Tag Archives: historical fiction

Review: Legacy, by Mary Hosmar

Legacy, by Mary HosmarLegacy, by Mary Hosmar (2014)

What 15-year-old boy wants to tag along with his mother, visiting relatives in the Netherlands over Christmas, when he’d been planning a ski adventure with his buddies?

Not Jake Thompson. But it’s a condition of his late great-uncle’s will. So Jake, his attitude, and his mother fly from Canada to meet the strangers who are their extended family.

Bit by bit, they discover family history – and secrets – that neither of them had known, wrapped up in the fallout from World War 2.

Jake’s point of view makes Legacy an easy read, and I enjoyed watching him try to deny his grief for his great-uncle and his growing interest in his heritage. Although his relatives tell him the stories from the past, much of those tales are written from the point of view of the characters who experienced them, making the memories come alive.

Favourite line:

If this was Bert’s idea of a good time, no wonder he hadn’t married. [Kindle location 1166]

The book offers an interesting insight into the early days of the liberation of the Netherlands and the after-effects of the war. I’d recommend it for young adult readers, especially those interested in history, but also for adults.

The subject matter makes it appropriate for reading at Remembrance Day (Veterans’ Day) or Christmas, but it would be a good read at any time of year.

Canadian author Mary Hosmar has also written A Matter of Conscience, another young adult historical novel, set in Canada. For more about the author and her books, visit maryhosmar.weebly.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Storming, by K.M. Weiland

Storming, by K.M. WeilandStorming, by K.M. Weiland (PenForASword Publishing, 2015)

In 1920’s Nebraska, Hitch Hitchcock makes his living as a barnstorming pilot – until a woman in a fancy ball gown falls out of the night sky in front of his plane and he gets mixed up with her – and with her enemies.

Hitch doesn’t want anyone depending on him, because he’s let too many people down in the past. He’s back in his hometown for one week only, to compete for a chance to join a flying circus.

His encounter with the mysterious falling woman, Jael, also brings him face to face with family and townsfolk he’s hurt before – and with the man who made him run away. When Jael’s enemies turn their airship’s weaponry against the town, Hitch has to stay and fight when every instinct tells him to run again.

Favourite lines:

Bonney Livingstone could talk a man into picking his own pocket. [Kindle location 1083]

If Earl had thought last night’s story was crazy, this one plumb ran away with the farmer’s daughter. [Kindle location 1347]

The only good parts of this day were the worse things that could’ve happened and hadn’t. [Kindle location 2165]

A blend of historical and dieselpunk, Storming is filled with action, intrigue, flying (surprise!) and great characters. There’s plenty to satisfy the relationship-oriented reader, too: friendship, romance, and long-standing hurt.

This is the second K.M. Weiland novel I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. I love the way she creates characters I can relate to, and drops them into situations beyond their control – where somehow they have to stay and fight, and where losing isn’t an option.

K.M. Weiland knows how to raise the stakes, as well as creating characters we care about and want to see win. In addition to Storming, she has written Behold the Dawn (historical), A Man Called Outlaw (western) and Dreamlander (speculative), as well as short fiction and books on writing.

[Review copy provided by the author, but I liked it so much I ordered a copy to keep.]

Historical Novelist Christine Lindsay

Christine Lindsay’s tag line is “Giving hope and strengthening faith,” which she does through richly-written historical fiction and a contemporary romance novella, Londonderry Dreaming. Her most recent release is Veiled at Midnight, a novel filled with historical drama and with timeless human struggles. Read on…
Author Christine Lindsay, and the covers of her novels

Janet: Welcome, Christine, and thanks for taking time to join us. Your book Captured by Moonlight was the 2014 winner of Canada’s The Word Guild Award for historical. Did you enter your latest novel, Veiled at Midnight, in that contest?

Christine: Sadly, Janet, I missed the deadline to enter Veiled at Midnight for The Word Guild this year. Oh well. But what an honor it was last year for Captured by Moonlight to win in my category, and congratulations to you for Heaven’s Prey being a finalist in the suspense category.

Janet: Thanks! What’s the most exciting thing for you right now?

Christine: To be honest, the most exciting thing is watching my youngest son who is 26 falling in love with a beautiful girl. When our kids grow into the adults God wants them to be, it’s so exciting. My son is a musician and a graduate of Briercrest Theological College, and is currently the lead guitarist in a worship band. His young lady is exactly what I have been praying for my son Rob for years.

