Review: The Barrister and the Letter of Marque, by Todd M. Johnson

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As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter–the sole proof his actions were legal–has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic advance copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

I have a book on my shelf called The Deposit Slip. It’s a contemporary legal thriller, published in 2012, and was Todd M. Johnson’s debut novel. When I reviewed it, I had hopes it would be the first in a series involving the main character, a lawyer. Those hopes were dashed when the next two books, although also modern-day legal thrillers, featured different lead characters. Nine years later, Johnson brings readers his fourth title, and it’s a marked departure from The Deposit Slip and its successors. For one, it’s set in England. It also takes place in the early 19th century. Continue reading

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Review: Undercurrent of Secrets, by Rachel Scott McDaniel

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Two women, a century apart, are bound by a haunting secret aboard a legendary steamboat.

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

As wedding coordinator for the 100-year-old steamboat The Belle of Louisville, Devyn Asbury takes pride in seeing others’ dreams come true, even though her engagement had sunk like a diamond ring to the bottom of the Ohio River. When the Belle becomes a finalist in the Timeless Wedding Venue contest, Devyn endeavors to secure the prestigious title with hopes to reclaim some of her professional dreams. What she hadn’t planned on was Chase Jones showing up with a mysterious photo from the 1920s.

A century earlier, Hattie Louis is as untamable as the rivers that raised her. As the adopted daughter of a steamboat captain, her duties range from the entertainment to cook. When strange incidents occur aboard the boat, Hattie’s determined to discover the truth. Even if that means getting under First Mate Jack Marshall’s handsome skin.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

At first glance, Rachel Scott McDaniel’s new novel is a departure from her first two books in terms of genre and location: in that she’s previously written historical fiction set in western Pennsylvania (a favorite area of mine). The fourth title in Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, however, is of the time-slip variety. For the uninitiated, this genre features novels containing two or more narratives set at different moments in time but with a strong connection between them. In Undercurrent of Secrets, the connection between Devyn and Hattie’s stories is the steamboat once known as the Idlewild and now sailing as The Belle of Louisville. Continue reading

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Review: Crossed Lines, by Jennifer Delamere

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When romance finally blossoms in her life, will it grow in the right direction?

Emma Sutton knows she should be satisfied with her life. She has a position at London’s Central Telegraph Office, and behind her rented rooms is a small plot where she can indulge her passion for gardening. But ever since she was orphaned as a child, she has longed for a family of her own and the stability and consistency it provides. Her deepest wish appears realized when a handsome engineer is thrown into her orbit and sends her a thrilling love note.

Mitchell Harris’s sharp wit and facility with a pen have enabled him to thrive despite serious obstacles. That the woman of his dreams works just two floors above his should make life perfect. But a childhood accident has left Mitchell convinced he’ll never draw a woman’s affection, especially from someone like Emma. When his best friend–who once saved his life–falls in love with Emma too and asks for help writing her love letters, Mitchell must choose between desire and loyalty.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

Jennifer Delamere returns to the world of telegraphy with the second in her Love Along the Wires series. Of the three friends on which the trilogy focuses, this time it’s Emma’s time to shine when she meets the man she believes God has intended for her. Christopher is handsome, has a steady income, and has taken to writing the most eloquent love letters. Or so she believes. Instead, his best friend has taken on a Cyrano de Bergerac role and is telling him what to write. A Happily Ever After is guaranteed, but who will ultimately win Emma’s heart? Continue reading

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Review: Under the Bayou Moon, by Valerie Fraser Luesse

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When Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country in 1949, she knows her life will change–but she could never imagine just how dramatically.

Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their unique culture, most of the residents come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher, and she’s soon teaching just about everyone, despite opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Yet it’s the lessons Ellie herself will learn–from new friends, a captivating Cajun fisherman, and even a legendary white alligator haunting the bayou–that will make all the difference.

Take a step away from the familiar and enter the shadowy waters of bayou country for a story of risk, resilience, and romance.

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own. Continue reading

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Review: The Cryptographer’s Dilemma, by Johnnie Alexander (w/giveaway)

Welcome to the Takeover Tour for The Cryptographer’s Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

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A Code Developer Uncovers a Japanese Spy Ring

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

FBI cryptographer Eloise Marshall is grieving the death of her brother, who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, when she is assigned to investigate a seemingly innocent letter about dolls. Agent Phillip Clayton is ready to enlist and head oversees when asked to work one more FBI job. A case of coded defense coordinates related to dolls should be easy, but not so when the Japanese Consulate gets involved, hearts get entangled, and Phillip goes missing. Can Eloise risk loving and losing again?

Review

Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from JustRead Publicity Tours and the publisher, the opinions below are my own.

If the plotline of The Cryptographer’s Dilemma sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. It nagged at me, someone with a slight interest in World War Two cryptography, for the first couple of chapters. I knew I’d read about a spy ring involving dolls once before. It turns out, this is a novel based upon actual events. Velvalee Dickinson passed on vital information regarding United States naval vessels using the names and addresses of fellow doll enthusiasts and letters purportedly from them about their dolls. Authorities learned of the letters when they were Returned to Sender; in this case, the people whose identities she stole. I’ve not shared any spoilers, by the way. You can find this information anywhere, including on the FBI website! Continue reading

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