Book Review: Silence Is Golden- Historical Romance 4* By Sara Ackerman @saraackerman #amreading

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This novel  gave me a number of experiences while reading. I laughed, raised my eyebrows and at times toward the end had slightly damp eyes. Overall, it was an enjoyable read. It’s part of a trilogy, I’ve not read the first part, but I was able to get my head around the complex plot in this second part. This book has a lot of concepts waved into the story line, many of which face the modern woman of today, even though it’s set in a historical backdrop of Lords and Ladies in a British setting. Let’s get into the review.

Plot:

This novel is set in the UK, written by an American author. I don’t like too many spoilers so I’ll just outline the plot. Evelyn Westbury is an entitled lady from London, some what spoilt but to me very likeable. She has a fierce headstrong side to her. She has been cursed by a gypsy, she is unable to speak to anyone outside of her family.  She communicates with a notepad and pencil. Her plan is to travel to France, find the gypsy and break the spell. She finds a stash of money her father hid, that’s her meal ticket to set sail to France. She starts her journey via cart from London to the port in Southampton to take the boat to France. In the middle of a war too!

Part of her mission to break the curse is as her engagement has broken off, she feels her lack of speech could have been the reason why, as well as other family drama. She was due to marry a the very rich and entitled Lord Newgate. On her journey in the cart and carriage to Southampton she meets Alfred. T. Combes, enter Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome. She is drawn to him more so than he is to her, as he ignores her. Evelyn is not used to this, men seem to swoon over her. There are a couple of bumps along the way, Alfred decides to be her travel partner and protect her.  A lady travelling on her own in this historical time frame is not acceptable. Evelyn also finds that she is able to speak to Alfred, is the curse real??

Their journey is delayed and the drama starts. There’s a lot of push and pull, build up. Toward the end we learn that Evelyn has got herself into more than she realises, with the money she took from her father. She becomes a wanted woman,  for many reasons I won’t giveaway. Lord Newgate (her ex and our prize prat and villain) turns up and wants to know her again, after he broke off the engagement. He has his “reasons”,  he’s not happy about Alfred minding her these two have a history. Fireworks spark.

Along the line Evelyn is kidnapped, this is where we see our Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome take charge and fight for his lady, which he did amazingly! They find their happy ever after. But not before a few bumps, twists, one loss that sends Evelyn back to her mute former self. She mourns for a few months, Alfred really comes to life as a hero. It was great to see this play out. She cuts off her hair and really experiences a change of character over a major loss. I found this very realistic, I think when a woman chops off her hair ( from a longer length) she is experiencing some major change internally.  I liked this emphasis on her character .Finally the pair make it back to England via boat, a new life starts as a married couple, right at the end her loss has been restored, this leads to part three of the trilogy.

My Review:

I’m giving Silence is Golden 4* stars because like I was saying, this was quite an enjoyable read for me. The characters are likeable, the ones we should like. Lord Newgate is written well enough to show him as an unsavoury villain. I really liked Beatrice, Evelyn’s sister- I loved her to bits. I liked Evelyn too, I watched her grow a lot in character from spoilt to mature lady.  The author did a good job with character development. The outside characters are all really likeable too, some were very entertaining.

The plot of this book is good but very complex, so you will need to pay attention to what’s happening. What I liked about the complex plot is, it takes your average historical romance into a whole new  reading experience of suspense, what will happen next? And realness. Evelyn is faced with some decisions a woman of today could understand. Does she marry and live an entitled life with Lord Newgate, once he shows interest. Or does she settle with genuine happiness, with a man with no land, title, money etc. ? In this time era this question was a massive one for a woman, maybe even one that a woman did not have much choice on. To support herself, back then, would have been unheard of. In this day and age, many women may ask themselves  this still, even though we can now support ourselves. The question is more about long term happiness now a days rather than survival. Shall I date him as his pockets are deep, and he won’t be feeding off me? But he’s a bit shallow?  I liked this element of reality.

