Book Review: The Secret Bridesmaid

 Sophie is a wedding expert whose job is to become part of the bridal party and do whatever the family needs, from small errands to full-blown wedding planning.  Her most important task is to manage crises that occur during or before the wedding, such as a drunk groom or missing “luxury” port-a-potties.  When she is hired to become a bridesmaid for the difficult daughter of a Marchioness, Sophie encounters her biggest challenge yet, and possibly a romance.

“Sophie is a professional bridesmaid.”  Just that  much of the description of this hilarious British romcom had me hooked, and I had to know more. This is such a fun book.  The idea of a professional bridesmaid is intriguing, and the author will have you chuckling with some of the crazy email exchanges Sophie has with clients.  We learn a little bit about British nobility, but this is mostly a book about friendship, with a nice little romance to boot.  This book takes us from humor to heartbreak and back again, with a lot of wedding hijinks thrown in.  You will laugh aloud, and maybe even shed a tear, while reading this delightful book.  Fans of romantic comedies, friendship reads, and weddings will enjoy this book.

The Secret Bridesmaid will be released on May 4, 2021.

I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley.  My review is voluntary.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Katy Birchall

After attending Woldingham School in Surrey, Katy Birchall went to the University of Manchester where she studied English Literature and Linguistics before gaining a Master’s degree in Post-1900 Literature, Theories and Cultures.

Katy is the author of the side-splittingly funny The It Girl: Superstar Geek, The It Girl: Team Awkward and The It Girl: Don’t Tell the Bridesmaid. Her series, Secrets of a Teenage Heiress, was released in 2018. 

Katy won the 24/7 Theatre Festival Award for Most Promising New Comedy Writer with her very serious play about a ninja monkey at a dinner party. Her pet labradors are the loves of her life, she is mildly obsessed with Jane Austen and one day she hopes to wake up as an elf in The Lord of the Rings.

Accusing Mr. Darcy

Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet both find themselves guests of the Kendall Family at a month-long house party in a grand estate in Derbyshire.  Elizabeth is implored to attend by her cousin Rose Kendall, and Darcy is a friend of Rose’s husband Nicholas.  Darcy is immediately captivated by Elizabeth, but knows he is expected to marry a woman of greater means.  When a murder occurs on a neighboring estate, and then one of the Kendall’s guests is attacked, the evidence appears stacked against Mr. Darcy.  Will Elizabeth listen to the murmurings against Mr. Darcy, or will she rally to his side?

This is a compelling take on Pride and Prejudice, combining the classic love story with a murder mystery in a new and different setting. Not all of the original characters make an appearance in this variation, but the characters presented are interesting and well developed. This is not a typical Pride and Prejudice variation, but the attraction between Elizabeth and Darcy is palpable, and the conflict between them is well done. The addition of the murder mystery takes this variation to a new level. Miller has an amazing ability to create a fascinating but horrifying villain and provides a back story for the murderer that is chilling and captivating.

Fans of both historical romance and mysteries will enjoy this new take on a time-honored love story.

I downloaded this book on Kindle Unlimited, where KU subscribers can borrow the book for free.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Miller

Kelly Miller is a native Californian and Anglophile, who made her first visit to England in 2019. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she can be found playing the piano (although like Elizabeth Bennet, she is errant when it comes to practicing), singing, and walking her dogs. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets. A Constant Love is her fourth book published by Meryton Press. The first three are novels: Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley, a Pride and Prejudice Regency romantic sequel with a touch of fantasy; Mr. Darcy’s Perfect Match, a Pride and Prejudice Regency romantic variation; and Accusing Mr. Darcy, a Pride and Prejudice Regency romantic mystery. Kelly’s blog page is found at http://kellymiller.merytonpress.com, her Twitter handle is @kellyrei007, Instagram: http://kelly.miller.author, and she is on Facebook: http://facebook.Author.Kelly.Miller

NEW RELEASE

Kelly has a new novella that has just been released. It is called A Consuming Love: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. The Amazon Description is below:

The methodical world of rich, proud Fitzwilliam Darcy is in chaos: a country lady of modest origins has utterly captivated him.

