The First Girl Child

nr27Wow, I’ve been MIA here for the last month. Sorry. Got caught up in my own writing/editing projects and kind of forgot about social media. But I’m back and will try to catch up on some of the awesome books I’ve read recently.

Today’s feature romance is a fantasy. I don’t usually read much fantasy because it can be cheesy at times, but Amy Harmon’s fantasies are one of the exceptions. Her fantasies are her strength, I believe (although I love any genre she writes). But I find myself rereading her fantasies because they make me feel things I don’t often feel, and she makes me think deeper and she makes my heart stretch farther. Her latest did not disappoint. I know I’ll be rereading this sometime next year.

My Review

The First Girl Child is a suspenseful fantasy with angsty romance, strong unique characters, fantastic world-building, and intense emotion woven all together. Harmon did a superb job of grounding me in the land of Saylok, where there are six different clans based on different animals—the eagle, bear, wolf, boar, lion, and horse. The story starts with two siblings who discover a magical cave of runes. The girl is entranced with the power, her brother is appalled and asks her never to visit that cave again.

Skip forward in time, the brother has grown and is a Keeper at the temple of Saylok. His sister shows up in the wood nearby, at death’s door after giving birth to an illegitimate son. With her dying blood, she makes a rune in the ground and curses the father of her baby and the land of Saylok with no more daughters until they can treat their woman better. This is how Bayr enters the world.

Bayr is blessed with godly strength, like Thor, and amazes those who know him. Meanwhile, his father (that he is never told about) becomes the new king—a bloodthirsty, selfish ruler—by tricking the people into believing his wife has given birth to the first daughter in the land in 7 years.

Literary FeastAlba, his supposed daughter, is truly the daughter of an albino slave girl brought in from another land. Ghost, as the mother is called, overhears the chieftain aspiring to be king order the execution of her and her owners after he takes her child from them and puts it in the arms of his unconscious wife who has just lost another baby. This is how Alba, daughter of a slave, becomes princess of all Saylok. Bayr, who is 7 at her birth, vows to be her protector.

This is the setup for this amazing, heart-rending story of forbidden love, power, promises, and undoing a blood curse that is tearing a nation apart. I couldn’t put this book down. The writing and plot pulled me in into this fascinating world, immersing me in magic, intrigue and love with unique and powerful characters. One word: exceptional!

Excerpts

Shh. Surely you know I will not hurt you,” he chided, wetting the cloth once more.

But he WAS hurting her. His kindness was like salt on raw skin. It would have been less painful if he’d struck her, and humiliating tears trickled down her cheeks and slipped between her lips. They were salty too, and the keeper sighed as he wiped them away.

~~~

Your strength is not just in your sinews and in your size. Your strength is in your faith and your courage. I’ve never seen you doubt.”

“I c-can’t sp-speak,” he insisted.

“It is your weakness. But weakness can make a man wise. You will listen more. You will think before you speak. You will never believe yourself all-powerful and all-knowing. You will never say what you do not mean.”

~~~

Seriously, if you have not read an Amy Harmon book, you’re missing out. Her books are always an experience to the deepest places of your heart, and you will finish being a better person for having read it. I know I am. I’m beyond grateful for authors like Harmon, who write books worth reading and rereading.

Char

A Lady’s Maid

IMG-2062Here’s a new release by Jen Geigle Johnson that documents the suffrage movement in England during the 1800’s, with some romances woven into the plot. Yea! The publisher is hosting a rafflecopter giveaway, so check that out at the end of the post. And without further ado…let me tell you about this story.

SUMMARY

Molly O’Malley, lady’s maid to the progressive Lady Amanda Halloway, is determined to continue the life’s work of her lost love, killed in the Peterloo Massacre. But when her efforts and a trip to Lady Halloway’s charitable orphanage culminate in her own abduction, Molly’s eyes are opened to the horrifying crimes transpiring in the city’s slums. Despite the risks, she broadens her mission and is drawn ever closer to the peril all around them.

Thomas Flaherty, a footman in the Halloway household, has been with Molly from the beginning, but he fears she will never trust him with her heart. Even though her cause and happiness are of foremost importance to him, his loyal patience is tested by the fears that keep her at a distance. But with their safety on the line, Thomas is resolved to sacrifice everything for the woman he loves.

Risking their lives and their love, Molly and Thomas and a team of nobles on their side will stop at nothing to empower the powerless, no matter the personal cost.

