First Impressions by Debra White Smith

Cleverly written! First Impressions: A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice is a clever retelling of a classic story many of us love. Author Debra Smith retells Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist. All the of the favorite and less favorite characters are present, names changed but still using the first letters of the names of the classic characters—a great way to orient readers to the new characters without burdening them with too much detail.

The idea of having the modern characters tell their stories as they prepare to perform Pride and Prejudice as a play is an ingenious way to infuse the book with witty and incisive words of Jane Austen throughout the novel. Smith deftly creates believable characters and unexpected plot twists in her retelling of the classic story.

While I loved most of the new characters and felt they reflected the original characters in authentic and fresh ways, the character of Linda (Lydia) was a turnoff with her drug and alcohol use and her promiscuous lifestyle. Linda’s character seemed over the top and incongruous when considering the original story as well as her older sisters’ reactions to her behavior which were too dismissive and accepting. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of First Impressions by Debra White Smith for my candid review.

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A Highlander’s Hidden Heart by Julie Coulter Bellon

A Highlander’s Hidden Heart by Julie Coulter Bellon was a touching story of acceptance and courage. The latest Timeless Romance Single is intriguing and well written. Lady Elizabeth is everything the daughter of a duke should be except for her inability to speak flawlessly, especially when flustered. Alec is a Scotsman who must now learn how to become an Englishman as he inherits an unsolicited title. While trying to make the most of frustrating and unexpected situations, Alec and Lady Elizabeth find themselves unforeseen allies.

Bellon creates a story full of strong characters, false pretenses, and unexpected events to create an engaging story of love and hope. I received a complimentary copy of A Highlander’s Hidden Heart by Julie Coulter Bellon for my candid review.

936 Pennies by Eryn Lynum

I really enjoyed reading Eryn Lynum’s new book 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. Despite a busy schedule, I found myself truly enjoying Lynum’s conversational and personal way of describing what intentional parenting feels like and looks like to her. Describing a gift she received of 936 pennies that were meant to track the time she spent with her son between birth and 18 years, Lynum describes the feelings of trepidation and anticipation that came with the gift and the charge to spend those pennies well.

I appreciated the short chapters that allowed me to savor her thoughts and experiences in short bites. I loved her personal and forthcoming honesty as she shared hard and happy experiences about her mothering. I appreciated her focus on learning to slow down and savor the unexpected yet sweet experiences that our families share as we focus on relationships and remembering what matters most to us. I especially liked her sharing the idea of a peace plan, a way to discerning how to best use our time and energy to live a peace filled life. I loved reading Lynum’s well written, thought-provoking book. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of 936 Pennies by Eryn Lynum for my candid review.

The Heart’s Appeal by Jennifer Delamere

In the second book of her London Beginnings series, Jennifer Delamere creates a powerful story of perseverance, tenacity and hope. Julia longs to become as doctor but few women practice medicine in London during the last nineteenth century and even fewer are socially accepted for doing so. Michael Stephenson, an upcoming barrister wants to be recognized in leading legal and social circles. When a tragic accident throws Julia into Michael’s life, both find themselves surprised at the opportunities and complications they face.

With strong characters set into an authentic historical situation, author Jennifer Delamere shares a well written and engaging story about women seeking to help others by practicing medicine while fighting again the social restrictions that hampered them from freely doing so. Full of tension and intrigue, The Heart’s Appeal introduces readers to the struggle of early female medical practitioners. Through Julia and her colleagues, Delamere adeptly shows how a few courageous women pioneered paths to help other women have easier access to professional help and training. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of The Heart’s Appeal by Jennifer Delamere for my candid review.

The Orient Express: Timeless Victorian Collection

The Orient Express from the Timeless Victorian Collection is a new twist on the intrigue and luxury travel with which people associate the real Orient Express. Authors Elizabeth Johns, Annette Lyon and Nancy Campbell Allen introduce us to Kate, Grace and Emily, three young ladies on traveling on the Orient Express. Finding themselves traveling alone for various reasons, they all encounter unexpected friendship and intrigue as they travel the famed international route.

These award winning authors create well written stories with resilient characters that entertain, amuse, and charm. Great characters, unexpected plots and plenty of scheming along the way, The Orient Express is entertaining reading. I received a complimentary copy of A Grand Tour for my candid review.