A Mail-Order Heart by Janelle Daniels

A Mail-Order Heart by Janelle Daniels

Mail Order HeartThis is the second Mail-Order bride story I bought, and a lawman married both of them. This one has a dramatic kidnapping and chase in it unlike the other, tamer story. There was nothing wrong with the story, but I would have liked the women and especially Clara to face more realistic hardships. Daniels introduced Simon as a bad guy and didn’t use him. Maybe he returns in a later book since this is a series. I think Daniels is ambitious having nine mail-order brides, especially if each woman has her own story.

Clara Stewart arrives in the mining town of Promise Creek, Montana to marry Ivan only to find out he has eight other women he’s promised to marry, and Ivan is dead. Sheriff Sawyer Morrison and Clara butt heads but also have a strong attraction to each other.

Sawyer thinks as sheriff he isn’t entitled to a bride, and Clara takes charge of the women and is determined to make the best of the situation. There are plenty of men who are looking for wives, but the women want to choose. Mayor Bracken tells them Ivan has left them his large house and gold mine, but they all have to agree to stay. Clara convinces them its best. The women’s different personalities clash but Clara takes the brunt of the problems.

Sawyer and Clara are in the mine when it collapses but find another way out. Someone caused the cave-in. They spread the rumor there is gold in the mine only their lie is the truth and leads to trouble.

 

To Catch a Spinster by Megan Bryce

To Catch a Spinster by Megan Bryce

To Catch A SpinsterIn most Regency novels, the man seduces the innocent woman and is forced to marry her. This is a regency novel that turns the genre on its head with a woman more interested in losing her virginity than keeping it and refuses a proposal of marriage afterwards.

Olivia is 27 years old with five married sisters. She has accepted her lot in life as a spinster but would like to experience being courted and bedded at least once and live on the memories. She chooses Nathaniel Jenkins, 39, who is being henpecked by his mother to wed. He is not interested in the young girls dressed in orange.

Olivia asks her brother-in-law to introduce her to Nathaniel and she offers to pay him to court her and bed her. Nathaniel, being a gentleman, refuses but is intrigued by Olivia. They are well-matched and likable to the reader. As he gets to know her, he changes his mind and after a night of lovemaking, he proposals.

Olivia, much to his surprise, refuses him. The families on both sides try to change Olivia’s mind through most of the book. She is afraid they will fall out of love like her parents and other couples she has known.

I enjoyed the writing and the twist about Olivia being the seductress but the plot was too simple. I expected more to happen. But for writers, this is an excellent example of taking an idea and adding to it. So much more could happen to the heroine in your version with similar circumstances. It’s all in the telling, after all.

The Blow-In by Susanne O’Leary

The Blow-In by Susanne O’Leary 2017

511XhiWz+DL._SY346_This is another ebook I purchased. It is a modern sweet romance set in Ireland and to the author’s credit, she uses the setting and language to put you in the Irish countryside. If you’re going to visit Ireland, read this book first.

The story is told in first person by Finola McGee, a reporter who has quit her job after exposing corrupt politicians and moves from Dublin to the countryside of Knockmealdown. She takes over as editor of a small-town paper and plans not to stir up any trouble. But there is already a mystery as to why the previous editor left town in a hurry. Also her publisher informs her they need to double circulation or lose the paper. So much for resting.

Finola has three men introduced into her life for a new romance. Her old one crashed and burned.

One is a kind veterinarian but no spark; one if a momma’s boy with no spine; and one is a movie star named Colin working on a film that may save the paper.

The author introduces us to bullying in the small town and the hatred toward immigrants. Even Finola is called a “blow-in” for not being born in the town even though she’s Irish.

To discover more, you’ll have to read the book.

I Closed My Eyes by Regina Puckett

I Closed My Eyes by Regina Puckett 2017

I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend you try a book by Regina Puckett.

81hFisB7EmL.SR160,240_BG243,243,243I bought a variety of genres to read and this is a Regency Romance but had some interesting twists and a sweet sentimental ending that left me sighing in contentment.

