don’t know about you,” the other man said drily, “but I seem to have attached myself to an enormous bar of iron. How else to explain its inflexibility?” He tried to shake Alex, to little avail. When he wanted to be, Alex was absolutely immovable.

Alex’s fingers loosened. He tugged his arms free and growled, “That’s enough, you donkeys.”

Thomas Powell, the Earl of Langdon and heir to the Duke of Northfield, grinned, a flash of white in his slightly unshaven face. “Come now, Greyland,” he chided. A hint of an Irish accent made his voice musical, evidence of Langdon’s early years spent in his mother’s native County Kerry. “Is that any way to speak to your oldest and dearest friends?”

“I’ll let you know when they get here.” Alex scowled at Langdon, then at Christopher Ellingsworth, who only smirked in response.

Alex took a step toward his carriage, but Ellingsworth deftly moved to block his path, displaying the speed and skill that had served him well when he’d fought on the Peninsula.

“Where are you running off to with such indecorous haste?” Ellingsworth pressed. He held up a finger. “Ah, never tell me. You’re running back to the shelter of your Mayfair cave, to growl and brood like some big black bear in a cravat.”

“You know nothing,” Alex returned, despite the fact that Ellingsworth had outlined his exact plans for the rest of the night.

Ellingsworth looked at Langdon with exaggerated pity. “Poor chap. The young Lady Emmeline has utterly shattered his heart.”

Alex shouldered past Ellingsworth, only to have Langdon move to stand in his way.

“My heart is not shattered because of Lady Emmeline,” Alex snapped. At least that much was the truth.

“But why shouldn’t your heart be strewn in pieces throughout Regent’s Park?” Langdon mused. “You courted the young lady for several months, and you told Ellingsworth and I that you’d already received her father’s grateful acceptance of a marriage offer.”

“She never agreed to anything,” Alex said flatly.

“A modest girl, that Lady Emmeline.” Ellingsworth nodded with approval. “She wouldn’t have said yes right away. They never do. Nothing to be alarmed by.”

“How would you know?” Alex’s voice was edged. Ellingsworth had little experience with offering for ladies’ hands, committed as he was to a life of reckless pleasure.

Langdon added, “It’d be unseemly for an earl’s daughter to eagerly snap up a marriage proposal the moment it was offered.”

Alex scowled. Despite the fact that, at thirty-eight, he was sixteen years her senior, they would suit well as a wedded couple. Lady Emmeline had been perfectly trained in the responsibilities of an aristocratic wife. Though he wished she stated her own opinion rather than constantly agreeing with him, there were worse faults one could find in a prospective bride.

They could marry at Christmas, eight months from now. It would be a small but elegant wedding, followed by a lavish breakfast and a wedding journey in the Lake District. And then, if everything went well, in less than a year, Alex and Lady Emmeline might welcome their first child—hopefully a boy so the line would be secure. It would’ve been precisely the sort of match Alex’s

father would have approved, considering Lady Emmeline’s faultless background and her spotless reputation.

“Look at him now, mooning away,” Langdon sighed, smugly thwarting Alex’s attempts to step around him. “He looks poorly.”

It would be bad form to knock his friend to the ground. Damn the social niceties that dictated a man couldn’t punch another without repercussions.

“Perhaps he should be bled,” Ellingsworth suggested with his habitual smirk. It was his constant companion since returning from the War, as if he refused to take anything seriously.

“I am perfectly well.” Alex looked back and forth between these two rogues whom he called friends. “No need to call for a quack.”

“He’s already had an amputation,” Langdon noted, raising a brow as he always did. “One prospective bride—gone.” He made a sawing motion at his ankle, as if cutting the shackles of matrimony.

Alex glanced down at his own lower leg, as if he could see the invisible links that might have bound him to Lady Emmeline. He’d come so close to becoming a married man and sharing the rest of his life with one woman—the faultless duke his father had bred him to be. It hardly mattered that Alex felt nothing for the gel other than a sense of distant respect. She would have made a fine duchess.