Toward the end about a good 75-80% in, is where I really experienced a change of pace in the storytelling.  My heart strings tugged, the hero  (Alfred) made me go “ahhh what a man”,  trust me he really fights for his woman. Later down the line in the story is where I had slightly damp eyes. Evelyn’s major loss is heart-felt, and her reaction is also heart-felt. The author wrote this last section of the book with heart. She gave it some! And delivered. This was the most enjoyable part of the novel for me towards the end. Things started to tie together as well. It’s well written, you get a feel for the time frame. The author also did a real good job as an American portraying old England, good job from a British reader!

This book is just over 300 pages long, and don’t get me wrong was enjoyable to read. The one thing I would have liked is the fast pace, punch, swift movements and heart this author gave around 75% in, I would have loved earlier. This book is a slow-burner (and there is nothing wrong with that), but my reading experience (personally) may have been heightened if the pace picked up sooner.

That said, it was an enjoyable read, and ends in a way to make readers think gosh what will happen in part three?? Great job Sara! Ya got-em hooked! That’s how it’s done, that’s how we do suspense. I like it!

Grab your copy now from Amazon.com  read Sara’s Meet The Author Interview and connect with her here  Author page here.

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Book Review: The Playground- E. Denise Billups 5* #amreading #newrelease #shortstories

The Playground

I just love short stories as much as I love full length page turning novels. This is a new release this week, and  another one not to fall asleep on. I bought my copy and read it within an hour!  The short story (for me personally) was enjoyable for so many reasons. It’s a great introduction to this author’s writing if you’ve not read any of her books before, this is my first read. I will read more. I hear on the grapevine, there’s a suspense novel coming our way this summer too. Keep an eye out on Meet The Author. So, let’s get into the review.

The Plot:

Readers are taken back in time within a place called Willow’s Grove. The town has a dark history and a lot of folk tales about what happened years ago, at an old church that was burned down. We start off in this time period with the POV of  a woman who was forced to do what she had to do for survival. She had two daughters, the death of her husband left them stranded. She winds up in Willow’s Grove. Fast forward to the present day we learn about the tales the townspeople believe happened the night the church burned down *spoiler alert* I won’t give this away.

In the present day a group of friends are on a mission to prove that ghosts are not real, the folk tales are not real.  They set out on the anniversary of the fire, and one of the main character’s birthdays to prove just that.

Once they arrive at the church, this is where the mystery, suspense and supernatural starts. The author very cleverly takes you on a journey via the spirit of the man the town fear. This is where the story for me got very interesting,  the mood changed within the story the man or spirit was a slave… we learn this when he changes form to who he was at the time of death.

We then learn the REAL truth what happened that night, all those years ago during a very important part of history. We walk through the POV of the woman who had to do what she had to do as a mother, and we learn through the spirit the group of friends meet.  *spoiler alert* I’m not going to give away how the  spirit  is linked to one of the females in the group, her girlfriend, as well as  the woman and little girls who died. But it ties in well.  The reason they are all linked is down to one thing history. They say ” the truth will set you free” that’s exactly what happens when this group of friends make a bold move, an important secret is revealed and the townspeople are firmly put in their place with their made up folk law and tales.

I’m giving The Playground five stars as the story hit home with me, it also was very interesting to read.  I love how the author tied in paranormal and supernatural themes to produce what you could call a historical piece of fiction also it has almost two themes. I experienced an element of suspense and the classic ” oh wow okay, I never saw that coming”. Every writer loves it when a reader does that so  well done!!  I finished the last page and felt like this could really be a full novel you and it could be so interesting. I would like to read more of this! In addition, the author has done something very difficult to do- mix present day story telling with historical events. To take a reader through different time frames consistently with a good flow (short story or full blown novel) is a massive challenge  to write  whether it’s a few thousand or a hundred thousand words.The author has done this job well. So to me leaving with all these feelings and reading a well written story can only deserve 5* I could not fault it at all. very enjoyable!

