Grave Consequences

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Title: Grave Consequences
Series: Grand Tour
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
Published: March 1, 2013
Pages: 448

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Cora Deihl Kensington has battled new siblings in Montana and kidnappers and who she is in France, now Cora and the Kensington kids are heading to Austria and Italy but it looks like her battles aren’t over just yet. Now Cora must deal with two very different men who both love her. As Cora journeys across Europe with her siblings she begins to find herself and who she wants to be, but she must come to some painful conclusions and make difficult decisions to get there.

Will, the young bear-in-training for their journey, begins to realize that he’s fallen invoke with Cora, something that’s against the rules and potentially career ruining for him. It pains him to see her in the arms of Pierre but there’s nothing he can do, not only is there nothing he can give her but a pile of debt but if he pursues her he risks being fired. He wants to court her but it seems like everything and everyone is standing in his way.

The farther into Austria they get the more their attraction and love grows and Cora must decide who she will choose, the Prince Charming with everything or the poor guide with nothing. When tragedy strikes Will must make an important decision and when their kidnapper shows his face again they must decide whether or not to continue with a persistent kidnapper licking their heels.

Will Cora choose Pierre, Will or no one at all? Will Will risk everything and show his intentions to her manipulative father or will he stay silent and be forced to see her in the arms of another? Will Cora finally fit in with her siblings or will she forever be the black sheep of the family? Will Cora decide to go back to school or will she decide to stay in the glamour of the upper echelon?
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Though this book was a joy to read, I’m very thankful I read the first book, because this book starts off where the first left off without much recapping, so remembering who’s who proves to be a bit difficult and I highly recommend reading the first first or else I fear you will be completely and utterly lost for a good portion of the book. Thankfully once your memory is jogged the book picks up nicely and it gets easier to differentiate between the many characters in this book.

Compared to the first book in the series this book has an increased amount of romance and suspense, both of which I was happy about, and the love triangle slowly begins to fade as we start to see the true winner of Cora’s heart. With two great and compassionate guys vying for her attention, many readers will probably be disappointed in who she picks but personally I liked who she picked and wouldn’t have wanted her to pick the other guy.

The added suspense in this one is also an added bonus. It keeps the book’s pace up but also it keeps the level of intensity throughout the book. The suspense definitely helps break up the endless history lessons, which I enjoy in moderation, and thankfully the author traded some of the history for more suspense making this book definitely easier to read.

Cora’s angst is as evident in this book as it was in the first. She’s still trying to figure out where she belongs and what se wants with her life. Will also has some angst in this book too. He has to decide whether he’s going to pursue Cora or whether he’s going to concede and let Pierre have her. All of that combined together makes a nice story with a lovely love triangle, if that’s even possible. I enjoyed this book and the characters within and can’t wait to conclude the series in October.

This author captured me with the first book in the series and made me want to read more of Cora’s story. I also want to read the other trilogy by her that I have on my kindle. I can’t quite put my finger on why I enjoy her books but for some reason she’s made me a fan and I can’t wait to read more from her. I recommend this series and author.

Overall, it was a great book with much more romance and suspense than the last book in this interesting series. I recommend this book to those who want something a bit different than the usual romance novel. This book is probably best left to adults and maybe really mature teenagers. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

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Slow Moon Rising

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Title: Slow Moon Rising
Series: Cedar Key
Author: Eva Marie Everson
Publisher: Revell
Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 384

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Cedar Key has long been a place of rest, healing and release for the Claybourne family. But it’s also the birthplace of a dark secret that’s tearing their family apart from within. Everyone in this family had unique struggles and secrets that they keep and each have a journey they must go through to conquer their secrets and be released from the darkness haunting their lives, but the journey to that point is long, hard, and filled with many tear along the way.

Join the strong Claybourne women – Anise, Kimberly, Jayme-Leigh, Heather, and Ami as they face heartbreak, misunderstandings, and pain to bring reconciliation with each other and renewed love into their lives. Cedar Key had long been a place to turn to in times of confusion, loss, and hurt. They go their to get their spirits renewed and their hearts restored. Cedar Key is part of their journey and not all of it is easy.