“We were at White’s yesterday when we heard about what happened,” Langdon said with disapproval. “Didn’t even tell your two closest friends that Lady Emmeline had run off with a cavalry officer. No, we had to hear it from Lord Ruthven, of all people.”

EVA LEIGH bw author photo

About the Author:

Eva Leigh is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the '80s. Eva and her husband live in Southern California.



As part of the tour, there is a tour-wide giveaway of 5 print copies of From Duke Till Dawn.  Entries are made through the Rafflecopter below or on any of the blogs hosting the tour.  Please note if you have any questions your should contact the tour coordinator.  Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the Tour!


Tasty Book Tours Website

May 29th

Sofia Loves Books -Rev
What the Cat Read -Rev/Exc
Romantic Historical Reviews -Rev/Exc
Red Wine & Books -Rev/Exc
The Maiden's Court –Exc – HERE!!
Born to Read Books -Exc
Leigh Anderson Romance -Exc
Cat's Guilty Pleasure -Exc
BJ's Reviews -Exc
Paranormal Romance and Beyond -Exc                                                                

May 30th

I am, Indeed -Rev/Exc
Reading Reality -Rev
Jen's Reading Obsession -Rev/Exc
Roses Are Blue -Exc
I'm A Book Shark -Exc
Lady Muslin Myst's Mysterious Hodgepodge -Exc                                                                             

May 31st

I Heart Romance & YA -Rev
Becky on Books -Rev/Int/Exc
Celtic Dragon Book Reviews -Rev/Exc
Romance Book Review For You -Rev/Exc
Books & Spoons -Exc
Hearts & Scribbles -Exc
Reading in Pajamas -Exc
A Fold in the Spine -Exc      

June 1st

The Reading Wench -Rev/Exc
Happy Ever After Romance Book Reviews -Rev/Exc
What Is That Book About -Exc
underneath the covers -Exc
E-Romance News -Exc
All Things Bookaholic -Exc
Lisa Home for Books –Exc
Ever After Book Reviews - Exc

June 2nd

Francoise's Reading Corner -Rev/Exc
Fire And Ice Book Reviews -Rev/Exc
Once Upon A Book -Rev/Exc
Mommaleena's Blog -Rev/Exc
Books & Benches -Int/Exc
Rachel Brimble Romance -Exc
Eskimo Princess Book Reviews -Exc
Evermore Books -Exc
Mysterious Romance Reviews -Exc                                                                       

June 5th

Bambi Unbridled -Rev/Int
Up 'Til Dawn Book Blog -Rev/Exc
Polished Bookworm -Rev/Exc
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium -Exc
Live Laugh & Love Books -Exc
Joyfully Reviewed -Exc

June 6th

BFD Book Blog -Rev
Debbie's World of Books -Rev/Exc
The Book Junkie Reads -Rev/Exc
A Bluestocking's Place -Exc
Those Crazy Book Chicks –Exc
Jojo the Bookaholic -Exc                                          

June 7th

The Consummate Reader -Rev/Exc
The Many Faces of Romance -Rev/Exc
Forever Book Lover -Rev/Exc
Ramblings From This Chick -Exc
Deal sharing aunt -Exc
Booklover Sue -Exc 
Dena Garson-Real... Hot... Romance -Exc                                                                         

June 8th

Buried Under Romance -Rev/Exc
Booklove -Rev
Karen's Killer Book Bench -Exc
Laura Lu's Book Reviews -Exc
She Reads Too Much Romance - Rev/Exc

June 9th

Teatime and Books -Rev/Exc
WTF Are You Reading? -Rev/Exc
Wicked Reads -Rev/Exc
Amanda Writes -Exc
Unquietly Me -Exc

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, May 26, 2017

Audiobook Discussions: Your Best Listening Experience

IMG_20161207_184007_065000 (1)

I have been doing a lot of audiobook listening lately and I attended a recent blogger webinar about audiobook reviewing which got me thinking more and more about audiobooks.  So I wanted to know more of what you think about them!  From there, Audiobook Discussions has been born!

