Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: Contract to Wed by Holly Bush

Hi all,

The very first book I read by author Holly Bush was Train Station Bride, and I just loved it. Since then, I've read every one of her novels and have enjoyed them all. I just recently had the honor of reviewing her upcoming novel, Contract to Wed, and I have to say, it is her absolute best novel to date. It is the second book in the Crawford Family series, but it could also be a stand-alone book as well. Believe me when I say – if you love historical romance, you will love this novel. Here is more about the book and my review.

Contract to Wed

Holly Bush
Book Description:

1891 . . . Jolene Crawford Crenshaw, heiress and Boston socialite, went from her family home directly to Landonmore upon her marriage, the mansion she shared with her handsome and charismatic husband. She’d never in her life worried in the slightest over anything as crass as the dollars required to maintain that home or the lifestyle she’d been born to. Her extensive yearly wardrobe, the stables and the prime horseflesh within it, even the solid silver forks and knifes that graced her table, were expected and required to maintain the social standing that she’d cultivated over the years. But suddenly she was a widow with little money and just her pride and her secrets to keep her upright.

Max Shelby made his fortune in oil wells and cattle but lost the love of his life the day his wife died. Now, his happy, carefree daughter needs instruction and guidance as she grows into a young lady and his dream of becoming a Senator from his adopted state of Texas seems out of reach with few political or social connections. The right wife would solve both problems. As it happens, his sister knows of a woman, a recent widow, charming, beautiful and socially astute, but in reduced circumstances, who may want to begin again. Max signed the wedding contract sight unseen.

Will Jolene be able to shed her sorrows, anger and fears to begin anew away from the censure and hidden tragedy that marred her life? Is her new husband, confident, strong and capable Max Shelby, the man, the only man, to see past her masks to find the woman beneath?

This novel will be out February 5, 2015

Pre-Order on:

My 5 Star Review:

Boston socialite Jolene Crawford Crenshaw's life changed completely when her husband died and left his considerable wealth to Jolene's niece. Unable to maintain her current lifestyle, she decides to take Texan cattleman Max Shelby's offer of marriage in return for her to teach social skills to his daughter as well as help him run for state senator. The last thing Jolene expects is to fall under the spell of the handsome Max, but she finds it difficult to resist his charms. But Jolene holds secrets in her heart that keep her from being close with anyone, and falling in love is luxury that she can't allow herself to do.

Holly Bush has outdone herself with Contract to Wed.  This extremely well-written story was impossible to put down. The descriptions were vivid, the characters jumped off the page, and the storyline was fascinating and heartwarming. You can picture Jolene's stiff back and unsmiling expression. You can see Max's strong build and handsome face. He is so adorable; you actually fall in love with him. You find yourself cheering these two opposites on, hoping they will connect. It is a beautiful story of love, heartache, loss, and family. As far as I'm concerned, this is Holly's best novel to date! This is a must read for all lovers of historical romance. I can't wait to read the next book in this series.

Check out these other reviews of novels by Holly Bush:
I hope you will pick up a copy of Contract to Wed. You will not be disappointed.



Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Miramont's Ghost by Elizabeth Hall

Hi all,

I just finished this novel that I couldn't put down. I purchased it through Amazon's First Read's program (Prime Members can download two free first reads a month), and I'm so happy that I did. If you enjoy well-written historical novels with a dark side - this one is for you. Here is more about the novel and my review.

Miramont's Ghost
Elizabeth Hall

Book Description:

Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle.

Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne’s visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death struggle to learn the truth and escape her torment.

Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, this hauntingly atmospheric tale is inspired by historical research into the real-life Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Buy Miramont's Ghost:

(This novel is currently in pre-order.)

My 4-Star Review:

I love a good ghost story, especially set in the early 1900s, so this novel attracted me right away. Castles, ghosts, and damsels in distress—what more could you want? But I found that this novel was much more than I'd originally expected.

Miramont's Ghost is based on a true story and is a mixture of truth and fiction. I love it when an author takes a story or myth and creates a novel around it. Author Elizabeth Hall is definitely a talented writer whose words flow across the page. I love how she wrote this story with an old-style flair—like you'd read in novels such as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. There is plenty of flowery prose and description. While some today find that tiring, I actually enjoy it. She described the characters to perfection, so you could visualize them as if in a movie. She definitely hooked me in and kept me reading, even when the story began to turn darker and darker. I had to read to the end to see what happened.

Many reviewers have complained about the end of this novel, but I don't think they have taken into account that this is based on a true story—so it really did have to end the way it did. You can't conjure up a happily ever after if it isn't supposed to be that way. Therefore, even though I wasn't a fan on how the story progressed, I understood that it needed to conclude the way it did. And actually, I did like the ending. It was different—and sometimes different is much more interesting.

My only complaint about this novel is that there were too many point of views. Most novels are written in one, two, maybe three POVs. This one gave you the POV of practically every character, and often in the same paragraph. It is confusing to the reader because you have to keep track of who is talking or thinking. I believe this story could have been written entirely in the main character's, Adrienne's, POV. With a little creativity, we'd have still understood what the other characters were thinking by their reactions or conversations. Overall, though, I did enjoy this novel.
As of today, Miramont's Ghost is #1 on Amazon overall. I really enjoyed it - I hope you do, too.