Grab a copy it’s .99 on Amazon.

Connect with Denise here while we wait out the release date for the suspense novel coming our way in the summer:

Denise’s Author site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet The Author: Sara AckerMan -Historical Romance Author #amreading #author #romance

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This month, I’ve lined up two contrasting authors for you to meet. The second is Ms. Sara Ackerman. Sara is an author within a genre I also love to read, historical romance. Ahhh, there’s something about romance set against the backdrop of history that really interests me as a reader. Sara caught my eye over a year ago, when I first joined the world of WordPress and blogging as an author. Sara is not only a talented author she speaks three languages one of which I speak myself!  It was a pleasure to interview her. Let’s get to know her style.. over to you Sara.

Hello nice to meet you! Tell us a bit about you where are you from and other than writing what else do you enjoy?

Hello from the Midwest! I come from a small town in Wisconsin where I teach at the secondary level. I’ve been a lover of language for years, and actually speak three languages: English, French and Spanish.  I’m thinking of Mandarin Chinese or Arabic for my next language. In my free time I read, play games with my family and visit friends and family.

Kim: Tres bien! I speak French too. I love languages also. While they are challenging to learn,the satisfaction is unbelievable when you can speak to a native and be understood.

How did you start writing? What was your inspiration to create?

My day job is teaching. There is a high rate of burnout for teacher’s especially in areas like ESL (what I teach) and other high needs’ jobs. One year I packed up my room and took all my personal belongings home, convinced I wasn’t going to return in the fall. I sat down at the computer that June and just started to write. I wrote for three months and by the time August rolled around, I had finished my first novel and was ready to return to school.

Inspiration comes from universal struggles and themes–the desire for acceptance, self-discovery, love, family. Also, I enjoy exploring  what if questions and the possibilities which can arise from different scenarios.

Kim: Go Sara! Excellent. Here in the UK, the burnout is high also.  I totally understand the problems within the profession. Your inspiration sounds fantastic. I think when we use real life as a base to start to write, our stories can become much more powerful.

Who is your favourite author, is there anyone out there that inspires you?

This a toughie. Mary Balogh is indisputably the queen of Regency era historical romance. Her plots, lively characters and poignant twists never fail to leave me wanting more. Yet Julia Quinn has a witty and fast-paced dialogue with sassy, intelligent females who know what they want. Both authors have inspired my own style, though, which is a blend somewhere in between. I tend to have more serious stories with intelligent, headstrong females.

Kim: umm hmm, yes I like headstrong and intelligent. 🙂 I need to look into some of these authors you mention. Thanks for the heads up.

What genre do you enjoy reading?

I’m a romance junkie all the way. Life is already stressful enough. Romance novels offer the perfect escape and a guaranteed happy ending. I do stray and will also read YA, fantasy and cozy mysteries, but my one true love is romance.

Kim: Haha, I too am a massive junkie for romance. It’s funny you should mention escapism as for me that’s what the genre offers. When I brainstormed my Romance Set in Paradise series, this is exactly what I’ve kept in mind while writing and creating.

So you’ve published a series, what is the series about?

The Westby Sisters’ trilogy is about 3 sisters who were all cursed at a young age for a horrible lie they told. Each sister has a different curse to bear: Amelia (Little White Lies) can only tell the truth, Evelyn (Silence is Golden) can’t speak to anyone outside her immediate family and Beatrice (Silver Tongued Temptress) tells the truth but no one believes a word she says. Set during the Napoleonic wars, each sister struggles to find herself and overcome her limitations. There’s action and adventure. One reader asked if there were any murders because she enjoyed a little suspense, so yes, there are several murders, too, and of course, romance.

Kim: Oh suspense… yes yes! * claps her hands in excitement* . Can I be cheeky and ask for one of your author review copies so I can read?.. pretty please.