Janet: What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Christine: Trying to balance two part-time jobs, promote Veiled at Midnight that was recently released, do edits for my publisher on a historical romance called Sofi’s Bridge that will be coming out later this year, and trying to write my non-fiction book that has a looming deadline. My non-fiction book is about the relinquishment of my first child to adoption in 1979 and our painful reunion in 1999, and to the relationship we currently have that is sweetened by the love of God.

Janet: That’s enough to keep you busy! Tell us a bit about Veiled at Midnight.

Christine: Veiled at Midnight is the third and final installment of my series Twilight of the British Raj. This third book has a hard act to follow because Book 1 Shadowed in Silk won the ACFW Genesis, The Grace Award, and was a finalist for Readers’ Favorite. Book 2 Captured by Moonlight won The Word Guild Award and was finalist for Readers’ Favorite and the Grace Award.

As a finale Veiled at Midnight is quite explosive and passionate in my opinion. When you write a series you get really invested in the characters. While each book can stand alone in this series, many of the main characters pop up in the following books.

Cam: "The truth hit him like an artillery barrage. He was just like his wretch of a father."In Veiled at Midnight we find the little boy Cam from Book 1 is now an adult and struggling with the alcoholism he seems to have inherited from his natural father. Cam is also in love with a beautiful Indian woman he’s known since childhood. But as a high-ranking officer in the British army and having the prestigious position of aide to the last British Viceroy to India, Cam must fight against racial bias to marry the love of his life. Or will he?

Janet: Where did the story idea come from?

Christine: Two things—first of all I wanted to have a more redemptive story for a person struggling with addiction. The ending to book 1 Shadowed in Silk was good, but there were things I wanted to say further. There are a lot of people in this world suffering because either they have addictions or the people they love do.

Secondly, my series starts off in 1919 with India’s first real attempt for independence from the oppressive British rule. I had to finish the series off when Britain did relinquish her strangle hold on India in 1947. What a flamboyant time in history!!! It was great doing the research of Lord Louis Mountbatten and his wife Lady Edwina, and all that they did to help the Indian people through that terrible time called the Partition.

Janet: Do you have a favourite character in the story?

Christine: So hard to choose. I love them all, especially my main characters Cam and Dassah, and then Cam’s sister Miriam and the man she’s falling in love with, Jack Sunderland, but there is a secondary character that snuck up and stole my heart.

Reverend Alan Callahan. At first this character was only going to be a foil to help Cam through his alcoholism, but as Alan’s character developed he made me laugh. He’s a tall, lanky, Anglican vicar, with a slightly longish nose, threadbare suit, and always in need of a haircut. He rides out on his horse into the Himalayan foothills to visit his parishes. Alan used to be the vicar of a large English church back in Britain, until he lost his parish because of his drinking problem.

After Alan conquered his addiction he took on missionary service in India and has remained happy ever since. When Alan meets Cam, his beautiful ecclesiastical elocution and precise annunciation deliver really scathing but hilarious rebukes—real zingers—to Cam. Alan is a hoot, and a man who doesn’t even realize he’s lonely for female companionship.

Janet: Alan is a fun character. Sometimes I think the secondary ones have a little more freedom to push the boundaries, because they’re not on the page often enough for readers to become tired of them. What’s the novel’s theme?

Christine: The theme is found in the main scripture verse Romans 8:38, 39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Because this book is set during the Partition of India and the country of Pakistan being carved out of India, the theme is all about separation. Families are being torn apart and separated due to the horrific political and religious conflict of Muslims and Hindus. But so is Cam being separated from the woman he loves due to racial bigotry, the conflict around them, and due to his drinking problem, and from his seeming embarrassment that she is Indian.

Cam, Dassah, as well as Miriam have to learn that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, not even our own sin or addictions.

Janet: Is there another title in the works?

Christine: I’m excited about Sofi’s Bridge coming out later this year, a historical romance set in Washington State 1913. This book deals with post-traumatic stress syndrome and the fact that we cannot save the ones we love, only Christ can do that.

And I’m excited about the non-fiction book that I started back in 1999. God knew that the story wasn’t ready to be published then. I had so much healing to gain. But now in 2015 the Lord must have done His work in me, because He’s opened the door for this story about the relinquishment of my birth daughter, and what that emotional pain taught me about the Lord. Title is still in the works, but it will be released November 2015.

Janet: Two books releasing this year… very different content, but I can see how they’ll both touch readers’ hearts. What got you started writing?