I want to hear about your best audiobook listening experience!

This one is a little difficult for me because I have had a few really good listening experiences lately, but very few have had a combination of 5 stars for both the book and the narration.  I am going to have to select The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe.  The narrator was able to carry off the style of the writing/way the main character thought which made me feel like I WAS that heroine.  The production in terms of pacing, background sound etc, was spot on and I was thrilled with the narrator.  My full review can be found here

Please share with me your favorite listening experience because I would LOVE to pick up a new book, regardless of the genre!


You can check out the other posts in this series:


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cover Crush: The Lost Letter

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 lost letter

The draw of this cover is the mountains and the lake in front of it.  It is atmospheric and slightly hazy, but then you notice the flowers in the foreground which are in a clear view.The letter is almost an afterthought.  It does however make me wonder what kind of story this will be.  Is is about an important letter that maybe gets lost along the way or about a journey someone takes because the letter never gets to them?

What are your thoughts on this cover?

I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: 2 Kids and Tired; A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages, IndieBRAG, A Literary Vacation, Of Quills and Vellum.  

keep calm and support book bloggers


Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Audiobook Review: Corralling Callie by Amelia Smarts

Corralling Callie Audio Cover

Corralling Callie by Amelia Smarts
Unabridged, 3 hr. 45 min.
Amelia Smarts
Gideon Wells (Narrator)
March 9, 2017
goodreads button

Heat Rating:

3 flames

Genre: Historical Fiction, Western, Romance

Source: Received a copy of the audiobook as part of Audiobookworm Promotions tour

For eighteen-year-old orphan Callie Broderick, going west as a mail-order bride seems to be the only hope she has for a decent husband. But when she sets out for the gold-mining town of Sacramento with nothing more than the clothes on her back and a stagecoach ticket, she quickly discovers that the trip will be quite a bit different than she expected.

As a former soldier and an experienced coachman, Jude Johnson is used to difficulties and dangers of all kinds during the arduous journey west, but he has never had to deal with trouble like Callie before. Not being the kind of man to kick a penniless orphan off his coach, he puts up with the sassy, disobedient girl for as long as he can, but when Callie’s antics put the lives of his passengers at risk Jude is forced to take matters into his own hands and spank her soundly.

The stern punishment leaves her thoroughly chastened and promising to behave, and Jude soon realizes that when she puts aside her foul-mouthed, defiant façade, the real Callie is as sweet and kind as she is beautiful. As the days pass, he takes it upon himself to guide her, care for her, and give her the loving discipline she so desperately needs, as often as she needs it. But when they reach their destination, will he be able to give her up?

I’m going to state right here at the very beginning that this will not be a book for everyone – even those who like historical romance might not find this to their tastes. Please take this disclaimer to heart before choosing to read this novel.

This is a very different kind of romance story; interwoven throughout the plot are elements of domestic discipline, particularly spanking (and not necessarily the erotic type, although that does come into play later on the novel for sure). On its face, I have no issues with that as an element, when used correctly and within a historical setting, because that was a more normalized way of life in the 1800s and on the frontier of the American West. I would have a much more difficult time with reading a story with these elements set within the modern day because that is not the typical way of life now. So knowing that, I left my modern sensibilities checked at the door when starting this book. With that out of the way, I did still have one issue that kept nagging at me throughout the entire story – this man who was doling out the discipline wasn’t her husband/boyfriend/father, quite honestly he was a complete stranger, which just felt sort of wrong to me. Yes, the author does go to a length to make the reasons known for why the male lead thinks it is his job to take the heroine to task for her wild ways, but it wasn’t quite believable enough for me to buy into this element of the story.