As these women start down their journey, none could have anticipated how hard it would be or how much yet would lean on their family to help them through their times of trial. No one could’ve anticipated how hat those trials would’ve been or how much healing would happen along the way, but one thing thy do know is that a family isn’t made up of the secrets but how you survive them.

Can Anise win over her new family or will she be forever shunned? Can Kimberly overcome her husband’s choices or will she forever be scarred by her husband’s choices? Will Jayme-Leigh recover from a life altering disease and decision or will she be resentful about it forever? Will Heather’s journey help her heal from a problem or will she end up similar to her mother? Will Ami be able to forgive her dad and herself or will the guilt engulf her until she dies?
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The one thing I love about Eva Marie Everson is that she is a master at creating characters that captivate and capture your heart. These characters were no different than the last book in this beautifully heartbreaking series. She manages to create such realistically broken characters and create a story that’s heart wrenching yet hopeful and full of healing too in every story she crafts and I love the complexity and uniqueness of every story she weaves.

Each character had their own set of struggles to overcome and I could relate to every character in some way. Even when I couldn’t relate I still felt for every character in the story. Each struggle was something that became real for me. I felt the weight of the secrets they carried and felt their frustration and sorrow. I have no idea how the author manages to do it but it amazes me every time I read one of her lovingly painful books.

The setting is perfect too. What a better place for healing and peace than a place like Cedar Key. It sounds like an idyllic small town and the perfect place to go if you need some time and space to think or even to just be. I can imagine what the town might look like and how many people have found healing there. I don’t know if this place exists but it’s my wish to find a place that I can escape to just like Cedar Key.

The storyline is a mixture of problems ranging in severity and duration but each is special and a common problem. Though there was possibly too many characters I never felt too confused as to who was who (except for the husbands, those were hard to keep track of), but I did find that the amount of characters made some of their journeys shorter than I would’ve liked. It’s also written in first person, but in this book’s case it fit so perfectly that I actually enjoyed it.

This author captured me with her amazing characters with the second book in this series and I had to come back for more. This story is no different and made the characters real for me. I love this author’s gift for characters and that’s why I will be reading more from her in the future ad hopefully enjoy them as much as this one.

Overall, this is a great book about struggles and family. There was a but too many characters which cut all their stories a bit short but I still enjoyed it and recommend it. I recommend this to people who like books that are more about family secrets and the drama that comes with them. Keep this book away from your kids, teen and children alike, and leave this one strictly for the adults. I give this book a four out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Glamorous Illusions

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Title: Glamorous Illusions
Series: Grand Tour
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Publisher: David C. Cook
Published: June 1, 2012
Pages: 416

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Cora Diehl’s life gets turned upside down when she arrives home from Common School to find out her father had a stroke. With a struggling farm and a sick father Cora knows she might not be able to continue school. She knows something is about to change but she has no idea just how much until a man arrives and says he’s her real father and the world that Cora knew changes forever.

Cora is now a Kensington and is thrust into the life of a copper king and his family. She now has to navigate Europe on her Grand Tour but also her new half-brothers and sisters, when they’ve made it perfectly clear that they don’t like her or want her around. On the journey of a lifetime, Cora realizes just how hard it is to fit into a crowd that you weren’t born into and how difficult it is to penetrate the pack, even if they are family.

In Europe, Cora begins to find herself again and figure out who she really is, not who her parents or newfound father wants her to be. She meets two men who start to change her life and open doors she thought were closed and start to show her that she’s not defined by her title or how she came into this world but rather who she is and how she lives her life. This journey will push her and her faith to the limits but it might justly her become the person she wants to be.

