A Midwinter Ball: Timeless Regency Collection

I loved reading A Midwinter Ball, the recent release of the Timeless Regency Collection which comprises three novellas by Heidi Ashworth, Annette Lyon, and Michele Paige Holmes. With clever plots, genuine characters, and unexpected endings, this collection was fast and fun to read.

Much Ado about Dancing by Heidi Ashworth introduces Mrs. Smith hosting her annual house party to give dancing lessons to eligible and marriageable young women. Miss Analisa Lloyd-Jones has been a returning guest at Mrs. Smith parties for one too many years. When an unexpected male guest arrives at the house party, Analisa finds herself rethinking her marriage expectations. I liked how this plot played out in an unexpected and touching way.

Sweeter than Any Dream by Annette Lyon introduces Olivia, a young woman who had learned to suppress her feelings to avoid confrontations with her domineering mother. With an unexpected visit from her brother and new sister-in-law Emma, Olivia finds that her dreams that helped her deal with her mother finally have a chance to become real experiences. I liked how the siblings relationships evolved in this story to show that even in difficult circumstances, family can make all the difference.

An Invitation to Dance by Michele Paige Holmes was delightful. I loved the characters, especially Lady Ella and Mr. Darling.  Michele Paige Holmes has become a favorite author of mine and she did not disappoint in this novella. I love how her stories about seemingly ordinary people are full of unexpected twists of fate and love.

Having read most of the Timeless Regency Collection, I think A Midwinter Ball is my new favorite of the collection. Heather B. Moore gave me a complimentary copy of A Midwinter Ball for my candid review.

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Power of the Matchmaker

A compelling novella prequel, Power of the Matchmaker tells the love story of the matchmaker who figures in the Power of the Matchmaker series which will be released throughout 2016. As a young village girl Mae Li travels to Shanghai and eventually becomes the matchmaker Pearl. This is her story of love and loss and fulfillment.

I really liked this novella. I thought the Chinese setting was quite realistic. Especially when Mae Li runs away to Shanghai, the writer deftly explores how vulnerable a poor pretty young country girl would be in a large city trying to find her way. I liked how when Mae Li learns about different paths to happiness, she chooses the one where she can be true to herself.

Power of the Matchmaker was a poignant, well-written story, and I look forward to reading the whole series. Heather B. Moore gave me a complimentary copy of Power of the Matchmaker for my candid review.

The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr

If you like intrigue, mystery and intense fantasy, you will enjoy reading the debut novel of The Darkwater Saga by Patrick W. Carr. Carr introduces us to Lord Dura, the king’s reeve. Assigned to investigate a recent grisly murder, Lord Dura finds himself bequeathed with an unusual gift. This gift he does not understand, but soon realizes he must or it will consume him.

The Shock of Night follows Lord Dura on his investigation and his quest to understand his gift. Author Patrick Carr draws us into an intricately created fantasy world of intrigue, deception, and shrouded memories. With detailed descriptions of scenery and characters, Carr introduces readers to the imaginary realms that surround the mysterious Darkwater forest.

While I appreciated Carr’s detailed descriptions he used to create the backdrop and settings for The Shock of Night, at times I found details overwhelming which distracted me from what was actually happening. Although this was a novel of mystery and suspense, I felt that some of the characters were so enigmatic it was hard to understand who they were and follow their significance in the plot. Finally, while the characters were strong and developed, the details kept me from getting quickly involved in the plot.

I thought The Shock of Night was well written, but a bit too heavy on the details which slowed down the story. Also be aware the violence is quite graphic. Bethany House gave me a complimentary copy of The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr for my candid review.