Monday, September 28, 2020

Otherwise Engaged - Review

Otherwise Engaged

By: Joanna Barker

Expected Publication: October 12th 2020 by Covenant Communications

262 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Regency

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--She’s never been afraid of breaking the rules—until she risks breaking her heart

Constantly stifled by the rules of Society, spirited Rebecca Rowley enjoys finding ways to quietly—or not so quietly—rebel. But riding bareback and avoiding nosy neighbors are nothing compared to the thrilling secret she is keeping from her family.

When Rebecca’s quick thinking saves the life of a young girl, she unwittingly attracts the attention of the child’s dashing brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery. As that attention turns flirtatious, Rebecca is forced to tell him the truth: she is secretly engaged—to the one man her family would never approve of. Fortunately, Lieutenant Avery is a navy man with no wish to marry, or so they both assume as they enter into a friendship.

Rebecca hopes to change her family’s mind about her betrothed, but the more she comes to know the handsome lieutenant, the more she wonders if she promised her hand too hastily.

After all her carefully laid plans are shattered during a family crisis, Rebecca must force her heart to decide. Should she stay true to the promise she made or fight for the future she’s only just begun to imagine?

I've been on a Joanna Barker kick since I got a couple of her books for my birthday. So when I saw Otherwise Engaged available for review, I requested it immediately. And it just so happened that I had the opportunity to keep reading once I got started on this one. And I'm glad that was the case because I did not want to put it down.

Rebecca has recently returned home from a trip to Brighton where she secretly accepted the proposal of a man who she's certain her family will not approve of due to some secret history between their two families. The two have a plan to uncover the falling out between their families so they can convince each family to forgive and forget and thus they will be able to move forward with marriage with the blessings of their families. But finding information isn't so easy

Meanwhile, Rebecca saves the new neighbor's sister from drowning in a lake. Her initial meeting with Lt. Avery is unconventional, to say the least. The two don't get off on the best foot, but Nicholas is intent on making amends for his harried and rude behavior at their meeting. The two feel safe with each other knowing that Rebecca has a beau and is therefore not interested in Nicholas. And Nicholas has plans to return to active duty in the Navy and isn't planning on marrying anyone. They take advantage of comfort with each other to share burdens, passions, secrets, and time. The build between them was mesmerizing, and I found myself holding my breath with anxiety over these two characters.

Olivia is Nicholas' half-sister that he's recently become responsible for since the death of Olivia's mother six months earlier. Olivia comes off like an angry child. She's surly and sassy. She's brutally honest. But she's also hurt and grieving. You can't help but feel for her and therefore fall in love with her. I would love to read her story one day.

The other side characters came off the page just as much. I loved Rebecca's relationship with her mother and her brother. Between the three, there is genuine love and affection. Even though they mourn the loss of Rebecca's father, it's easy to envy their family dynamic.

Favorite quotes:

-“Once I’ve set my aim, I never miss.”

-You challenge me. You understand me. You take me as I am and, yet, make me wish to be better.”

-“I never thought I would surrender myself so easily or so willingly. But you have captured me, Rebecca Rowley, and I have no desire to escape.”

Ah! Otherwise Engaged is all the good things. I don't always enjoy love triangles, but I do enjoy characters realizing that they've outgrown a relationship and someone else is a better fit for them. Nicholas and Rebecca have a wonderful journey. I loved how well they knew and understood each other. Nicholas particularly had a good read on Rebecca. I can see myself re-reading this one someday which says a lot about my feelings these days. Otherwise Engaged gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read Otherwise Engaged? What did you think? Let me know!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday Post & Stacking the Shelves - 09/27/20

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ The Caffeinated Book Reviewer ~this meme was inspired in part by ~ In My Mailbox~ It's a chance to share News. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

