Monday, September 17, 2018

The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore (TLC Book Tour)

The Secret of the Irish Castle starts in 1939 Ireland.  The Deverills built their castle on O’Leary land three hundred years before and were cursed for it.  Now in 1939 they have lost the castle to a former maid, Bridie Doyle, who made her fortune in America, married a count, and returned to lay claim to the castle.  Bridie finds she is trapped between two worlds, not accepted by her old friends with her rise in station, and not accepted by the wealthy elite.  She loves her husband Cesare but doesn’t realize that he already has a bad reputation for chasing all the ladies in the village.  Will Bridie be able to find herself and happiness?

Martha Wallace is a young American who has traveled to Ireland with her old nanny to search for her birth mother.  She has found out through her sister that she is adopted and using her birth certificate, she tries to find the truth.  While in Ireland, she meets JP Deverill and instantly falls in love.  The two are perfect for each other, but will the secret of their parentage drive them apart?

With WWII looming and then starting, the Deverill family, friends, and enemies from Ballinakelly Ireland find themselves at the center of the home and war effort.

The Secret of the Irish Castle is at its heart a family drama involving several different families and a lot of characters.  Luckily there are family trees at the start of the novel, which I did use throughout my reading.  I was a bit flummoxed while reading the novel as they seemed to give short back stories on some characters which involved major events.  I kept thinking, I wish there was a novel about those events . . . then I was walking through Costco and saw Daughters of Ireland, which appears to be the book before the Secret of the Irish Castle.  I looked up the author and The Secret of the Irish Castle appears to be the third book in the series.  It is slightly confusing as the book titles are different in the United States.  I read through it fine as a stand-alone book, but I think I would like to go back and read the books before it in the series.

I enjoyed the different characters and the drama that happened in their lives. The drama involves a lot of love and a lot of extra marital affairs. I also loved that the story started with the original curse on the castle by Maggie O’Leary.  I want more on Maggie – she is a very interesting character.  Her curse is that the Deverills are cursed to remain behind at the castle in spirit and never pass on to the other side until an O’Leary returns to the castle. 

I also loved the setting in Ireland, with trips to England. It sounds beautiful.  I especially loved the details about the castle itself – how it was burned down and then restored.

I love WWII historical fiction.  In this novel, I love that JP Deverill becomes a WWII fighter pilot and that others in the book also play parts in WWII as well.  It’s interesting to see how the war changes their lives.

Favorite quote: 

“’Human nature will never change,’ Adeline said wisely. ‘Modes come and go, but human nature remains the same.  Beneath the trappings of civilization, we are closer to the animal kingdom than we realize.’”

Overall, The Secret of the Irish Castle is a very interesting family drama and historical fiction novel set in Ireland and England in the WWII era.

Book Source:  Review Copy for being a part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  For more stops on the tour, check out this link.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Links: Website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Winner of Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

I'm sorry for the delay on posting the winner of Tiffany Blues.  Work and life have been hectic lately.  Our summer move has been a long process and we are still unpacking boxes!

I used and traveler is the lucky winner.  She has been notified by email and has seven days to respond with her address.  At that time if there is no response, another winner will be drawn.

Thank-you to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to host this giveaway and review this wonderful book.  If you missed my review, you can read it at this link.

Sad you didn't win?  I still have a giveaway current in progress on the right sidebar.  You have until this Friday at midnight to leave a comment on that review for a chance to win!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Eleanor Courtown by Lucy E.M. Black (TLC Book Tour Review and GIVEAWAY!)

Eleanor Courtown is a pampered Irish lady who decides to come to the rescue of her cousin in need who has recently emigrated to Canada.  Her cousin Lily was off on an adventure with her new husband Rowland, but when he dies on the ship heading toward Canada, Lily is left pregnant and alone.  Eleanor is dismayed that both her father and Uncle feel that Lily’s husband’s family should help her out and are prepared to do nothing for Lily.  Eleanor deceives her father and takes her companion and lady’s maid on a trip to “London” which is really a trip to Canada.  Once there, Eleanor learns that society does not function like it did back in Ireland and that Lily’s fate is hard for her to determine and to understand.

