Happy Friday, readers! Snuggle up with a cozy sweater and a cup of tea (or coffee or cocoa). Here are my reading favorites from October through December. It was a good quarter for reading with nine to choose from! Did any of these make your list?
In Pieces by Rhonda Ortiz
Historical Fiction – 1793 Boston
In Pieces opens with Molly Chase raiding her late father’s warehouse before the lawyers sell off his assets. While there, she experiences a PTSD-induced attack brought on by memories of her father’s suicide. Josiah Robb, returned from a sea voyage as first mate, rescues his friend back to his home, insisting she stay with them while she navigates her grief. What follows is a story of misunderstanding, rumors, and gossip that threaten to destroy any chance of the romance Josiah has set his life’s plans on, but Molly isn’t yet aware of. Throughout the novel, tough questions are asked that do not always have clear or easy answers, but certainly make one think about what they believe and why. Not every question is resolved in this first novel, but the story ends with both characters at a place of peace, at least for the moment.
Bridge of Gold by Kimberley Woodhouse
Dual Timeline – 1933 and Present Day San Francisco
Bridge of Gold combines a murder mystery, an undersea treasure hunt, the history of the Golden Gate Bridge, and two romances, one in 1933 and the other in present day. The dual timelines play well off of each other and gradually come together until the big whodunnit reveal at the end. My biggest complaint is that the cover doesn’t include any of the major elements of the story, portraying it as a standard historical romance without expressing any level of suspense. The Golden Gate Bridge and the shipwreck discovered in the first chapter are almost characters unto themselves and my marketing side wishes they were shown front and center. This is my first read by Kimberley Woodhouse, but I would definitely read another.
As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin
Historical Fiction – World War I Scotland
As Dawn Breaks, is a tale of government secrets, hidden identities, and tender romance on the Scottish home front. Trapped in an abusive engagement, Rose Graham’s life seems hopeless until the munitions factory explodes and she is mistakenly listed as dead. Taking a daring risk, she escapes to Gretna, Scotland, but as her lies start to spiral, she fears everything she’s worked for may soon unravel, including her growing affection for former air force pilot, Alex Baird. Both Rose and Alex have scars on their hearts from lost loved ones and guilt over their past actions—or inactions. Thankfully, it is through their common experiences that they are slowly able to heal and find forgiveness.
Sorcerous by Susan Laspe
Historical Fantasy – 1356 England
Sorcerous is the perfect tale for fans of the mythological world of Percy Jackson mixed with the spirituality of Narnia set within the history of medieval England. After receiving a dire prophecy and being set upon by a sorceress, English Knight Padric de Clifton finds himself tasked to find the sorceress’s lair and an ancient artifact that could help save the world. But the clock is ticking, made more cumbersome by the fact that he’s now cursed…and not exactly altogether human anymore. The three main characters were a nice blend from Padric’s serious nature to Brynwen’s romantic (yet strong-willed) femininity, and Talfryn’s quirky demeanor. I enjoyed how Christian characters were brought into a mythological world and deciphered what it meant to them as believers. It is a subtle theme, not preachy at all, but an important one for the time period.
Last Wish by Valerie Howard
Last Wish follows Miranda Lewis, a high school senior who has everything going for her until a brain tumor diagnosis shatters all her carefully planned dreams. Together with the pastor’s son, she goes on a journey of discovery and faith, racing to find answers before time runs out. While this novel is heartbreaking, it is also an inspiring example of the hope and change of heart which can come from tragedy. How do we still have faith in a loving God when we are struck with an impossibly unfair situation? Valerie Howard tackles this question with realistic research and rebuttals, proving that faith and science can stand hand in hand and not to have blind faith, but one that is built on truth.
The Forgotten Queen by Kortney Keisel
The Forgotten Queen is the fourth book in Kortney Keisel’s romantic-dystopian-that-isn’t-quite-dystopian Desolation series, an altered version of our world where North America has been restructured into kingdoms. This time we travel to the coastal kingdom of Cristole where an arranged marriage pairs King Marx, a man who is lost about who he should be after his brother’s death, with Sydria, a woman who doesn’t know who she is after losing most of her memories. Like Kortney’s other novels, I loved this one. Marx and Sydria were wonderful together and I also really enjoyed the secondary relationship of Marx’s sister, Dannyn and Kase. All of our favorite characters return from the previous books for a spectacular edge-of-your-seat ending. You do need to read the previous ones first, otherwise this book will be one huge spoiler.
The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake
Historical Fiction – 1840’s London
The Girl in His Shadow is an early Victorian medical adventure by the writing duo of Jaima Fixsen and Regina Sirois.
After losing her entire family to cholera, Nora Beady is spared a similar death by London physician, Horace Croft. Nora finds herself drawn to his knowledge, assisting with procedures until she is able to perform them herself. Unfortunately, the credit for her accomplishments remains hidden behind Dr. Croft, for if anyone learned their secret, it would mean ruin for them both. Even though she “lived” 180 years ago, many of the moral and ethical dilemmas she encounters still hold true today.
Note for my clean readers: Contains minimal profanity.
A Class Coveted by Susie Murphy
Historical Fiction – 1840’s Boston
In A Class Coveted, Susie Murphy wields her pen in her usual style, making the reader both cheer and weep for her characters. Some of our favorites search of a long lost family member, but are met with roadblocks at every turn. As they become more discouraged, they also discover that a life of promise is opening up elsewhere. It is not without hard work and heartache, but also brings a freedom and fulfillment they haven’t yet experienced. In the end, however, a decision is made that could bring an enemy back into their lives, threatening the happiness they’ve built. Each book in this series is better than the last!
Note for my clean readers: Contains moderate profanity, a semi-explicit brothel scene, and an open-door sex scene between a married couple.
The Living and the Lost by Ellen Feldman
Historical Fiction – Post-WWII Germany
Often the story of WWII is presented as a happy ending upon armistice, but the reality is the effects continued long after the white flag flew. The Living and the Lost follows Millie Mosbach, a Jewish woman who escaped Germany with her brother while their parents and younger sister were forced to stay behind. She has spent her entire life wondering about their fate and has now returned to Berlin in hopes of learning what happened to them. A city alive, but lost in the fragile remains of a life they once loved, metaphorical ghosts are everywhere. It is only through their shared experiences that they begin to find light in the darkness and a way to step into a brighter future.
Note for my clean readers: Contains profanity, including several f bombs, and a few PG-13 rated sex scenes.