What three tips would you give any aspiring writer?

Write what you love. Worry about edits after you’ve finished. If you get stuck, take a break, eat some chocolate and repeat.

Kim: haha I like this tip. I would 100% support the write what you like part, there is a reader out there for every author. No matter your style. Haters will always be there, use them as your motivation to create!

What are you working on now? What will you release next?

I’m working on the third book in the Westby Sister’s trilogy, Silver Tongued Temptress. My next release is June 7th, Silence is Golden, the second book in the Westby Sister’s trilogy.

Kim: cool, keep us posted over at Meet The Author on any promos that you do. Good luck for 7th June.

What does “success” look like to you? When would you say “damn, I’ve made it baby!”

My first book was self-published as a proof of concept, to see if I could do it. When I was getting several hundred downloads a day, then I decided to send it to publishers to see if I could get it professionally published. For me, it’s all about proof of concept. If I can do something I’ve set out to accomplish, then I’ve made it. My standards are all based on personal goals, not on how much money I’ve made or how many awards I’ve won, but on whether or not I can do something I’ve never tried before.

Kim: very refreshing Sara. Many of us do think about the awards, titles and lists that we make. I like your style. I think your approach will keep an author grounded and doing it for the love of writing rather than £ or in your case $.

What’s your favourite movie?

Pride and Prejudice, the Kiera Knightley version. Matthew MacFayden is dreamy. His voice could melt the panties off of a saint.

Where would you like to travel to and why?

Scotland. My first book is set in the Highlands. My husband is Scottish (on his mother’s side) and I think men in kilt’s are damned sexy. If I do get there, I’m buying one for the hubs and ‘requesting’ he wear it.

Kim: * cracks up laughing* hmm, totally off the subject but  I love a man in a sharp suit, you can knock me down with a feather every time. * daydreams about Nicholas D’Coix in A Stranger in France.*

 I’ve snapped out of my daydream over hot men in suits or kilts! That’s a wrap. I really enjoyed getting to know Sara and her style a bit better, I hope you did too.  Her books sound great, ideal for a romance lover who loves to read about strong women within a great setting and era. Connect with Sara below:

 Sara’s Book Blurbs:

Little White Lies

Available now from Wild Rose Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Amelia Westby always tells the truth, a terrible curse in a society that values little white lies. When she meets Tavis McGuire, she finds a way to escape the scrutiny of London’s jaded ton. Tavis is passionate and caring, offering Amelia a chance at a new life, but when a dangerous secret threatens to destroy their happiness, Amelia must break her curse or lose the man she loves. After his brother’s death, Tavis McGuire returns from the continent to inherit the Earldom of Stanton, an estate near financial ruin. To save his home and clear his family’s name, he becomes embroiled in a dangerous game of espionage. When his investigation leads him to a beautiful woman who holds information he needs to catch a traitor, Tavis must decide whether to honor his duty to his country or to follow his heart.

Silence is Golden     

Available June 7th from Wild Rose Publishing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Ever since Evelyn Westby was cursed, she hasn’t been able to speak to anyone outside her family. That hasn’t stopped men from seeking her favor, especially the handsome and eligible Lord Alexander Newgate. But when her sister elopes and her betrothal is then canceled, Evie will do anything to win back her fiancé, even travel to war-torn France to find the gypsy who cursed her.

Alfred Coombes takes his fate into his own hands when he quits his employment to follow the call of adventure. On the road, he meets Lady Evelyn Westby and sees she needs a protector. Sacrificing his own journey, he becomes her guardian. Treacherous weather and a sinister smuggler throw them together, and he must decide whether to continue his journey or take a chance on a new adventure with a captivating beauty.

 

Author site: https://seackerman.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/saraeackerman/

Next Month: Something a little different! Another great author stay tuned. If you’re an author and you’d like to feature on Meet The Author contact me here.

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If you’re an author and you’d like a feature contact me here.