Moving on from that element, I did actually enjoy how the story unfolded, despite its brief length. I felt that I had a solid sense of who Callie was throughout the novel, even if a good portion of her backstory wasn’t revealed until right near the end. I still understood her motivations for heading out West to seek a husband and how she made many mistakes, but usually had the best intentions at heart. She is young, willful, and naïve. Jude comes off as your somewhat typical very masculine cowboy. He is strong and a no-nonsense straight-shooter. I didn’t have quite as much of a complete sense of who he was as a person, compared with Callie, but for me, his personality came off much larger than life and I didn’t feel like I needed as much to frame him in my mind.

This wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for from the novel, but it was a good read.



Gideon Welles was an excellent fit for voicing Jude in my opinion. He certainly came off as the weather-beaten cowboy and I bought into his character. I think that this helped frame his character in my mind despite having less actual information/story on the man himself. The exact opposite was true for his voicing of Callie. His voice has a difficult tone to try and replicate a woman’s in any way. This was unfortunate as at least half the novel takes place in Callie’s head and it would have been easier to get into her character with a more convincing voice. One issue I did have was with the pacing of the narration. The speed with which it was read was fine, however, Welles seemed to take pauses at some of the strangest locations within the text – places where it wouldn’t have even been appropriate for a comma/pause. I found myself getting hung up with this reading pattern because I would be anticipating a sentence to have reached its end only to find it pick back up again.

You can check out a sample of the audiobook below. Clicking on the “play” symbol will link you to the audio excerpt:

Play symbol 85x85

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Audible

Also by Amelia Smarts:

Handling Susannah

Emma’s Surrender

Claimed by the Mountain Man

His Little Red Lily

Fetching Charlotte Rose

The Submissive Suffragette

The Unbraiding of Anna Brown

Missy Meets the Marshal

Find Amelia Smarts: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Follow the Tour!

Callie Banner

Audiobookworm Productions Webpage

May 17: Read Day and Night

May 18: Dab of Darkness

May 19: Ronelle Antoinette

May 20: The Book Addict's Reviews

May 21: Epic Romance Reviews

May 22: Miss Betty's Book Reviews

May 23: The Maiden's Court [HERE!]

Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm

May 24: Between the Coverz

May 25: Ctrl Alt Books

May 26: The Cinnamon Hollow




Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, May 19, 2017

Audiobook Review: A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt

a deadly affection

A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt
Book 1 in the Dr. Genevieve Summerford Mystery
Unabridged, 16 hr. 18 min.
Recorded Books
Carly Robbins(Narrator)
September 6, 2016
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Received audiobook from publisher for review

In 1907 New York, a psychiatrist must prove her patient's innocence...or risk being implicated in a shocking murder

As one of the first women practicing in an advanced new field of psychology, Dr. Genevieve Summerford is used to forging her own path. But when one of her patients is arrested for murder-a murder Genevieve fears she may have unwittingly provoked-she is forced to seek help from an old acquaintance.

Desperate to clear her patient's name and relieve her own guilty conscience, Genevieve finds herself breaking all the rules she's tried so hard to live by. In her search for answers, Genevieve uncovers an astonishing secret that, should she reveal it, could spell disaster for those she cares about most. But if she lets her discovery remain hidden, she will almost certainly condemn her patient to the electric chair.

I’ve always been hit-and-miss with my enjoyment of historical mystery novels. They tend to fall into one of two categories for me: trying to hard to play CSI in an historical setting or perfectly striking a balance between propelling the mystery forward while still staying within the bounds of historical reality. Too often I find the former and that has kept me away from the genre more often than not. I am pleased to say that I’m glad I took the risk on A Deadly Affection because it blew me away! I will absolutely be reading the rest of the books that come out in this series and here is why.