The knowledge that Elizabeth Bennet is an unsuitable match fails to diminish Darcy’s fascination for her, nor does his self-imposed distance from the lady hinder her ability to intrude upon his thoughts at all hours of the day. What can solve his dilemma?

When circumstances compel Darcy’s return to Hertfordshire in assistance of his friend Mr. Bingley, he must confront his unfathomable attraction to Miss Elizabeth.

In this “Pride & Prejudice” Regency novella, one afternoon spent in company with Miss Elizabeth Bennet is enough to make an indelible and life-altering impression upon Darcy, setting him on a rocky course towards the fulfillment of his desires. Will Darcy attain happiness, or will his ingrained pride be his downfall?

A Consuming Love is only $3.99 on Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can borrow it for free. Link

Village Teacher

Village Teacher by Neihtn, who also writes as Nguyen Trong Hien, is a well-written novel set in Vietnam in the late 19th or early 20th century while Vietnam was under French colonization. Teacher Tâm has traveled to the Imperial City of Hue to take the national examinations, challenging tests that help the country choose its leaders. He meets Giang, the daughter of a powerful Frenchman and a wealthy Vietnamese woman. The teacher becomes the student as Giang begins teaching him to write Vietnamese in Romanized script without using the Chinese characters. Outside forces begin to intervene in Tâm’s life in many ways, and the reader is taken on a journey through Vietnamese history, language, and customs as the Village Teacher and those who love him fight for his life and his rights.

This is such a beautiful historical love story. The author is an expert in Vietnamese history and I learned so much in this book. The struggles of Teacher Tâm are struggles that are being repeated even today as the wealthy and powerful try to hold down those of lesser means, especially the smart and talented. Over and over again we see in this book how some of the rich and powerful will use any means to try and destroy anyone who they believe threatens their total control. The love story is beautiful, and the reader gets a master class in Vietnamese history, language, and culture. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the history of Vietnam or anyone who just wants to read a well-written historical love story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nguyễn Trọng Hiền is originally from Vietnam. In the United States, he is known as Hien Nguyen, or Hien T. Nguyen.  neihtn is his Vietnamese first name (Hien)  and initials, spelled backward. Why backward? One reason is to indicate that he now lives on the opposite side of the world from where he was born and spent over two decades of his life.

Hein wrote Village Teacher at night and on weekends over four years while he worked a full-time job. He is now retired and spends his time writing and taking photographs of birds, wildlife, flowers and landscapes. He posts the photos on his blog, Village Teacher. He also published another novel, The Siege of An Loc, in 2020.

Buy Village Teacher on Amazon

Buy The Siege of An Loc on Amazon

MY AMAZON REVIEW OF VILLAGE TEACHER

My Review of The Siege of An Loc

Endless Mercy

This is the second book in the Treasures of Nome series by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse. Madysen Powell is still reeling from the shock of learning her father, thought long dead, is alive. Now she must lean on God and try to forgive her father for an unspeakable offense. At the same time, she is starting a dairy business at the Powell farm in Nome, Alaska, but secretly dreaming of a life in show business.

Daniel Beaufort is angry at God after his parents’ death. He finds himself working with the very beautiful and very Christian Madysen Powell at her dairy farm. Can he overcome his anger and find love instead?

This book has a strong Christian message about forgiveness, both the forgiveness of God and forgiving others. It also shows how God can rebuild your life after sin has destroyed it.

However, I find a few faults with it. This book is set in Nome, Alaska in 1904. I did not feel transported to the time period or the location. The book had much more of a contemporary vibe than a historical romance should have. Madysen is just a different spelling of Madison, which wasn’t really used for girls’ names until after the movie Splash in 1984. And they call her Maddy, which is a very contemporary nickname. Her sister Whitney is called Whit, also very contemporary. I just was not getting the feel of a historical novel. In addition, novels set in Alaska are usually flowing with descriptions of the environment, wildlife, climate, and terrain. I didn’t see much of that here either. In both history and setting, there was only a slight nod. This is a Christian romance that could have been set anywhere with a few tweaks. The information about cheese-making was interesting.