Will Cora forgive her parents for keeping this from her or will she live with bitterness forever? Will Cora fall in love on this journey or will she break the hearts of two different men? Will Cora find out who she is or will she go home as confused as she left? Will Cora be able to make her siblings see her as more than a nuisance or will she forever be known as the outcast?
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I’ve never read a book by this author before but I’ve always admired and been attracted to Lisa Bergren’s covers. This one was no different and it captured my attention with the stunning dress on the front with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. I found that I was just as captivated by the story of Cora Deihl once I started reading this interesting book. Though there wasn’t much excitement in this book, I still enjoyed it and the growth I saw in Cora’s character.

The story is a pretty uneventful one from the point that Cora leaves her hometown and until about two or three chapters from the end. That leaves a lot of space for basically history lessons and for Cora to be shunned by her siblings. It also leaves some space for a little infatuation to bloom. Though this book isn’t the most exciting book out there I somehow got hooked by Cora’s story and struggle to fit in with siblings and settle into a role that she wasn’t prepared for, however I would’ve liked to have had a bit more excitement throughout instead of clumped at the ends. I guess her and Will made the story worth reading for me.

This book technically isn’t a romance but it’s a precursor to one, or at least it seems that way, and Cora starts to fall for not one but two completely different men. One is a French duke and very powerful, the other is Will a guide and bodyguard and someone who always seems to make her heart flutter. There’s definitely a love triangle going on and the real question is who’s going to win over Cora’s heart in the end. (I’m thinking Will)

The author chose a rather odd set up for the writing style. Instead of making the entire book one style, like all first person or all second person, she chose to mix them up. Cora’s point of view is written in first person while Will’s and everyone else’s is written in second person. It’s a weird method and one I’m not totally sure I liked. It felt a bit disjointed at times and I’m not sure that was a good blend, but I am happy that she did write in point of views other than just Cora’s.

This author is completely new to me and I enjoyed my first book by her, but I wish there would’ve been some excitement in what can be considered a very vanilla book. I look forward to reading the next book in the series though, because now that we have some excitement going I feel like she should keep it up, but also because I want to see Cora grow into the woman she deserves to be and the only way to see that is to finish the book. I do recommend this book to select people and I think I can recommend this author.

Overall, this is a good but unexciting book. The character growth and love triangle is the only thing keeping it interesting. I recommend this to people who like continuos novels and love triangles. I don’t recommend this to younger resets but possibly mature teens and adults. I give this book a three and a half out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Deadly Devotion

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Title: Deadly Devotion
Series: Port Aster Secrets
Author: Sandra Orchard
Publisher: Revell
Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 384

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When Kate Adams friend and research mentor, Daisy Leacock, is suddenly found dead from poisoning, she is devastated and angry. Kate knows her mentor’s death wasn’t a suicide or a careless accident. Both Kate and Daisy work with plants all day long and they were working on an herbal medicine that would treat depression. Knowing this, Kate is determined to unearth the truth about what happened to the woman who changed her life.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker is finding that it’s harder to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster than he thought it would be. Not everyone approves of his new position as a detective for the local police force even though the police chief, his old buddy, gave him the job. He’s just trying to sty out of the spotlight, but when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation into her friend’s death, he knows he could easily be fired. He’s willing to help her even though he thinks she has something to hide.

The more Kate and Tom dig into the death of Daisy the more secrets they uncover about their seemingly perfect and quiet town, proving that no one is as they seem. With a stack of suspects and a killer on the loose both are very aware of the fact that this killer might just try and kill against I keep their secret a secret. Bad memories on both side keep them from falling in love but being thrust together by danger starts to rip apart their boundaries and open doors they never thought possible. They just have to catch a killer first.

Will Kate be able to prove that her friend was murdered or will she be forced to accept that her friend took her own life? Will Tom find out what Kate is hiding or will it plague him forever? When Tom finds out how will he react? Will the killer try and keep their secret safe or will Kate and Tom be safe from an attempt on their lives? Will Kate and Tom’s budding relationship make it or will the pressure of keeping each other safe break apart their fragile relationship?
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The cover on this book drew my eye and the description captured my attention. I was hoping that when I finished this book that I would be able to say that the contents lived up to the cover and I can assuredly say that it did. I actually loved this one and the fact that I was never really ever to fully figure who was the killer made the book an absolute joy to read. I can’t wait for the next one!