I loved the heroine, Genevieve Summerford. She was a “modern woman” and forward thinker, but it didn’t feel like she was always trying too hard to be WAY ahead of her time, which is an issue I often have with my historical heroines. She is a female doctor in the field of psychiatry (which is modern enough at that time) and she is trying something new, group therapy for women who are otherwise painted with the masculine brush of expectation. Throughout the novel, Genevieve is intermittently unsure of herself and her path and then finds confidence when things go right or she begins to put pieces together. Basically, to me, she felt like an everyday woman caught in the middle of a tough situation and finds ways to grow from it and come out of it for the better. It was someone that I could identify with even if she would have lived 100 years ago.

The field of medicine and psychiatry were still in the stages of exploring things that we take for granted today. Overholt walked the magical line of keeping the reader just off of knowing exactly what was going on with the medical portion of the storyline so that you wanted to know more and didn’t feel like it was old news that you were just playing along with. I never entirely felt like I knew what was coming and I enjoyed the feel of learning about it along with the characters. The drama of this novel played out like part medical drama and part police procedural which the author balanced rather evenly.

There is just a touch of romance here, but it isn’t a focal point of the story. At this point, it’s more of an important element of backstory and to help understand the characters, but I could see it coming into play later on in the series, whether as actual romance thread or as a roadblock/point of contention between characters.

The plot and pacing are spot on here. There was never a time with this novel that I felt bored or prone to skim though. There was enough twists and turns to the story that you were kept on your toes and never quite were able to pinpoint what the resolution to the murder mystery was going to be (that is one of my other pet peeves with the mystery genre in general is when you can solve it way too early in the story).

I will eagerly await book two which will be released later this year, although I might try to hold off to get it on audiobook because it was a great performance as well.


★★★★ ½☆

The narrator was able to relay the author’s pacing well in this audiobook presentation. There is an interplay between slow or fast reading based on the need of the scene. I appreciated the appropriate pause length between sentences – just the right amount of time. Robbins imbues her Genevieve with an earnestness, but also demonstrates fear or hesitation when appropriate. It certainly feels like she spent some time getting to know the characters before recording the passages. There is some voice work here to make characters unique, and this is one of the few times I have found myself feeling comfortable with a narration of characters of the opposite sex rom the narrator. An admirable job that never felt jarring or out of place.

You can check out a sample of the audiobook below:


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

  • Caffeinated Book Reviewer
  • Second Run Reviews
  • Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

    Also by Cuyler Overholt:

    a promise of ruin

    A Promise of Ruin
    (Book 2 of the Dr. Genevieve Summerford Series)
    Coming August 2017

    Find Cuyler Overholt: Website | Twitter | Facebook


    Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

    Thursday, May 18, 2017

    Cover Crush: High as the Heavens

    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.

    High as the Heavens

    You know what draws me to this one?  The strands of pearls.  It draws me up from the bottom to the woman’s face and also with the placement of the planes near it the eye is drawn to them too.  I also like how the woman’s hair frames the side of the cover.  And…I love her lipstick cover!  Haha.

    What are your thoughts on this cover?

    I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: A Bookaholic Swede, 2 Kids and Tired Books, Layered Pages, A Literary Vacation.

    keep calm and support book bloggers

    Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court

    Friday, May 12, 2017

    Cover Crush: The Hidden Thread

    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 hidden thread

    What really catches my eye here is how it is like the 3 stages of the dress-form: wire, fabric covered, and with a dress on it.  It feels like a progression toward completing something.  And it is surprising to me that I am drawn to this one because it has such a muted color palette and I tend to be drawn to the jewel tones.  The title also makes me wonder – obviously it probably has something to do with a dressmaker, hence the cover,but I wonder if it has to do with the plot too.  Definitely would intrigue be to learn more. 

    What are your thoughts on this cover?

    I wonder what my friends are crushing on this week? Let’s check it out: Layered Pages, A Bookaholic Swede, 2 Kids and Tired Books, A Literary Vacation.    

    keep calm and support book bloggers

    Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court