I cannot believe October is upon us. 2020 has certainly been an odd year for most everyone. Although, not all bad. Some parts of it felt as if they would never pass by and other parts I look back on and wonder where the time went. We're entering the time of year where everything gets so busy for us. Three of our current four have birthdays in October, and that doesn't include my dad and nephew as well. This past week was a whirlwind. The weather has been lovely. Fall came in right on time here, especially compared to last year when we had 100 degree days in October. Since the weather has been so nice we've been getting out to play more frequently--and most importantly with less complaints from the kids. We've walked a few days. I did a pre-natal yoga workout. Boy am I out of shape! I'm still working through Little Girl's boxes and boxes of clothes. I've signed up for a consignment sale and I have a lot of work to get everything ready for that in the coming weeks. I did go ahead and order a new printer finally. I wish I could get the one we have to work properly, but unfortunately I simply must have a working printer for day to day use. Thursday was quite eventful. Despite having signs in our neighborhood that say no large trucks, we had a semi (18-wheeler--whatever you want to call it) come through. It took down at least two power poles at the corner of our street and took down lines right in front of our house. I was sitting at our desk when it came through and watched the whole thing happen. It was quite surreal, and we were without power for several hours. Typically the kids hate when the power is out, but they took a wireless keyboard and mouse, a calculator, and a toy phone to our big window and handled the admin of the whole event. They called the power company and the police. They sent the truck driver to jail for 5 hours. And they delegated work to the army of power and utility vehicles right in front of our house. The power company worked wonders and how the power back on two hours earlier than they expected; however the internet took an additional 5 hours to get fixed as they had to run all new cables. My "All Things Halloween" event starts up this coming week. This is a month-long event here at Somewhere Only We Know full of Halloween inspired and themed book reviews and posts (mostly reviews).

THE PAST WEEK:

Monday: Review of Line by Line (Love Along the Wires, # 1) by Jennifer Delamere (4 Stars)
Tuesday: Top Ten Fall 2020 TBR List
Wednesday: Can't Wait for Faith's Mountain Home (Hearts of Montana, # 3) by Misty M Beller
Friday: 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge - September Wrap Up
Saturday: Review of A Portrait of Loyalty (The Codebreakers, # 3) by Roseanna M White (4.5 Stars)

UPCOMING THIS WEEK:

Monday: Review of Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday?
Wednesday: September 2020 EOM Wrap Up
Thursday: All Things Halloween Review of Hidden Knights (Knights of the Realm, # 3) by Jennifer Anne Davis
Friday: All Things Halloween Review of The Evil Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil, # 1) by Gena Showalter

Don’t forget to link up for the 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge! You have until December 15th, 2020 to sing up. Each month there will be a giveaway for those participating with an end of the year giveaway too! Click on the picture below or the link above to find out more!

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor

By: Abigail Wilson

Expected Publication: January 26th 2021 by Thomas Nelson

336 pages

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Christian Fiction

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Disappearances, strange activities in the night, and secret organizations abound in this mysterious Regency romance.

Haunted by the assault she’s kept hidden over the past four years, Charity Halliwell finally has a chance to return home to the quaint village she left more than five years before and the happy life she wants so badly to reclaim. All she needs is good conversation with her old friend and an opportunity to find a governess position, and she can leave the fear and guilt behind. But the family who agrees to her yearlong visit turns out to be a far cry from the one she thought she knew, particularly when her friend disappears and the one man she made certain would not be at the house is forced to return. How can she possibly heal and claim her independence when day in, day out she must face the only gentleman who ever held a piece of her heart?

Piers Cavanagh was branded a coward when he failed to show up for a duel he arranged. He had his reasons, of course, but disclosing them would hurt far more than continuing life as an outcast. And worse, with the mysterious departure of his sister, the strange nightly occurrences in the ruins of an old abbey, and the uncomfortable whispers of a secret organization, Piers must overcome his aversion to society and work with the last person he ever thought he would get the chance to speak to again—the girl whose heart he had no choice but to break.

That's it for my shelves and recaps of my past and upcoming week. What did you add to your shelves this week? Any bookish news you want to talk about? Let me know!

Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Portrait of Loyalty - Review

A Portrait of Loyalty (The Codebreakers, # 3)

By: Roseanna M White

Publication: September 8th 2020 by Bethany House Publishers

384 pages

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Zivon Marin was one of Russia's top cryptographers, until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee after speaking out against Lenin and separated from his brother along the way, he arrives in England driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera--and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and recreating photographs. With her father's connections in propaganda, she's recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily. He sees patterns in what she deems chaos; she sees beauty in a world he thought destroyed. But both have secrets they're unwilling to share. When her photographs reveal that someone has been following Zivon, his loyalties are called into question--and his enemies are discovered to be far closer than he'd feared.

I seem to be developing inaccurate impressions of several books lately based upon who knows what. I enjoyed The Number of Love, but I had a few things that bothered me. One of the biggest things is that one of the narrators is from the villain's point of view. I don't usually enjoy this. Plus Margot was a little more difficult for me to connect with. On the other hand, I was so surprised and impressed with how much I enjoyed On Wings of Devotion. It too had a villain's point of view, but my love for Camden and Ara surpassed any frustration with having to read from the villain's perspective. For some reason, the impression I got of Zivon from the prior books was that he was older. So I was surprised to find him the leading male of A Portrait of Loyalty. But I found that I was dreading the expectation of reading from another villain. Plus I expected to be a little disappointed after coming off how much I was impressed with On Wings of Devotion.

A Portrait of Loyalty ended up being a pleasant surprise just as much as On Wings of Devotion. My biggest fear of reading from another villain was twisted by the fact that our "villain" of this story was Zivon's brother, Evgeni, who I couldn't fully find myself rooting against. There was hope that he might find a better way of thinking, that he also might find love and a happy ending. So with that out of the way, there was only room left for good things.

I was intrigued and struck by the amount of photo manipulation used so early in our history. You wouldn't be surprised to hear of photos being fakes or photoshopped today, but to learn that this was not just used during World War I, but that it was done so well and frequently was impressive. I was utterly interested in every aspect of the photography pieces of this story.

Zivon and Lily have such a sweet story. I loved how they were each able to see in the other things that others so quickly missed or dismissed. Lily noticed despite the stillness in Zivon's body, his eyes and mind seemed to be always in motion. Zivon seeing the beauty in the world through Lily's camera and photo work. Zivon has such baggage that he's coming to England with. Pain of betrayal. Loss of his family, career, and future. Guilt of his fiance's death as a message to him. And fear of who he can trust now that he's made it to England. Yet Lily breaks through his barriers.

Lily's family made for excellent supporting characters. Her mother shares her love of the arts only in a different medium. And her sister, Ivy, is one that anyone could wish to have as a sister. Their closeness was enviable. And even Lily's father didn't seem to be largely present yet made an impact when he was involved. My heart hurt as they went through struggles and the pain of loss through the book. This was the only place I teared up.

And perhaps my favorite part was how shocking I found it that the events of this story so closely mirrored much of what we're facing in the world and specifically in the United States in 2020. A global pandemic (COVID-19 vs the Spanish Flu), the threat of socialism, a country divided in goals and how to achieve what we all desire, propaganda, manipulation, and more. I, honestly, felt my heart break a little bit to see history threatening to repeat itself. Truth be told, I typically hate any politics being included in my reading. However, A Portrait of Loyalty's political messages felt true to the story itself and not really a commentary on today's society even though I was able to extract things that I wanted to apply to today. It didn't feel to me like that was the goal of the author which is what I rail against most of the time when politics are included in books.

Too many quotes I highlighted:

-They wouldn’t, if they realized that socialist “freedom” involved killing anyone who held a different view. That was no freedom. That was the worst form of tyranny— the kind that lied about what it was.

-“Sometimes people have to make a hard choice, you know. For the greater good.” “And more often people trample the helpless for their own good and just say it is for the sake of others.”

-“I just find it sad that so many people think they can find true happiness by taking. They can’t. We can only ever find it by giving.”

-“But Batya used to say that the difference between a wise man and a fool was not that the wise man was right and the fool wrong— but that the fool always assumed himself right, and the wise man would wonder if he could be wrong. We cannot learn from our mistakes and grow wiser if we never admit to the times we’ve chosen the wrong path.”