The story begins with Lady Jane Blackmore seeking refuge in the corner of the room after her hateful rival Violet Collins dumps a punch bowl on her. Not only does Violet hate Jane, her stepmother is as cruel as they get in stories. Her father also has a cold heart and never warms to his enchanting daughter. He longed for a son and his new wife has failed to give him one. His anger should be directed at her instead.

Back to the corner of the room though. Jane is not alone and Phillip, Duke of Greystone is also hiding in the corner. Jane has her eyes closed shut as she tries to escape her problems and think of happier times. This is where the title comes from.

Violet is seeking Phillip as a husband, especially since he has recently inherited the title after the rumor of killing his father in self-defense. Phillip has a large scar on his face as evidence of the violent encounter with the former Duke. Phillip’s father was drunken and abusive to his mother and him, and Phillip has vowed never to father any children who may follow in his behavior. Phillip has sworn off liquor to keep from becoming like his father.

So we have two damaged young people who are very sweet and kind, and we know they must get together. Jane’s father insist upon a “shotgun” wedding after her stepmother lies that they were kissing in the corner. Jane can only wish Phillip kissed her and is more than happy to oblige to the wedding although she is disappointed Phillip says it will be a marriage in name only.

Their alternating POVs share the longing and frustration each feels as they battle to consummate their love. What keeps them apart is reasonable unlike some stories.

He also wins her heart by making sure she receives her inheritance, a cottage where she spent happy times with her mother away from her father. They spend their honeymoon there and fall in love.

The rest of the story involves Phillip’s true friend, his mother finding happiness, and the ultimate betrayal by Violet and Jane’s stepmother, but you’ll want to read about that yourself.

Regina Puckett is an author worth checking out. I recommend her books.

Millie Marries a Marshal by Linda K. Hubalek

Millie Marries a Marshal by Linda K. Hubalek 2014

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This is another of my ebooks that I am reading this year. This is a western romance genre and has both POV of the hero and heroine written in third person. The story is part of a series but stands alone. A lot of minor characters are involved in the story, mostly to introduce them for future stories.

The plot revolves around mail-order-bride Millie Donavon who arrives in a Kansas town with two-year-old Tate. Her would-be-husband is dead from an accident and Marshal Adam Wilerson tells her the bad news. Millie is running from a secret, and the story unfolds slowly to reveal her sister Darcie and new baby are hiding from an abusive husband. Tate is Millie’s nephew, which is obvious early on. Adam’s mother is playing matchmaker and enlists the women of the town to protect Millie and Tate. The characters are good, kind, and you wish the best for them. When the bad guy shows up, it is too brief an encounter to create any fear or tension. The book advertises itself as a sweet G-rated romance but the author could add a little more danger, especially in a Western, for the climax.

The Heartbroker by Kate O’Keeffe

The Heartbroker by Kate O’Keeffe 2015

This is a chick lit category written in first person but with a rom-com ending. I is told in first person and does not include the hero’s POV.

Brooke Mortimer has a successful personal growth business in New Zealand and is looking to partner with an American company. Logan and Brad are the representatives from the American company. Logan and Brooke have instant chemistry and fall in love and in bed midway through the story. But Brad, who is the son of the owner of the company, takes Brooke’s company over in an underhanded scheme. Brooke thinks Logan is part of it, romancing her to distract her from the coupe.

The story also has subplots with her family. Her stepmother is diagnoses with cancer and she finds her teen brother drunk and doing drugs. Her two best friends, Alex and Laura, have happy lives and worry about her romance with Logan since her previous romance with Scott, left her a shattered mess. Scott tries to reconnect with her after his romance fails. We hold our breath as she gets drunk. Will she make a mistake she’ll regret?

It has everything a chick lit book requires with a lot of inner debating by Brooke. Think sex in the city or Bridget Jones Diary. It was well written and the story has plenty to offer with the added bonus of sharing some of New Zealand’s charm with its scenery and language.

 

Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown

Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown 2014

This is a middle grade level book but fun and very informative about space.

IMG_4295 (2)Arty, real name Arcturus Betelgeuse Chambers, is in love with space and hopes to discover life on Mars. He has an older sister, Vega, who is in love with Bacteria (real name Bacterium) and younger sister Cassie, real name Cassiopeia, who is a cheerleader and doesn’t want her past love of space made public to her cool friends.