I would give this 2.5 stars, but it is rounded up to three for the solid Christian message of forgiveness.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. My review is voluntary.

Link to Buy the Book on Amazon

Link to Tracie Peterson’s Website

Countess Jacqueline

Countess Jacqueline by Gail Meath is a historical romance based upon the life of the real Countess Jacqueline of Holland, who ruled the counties of Holland, Zeeland, and Hainut in the Low Countries (Netherlands) from 1417 to 1433. The book opens with Jacqueline as a young girl whose father is already trying to arrange her marriage to secure his kingdom. Fiercely independent and an excellent horsewoman and archer, she resists marriage as long as she can. After the death of her father, politics come into play as another heir demands her title and her lands. Jacqueline fights for her lands and her people, making mistakes along the way, and possibly finding the love of her life.

This is a very well written novel by Gail Meath, who weaves together a captivating story by combining both real and fictional characters to create a spellbinding saga. The true story of Jacqueline’s life, battles, and marriages, and her love of and dedication to her people is amazing, and Meath expertly adds perfectly placed characters and storylines. She brings the Countess, the politics, and the way of life in that era alive on the page, and her meticulous research of the period is obvious. Fans of historical fiction and romance will enjoy this book. 

I downloaded a copy of this book on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read it for free.

Link to the book on Amazon

Link to Gail Meath’s Website

Link to my Amazon review (“Helpful” votes appreciated if you are so inclined)

The Siege of An Loc

The Siege of An Loc is the story of the defense of An Loc in 1972 during the Vietnam War. It is also a love story between a South Vietnamese soldier, Trung, and Ly, a student, daughter of a rubber plantation owner. As Trung struggles to defend his country, he finds himself falling for the beautiful Ly, but do they have a chance for happiness in the midst of war? We also see the evil of communism especially personified in one of the characters, and two brothers are reunited, one from North Vietnam and one from South Vietnam.

I learned so much about the Vietnam War from this book. When I was in grade school and high school in the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, they didn’t teach us much about it. I just knew my uncle died in this war at the age of 20, and I really didn’t even know why he was there. When we would ask in the mid-70s, we were told nobody liked to talk about it. But now the author, Nguyen Trong Hien, has answered a lot of the questions. I love the fact that we see inside the war from the perspective of a South Vietnamese soldier instead of the American perspective. And we learn of the atrocities of Communism and how it takes over and annihilates a culture.

Some small constructive criticism: This is both a romance and a history book, and sometimes it felt as if we left the romance and entered a very detailed history book with little transition. However, the history is important for the reader to know, and the characters were interesting and well developed. The ending of the book was left open for our characters, and I wasn’t sure what happened to them after South Vietnam fell. I hope there will be a sequel.

I received a free paperback copy of this book from the author. I also downloaded a digital copy on Kindle Unlimited, where members can read books at no additional cost. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Link to The Siege of An Loc on Amazon

Link to Nguyen Trong Hien’s Amazing Blog.

Link to my Goodreads Review

Link to my review on Amazon

Neighbors

To be Released January 5, 2021

This is a great one from Danielle Steel. Meredith White, an iconic actress, has retreated from the world after her husband’s betrayal and her son’s death. She is almost completely cut off and relies on her live-in housekeepers for companionship. Then a devastating earthquake occurs and Meredith finds herself rushing out to help her neighbors. 

I really liked this one from Danielle Steel. An icon herself, she can write about a star who has that kind of fame with great understanding. She also tackles the tough subject of domestic violence in a believable way. I very much enjoyed and appreciated the theme of a recluse slowly opening up again through the act of helping others. 

There are several different storylines in this book as we see into the lives of Meredith’s neighbors. We also see into the thoughts, daily lives, and motivations of her housekeepers, and we see what you can miss if you withdraw from the world.

If you want to read a romance that tackles the issues of domestic violence, self isolation, and loss, you should check this one out. Highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Random House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

Buy the book on Amazon

Link to Danielle Steel’s website

Link to my Goodreads review