Monday, February 29, 2016

Review- Pimpernel by Sheralyn Pratt

For centuries, the elite of the world have sought the Pimpernel everywhere. Some want to kill him, others want to hire him, but Jack Cavanaugh knows that the love/hate relationship comes with the job title.

At present, Jack is trying to dismantle an investment scheme centered in Las Vegas, but "trying" is the operative word. It's been a month since he put the face of the scheme behind bars, yet the scam is still going strong. As Jack tries to uncover who has stepped in as the new head, what miniscule evidence there is all seems to point him back to Claire Ramsey, an introverted PhD student studying at UNLV.

If ever there as an unlikely head of an investment scheme, Claire's it. She has a genius IQ, but from all Jack has seen, Claire’s intelligence is as much a blessing as a curse when paired up with her acute OCD. Claire can barely make conversation with the cute guy down the hall, which makes it hard to believe she could be the charismatic salesperson who is getting international businessmen to invest $5—50 million a pop.

So what is Jack missing? What is the real story behind Claire Ramsey? And once Jack learns it, will he be able to walk away?

I am a huge fan of the 1930s movie version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I will admit, I have not read the original book, but the movie is one of my favorites. You can imagine, then, that I was super excited when I saw Pimpernel by Sheralyn Pratt was available for review.

Claire is obsessive compulsive. But in a way that is needed at the beginning of the book. She's been forced in to defrauding millionaires out of their money because she thinks it is the only way to keep her mentor, and the man she thinks she loves, alive while he's in jail for a crime he can't possibly have committed.

At the risk of spoiling the book, I won't say too much on the plot. But Claire has definitely bitten off more than she chew when it comes to her mentor. She finds herself pulled in to a world of theft and trickery and manipulation.

I liked Claire. As OCD as she was, it served a purpose in the story and gave her incredible dimension. She's quiet and shy and kind of pathetic when we first see her but she transforms throughout the story in to someone incredible.

Jack, Margot, and Ren are great characters. Each with their own specific specialties and quirks and faults. They mesh well together and they've always got each other's backs. It was incredibly refreshing to read a story with characters who made promises and did everything they possibly could to make sure they were kept. I wish we had seen more of Margot's and Ren's back stories, but it was fascinating to learn Jack's.

I will definitely say that there were no lulls in this story. It was action packed and fast paced and exciting. The characters were written well and everything flowed really nicely. Now, with that being said, and this may be because I've only seen the movie and not read the book, I was kind of disappointed that I didn't really see any mention of or correlation to the Pimpernel until preeeetttty far in to the book. I don't think it detracted from the story really, but I just expected.... More.

However, I really enjoyed this one. A lot. You really feel for the characters and their heartaches and frustrations. And you'll be totally impressed by their operations and how they manage to pull off what they do. If you're looking for an exciting story I would definitely recommend this one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review - Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard

It's a better life, a fresh start--and a heaven-sent second chance. Founded by three Amish sisters determined to put misfortune behind them, Promise Lodge is a colony where faith's abiding promise can be fulfilled--and love can make all things new…

Energetic widow Mattie Bender Schwartz is working day and night to get Promise Lodge going. She's also hoping the change will help her son Noah's heart to heal after his broken engagement. But his former fiancée, Deborah, is looking for a fresh start too. Filled with regret, and cast out by her dat for a reason she can't yet reveal, Deborah can only pray Noah will forgive her foolishness.

Deborah is the last person Noah expected to show up at Promise Lodge. But with her cruel words still ringing in his head, he's reluctant to accept her apology--even if the Old Order ways demand he try. If only he could obey Christ's most important commandment: love one another. But one thing is certain--his mother and aunts, and their beloved Preacher Amos, will do their best to help him get there.

I was so excited to get a chance to review Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard. I am a huge fan of her other series, of all of her characters from Willow Ridge and Cedar Creek. I've read so much of those that I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the characters from Promise Lodge, but just as with the other books, the people in this story felt like instant friends.

Since this is a brand new book, I will try not to give too much away.

Rosetta, Mattie, and Christine have left Coldstream, along with Preacher Amos and their children, to start fresh at Promise Lodge. Their former Bishop's son is causing all sorts of problems back home and his inability or unwillingness to hold him accountable for his behavior has definitely overturned some apple carts. On top of that, all 3 sisters are single or widowed and are just looking for somewhere peaceful and serene to reside. They're also looking to make a place for other women like themselves AND create a new colony for anyone likeminded who might come along after them.

Deborah has been sent away from Coldstream by her father but is hesitant to tell everyone all the details. The only problem is that her ex fiancé lives in the very place she's run away to. She'd do anything to mend fences and repair their relationship but it doesn't seem that he'll be having it. His heart is still broken and he doesn't trust that Deborah won't just up and break it again.


As with all of Charlotte Hubbard's novels, I loved this one so much. I absolutely love the sense of community that I always find in her stories... the willingness of everyone to help anyone who comes along. I love how her characters always band together to make the most wonderful things happen. But no matter how fantastic her characters are, they are always human. They make mistakes. They mess up. They jump to conclusions or assume things they shouldn't. They're never made out to be better than anyone else. Sometimes they're wonderful, sometimes they're frustrating, sometimes they're mean. But always human. And no one is ever unredeemable.

Deborah is a wonderful character. Even with the heartache of being cast away from her home and the seemingly unwillingness of Noah to want to have anything to do with her, she makes the best of the bad situation she's found herself in, thanks to her friends, and makes a home at Promise Lodge. She jumps in with both feet to help them ready the apartments and the cabins and offers up her baked goods for them to sell at the produce stand they're looking to make. She's hiding a secret that she's sure will turn everyone sour, but she's strong and she's kind and I just thought she was a beautiful character.

Preacher Amos was a fantastic man. An Amish Preacher who was willing to leave the community he was chosen to preach to, he sold his farm and left with the sisters and their families to seek out the peace of Promise Lodge and the hope that it could be turned in to something magnificent. He never tried to assert the power of his position to his own advantage and he never used the fact that he was a man and a preacher to force the women of Promise Lodge to "obey" him. He was firm in his beliefs and his teachings but he was gentle and he was quick to guide when guidance was needed and a calmer head was required.

At the risk of giving away too much of the story, I will stop with those characters. 

I will say, though, that the concepts of sexual assault and domestic violence in this story hit very close to home for me but I think that they were handled pretty realistically and with care. And I appreciate that very much.

I cannot wait for the next Promise Lodge adventure. Because I'm sure that's what it will be. And I was happy to see at the end that there were recipes from Rosetta's kitchen that I will definitely be trying. These books are always so inspiring. Whether they make me want to crochet more, bake more, try my hand at soap making or some other kind of wonderful craft or trade, they always make me want to DO something. To BE something. They make me long for the kind of community that I read about within the pages and to be the kind of person and neighbor that these characters always are.

Grab a copy and give it a read. It's brand new... just hit shelves. It's a wonderful story and if you liked reading about Willow Ridge and Cedar Creek then you will DEFINITELY like reading about Promise Lodge.


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