The storyline of this story is very intricate yet pretty simple to follow. I got so enraptured by this storyline that I found the world around me completely fading away and the only thing left was me and book filled with so much intrigue it practically spilled out of the pages. I never felt left behind or like the wording was choppy and I certainly never felt bored with this one. This author has a gift for storytelling and she uses her full gift in this one and I loved it.

My favorite character by far is Kate. She’s tough, stubborn and the complete polar opposite to a damsel in distress. Though some of her choices in this book were questionable, I can’t say that they didn’t fit her nor could I say that I wouldn’t do the same thing. Her character struck a chord with me and hooked me from the instant she marched into the police station with all that red-headed anger and demanded her friends’s case be reopened. Her character is a perfect mixture between stubborn, spunky, and vulnerable. Her character completely made the book and I can’t wait to see more of her.

The suspense was actually a mystery to me. With so many suspects and so many reasons why each would’ve done it, I had a hard time figuring out who killed Daisy. The suspense was intricately woven together and each suspect’s secrets exposed, making you really realize that people really aren’t always who they seem. The suspense had a nice steady flow and never really let up for the majority of the story making this an enjoyment to read.

I’ve only read one book by Sandra Orchard before and it was a Love Inspired novella and I don’t think it properly portrayed her talent for suspense and storytelling. I am literally waiting on pins and needles to read the next book in this series and have the rest of the small loose ends tied up. This novel was fantastic and I would definitely recommend it to anyone regardless of what they normally read.

Overall, fantastic. I think I might have found a new favorite author. I have no complaints about this one. I highly recommend this one to anyone who likes suspense novels. This book is best left for adults and mature teens. I give this book a five out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

One Glorious Ambition

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Title: One Glorious Ambition
Author: Jane Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Published: April 2, 2013,
Pages: 400

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Dorothea Dix, who was born to an unavailable mother and an abusive father, longs simply to care for and protect her younger brothers, Charles and Joseph. However at fourteen she is separated from them and sent to live with relatives to be raised properly. In her uncertainty and loneliness, she realizes that she can’t accept to social expectations imposed on her gender and she desires to accomplish more than finding a suitable mate.

Dorothea yearns to fulfill God’s purpose in her life and she sons discovers that she has a talent for teaching an writing. She soon published books and opens a school and her students bring her a joy and fulfillment she has never experienced before. They become like family to her, but long bouts of illness end her teaching career and send Dorothea adrift in the sea of uncertainty once again.

All of that changes when she makes an unexpected visit to a prison housing the mentally ill. Seeing the conditions they live in ignites a fire inside of Dorothea and sets her on a journey to change their living conditions and treatment. That journey sends her across the country, into the halls of the Capitol, and leads her to befriend presidents and lawmakers. Her journey was always to care for the “least of these”.

When Dorothea Dic discovers her calling will it help change the lives of others or will her efforts do nothing? Will Dorothea’s compassionate crusade change the lives of the mentally ill for the good or will her efforts result in the conditions getting worse for them? Is this Dorothea’s one glorious ambition and will she stay with it or will she leave it for a husband and kids?
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I’ve never read anything by Jane Kirkpatrick before, but this book caught my eye and I had no idea Dorothea Dix even existed, much to my shock and dismay. So I was excited to pick up this one and learn about a lady that gave her entire life to helping people. The life of this lady amazes me and I believe the Lord used her greatly to lessen the appalling conditions the mentally ill were in during the time before the Civil War. I’m so happy I got to learn about this extraordinary woman.

The book is stuffed with historical facts and imagery of prison conditions and I enjoyed learning about the various crusades going on in that time as well the sickening conditions of prisons for the mentally unstable. Plus the facts about Dorothea’s crusade allowed me to really learn about Dorothea and her compassion to the people who isn’t have a voice. That part of the book was great.

