Monday, April 30, 2018

Miss Wilton's Waltz by Josi S. Kilpack

From the publisher: Lenora Wilton has spent her life hiding behind the keys of her beloved pianoforte and the vibrancy of her younger sister, Cassie. But Lenora is ready for a change and begins her journey of self-discovery by traveling to Bath to live with her Aunt Gwen and teach music at an all-girls’ boarding school. She is different in Bath and enjoys the freedom and independence of her new life there. When Lenora meets Aidan Asher, she finds herself attracted to him; unexpected feelings that become more complicated when she learns that Catherine—Lenora’s newest and most troublesome student in the school—is Mr. Asher’s niece.

Miss Wilton’s Waltz is a sequel to The Vicar’s Daughter. Both are part of Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance series of clean romance stories. Author Kilpack writes gentle romance novels that feature characters with issues. In the first book, Lenora was a secondary character dealing with social anxiety. She gets the spotlight in this book, still coping with social anxiety and learning how to be independent and successful. Catherine, the troubled student, turns out to be dealing with a learning disability.

I enjoyed this book more than the first. The characters were more developed, the plot was smoother and more believable, and the messages were not so heavy handed. I recommend it for lovers of historical romance.

I read an advance reader copy of Miss Wilton's Waltz. It and other books by Josi S. Kilpack are available at the Galesburg Public Library.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

From the publisher: It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.

This is my first book by Susanna Kearsley, but it won't be my last. This compelling novel switches back and forth in time - from the present, where a young woman is helping turn a Long Island home into a museum, to the past, where a hard-working family lives their normal lives as best they can in a time of war.

I really enjoyed the scenes from the past and was intrigued to see where the plot was going. I found modern day character Charley a little annoying, with a life too filled with drama of various sorts (broken romance, potential new romance, estranged grandmother, recently deceased brother, depressed niece). I could have done with a lot less Charley. I actually skipped her chapters a few times to jump ahead and see what happened next with Lydia and Jean-Philippe (although I always returned to read Charley's chapter before going too much further).

I found the book a bit draggy in the middle; editing out some of the modern day drama would have improved the novel. However, overall I enjoyed the writing style, the plot, and the characters. A definite recommend for fans of Kate Morton and other present/past historical mysteries.

I read an advance reader copy of Bellewether. It is scheduled to be published in August 2018 and will be available through the Galesburg Public Library.