Christine: Pretty much that non-fiction book I just mentioned. After the reunion with my birth-daughter when she was 20, I went through a terrible depression, reliving my original loss of her when I’d given her up at 3 days old. My husband caught me crying about it one day. He went out and returned a while later with a brand new journal and pen. He said, “Here, honey, write it”

I took my emotional pain and poured it all out to the Lord in that journal. As He brought healing to me in time, I felt His encouragement to put that spiritual truth into fictional novels to help others. So my books are highly entertaining but have strong spiritual takeaways.

Janet: That’s one of the things I appreciate about your novels. What do you like best about the writing life?

Christine: Making new friends, like you, Janet. 🙂

Janet: Someday we’ll meet in person! What do you like least?

Christine: The terrible time pressure. Writers don’t make much money. For the amount of work we put into our novels, we make pennies. Good thing most of us aren’t writing for financial gain. Many of us hold down full-time jobs as well as try to write, so we can share clean, uplifting novels, and also be caring wives, mothers, grandmothers. Family must come first.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Christine: My life verse that anchors all my writing and speaking is Isaiah 49:15, 16a. “Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. See…I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

Janet: Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea? Are you a morning person or a night owl? Cake or Pie? What’s your favourite season?

Christine: Vanilla. Tea. Morning person. Pie. And my favorite season is spring—like my novels—God takes the dark, the cold, the hurtful, and turns it into triumphant warmth, light and beauty.

Janet: What was the best part of the story to write?

Christine: The humor in my characters. When you’re writing about a heart-rending time in history, you need to balance that with light. I get a real kick out of my characters’ wit. Reverend Alan Callahan and Cam’s sister, Miriam, especially. These two characters make me laugh till the tears run down my face.

"Honestly, Miriam, the way you barge into Dante's Inferno you must think angels ride on your shoulder."

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Christine: Make the word Perseverance your middle name. That’s what it’s all about.

Janet: Amen. What do you do when the muse is uncooperative?

Christine: Go for a brisk walk with the dog.

Janet: Any interesting research tidbits?

Christine: I thoroughly enjoyed the biographies of Lord Louis Mountbatten (the Queen’s cousin) and his wife Lady Edwina. Lady Edwina, though not a Christian and having some shady morals in her personal life, was also an inspiration when it came to her Red Cross work during WW2 and during the Partition of India. I came to admire her for that.

Janet: What are you reading these days? Listening to?

Christine: I just finished reading Crooked Lines by Holly Michael—a very different style in Christian literature. But I loved it.  It was set in India, in many of the places I’ve been to. I also highly recommend The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

Christine: Spend time with my loved ones—my husband, my mother, my kids and grandkids. I especially love to go camping with my husband in our little travel trailer.

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Christine: I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world—British Columbia, Canada.  We’re within an hour’s drive of the ocean, but are surrounded by mountains. About six hours to the Rockies.

Janet: What’s the most surprising/fun/zany/scary thing you’ve ever done?

Christine: I wanted to learn to fly, so I took a trip up with a pilot in a small plane just to see if I could handle it. It was exhilarating, and I would have done it if I’d had the money.

Thank Janet, it’s been such fun being a guest on your blog. One of these days we’ll have to meet in person. Hugs for now.  Christine

Janet: Christine, thanks so much for taking time to answer all these questions… my, but I was feeling curious when I put this interview together! The Lord bless you as you prepare these next two books for the world, and in all the other aspects of your life as well.


You can visit Christine Lindsay’s website and sign up for her quarterly newsletter—she always has something free to give away. And go to the links below to read sample chapters from all the completed series Twilight of the British Raj.

Veiled at Midnight, by Christine Lindsay

Chapter One Shadowed in Silk

Chapter One & Two Captured by Moonlight

Chapter One & Two Veiled at Midnight

Purchase sites for Christine Lindsay’s books:

Review: Consider the Sunflowers, by Elma Schemenauer

Consider the Sunflowers, by Elma SchemenauerConsider the Sunflowers, by Elma Schemenauer (Borealis Press, 2014)

In 1940s Saskatchewan, Tina Janz schemes to win the man who fascinates her, instead of the rich-but-boring man who impresses her Mennonite parents. Tina and Frank marry for love—or at least fascination—but it’s a rocky trail. They each have insecurities, attitudes and suspicions, and Tina is keeping a secret that may come back to hurt them both.