Dorothea is an odd creature without explanation during this book and that is a bad part of the book. Dorothea’s actions throughout the book made very little sense and her cold attitude portrayed on the book made it very hard to get attached to her. At times throughout the book Dorothea will wonder about her mental health and, at times, you can’t help but wonder too. I think maybe these odd behaviors probably would’ve made more sense if Dorothea had been more likable and it had been explained.

The way this story is written is odd too. It’s written in a biographical style but because it’s a fiction novel, it doesn’t really mesh well. Fiction is about imagination and the setup of this book didn’t really allow that, making this book drag on at times because of the lack of excitement in places. I would’ve liked to have seen a bit of creativity from this book and a bit of excitement, but I will admit that the writing style is unique and not something I’ve seen before. It just wasn’t what I was looking for in this novel.

I’ve never read anything by Jane Kirkpatrick before and though I didn’t love this book, I do like her attempt at uniqueness with the writing style and I think that makes me want to read more from her. Maybe her other books are more relatable and likable. I don’t really recommend this to anyone who isn’t interested in mental health or a fan of Dorothea Dix.

Overall, it’s a books filled with historical facts and images of the horrible conditions the jails the mentally ill were in and the writing style is unique but not a great mesh for fiction and Dorothea was a bit too odd to be likable. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

That Certain Summer

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Title: That Certain Summer
Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell
Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 304

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Karen and Val are family, but they’re anything but close. Karen has carried the burden of responsibility for her aging mother ever since her sister left to pursue a career in theater. Karen overextends herself by having a career, recovering from her divorce, taking care of her newly rebellious daughter and her ailing mother. So she does the unthinkable. She calls her sister for help.

Val had her reasons for leaving town. Besides to pursue a a career, she left to get away from her controlling mother and to run away from a secret no one else knows but her. Coming home has never been an option, until her mother suffers from a stroke and she hears the weariness in her sister’s voice. Val now feels the need to breach the secrets of the past and move on from the guilt she carries.

Reunited, the sisters now have to care for their controlling mother and grapple with their past mistakes. Hopefully they can repair their torn relationship and become not only friends but sisters again. As they battle that their summer takes an interesting new spin as two handsome men come into their lives and offer them a hope for something better. Each one has issues and trouble but when their lives intersect they might just be able to learn to forgive and love again.

Can Val forgive herself for the mistake she made when she was just a teenager or will she give up everything and hold onto the guilt she carries? Will Karen learn to stand up for herself and forgive her ex-husband for cheating on her or will she stay the quiet church mouse that is still angry with her husband? Will Karen and Val find love this summer or will they get their hearts broken once again?
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I love Irene Hannon’s work and I have been a fan since reading a couple of her Love Inspired novellas. For a few years she has stuck to just suspense so I was a bit surprised when she decided to write a contemporary novel. However, I’m so happy she did. This book is, in my opinion, her best yet. This book was well developed and heart-tugging. It got my emotions involved and I loved it.

The characters of Karen, Val, Scott, and David were realistic and I loved seeing them grow and finally learn to forgive whether it was themselves or someone else. Their journeys got my heart involved and made me feel like the characters were real making this book a breeze to read and finish. This author definitely has a gift of creating great characters that attach to your heart and don’t really release themselves out of your life.

The romances were also some of the best I’ve seen out of this author. The emotional development was amazing and I could really see the relationship grow into a love strong enough to conquer some tough choices and realizations. There isn’t much heat in this romance but the lack of it didn’t bother me at all and in fact in this particular novel I probably wouldn’t want it. The slow emotional attachment that grows into love fits this novels so well that I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

This storyline follows a few really real and tough situations a lot of people are facing today. There was coping with the aftermath of divorce, partial paralysis, being the lone survivor of a car accident, falling in love with a woman who will leave, and most importantly, abortion. Every struggle during the course of this novel made the story even more real and made each character more realistic and lovable to me. I loved this novel and want more like it.