-“Disagreeing with someone shouldn’t mean I think they have no right to live, to work, to be given a chance for happiness.”

-"I love you.” She jerked. She couldn’t help it. But she didn’t bolt for the door as she probably would have done a few months ago. “Are you trying to shackle me?” He breathed a laugh, shook his head. “Who said love had to be shackles? I’m not trying to hold you anywhere, force you to do anything. This is a gift to you, [...]. I give it freely. I demand nothing in return. You can love me or you can not. You can stay with me or you can go. Either way, I will love you. I will love the very spirit that may insist you run far and fast.”

“But I hope, of course. I hope you’ll stay. I hope you’ll accept my love— not as a prison trying to make you be something you don’t want to be. But as . . . wings. To help you reach whatever heights you strive for.”

-She didn’t let herself think of the number of other prayers just like hers that must have been offered up in the last few weeks on behalf of other loved ones. And of the number of times the Lord must have answered, I’m sorry, my child. But no.

-It is not freedom that is extended to all, only to those with whom one agrees. This is what our American allies have taught the world, is it not? True freedom means freedom to disagree.”

-“We must be still— not our hands and feet, but our minds. And know that He is God. That He has not changed. That the same Lord who loved us when all is well loves us still when all is lost. His promises are as true today as they were yesterday. He has been enough to see people through the worst since the dawn of time. We must trust that His love is enough to see us through now.”

-“We mustn’t let such things come between us anymore. Not anger, not secrets, not fear. They will not rob us of the life God has given us.”

-“No. Freedom comes only when the people realize that it cannot be stolen and forced. Freedom that is denied to anyone who disagrees is no freedom at all.”

I truly felt like many in America could benefit from reading this book. The refresher of the dangers we face and the only true way to find freedom from the bondage of this world. And even the dangers of being at odds with each other in such a way as to try to silence those who disagree. This is not the America that was dreamed of in the beginning or what we've fought for through our short history.

A Portrait of Loyalty surprised me in every way. I was expecting to dread the villain's point of view. I wasn't expecting to find myself rooting for him in some ways. The relationship between Zivon and Lily rivaled that of Camden and Ara. And I was most impressed with the mirroring of the time period with what we are facing today. Where normally I abhor politics in reading, I found the messages weren't directed at the reader but were true to the characters and the story itself. It just so happened that I was able to pull from the story and apply that to today. This is how to do politics in reading if you ask me. A Portrait of Loyalty gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read A Portrait of Loyalty? What did you think? Let me know!

Friday, September 25, 2020

2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge - September Wrap

Time for our Monthly Wrap Up for the 2020 Series Enders Reading Challenge hosted by Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know and Holly @ Words Fueled by Love!

Sandy finished A Portrait of Loyalty (The Codebreakers, # 3) by Roseanna M White. Holly finished Midnight Sun (Twilight, # 5) by Stephenie Meyer.

Which series enders did you finish? Link the up below. Don't forget to include the title, your name, & your blog name (Ex: Requiem - Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know) Also, the August giveaway runs from August 25th - September 25th. On September 25th we will use random.org and the linky entries to pull a winner.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Can't Wait for Faith's Mountain Home

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released as well. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. Find out more here.

Faith's Mountain Home (Hearts of Montana, # 3)

By: Misty M Beller

Expected Publication: January 5th 2021 by Bethany House Publishers

336 pages

Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Adult

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Nate Long has always watched over his identical twin brother, Aaron, even when it put him on the wrong side of the law. When Aaron is wounded in a shootout, the brothers are taken to Settler's Fort to recover. As Nate works to make reparations for their past, he marvels at the nursing Aaron receives under the care of a woman with all the reason in the world to resent him.

Laura Hannon knows what it is to start over, and she knows Nate's newfound faith is real. What she can't look past is how far he allowed himself to be led astray by his brother's weaknesses.

What are you guys waiting on this week? Let me know!