Consider the Sunflowers is a skillfully crafted literary novel that opens a window onto small-town life in World War Two-era western Canada. Little snippets of news and daily life help us understand the times, while Tina’s and Frank’s efforts to save their marriage will resonate with readers today.

Readers learn about Mennonite culture and prairie life, and about feeling like an outsider. There is a spiritual thread that’s organic to the novel, but it’s not about preaching. It’s about how the believers live their lives. Frank is honest about his inability to believe.

We also see the effects of self-pity, complaining, self-exclusion and manipulation, and in the seeing we may gain insight into our own lives. There’s a point in the story where Tina sees an amplified negative trait in another character and realizes she needs to change herself. As we watch her begin to change, it might inspire us to do the same.

My favourite lines:

Now she [Tina] was clinging to faith by her fingertips. One gust of wind and she’d reel off into some howling void of—what? She didn’t know; she’d never not believed before. [Kindle location 1408]

Adeline. The woman was like a poisoned well. She claimed Jesus poured springs of living water into her heart. Maybe he did, but Adeline poisoned them with her rudeness as fast as he poured them in. [Kindle location 1462]

He [Frank’s father] always shouted during long-distance phone conversations because they cost so much. [Kindle location 2184]

Do you remember old people shouting on long-distance calls? I do. I always thought they shouted because the sound had to travel so far.

Canadian author Elma Schemenauer is the author of 75 books and the editor of many more. Consider the Sunflowers is her first novel for adults. For more about the author and her novel, please visit her website. Or check out my interview with Frank Warkentin.

Paperback 299 pages $19.95, ISBN 978-0-88887-575-4, AVAILABLE FROM THE PUBLISHER, Borealis Press. Also available online at Chapters Indigo by about November 15. E-book coming in 2015.

[Review copy provided by the publisher.]

Review: Veiled at Midnight, by Christine Lindsay

Veiled at Midnight, by Christine LindsayVeiled at Midnight, by Christine Lindsay (WhiteFire Publishing, 2014)

Veiled at Midnight is a strong conclusion to Christine Lindsay’s Twilight of the British Raj series. If you haven’t read the previous two books, you can jump in here and understand everything, but Cam’s and Miriam’s back-stories do contain spoilers for the other books. And it’s a series well worth reading in its entirety.

Cam was a young child in book 1, Shadowed in Silk, and Miriam is his younger sister. Now adults, he’s in the army and she’s a teacher. The year is 1946; the place, India. These are the final days of British rule, but instead of happiness over the coming independence, the country is fracturing from within.

Because Cam and Miriam grew up in India, very involved in the work of a local mission for orphans, they feel more Indian than British. The idea of repatriating to England unsettles them. Cam’s war experiences add to his struggle, which he tries to drown in alcohol.

In a time of strict views on social status, dare Cam marry his childhood sweetheart, Dassah – an Indian? Can he live without her? And will Miriam be able to choose between a dashing British soldier and her career? Or can she hold onto both?

The siblings’ personal lives play out against the exotic background of India, during an increasingly turbulent time.

In some ways this was a difficult book to read. Author Christine Lindsay does a very good job of conveying the horror of the riots and fighting without becoming too graphic. With the current behaviour of ISIS and other religious terrorist groups, this historical novel feels uncomfortably current.

Yet against a background laced with tragedy, the novel weaves stories of hope. Another contemporary issue addressed in its pages is alcoholism. This is a Christian novel, and the author is clear in her message that only God can break the grip of this addiction. As we see, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for Cam. What it means is that it’s too hard for Cam – without God.

Favourite lines:

She’d been a striking woman, but it seemed as if someone had taken a charcoal drawing of her face and smudged it downward. [Kindle location 1716]

The rails leading out of the Amritsar station caught the last vestiges of setting sun and quivered in two molten lines of steel. [Kindle location 2110]

How could one’s heart sing and crack at the same time? [Kindle location 2252]

Eshana’s rebuke left welts on the raw patch that used to be Cam’s self-respect. [Kindle location 2326]

Christine Lindsay writes novels to give hope and to strengthen faith. As such, she doesn’t shy away from difficult issues but allows readers to walk through those places with her characters. As well as the Twilight of the British Raj series, Christine has written a contemporary romance, Londonderry Dreaming.

[Review copy provided by the author.]

Review: Other Side of the River, by Janice L. Dick

Other Side of the River, by Janice L. DickOther Side of the River, by Janice L. Dick (Helping Hands Press, 2014)

It’s been too long since we had new historical fiction from Janice L. Dick. Once again she immerses readers in the world of Russian Mennonites, a persecuted people wherever they try to settle in the Soviet regime of 1926.