I’ve been a fan of this author for years and have loved her suspense work but I feel like this is her best work yet. I loved this and want more contemporary fiction from her. I look forward to seeing what else Irene Hannon will throw my way. This book and author come highly recommended and I definitely want more like this novel from her.

Overall, a great novel. I have absolutely no complaints. This book is perfect for people who like a well constructed romance that broaches hard topics. I don’t recommend this book for younger readers but adults and possibly teens will enjoy this one. I give this book a five out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Duchess

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Title: Duchess
Series: Daughters of Fortune
Author: Susan May Warren
Publisher: Summerside
Published: March 1, 2013
Pages: 352

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Rosie Worth, now starlet Roxy Price, has given up everything to become an actress. And she’s found everything she’s ever wanted in the glamour. With adoring fans and a studio-mogul husband, she’s finally silenced the heartache of the past. Her future shines bright and the possibilities are endless until one Black Friday when everything comes crashing down around her feet and leaves her reeling.

The Golden Age of Hollywood is known for making stars but it’s also known for breaking them too. It seems like Roxy’s career is over and when she loses almost everything, she finds herself disgraced, penniless, and without jobs. Her only hope of survival and possibly revival is to team up with Belgian duke Rolfe Van Horne, a longtime film investor and old flame.

But just when it seems like life will once again right itself Roxy finds that Rolfe is not what he seems and that he is using his film and Roxy to support a growing unrest in Europe. His plans could break her heart and endanger her life and it’s up to her to decide which side she stands on. Roxy won’t give up without a fight but now she has to choose whether her fight will be for what’s right or for her career.

Will Roxy come back to the faith she left behind with her past or will she spend the rest of her life empty and alone? Will Roxy choose a simpler yet more fulfilling life or will she give up her chance for normal to fight retirement? Will Roxy support or disagree with Rolfe’s stand on the unrest in Europe? What will she do when she finds out? Will she leave him or will she help him?
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This is my first full-length novel from this author so I didn’t fully know what to expect or whether I would like it. The writing style and detail of the book was amazing but I felt parts drag on and in some places there too much emphasis on the setting or Hollywood background and not enough put on our heroine. Even though I appreciate this author’s efforts to make a book with a different tone, I found it hard to relate to this story and its characters.

The story is placed in the viewpoint of Rosie/Roxy only and that made it drag a bit. The majority of the story was the behind-the-scenes details of the 1930’s Hollywood scene and though that’s fascinating there tends to be a point where you want to read something other than it. Not to mention our heroine is kind of unrelatable. Her drive to get praise from complete strangers means she gives up almost everything and her choices throughout the book aren’t the best nor, for me, very understandable. Though she did a lot of growing throughout the course of the story, her constant stubborn “my way always” attitude and her wishing for what she can’t have made the book drag on for me.

The story, for most of the book, is a look into the Hollywood acting scene in the 1930s and was fascinating and somewhat appalling. It describes in detail about eyebrows being plucked to literally nothing and hair falling out because of the peroxide, age destroying a career, etc. and though it’s fascinating, and I love a lot of historical content, when chapters at a time are mostly about the historical value and not character development the story tends to drag on a bit.

The storyline really picked up after Roxy started working with Rolfe and that part of the story really saved this book from completely failing for me. I would’ve loved the beginning shortened and the ending lengthened. The ending was awesome and what I really want to read in a novel and even though it adds a bit of mystery from her viewpoint I would’ve loved to have gotten inside Rolfe’s head and been give. More details to what he was doing.

This author is really a first for me and though I didn’t love this book I feel like this author has a great writing style and maybe I’ll enjoy something different by her. This author had gotten acclaim for years on her writing skills and I loved her novella that I had the opportunity to read, so I do want to read more from her just maybe something more contemporary or something more historical. I can’t really recommend the author due to my lack of experience with her books but I don’t really recommend this novel.

Overall, the story dragged on for most of the book but the ending saved the book from being a complete disaster. This is great for people who like novels about Hollywood or novels set in the 1930s. This is perfect for adults but it’s best to keep it away from younger readers and possibly teens. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*