Staying at an Inn in the town Lily lives near, Eleanor starts to make friends across all parts of society and finds herself annoyed and enamored by a doctor who is also staying at the inn.  Will Eleanor be able to put away her society ways and learn to adapt to Canada?  Will she be able to help her cousin Lily?  Will she find love with the doctor?

Eleanor Courtown is written in first person as a letter that Eleanor is writing at the start of the novel.  I’ll admit I had a hard time understanding what was going on for the first few pages, but once I got into the story, I found it very interesting.  I realized I had not read much about the Canadian pioneer experience and I found it fascinating.  I also had never though about what exactly would happen to a woman, to a “lady,” who was unprepared to live in a hardworking world if her husband happened to die and she was pregnant and alone in a foreign land.  It made me really sad to think about the thousands of “Lilys” that must have traveled to Canada and the United States with their spouse or family dying along the way finding themselves alone in a foreign land.

I also LOVED the romance between Eleanor and Dr. Robert Stewart.  Eleanor finds Dr. Stewart strange, cold, and not handsome at first, but she grows to realize she was prejudiced in her first views and there is more to the man than meets the eye.

The Victorian setting in 1870 was also very interesting.  I enjoyed the characters of Eleanor and Robert as well as Mr. and Mrs. McLenaghan.  I loved that Eleanor learns how families can grow when you make friends in a new land.

Author Lucy E.M. Black has great sources at the end of her novel for being a pioneer in Canada and traveling across the ocean to a new life.

Favorite quotes:

“With this simple response he communicated much, and I was sorry to have pained him with my question. It was a day of uncommonly sorrowful revelations.”

“This is not the life I had been born to, I thought, but there was some joy to be laboring for those whom you hold dear.”

Overall, Eleanor Courtown was an interesting Victorian historical fiction novel with great characters and a unique, thoughtful storyline.  

Book Source:  Review Copy as part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank-you!  For more stops on this tour, please check out this link.

The book trailer is located at:


I received an extra copy of Eleanor Courtown in the mail, therefore one lucky winner will receive a copy of Eleanor Courtown by Lucy E.M. Black. If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment on what interests you about this book. Have you ever read any novels set in the Victorian era or pertaining to the pioneer experience in Canada?  If so, which ones did you enjoy or not enjoy?

As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.

For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.

I will be using (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.

This contest is only open to addresses in the United States.

The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday September 21st!

Please make sure to check the week of September 24th to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.

Good luck!

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

The Summer Wives is a story set on a mysterious small island where the elite vacation each summer on the East coast served by the working-class inhabitants.  Everyone lives seemingly in harmony until one fateful day when murder invades their small community.

The Summer Wives is a historical fiction romance set in 1930, 1951, and 1969.  I am a fan of historical fiction novels that use flash backs and Williams employed the flashbacks seamlessly in this novel.  It was very easy to follow as the story was divided up in chapters for 1930, 1951, and 1969 and the chapters went in order.  The fateful decisions of the past and how they impact the future are masterfully unveiled throughout the three time periods as the novel progresses.  The three plots of the three time periods is as follows.

1930 – Bianca is a young Portuguese girl who lives with her aunt and uncle on the island.  The island has two distinct social classes, the wealthy who come in the summer, and the locals who cater to the wealthy.  When Bianca falls in love with a wealthy young man, will their romance be able to live beyond summer?

1951 – Seventeen-year-old Miranda is going to the island as her widowed mother is marrying the rich and glamorous Hugh.  Miranda meets her new stepsister and is intrigued by the mystery of her step-sister being engaged to one man while secretly meeting the lighthouse keeper’s son.  The ramifications of this summer change her life forever.

1969-Miranda is now a successful movie star and has come back to the island to escape a dying marriage.  What secrets will she uncover?

I enjoyed this novel.  I did wish there was more historical detail.  The Summer Wives seemed a lot like a soap opera set during a historic timeline with it seemed like many different people sleeping together and one surprise or revelation after another.  I loved soap operas as a kid, so I enjoyed it, but for those looking for history with their historical fiction, this is not the book for you.

I thought Williams did a wonderful job of really putting the storyline together and having it all seamlessly work as one cohesive story.

Overall, The Summer Wives was a good summer historical romance drama.

Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!