Despite the growing turmoil in their village, Luise Letkemann is eager to marry her beloved Daniel Martens. Her family wants to move somewhere safer: to Canada, or at least farther east towards China. But will anywhere be safe from vindictive officials out to break her people’s hope?

As the story opens, Luise is determined to remain optimistic and to see the bright side in everything, but sorrow brings change. Elderly Tante Manya has some of the best lines, wisdom-wise in the story. Here’s my favourite:

Manya: The purpose of prayer is not to get what we want, Luise, but to lay hold of God Himself. He seeks always to reveal Himself to us. Once we begin to see Him as He is, we can relinquish our tight hold on our will and trust Him for His. Do you understand?

Luise: Sometimes I don’t understand anything, Tante. [Kindle Location 3725]

In some ways this was a heavy book because of the people’s struggles, but the way they dig deeper into faith and find the resources they need to carry on in the face of oppression is an example and an encouragement to readers today in whatever stresses we find ourselves.

It’s not a traumatic read. These are resilient people and although some break, the community bond is strong and supportive. Luise, her gentle father Abram, her acidic stepmother Anna, Luise’s step-brother and step-sister, Tante Manya and Daniel are all real characters with individual struggles, weaknesses and strengths.

Other Side of the River originally released as a ebook series. This review is of the complete series in one volume. If you’re looking online, be sure to get the full novel and not just a piece that leaves you wanting more. Sadly, Amazon.ca does not yet offer the print version although the US and UK Amazons do.

Janice L. Dick is a Canadian author of Mennonite heritage. Her Storm series (Calm Before the Storm, Eye of the Storm and Out of the Storm) also traces the lives of Russian Mennonites. I hope we’ll see another novel to follow Other Side of the River. You can find Janice, and more about her books, at her website: janicedick.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Secrets of Sloane House, by Shelley Gray

Secrets of Sloane House, by Shelley GraySecrets of Sloane House, by Shelley Gray (Zondervan, 2014)

The year 1893 finds Rosalind Perry in the bustling city of Chicago, far from her rural home, working as a maid. Yes, her family needs the money, but Rosalind is there to discover what happened to her sister, Miranda, who disappeared without a trace from the family’s employ. In a time when young women might willingly disappear, many more are going missing.

Rosalind has stepped far outside her comfort zone, and she develops a confidence and perseverance she otherwise wouldn’t have found. Her eureka moment may be that relying on trusted friends brings a stronger result than trying to do everything herself.

One of the friends she’s surprised to make is Reid Armstrong, the son of a wealthy family and a welcome visitor at Sloane House. Reid’s struggle is with honouring his father’s dreams when it begins to feel like he’s losing himself in the process. For both characters, it’s a discovery of identity and about what matters most in life—and about love.

Favourite lines:

She ached to give them hope, but at the same time, she knew better than to give them such a gift. Hope was one of the Lord’s blessings, that was true. But in other ways, hope could be the very work of the Devil. It permitted a person to believe that their imaginations or dreams could actually be true. [p. 94]

Fans of deep point of view may be frustrated by the more “telling” style of narrative (like “He realized…” “She thought…”). However, this slightly distant point of view allows a gentle read even in the most disturbing scenes.

Secrets of Sloane House is book 1 in the Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series, and as such I expected the Fair to be a significant element in the setting, almost a character in its own right. While a few scenes took place there and others mentioned it, the central setting focuses on the rich society and the servants they consider second-class but necessary.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author perhaps best known for her Sugarcreek Amish novels. For more about the author, including a list of her novels, visit her website: shelleyshepardgray.com.

[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]

Review: The Butterfly and the Violin, by Kristy Cambron

The Butterfly and the Violin, by Kristy CambronThe Butterfly and the Violin, by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

A New York art gallery owner and a California businessman team up to locate an obscure painting—for wildly different reasons. For Sera James, it’s a connection to happier times from her past. For William Hanover, it’s the key to his family’s future.

Sera and William each carry wounds, and it’s easier to focus on the hunt than to risk trusting—and healing. Still, each recognizes something special in the other.

The novel also tells the story of Adele, a gifted violinist in Nazi-run Vienna. She’s the woman in the painting, pictured with a shaved head and a concentration camp tattoo.