When his dad loses his job at the observatory, the family has to move from Missouri to Los Vegas, and no one takes the news well. The book begins with his job loss and ends with the move. It covers all the anxiety and anger in between.

Arty spends time with his best friends Tripp and Priya who also support his idea of finding life on Mars. They also worry that the new neighbor is a zombie or vampire when they see him sneaking into the woods every night.

When his parents go to Los Vegas to house hunt, Arty has to spend the night at the zombie neighbor’s house who has a secret locked room. Arty discovers the neighbor, Cash, was a real astronaut and begins an unlikely friendship to learn everything he can about space from him. They build Huey to send messages to Mars, but Cash has cancer and goes to the hospital days before Arty plans to move. The ending is heartbreaking and yet uplifting – perfect for the age level.

Brown captures the complicated workings of family and friends in the story and the difficult decisions that uproot and impact their lives.

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume 1981

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I went to a library sale and picked up several Young Adult novels. This was one of them. I saw so many dark and doom teen novels on the shelf, I tried to find something more lighthearted but this one was pretty dark.

Davey is seventeen and her father has been shot and killed in the store he owned beneath their home in Atlantic City. Her mother and little brother Jason were out for the night, and she was in the backyard with her boyfriend Hugh when the shots were fired. She held her father and went with him in the ambulance. A brown bag in her closet holds a secret revealed late in the book.

Blume takes us through the ups and downs of Davey’s life as she deals with her father’s death, her mother’s withdrawal and depression and living with her Uncle Walt and Aunt Bitsy in Los Alamos. It is a rollercoaster ride of emotion as Davey and her mother go to therapy and grow stronger.

Blume captures the singular perspective of a teen as her mother dates the Nerd and she fights with her Uncle Walt who sees danger in everything, even learning to ski or drive.

Blume also introduces Wolf, a stranger, who is going through a similar emotional crisis as his father dies of cancer. Davey and Wolf help each other deal with the different ways of dying – slow or quick. In another layer, Davey also helps a new friend Jane face her alcoholism.

It is a teen novel but deals with serious and scary problems.

 

Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson by Judy Blume

Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson by Judy Blume 1993

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I went to a library sale and this was one of the books I picked up.

Blume has all the elements needed for a middle school story. The first person POV has the reader entering the mind of the teenager with her world falling apart to the ending where life begins to make sense.

The main character seventh-grader Rachel is both a straight A student and a nervous wreck. Her family is full of problems, especially when her obnoxious brother Charles is expelled from a private boarding school and returns home to disrupt everyone’s lives. Rachel and her older sister, Jessica, are on edge, wondering what trouble he’ll cause. He doesn’t wait long and his parents don’t know what to do with him and try a tutor and family counseling. Rachel also has two best friends who may be excluding her or worse, like Charles. Then Rachel develops a crush on the tutor for Charles and the ex-boyfriend of Charles’s new girlfriend. Teachers keep asking Rachel to join advanced groups but the stress of being perfect has her grinding her teeth.  It has all the angst of being a teenager and light-hearted enough not to be depressing with Rachel’s life vastly improving at the ending.

 

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The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss

Although more women than men vote in modern day elections, women had to wait until 1920 for the right to vote.

And the battle was not easy. IMG_2268

To commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage in Ohio, award-winning journalist Elaine Weiss on March 18 shared the political battle to pass the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote at the Hudson library. She details this fight in her new book, “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.”

Weiss, who appeared courtesy of the Hudson Library and Historical Society, said she was inspired to write the book because she knew very little about how women won the vote.

“How did I get this vote?” Weiss asked. “We don’t know this important part of history. The 19th Amendment was the largest expansion of democracy. It gave the vote to half the citizens of the nation.”

Other women in the 150-person crowd at the library confessed they didn’t know the painful and slow slog of the suffrage story. Karen Dyser, of Twinsburg, said she now plans to visit The Upton House in Warren, the temporary center of the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1903.

“Weiss brought the story to life like she was there,” Dyser said. “I like how she drew parallels with what is going on today.”