My Thoughts

I liked it. This story entertained, as well as taught about a less known part of history. Many historical details are skillfully woven into a tapestry that includes a cool setting, action, intrigue, suspense, and romantic elements. The story before this one, The Nobleman’s Daughter, has some of the same characters and covers the Peterloo massacre (years earlier). You don’t have to read that one to read this one (I didn’t).

The characters are Lord and Lady Halloway and their servants Molly and Thomas, and Lord Annesley and Lady Chloe. The story is organized with two separate story arcs—one featuring Molly and Thomas and the other Annesley and Chloe. They are all fighting for suffrage, and want to enlighten the ton about the right for every adult person to have a vote in society. There is an evil villain, suffering victims, and of course, our awesome heroes and heroines. It was a fascinating peek at history and the war to get voting rights for everyone, not just those born into wealth and status. The story had high stakes and lots of twists and turns, so I never knew quite what to expect. It was ghastly to realize how some people and children were treated back then, but I appreciated knowing. This was a great piece of historical fiction that I’d highly recommend. Bravo.

About the Author

authorJen Geigle Johnson is an award winning author. She discovered her passion for England while kayaking on the Thames near London as a young teenager. She once greeted an ancient turtle under the water by grabbing her fin. She knows all about the sound a water-ski makes on glassy water and how to fall down steep moguls with grace. During a study break date in college, she sat on top of a jeep’s roll bars up in the mountains and fell in love. Now, she loves to share bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten. Whether in Regency England, the French Revolution, or Colonial America, her romance novels are much like life is supposed to be: full of adventure. Visit her at: jengeiglejohnson.com

Have a great week!

Char

 

Best Friends Fall in Love

newrel1Here’s another billionaire romance. Falling for Her Billionaire Best Friend. This one is by my friend from Idaho, Maria Hoagland. It goes with a series–the Billionaire Bachelor Cove–done by different authors, but each book can be read alone. If you read them all, you get a more wholistic picture of these group of neighbors, but it’s not necessary.

In this one, next-door neighbors, Ryland and Mary Alice, are the MC’s. They’ve known each other all their life, run in the same power circles, and their parents have been pushing them together forever, hoping that a romantic relationship will stick. But both are comfortable in their friendship and don’t feel the need to rock the boat, so to say, until they do. Here’s the blurb. Continue reading

Suffering the Scot

scotYEA! Nichole Van has a new book out–Suffering the Scot--and it was gold…like all her others. Don’t you love the cover? Leave a comment below for a chance to win an ebook of this delicious story! It’s soooo good! I want everyone to have the chance to read it.

SUMMARY

Lady Jane Everard cannot abide the new Earl of Hadley. The unmannered Scot is a menace to genteel ladies everywhere, what with his booming laugh and swishing kilt and endless supply of ‘ochs’ and ‘ayes.’ Jane wishes Lord Hadley would behave as an earl should and adhere to English rules of polite conduct.

Andrew Langston, the new Earl of Hadley, knows that the English aristocracy think poorly of his lowly Scottish upbringing. This is hardly new. History is littered with the English assuming the worst about Scotland. By living up to their lowest expectations, he is simply fulfilling his civic duty as a Scotsman. Continue reading

Beneath an Italian Sky

beneathToday’s feature book was a literary feast for my romance heart.  Stacy Henrie wrote an excellent story that I couldn’t put down once I started it. I’m so excited to share this one with you. Here’s the blurb:

Summary

1908–American heiress Clare Herschel made what she hoped was a love match when she married the handsome, witty Emmett Markham, the Earl of Linwood. A little over a year into her marriage, though, Clare finds herself wintering in Sicily—alone. She is sure the mild climate is the answer to avoiding another miscarriage and Emmett’s apparent indifference, so she’s determined to remain in Italy as long as possible. The last person she expects to show up at the villa is her husband, especially when Emmett confesses he’s there to convince her to return to England. Continue reading

Relatively Normal

IMG-1457Another author suggested this book on her Facebook page. I was intrigued enough to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did. Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen was a hilarious piece of chick lit that made me–a more quiet, reserved type of reader–laugh aloud many times. Here’s the blurb.

SUMMARY

Catriona Masterton’s fiancé, Ethan, is Normal.

He plans trips six months in advance and arrives at the airport a minimum of three hours early. He purchases life insurance, luggage insurance, and always opts for the extended warranty. He’s responsible, reliable, and would make any woman a wonderful life partner.

In other words, he’s the exact opposite of the Masterton clan. Continue reading