The alternation between present and past flows well, and Adele’s sections complement what Sera and William learn of her life. One of the things I appreciated most was Adele’s discovery that even in darkness and horror, beauty and love of art may be pushed underground but they will survive—and that using one’s art can be sincere worship of the God who gave the talent.

If you like historical novels of World War 2, and you like art and romance, definitely give this one a try. The concentration camp scenes convey the horror without being traumatic, and overall the novel gives hope. May none of us endure anything that cruel—but we’ll all have hard times, and The Butterfly and the Violin offers hints of how to endure.

Favourite line: “The exhaustion bled down to her soul like water seeking a drain.” [p. 144]

The Butterfly and the Violin is book 1 in the Hidden Masterpiece series. Book 2, A Sparrow in Terazin, releases in 2015. Its storyline also alternates between present-day and the 1940s. Kristy Cambron is a writer fascinated by the WW2 era. You can learn more about the author and her work at kristycambron.com.

[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]

Review: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, by Alan Bradley

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, by Alan BradleyThe Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, by Alan Bradley (Random House, 2014)

[This review contains a spoiler for the previous books in the series.]

There’s so much to love about Flavia de Luce: her quick wits, her unusual view of the world, her propensity for chemicals and poisons. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is book six featuring the somewhat dysfunctional de Luce family in their crumbling ancestral home of Buckshaw, England.

It’s 1951. Flavia will soon be 12. She and her sisters have matured, and events have bound them together—somewhat—but old habits of mutual torment die hard.

I confess I misunderstood the ending of the previous book, Speaking from Among the Bones. Flavia’s missing mother, Harriet, found? She’d been lost in a Himalayan expedition when Flavia was still too young to remember her. I envisioned a joyful reunion, expecting the accident had caused amnesia which would somehow now go away. A happy ending would be so heartwarming.

Instead, Harriet comes home in a coffin as sensible readers expected all along. It makes for a better story, including the requisite mysterious death, and as Flavia and her sisters find closure, Flavia also learns the truth of her mother’s death—and of her life.

The novel is more about unravelling the mystery surrounding Harriet than about who killed the man at the train station, but it all comes together in the end. If you had questions about Flavia and her unusual upbringing, they’re likely answered by The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.

Internationally-bestselling author Alan Bradley’s bio says he’s working on more Flavia de Luce mysteries—reassuring, since The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches wraps things up so nicely. I’d been afraid we’d seen the last of Flavia. It will be a challenge writing this character as she grows up, but in many ways Flavia’s an old soul. I look forward to her next adventure.

[Review copy borrowed from a friend.]

Review: Butterfly Palace, by Colleen Coble

Butterfly Palace by Colleen CobleButterfly Palace, by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

In 1904 Lily Donaldson leaves small-town Texas to work for the wealthy Marshall family in Austin. It’s not the best time to enter domestic service in the city, with the Servant Girl Killer on the loose. When Lily saves a young woman from an attacker, does she catch his attention?

Lily is a confident young woman, hard-working and skilled, but the opulent home they call the Butterfly Palace takes a bit of getting used to. And she’s creeped out by Mr. Marshall’s collection of exotic butterflies.

She’s even more upset to meet her former fiancé, who deserted her at her father’s death. He’s using an assumed name, Drew Hawkes, and passing himself off as a businessman. Drew is a guest in her employers’ home, so Lily can’t avoid him—or the hurt that seeing him brings. She discovers he’s working with the Secret Service to break a counterfeiting ring.

Lily is assigned as ladies’ maid to Belle, the family’s beautiful niece. Belle has her eye on Drew, but her aunt and uncle have a more suitable match in mind. At first this looks like the familiar story of good servant vs. shallow rich woman, but the story doesn’t stop there.

Belle has been sheltered all her life, but she’s intelligent and courageous. When she discovers a plot to kill her uncle, Drew connects it to the counterfeiters. Despite their differences, Belle and Lily team up to help Drew uncover the villains. Will they be in time to save Mr. Marshall’s life?

I had no idea butterfly collecting was such a big thing among the rich of the day: sending explorers to Africa to collect specimens and cocoons, flaunting the owner’s latest acquisitions, and rivalry among collectors.

Butterfly Palace is another richly-crafted romantic suspense from best-selling author Colleen Coble, who writes both historical and contemporaries. For more about the author and her many books, visit her website. Or click directly to her Butterfly Palace page to view the trailer—and discover why this book has such a special place in the author’s heart. To read a preview, visit the Thomas Nelson site.

[A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.]