Weiss’ work has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times, and The Christian Science Monitor, as well as in reports and documentaries for National Public Radio and Voice of America. A MacDowell Colony Fellow and Pushcart Prize Editor’s Choice honoree, she is also the author of “Fruits of Victory: The Woman’s Land Army in the Great War.”

″‘The Woman’s Hour’ shows how change is made in a democracy,” Weiss said. “It didn’t just give women full citizenship, the cultural change shifted the role of women in society.”

Weiss drew parallels between the history of the movement and modern times.

“Who has a voice and who gets to participate in a democracy?” Weiss asked. “We’re still asking that question now.”

Weiss wrote the book before the 2016 election and could not anticipate what it would mean, as women took to the streets and demanded change, and citizens fought for rights they thought were secure, but are endangered once again.

Many in the audience were from the League of Women Voters, as Weiss shared how passage of the 19th Amendment came down to a ratification by the southern state of Tennessee.

“Men decided whether women could vote … and in 1912, the answer was no,” Weiss said. “In 1914, the answer was no, in 1917 the answer was no, and in 1919 the answer was no.”

It took three generations and seven decades to achieve, she said — a total of 72 years of fighting for the vote.

“Men did not see the light and [then] decide that it was an idea whose time had come,” Weiss said. “That’s not how it worked.”

The battle began in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in July 1848 and included the right to vote with the urging of Frederick Douglas, a former slave. The right to vote movement would be tied to the abolition of slavery and the temperance movement.

Although black men were granted the right to vote with the 15th Amendment, women were not, and racism would prevent black men from exercising their right to vote until the 1960s. The Civil Rights Movement adopted the methods of peaceful suffragists and more aggressive suffragettes movements, Weiss said.

“The nation couldn’t handle two big reforms at the same time,” Weiss said. “They were told it was not the ‘Woman’s Hour.’ It must wait.”

Women organized, traveling the country to change the hearts and minds of others, Weiss said. They conducted meetings and marches and wore white dresses and yellow sashes. Only recently, women in Congress wore white at the 2019 State of the Union Address to honor these suffragists.

Suffragists were ridiculed, attacked and propaganda campaigns were launched to stop them, Weiss said.

“They were going to change relationships in and out of the home,” Weiss said.

Opposition came from the Whiskey Ring, as many women supported prohibition.

“The liquor lobby had a lot of dirty tricks,” Weiss said.

If women won the right to vote, 27 million more people could vote in the election. Besides the liquor business, the textile industry was afraid women would demand an end to child labor. Clergy also said that allowing women to vote was “against God’s plan of man’s dominance over women.”

“The social and cultural conservatives were afraid it would change family life and bring about moral collapse,” Weiss said.

Weiss said it took a group of young members who were demanding and willing to break the law. Like all movements, the group became more militant, picketed the White House and protested on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. They were arrested and tortured, Weiss said, which ultimately gained them sympathy.

Becky Stine, of Cuyahoga Falls, said she had no idea women were tortured and imprisoned to gain the right to vote.

“They were in the room with us, and I was getting chills when she was talking,” Stine said. “I’m going to make sure I get out and vote now.”

In 1920, when Republican Warren G. Harding promised a “return to normalcy,” the Women’s Rights Movement sensed the country was swinging toward a more conservative stance after World War I — and the 19th Amendment’s passage appeared tenuous, Weiss said.

The amendment needed 36 of 48 states to ratify it, and it had the support of 35 states. The amendment desperately needed Tennessee to ratify it. If Tennessee declined, the amendment could be delayed indefinitely.

The Tennessee General Assembly voted to approve the 19th Amendment to the United State Constitution Aug. 18, 1920.

“Tennessee was a dangerous place for a battle,” Weiss said. “All other southern states had rejected [the amendment] on the rationale of states’ rights. They did not want black women to vote.”

Weiss concluded by saying that social change is slow, and political change is complicated and messy. Protect the vote for all citizens, Weiss said — and use the vote to improve this democracy.

The paperback copy of “The Woman’s Hour” was delivered to every woman in U.S. Congress and will be made into a television series.