Friday, September 16, 2016

Fiction Review: A Lady Unrivaled

I've really enjoyed taking the journey with Roseanna M White's Ladies of the Manor series - and I don't really recommend reading "A Lady Unrivaled" without having read the first two books - you can, but it might take some time to get the backstory straight, and besides that, when familiar characters from previous books make small appearances or find new redemption, the read becomes all the more satisfying having read the entire series.

White's first book was an enjoyable romance with a slight thrill, but her second book in this series showed improvement with darker themes and more intriguing characters. Now in this final installment, we have near perfect plot development - albeit with a somewhat quick finale - and a very gratifying conclusion. I particularly enjoyed the character of Kira, a Russian ballerina sent to spy on Rushworth and Catherine for information on the Fire Eye red diamonds. White includes a servant's viewpoint in each book, a nice counterpoint to the richer society at the forefront of the stories. Kira begins as someone who wants to gain independence and material wealth and ends as one who appreciates the people around her and the God who sustains her.

Lord Cayton also goes through a spiritual journey as he forgives himself for past sins, embraces his young daughter and falls in love with the optimistic Ella. And Ella is bright and entertaining in her pursuit to stop the curse of the Fire Eye diamonds once and for all. Where those diamonds end up after violent encounters and kidnappings is also a wonderful way to end the series. Although, I confess, I am sorry to see these beautiful characters go.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Fiction Review: The Christmas Angel Project

The weather is beginning to feel like fall, and it's the perfect time for a heart-warming Christmas novel. Given the length of short feel-good stories like "The Christmas Angel Project," and given my previous experience with Melody Carlson, I expected an interesting premise with little character development but was pleasantly surprised.

Of course, there's not much space to delve into each character, but Carlson's 2016 holiday novel progressed at just the right pace, with a dash of romance toward the end and enough time spent with each character to "wrap" you up in their tales. (Although it did take some time to get each of the characters straight, since the story is told from all four girls' perspectives.)

Here, we have a small book club that bonds together after one of their own suddenly passes away. But their friend left behind special gifts for each of them. Inspired, the ladies find ways to give back to their community and grow out of their own circumstances.

The redemption found is quite beautiful and would work well for a film. The conclusion involves a few Bible passages, but other than that the spiritual themes are not very strong and the women who find romance never stop to check to make sure their men are believers.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.